Friday, August 8, 2014

Realizing Dreams

Message from The Universe


The absolute, most sure-fire way of physically moving in the direction of your dreams, Chandra, on a day-to-day basis, without messing with the "cursed hows," is living them, now, to any degree that you can.

And you so can -
    The Universe

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Val Eggplant Sambar

Lablab beans are called Val or Mocha Kadalai in Southern India. While it is not very popular, it definitely was popular in our home. My mom used to prepare different dishes with Val in it.

My favorite Val preparation is to use it in Eggplant Sambar.

Approximate quantities for Val and Eggplant:
2 cups of cooked val (soak the val overnight and cook either in a pressure cooker or on stovetop)
6 asian (purple) eggplants - quartered

The rest of the recipe can be found here. Simply replace the vegetable used in the recipe with eggplant and the cooked val. It is that simple.
Here is a close-up of the yummy Val Eggplant Sambar.
This sambar can be eaten with cooked rice or chappathi or nan; with Sauteed Onion Pachidi or Fenugreek Pachidi. You can search my site for recipes for the two different pachidis and I will soon update the links in this post.
Bon appétit :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Snazzy New Bus

The public transportation system in Atlanta is called MARTA. My commute is multi-modal, part of which is riding the MARTA. Recently, MARTA has replaced some of the older buses with really nice, new buses.
I know they have replaced the buses for routes 185 and 85. I take bus number 85 to get to work and back.

The new buses have many fancy amenities, including very nice seats and lots of room for luggage and folding bikes (key!).

I have not used the bike rack, ever since, St. Louis. While I like to see the option on the bus, I am so glad I have a folding bicycle, which I can take inside the bus. The bike rack can only accommodate two bicycles. When you get to the bus or when the bus gets to you, if there is no room in the rack and you don't have a folding bike, you are out of luck. You may have to wait about 30 minutes or so, for the next one.

But, irrespective of how many bikes can fit in the bike rack on the bus, the new buses are a fun to ride. I say they better be, given they cost about $300K a pop.

Peace :)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sautéed Onion Pachidi

Sautéed Onion Pachidi is a delicious dip from Southern India. It is often served with a complete meal and sometimes also with nan or chapathi.

Preparation:

  1. Splutter 1 Tsp of mustard seeds in 1 Tbsp of Sesame oil; in a pan
  2. Sauté 2 cups of chopped onions with some Garam Masala in the same pan
  3. Add 1 Tsp of chopped ginger to 2 cups of yogurt
  4. Add the contents of pan, the sautéed onions to the yogurt and mix evenly
  5. Add cilantro for garnish and add salt to taste
The Sauteed Onion Pachidi is a great addition to most Indian meals. It will also work as a 'spicy' onion dip for parties. Can be served with cooked rice, pita, nan, etc.
Bon appétit :)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Palagai - Floor Level Bench

Recent viewing of the meditation cushions at the Kadampa Meditation Center and online, brought back memories of a Palagai, a Floor Level Bench (or chair), which is primarily used in Southern India. 

The palagai is not only used for pooja and meditation, but it is also used as a general household item; in many applications, such as 1) a seat to sit on, 2) a stepping block to reach something high up in a shelf or cupboard, 3) a seat to sit on and dine, when there is not a dining table, etc.

It dawned on me that I did not necessarily need a meditation cushion, but in fact I could make myself a palagai, with some Red Oak from Home Depot. After a bit of planning, drawing a few sketches of the end product that I had in mind, I visited Home Depot, with my neighbor (who has the big wood workshop; I only have a few tools and I am not fond of table saws and such).

After a careful examination of the wooden boards available at Home Depot, I decided that I would be perfectly happy with a 24X18 (lengthXwidth) palagi. I decided that I would in fact make 3; the second one for my lovely wife and the third one for my nephew, who lives close by.

So, we bought one piece of Red Oak and got it cut the way we wanted and came back to my neighbor's workshop, where he helped me make the legs and also rounded four corners of the top board of the palagai using his router.

After that was done, I glued the legs to the top boards, sanded the wood so there are no sharp edges or tiny splinters anywhere. After that I put two or three coats of polyurethane on the three palagai.

The final touch was to use a pyrograhing tool to write/burn something meaningful on my palagai. I wrote the word STAY on it, as shown below. In fact, staying put, both in the mind and in the body, during meditation are some of the biggest lessons of meditation. 

On my nephew's palagai, I wrote his name in Tamil, made a boo-boo and fixed it using a Dremel tool and some putty. Had to apply poly again, but no big deal. The palagai is our gift to my nephew for his upcoming wedding.

Shown below are the legs of the palagi. One can make them a bit more ornate, but I figured simple does it for me.
Last, but not the least; the palagai are ready for me and my wife to do meditation together, in my studio.

We plan to use the palagai as often as we can, when we meditate.

For me, the biggest advantage is that the palagai helps keep a good posture and my legs don't go to sleep unlike sitting on the bare floor.

Also, I particularly enjoy sitting on the palagai, next to Shaggy, who seems to enjoy my company.

Peace :)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Stargazer Lilly

I haven't seen many of these. However, on a recent walk on the lake path, my wife pointed this Stargazer Lilly to me. I said, it is so pretty and I was ready to touch it; which is when my wife warned me just in time; that, if the stamen of the Stargazer Lilly stains your skin, it is rather difficult to get rid of. It smelled so good, I really wanted to touch it. But I behaved, for a change.
The rainwater and the spring are filling up the lake fast. This picture below is not the most recent picture showing water levels at the lake, but it gives you an idea.
Can't wait for it to be full and start seeing kayaks and canoes in the lake. Even I might be brave enough to get in a canoe or something, for fun.

These are iPhone photographs.

Peace :)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Madam Galen

By the lake path, there are huge vines of Madam Galen. I am not sure if the flower is called Madam Galen or Madam Galena. I have heard it called both ways.
We tried growing this in Texas, but in vain. We got the vine to grow, but it never flowered.
I did not use a DSLR to capture this beauty. Honestly, I can't remember if I used the Pentax or the iPhone. But, I know I took the photo on my commute from work and I was enjoying my bicycle ride.
In any event, I like the way these photos turned out.

Hope your having a great time!

Peace :)