Tuesday, 30 October 2012


“Alice came to a fork in the road. 'Which road do I take?' she asked.

'Where do you want to go?' responded the Cheshire Cat.
'I don't know,' Alice answered.
'Then,' said the Cat, 'it doesn't matter.” 
- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

The month of October has been a month of revelations for me in a lot of ways. I recently pursued a course on Integrated Spiritual Hypnosis. Despite not believing in the concept of past lives or abstract concepts such as foreign energies and auras, the course opened doors to some realities to which I had probably developed some sort of a blind-spot. 

I have always lived under the illusion that my life is perfect. It's not that I am not aware of my shortcomings or the things in life that I don't have, I just have a tendency to focus on the good side of everything because that is something that sprinkles my life with happiness. While doing this course, it dawned on me that perhaps my positive attitude does have its demerits - I tend to trust people easily and even when they disappoint, I choose to overlook that flawed part of them. I also discovered the way I always end up playing the part of a 'Rescuer', going out of the way to help someone in need. In reality, instead of accepting the fact that there are times when I have felt victimized and violated, I project the part of the 'victim' on the other person and try emerging as the Saviour. 

Today, people describe me as a person who is bold, straightforward and someone who never hesitates to speak her mind. I got a glimpse of two past lives during the process of past life regression therapy. While people from different belief-systems can argue over whether we have just one life or many lives, I am choosing to step aside from that debate and just talk about what I "saw" or "imagined" in that hypnotic trance. In both the lives, I saw myself as a helpless, young woman who was vulnerable, failing miserably to take charge of her life. Ultimately, that led to my downfall or doom. When I was discussing this with my friends, most of them were astounded at what I was like in the past and relieved that I am no more that person today. However, I still found myself having a lot of questions and at the moment, I have come to the realization that, perhaps, I am not that different in this life as well. I can put up a bold face in front of the whole, wide world but I know the dark shadows that haunt me when I am all alone, all by myself. 

If I were to draw parallels from my past lives to the present one, there are some strikingly painful similarities as if the stage and the actors are all set, once more, to play the parts they have already rehearsed for in the previous lives...When this realization hit, I found myself very disturbed and wondered what was the point of going on with life if I have no control over what is going to come my way. However, this morning, my friend, Mohini, was kind enough to share some write-ups with me, which reminded me that life is actually all about the choices we make. It does not matter if life is teaching me an incomplete lesson from a previous life-time or is bestowing a fresh lesson my way, what matters is the wisdom to understand the patterned regularities of one's behaviour and to break these patterns, if necessary. 

Letting go isn't something that has ever been easy for me...While there are people and things I have been able to discard from my life in the wink of an eye, when I look back, I realize that they didn't mean anything to me. People in life who I deeply care about are people I can never give up on - no matter how many times they disappoint or hurt me. I am always scared of letting go because I fear the emptiness that will be left in my heart if I truly let go of that emotion or that person. Mohini, once again, reminded me that Nature abhors vacuum and something will certainly come and occupy that empty space. With this powerful thought embedded deep in my mind, today, I have started walking on the path of letting go of my fears and inhibitions and simply walking the road of life with my head held high. I do not know where my destination lies but I am determined to enjoy the entire journey. I am hoping that this choice that I have made is a healthy one...

Saturday, 13 October 2012

The Jigsaw Puzzle

As a child, I always enjoyed solving jigsaw puzzles. The entire process of attempting to arrange the separate pieces of a puzzle in the correct manner to ensure that they form one complete picture was an amazing journey! Even at the age of 23 years, jigsaw puzzles continue to fascinate me - of course, instead of solving a picture made up of 200 pieces, today, I try solving a puzzle of 5000 pieces.

I feel that my world is nothing but a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece of me is what helps in the creation of the picture of my world. There are some pieces which show my likes. Similarly there are pieces that show all the things I do not like. There are some pieces I proudly showcase before the world and there are those pieces which I always try hiding in a corner. Some pieces are easy to join and they just seem to fall into place correctly. In the same manner, there are some things in life that come to us very easily.

There are some pieces which we feel belong to one particular area and actually we may end up fixing them in the wrong place. This happens to us at so many junctures of life. We keep fixating on a particular desire and we keep getting restless if it remains unfulfilled. At this point, we feel stuck because we are not able to progress towards the completion of the picture. Our life comes to a stand-still and we start operating from a tunnel-vision where all that matters is fulfillment of that desire. In the process, we start moving away from the process of actually living our life. We stop the process of completing the picture because we are just not able to remove the piece from that area.

