Not Just a Thought | Food for Thought | Motivational Thought

January 1, 2016 by Snigdha

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2016 !

Keep calm, make a list and start doing!

If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse.

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A true sense of community service can achieve wonders

October 15, 2015 by Snigdha

I always had very high regards for Sardarjies for here is one community who knows jokes are all the time cracked in their name, but never complain because of their pure hearts and simplicity. But after my  recent trip to The Golden Temple at Amritsar, my respect for them has become manifold – especially after experiencing Langar… a 24 hr free offering of food and tea to whosoever comes, that too with voluntary seva by whosoever wants to offer. Truly a phenomenal concept of huge order in execution. Hats off.

This reminds me of the following I read somewhere. Do not get entangled in figures – just look at the core facts. YES! I too have never seen a Sardarji beggar. Is n’t it something to ponder over ?

We all love Sardarji jokes. But do you know that Sikhs are one of the hardest working, prosperous and diversified communities in the world!
My friend told me about the following incident which I wish to share with you. It has had a deep impact on my thinking…

During the last vacation, a few friends came to Delhi . They rented a taxi for local sight-seeing. The driver was an old Sardar and boys being boys, these pals began cracking Sardarji jokes, just to tease the old man. But to their surprise, the fellow remained unperturbed..

At the end of the sight-seeing, they paid the cab hire charges. The Sardar returned the change, but he gave each one of them one rupee extra and said,”Sons, since morning you have been telling Sardarji jokes. I listened to them all and let me tell you, some of them were in bad taste. Still, I don’t mind coz I know that you are young blood and are yet to see the world. But I have one request. I am giving you one rupee each. Give it to the first Sardar beggar that you come across in this or any other city !!!”

My friend continued, “That one rupee coin is still with me. I couldn’t find a single Sardar begging anywhere.”

MORAL:
The secret behind their universal success is their willingness to do any job with utmost dedication and pride. A Sardar will drive a truck or set up a roadside garage or a dhaba, run a fruit juice stall, take up small time carpentry, … but he will never beg on the streets,

Because Sikhs contribute:

* 33% of total income tax
* 67% of total charities
* 45% of Indian Army

* 59,000++ Gurudwaras serve LANGAR to 5,900,000+ people everyday!

& All this when THEY make only 1.4% of the total INDIAN POPULATION…

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Passing through a STORM

May 7, 2015 by Snigdha

‘WHEN YOU COME OUT OF THE STORM
     YOU WON’T BE THE SAME PERSON
                     WHO WALKED IN.
THAT’S WHAT THIS STORM IS ALL ABOUT.’
                                                                              –  HARUKI MURAKAMI
Now it’s up to you, and none else, to decide how you would like to come out of the storm- battered or better, fragmented or fortified, demolished or determined !!

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Habisa Dalma | Vegan Recipe | Authentic Odia Food

May 14, 2014 by Snigdha

 

Habisa Dalma

  

 Habisha or Habisa Dalma is typically prepared in the month of ‘Kartik’ in Odisha, especially in Puri- the land of Lord Jagannath, when many Odias observe “habisha” in which only satwik( veg without onion –garlic-mustard oil) and humble food is consumed. The specific dish for this month is  Habisha Dalma made out of moong dal(skinned & split green gram) with only kadali/kaccha kela (raw banana), saru/arbi(colocasia),  oou( elephant pear), ginger, grated coconut and pure ghee.

 *Oou is a typical vegetable available in Orissa/Odisha and it tastes tangy               (khatta). 

 

OOU  ( perhaps called Elephant Pear ) . 

         

      Oou when halved. The slimy interior          oou is a layered vegetable. Layers

     needs to be taken out & discarded             need be separated & skinned before

                                                                           slicing

BE CAREFUL WHILE CHOPPING OOU, AS IT IS SLIMY  AFTER PEELING ITS SKIN!!

