JoL: Stronger with God

Catching up with my ‘Journey of Life’ series after a long gap, I am happy to introduce you to CR. She and I met at our local church. She is a new mom and actively involved in church. Here is her story of growing together with God.  

It is hard for me to remember how I was thinking and what my dreams were.

When I was 16 I was very shy and scared to pursue things on my own.  Many of my achievements at the time were through my parents, always asking their permission never daring to do anything they would disapprove of.  This included my faith in God as well.  I wanted the typical things- to get married, to live in a house, have children, and be a stay home mom.

Between the ages of 17 to 19 I went to Cegep to study Special Care Counseling because I decided I wanted to work with children with Special needs.  In Cegep I found the people around me much more independent and exercising much more freedom than I was.  I think one of the reasons I continued to be so sheltered was because since I was shy, it made me more comfortable hiding under my parent’s wings.  During that time, my brother rebelled against my parents.  I remember feeling a little bit like a nerd in the eyes of my younger siblings and how they almost seemed to admire my brother more than me.

When I started University, I finally had my first boyfriend.  I was so proud to have one finally and decided that I too wouldn’t be so nerdy and have more fun.  Well, this was probably the worst year of my life!  Because of my low self-esteem, I let him hurt me and tolerated things I should have never tolerated if I had any more respect for myself.  Although it was a year of mistakes and pain God used it for good.  He showed me that He would never leave me even if I disobeyed him and he also showed me that there is tremendous blessing when we obey him.

I don’t really know why, but after that trial I became much more confident in myself and started to make many friends.  I also made a personal decision to follow Christ rather than living through my parents.  I became much more content in what God has given me and chose to wait to see what He will bless me with when He chooses to.

God still had more to teach me.  During my early 20’s I was now chasing after boys.  I often organized events or outings in hopes to get a boyfriend.  Oddly enough, the boys that ended up liking me were always those that I was not interested in.

The night I met my husband, was a night that I was not looking.  I was surrounded by my girlfriends and only focused on them.  We were at a New Years party and he noticed me when I first entered the house.  He tells me that he did so many things to get my attention but I was too enthralled with the friends I was already with.  It was only a few hours after midnight that I finally noticed him and had my first chat with him and God did the rest.  I like thinking back at this story because it shows me that I don’t need to obsess about my plans, God has the perfect plan and when He chooses the time is right things happen.

I did get married to my soul mate and cannot imagine being with anyone else.  I became a mother and we do have the financial means for me to be a stay home mom.  Wow, God has blessed me so much and I don’t really understand why He gave me such wonderful things.

Before I became a mother, I had a miscarriage.  This also taught me a valuable life lesson.  Life does not always go exactly the way we planned, it’s really God who chooses what we have and we must realize that whatever achievements and things we hold dear are not from our own efforts but are because God permitted us to have them.  I understand this now when I hold my son and see him as a gift that God gave me.

God still has a lot to teach me.  He has used the all circumstances in my life, the good and the bad, as life lessons.  I am so glad that He holds my life in His hands.

Thanks CR for sharing your story with us.

Phir Milenge!

JoL: Que-Sera-Sera

Last month, I invited some of my friends to share the journeys of their life as I asked them to think about these questions 1. What was on your must-have/ must-achieve list when you were 15-16-17? 2. What is your life like now? 3. What are the most important lessons you have learnt so far?. I would be publishing their stories in a series I have titled “the journey of life (JoL)” which is also the tag line of this blog.

I met Meenu when I was studying architecture and she was a year senior to me. I remember her as a fun-loving, straight talking and a very popular person. She grew up in India and now lives in the US with her husband and daughter. Here she talks about how her plans for life changed over the years.

“Don’t you worry, don’t you worry child

See heaven’s got a plan for you” – Swedish House Mafia

I was a bright, top of the list student till X Std (grade 10). After my Xth CBSE results my parents sent me to Birla Balika Vidyapeeth, Pilani, Rajasthan. They had a plan in mind. They wanted me to do my grade 11 and 12 and then get admission in BITS, Pilani (a reputed engineering college), Study engineering, come back to Delhi and get married by 2000. It seemed simple and doable. Little did they knew that I would be back in less then 10 days…After coming back to Delhi I was a lost soul and it reflected in all aspects of my life. I took admission in a new school, new environment and that made me loose my focus a bit more as I don’t accept changes easily.