It is important, at this juncture, to note that the piece by itself is not wrong. It is alright to have wishes and desires. The trick is to balance our attention in such a manner that we are able to focus on other things in life as well instead of just getting fixated at that spot. With time, as we keep fitting various pieces together, the number of missing pieces will automatically lessen.

Completing a jigsaw puzzle with 1000 pieces itself takes me more than 3 days. The puzzle of life has millions of such pieces - many of the pieces still waiting to be discovered. We do not know each and every aspect of our personality. If we knew all the secrets, all of us would be enlightened souls! Not all of us have a complete picture of life - to have the complete picture could take us several lives. Therefore, the true joy does not always lie in completing the picture - sometimes one can experience joy by simply being at peace with the missing pieces.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Street Food Of Mumbai

It is only when one visits Mumbai does one truly understand why it is referred to as 'The City That Never Sleeps'. No matter what happens, nothing ever stops. The fast-paced life of the 'City of Dreams' is something that strikes you from the very moment you set foot inside Mumbai. This aspect of the culture of Mumbai can very obviously be seen depicted in terms of its food as well.

People in Mumbai are always on the go and eating out on the street is a daily ritual for many of them. No points for guessing, therefore, that among a lot of other things, Mumbai is also famous for its street-food.
In the wee hours of morning itself, whether you are at a station or passing by-lanes, you will see hawkers selling cutting chai and omelettes or egg bhurji with hot buns or paos. The cutting chai is usually sugary sweet unless you are fortunate enough to get a chaiwallah who makes it slightly 'kadak' or 'strong'. You may also come across variations being sold in the form of 'elaichi wali chai' or 'adrak wali chai'.

As far as Mumbai is concerned, ‘pao’ is like the undisputed ruler in street food. It would be safe to say that vada pao is the face of Mumbai street-food. For many people, that piece of vada squashed inside a pao is an actual meal and not just a tidbit you grab on the way. There are several other versions of pao - you have Bhajia Pao which is a pao stuffed inside with oily onion rings; Anda Pao which is a half-sliced boiled egg enclosed inside the pao; and Samosa Pao in which you have an entire samosa stuffed inside that one piece of pao! There are also Usal Pao, Misal Pao, Kheema Pao and paos of numerous other varieties. Pao bhaji is another item that is very popular in Mumbai.

Visit any beach in Mumbai - Juhu or Chowpatty - and you will come across several hawkers selling ice-golas, kulfi and a wide range of 'chaats'. If you are from Kolkata, you may find Bhelpuri to be similar to the 'jhaal muri' that is abundantly sold on the streets of the City of Joy, and you may also feel that pani puri is no match to the 'puchkas' that you get; but you can still try out other 'chaat' items such as Dahi Puri, Sev Puri and Ragda Pattice.

Walking down the sandy beaches licking an ice-gola made of one or more flavours of your choice (mango, orange, kala khatta, rose, khus, etc.) or savouring a mixed plate of malai, kesar pista, chickoo, mango or strawberry kulfi is one of the many joyous moments you can experience out of being in a city located so close to the sea. Even if you are someone who loves cleanliness and the dirty beaches strike a chord of disharmony in you, do not give this experience a miss.

Mumbai is also famous for its 'frankie' which is nothing but a roti wrap that comes with a wide range of stuffings from paneer to chicken to vegetables to eggs.

Since Mumbai is close to the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, it comes as no surprise that the city has a wide chain of South Indian stalls, restaurants and lunch-homes serving different kinds of dosas, idlis and vadas. In many places, you may find the sambhar to taste a tad bit too sweet but you won't usually have any complaints about the chutneys that are served as accompaniments.

It is not an uncommon sight to find hawkers selling fruit-plates on the streets of Mumbai. While you can always question the freshness of these fruits, do not hesitate to try fresh fruit juices, milkshakes and sandwiches from any of the stalls in Mumbai. These items from the roadside kiosks usually taste good.
As the sun sets and the evening arrives, you will find stalls beginning to grill skewers of various meat kababs. The kababs that you get from these small roadside joints are almost always finger-licking good - if you are adventurous, you could try items like bheja fry; or you could just stick to the safe side and enjoy seekh kabas and chicken tikka kababs amongst several others. 

Mumbai is a tourist hub and it has many sights and sounds to explore. However, taking time out and feasting on the various delicacies that the streets of Mumbai offer is an opportunity that every person who comes to this city should experience at least once.