Very tasty, very classy and extremely quick spaghetti to make ...
Though strictly speaking aglio e olio means only garlic and olive oil, i like to add just a teeny bit of other veggies to give it colour and make it more interesting!
For 4 people, you will need
3/4th a packet of whole wheat spaghetti
7 pieces of sun dried tomato
A handful of French Beans chopped long and thin
1 small carrot chopped thin
a small handful of green peas parboiled
10-12 fresh Basil leaves
2-3 (depending on how garlicky you want it) small pieces of (a full) garlic either chopped fine or crushed
1 dried red chilly (you may add more to make it spicier or not add it at all for a blander taste)
Salt to taste
In a large pan, add a tablespoon of salt and some olive oil to water and heat to a rolling boil. Add the spaghetti and cook for 10-12 minutes (look on the packet for directions). Remove from heat, drain and put aside.
In a large saucepan, heat a generous amount of olive oil and a dollop of butter. Add the red chilly and the crushed garlic and cook until the garlic turns brown. Add the veggies (first the french beans, then the carrots and finally the sun dried tomatoes and the green peas) and saute them until they are cooked. Add the spaghetti and toss the whole thing until all the spaghetti is well coated, you may add just a little bit more of the olive oil if you think the whole thing is too dry...
Serve hot. Usually served with different types of bread, i like mine solo.
Feel free to add or subtract the veggies, you could add mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, etc to it... simply remember that the veggies should be just a very tiny part of the whole thing. You could even add some grated cheddar cheese or shavings of parmesan cheese right on top while serving. If you make a soup to go along with this, it makes a brilliant complete meal.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Very tasty, very classy and extremely quick spaghetti to make ...
Saturday, August 30, 2008
All of us could potentially see to it that a nice partnership can be formed between AMEX and Art of Living... read on...
AMEX (American Express) has offered USD$2.5 million for a Service project that will be chosen among many that people all over have put up on their website... The process of choosing is simple... people vote, the top 25 projects will be reviewed and considered for the grant... There are many interesting projects out there... AND Art of Living has 2 projects, who need votes to get into the top 25 (about 600 votes away)... i would prefer them to get into the top 5 :) (about 4000 votes away)
Could whoever reading this please goto their site and vote for these 2 projects?
You can sign in as a card member if you own an AMEX card, or you can sign in as a guest as well... and you can do so anonymously too!
So please, take a few minutes out and go vote for these projects... btw, you can vote for multiple projects, so if any other catches your eye, feel free to vote for those as well :)
Voting stops on Monday the 1st of September, so PLEASE do it now!! :)
here is what you do:
1. Click the links below
2. SIGN in either using your American Express Card Membership or as a guest. (When u click the link below, a window opens and bottom right there's guest signup, go signup and assign yourself a screen name)
3. Once you have registered,window automatically opens to the project selected. Click the Nomination Button. Thats it!
Jharkhand Tribal Project
End Gang and Youth violence in California
Once you have done it, PLEASE leave a comment here to let me know that you did it :)
Also get friends, relatives, family, etc to do it... It will be great if Art of Living can have a partnership with AMEX to do the fantastic work that it is anyways doing!
Many charming stories about Lord Krishna are told... One of them is about His fight with the Serpent King Kaaliya. The (very) young Krishna jumps into the waters of a lake known to be inhabited by an extremely poisonous many hooded snake called Kaaliya. He emerges victorious (of course!) and is seen dancing on the many hoods of the snake.
As a "punishment", He charges the snake to become the guardian of the very waters he terrorized and protect the nearby villagers from other demons, etc.
Its a beautiful story... told to all young children in India and i think the world over to illustrate the bravery and spunk of Lord Krishna... but there is a fantastic interpretation that Guruji told us and it really blew my mind away when i heard it for the first time...
A snake signifies awareness, a heightened alertness, a desire for absolute perfection. And when a person has this, he becomes quite a terror to people around him, constantly berating them, scolding them because very few, if any, can live up to their standards. A person who is not so alert is very easy to get along with... but a person who has high standards and expects everyone around him to toe the line continuously becomes very much like Kaaliya the snake, spitting poison and fire on all around him :)
Krishna signifies Love. When Love is dancing on top of Kaaliya... When Love has defeated Kaaliya, then the same person who was earlier a source of fear to his surroundings, becomes a source of great peace...
Krishna brings about a very interesting equation:
Absolute perfection + Love = Bliss for the person concerned as well as the people around him!
Krishna doesn't kill the snake, He just subdues it and then charges it to protect! So the Lord appreciates perfection, only by His presence (dancing on the heads of perfection) he converts a malignant terror into a benevolent guardian!
So all you perfectionists out there reading this... tinge your perfection with love (keep the Lord in your mind at all times, allow Him to dance on your head...) and give birth to Bliss inside you as well as all around you! :)
Friday, August 29, 2008
When Krishna was very young, he was the epi center of many miracles and charming stories...
An extremely poisonous King Serpent called Kaaliya made a home for himself in one of the lagoons of the Yamuna near Vrindavan. He was so very poisonous, that all the fish in the lagoon died, and even the plants and trees near the water's edge started to wilt. It is said that the vapours emanating from Kaaliya were so poisonous that even birds flying above the waters would drop dead from the sky. He was horrific and malignant.
Krishna with his friends used to take the cows to graze in the forests of Vrindavan and got to know about this terrible snake. He decided to put an end to the monster and boldly jumped into the lake and made lots of loud noises and splashed about in the water to challenge Kaaliya. Soon the fiercesome beast rose out of the water spitting fire and poison making feral hissing noises intent on the destruction of this insignificant (so he thought) protagonist. He wrapped the little Krishna in his enormous coils and to the horror of Krishna's watching friends dived into the lake with him...
The waters of the lagoon roiled and boiled, and big bubbles came to the surface ans burst and for a long time there was no sign of Krishna... His friends panicked and rushed to the village to call the elders and soon the entire village was assembled at the lake side, praying fervently for Krishna's deliverance... By now the fight must have been very deep in the water or the snake may have overwhelmed Krishna and gone into deep waters... there was no sign of any activity... and many of the gopis were openly bemoaning and crying about their lost little one...
