Religion and its Aftermath

Picture Courtesy: http://www.crystalxp.net/galerie/en.id.3470-religion-wallpaper-gruzz-wallpapers.htm

When I was at school, probably in the 7th standard, applying for public examination hall tickets was a big deal! Applicants’ information had to be precise….’cuz if we screwed it up…the repercussions were endless visits to the board of secondary school offices. Most of my teachers always made sure that I got my name right, every year a new teacher… weird isn’t it? Now, why would I get my name wrong? But my teachers were a little skeptical basically because I had a Hindu first name and a Muslim surname…since my mother is a Hindu and my father a Muslim. Most teachers did not even know if such a name existed…what it meant.  But, never before in my life did I feel like I was different to others…like I was not normal…probably a little ashamed as well…especially when it came to filling the section which asked which religion I belonged to…do I tick Hinduism or Islam? I used to hate that part and still do. My friends never had any such problems and I did not want to ask my teachers for advise or suggestions since it meant telling them my life story which in turn gave me unduly attention.

My parents never brought me up a ‘certain way’. They are not religious people and I grew up speaking Telugu (my mother tongue), applied bindi and went to Temples occasionally with friends. My mother remained a Hindu; she wore her Mangalsutra and bindis too. So my brother and I basically were ‘non-religious’. My father rarely goes to the mosque and most people get a shock of their lives when they come to know he is a Muslim. He is a Hyderabadi but speaks fluent Telugu and that confuses people a lot.

If once I was a little embarrassed that I did not have a sense of belonging towards any religion, I have grown up to be a person proud of my heritage. My aversion with religion started with the demolition of Babri Masjid and the riots that followed. We were living in Hyderabad then and I cannot forget the sense of fear in me. Scared to go out and buy food, wondering if anyone would come home and hurt my family…wondering if my mom could be hurt if Muslims came home or if my dad could get hurt if Hindus came home. There was curfew in the city and the tension was high. A local cable TV network continuously broadcasted images of the demolition of the masjid along with Shri Ram’s Devotional songs. The tension was high. My father rushed to the cable TV network’s office and asked him not to show scenes that could easily instigate people. But the operator was adamant and continued to show the pictures. My father did not have any other option but to confiscate his equipment and bring it home. That night remains one of my scariest nights’ till date. I was sure that some religious fanatics would come home and definitely hurt my dad….but it went without any incident. My father’s relatives who live in the ‘Old City’ of Hyderabad had some horrific tales of violence to share with us…which only scared me even more.

The riots ended gradually and life came back to normal. Since then, I never found it important to associate myself with any religion.  But for some it is very important and I never really understood why. Why would someone want to associate themselves to something that is so violent, something that is only used to kill and increase distance between people.

I believe that my parents symbolize what India is all about. We are ‘supposed’ to be a secular country so when there are inter-religious marriages, it is an institution to look up to and not to be sneered at.

Some tell me that religion is a way of life, a discipline….but these words do not have any value for me now. I have only seen people fighting, killing in the name of religion. Religion has only been used to hurt others and not unite people in love and peace. Probably, once upon a time, religion meant discipline, obedience but now it’s been diluted and used when and where possible to satisfy humans selfish needs. It is used only to divide and destroy people’s lives. I believe in God, but I am not ready to believe that different religions have different Gods and that if I pray to one God, the other God(s) will get angry. My God is Universal and I pray for peace everyday.

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Food Processor for Indian (Asian) Cooking

If you’ve read my ‘About‘ page, you must know that I am a lazy person by nature. I absolutely hate chopping veggies…esp onions and I think most of us do…and I also don’t like cooking for hours and hours together. Some people have all the patience in the world but I don’t 😀 I like it quick. So, I recently bought a Kenwood FP730 Food Processor.

My friend bought one (Kenwood FP530) some time ago and she strongly recommended that I get one too. I was doing some research on the internet to choose the best one but also one which was economical. I read a lot of reviews but not one on how food processors could help with desi cooking so I decided to write one! 🙂

I will write this in an orderly manner…starting with the attachment I use the most and so on.

  • The most important attachment of all is the knife blade (5). I use this attachment for chopping onions, tomatoes, herbs and other vegetables. It is most useful when making Non-Vegetarian dishes which need large quantities of finely chopped onions. I also use this attachment for chopping cabbage, potatoes  and variety of other vegetables for a nice veggie dish. You can also use this attachment to finely mince boneless meat for burgers etc.  There’s also a smaller jar (1) with a knife blade (6) attachment for chopping smaller quantities of onions, tomatoes, herbs and veggies.
  • The next attachment I use quite often is the dough tool (7) for chapathis. It takes only a few minutes for the processor to knead the dough and you can re-knead it in a bowl. Try adding as little water as possible.  Here is a very helpful video.

You can also use the dough tool for mixing ingredients for baking.

