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Baking Bad

“Hum honge kamyaab ek din,
Mann mein hai vishwaas,
Poora hai vishwaas
Hum honge kamyaab ek din”

I enjoy eating delicacies. I enjoy making delicacies. All I do is find a recipe online, and get cracking to get the end result. This applies to all. All includes everything that’s being cooked on the stove. ONLY.

Baking has always been an ordeal for me. From setting the right temperature, to adding that exact amount of baking powder, every ingredient, condiment needs to be precise. The Indian in me, who loves jugaad, tends to experiment a lot when it comes to cooking and is left disappointed when it comes to baking. Because there isn’t much scope for experimenting. Until you know your ingredients very well, and therefore know your proportions

I remember the first time I tried to bake a cake. We had recently purchased a microwave oven, and were extremely excited to try making the succulent tikkas given in the microwave cookbook. But sister suggested that a chocolate cake might just be the perfect way to inaugurate the microwave oven. Having something sweet before starting a journey is considered auspicious.

With innocent aspirations we started our sieving, whipping, mixing and folding. The batter was delicious, tasting more sinful than the classic melted Dairy Milk. We thought we would get a nice, soft sponge cake, springy and light, cutting sharply as the knife sliced through it. After keeping it in the microwave for a prescribed number of minutes, we all waited outside, watching the container from the glass door, waiting for the batter to rise. Excitement turned to worry when we saw no change in height, and there were only 2 minutes to go.

And a couple of seconds later, it happened.

The batter slowly rose. So did the excitement. We had done it!

After we heard the annoying microwave beep, we sat down for a bit; sister had said that we should allow the cake to cool down a bit before we tried taking it out of the container. And after 10 minutes, we opened the microwave door, and saw a cake with cracked, slanting top.

The lifeless-looking cake was disappointing. Cutting through it, and watching the sponge crumble was even worse. We looked up reasons for failure on the internet. And the more we read, the clearer it became just how the tiniest difference in ingredients, mixing patterns can make or break what you’re baking.

We must have baked many cakes since then.  Over 50 maybe. It’s only now that we see consistency improving. The prep time has also become more efficient. But we are yet to make that perfect cake.

And that day is only closer than before. Just another 50 more to make.

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I Dream Of…

Chaand Taare, Tod Laoon
Saari Duniya Par Main Chhaoon
Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai

Chaand Taare, Yes Boss

Dreams.

We all have them. Fulfilled, unfulfilled. Far-fetched, within reach.

From becoming famous, to travelling the world, from making the world a cleaner place, to rolling around in money. From finding true love to building that ideal work-life balance, from wanting a dog to getting that perfect body. We want it all.

Sometimes there are so many dreams that you don’t know where and what to start achieving first.

Dreams change often, usually becoming grander in the scheme of things. You always want more; you aren’t satisfied with what you have, and what you achieve. You say that you have a lot of dreams, but they don’t actually mean the same.

Sometimes you start the chase, not stopping till you achieve it. Sometimes you don’t pause, and understand that the glorious end result you want, requires unlimited hard work and perseverance while working smartly towards it. Sometimes you mess up even before you even start, by following the wrong route, disrespecting the dream. And sometimes, you just don’t take that step forward.

What differentiates a dream is turned into a reality, from a dream that remains one?

Whether the dream is a goal or an aspiration.

Your lips are parched. You need water, but there isn’t a sign of it anywhere. Everyone around you is also parched. You have to find water.  Not just a drop, but an entire stream, so that the inflow never stops. How do you go about it?

What if you don’t have the technology, even a physical map to assist you? And what if the people you know are ridiculing your dream, calling it unattainable for multiple reasons? Everyone tells you that it won’t happen. Your dream shall remain a dream. Just the way it is defined, dream being an aspiration.

But you want it. It is not simply something that you’re wishing for. Over time it has become your ambition, your goal.

You don’t keep thinking that somebody would assist you or do the work for you; you start by understanding and identifying the closest route to a spring. You pull back your sleeves; you know that have to break through the hard ground, move through rocks- move all of them away. You get your knee scraped, you keep slipping. There are days when you feel that it is going nowhere, the urge to quit is strong. But you keep ploughing on; you have come so far! And one day, you see the ground becoming damp. The thirst to move forward gets fired up, and soon, cool fresh water hits you in the face. Every pore in your body is in bliss. And all you can think of is that you did it, you finally have what you wanted. Whatever you faced on your journey was absolutely worth it.

Be it conquering the world, or perfecting that cheesecake, make it a goal instead of a dream. Dreams are not worth reliving and contemplating about if you aren’t chasing them. They are not something you just wish for, but something you know you know you can’t do without.

You stop at nothing.

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Rediscovering An Old Hobby

“Tell me your secrets
And ask me your questions
Oh, let’s go back to the start”

The Scientist, Coldplay

It started back in school, when mind was being trained to express the thoughts formed and stored, in written form. After creating and writing multiple essays and articles, it was an English project in middle school, that got me to write a little more than a 500 word one-page write up; I had hand-written a mini-novella (less than 10000 words) and completed it with hand-drawn illustrations.  Looking back at it, I cringe at the plot-line of the story and how the story was fleshed out, but hey-I was a 12 year old who was extremely shy about expressing how she felt and thought, and preferred keeping such work private. The novella, along with others’,  was passed around in my section for peer review. And instead of fretting at the idea of other people reading my work, as I normally would have, I approached them for feedback. Why not make the most of this opportunity?

The habit of writing didn’t stop there. The writing continued in the form of short stories, getting drafted whenever I had spare time. These stories, however, never made it beyond the pages of the diaries I filled in- they were my personal bed time stories, and I felt too possessive about sharing them with anyone. In my Harry Potter-obsessed world, where impatience, while waiting for the next novel/movie, was often appeased by re-reading previous books or watching re-runs of the movies, I was introduced to fan-theory debates and fanfictions by a friend. It was exciting; to be able to read more about your favourite characters, to see some of the fan theories come to life in form of a story. It was also exciting to see a stranger, most of the times someone across the globe, who thought the same things I did, and then wrote about it, telling the world that this is how the story should have been. It was only a matter of time before I started writing as well.

And I did. Albeit anonymously. Because fierce need for privacy!

It was fun publishing my ideas on a public platform. Just watching the words flow out of my mind and to the computer screen, lit a spark in me. Days and nights were spent in charting out the next steps, next paragraphs, next words. I never told anyone that I wrote. I even maintained an alias while interacting with people online. Soon, I started receiving feedback on my work, a lot of them encouraging me to keep writing, some talking about the premise of a story, some pointing out the flaws with the grammar/flow of the story, some claiming that I got them to start writing . And I kept going, feeding the reviews to my imagination. The fingers flew across the keyboard, typing out word after word, each chapter being rewritten multiple times.

The number of reads increased, but then so did the other tasks in my life. Commitments were popping up out of nowhere, and due to the demand by the readers on my blog, it was only a matter of time that writing felt more like a task rather than a recreational activity. Soon, I stopped writing.

Stopping the habit of writing affected my writing abilities more than I would care to admit. I can sense the rustiness as I write this. The words and thoughts that flowed so effortlessly back then, are now punctuated more by Ïs this really required, or am I making any sense. The inhibition to share ideas has become stronger over this period- this is an inhibition I need to lose. It’s time to lose the rust, become comfortable with expressing myself-start again. But this time, no hiding.

Hello again, blogging!