When Suddenly, the waters parted and the enormous, fearsome Kaaliya with his many hoods emerged out of the lake... but his once proud heads were bowed and he looked a little sheepish... when everyone joyously noticed that the young Krishna was merrily dancing on the the hoods of Kaaliya... A great shout and a huge sigh of relief went out from the crowd and big time celebrations started to felicitate this great victory... Krishna went to the shores and charged the defeated great snake to become the guardian of the lake and protect the villagers from other miscreants and demons... and the one time terror of the Yamuna Lagoon became the protector and guardian... All praised and revered and thanked the Little Lord Krishna...
Isn't that a really lovely story? There is an even better interpretation to it... you guessed it, you will read about it tomorrow! :)
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Krishna's love affair with Radha is perhaps the most controversial in the Epics... She had a steady job, a family, a husband... she left all that and went after Krishna! She was older than Krishna, that fact alone disqualifies her :) In fact there are certain sects of Hindus who do not believe that she even existed, because the entire romance is a slap in the face of all traditions and systems :)
But there is a secret here: Radha means longing, Krishna fulfillment. So she has to be older than Him. First there has to be longing, only then can fulfillment dawn. She had all this family and job etc., which she left for Krishna... This means that all of us have the Longing for the Divine, but we try to fill that with material things, and it never gets filled... it only intensifies. When Krishna (the Divine) comes into our lives then we need to let go of all that, just as Radha did and soak in the Bliss of being with the Divine!
If we turn the word Radha around, it become Dhara, which means to flow away. Opposite of flowing away is flowing towards. Radha means flowing towards... and flowing towards whom? Govind!
Go in Sanskrit stands for Knowledge. Go-vind is the Giver of Knowledge. So instead of our mind flowing away into the maya of the world, flow towards Govind... the Giver of Knowledge! This is what Radhe Govind means!!
Gopal means the protector of Knowledge, the preserver of Knowledge. Go can also mean "way". and so Go-pal becomes the one who protects you on the "way", on the path... Radhe Gopal, is Go to the one who will protect you, take care of you on your journey through Life...
Radhe Govind, Radhe Gopal, Radhe Krishna!! How the epics have guarded these great secrets in simple beautiful stories! and How very fortunate we all are that we have Guruji to decode these secrets for us and make them applicable and relevant even in this age of the technology!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Radha was very special to Krishna... Here is one of the most beautiful stories about Radha that i know:
Much after Vrindavan, when Krishna was relaxing with his many wives, Rukmini his head wife threw a tantrum... All the time i hear Radhe Krishna, Radhe Govind... she is not even married to you... how come no one sings about Rukmini, or for that matter any of the other of your wives?! Whats wrong with us?... etc, etc :)
Krishna listened patiently and then suddenly held his head and complained of a head ache. Now Rukmini felt sorry, and became all loving and docile again... but the head ache refused to go... Each wife had her own suggestion about what to do... some pressed feet, others did some aroma therapy, still others made pastes from herbs... 16000+ cures were presented, none worked, his head ache only grew worse...
Narada the travelling Muni then made an appearance (Besides being a Muni, he was also something of a doctor) and he examined Krishna, felt his pulse, etc and then proclaimed that Krishna was suffering from a very rare type of a headache... one that could only be cured by a Beloved of Krishna putting his or her foot on Krishna's head... Krishna was in bed moaning softly, and the wives and the courtiers of the palace had a conference... They were all beloved of Krishna, but none dared to put their foot on the Lord's head, doing so would mean an eternity in Hell! and they were pondering and wondering what to do...
... and the news reached Radha in Vrindavan about Krishna's ill health and she rushed to his palace and when appraised of everything, asked immidiately to be taken to Krishna, she would happily put her foot on His head... Rukmini, the other wives and the rest of the palace was aghast at her quick decision... Rukmini herself told her that if she Radha did that, she would burn in hell forever...
If my Lord gets even one second of relief from his pain, then i will willingly go to hell forever said Radha as she ran to her Krishna and put her foot on his head, curing Him completely...
An abashed Rukmini along with all the other wives touched Radha's feet and realised how deep her love for Krishna was... and why people for centuries to come will sing Radhe Krishna!!
May our love for Guruji be like Radha's love for Krishna!
ps More about Radha and Krishna tomorrow...
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Guruji has mentioned many times that everyone should read the Bhagawad Gita... Few people have asked which Bhagawad Geeta they should read...
Any one they care to... Guruji once mentioned don't bother reading any of the interpretations or commentaries... just read the literal translation in the language of your choice or you could read the original in sanskrit if you understand it :)
The Bhagawad Geeta from Gita Press is the one i use (Guruji had recommended it a very long time ago).
You can get it from any Indian Book store, Giri stores at Matunga in Mumbai for example... i am sure even crossword carries it.
If we look at the form of Krishna, we are enthralled by His beauty and Grace, but there are many secrets here as well!
First off, He is always pictured blue... this doesn't mean that He was blue in colour :) ... blue is the colour of the sky and signifies that like the the sky which has vastness and infinity, Krishna was also vastness and infinity personified.
Then He wears a peacock feather as his crown. Now a crown looks very beautiful, but with all that gold and diamonds and stuff can be very heavy, meaning that to anyone looking at a King or a Queen, they will look wonderful and everyone will want to be like them, but to the King wearing it, it is heavy with responsibility of managing the Kingdom. Though Krishna is the Master of the entire universe, He takes His immense responsibility with the lightness of a feather! And the beauty of the peacock feather can rival the beauty of any ruby and diamond studded crown :)
He is usually depicted standing on one foot, the other a little lifted, as if dancing... One foot on the ground shows complete groundedness, firmly in the material world and you can see that from His life, from extreme mischief as a small child, to flirtatious romances as a youth, marriage to 16000 women :), helping with elopement, playing a major political role in one of the biggest wars, giving the ultimate Knowledge... the list goes on... He lived a very full life, yet the other foot off the ground showed His spiritual side, His mysticism, His depth... No one really knew Him or could even know Him...