Summer of 1996, I was still clueless about my life, goals, ambitions when I was sitting on a bench with a good friend, holding my grade 12 result sheet. The school was filled with ambitious students hoping to-be doctors, engineers, lawyers and what not. And there I was sitting and thanking God that I cleared chemistry despite of attempting questions worth not more then 30 marks (the passing marks used to be 33 I guess…lucky me :D).

As soon as I reached home, my brother took me for a drive and showed me “my could-be-future”. We parked our car outside an all girls college and my brother just said “This could be your life, if you choose it to be. Come to college, study till the time mom-dad look for a suitable marwari business man and say bye-bye.” That was the first time I think I said “WTF” loud and clear… So thanks to my brother for rocking my boat.

I did realize I needed a plan, more than that an ambition & a goal. I revisited an extinguished flame of being an architect. In a matter of 7 days I enrolled myself in a guiding class, started brushing my sketching skills and did everything that was required to get in to an architecture college.
TVBSHS (our architectural college) happened and 5 years of learning with endless fun introduced me to a new-me. The ‘New-me’ was super ambitious, with no time for love (I had settled with the idea of arranged marriage somehow). All I wanted was to finish my bachelors, work for couple of years, open my own firm, go for masters to New Zealand or Australia, have some more fun, work some more, earn big bucks, articles in magazines, travel the world and so on. No time or inclination to find Mr Right or marriage or commitment. All I wanted to do was have fun and work.

I was not so sure about my “what I want” list BUT I was very adamant about my “do not want” list. I did not want a love marriage. I did not want to get married to a guy who lives in USA (somehow hated the country for unknown reasons), smokes, is a non-vegetarian, is a libran and listens to Jazzy B. Life is ironic. I fell in love with someone who does/did all that and some more…

Posh-Puja: a tradition in Kashmiri weddings, where bride and groom sit under a chunari(long peice of fabric) and then all the elders shower them with flower petals that symbolize their blessings.

Posh-Puja: a tradition in Kashmiri weddings, where bride and groom sit under a chunari(long peice of fabric) and then all the elders shower them with flower petals that symbolize their blessings.

The REAL plan started unfolding when I met NALIN- my better 7/8th as I call him. Sitting miles apart in a different countries, we fell in love in the midst of me meeting prospective marriageable guys suggested by my parents and running from one project site to another, from the workshop to office. Almost after 2 years he proposed, I felt I had the courage to stand up for this one guy I so wanted in my life. Suddenly everything around me was red and heart shaped. My life was a packet full of “cheesy” strings. To cut a long story short – soon after my epiphany, I wrapped up my successful professional developing career, packed my bags and took a flight to a new country, to start a life with the man I love so much. The best decision I ever took. A beautiful life followed and it still continues. Now we have a lovely daughter Zoe in our life.

Meenu and her family

Meenu and her family

Once a career oriented, super ambitious and stuck up girl is now a stay home mom by choice. Its challenging and I am loving each bit of it. Life is mechanical many a times but WE as a family try and break the monotony over the weekends, making most of each other’s time. Life is nothing but love, fun, respect and much more served on a golden platter. When the time is right I do “plan” to think about the big question “whats next???”… Till then I just want to be a wife and a mom.

Last 15+ years taught me importance of acceptance. Changes are bound to happen. I can not change “the change” always so might as well adapt to it. Also I learned that life should be given a chance. You can plan it but I feel it is already planned for you and if you are not receptive enough to the cues, it just might pass you by and many years later you might sit and ponder “woh hota to kya hota, waisa hota to kaisa hota??”(what could have happened if that would have happened- it looses some impact in translation).

Hers is such a positive and heartfelt story. When I read it for the first time I was humbled she shared it with me and on this platform. Thanks Meenu!

Related posts:

Journey of dreams

journey of life

Phir Milenge!!

Journey of dreams

Last month, I invited some of my friends to share the journeys of their life. as I asked them to think about these questions 1. What was on your must-have/ must-achieve list when you were 15-16-17? 2. What is your life like now? 3. What are the most important lessons you have learnt so far?. I would be publishing their stories in a series I wish to title “the journey of life” which is also the tag line of my blog.