 

Procedure  ( traditional type)

 

For 3-4 serves

Place a deep bottomed pot on fire with enough water( 4-5 cups) in it. Add  ( 1 cup or a little more) and bring it to the boiling point. Lower the flame and let it boil. Take out the scum (white foam) as they come up.  After 2-3 mins, add salt, diced arbi (saru/colocasia – 7-8 nos). After 3-4 mins of cooking, add diced kachha kela ( kadali/raw banana – about 1 large or a little more), 1 slit green chilli, generous amount of crushed ginger ( 1-2 inch) and sliced Oou*( 6-7 slices). Cook on sim, half-covered, till dal is tender and each grain splits ( say for 12-15 mins after adding kela. Do not overcook, otherwise moong dal turns slimy. By that time, both raw banana and colocasia would have got cooked right also. Adjust consistency by adding some more water, if necessary. Keep the consistency of dal a little running- not thick at all.Add grated coconut ( 5-6 tbsp, or more if you like). Switch off.

Seasoning:

Heat refined oil/dalda. Splutter jeera ( 1 tsp) and dry red chilli pieces.

 When jeera turns fragrant, add this seasoning to the dal and cover immediately for the flavour to get absorbed. Add 1 tsp of pure ghee ( or a little more). Serve hot with plain rice.

 

Usually, the platter contains plain rice flavoured with pure ghee, habisha dalma, baigan bhaja, kankana bhaja, arua saaga, tomato khajuri khata/oau khata etc. accompanied by slices of tender cucumber, lemon, green chilli and salt on the side!! Tastes divine.

Must eat freshly made and hot. Smash-n-grind a bit of green chilli with your fingers into the dalma while eating.

Do not want such an elaborate platter ? Just go for rice, habisha dalma, one simple fry and cucumber+green chilli+lemon+salt on the side. Soul-satisfying.

Habisha Dalma, with kela ( which blackens the dish) and without haldi, looks a bit uninviting – but taste it and you will promise never to go by the appearance ever again.

 

Variations:

1. if you do not have Oou ( which is seasonal & mostly not available elsewhere), add a bit of amchoor ( mango powder) instead of OOU towards the end.  Follow rest of the procedure.

2.Avoid seasoning and just add pure ghee to the dalma after adding coconut and serve.

3. Avoid tanginess altogether by not using oou or aamchur. Just use lots of crushed ginger and coconut. Add pure ghee without /with seasoning.

 4. Use dry-roasted moong dal, instead of raw dal, follow the full procedure and garnish with chopped dhania patta( coriander leaves).

Some people also add other vegetables like brinjal and pumpkin. But I stick to only colocasia and raw banana(plantain) for this recipe. And guess what! I love the aamchur version without seasoning, but with a generous dollop of pure ghee !! So, now-a-days, I do not miss oou , though I am a great fan of Habisha Dalma J

 ………………………………………………………..Jay Jagannath……………………………………………………………………………………


 

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A Must Read by all men and women “Lean in : Women, Work, and The Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook

August 9, 2013 by Snigdha

 

It was one of those rare occasions when I felt very happy and relieved on being proved incorrect!

When I first got to know about this book by Sheryl Sandberg, the famous COO of Facebook, from reviews in some newspapers, my first kneejerk reaction, was to scoff at it. One more bragging from one more “Female Achiever”; I thought, who thinks that the others who do not eventually make it to the top are the lot “scared” of the top slots and/or those who do not have” what it takes”, or who just are not willing enough to take the plunge – happy n secure within their comfort zone!!  I thought, it is easy on the part of a woman executive, that too from a background of rather liberal & facilitative western culture, who has already seen so much of success, for reasons whatsoever, to say things like, “ Lean in”, “sit at the table” and exhort other women to dream big and reach for them without holding back themselves; as if it is the fault of the women only that they are not dreaming big or reaching for their goals.

But as I said, those were only my first reaction based on the reviews in some newspapers. At the same time, I was also getting sucked into another strong reaction-almost off-guard! And it was guilt!! I had thought in so many years after quitting my job that I really don’t regret or feel guilty that I quit my job. I have my reasons, so far I thought I am convinced of those reasons. But here comes a book, whose reviews focus on only one part: wherein a powerful woman proclaims: women are not in ‘power’, as they do not aspire to be there and hold themselves back even when opportunities come their way. The book shouts: Lean in to power! we need more  women in ‘power” to correct the centuries long discrimination and injustice against women. Need more women in power? Yes, I think so, too. But women do not aspire to power? No, I do not think that is the whole truth!