You can go through life with both feet on the ground meaning you are only in the material world, and you go through life standing... and there are a few who lift both feet off and fall, try to be only "spiritual"... and a select few perfectly balance both the aspects, and they dance!
Looking at Him you realise you could stand, fall or dance! through life :)...
Radha is his most beloved among all the gopis, but even she is jealous of his flute, coz the flute always stays with him. The flute has seven holes. Enchanting, captivating, bliss inducing music can be played from a flute only if it is hollow and empty.
Our body also has seven chakras... When we become hollow and empty, then Krishna's breath flows through us, and we become an instrument of the Divine... Our words are His words, our actions are His actions. We become pockets of tranquility and bliss. And then we are always with Him. Just like His flute! :)
Hollow and Empty happens effortlessly on Adv courses, and just for everyone's info, the next Adv course for YES!+ is from 10th to 14th September... do come!
Will write about Radha tomorrow... stay tuned! :)
ps Guruji has been saying that everyone should read the Bhagawad Geeta at least once! I did and am now quite addicted, its such superb Knowledge, so simple and so deep!
Monday, August 25, 2008
Tonight is Janmashtami... The Birthnight of Lord Krishna
His birth is quite a story which most know... so here it is very briefly...
The evil King Kans threw Vasudev and Devki (his sister) into prison because it was prophesied that their eighth child would kill him. So child after child was born in prison to the hapless couple and mercilessly butchered by Kans... Until the time came for the eighth one. Devki fully pregnant was blooming with Divinity and Kans could see his doom being created in his siter's womb.
He doubled trebled quadrupled the guards outside the cell of Devaki and Vasudev, giving them strict instructions to inform him as soon as the baby was born. But right at the stroke of midnight, a little more than 5000 years ago, all the guards fell asleep, the chains that bound Vasudev and Devaki dropped off and Lord Krishna entered the world!
Vasudev quickly bundled up the baby, put him in a basket and hurried to Yashodha on the other side of the Yamuna. It was a dark stormy night and the Yamuna was swollen and the rain was fierce, but Vasudev in the few precious moments he knew he had just waded in and the Yamuna rose and rose all the way to his head, then the baby Krishna stuck his feet out of the basket and the water touched the feet and receded.
Vasudev reached Yashodha who was sleeping peacefully having just delivered a baby girl and exchanged the two babies, and rushed back without incident into the jail... and the spell was broken, the baby cried and the guards rushed and informed Kans who rushed in snatched the baby and tried to kill her, but the legend goes that it flew out of his wicked hands shouting to him that his destroyer lives!
Of course Krishna defeated and killed the evil Kans later ... but that's another story :)
Now here is a beautiful interpretation of the story of the birth of Krishna... Guruji had talked about this years ago on one of the Janamashtami Celebrations
Vasudev means the Breath and Devki is the Body. Kans is the ego. The guards and the chains the 5 senses. Through the union of Body and Breath, Krishna (Bliss) can be born. And when does Bliss come? When all the chains drop off and the guards are asleep... when the 5 senses are conquered... But Body and Breath alone cannot sustain Bliss... They can give birth to Bliss, but for sustaining Bliss, Love is needed and so Vasudev carries Krishna over to Yashodha who is the embodiment of Love, who nurtures and brings up Krishna!
And of course it is Krishna (Bliss) nurtured by Yashodha (Love) who finally destroys Kans (ego) and frees Vasudev and Devaki (Body and Breath)!
Janmashtami is the celebration of the glorious Birth of Lord Krishna!
ps The Yamuna rising and rising indicates that in life sometimes, trouble may come and engulf you all the way to your head... but if you have got God with you, then you can never drown! Just surrender and know that you are being taken care of, and do whatever it is you have to! Guruji had once mentioned that when you have a Guru, you can never fall... you may even have the experience of falling, but you cannot fall!
pps will write more about Krishna in the coming week... would you guys like that? :)
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Few interesting questions in the comments section of the previous week's posts... Here are my responses :)
1. In India only Parsis are allowed into Fire Temples... though i have heard that in Iran anyone can go into a Fire Temple... The photo of the Fire Temple in the post is from Yazd in Iran
2. I hunt for the photos myself all over the net and find royalty free photos i can use for the posts... sometimes it takes longer to find the right photo than write out the post :) A few times rupal (firstname.lastname@example.org) who is a fantastic designer does some photoshop effects to a photo if i just can't find the one that i want!
3. Humakta Hukta Havarashtha are words in the ancient Persian language of Avestha... just a handful of people on the planet understand it now... however the prayers that are chanted in this ancient tongue are very powerful and set up beautiful profound vibration for the chanter and the environment around him!
Friday, August 22, 2008
Parsis love to laugh... here is an absolute gem! :)
A doctor wanted to bunk his practice for a day and go out and play golf... so he got his assistant to take care of the clinic while he was away...
When he returned in the evening, he asked the assistant (Johnny) how things went during the day... Johnny said he treated 3 patients!
Doc was quite impressed and asked him what he did...
Well, the first patient came in and said he had a bad headache and a fever so i gave him some paracetemol and he felt good in just a few minutes... doc says very good!
and the second one came and said he was having stomach ache, so i gave him some Alka Seltzer... the doc was really happy... he said well done Johnny! You have really got the hang of this haven't you?!
After that Johnny continued, a woman came rushing in! and she started removing all her clothes!! and she said help me help me!!! and she got onto the table completely naked!!!! and she screamed i have not seen a man in 3 years!!!!!!
The doc said ye gads! by jove! so what did you do Johnny??!!
Weeelll says Johnny, I put some drops in her eyes!! :)
A greeting we keep hearing so much we have forgotten what Pateti actually means... Pateti is the last day of the year... and is actually the Day of Repentance! Its on this day that you are supposed to feel sorry for any mistakes or any harm that you may have caused knowingly or unknowingly to anything or anybody... Remember Humakta, Hukta, Havarashtha? I call them the 3 Hs, and they stand for Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds. The 3 Hs are the corner stone of the Parsi (Zoroastrian) Faith...