I met Aakanksha during my architectural studies where she was two years my junior. This is her journey of dreams.

I knew when I was in class 9th that I wanted to be an architect. But right when this “real” dream was taking shape with it was this dream of winning a Grammy someday and write for the backstreet boys. A lot of people would say that these are dreams a lot of young ladies would have, now which teen girl back in the day did not have a crush on Nick Carter?

Image via Wikipedia commons

Imzge via

Ok that apart I remember that I wrote these mushy backstreet boyish kind of songs and very seriously head out to find the email addresses of the 5 boys. I had a plan: I started on the task of making the biggest fan site of the backstreet boys which would gain popularity and then would get me contacts and eventually some email id of the backstreet boys to whom I would then mail the songs (it was pre-facebook and twitter !). Eventually when my song would be selected and become popular, I would then win the Grammy.

A lot of people would dismiss it as a childish dream (and I will not completely blame them) but my dreams were always about arts and the medium of expression-either through writing or theater or drawing or architecture. I never dreamed of being the top 20 management gurus of the world, I dreamed of art and expression. It makes architecture and design seem like an obvious option, though wasn’t necessarily as thought out as it seems. But as far as achieving my dream is concerned well – I still want to get down to writing a book (over years writing has become a passion and goal! ) from songs, to plays, to articles, to a book…the dream has changed shape but has essentially remained the same.
Many more dreams have gotten added over the years – the dream of having my own firm and seeing it grow. The dream of having a furniture factory someday. And now also the dream of having time for family and keeping them happy. I guess dreams will always change and modify but essentially will always stem from the same person and will be closely linked to his/er evolution.

Related posts:

Journey of life

Phir Milenge!!

Chai to Chai-latte!

Ashish Damle is a dear friend and the executive chef at Belgo Brasserie in Calgary, Alberta. He has worked in some of the reputable restaurants in the region and it goes without saying is a foodie at heart. When I asked him to write a piece about Indian food, he responded with a passionate ” there is a lot to talk about it!”. Following is what I am assuming could very well be just part-one of a long conversation.

Chef Ashish at work

Chef Ashish at work

Believe it or not whenever Indians meet the conversation never starts with “let’s make butter chicken” but there is a good chance it might start by saying “who is making Chai?”

Ever Memory I have about my grown up life in India revolves around making , drinking or watching people enjoy Chai right from the secret meeting with friends smoking Rothmans near Law College (pune)  or lonely breaks between classes standing next to the street side vendor. Chai is a conversation starter and a welcome sign for guests at home.

Old aluminium kettles at a tea stall vendor

Old aluminium kettles at a tea stall vendor

During my first international assignment, working as a chef on a cruise ships, the Indian staff was made fun of for eating with our hands and moving our heads the exact same way to say yes and no. J  The one thing that worked in our favor was that we made delicious, creamy spiced Chai in the morning for everyone, and no we never ran out!!!


The Chai I am talking about is different from the Chai- latte that has been gaining popularity here in the west none the less Chai–latte is its close derivative. I think it is a good metaphor for how East Indian cuisine has evolved in the eyes of the world. As a chef I am constantly trying to put my own signature on what I cook and honor my food-heritage when I can. So in my attempt to talk about the food I love the way I know it I had to talk about how India has influenced the world cuisine and in turn has been influenced by the world.

Sweet and savoury snacks to go with my chai

Sweet and savoury snacks to go with my chai

Indian cuisine as we know is not just one style but a variety of style that changes throughout the country with rich curries from the North West frontier provinces to coconut gravies of the south, Asian influences in the east and European influences in the west. The Study of Indian cuisine is really a study of the history of the region, the many military –conquests that happened and all cross cultural influences that Indian sub-continent has had in the past 5000 years. The Mughals in the North gave us knowledge of use of Spices such as Saffron and Black Cardamom, the Nizams in the south gave us the delectable Biryanis and the Tibetan Chinese immigrants gave us Momos in the east; the Afghans brought knowledge of Clay ovens and Tandoori cooking. The food scene is also influenced by the local geography of course. The people in costal areas eat a lot of seafood and coconuts are seen used in everything from appetizers to desserts.


