Shackled Capabilities


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/461856/shackled-capability.html

These days, I cannot resist chuckling to myself when I pass a police station in Namma Bengaluru. The billboard in the premises triggers me into a muted convulsion. The writing in Kannada says, “There are chain thieves around. Beware of them.”

When I saw the impressive board for the first time, I read it aloud to my curious friend who could not read the lingo. Almost immediately, the driver of the auto in which we were travelling chimed in and said that truer words could not have been spoken. He added that the board spoke of the thieves ‘within’ the premises, including the catchers and the caught. His unexpected sarcastic wisecrack had us in splits.

Soon he turned serious and reeled out a dozen instances of chain snatching incidents which met their Waterloo in the area earmarked for public security. Although we were amused, we could not discount the earnestness that we detected in his voice.

We realised that the men in khaki largely fail to inspire respect in the general public. We were reminded of a family anecdote. When one of my uncles was selected by the police department to join as a sub-inspector, my straightforward grandfather categorically threatened to disown him, if he did take up the job.

We in the sub-continent seem to have little or no faith in our law and order system. That explains the reams of jokes on pot bellied policemen and their wayward ways. Our movies invariably picturise them rushing in the last leg of the climax and nabbing the culprits after the hero has bashed them up.

Recently, a news report in Deccan Herald published a story about 10 boys from Bihar, who worked as shoeshine boys in Kolkata. The boys had inadvertently come across a treasure chest which fell off a van belonging to a bank. They divided the spoils amongst themselves and went back to their native places, only to be nabbed by the long arm of the police and that too within a matter of a few days.

This incident is proof of the fact that our police system is perfectly capable of doing its duty efficiently in double-quick time. Perhaps, they were empowered to do so because there was no interference from political or financially sound circles. May be they did it because the perpetrators would not grease their palms. No matter what the reason, the mission was accomplished, truly and well. The incident holds mirror to the general opinion of the common man about our police.

Conversely, we as a nation also look up to upright officers like Kiran Bedi or H T Sangliana as the totem pole of integrity and duty consciousness. May their tribe increase!

Determination vs. Obstinacy


Many a time people want to achieve their goal by hook or crook. Their very attitude is proof of the fact that they are not in a position to distinguish between determination and obstinacy.

When a person refuses to weigh the pros and cons of a situation and pursues his ambition blindly, he is not only likely to harm the people around him but will wreak havoc on himself both physically and mentally.

An episode from the Mahabharata unfolds the unfortunate repercussions of tenacity. Ashwaththama, the best friend of Duryodhana had promised his dying friend that he would ensure the annihilation of the Pandava family at all costs. He manipulated the death of the Pandavas and ended up killing the five sons of Draupadi. In hindsight, he realised that his mission would be completed if he managed to abort the foetus if princess Uttara who was carrying the posthumous child of Abhimanyu. That way he could effectively put a full stop on the continuance of the Pandava clan. Accordingly, he went to the princess and aimed a potent blade of Darbha grass at her womb. The petrified Uttara ran away in panic. When Ashwaththama chased the pregnant princess, he was intercepted by none other than Lord Krishna.

Krishna understood that the son of Drona was not in a position to distinguish the right from wrong, and there was simply no way he would tarry to listen to the Yadava king. It was then Krishna looked at the gem signifying human intelligence studded on the forehead of the Brahmin. He hastened to pluck it out and prevented the perpetration of foeticide. The mindless Ashwaththama could not focus on his evil undertaking. Thus, Krishna rescued the unborn baby. He ensured that the last scion of the Pandava family – Parikshit- the one who was tested arrived safely on planet earth.

When one examines Ashwaththama’s behaviour, it is not difficult to see that he was being faithful to his friend and true to his promise although his bosom pal was dead. All the same, it is apparent that he lost sight of human propriety in his zeal to redeem his promise. Had he realised that the means is as important as the end he could have spared himself of the ignominy?

From Art to Heart


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/646739/from-art-heart.html

Denizens of Namma Bengaluru are treated to dollops of street art every now and then. More recently, the painting of a swimming pool in and around a large pothole captured a lot of attention. The painting seemed to come alive when somebody captured a realistic snapshot of a random pedestrian trying to step in gingerly into the painted waters holding the bars of the ladder and uploaded it onto social media.

The picture sent me on a nostalgic trip down the busy streets of our city a couple of decades ago. Just about every Saturday, a couple of kids would appear at around 4 pm with brooms and fine brushes. They would clean up a patch of the ground measuring the size of a small carpet. An hour later, their master would come and quickly draw the border lines without using any instrument. Charcoal powder or white rangoli powder would be evenly spread on the floor. Then the master would draw another border around it.