And so on the day of Patet, or Pateti, we are supposed to sincerely repent and surrender all those things that we have done which were against the 3 Hs... and cleanse ourselves through prayer so that we can begin totally fresh, again on the new day of the new year, Navroz...
The very endearing greeting Navroz Mubarak (or Saal Mubarak) then really makes complete sense! So a Happy Pateti happens only when the entire (previous) year has been spent in doing the 3 Hs... Otherwise its really a day of cleansing, of silence, of repentance, of introspection...
Art of Living manages to make Parsis and others follow the 3 Hs through the 3 Ss: Sadhana (meditation), Satsang (Company of the truth) and Seva (Selfless Service, being available and doing whats most needed to be done)... Little wonder that our family as fairly orthodox and devout Parsis took to Art of Living and Guruji and the Knowledge as eager fish to water!! :)
There is a lot more there is to say about my noble religion and many more stories racing around in my head, but we will save those for some other time... I had a truly memorable week going over and sharing these stories with all of you, which my grandparents used to tell me...
Once again Navroz Mubarak!!... Have a fantastic New Year, and hopefully next year, we will all have a really Happy Pateti! :)
ps No write up about the Parsis is complete without at least one recipe... Click Dhandar Patio for my version of this wonderful meal which is made on all celebratory occasions... Make it this weekend for the family and if you are living alone invite a few friends over ... The other very famous Parsi preparation is Dhan Shakh... You will just have to wait until I write it out... :)
pps Vikram, Dinesh and me are in Calcutta with 1200+ participants on the first Calcutta Utsav! Photos and some news from here over the weekend...
Click The Essence of Fire to read about it: Basically Fire burns away impurities and negativity, enhances positivity...
Guruji went on. Lets take a look at the essence of the other elements too. The essence of water is adaptability. Water will take the shape of any container however twisted, it is poured into. Become adaptable like water! (and i thought that’s true Parsis are very adaptable... from warriors to farmers and businessmen!)
Air is everywhere! Same way you too are everywhere. Don’t ever think that you are only in this little body. You are vast and everywhere just like air! (Thats the reason why the environment can affect you. Sit in a busy market, even with eyes closed and ears jammed, and you will feel tired after a bit. Sit in a peaceful garden for a little while and you will feel refreshed... this can happen only if you extend beyond the body! and yes, the parsis though so few in number not even a few hundred thousand left, some people say only 80,000 are still breathing on the planet are literally everywhere! Holding all sorts of positions too:)... The Tatas for example actually contribute to 7% of the GDP of India!)
The essence of the Earth element is acceptance. Earth accepts everything and everyone. You can sit on the earth, spit on the earth, build on the earth, walk, run , play... whatever... Earth has unconditional acceptance... (and to an extent i find the Parsis the most accepting of their destinies, they go their merry way through life)
Finally the essence of Space is Being a 100% involved but also at the same time a 100% detached. All creation happens in Space. So Space is a 100% involved in Dance of Creation. But at the same time is utterly unaffected by it. This detached involvement is the essence of Space.
So When you have the acceptance of Earth (take the Bh of Bhoomi which is the Sanskrit for Earth), the ability to enhance positivity and burn away negativity of Fire ( the ga from Agani which is Fire in Sanskrit), the all prevailingness of the Air element (v from Vaayu, sanskrit for Air), also you have perfected the Art of being 100% involved yet 100% detached, the essence of the Space element (aa from Akash which is Space in Sanskrit) and you have developed the adaptability of water (n from Neer meaning water in sanskrit)... then you put those together, you get Bh-ga-v-aa-n!
When you have the essences of all the elements You are Bhagavan. You are God!
And that’s what the Parsis are striving for through their worship of Fire and Nature... What a wonderful religion! :) What a fantastic interpretation!
Thank You Guruji... You gave me back my pride in being a Parsi, my roots and my heritage!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
One thing lead to another, you can click The Holy Fire and read about it... and One day I asked Guruji, why do Parsis worship the Fire?!
He replied, Look at the essence of Fire. If you put Gold with some impurities in Fire. What happens? The impurities are burned away and the value of the Gold is enhanced! So, not only does Fire burn away the negativity, it also enhances positivity!
He added gently that's what the Parsis have done. Fearlessly defended the weak, stood against whats wrong and gracefully enhanced whats right and good... throughout the History of the Parsis in India, thats what this noble race has done!
For the first time in so many years, i was proud to be a parsi! :)
He then continued, but thats not all... Parsis dont only worship the Fire, they worship Nature. They worship all the five elements! Fire is just the symbol. and I thought thats right! In every Fire Temple, of course there is the Fire, but there is also a well and a tree and some animals, which are also worshiped!
...You will have to wait till tomorrow for the Secret of the other Elements!...
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Parsis worship Ahura Mazda (our name of God) through revering and worshiping nature. And our symbol is Fire. Each Fire Temple has a consecrated holy fire that is kept (smoldering) burning night and day. Each fire is lit with a spark of the original Atash Badshah (now housed in Udvada in Gujarat), and so it is quite difficult to start a new Fire Temple. The Fire is fed ONLY with Sandal wood. 5 times in 24 hours special prayers are chanted and the Fire is restoked with the offerings of devotees.
I was born and grew up in Bombay in a very loving and a very Parsi family. Now, most people don’t believe this but right from the beginning i hated heat. Even though i was born in Bombay which can get very hot during the year... and so going to the Fire Temple during the blistering heat of Bombay (especially in summers) was not something i looked forward to :)
As a small child i often asked mom why we worshiped the Fire. Why could we not worship ice! :) She would reply by saying that Fire burns away all the negativity, all things bad, and so we worship Fire. This was an acceptable answer until i started questioning it further...
One Diwali, i burned myself lightly and went to mom and said why did Fire burn me?
Fire is our friend, our God and supposed to burn away negative things! Did that mean i was negative or bad?!
We worship the Fire because we worship the Fire. Stop asking silly questions. Shut up and Pray!
