Let’s get Christmassy

It is, for many of us the most pleasing time of the year with the smell of winter at nights and the curtain of fog falling from the sky, leaves coated with frost and the dewy grass blades shining like jewels, every morning. The ecstasy that December brings is subjected to much more than just chilly setting and vivid end-of-the-year-reflections.

Turning the few pages of December and there’s jingling of bells already. The streets are filled with bright stars and oh-so-pretty decorations. There’s sounds of carols in the air elevating melody and blessing the ears of the listeners. That one final festival of the year for which everyone awaits with a child-like expression in their hearts.

Image: wordpresslibrary

The conifers decorated with traditional colours of red, green & gold. The whole setting looks like a reunion of bells, stars, candy canes, candles, stockings & wreaths, hanging out together after a year. Around the world where the tables are all set, be it Smörgåsbord or with Bûche de Noël, Panettone, Marzipan cake or Eggnogs, the delicacies are all unique and lip smackingly delicious.

Decoration on the streets of London (December 2016)

There’s the name of Santa Claus echoing in every house. Even if the festival is mainly of a particular community, the enthusiasm can be seen in people irrespective of their religion or caste. So set your Christmas trees up, put on your masks and be ready to get lost in the carols for the honey-toned pages are turning and we are getting all Christmassy.

Image: Eggnogs
Image: Panettone

2020 OZONE ALERT

         THE LARGEST & DEEPEST OZONE HOLE OVER ANTARCTICA

Sitting under the Sun on winter mornings, taking in the powdered gold. The warmth that seeps into our skin, traversing layer by layer, making our skin glow like a body put under some kind of spell. Oh! Isn’t it the most precious gold to be found on Earth? Yes I am quoting Roman Payne here. The rays make us feel homely, forgiving and snugly unless ofcourse one is Elsa or Olaf.

What if I tell you that it’s not much longer before we can be deprived of these pleasures? Devastating as it sounds, there is much more to the picture which less of you are aware of. Antarctica’s ozone hole is seasonal. The last year’s record gave way to hope that the layer is finally beginning to heal optimally. But this year, the ozone hole is largest and deepest it’s been in years. Speaking geographically, it’s actually three times the size of Greenland. It has been predicted that the ozone layer is not expected to return to normal until 2050, however that totally depends on a lot of factors.

Image source: https://ozonewatch.gsfc.nasa.gov/

As per NOAA & NASA scientists’ reports, the 2020 ozone hole grew rapidly from mid-August and peaked at around 24 million square kilometers in early October. The largest and the deepest ozone hole over Antarctica was thus recorded which had been a matter of concern. The annually occurring ozone hole over the Antarctica hasn’t been so large in a lot of time. In September 3, 2000, the ozone hole was approximately recorded to be 11 million sq. km. & in September 19, 2019, the hole was approximately 10.5 million sq. miles. The ozone hole was recorded to be the smallest in 2019 in the last 30 years. However the relief was short lived as the records found this year clearly shows the frailty of Earth’s ozone layer.

The depletion of the most important layer of our atmosphere is no less than a misfortunate curse being imbibed because of our own actions and carelessness. Having been made aware about the nearing catastrophe during school, the topic seems to have been lost amidst various new topics that continue to pile up every day. Human activities are responsible for almost all of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, transportation sector being the one generating the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. 

Image source: pixabay

Without sounding like an Environmental Science textbook here, just want to drop a reminder about getting few things straight & contributing towards protecting our home planet by using the resources carefully & greenhouse gas emitting products lesser. Just like an ocean can be made by drops of water, similarly an individual’s action can mean much more. The rays showered upon us are meant to take in & not to hide from.

Image source: pixabay

TIBETAN PRAYER FLAGS

TIBETAN PRAYER FLAGS

Glorifying Elements

It’s absolutely impossible to miss out on those colourful pieces of rectangular cloth, always seen fluttering so gracefully that it makes our eyes want to follow the sight for one second longer. The feeling of mystic transcendence it fills us with isn’t describable in just few sentences. On recollecting, these flags are also often seen accessorized on bikes and on the back of the cars. While for some, it might be just a fancy accessory but the flags actually hold a hidden meaning behind it.