Suddenly, I start feeling guilty. Have I “pulled back” from “power”, instead of leaning in? And thereby, have I betrayed my forerunners of feminists as well as the coming generations of women?? Have I deprived my fellow women from the impact that I could have made towards bridging the gender gap  by hanging on to my corporate job and moving up in the corridors of power?

I was truly keen to read the book myself to know firsthand, in detail, what Sheryl has actually tried to argue and advocate.  Thank God, page after page, as I intently went through the book, my joy and relief knew no bounds.

Yes! I can not agree more with each and every aspect of the gender issues that Sheryl has candidly brought out ( happens quite rarely with me). And NO! it is not about exhorting each and every woman to necessarily join the rat race of power in the corporate sector/decision-making Government organizations.

The book is all about “ true freedom” and “ an equal world”  !

I found it way too courageous on part of Sheryle to have brought up to focus various real  issues – not only the big, but also the so-called small issues ( that actually build up to big issues when unattended to for ages)-  that “hold back”  talented women from breaking the traditional female stereotypes and /or to display their professional ambition or to reach their potential. As she correctly analyses, some of these factors are external, some institutional and some internal ( almost of a self-perpetuating nature due to which the victim- read woman- becomes the worst perpetrator of the victimization!).

Yes, feminism was about freedom of choice, and not to make us feel guilty, or constantly worry about “ did I get it wrong?”

Yes, leaning in is about giving your best and demanding /extracting the best as you deserve, without allowing to be scuttled due to your gender,  and being your best in whatever area you are passionate about – be it raising the next generation, or volunteering for society, or making laws and strategies sitting in the leadership positions of power that can impact the world at large ; OR  a mix of all these! However, it makes immense sense when the author says that the need for more women in power is  being felt more than ever before, given the degree of gender discrimination against women that has already got deeply entrenched in the social psyche world over !!

At times, all it takes to make you move to your next level is someone else’s opinion that resonates with your own. And after reading the book till the end, I felt very reassured.

Let me introduce myself. I am the 4th of the 5 siblings in order of age & the younger of the two sisters, born to parents from humble background, who taught us very early in our lives: “ Let us agree to disagree !” a mindset, which, I now fully understand, is actually the bedrock of true freedom. If you, as a child, are not free to disagree with your parents in the first place, or conversely, if you, as a parent, do not allow your children the freedom to disagree with you, you can never expect a society with individuals having a thinking mind in the first place, let alone a ‘free’ mind. Minus the emotions, disagreement is just a difference of opinion and so long as we are not entitled to our opinion, or do not learn to hold an opinion of our own (reasonableness or otherwise of that opinion is altogether a different issue which can only be established through a free debate), we can not call ourselves free!!

Yes, I have quit my service in the corporate sector after more than 25 years for some reasons important to me and my values, although I always put my best foot forward valuing excellence over other rewards  in doing things I am responsible for, or passionate about. It was equally to stand up against what I was convinced was injustice, as also to pursue other passions in life to give back something to the society by using my gifts/talents/insights from long and varied experience. Yes, I have not yet entered the elite club of the Super-achievers, perhaps I am not as worldly-wise to be there, or perhaps because the time is yet to come. But no regrets, as I have continued to hold my head high with a free mind and have continued to exercise my free will in making reasoned choices of my own in critical situations in life – both professional and personal. And this is precious enough to me to keep my batteries charged, come what may, and make a difference to at least a few other lives.

Can not thank Sheryl enough for what she has been doing through this book and other modes of communication to lead a movement, standing up for the cause of half the people on this planet!!   