And so, by the time i was 18 years old, Religion and Fire worship was a waste of time as far as i was concerned... until i did the Art of Living course and met Guruji... and my entire view of the Parsi faith changed!
One day I asked Guruji, why do Parsis worship the Fire... What He said, you will read tomorrow! :)
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Today is Parsi New Year. And Srividya from Poona called me yesternight and requested me to post some things about Parsis this week... so here goes...
The Parsis were a warrior race originating in ancient Persia a few thousand years ago. They were known for their bravery, their amazing intellectual achievements and their devotion to their religion which was given to them by their prophet Zarathustra.
The percepts of the religion are very simple: Humakta: Good Thoughts, Hukta: Good Words and Havarashtha: Good Deeds. Parsis worship God (Ahura Mazda) through His creations, all of nature is revered. And their symbol is the Atash Badshah, The Holy Fire.
The muslim scourge and many unfortunate betrayals forced this once mighty race to its knees and millions were butchered and entire libraries of intellectual thought, science and arts burned to the ground by the islamic fundamentalists and terrorists.
Just three boat loads of Parsis escaped Persia with their beloved Holy Fire and their one remaining Holy Book, The Zend Avesta and after a harrowing voyage on stormy seas landed on the shores of India, seeking sanctuary in the Kingdom of Sanjan in present day Gujarat.
The King of Sanjan received these hardy and battle worn Sanctuary seekers with respect and awe. However, when the Parsi High priest approached him and made a plea to him that they be allowed to make India their home, the King refused saying that his Kingdom was already full and though he would have loved to give sanctuary and welcome the Parsis, he had no choice but to turn them down... He symbolically showed the High Priest a glass of milk filled to the brim, saying that his Kingdom was like that... much as he would have loved to have them, there was simply no place.
The High Priest smiled and asked for some sugar. He added the sugar into the glass full of milk and stirred it in thoroughly without spilling a drop. And said, just like this sugar, we will blend into India. And we will make it sweeter for having us...
The delighted King immediately declared that the Parsis were welcomed in India. But he was fearful of their strong bodies bristling with muscles and their mean looking weapons, so he put a few conditions. That the Parsis surrender their weapons and embrace peace. And that they should not inter marry or convert people (of India) to their religion. The High Priest readily agreed asking in return only that no non Parsi should ever be allowed into their Fire temples where the Holy Fire would be kept, so that the Holy Fire would always be protected and secure. The King nodded his assent.
The Parsis dropped their warrior training and became peace loving farmers and business men... and so, till today that ancient promise made to the King of Sanjan has been honoured...
And we moved into the Holy land of India and right through history since, have lived up to our promise of blending in and making each place we go to, or are in, sweeter because of us!
May everyone have a Blessed New Year!!
ps more posts about Parsis in this week...
Monday, August 18, 2008
Every time someone confronts us with anger or violence a game starts. A game between that persons anger and our love, between their violence and our peace...
And when we are stronger, then the opposite person has no choice but to drop their anger and love us! They have no choice but to let go of their violence and bask in the bliss of the peace we are!
Its a game we play with the world... pit the power of our Sadhana, the depth of our silence and the magic of Guruji's Grace against their ignorance and apathy... We are yet but a few, but we are strong... and all that it takes for few to become many is time... and the will to make a difference and the shakti to follow through on that will and actually go ahead and make that difference!! and boy! we have that! :)
Focus, Skill and Hard work allows us to score almost every time... Its quite an exciting game and the outcome is certain too... But the journey to our victory is really interesting, with many exciting twists and turns... a spiritual rollercoaster, but we have our seat belts fastened through our Sadhana, Seva and Satsang and so we are utterly safe and can really sit back and enjoy every moment of this wild ride called Life (with the Art of Living :))!
Couldn't resist putting this other photo here as well... Would love to go on a ride on this one with all of you! :)
ps Bits of this post come from a Knowledge session in the TRM with Swami Pragyapad
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
From Kanyakumari to Mumbai to Poona in the space of a few hours... Then 3 superb courses in Poona and we were planning on how to go back to Mumbai... and decided that the weather was just simply too beautiful to go any other way than by train!
We traveled on the venerable Deccan Queen... The first train ever to run between Mumbai and Poona. Amazingly it still takes the same amount of time as it did back in the 1800s. The engine was not as powerful as the one used now, but the train size was very small... now its a powerful engine that pulls a very long train up the steep and gorgeously beautiful Sahyadri mountains... There was fog and rain and thunder and nature really flaunting herself in all her monsoon glory as waterfalls big and small crashed all around us... some splashing right into the train...
What a feast!
Here are some photos...
I have decided, we have to make this trip every year at this time... What a wonderful planet we live on! :)
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Just reached Bangalore, went home and got on the net to find all those lovely comments... got some nice things to share with all of you about our journey here and some great times in Bombay will keep that for another post... Also some really nice recipes brewing :)
2 things i want to comment on:
1. A few people don't like my crazy sense of humour... well, the jokes i posted here are the ones that i really liked... made me laugh out really loud and keep sniggering for some time after that.
They may have a slightly adult theme, but i don't really think there are many 6 year olds reading this blog! So for all you appalled people out there, lighten up... and join the laughter... coz once in a while there are going to be some jokes like this on the blog :)
2. Ivan is real... very much so... he is NOT someone i created... he is an Art of Living teacher, works in IBM and lives in Sydney in Australia with his very lovely wife Sarah who is also a teacher and incidentally sings opera at the Sydney Opera house. You can write to him at email@example.com ... Most probably he and Sarah should be here for Navaratri this year and for all you doubters out there, come see me then and i will introduce him to you!
and now for another laugh (another one of Vikram's, click www.vikramhazra.blogspot.com to read up his blog)...
Ralph and Edna were both patients in a mental hospital. One day while they were walking past the hospital swimming pool, Ralph suddenly jumped into the deep end. He sank to the bottom of the pool and stayed there. Edna promptly jumped in to save him. She swam to the bottom and pulled Ralph out. When the Head Nurse became aware of Edna's heroic act she immediately ordered her to be discharged from the hospital, as she now considered her to be mentally stable. When she went to tell Edna the news she said, "Edna, I have good news and bad news. The good news is you're being discharged; since you were able to rationally respond to a crisis by jumping in and saving the life of another patient, I have concluded that your act displays sound mindedness.
