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Let’s try to find a ray of hope and positivity amidst the deadly pandemic!

I have been ransacking my brain for a while as to what should I write about. It gets even more hard to focus on anything while the entire world and my own country battles the deadly COVID-19 with no respite whatsoever. Even though all we can hear and see is anguish and people loosing their loved ones everywhere, I have finally settled down on the decision that no matter how tough it’s going to get moving forward….

I will only try to uplift spirits and cheer up others including myself. “

Because that’s the need of the hour… And because I firmly believe in the power of positivity, more so now than ever!

I don’t know how many people will I be able to reach out to… And how many of you will read a blog like this when there are numerous brilliant and moving articles already on the internet to bring smiles and hopes on your face… Even then, I will not shy away from contributing to the great work that others are already doing. ๐Ÿ˜‡

So I will be dividing this column of mine in two parts where I will be talking about two things that are currently giving me my little moments of joy and sunshine. In the first part of my blog ๐Ÿ˜›, I will be sharing with you all – the new ways I have learnt to find my little moments of joy ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐ŸŒพ by appreciating our environment – the mother earth ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿƒ. In the second part, I will tell you how cooking is helping me in maintaining my sanity and keeping me alive and kicking.

Nature and its beauty has always been a mystery to me. I am not an environmentalist but nature has always brought to me – peace and calm and has also been immensely mentally soothing; just by looking at it and admiring the various colours and seasons it’s made up of. I must admit that I always longed to be a part of the concrete jungle (metros and cityscapes), but somehow, it’s the natural environment that draws me more towards it now (probably signs of aging๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿคช๐Ÿค“). I am still an inhabitant of the city life, yet I managed to capture nature’s beauty amidst the concrete jungle from an amateur lens and felt all joyous and proud about it. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿ˜Œ

(I would like to mention here that all of these pictures have been taken before the fresh lockdowns in India were announced.)

There is nothing pleasant than walking down a green pathway to the office building in the mornings. It always recharges you no matter how tired or bugged you are. I can assure you I find it the most positive way to start a day. Likewise, a glimpse at the randomness and beauty of nature while returning back home from office definitely helps in taking the stress away.

The pathway to my factory office!
Somewhere random in the city while returning from office!

The skies evoke a different set of feelings altogether. For we all know, sky is the limit, but to me, they evoke a sense of being limitless while spreading cheerful colours all around us.

The evening skies spreading its charm!!
Some cloudy mornings and the rays of light making its way through it!

One of the most entertaining beings at my current work location are the geese sitting comfortably and idly in the sun. ๐Ÿฆข๐Ÿฆข๐Ÿฆข. What a respite they offer from the crazy work schedules ๐Ÿค“๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿ˜‡.

And last, but not the least, and I will repeat here, the random trees and skies act as mood lifters always even though they have been there from times unknown.

Random tree and it’s shade!
The hide and seek of the sun!!

In conclusion of part 1 of my blog, I just await for the lockdowns to be over and vaccination to be administered quickly all over my country and the world, so that we can resume our normal lives and start traveling like earlier to enjoy nature at its source, away from the concrete. And I pledge not to spoil but to contribute in conserving it!

I have always been in the category who would enjoy food but never cook for themselves…call it laziness, impatience, slow time management skills ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜ฌand I will be honest here that I was not able to balance home and work up until pandemic gripped the world๐Ÿ˜ท. One of the positive things and I believe the most important thing that I did during the pandemic last year was to work on this shortcoming of mine.

Anyhow, when there was a national lockdown in the country and my parents were unable to leave hometown to be with me, the only option left for a bachelor me (for whom food outside was readily available than at home๐Ÿ˜ฌ) was to finally start cooking at home ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ต๐Ÿค in order to survive, couple that with whiling away time too as most of the offices were shut for two straight months๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ!

Gladly, I was able to come out with flying colors ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿณโ€๐ŸŒˆ (as certified by my family) when it comes to home cooking. And I made significant improvements in balancing work and home ๐Ÿ˜Ž(again family certified) …. it’s still a work in progress though but I am hopeful I can ace that too!! So! what follows next are snapshots of a handful of delicacies๐Ÿ”๐ŸŸ๐Ÿฅ™๐Ÿง†๐ŸŒฎ๐Ÿฎ๐Ÿฉ that I tried at home. Most of the dishes that I cooked were either for lunches or dinner. Breakfast was mostly lemon water and some itsy bitsy snacks.