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Living the QUESTIONS

August 8, 2013 by Snigdha

One of the most important things that shape us in life is the questions we ask ourselves continually. The ones we ask ourselves just about every day and the ones we ask specially when things turn out in ways not wanted or not anticipated by us – starting from simple upsets to grave, life-shattering adversities. It is interesting to observe what kind of questions we ask ourselves during these hard times and how we handle those questions. In fact, whether we emerge out of the adversity bitter-n- battered OR better hinges a lot on this aspect.
Yes, the answers do matter; but I think, the questions are as much important or even more crucial most of the time. If questions are wrong ab initio, none of the answers will help us make the right choices. Especially, the long list of whys that we ask when confronted with adversity that we consider as unjust and/or that jolts our self-esteem. Our professional lives usually make us confront such situations – and it happens to all sometime, at some level or other. It is naïve to think that a few fortunate ones have always had a cake walk. The issue at hand is not whether it happens to all or not; but how you personally take these calls – especially how do you handle when you are pushed out of your threshold limits for bearing what according to yourself is unfair treatment/injustice/ indignity.
The matter becomes worse and energy-sucking,when we do not find the answers – the true and cogent answers, I mean, to all our questions and that leaves us guessing.
And guesswork is nothing but creations and projections of our own perceptions and beliefs! Back to square one – we had started with ourselves ( why me? Why this to me? Do I deserve this ? etc.) and we end up with ourselves again with presumptions – not answers- framed through our own filters – coloured with our own perceptions and interpretations.
In such a scenario, what we ourselves believe shape our truth, like the pigmyllion effect. If we believe, we have been victimised, it becomes our truth: if we believe, there is a pointer inside for something beyond what meets our eyes… well, that is going to be the truth for us! That’s why, it becomes important not to chase the answers mindlessly with desperation – at least to the core questions that seek to explain acts of others or providencial justice.
So, during those times when we ask questions… ponder a lot… try to rationalise… try to emotionalise… try to fantasize….try doing everything to get an answer to our “why”; but the answer… the true answer… simply eludes us,  understand that this is the time to just live the question !!
Let us also understand that we can ask questions that make us feel more like a victim – questions that reinforce negativity and pessimism in our life. Or we can ask empowering questions; questions that open up the hitherto dormant and unexplored wells of positivity and opportunity in our world. Questions that enlighten us further … help us re-invent ourselves..  
Do not just keep on whining if you do not get answers to all your questions on action/behaviour of others – Instead ask yourself probing questions that draw out your own core beliefs, clarify your own core values.  Because the moment we start asking questions about what other person(s) did to us, we start dragging ourselves into a victim mould and become uncomfortable in our own skin! That amounts to virtually passing on control of our life to someone else. The moment you get an inkling of such feeling, do come back to yourself and regain control of your own life. 
At life’s critical bends, you just have to stop worrying, wondering and doubting. Have faith that things will work out eventually – may be not how you planned, but just how they are meant to be. It is said, in the end, everything is good; if it isn’t good, it is not yet the end!
Remember, smooth roads never make good drivers. A problem-free life never makes a strong person; so never ask life “Why Me”, instead challenge it and say “Try Me”.
And by the way, is anyone perfect in this world ?  I’m not, neither are you. It is a truism, which we somehow close our eyes to, in our crazy pursuit of being right always, at times chasing even worthless goals! Accept yourself fully—with your achievements, strengths, weaknesses, failures, flaws, follies and all. Once you do that with yourself, you will be surprised to find how easy it suddenly becomes to accept others in your life too … with all their flaws ( real as well as perceived by you)!  And once that happens, you will find yourself liberated, at least from the questions like ‘why he/she did this to me?’ . After all, ain’t others as human as you and might just have erred in judgement/decision? It is at this point that you realise the irrelevance of the answers to your victim-mode questions – you have truly lived your questions and with that, the questions expire in time. And strangely enough, answers to some of your core questions would still be revealed to you as you move on, in ways not anticipated by you. 
You don’t have to be perfect to realize your dreams, but you do need to be committed to personal evolution. You can only begin that journey when you accept yourself completely for who you are and believe in grace of God and worth of yourself.
Believe with all your heart and soul in the saying that the ultimate reward of your sincerity and perseverance is not what you get for it, but what you become because of it!! And perhaps this one belief contains the one and only answer that matters ultimately!  And sure enough, this one belief would see you through all your questions.
Above all, know that The Universe has heard your question and it will be handled!!
…………………………….

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Three essential questions that leaders at workplace must ask themselves

August 8, 2013 by Snigdha

Even without an official title, and irrespective of your position in the organisational hierarchy , you can be a ‘leader’ in your own right through your action and attitude. True. But the story is vastly different  when you are a “leader” by title, i.e when you are ‘assigned’ a leadership position by your organization, and are expected to lead a group of people assigned to you to a certain goal. In this case, you are officially responsible for the outcome, not only of your own productivity, but more significantly for the outcome of your people’s productive behavior as well. You have to effectively convert a bunch of people to an effective and successful team, that owns a shared goal and achieves it together, following you as the leader.
Today’s workplace scenario – especially with knowledge workers and service sectors – clearly calls for a set of leadership skills,  that is more people-centric and less authority–centric. Positional authority no longer guarantees that you will be accepted as the leader by your people merely by virtue of your designation and will be able to ensure the deliverables through them by using command and control strategies. In fact, as gleaned from history, this had never really worked and people who delivered great sustainable results were inspiring leaders with some other key human traits that do not flow from one’s designation – a fact which is now being acknowledged more openly, as compared to in the past. With concepts like “Emotional Intelligence”, “People skills”, ‘social skills’ etc. gaining ground and almost becoming much-hackneyed terms, there is no need to elaborate on why positional authority alone cannot guarantee successful teams.
So, the next point is: how do you know whether you are the kind of leader that the modern workplace needs?  A leader today has to steer their people through ambiguities, uncertainties and challenges and make them want to give their best. Goes without saying, when people want to give their best,  that is evidence enough that they own the project and also that they are on auto-pilot to ensure the best results.
Ask yourself 3  key questions !
And honestly answer to those. You will be pretty clear on whether you already are a leader capable of leading your people to success, or whether you are currently lacking and where exactly you need to work on yourself.
Question 1 :   Do your people trust you?
Question 2 : Do you treat your team members as human beings, and not just as employees?
Question 3: Do you take active interest in the growth of your people?
Remember, you are being watched constantly by your co-workers/team mates/employees, even if you are not always told about it on your face.
Co-workers would trust you only when they see fairness and consistency in your action and intent through various situations. In addition, if they accept that you would always, and without hesitation, stand up for them whenever the situation warrants, they will trust you completely, and will be inspired by your integrity and credibility. Only this kind of complete trust in the leader brings out the best in each employee – courage to innovate, take risks and stretch out-of-box to reach the best results.   
Leaders, I mean true leaders, demonstrate a very high degree of credibility and that makes it easy for them to carry their people along without the need to “drag them along’ where they need 100% of their team to be on the new destination! So, be trust-worthy!!
No employee is your employee only-they are also human beings having highs and lows in their important personal spheres, at times may be just around the same time that the ‘employee’ in them is called to contribute. Do you, as the leader, see the worry on their face when they are going through a personal crisis; or just miss out on it , lost in tasking  your employees to meet  your official deadlines?
Showing empathy, sharing the personal joys and concerns of your employees, till recently, was not seen with favour in the context of tough, decisive leadership! But go through history and look around. You will be amazed to see just how many of the super- achiever leaders actually displayed this one quality, that made all the difference!! No wonder, with time and greater research into leadership, the concept of “ Emotional Intelligence” has come up since quite sometime now and this quality – i.e empathy for your people- has now been acknowledged as a key leadership quality- ranking on the top slot of the skills set!
Yes, when people know that their superior cares for them as human beings, they too reciprocate in terms of higher engagement and productivity in the job. So, the golden rule is: respect your employees as human beings first; most of the rest will fall in line.
The third crucial area that you, as the leader, have to take responsibility for is: growth of your people! It is easier to make people do things when you can make them see what is in it that is for them, not for you! In a workplace situation, no employee can stay engaged and charged without growth   in terms of growth in personal knowledge-skill-competence matrix, career progression, and both in combination. A superior  who keeps this in sight in respect of each of the team mates usually demonstrates genuine interest in the growth of all the employees, without favour or unjust discrimination, through a holistic approach of training-assigning responsibilities-mentoring-sponsoring for higher jobs. Such a superior not only properly assesses each employee to harness their potential, but also invests in growth of each, and makes it visible to the team asto what growth prospects are there for each of them when the shared goal is achieved! Undoubtedly,  such a superior would automatically inspire employees to give their best to whatever organizational goals they are pursuing, not only because they themselves stand to gain from it, but also for the fact that, their own superior becomes the face of the organization for them and they would walk any length of extra miles for such a leader!!
The above three are perhaps the most important human traits that tell a leader, whom people would gladly follow, from the rest.
…………………………

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