The bad news is, Ralph, the patient you saved, hung himself with his bathrobe belt in the bathroom. I am so sorry, but he's dead."
Edna replied "He didn't hang himself. I put him there to dry. How soon can I go home?"
TRM starts tomorrow for all us Indian teachers, i don't know if i will be able to post anything till monday... (i may sneak in somethings tonight, but no promises) so take care everyone... and read up stuff dinesh and i have written on the blog over this weekend, and definitely cook something from all the recipes that are here... AND DO COMMENT!!
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
One fine morning, I woke up at Anjana’s house with a song in my head. I took a deep breath in and a couple of hours later, the song took birth. It came out in rap (or 'rapchick') style. I asked one of the best song-maker I knew, to set it to music and sing it (lyrics are below). Click That thing you do with your nose to listen to the song and please write to the classy Daniel Moss and tell him how you liked it.
That thing you do with your nose
Breathe Breathe Breathe away
To the rhythm of your soul
The solution to your woes
Flows right under your nose.
So get ready with you bows
And your red rose arrows
Love truly flows and grows
When you dissolve big fat egos.
Deal with life's highs and lows
Vanquish all your silly foes
Drown the rest of your sorrows
If only, You do that thing with your nose!
Love even they who oppose
That's the best of all mottos
He reaps as he sows
Says the wise one who knows.
Breathe Breathe Breathe away
To the rhythm of your soul
Its easier that licking your elbows
That thing you do with your nose.
The birds, the bees and all of those
Do their naughty things with close windows
And even when they doze
They still do that thing with their nose.
Very little poetry and some prose
Has been composed on blowing your nose
Yet the best pleasure nature bestows
Flows right under your nose.
You can dig into those cheesy tacos or sinful chocos
And yet shed those extra kilos,
If the discipline you impose
Gets you to do that thing with your nose.
When come calling the head honchos
Your paycheck can add extra zeroes
If in between the his and hellos
You do that thing with your nose
Those that smartly used their nose,
The world labeled them weirdoes or psychos
Before long their glory arose
As they joined the march of the heroes
Whether you dwell in borrows or chateaus
Anyone from Librans to Virgos
Breathe in the fragrance of the rose
And do that thing with your nose.
So kick in to some new clothes
Plus add some attitude that shows
That nothing can shake those
Who do that thing with their nose.
Breathe in in let go go go…
Breathe in in let go go go…
I am the Libran and Bawa is the Virgo...
Goes without saying, I am inspired by all your comments;-)
Monday, August 11, 2008
I needed a photo of delicious ice cream for this post... just couldn't find it, so i made dinesh pose for it, and we started today morning with dinesh eating gooey, tasty, full of sugar (!) ice cream... after taking the photos there was some left over, so i had a few bites as well!!! :)
And then, we noticed that the photos didn't come out good, so dinesh had to eat ice cream all over again! *sigh* :)
Ahh well... Sugar day today!
This is from a few years ago...
Dinesh and i were walking along a beautiful shady lane in the dadar parsi colony of Bombay. We were both eating ice cream... and suddenly he got very excited... his eyes were shining, he had had a realization!
He said Do you see how we feel that the last bite of the ice cream is special? We eat the whole thing, but then really, really savour the last bite... Why don't we eat each bite as if it's the last one?!
Why can't we live life, each moment to its fullest? Savouring it, relishing it... Like its our last...
Living in the present moment means eating each bite of ice cream as if it were the last one!!!
We really enjoyed our ice creams after that... :)
Sunday, August 10, 2008
This is a fantastic cold salad that i promised everyone...
Musk Melon is a fruit which i would usually give a miss... This recipe from Tina (Vikram's wife) makes it "almost edible" in Vikram's words :)... It tastes refreshingly good and can make a colurful addition to the table and will go very well with the pumpkin basil soup and the Breadzza
Peel and cut into big chunky pieces 2 small or 1 big musk melon(s) and put them in the fridge for a few hours. Transfer to a big glass bowl. Get 150-200 gms of nice fresh feta cheese and crumble it in the bowl with the melon pieces. Very finely chop up a bunch of fresh parsley (you could even use celery) and a few sprigs of mint and add to the melons and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste and a dash of olive oil... Toss well. Put in the fridge until ready to serve.
Serve cold with hot toasted whole wheat bread and butter... You may optionally sprinkle some pine nuts into the salad as well...
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Bonus post for everyone...
We spent a very very happy few hours at Vikram and Tina's lovely little home in Kandivili... We cooked, ate, joked, laughed, edited HTML, ate more, had mango milkshake (!) (Tina keeps them frozen in her deep fridge, saved up for those times that you just HAVE to have them), watched the rain, rested... you get the idea?!
Well, Vikram told us many jokes, here is the one that had us laughing for the longest time...
In a beautiful garden, there were two almost nude statues in quite an erotic position... a handsome incredible hunk man statue and a delicate beautiful really lovely willowy woman statue, gaxing longingly at each other, separated by a wide expanse of lawns...
They had been there for many, many years and one day God while looking over that particular part of the universe, felt great compassion for both of them, and He proclaimed: The two of you will have life for the next 30 minutes... and there was a crack of thunder and a great white and pink flash of lightning and Lo! The two came alive...
Full of desire the man looked to the woman and in a hoarse whisper said, Shall we?
and the woman lowered her eyes shyly (knowing they had so little time together) barely whispered... yes...
And the two of them disappeared behind a big bush... and there was a lot of shaking, strange guttural sounds, leaves falling, moans and groans, and after a bit, they both appeared, disheveled, satisfied, with silly smile on their faces and twigs stuck in their hair... and they realized that only 15 minutes had passed...
Very expectantly, the man looked at the woman again and this time cried out... Please... shall we do it again?!!