Within a matter of an hour, he would be going round and round drawing the outline. Gods and goddesses from the Hindu pantheon would emerge magically as he deftly coloured and gilded their ornaments. Once done, he would rest on the platform with his young companions, waiting for the footfalls to linger there. The public would offer prayers and place a coin carefully along the demarked borders before proceeding.

For kids like us, it happened to be the staple weekend all-round exposure to the arts, culture and resourcefulness. No one, except an occasional gust of wind or a spell of rains, would disturb the work of art till it earned bread for its creators until the next weekend.

These artists, though torn apart by time and space have managed to strike a chord and have warmed the hearts of many who have been exposed to their works. They have managed to make us not only appreciate their work but also reflect on it, even if only momentarily. These artists who unleash their creativity with confidence and élan silently remind us how a piece of fine art can warm the cockles of our heart and ruminate on matters beyond the mundane. They serve soups to our souls and hence it becomes our moral responsibility to sustain them and their art. For art is long and life is short!

Perhaps, this is what Khalil Gibran’s meant when he said:

“And if there come the singers and the dancers and the flute players – buy of their gifts also.

And that which they bring, though fashioned of dreams, is raiment and food for your soul.

And before you leave the marketplace, see that no one has gone his way with empty hands.

For the master spirit of the earth shall not sleep peacefully upon the wind till the needs of the least of you are satisfied.”

Bread Fruit Recipes


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/645697/get-taste-tropics.html

Get a taste of the tropics

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Breadfruit Podimas

Ingredients: Two raw breadfruits; 1 tsp of turmeric powder; 2 tsps of salt; ½ tsp of hing; 4 red chillies; a sprig of curry leaves; 1 tsp of channa dal; 1 tsp of urad dal and 1 tbsp of cooking oil.
Method: Turn on the stove and place the raw breadfruit on it. Turn it around frequently to cook it evenly on all sides. The skin will carbonise, it but will conduct heat to cook the insides and protect them from getting burnt. Once cooked, wait for it to cool and peel off the burnt skin. Heat oil in a pan and fry the channa dal, urad dal and red chillies with hing. Grind the fried ingredients coarsely, toss the cooked breadfruit with the ground spices and run it for a minute in the food processor. Now crumble the mixture with a blunt ladle. Serve the podimas with hot rice and a raita of your choice.

Breadfruit  & Coconut Curry

Ingredients: Two raw breadfruits; a cup of grated coconut; 1 tbsp of tamarind extract; 1 tsp of turmeric powder; 2 tsps of salt; ½ tsp of hing; 4 red chillies; 4 garlic pods (optional); 1 sprig of curry leaves; 1 tsp of channa dal; 1 tsp of urad dal; 1 tbsp of coriander seeds; 1 tsp of cumin seeds; 1 tsp of mustard seeds and 2 tbsps of cooking oil.
Method: Skin the breadfruit, dice it and pressure cook it using little water. Marinate the cooked breadfruit in tamarind extract mixed with salt, turmeric powder and hing for 10 minutes. Fry the channa dal, urad dal, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, red chillies, garlic and curry leaves in little oil and grind the ingredients finely. Take a heavy-bottomed pan, add a tbsp of oil and add mustard seeds to it. Add the marinated breadfruit to the pan and sauté it for a while. Add the ground ingredients and sauté the same. When the curry appears golden brown, add the grated coconut and mix it well before turning off the heat. Serve as a side dish for rice or roti.

Breadfruit Roast

Ingredients: Two raw breadfruits; 1 tbsp of tamarind extract; 1 tsp of turmeric powder; 2 tsps of salt; ½ tsp of hing; 1 tbsp of red chilli powder; a sprig of curry leaves and half a cup of cooking oil.
Method: Skin the breadfruits and slice them into thin wafers. Marinate the breadfruit slices in tamarind extract mixed with chilli powder, salt, turmeric powder and hing for an hour or so. Take a heavy-bottomed pan, add a tablespoon of oil and heat the same and spatter the mustard in it. Add the marinated breadfruit and curry leaves to the pan and sauté it for a while. Add oil from time to time to the pan and attend to the vegetable till it turns into a fine roast. This roast can be served as a side dish with rice or simply eaten as a snack.
Note: You can even deep fry the marinated the breadfruits and eat them as chips.