March 25, 2011

The Beatles, Cupcakes, and Rain

“Sounds of laughter shades of life
are ringing through my open ears
exciting and inviting me…
Limitless undying love
which shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe…”

I must admit - I've thoroughly enjoyed the past week of downpour, cloudy skies, and even a rainbow or two. 

There’s a certain musical melancholy about the rains – it’s gloomy without the blues.   In fact, it makes me rather chatty [ask my husband ;)] and energetic.

So this time around, besides the ginger tea and lots of music, I was in the mood for some home-baked cupcakes.

These little puppies are melting-in-your-mouth delicious!

I experimented Trader Joe's Chocolate Cake Mix and Pamela's Vanilla Frosting Mix.  Quick and easy to make, and the batter whips up smooth and silky.  

The cupcakes were nice and dark, and very-very chocolatey with an intoxicating aroma.  Not too sweet.  Just right.

Tip for vegetarians: I used Ener-G (egg substitute) available at Trader Joe’s, Wholefoods or any local grocery store.  

Now, here's one of my best songs, ever (sounds even more gooey on rainy days).  
I hope you’ll enjoy it, as much as I enjoy the rains!

Happy weekend everyone. :)

March 16, 2011


As I write this, plunked on my couch with a hot cup of tea sitting on the table beside me, I see squirrels swishing up the tree, and hear raindrops falling on the window pane.  I’m at home on a wonderful California morning. 

A few mornings ago I was woken up by a phone call at 6-o-clock.  It was my sister from India.  She was watching the news.

On my television set from appx. 5000 miles away, the views of Japan were heartbreaking.  I don’t have family or friends in Japan, and I can hardly imagine the shock of the people who do.  But I cannot even fathom what the people in Japan would be experiencing right now.

Over the past few days I have been absorbed and inspired by stories of courage and compassion of the Japanese survivors, and I’ve wondered about the contrasting nature of events in life, and in the world: 

There are crimes and tsunamis; technological breakthroughs and remarkable service work, all co-existing around us.  Even in our capacity as students, consumers, co-workers and businessmen, we are constantly exchanging ideas and opinions.  A large part of what we own, eat, learn and use comes from another corner of the world.  

We all are connected, yet many times we value it less.   As ferocious as the situation in Japan, it gives us an opportunity to whole-heartedly pray, be content with what we have, and value the freedom we enjoy.   This is also the best we can do for those who were swept away by the tsunami:  we can love more and be grateful.

March 06, 2011

The Sweet Taste of Boredom

Image from Motifake
Everyone encounters boredom at some point.  May be in a traffic jam, in long queues at the grocery store, during a class lecture, on an airplane, at the DMV, being home alone - plenty of opportunities.  

Boredom is not uncommon. 

Apparently, in my teens I had the knack of labeling everything as "boring."  Though I had a good time hanging out with friends, being at school or watching television, I got bored too easily.  For my lovely grandmother such behavior had no bearing whatsoever.  I suppose her generation understood boredom in one of the two ways – a person who spoke too much or someone who rambled off the topic – and I didn’t engage in either.  Their sense of boredom wasn’t a state-of-mind.  On the other hand, for me (and my generation) it had become a state-of-being.

In simple terms “feeling bored” implies a lack of stimulation.  Or waiting for the next fix – either an action (to begin the next chore/task) or inaction (to get done with a chore/task).   The other day I was watching a film with some friends at a multiplex and it wasn’t as endearing as I’d thought – the print and sound quality was poor, and my favorite song didn’t play until the end credits.  Not fun, right?  

Here’s what changed the experience for me:  May be the feeling of boredom or disappointment (one of its off springs) didn’t originate from the film, as much as it did from within me.  A huge part of feeling bored comes from the inability to delay gratification.  I’m not saying that every book is interesting, every job is fulfilling or every relationship is exciting – I’m just saying that having a low tolerance level can cost you an interesting book, a fulfilling job or an exciting relationship.

From a macro perspective, a lot of human experience can be considered boring.  There are huge stretches of parenting, a marriage, a business, where “nothing” is happening, or at least nothing obvious.  Usually we seek to alleviate that boredom with any available distraction, meaning a new partner or a different career.  Sometimes, we even go out of our way searching for a distraction.  But have you considered using such occasions as opportunities to tap into patience?  Not passively hoping and waiting, but participating in whatever is happening (or not happening).  You might be surprised how joyful the whole exercise can be.  Eventually.

I guess it’s a matter of tuning in.  Yeah I know, routine activities like taking a shower, cooking a meal or weeding the garden doesn’t rock my world either.  But how does paying attention change your experience?

March 01, 2011

Color(s) of Enthusiasm

Image from TribalPizza
I’m a huge fan of romantic films, and one of my all time favorites is Titanic.  It's a spectacular epic - recreating the tragedy of a real-life event, beautifully interweaving a fictional yet absolutely believable love story. 

I (frequently) watch Titanic for Jack and Rose.  I’m smitten by their zest for life (in particular) and a certain naturalness in their characters – something innately raw and spontaneous about them.  Also every time I watch the film, I wonder if a sinking ship, a catastrophe urges us to participate in life more openly – with all heart?  Does it propel us to add more life into the years?  

Typically two kinds of folks are in question here: The one’s who take on more than they can manage (all over the place) and those who pick and choose (mark boundaries).  I think in both cases we end up making promises (mostly, to ourselves) of doing or not doing something *when conditions will be perfect* (and sometimes, miss the point).  

Last week I was catching up with my dear friend S – a long overdue phone call – and she invited me to her new home in Dallas.  She promptly followed up with airline deals from San Fran to Dallas, also offering to buy my ticket (enthusiasm personified, isn’t she?).  But we didn’t end up locking a date.  Then, I was politely reminded:  “You’re the type to take action, sometimes even before a thought comes up…. What happened!?”  S had spoken in the true spirit of girl-talk.  I agreed.

Probably life has a way of accelerating, as we get older.  The to-dos get bulkier and that list of promises grows longer.  I don’t mean that you should do (or dismiss) something immediately.  Weighing options could take time, but may be chewing on them could weigh you down.  I’m talking about the thinking process – lingering (too much) over a task, a decision, a grudge, a situation.  That could essentially sap productivity, energy and time. 

I'm reminded about the story of a king, who was deeply loved and respected, but the people of his kingdom began to visit a new saint in town.  The startled king decided to meet the saint and find out why his people were so fond of him.  When he entered the saint’s abode, he was shocked to see no riches or delicious food; in fact the saint was dressed in simple attire and lived in a small home.  Puzzled by this he asked the saint, “You have nothing to give to anyone, so what makes you more special than me?  The saint answered in all his glory, “My dear, when I eat, I eat; when I bathe, I bathe; when I water the plants, I water the plants.  But when you eat, you think; when you bathe, you think; when you water the plants, you think!”

PS: My friend S will be visiting in Summer – YAYY!