The woman quickly nodded her consent, and enthusiastically whispered to her lover:
Yes, yes, but this time YOU hold the pigeon while i shit on it!!
ps Vikram writes a lovely blog, he has lots of great stuff including some beautiful photos on it... Click Vikram's Blog to read it... do put some comments on his blog about this joke... and tell him to write more of this kind of stuff as well ... :)
Ivan is incorrigible!
I can't believe he actually sent this letter to Cardinal Pell ... tongue firmly in cheek, here it is word for word :)
I thought I'd send a copy of a recent letter I sent to Cardinal Pell in the lead up to the Pope's visit here (Sydney). (I also cc'd it to the main paper but I got no answer from either.)
His Eminence George Cardinal Pell, A.C., D.Phil.(Oxon)., F.A.C.E.
Catholic Church Offices
133 Liverpool Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Dear Cardinal Pell,
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Laws leading up to the Pope's visit to Australia. I do, however need some further advice from you regarding elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.
Firstly, in Leviticus - Chapter 25, Verse 44, it states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. My friends here in New South Wales claim this applies to Victorians but not to Queenslanders. Can you clarify? Why can't I own a Queenslander?
Secondly, my neighbour Harry said the other day he was thinking of selling his daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus Chapter 21, Verse 7. In this day and age, and all things considered, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
Thirdly, another neighbour, Romy, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus Chapter 35, Verse 2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or will you send someone around to finish him off?
Then, Leviticus, Chapter 21, Verse 20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear contact lenses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wriggle room here?
Another of the more troubling concerns is that most of my male friends here in Australia get their hair trimmed these days, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Leviticus in Chapter 19, Verse 27. How should they die?
Lastly, some of my colleagues here at IBM tend to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them as instructed by Leviticus Chapter 24, Verses 10-16? I'm really busy and stoning can take such a long time to get all the rocks organized and then there's all the cleaning up afterwards.
I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding me that God's word is eternal and unchanging.
cc The Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday, August 7, 2008
We had recently been to this fantastic restaurant called Flags in Mumbai. Then we went to their branch in Poona and were sorely dissapointed with almost everything there. It was very strange how it was almost perfect and Bombay and completely sucked really big time in Poona :)... But that's another story and we will get into it later... We had a fantastic soup there... here is my variation...
Take 5 fairly big pieces of Orange Pumpkin (little more than half of it), peeled. 2 pieces dice small, the others cut into big chunky pieces.
A big bunch of fresh basil leaves roughly chopped, stems removed.
1 pod garlic finely chopped
1 bunch of lemon grass tied with a string
a dollop of fresh cream
In a pressure cooker, add olive oil, finely chopped garlic and cook till it browns. Add the basil leaves and salt to taste. Add the big pumpkin pieces and cook for a bit. Now take a big bunch of lemon grass and tie it with a string and pop into the cooker. Add water to cover everything and pressure cook for 2-3 whistles.
While it is cooking, lightly saute the small pumpkin pieces with some olive oil, salt and basil leaves.
Let the cooker cool and then open it. Remove the lemon grass bunch from it. Whirr the mixture to a smooth consistency and then add the sauted pumpkin pieces to it. Cook for some time. Before serving nice n hot with toasted wholewheat bread and butter, stir in a dollop of fresh cream.
You may optionally add the juice of 1 lemon, if you like it still smore sour. It has a brilliant pumpkinny, lemony, basily taste which pleasantly surprizes the tongue... Witha anice cold salad it would make a perfect meal!
Cold salad tomorrow! :)
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Too lazy to make a pizza base from scratch? (i have a superb recipe for it, you will just have to wait until i perfect it and post it here), ok then make Breadzza!! It's really really simple to make and tastes absolutely awesome (of course!)
You will need:
For the Pizza Sauce
10 tomatoes finely chopped
A generous amount of olive oil
a big bunch of fresh basil leaves roughly cut and washed (stem removed)
1 clove of garlic finely chopped or mashed
1 tsp of garam masala (!)
2 small pieces of jaggery (approx 1 in big)
a dash of fresh cream
a dollop of butter
salt to taste
a dried red chilly
Optional 3 pieces of sundried tomatoes cut into strips
In a large pan heat the olive oil and when hot, add the dried red chilly. Add garlic and cook till it browns. Add the basil leaves (you may reserve a few to add later) and garam masala, cook for a bit... add the jaggery. Remove the red chilly. If you leave it in, the sauce becomes too spicy and i personally fon't like it that way. Add all the tomatoes. Cook everything until tomatoes are well done.
Now whirr the mixture with a hand blender until the tomatoes become a nice smooth paste. Continue to cook for a bit after adding the sundried tomatoes. You may even add a few more basil leaves at this point. You may also optionally add some spinach to this sauce and cook for a bit. Finally stir in the fresh cream, this gives a really rich colour to the sauce. Its good enough to just add some mushrooms and other veggies and eat as a soup with some hot toasted bread and butter :)
For the toppings i used:
roughly cut spinach
some green peas
small pieces of sundried tomatoes
thin round slices of zucchini
small pieces of brocolli which i had just sauted in butter with a dash of salt
grated smoked cheese (optional)
small pieces of mozzarella cheese
You can also use some grated cheddar (amul) cheese along with the mozzarella
Basil pesto will be a fantastic addition too
Grease a baking tray.
Pre heat an oven to 220 deg.
Arrange pieces of multi grain bread on it and spread the sauce we made earlier on it generously. Add the toppings in whatever combination and quantities you wish. Go easy on the cheese. Add the pesto last. Feel free to add whatever toppings other than the ones i suggested above (pineapple, paprika, cabbage, diced tomatoes... use your imagination)
Bake at 220 deg for 10-12 minutes or until the cheese melts and turns golden brown.
Remove from oven, Put on a plate and very lightly drizzle with olive oil. Eat piping hot! This is really very simple to make with minimum fuss. The sauce stays well in a fridge for 2-3 days. Have it tonight or make it as a special treat for everyone over the weekend :)
ps i don't like these photos so much, didn't have my camera yesterday, so had to make do with another one... will post better photos, when i make it again and have a better camera...