  • When making Pilaus, Biriyanis, and any vegetable curries, I prefer long, thin slices of onions. For this, I use the slicing side of discs 3 (you can use disc 2 to get very fine slices). Just chop the onions into a size that fits through the opening. You can also use this if you want long thin slices of carrots, cucumbers for salads. Also use this attachment to chop Beans, Tindora (Dondakaya/Ivy Gourd), Carrots…literally any veggie you prefer in a thin, round shape (I haven’t tried Ladies Fingers yet…will let you know how it goes when I do try them). Make sure that you push in the vegetables holding them vertically with the help of the pushers for a nice round shape.
  • There are some attachments which I don’t use that often but are equally useful…like the julienne style chipper (4), the whiskers, juicers and the shredding sides of discs 2 and 3 for shredding cheese and veggies.

What used to take me at least half hour now takes me just a couple of minutes. It saves time and energy. The hubby made Mutton Pulao today in literally under an hour when it used to take atleast 2 hrs.  All the chopping, the tears are gone!

The FP730 has a 1000 watts motor which is quite powerful and takes only a couple of minutes to chop. It is very quick and efficient piece of machinery. I will suggest everyone to buy one 🙂

Weekend Reflections

What a weekend it was! So much happened…so many decisions made which could change our lives forever….but for the good 🙂 I am really happy to share some good news with my readers. S’s got a wonderful job offer so we will be relocating soon!! Yayy!! <:o)

Nyways, like one of my friend pointed out to me yesterday…May was a very eventful month for us. It first started off with S’s birthday…and then follwed with all our Visa extensions…without which getting this job would have been pretty difficult but the icing on the cake was finding a place to set up our new home in Staines.

The chain of events started off on thursday…receiving the offer letter, then our visa documents, submitting his resignation letter and finding a new place….and all this happened in a span of 72 hrs. We were astonished to find a new place in just 3 hours. Now the only aspect I am nervous about is the packing and moving. I am sad when I think of leaving MK. I have made some very good friends here…I am used to the place….it is a beautiful city to live in but ocassionaly one does feel lonely.

Milton Keynes is a new city. It was designated as a new town only in 1967. It is one of the most planned city’s in UK. The best thing I like about this city is the foot paths 😀 where we go for our regular walks. You don’t have the problem of heavy traffic. It’s green, it’s beautiful. MK also has some of the best restaurants…one of our favourites being Nando’s….which I just found out is also in Staines. Double Yayyy <:o) !!!!

Staines is a very good city too. The best thing I like about the place is it’s close proximity to some of the most important cities and tourist spots in UK. Heathrow airport is just 4 miles away, Southall…famous for it’s Indian restaurants and Indian Stores is just 12 miles away…and to top it all…Windsor castle and Eton College are just 8-9 miles away. The Grand Union Canal which branches off from the River Thames flows through the city…which gives it beautiful landscape and recreational facilities with some of the best boating places and picnic spots. Laleham village, which was adjudged an ‘Outstainding Neighbourhood’ during Britain in Bloom, 2007 is just a mile away from where we live. The residents and volunteers also hold various outdoor activites…like Fairs, Carnivals, K9 walks and Village Fairs. I just hope these events are open for all and not just for Laleham village residents.

Anyhoo, I think I can confidently say that Staines is a place to be…..even before moving. Just hope I won’t be disappointed once I get there. With riverside restaurants, good shopping areas and it’s close proximity to London…S and I can have a ball 😀 We love the outdoors. Milton Keynes does have beautful lakes and parks…but we need to get our car out for almost everything. It shouldn’t be the same in Staines. I love walking, going out for drinks and with the High Street just 20 minutes on foot, I am sure to love it!!!! Hope I’ll make new friends 🙂 like I did in MK.

Recently Captured :)

Our long weekend will be ending in about 5 hours from now and what a wonderful weekend it was. S, I and couple of our friends went to Blemheim Palace near Oxford City. Except for the cloudy weather and the elaborate history on the life of Sir Winston Churchill at the Palace, it was excellent. The gardens were beautiful. Apparently, the current resident of the Palace is John George Vanderbilt Henry Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough (No…I didn’t by heart the whole thing…I cut and paste it :D) and how lucky is he to be living in such a beautiful place.

The pictures below were taken in one of the palace gardens’ called the ‘Secret Garden’…sounds mystical doesn’t it? And it is equally beautiful. Two of the pics below…

PS: I thought the pictures looked good in Black & White. If anyone wants to take a look at the coloured ones….let me know 🙂 Hope you guys like ’em.

I will also be posting some pics of Jousting.…sport of the rich and noble 😀 If you don’t know what I mean…watch A Knight’s Tale starring the late Heath Ledger. So Stay Tuned….! 

Truly Back!!

Right…so I came back on saturday…after a reaaaly long holiday…which was for abt 2 and a half months. Now I don’t feel like staying here…I want to go back 😦 Weather here is terrible… -5 degree or something…

S is in Czech now…so waiting desp for him to be back so that I can get my life back on track.

One advise to people..if you are living away from home, don’t ever go on a loooooong holiday to see your family! The after effects are terrible!!

So long folks..will be back very soon…I have so much to write about…so many photographs to share…I just can’t wait!!

Hello to a Brand New Start….all over again…. ! 😀