Thursday, January 28, 2016

Midnight Furies

Author: Nisid Hajari

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Lately I’ve been keen on reading and understanding about partition. About why there’s such an enmity between India and Pakistan. About why Kashmir is a disputed land. Why are we in this situation? Could the leaders have done anything differently to avoid it?

In my search for books on this topic, I came across “Midnight Furies” and it seemed to be well recommended. It’s a real account of the partition of India and the author is very factual with references from all over. Looks like he’s done his job well. The books is also very well written – kept me very engrossed. Since partition basically revolves around Jinnah and Nehru, it starts around the time when Jinnah and Nehru entered the political field and how they traversed it.

History is not just one book. However unbiased we may think we are, there’s always some inherent bias in us. So I’m not saying that what is written in this book is the the absolute truth – it probably is – but I don’t know. I wouldn’t know till I read at least a few more books on this subject.

What saddened me was that like every propaganda in a country, an event as big as Partition was pure political motivation. It was not a democratic decision. All riots leading to it, and after it were only because of the selfish interests of the political figures of those times. But I guess history of any country is only about the political figures of that time. Not about the people. Nobody cares about the common man.

Some things I gathered from the book:

  1. Yes our freedom struggle was good and we had great freedom fighters. But looks like that was not why British left India. It appears that Britishers had their own problems – they no longer had money to keep control over India, after the world war. They had already stolen our resources so India was no longer the “golden bird” that would benefit them. So they were looking for an exit.
  2. Almost always the riots were triggered by Muslim league leaders. Although after that an equal (if not more) damage was done by the Hindus.
  3. Nehru was sentimental for Kashmir because it was his homeland and it was hard for him to give it up.
  4. Regarding the negotiation on Kashmir, when the Indian leaders were compromising the Pakistanis weren’t and vice versa. Hence it was always a stalemate. Although more often than not it was Jinnah’s obstinacy to not let go of Kashmir. Even when a proposal was made to split Kashmir and give the part of Kashmir with majority of muslims to Pakistan and the one with Hindus to India, Jinnah did not accept it. Maybe things are not that simple – but that was one moment when I felt that things could have been set right and the two nations could’ve lived in harmony.
  5. Indian leaders were always of the opinion that it is to their benefit that their neighbor Pakistan flourish, but that opinion was not shared by Pakistan,. Pakistan fueled Militia with money pumped from US and Britain, to cause disruptions in Kashmir. Apparently their intent was to only keep the Indian army at bay but soon things got out of control. The militia was getting trained by ISI and no longer slave to the decisions of the Pakistani government.
  6. Nehru (and Gandhi) always wanted an undivided India – where all people irrespective of their religion lived peacefully.
  7. Pakistani leaders wanted to ignite the people of Pakistan against India and the only thing they thought that they could latch on to was religion. And that bred the hindu-muslim enmity in that region. Before partition, they told all muslims that once India is formed they would be in majority and hence nobody would look after their interests (although there was no such evidence). After partition, since they knew that people in Pakistan had the same religion, they could use that to get them together and pitch them against India.

Of course there were lot of sad moments in the book, but Gandhiji’s assassination was at the top. Reading about it really saddened me.

I loved reading the book and would highly recommend it to anybody interested in India’s partition.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Life in perspective

I thought life was hard. Our international flight was delayed 7 hours. We got put on another flight. That meant we reach our destination a day later. We'd to spend a couple of hours sitting in an air-conditioned airport talking to a customer representative. That wasn't easy. 

Almost 200 people died and hundreds (if not thousands) lost everything that they owned - in the flooding in chennai. 

Life. Is hard. For them. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Yes please!

Author: Amy Poehler

Yes-Please, amy poehler

This is a life story of Amy Poehler in her own words. If you have seen Saturday Night Live then you might be familiar with her. I hadn’t and so didn’t know much about her. Her writing style is so funny!! I just loved reading the book!! For that alone I would recommend the book.