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Shivani from australia sent this one, its really funny! :)
After getting all of Pope Benedict's luggage loaded into the limo, and He doesn't travel light, the driver notices that the Pope is still standing on the curb
'Excuse me, Your Holiness,' says the driver,
'Would you please take your seat so we can leave?'
'Well, to tell you the truth,' says the Pope, 'they never let me drive at the Vatican, and I'd really like to drive today.'
'I'm sorry but I cannot let you do that. I'd lose my job!
And what if something should happen?' protests the driver, wishing he'd never gone to work that morning.
'There might be something extra in it for you,' says the Pope.
Reluctantly, the driver gets in the back as the Pope climbs in behind the wheel. The driver quickly regrets his decision when, after exiting the airport, the Pontiff floors it, accelerating the limo to 105 mph.
'Please slow down, Your Holiness!!!' pleads the worried driver, but the Pope keeps the pedal to the metal until they hear sirens. 'Oh, dear God, I'm gonna lose my license,' moans the driver.
The Pope pulls over and rolls down the window as the cop approaches, but the cop takes one look at him, goes Back to his motorcycle, and gets on the radio.
'I need to talk to the Chief,' he says to the dispatcher.
The Chief gets on the radio and the cop tells him that he's stopped a limo going a hundred and five.
'So bust him,' says the Chief.
'I don't think we want to do that - he's really important,' said the cop.
The Chief exclaimed, 'All the more reason!'
'No, I mean really important,' said the cop.
The Chief then asked, 'Who have you got there, the Mayor?'
'Well,' said the Chief, 'Who is it?'
Cop: 'I think it's God!'
Chief: 'What makes you think it's God?'
Cop: 'He's got the (*expletive deleted*) Pope as a chauffeur!'
Monday, August 4, 2008
Ok, i know i said i wont be posting for some time... but hey, i got a working internet connection in Poona (Bombay is still iffy), so here is some nice stuff for everyone to read :)
Here is (my interpretation of) a little incident that happened in Rashmin's course:
They were talking about how it is your very nature to be happy... and suddenly Rashmin displayed a stroke of sheer genius!
He made one of the participants stand up and told her to get angry... c'mon, he said get angry, frown, get upset!
She just looked at him in confusion and bewilderment... then he just as abruptly told her, ok smile! and she promptly smiled!
and so he concluded, See how smiling, laughing is just effortless! You can do it for no reason whatsoever! When i asked you to get angry or upset you can't do it without a reason, but when i asked you to smile, you didn't need a reason to smile, you just did it, simply and effortlessly... Happiness is your very nature...
You are made of a substance called happiness!
ps remind me to write about dinesh's insight about happiness... maybe next Monday?
Sunday, August 3, 2008
I came across a cool search engine recently... Scour
(for people who don't know what a search engine is... just one word: Google! If you don't know what Google is, don't worry, just read on :))
They actually pay you to search (in points) which you can then redeem for money! (as far as i could understand it)
Now before you get all excited and start typing out your resignation letter for your job... it's not really BIG bucks... but you could end up with about $200-$500 extra every year, for what you anyways do... Search the web! and that's not bad :)
The system is very simple, for every search, you get 1 point, you will also get 1 point for rating the results (thumbs up or down) and 2 points for adding a short comment to a search... each search you can get maximum 4 points and a daily maximum of 500 points... you can redeem as soon as you have 6500 points...
+ you can refer others... if they join through your referral, then you get 25% of whatever they earn... sounded very cool indeed to me :)
25,000 points = $100
12,500 points = $50
6,500 points = $25
In 2 days i have already racked up 700 points! :)
On your Profile page, they have a nice calculator about how much money you could potentially expect to make if you search x times daily and introduce y friends...
One problem is that the search is not as fast as google, but then it searches many engines before displaying what it considers the most relevant result based on previous comments and votes of other users... and so you are more assured of getting relevant results... even so the search time should improve a lot in a while...
So to start getting paid to search... just click here and join up!
and yes, if you join through the above link, you will earn me some money as well whenever you use scour to search! :)
Now if only some company out there comes up with a way to pay every time we search for something we lost... then a lot of people could really go ahead and type out that resignation letter...
PS If you got some extra invites from my side from scour, it's my fault... i pressed the invite button mistakenly while everyone in my contact book was selected (i never do this...), and the power went, so the net was down, when power was back i did it again *blush* coz i thought it would take me to some confirm page... it just said thank you very much for sending the invites out :) so do be careful when you do this :)
PPS If you are using IE (Yuck) or Firefox (wow!) then Scour can be made your default search engine... find goodies (its on the top right corner of the page) and click it, then click on the Firefox Plugin or the IE Plugin and you are done!
PPSS Do you guys like these type of posts? Would you like more of these posts that could potentially help all of us generate alternative income streams? Please comment... as usual this post is here, coz i thought the concept of Scour really Sounds Interesting... :)
Friday, August 1, 2008
There is all this talk about global warming and corrupt politicians and ruthless businesses and blah blah blah... but not many seem to be doing much about it (other than ranting)... and there seem to be very few things that individually and collectively we can do together to thwart this menace...
A path towards Global Cooling...
...can be very simple: planting more trees... well not just planting really, Adopting trees after planting them is also as important as planting them... without giving too much away, Art of Living has taken on the momentous task of adopting (after planting) 100 million trees in the next 3 months! WAYE and the YES!+ gang have committed to doing at least 100,000 of these (worldwide)...
Right now, we almost have a website in place on this theme (and i guarantee you it has more on it than you will suspect :)), but i need a really nice name for it, that's romantic, cool and is also optimized for SEO...
So, inviting name suggestions for website right away... also if you can think of some cool designs for tshirts, banners etc and make them and send them to us it would help a lot!
Of course each of you have to see to it that you plant and adopt a tree right away, so think of which tree you would like to adopt and watch grow... and where you are going to plant it... figure that out over the weekend... Hopefully, i will see you on Monday(maybe even sooner), with more news on this superb project!!
Lets make more of our planet look like this: