Her light

In her,

She found

an Ocean of love.

So deep,

Ceaseless

That none could break her heart.

 

In her,

She found

a strength.

So mighty,

Relentless

That none could hurt her soul.

 

In her,

She found

a blaze.

So fierce,

luminous

That none could extinguish her light.

 

In her,

She found

everything

ever taken from her;

Everything

she ever ran after;

Everything,

she ever compromised for.

 

Nahid Khan

 

 

 

 

Photo by luizclas from Pexels.com

https://www.pexels.com/photo/afterglow-backlit-bokeh-dark-556658/

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The Quintessential Rumi

There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled. 
You feel it, don’t you? 

Reading these lines again and again I couldn’t help but wonder, what a pleasure it would be to read Rumi in his own language. Profusely rich in meaning and transcendental in it’s power, it transports the reader to a majestic sublimity.

Born in 13th century, Rumi’s work is not bounded by time. His soul yearned for the true freedom, liberation from the shackles of life and death. This emancipation is evident in his work.

My professor once said “A translator will always be the Best man, He can never be the Bridegroom”. Being a translator myself, I couldn’t agree more. But the bundle of  translated Rumi-treasure that I found, ignited my love for this Mystic poet. It was because of the translations of Rumi’s work that I was able to take a few dives in the majestic Ocean of verses.

These are a few of my favourite verses from the fragment of what I’ve read:

I went to my Beloved’s House
And knocked on His Door.
God said, ‘Who is it?’ 
I said, ‘It is I.’
God said, ‘There is no room here for I and You.
Go away!’ 
God shut the door hard in my face.
I went ahead and began my lifelong journey 
Toward the total annihilation of ‘I’ and Self.
After years of annihilating my own Self into non-existence,
I finally reached the exalted state of non-being.
I went back to my Beloved and knocked.
God said, ‘Who is it?’
I said: ‘It is You.’
God opened His Door wide for me!
<————–>
“In love, 
aside from sipping the wine of timelessness,
nothing else exists.
There is no reason for living 
except for giving one’s life.
I said, 
“First I know You O my Lord, then I die.”
God said, 
“For the one who knows Me, there is no dying.”
<—————>
I closed my mouth
and spoke to you in a 
hundred silent ways.
<—————>
“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere
They are in each other all along.”
<—————->
“The way of love is not a subtle argument.
The door there is devastation.”
<—————->
“In front of the shining candle of love,
the lover circles like a helpless moth.
Those burning marks on the moth
are for the sake of an everlasting love.”
<—————->
“You are the bird of happiness
in the magic of existence,
what a pity! Why you let yourself be chained and caged?”
<—————->
“Be wild and crazy and drunk with love.
If you are too careful,
love will not find you.”
<—————->
“Let the lover be disgraceful,
crazy, absentminded.
Someone sober
will worry about things going badly.
Let the lover be.”
<—————–>
It’s so difficult to choose. You can read more of Rumi’s work here-
This is where I quench my spiritual yearnings from.

Aalu pakoda (Potato fritters)

Prancing around in the busy streets, the waft of different delicacies invaded my nostrils. The aroma of  samosa, pakoda, jalebi, vada pav etc. was enough to make anybody’s mouth water. Me and my brother, roamed around with 3 rupee each, which was our pocket money for the day.

We often stopped at our favourite fast food corner, the pakoda stall. This stall had a hoard of pakodas ranging from bread, onion, potato, spinach, cauliflower chilli and many other. Our favourite was potato pakoda. After handing the stall owner our six rupee, We would jovially come back home with six pakodas and would savour three each leaving our taste buds longing for more.

Today, after so many years the longing was back. I had no other option but to make Aalu pakoda myself.

I created my own recipe as I didn’t know the exact recipe of my childhood pakoda.

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Here’s how I made it-

Potato – 1

Gram flour – 200 gm

Corn flour – 2 tbsp

Green chilli- 2

Ginger – 1 inch

Garlic- 4-5 cloves

Red chilli flakes – 1/4th tsp

Fennel seeds– 1/2 tsp

Chaat masala – 1/2 tsp (optional)

Cumin powder – 1/4th tsp

Salt- as per taste

METHOD

Make a paste of ginger, green chillies and garlic and fennel seeds.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, including the paste.