There’s not much you can say about somebody’s life can you? It is what it is. Though it was interesting to read how much she’d to struggle (although she doesn’t refer it to as struggle) to get to where she’s today. Most of the times when people look at celebrities they only think of the luxuries that they have, how much money they get paid for each show/movie/etc. Little do we know how long did it take them to get there and the road to that destination wasn’t easy. I had some why-do-I-need-to-know-this moments; probably somebody who knows her from her shows and is a fan of her would be more interested. She has life lessons too in there and I liked some of the bits of advices she threw in there. One particularly that stuck with me was – she says don’t go after your career, depend on your creativity (or talent or skill). I quite agree with her there. This does not mean you should not have a plan for your career, you certainly must.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Salt Sugar Fat: How the food giants hooked us

Author: Michael Moss

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If you never ever ever want to set your foot in the processed food aisle go read this book! I’m actually not kidding once you read this book, you would think twice before buying any of those convenience foods like pasta sauce or yummy cookies like oreo.

The book is almost divided in three sections, one section each for sugar, salt and fat. For each ingredient, the author has done research on what roles they play in making processed food tasty and have a long shelf life. When you read it you left aghast at how many teaspoons of sugar one single oreo cookie has or how much percentage of sodium is there in the bottle of pasta sauce. Or when people call it junk food, it is really that – junk. The author goes over how things changed, what brought about these changes and where we’re headed. It turns out that people are becoming more and more aware because of which companies have had to introduce low-cal, low-salt and/or low-sugar products.

The book is filled with lots of facts. I just wish it wasn’t as thick as it is. At some point I felt like tearing my hair, banging my head and screaming “I get it! I get it!”. A lot of it was interesting – to see how the changes were brought about, what the companies were thinking, what the government was doing (or not doing) and where did all that put the consumer.

One thing was clear from the book, end of the day it is our attitude towards “convenience” that pushed us to the market of processed foods; and we’re so blinded by it that we don’t care to look at the ingredients to see what we’re eating. That brings to my mind Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules”. One of the rules in that book was to not buy anything which had an ingredient you couldn’t pronounce. If one were to follow that, only 1% of the processed foods would remain in your cart.

It’s hard to put a bottomline on this one. I enjoyed reading most of it and gained a lot of insight. However I would’ve loved it had it been a little shorter.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Gardening update

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Here’s an update on how our veggie garden is doing. As you can see it’s thriving! The sun god has been very generous this year (and so has the heat goddess!). While both are too much for me to take, I take relief in the fact that the veggies are relishing it!

Unfortunately I forgot to post photos when we’d just planted all these veggies Sad smileIn the above photo:

  • In the front square: onions on the bottom left, lavender just next to it. Red Pepper on the top right an spinach adjacent to it.
  • In the back square: tomato all along the vine and then a summer squash plant.

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In this photo:

  • In the front square: Strawberry plant in the bottom left, onion on the bottom right. Beans in the rest of the area.
  • In the back square: Cucumber all along the vine and a zucchini and summer squash plant in front of it.

Can wait to harvest the veggies!!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Butterscotch ice cream

butterscotch ice cream

Sorry for the terrible photo – I wanted to take a photo of the ice cream before it got over. Everyone really liked it!

This year we’ve had summer since the spring! Yes seriously the temperatures started climbing in spring and we’ve seen no end to it. I figured it’s a good year to put my ice cream maker to use and get some expertise in the art of making ice cream.

Butterscotch is a very popular flavor of ice cream in India and something that we don’t get here. So I tried to search for recipes for butterscotch ice cream. I already had a base recipe and just wanted to figure out how I could modify it for butterscotch.

My recipe is a marriage of two different recipes. I took the base recipe from KAF and the recipe for pralines from Tarla dalal.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/8 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp butterscotch flavor

For the pralines:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 tsp butter

To make the pralines:

    1. Powder the cashews using a grinder. I was careful not to powder so much that it became butter and to be on the cautious let some pieces remain larger than the others.
    2. Prepare a baking sheet with a non stick mat or grease a plate.
    3. Heat the sugar in a broad non-stick pan and cook on a medium flame for 5 to7 minutes or till the sugar melts, while stirring continuously.
    4. Remove from the flame, add the cashews and butter and mix well.
    5. Spread the mixture on a greased flat surface and allow it to cool and harden.
    6. Scrape it out using a palate knife and coarsely powder it using a mortar-pestle. If you don’t have a mortar-pestle, put the pieces in a zip loc and smash them using a rolling pin.

To make the ice cream:

  1. Mix sugar, cream, butterscotch flavor and milk till the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add the above mixture to your ice cream maker and make the ice cream per the directions of the ice cram maker.
  3. Half way through add the praline bits.
  4. Freeze the ice cream for at least 2 hours. Cover the container with saran wrap and then close the lid. This prevents ice crystals from forming on the ice cream.