I hope you like the dishes that I tried and would try yourself too and I promise the instant the lockdowns and social distancing and the Covid-19 protocols are relaxed, I will treat you myself with these. โ˜บ๐Ÿค—

Bread pudding and pancakes to tickle your sweet tooth ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿฐ๐Ÿญ๐Ÿซ๐Ÿฉ๐Ÿช
Mexican Rice and Naan bread & Chickpeas curry (Chole) ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿ’ƒ
Pizza, Noodles and a medley of Mushroom & Cottage cheese! ๐Ÿคฉ
I left no part of the country untouched in order to hone my cooking skills even though most of them were just staple food – Idlis, Dhoklas & Laccha Parathas with typical Indian curry! ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ
A protein rich diet! Ain’t it!๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿฅ˜๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿฅš๐Ÿณ
Cakes and Halwa needs no explanation! ๐Ÿค“๐Ÿคช

Well not everything turned out to be good as above!! I had a tough time trying to make frothy coffee and dishing out perfect chickpea patties which nevertheless turned out extremely oily!๐Ÿคข๐Ÿคข๐Ÿคข

๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿคฅ๐Ÿคฅ๐Ÿคฅ

In conclusion, it turns out – I can cook as well! What a relief!! ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜‡๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿฅณ

I will keep you posted on more such silly and simple things in life that helps you stay sane despite adversities. ๐Ÿ˜‡๐Ÿ˜‡

Also, stay safe, sound and healthy and take care of your near and dear ones.โค๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’™

First three words you see are your reality!!

I happened to come across the below post on LinkedIn some days back thanks to one of my senior colleagues who commented on it.

Screenshot source: LinkedIn

While I do not know or validate the logic or authenticity of the above; it definitely got me thinking on not just three but a couple of words that I saw and felt like penning down the significance of those words in my life (saint mode on๐Ÿ˜‡). Whether reality or not; I believe, for sure, some of these words definitely hold some meaning in everybodyโ€™s lives.

I will maintain the order as is being asked…that is…the first three words that I discovered followed by rest of the words I saw. So here goes my sightings:

1. Power

Power, for me, is basically the strength to make mindful choices in life and achieve the goals I have set for myself. What it also means for me is that I am able to influence or guide others in the right direction.

2. Change

Change, to me, is the only constant of life!

There is no other better way to describe “change” apart from the above sentence. Changes can be brought by a lot of factors but there is only one way to tackle it, that is, to accept it and embrace it.

3. Strength

Strength, to me, implies both sound physical and mental strength. It is your ability to do things in the right manner under any circumstance even though it is not always possible realistically.

4. Health

Health is wealth to me…there is no denying to that! Good health again implies good physical and mental health, which in turn, gives one strength to achieve their goals be it personal, societal or life.

5. Self care

In today’s world, self care is must and essential. One must always focus on improving one’s own well being and happiness as it helps in facing any challenges that life throws at regular intervals.

6. Gratitude

Gratitude to me is what Zig Ziglar’s quote describes aptly. Being thankful for what you have always gives you a different level (and I mean positive level only) of self-contentment and energy.

7. Purpose

Purpose for me is my sense of determination to do something meaningful in life. It always sets me in the right direction.

8. Money

Well, I do not run after money but it is indeed needed to fulfil basic (include stupid worldly desires time and again) necessities of life. Precisely put, money to me is ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ‘‡

9. Family

For me, my family is my world. And by my family what I mean is not just my extremely supportive biological parents, siblings and relatives but also genuine friends who have supported me through thick and thins. I am blessed and grateful to have all of them around.

10. Lessons

Lessons are what I have learnt at regular intervals from life. The prominent ones being๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ‘‡

Now, I pass on the baton to you all reading this blog post. Which three words did you all see first? ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป

P.S.: I will be waiting for your replies.๐Ÿ˜Š

First four words you see are your focus for 2021

It’s been more than a week since 2021 began. Many social media influencers this year suggested that we should develop habits instead of goals as resolutions. So to be honest I too decided to go with the trend and made up my mind that my 2021 resolution will be to focus on a long cherished desire of mine, that is, to explore and enhance my writing skills and that

I will write more and write often“.

It’s a different story altogether that I rarely stick to what I make up my mind on when it comes to resolutions ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿคญ. But this time around somehow I am certain that I just won’t give up on my writing skills. Call it ‘my sense of awakening and self enlightening’ as a result of the year that was 2020. ๐Ÿคฏ๐Ÿ˜…

The moment I was done fixating on a resolution, my hyperactive brain started rattling as to what am I going to write about. Here, LinkedIn came to my rescue and I stumbled upon the following post:

https://www.linkedin.com/posts/josephpollaro_efficacylifecoaching-beyondthe12steps-juststart-activity-6753157102530809856-WjsB

Source: LinkedIn

I must admit that I am a fan of these exercises posted by life coaches on several such social media platforms. Apart from being light hearted exercises to engage the audiences, they definitely make you think and help you to focus on things that one should focus on in life in general as well . So, this post got me donning my thinking cap again as to what should be my priorities for 2021!

Here are the first four words that I saw and will be my focus areas for 2021:

  1. LESSONS: There are numerous lessons that life teaches us. I am no exception here. Here’s hoping that I am able to continue learning from those lessons and put them into practice to become a better version of myself.
  2. CREATION: Well one can have different interpretations for creation. I hope to simply create a meaningful life for myself, one filled with purpose and gratitude and hopefully, less regrets.
  3. LOVE: Loving self is something that I have found difficult to practice despite friends and family encouraging me to do the same. This year, I hope I am able to love and appreciate myself more and be less harsh on myself.
  4. CONNECTION: I wish to develop strong and meaningful connection not just with my inner self but also, with the people around me and in my network, in turn hoping to empower self and those around me.

Even though one might perceive that I am trying to be a lot angelic here; I strongly believe that optimism and inner consciousness is the way to go forward. Yes, being realistic matters too! Combine them all together and you can move mountains๐Ÿ—ป๐Ÿ—ป๐Ÿ—ป.

Over to you folks now…. I hope that you all had a good start to 2021. Do let me know the first four words that you saw and will they be your focus areas of 2021!?!?! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

COFFEE WILL ALWAYS BE MY FIRST & TRUE LOVE

Cafe Latte @ Theobroma Chembur

I barely remember when I started drinking coffee though I do clearly remember how my fondness for it grew. I am undecided as to whether to blame or praise my one year IES coaching sojourn in New Delhi; but the coffeeholic me was born there. What drove me to it, itโ€™s difficult to fathom; I for sure ended up enjoying a variety of coffee at a variety of cafes and food joints.

But thatโ€™s not the point I want to make; what I want to express here is that coffee will always be my first and true love. Here it’s why:

Coffee gives me the much needed energy kick in the morning!

Whether I am too sleepy or too exhausted or too grumpy (my usual state for most mornings ๐Ÿ˜), all I need is a cup of coffee to get going alongside breakfast. Trust me, the aroma of a freshly brewed cup of coffee does wonders in awakening all my senses.

Cafe coffee day @ Phoenix Kurla

However, getting into the math of how coffee does that, definitely visit the articles in the link below.

Biology of coffee by Inverse

Biology of coffee by The Conversation

Coffee helps me relieve stress!

I know it sounds a little weird but coffee does help me de-stress from the daily personal and professional routine๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿคฉ. Sipping a cup of coffee is like entering my zen mode.๐Ÿ’†โ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ’†โ€โ™€๏ธ

Cappuccino @ The Burrow Cafe

Variety of options to explore always…never making you feel bored of coffee๐Ÿ˜‰!

I am not going to refute the fact – that I am the reason for profit margins of cafes in and around Mumbai ๐Ÿ˜ – as pointed out by my dear friends and colleagues. Rather to support this, here’s another interesting fact:

Visit a Starbucks cafe and ask them about the types of coffee beverages they make. You will learn that they encourage customers to explore their beverages either through various formats like whole bean, ground, instant, nespresso, verismo or K-cup pods or through roast methods like blonde roast, medium roast, dark roast or decaf. Each method has it’s own taste or aroma while sipping one’s cold or hot beverage.

You see, therefore, it’s not just a simple cup of coffee…there’s just abundance of wonderful options to sip a cup of coffee….โ˜•

Pic @ Starbucks Cafe

Coffee makes me productive!

Picking up straight from her blog and in complete agreement with blogger De Elizabeth (Thought catalog), coffee sure does makes us productive. A cup of coffee definitely clears the mental block and emanates from me all sorts of wonderful ideas to facilitate my daily work with ease and efficiency.

๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป

Even though my reasons are infinite, to stop myself from turning this blog into a book๐Ÿ˜, why don’t you lovely inquisitive people join me and discuss this further over a cup of coffee.

๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ‘‡

Pic courtesy: McDonald’s ๐Ÿ™ˆ

When you have got food on your mind….

Pic taken @ Poetry, Bandra West: New York Cheesecake and Nutella Cheesecake….with the former being my current love…. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

I am not a foodie in true sense. Why do I say so? Well, if you ask me an honest assessment of myself with regards to exploring food across cultures and places….I have so far developed a peculiar taste and like for certain kind of foods only. I do have a fairly good idea of the various cuisines within India as well as abroad (All credits go here to multiple food shows broadcasted on television & on web, my average cooking skills, my travel due to work, yummy home cooked food at family and friends’ and so on…). On a serious note, I finally suit myself to food that tickles my taste buds and bowls me over. And it cannot be just anything.

However, the point I am trying to make is whatever level or category or kind of foodie I am….food’s always on my mind. Have a sneak peek here…๐Ÿ˜€

What can be better than a cheese filled dosa early in the morning that keeps your stomach full till afternoon…

Pic: Cheese tonic shots dosa @ Pure Milk Centre, Kandivali west

How about a yummy lunch that gives you a moral boost to tackle any client at work or any sort of work….

Pic: Gujarati thali at Sasumaa, Vadodara

How about a mind soothing filter kaapi after a tiring day at work…

Pic courtesy: TripAdvisor, Cafe Madras in Matunga

Note: I will brag and blog about my coffee love separately ๐Ÿ˜›

Imagine a dinner that contents you so much that all you want do post completion is have a nice evening walk only to gorge on desserts later for a good night sleep…

Pic taken in a Parsi food joint either in Pune or Mumbai. ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ™ˆ

Annndddd…..

Do not forget to eat the ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‹ dessert below:

Pic: Brain freeze icecream parlor, Kandivali West

Food, if you ask me, has been my stress buster since a long time. Eating the kind of food that satiates you is definitely crucial. And that’s why it is always on my mind.

P.S.: Sometimes do have lip smacking cheese fondue for your evening refreshments๐Ÿ‘‡

Pic taken while half eaten @ Grandmama’s cafe, Juhu

Change: The only constant and the only way forward

Till date I have never bothered about change as much as I do now. I have received a lot of preaching and garnered decent knowledge on the same( just google about it and you will get zillions of people sharing their perspectives on change). Yet for me, it wasn’t until recently that I realised and got convinced as to why is it so important to accept and embrace change. Life has different ways of teaching how change is essential in order to grow and move forward in various aspects of itself. Then only can one reach his/her true destiny. I am not going to highlight the reasons of my realisations here as circumstances and events differ from person to person to bring about any change in one’s life.

What matters the most is that changes do take place and sometimes in good ways and other times in not so good ways. Anything related to change sounds so philosophical and sometimes unrealistic that it is almost impossible to believe at first that something or someone can change. Yet it is essential to accept and embrace change for one’s own mental peace and satisfaction. For if the mind is constantly agitated by all the changes, there will never be any clarity in whatever one does or thinks in order to move on. I understand very clearly now that embracing change shows one’s adaptability and flexibility to their surroundings and circumstances and more smoother and clearer their life path becomes.

There are so many instances in one’s own life that points to change being the only way forward, still resisting it seems to be the best option always. However, the more you resist, the more you get trapped in unnecessary worries, anxieties, anger and hatred and then you commit mistakes, sometimes small, other times grave, ultimately loosing out on people and things you love and care for most. Even then a part of me still believes that whatever is meant to be in your life will never go away from you and will come back to you in different ways and it applies to everything be it people, things, destiny and so on and so forth.

Well, sounds like I have started preaching now ๐Ÿ˜›

But ultimately this is the most important lesson I have learnt in my life so far and felt like sharing with everyone even though most of us are aware of it ๐Ÿ™‚

On a lighter note, though I am not a die hard fan of Marvel Cinematic Universe, one of my takeaways from the movie Thor Ragnarok was the fact that Odin explains to Thor at the beginning of the movie, that of, “Ragnarok being inevitable”. Similarly, change is inevitable too. Something has to end in order to begin something new. It’s like a circle. Changes in one’s life has to take place so that finally one moves closer to his/ her life’s ultimate purpose and not deviate from it. Changes, always, mark the end of something and beginning of something new irrespective of good or bad. So go embrace the change and stop resisting it! And mind you, do keep the lessons learnt in the process with you, forever. Because nothing’s permanent and no matter how the situation around you is (good or bad), it will change.