Friday, March 30, 2007

Good deeds...

(Teachings from Gita) Arjun thought that if he fought against his own brothers, the Kaurvas, in the war then he would be doing wrong. So he didn't want to participate in the war. We consider that who we are in our next birth is determined by our deeds in this birth. Thus, we are tied to our deeds and virtues and this is the motivation for good men to do good deeds and lead a virtuous life. However, Krishna says that if a deed is done with the intention of doing good for others and doesn't have any selfish motive attached to it then such deeds do not tie you; they do not contribute to your sins because they're selfless deeds; such are the deeds that we should do. He also says that we can't shrink from our duties in this way.

The lesson that I take away from this is that sometimes we might consider certain things to be wrong but we should think if it does good for other people, is it good for the world, am I doing this solely for other's benefit and there's nothing in it for me. If the answer is yes, then we should do it. Simply put, it's not considered wrong then.

I'm unable to think of an example for this case, I think the one in question - Arjun's dilemma is the best. However, I can think of a counter-example. One can't kill a murderer/thief saying that the world would be a better place if I did that. For one that is not your duty, there is law to decide that. Your duty would be to bring him before the legal system. It may sound as a random example to some, but when I was thinking about the essence of what Krishna said the first thing that came to mind was this: would it be correct to eliminate anti-social elements from this world in the light of what has been said?

I've lots of questions brewing in my mind but I think the next few shlokas would answer them so I'll wait till I read them. In the meantime, if anybody wants to elucidate on this please do.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dus (2005)

Starring: Sunjay Dutt, Abhishek Bachchan, Zayed Khan, Sunil Shetty, Pankaj Kapoor, Shilpa Shetty, etc.

It's an awesome movie!! After a long time I think Bollywood has churned out such a fantastic fast-paced thriller! It's about an army of policemen trying to foil the plan of an anti-social element to cause a massive calamity. They don't know what the plan is, when or where it'll take place and they've never seen the the force behind the plan. The only information they've is the name of that force. The story is intriguing and you're always clinging to the edge-of-your-seat. Generally, in such movies songs seem to be out-of-place and one wishes that there were none to spoil the flow but this movie has some great songs like the title song - "Dus bahane", "Deedar de", etc.

All the main characters have performed well but in my opinion Pankaj Kapoor and the director have outperformed their job.

Rating: Must watch.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


(Teachings from Gita)

मनुष्य जैसे मुझे भजता है, मैं वैसे ही उसे भजता हूँ।
(I serve my worshipper, the way he serves me)

I appear to him in the avataar that he likes to worship, whether he worships me as Vishnu, Ram or as any goddess. If he gives his all to me, I give my all to him. If he worships me like a father, then I treat him as my son. If he worships me as a friend, I make him my friend. I know that people follow me, so when they see me behave like this I hope that they will also behave similarly. If somebody respects them as their father, they will take care of him like a son.

In a different shlok, Krishnaji said that one who has complete faith in me and has submitted himself to me will never experience fear or anger because he knows that if he's in a problem it's because I want him to be in that situation; that I'll give him the energy and wisdom to tackle the problem; that I want him to emerge wiser and stronger from that problem; and that every problem is there to teach us a lesson of life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Gujiya (गुजिया)

This happens to be one of my favorites and it's a speciality sweet made on Holi (होली), a festival of colors celebrated in northern India. Even though it's my favorite I like it only when it's made from my Ma's recipe or it's made by my grandmother. Okay so here's my mother's recipe. The proportion of every ingredient is variable; if you like the filling to be more creamy then you can increase the ratio of khoya; similarly for all other ingredients. Sooji is the only ingredient which should be in negligible quantity.


1/2 cup khoya
1/4 cup sugar 3/8 cup sugar (updated 03/09/09)
1 tsp sooji
1.5 tbsp coconut powder
Raisins and chironji (according to taste - if you like dry-fruits then you could use more of them, otherwise around 2 tbsp each)
2 cups maida (or all-purpose flour)
3 tbsp oil
Oil for deep frying

  1. Roast the suji till golden brown.
  2. Roast the khoya till it turns slightly pinkish brown. I use frozen khoya which has a slight raw taste and it helps to cook it a little. Let it cool.
  3. Add coconut powder, sooji, raisins, chironji and sugar. If you don't have chironji, you can substitute it with any nutty fruit like roasted almond or cashew. Mix them well.
  4. Knead the maida with the oil and water. The dough should be soft but don't use too much water or else you get the bubbles on the skin (see the photo).
  5. Take a small portion of the dough, knead it in your palm and roll it into a ball. Flatten it into a disc and using a rolling-pin, roll into a circle like a mini roti/tortilla. The size of the circle? Depends on the size of gujiya that you want. The gujiya's size will be half of that circle. The final roti should be sufficiently thin.
  6. Take the mini-roti in your palm, dip your index finger into water and slightly dampen the rim of one half of the roti (to help in sealing it later).
  7. Put a spoonful of the mixture in the center of the roti. Now seal the ends by bringing one half over the other. Press the rims lightly. You could use a dumpling maker to avoid all this. For the fancy ends - start from end, fold it towards the inside it'll look like a triangle. Now pinch the edge just after it and fold it inside. Keep going till you reach the other end. If you can't make it, don't worry. In fact I don't think I'm doing a good job at explaining it. Actually it's easier to do when you see it. Just make sure that whatever you do, you seal it well.
  8. Heat oil for deep frying after you've made all the gujiyas.
  9. Fry the gujiyas at a medium-high flame to a light brown color.