Now add in some water to make a batter of medium consistency. (Not too thick, nor too runny)

Keep it aside for at least an hour for the flour to soak. Soaking  gives it a nice texture and tastes better. (You can use it right away as well)

Chop thin slices of potato and dip it in the prepared batter.

Heat oil in a wok and fry the potato slices one by one.

Serve it with any sauce of your choice.

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Dates and Nuts laddoo

The onset of winter brings back many memories. Sitting by the fire with family, eating, talking was nothing short of bliss.

My mother always made different variety of laddoos during winters, to keep us warm and healthy. I never had a sweet tooth, but I loved snuggling up in my blanket with a few laddoos by my side.

Living far away, my nostalgia got the best of me and I tried to replicate one of the laddoos.

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All you need is-

Seedless dates – 300 gm

Mixed dry fruits – 100 gm ( I’ve used Cashew nuts, almonds, pistachios, chironji, and a small amount of grated coconut.)

Poppy seeds- 2 tbsp

Clarified butter (ghee)- 2 tbsp

Method –

Start by grinding the dates into a coarse paste.

Roast the Poppy seeds untill it becomes light golden in colour.

Now add a tbsp of ghee in the pan and roast all the dried nuts for about a minute.

Keep it aside and in the same pan add one tbsp of ghee and add in the dates paste.

Stir it continuously, it will become soft once heated. (Keep it on low flame)

After around three minutes of stirring on low flame add in half of the poppy seeds and all the roasted nuts.

Mix it again for around a minute and turn off the flame.

Take a small amount of mixture and make small round balls of it, before it cools down.

Spread the remaining poppy seeds on a plate and roll the laddoos into roasted poppy seeds.

That’s it. Laddoos are ready. You can store it into airtight container in the refrigerator for upto three weeks.

 

 

Awake in my dreams

I dreamt of winsome countryside

Little girls playing with gleeful strides

I dreamt of love,

And childhood sweet.

I dreamt of the mother

proud so deep.

This made me fall into slumber so sweet.

In my dreams now I see a rustic land

a helples man

Waiting for rain

His children starving,

His wife dying.

In my dreams

I see a little girl

Her eyes pearl, her mind a whirl,

Soaked in blood

Her clothes torn apart,

shown her place

By a virile churl.

I dream of people

engaged in mindless brawl

Killing eachother

unmindful of the cause.

In my dreams

I hear a skirl

A mother who’s son,

has returned from a mission

His body wrapped

in a proud flag.

I hear same wail

Other side of the fence,

Unable to discern the difference.

Trying to figure out how to sleep,

In my dreams i’m wide awake.

 

 

 

In that moment

When you hug me in fear

And cry in despair

When you feel your heart stabbed with a spear;

Sweetheart, In that moment I love you.

When you beg me to spit my anger

And you fear the loss of my candor

When you feel everything we have is in danger;

Sweetheart, in that moment I love you.

Over you my words tear deep gashes

And your sanity crashes

When all you have left is ashes;

Sweetheart, In that moment I love you.

Crumbling your ego,

Crushing your pride,

Stamping your soul,

I make you my own.

My tears make you die inside

Your tears make me revive and rejoice.

I cry and cry untill you are a heap,

And that flames my love down so deep.

Now you weep in agony

And I cry of triumph.

I hold you so close

And promise not to impose;

Sweetheart, in that moment I love you the most.

 

 

Misty Mountains

Ascending towards the top of Mount Ali, we began to see the mist clearly. Lush green Mountains were covered in mist as if hiding something.

As the bus stopped after a two and a half hour journey. We got a peek of the place that we were about to enter. Amidst the fog, the mist and tall green pines,  there it was,  the land of beauty. Our hotel was not far away,  so we decided to walk there. Also I wanted to soak in every drop,  every bit of the mesmerising weather. We reached our hotel,  and munched on the subway burger that we got packed. Alishan is not the place for you if you are a hardcore vegetarian or prefer halal food.  You will survive because your soul will be satiated.

After finishing our late lunch we hurried to go out and walking in the mist on the sloppy roads we began to explore the little cosy city.

 

 

In spite of all the fog and mist the silvery moon light somehow managed to shower it’s magnificence over the place. Finding vegetarian food was a challenge. After a lot of searching we went in a restaurant and somehow ordered a dinner after a lot of struggle in our broken Chinese and their broken English. Finally we made sure to order fried rice which was our lunch and dinner for the next two days. It wasn’t tantalising but was filling. After dinner we went ahead to explore the sleepy city bathed in misty moonlight and twinkling lights.

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Most important thing that you would do in Alishan is watch the sunrise over the highest Mountain in Taiwan, the Jade Mountain. For that we were advised by our hotel manager to sleep early as they would wake us up in the morning.

When our telephone rang at 4:30 am, we were already wide awake. Submerging ourselves in the thickest clothes that we brought, we headed out with our guide in the thick fog and deep darkness. Covering other sights we reached to the point where we were supposed to wait for the spectacular rise of the sun. Place was crowded with eager tourists and vendors selling various breakfast items.

If you plan to travel by Railway, you will see three popular destinations- Jhushan, Sacred Tree and Zhaoping. Jhushan line will lead you to the point for the sunrise. Our hotel provided us a cab and a guide for the Jhushan sun rise, so we were yet to experience the train journey to the top of the mountains.

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And then there it was, rising quicker then I imagined , covering every inch of Darkness and scintillating the Mountains with a brilliant golden hue.

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Rest of the day was a prepossessing haze. Sun was obstructed by the thick fog soon after it peeked up.

Alishan is best for trekkers and Mountain climbers. There are so many spectacular  trails with informative sign posted, making it easy to navigate deep within the forest, and lead to stunning views along the way.

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Travelling by Alishan Forest Railway was fun. Trains run to all the routes every fifteen minutes so you never have to wait longer. We hopped on The Sacred Tree Line train and reached there beholding the scattered beauty all along the way.

One of the most notable tourist attractions of Alishan is the Sacred Tree, with an age over 3,000 years (it existed long before Jesus Christ was born 🤔) and height of 53 meters. There are more than 36 giant trees with their age ranging between 1000-2000 years.

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Trunk of the Sacred Tree

Moving upwards to the Jiemei (Sister) lakes, we were greeted by various breathtaking sights and a shopping area with different food aromas wafting in the air filling the nostrils. We stopped there to grab a quick bite before heading up. But what we found in vegetarian option was boiled corn and for drink we decided to try the Almond tea which I had to throw after one sip as my taste-buds refused to savour it again. 🤮

After a 20 minute walk we reached the Jiemei Lake. These are the high mountain lakes. One called the Elder sister lake and the other younger sister lake. These lakes have their own beautiful but sad story.

It is said that two aboriginal sisters fell in love with the same man. They didn’t want to ruin their own relationship and unable to perceive a life without the man they loved, they jumped into separate lakes to end their lives, which are now known as Elder sister lake andYounger sister lake.

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Last place that we visited was Zhaoping Park. The best season to visit this park is Spring, when the place is blooming with cherry blossom flowers. Since we visited in Autumn, the place had a different gloomy beauty to it. Autumn is beautiful in its own way. Leaves falling apart scattered all around not only depicts dearth but have a masked promise of resurgence.

John Keats subtly yet beautifully mentions the charm of Autumn in his poem “To Autumn” –

“Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they-

  Think not of them, thou hast thy music too.”

That marked the end of our journey to the Misty mountains.

Next morning while sitting in the bus I soaked in whatever I could of the place. The surrealistic beauty was so enchanting that it made me wonder about the actuality of the place. Is it real? Am I really here? Is it a dream……? With a jerk the bus moved, slowly taking us farther from the mist and convincing me of it being a dream with every downward spiral that it covered.