One important chapter in the evolution of Indian cuisine has to be the Spice Trade. Spices were an important component of Medieval Business. Most traded spices were available only in the Middle East, Persia, North Africa and South East Asia for centuries. Spices were a desired commodity as a food additive as well as a basis for making perfume, dyes and medicine.

The European attraction to spices and grains from the old world began as early as the7th and 8th century with Medieval Europeans trading gold and silver , precious metals and knowledge of fire arms for Spices such as Peppercorn , Cinnamon , Turmeric, Cloves and Saffron . Without getting into too much history I will just say that this brought great riches to the sub-continent and around the 15th century helped in forming the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company.

Traders became Rulers and the whole world saw colonization by the Europeans who took the love for use of Spices in cooking and medicine from India to all across the world. As the British, Portuguese and the Dutch created their strong hold in various parts of Bharat (land mass extending from Turkey to Burma and everything in between ) they learned the delicate use of spices and incorporated in their own cuisine and hence gave birth to Anglo Indian Cuisine  with recipes such as kedgeree , and Bubble and Squeak . Also leading to creation of Madras curry powder, and Worcestershire Sauce which was first made by a British army officer in memory of the Indian food he was use to eating when he was commissioned in India.

Use of vinegar, Pork blood, and meat Sausages started to appear in a primarily Vegetarian Society as the result of the 500 years of Portuguese rule in the western provinces. Today Bread or Double Roti is served at all meals in Goa and this rather unknown bread variety of the past is now a main stay in every Indian household.

Defines my passion for food.

Defines my passion for food.

After being the holy land of curry and spices steeped in tradition India’s food culture is changing even though the love for spices and excitement in savoring the best of the best in Indian cuisine is always on trend; Another wave of global influences are at play once again in Indian cuisine. Pizza Huts and McDonald have appeared on the scene and are perceived to be cool and hip. Fast food chains are making their presence felt in the Indian market and giving the traditional eateries new challenges. On the other hand with globalization and globe trotting Indians travelers there has been growing awareness of the international food trends and Indian chefs both in India and abroad are mixing techniques and ingredients and comforting their knowledge thirsty souls by learning new ways to cook our ancient cuisine and creating new cuisines of their own.

Britain today has the largest number of Indian restaurants outside of India and North America is not too far behind. Although The Indian cuisine you are most likely to find in some Indian restaurants is as far a cry from what I know and love about Indian cuisine as the Chai–latte is from the simple cutting–tea that I have at home yet it is a good reminder of the ever evolving food culture.

 Thanks Chef! I am hoping we will get to talk again sometime soon!

Phir Milenge!!

all images and text courtesy © Ashish Damle

Roadside regalment

This week’s  contributors to my month-long guest post series have chosen to remain anonymous. Their only information I can share: They love street food. Here is a sampling from one of their food outings.

Sadak-Chhaap [pronounced sa-duck ch-ap] means pedestrian or road side but if you are in an Indian city you would know that in the unknown street corners are hidden many culinary gems. One of our starter snack is the Batata Vada – Potato fritters. Served very hot with green chillies and chutneys of various types. Sandwich the vada in between bread (pav) and you get the famous vada paav.


The Indian pav is similar to the dinner rolls in the west, but the Indian version has a slightly more crunchier crust and is extremely soft on the inside.

Next stop is Misal-paav. You would know that you have arrived at the right place by the number of people lining up to be served. It is not unusual to see long line up outside a small stall on pleasant days.

tableMisal consists of spicy curry usually made of sprouts, mutter, chick peas and chilly powder gravy. The final dish is topped with  Sev (Indian noodles),or some kind of crunchy savoury treats. Add onions, lemon and coriander (cilantro) to your own liking. It is usually served with bread toasted with butter and curd and papad.


Personally I enjoy dipping the bread in  in the misal to eat. It is a messier way to eat but very enjoyable. Last but not the least, road side tea.You don’t have to go to a fancy restaurant to enjoy the best tea in town  (in fact it’s the opposite – the fancier the place , the less likely you are to be served a real masala chai). Enjoy a road side tea with an equally pedestrian way to enjoy it. Take my word it is really worth trying.

how to drink tea- 1how to drink tea- 2how to drink tea- 2

Thank you so much for sharing!

If you have any roadside food adventures that you would like to share please leave a comment.

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Mesmerising Maharashtra

An a-moo-zing day

Three Six Six

Phir Milenge!!