  • When kneading the dough use little water to avoid bubbles on the skin later when you fry. Use little more oil if required.
  • Seal them well else they are vulnerable to suturing when frying. Don't overstuff them for the same purpose.


  • This recipe makes around 25 medium sized gujias.
  • I added 3 tbsp dessicated coconut and 3 tbsp raisins.

Ambode (अम्बोडे)

Ambode (अम्बोडे) is a popular snack of Karnataka and my husband's favourite. This recipe is derived from my mother-in-law's (or should it be mother's-in-law??). I like adding cilantro (धनीया) and ginger (अदरक) wherever possible, they add a very nice flavor. I'm sure when my Ma reads this, she'll be smiling to herself because in my childhood I used to totally dislike them. Actually, I figured the importance of these two ingredients from two of my friends.

Quantity: Approx 10-15
What you'll need:

1/4 cup chana dal
1/8 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp grated ginger
1-1.5 tbsp chopped green chillies
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

  1. Soak the chana dal overnight in sufficient water.
  2. Grind the dal with as minimum water as possible. The final texture should be coarse, there maybe a few whole grains left. The more you churn the batter, the more fluffy the vada will be which we don't want.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the batter and mix well.
  4. Heat oil in a fry pan (for deep frying the vadas). Initially keep it at high flame so that the oil gets heated quickly, once the oil is hot reduce the flame to med-high.
  5. Take a heaped tbsp of batter in your paln, pat it a little to form a small disc and drop it in the oil. Fry them well so that the dal inside gets cooked properly. Each vada may take around 3-4 minutes. While frying turn over the vada when one side is done to let the other side cook. Remove when they're slightly dark brown.
  • Batter should not be fine-grained, it should be coarse.
  • Don't worry if you'd to add a little extra water to grind, squeeze the extra water before dropping the vada into the oil.
  • Fry the vadas patiently on a medium-high flame. If cooked on a high flame, they will become brown from outside but will not cook inside. If you're cooking a lot of vadas and you think the oil has cooled down a little, then increase the heat to high for sometime till the oil regains it's temperature.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Derived from yug (युग)+ aadi (आदी), it means beginning of a new era. It isbelieved that Brahmaji (ब्रह्माजी), the creator of the hindu pantheon, started creation on this day - chaithra shudhdha pratipadhe. Also thegreat Indian Mathematician Bhaskaracharya's calculations proclaimedteh Ugadi day from the sunrise on as the beginning of the new year, new month and new day. It marks the beginning of a new hindu lunar calendar with a change in the moon's orbit.

People eat neem (नीम) and jaggery (गुड़ ) on this day. Neem has a bitter taste while jaggery is sweet. The significance being that one should be as sweet as jaggery to others and that life is a mixture of good and bad, joy and sorrow, and success and failure; but one should take everything in one's stride in the coming year.

The traditional food for this festival is "holige" (होलीगे) and "puliogare" (पुलीओगरे or tamarind rice).

My menu: sewiyan payasam (सेवियाँ पायसम) and ambude (अम्बोडे).
I found a cool kolam site। It has a flash demo of how to draw the kolam. It doesn't have too many designs though. I made the "diya" kolam.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Another Y2K problem

I recently came across this Year 2038 problem and first I was irritated that just recently we got over the hype on Y2K (Year 2000) problem and there comes another one, why do the computers have so many problems?!?! However, soon I was very pleased. This problem just indicates how far we've come. When people must've decided on the time stamp of 1970 they obviously knew the limitation that in 2038 there might be a problem; but for them 2038 would've seemed eons away; that who cares what'll happen in 2038, that's nowhere in the near future.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Transliteration - the elixir!!!!

Ignorant me had complained some time back that what if there was support for hindi language, looks like in a way there is!! Yipee!! There's support for the hindi script and there's transliteration: what more do I need?!?! For example:
जीवन, भोग, रथ, रथी, लगाम, घोड़े, सारथी, and the list can continue on and on and on। I'm so happy, the next time I need to write a lesson from Gita I'll probably use this tool! Kudos to the Blogger team! which category of posts does this go into: let me create a new category "Misc". "Misc" is indispensable, you probably have a "Misc" folder on your computer, one in your inbox, in fact one in every place you categorize stuff. Come to think of it I didn't have one till now. Lo and behold! Here it is.

Sanskrit dictionary

It's been a kind of "eureka" week for me, first the transliteration and now this sanskrit dictionary. That's a relief! Earlier I used to trouble my Ma with all these difficult sanskrit words I encountered in Gita.
It doesn't have all of them but most of them. Maybe I should continue my search for a more comprehensive one. For the time being though, I can make do with this.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Soul - the control center

(Teachings from Gita) A man's soul is superior to his wisdom, wisdom is superior to the heart and heart to the senses. They can be compared to a rath. The rathi (the traveller) is the soul, saarthi (the carriage master) the wisdom, lagaam (the rein) the heart and horses the senses. Rath itself is the body. A rath goes in the right direction if the rathi has the saarthi under his control, similarly in a noble man the soul would govern his wisdom and the wisdom in turn controls the heart and the senses. One whose senses overpower the heart and together they rule the wisdom, loses his direction in the journey of life. The right path is always difficult to follow, while the wrong path will lure you with various temptations and it is easy for your senses to get trapped in these temptations; but the key in life is to let your wisdom decide what is right for you and not your senses.

By senses I mean that percieved by your sensory organs, called "indriya" in sanskrit/hindi.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Let there be green...

When I used to read about global warming in school, I never thought that I would witness this phenomenon in my lifetime. I was under the impression that it would take decades and decades for such a thing to have it's effects; but mother nature proved me wrong. San Diego had such a wonderful weather: it was the pride of San Diego. Never too cold, never too hot. However, one year it got a little hotter than it used to be but it was only for 4-5 days and so quote manageable. The next year, the hottest selling item at any store was: fans. The winters have become so cold that sometimes it touches the freezing point. In retrospect, it's unbelievable; but it has happened and if we don't want it to get any worse then we better start doing something about it or else we would be living the movie "Day after Tomorrow".

Each one of us should do whatever we can towards conservation of natural resources and reduction of non-biodegradable waste. Here are some suggestions which I've adopted over the course of my life:

1. Use the recycle bin: try to put every little piece of paper. that you want to throw away, into the recycle bin. Not just paper but also cans, boxes etc.

2. Re-use your plastic/paper shopping bags. Instead of getting new ones everytime you go to a grocery store, take your old ones. You could probably keep some extra in your car trunks, that way you don't have to remember to take them everytime. Or maybe buy a cloth shopper.

3. Minimize the consumption of fuel by :- carpooling, not using the car if the destination if walkable and using the public transportation if possible. Initiate a "ride-your-bike-to-work" day at your workplace. Or assign a day just for yourself when you won't use your car.

4. Avoid using disposable stuff like spoons, plates, glasses, etc. They are significant contributors to the trash.

5. Buy stuff in bulk rather than personal packs, not only does it come out to be cheaper it also saves the extra packing material.

6. Switch on your dishwasher/washer/dryer only when they are full. It conserves tremendous amount of energy and your energy bill plummets! :) Try this for a month and compare your bills.

Note: I'll keep updating this list as and when I come across new ways to save energy.

Related Links
Anyesha's take on Earth Day

Thursday, March 8, 2007


Another one from the Gita (I wish there was support for Hindi language),

The more you give in to your temptations the more tempted you will be.
(Jaise agni mein indhan daalne se agni aur badh jaati hai, usi tarah manushya jitna adhik bhogon ka upbhog karta hai uski bhog-trishna utni adhik ho jaati hai)

Unless I translated the word "bhog" incorrectly to temptation, doesn't it sound in contrast to the saying "The only way to overcome a temptation is to yield to it"? I'll not debate this, because I'm not sure if we can take the latter simply at it's face value. However, if somebody has an input on it, please share it with me.

There is no end to wordly desires, and I don't think that there's anything wrong in having desires as long as the means to fulfilly them are moral, ethical, legal and doesn't hurt anybody. Yes, everyone has desires but one should balance between giving and taking. Each one of us should also think about giving to the society in whatever way we can. That brings to my mind Gandhi's Talisman by Mahatma Gandhi, of course.

"I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man/woman whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him/her. Will he/she gain anything by it? Will it restore him/her to a control over his/her own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away."

If one can live by this talisman, then he/she will always be happy in his/her life.

Fun Home: A family tragicomic

Author: Alison Bechdel

Does "Fun home" sound to you like a "Mad House"? Well it's not. It's short for "Funeral home". So when I started reading this book, I'd a totally different expectation from it compared to what it turned out to be. It's a memoir, a very different one at that. This is the first time I've ever seen it in the form of a comic strip. Hence, making it short and concise. The illustrations are simply beautiful, except a few which I think are too explicit and could be avoided.

It mainly concentrates on the author, her father and their relatioship. Her father maintains a funeral home, isn't too much of a father and has a personal secret (not for long though). I liked the way the author uses the plots of famous books to tell her story. Otherwise, I didn't find anything stellar in the book. In fact it gets dull at times.

Bottomline: A timepass.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Law of Commonality

When we bought our car, we picked the color metallic aspen green with the thought that it was most uncommon color we'd seen on the roads; but now we seem to find that every other car has that color! Is it that every other car is of that color or is it that we seem to be looking at only those cars which have the same color? Doesn't it happen to everybody with some thing or the other other? I think it's because we can relate to that 'thing'. Earlier had we heard/seen such a 'thing' we'd have probably ignored it because it doesn't mean anything to us; but now that we possess it, we pay special attention it.