The five colours are always placed in order starting from left to right- Blue, White, Red, Green and Yellow. Each hue is a representation and symbolizes an element. Blue symbolizes Space, White represents Air, Red represents Fire, Green represents Water and Yellow symbolizes Earth. The colours also represent directions- North, South, East, West & Centre. All the five colours together signify balance. How interesting is that?

Image credit: pixabay

Coming to the contents, the flags contain age-old mantras and depict images which are printed in a traditional way using woodblock and ink. The flags are seen strung at heights because they should stay fluttering in the wind as it is said that whenever the wind blows these mantras travel through the air blessing the surroundings and spreading positive vibrations far and wide. The touching of the flags to the ground is considered irreverent and disrespectful.

Tibetan prayer flags stay exposed to the elements because of which the cloth frays and the hues tend to fade. With no surprise, this is considered a good omen and even auspicious for it is a sign that the prayers are being carried by the elements and are therefore becoming a permanent part of the Universe. In Tibet, the old flags are replaced by new ones annually based on the significant dates. 

If reading the above information makes you want to buy one for yourself, then hold off! There is a custom related to the acquisition of Tibetan prayer flags as such that they should be in the form of gifts and not through buying for oneself. Perhaps, the best thing is to tell a friend to get one for you. 

Spreading messages of peace and sanctifying the surroundings, the ultimate purpose of these flags is mightier than it actually appears. From adding charm to the vivid mountains to glorifying the rooftops, the flags never fail to curb attention and let’s admit it that our fondest memories of the mountains is incomplete without these mystifying flags fluttering graciously.

Image: Lung Ta (Horizontal prayer flag)
Picture credit: Puja Singh

Image: Dar Cho (vertical prayer flag)

Plant Milk

Plant Milk

Welcoming alternatives

Milk or Mylk? With the generation exploring new roads and shifting their preferences, plant milk is evidently gaining popularity. Vegan nutrition profile, supposedly assumed boring, has now travelled much more ahead of the road from the lentils. Zowie! Making it’s way to the anterior of the shelves in the refrigerator section of most supermarkets, the line is all set to acquire the tables of the households, eateries, even beaneries.

It will be a transparent lie if stated that plant based milk is particularly being favoured by the people who are on animal-free diet because an incredibly flavoursome dish is less likely to captivate only a handful segment. As per a research conducted, a fifth of Brits say that they believe nut milk adds more flavor to their drinks than cow’s milk.

Image courtesy: pixabay

The Umbrella of plant milk shadows Almond milk, Rice milk, Coconut milk, Oat milk, Soy milk and other varieties. Whether it is an alluring medieval dish, ris alkere or a cup of Amazake (Japanese rice milk dish), the flavor is sure to kick some taste buds. Talking about the global dishes, reminds me of the savoury traditional drink prepared in Southern Tamil Nadu, locally called Paruthi paal. The drink is prepared by skillfully extracting milk from the cotton seeds. Eep! From the glass of Horchata de chufas (tiger nut-milk) to the Sikhye (sweet Korean beverage), the creaminess of plant milk has radiated in all direction.

Image: Horchata de chufas

The nutritious value of mylk, reaches beyond the common notions as it is not only cholesterol free with combination of mono and polysaturated fats only but also lactose free substitute, pre-eminently a cotton candy treat for the people with high sugar level or with slow digestive system. Lactose intolerance is no longer tolerated.

With celebrities making Veganism cool, a culture of non-dairy substitute has kept it’s foot in a tempting and delectable manner as such that it’s making the onlookers gasp in amazement. In a futuristic scenario, who knows it will even be widely used in place of cow’s milk as plant milk seems to be popping up everywhere?

Image: Some varieties of plant milk

Image: Paruthi paal

THROUGH THE HAUNTED ROAD

Beware! This isn’t a story about rainbows or unicorns flying over the purplish clouds while licking pink candies. This also isn’t about Barney, the dinosaur, who is all friendly and cute. This is something that might creep through your veins while you read it. Like the culture goes, I won’t start the story with once upon a time or long long years ago.

The clock struck one when the owl started hooting in the distance. Cold wind started blowing and I shivered to my bones. Standing on the road were twelve of us with eight two-wheelers by our side. We watched the deserted road. Leaves shivered and so did the people standing there. It felt like the coolest night so far. In front of us was a haunted road, dark to its core and nothing could be seen except for thick huge trees. It was a dense forest road and most of us wanted to explore it. Don’t count me in most of us because I never agreed to be a part of it but majority wins, isn’t it? One engine revered, then another leading to engines screaming in the silent numb night. Headlights tore the darkness as the bikes started to move forward. The place felt dead and all I could hear was the roaring of engines and the wind gushing through my ear lobes. I clutched my partner tight. He was the only source of warmth, a savior in what felt like Arctic at the moment.

The way seemed never ending with trees so thick like it will engulf you in itself any moment. Yes like the one they showed in Harry Potter where the bushes in the maze caught him in order to prevent him from reaching to the cup in the Goblet of Fire. Before you feel pity about something let me tell you we had an option of choosing a normal way but thanks to the adventurous genes in the boys that awakened the Don Wildman in them and we ended up in this way. So far. So good. Nothing unusal. Check. But what lay ahead no one knew and nobody cared anymore because we already covered half of the way and there was no turning back. As we moved further the only light coming was from the headlights. Congratulations. Your guess is correct. Its a new moon night. Added points to you. Terrified of encountering something unusual, my eyes remain fixated on the road and my arms clutching my partner. I could feel him inhaling and exhaling air. He kept talking to me whenever he could. We passed through the elephant zones, the narrow looking bridge and the empty houses. The atmosphere grew cooler with every metre covered. It was almost the end of the forest and there was nothing paranormal or fishy. No one called out anyone’s name either like the Stree.

Night time is full of mystery with its inky back drop, eerie stillness and hidden secrets. While some find it alluring, others can’t wait for the sun to come back up and take the creepy feeling with it. I could now see few other bikes and that meant the end of the forest roads. The riders halted and were excited to make it safely through the forest at this time of the night. It was a new experience and I smiled knowing I couldn’t have had the courage to do something like this someday but being with my partner who kept assuring me, made things easier. The experience was crazy and a bit reckless but all’s well that ends well. Isnt it?

Mystery box

He was busy finding his old files when he noticed a familiar looking box, lying at one corner. The old room has been locked for quite some time now and the spiderwebs hanging from each and every nook was a crystal witness of it. The dust all over the place was another attestation to it.

Quite so! He wouldn’t have noticed the box if not for the sunlight. The filtered rays of the sun shone like a delicate lacework across the box, impossible for any eyes to miss. Stepping closer he touched the sun bathed box. His eyes sparkled as he moved his fingers over it. With a blow, he made the accumulated dust move away. Lifting the lid, his eyes perceived the contents and among various items, was that sheet of sleek, pink-tinted paper folded and tied with a ribbon, that caught his eye. With a familiar feeling, he mustered his courage and opened the note. The undated note buoyed his emotions as he recognized that faded handwriting, that peculiar construction of sentences.

A reverie rolled him back to the time when rainbows felt a little more colourful to him, when trees appeared to be happier, when cuddles meant more than just physical contact and when love meant for real. He realized there were things that were lost amidst everything that was gained. He realized one of those things was nothing more important than a posh looking car himself.

Stardust ⭐

Are we not children of stardust ? That star died somewhere in that infinite, dark universe and gave birth to us.

‘We are all made of stardust.’ It sounds like a line from a poem, but there is some solid science behind this statement. Yes, all the things you see around yourself, it was all formed at the heart of a Star. Even the dust you see being swiped off that floor, every atom here and every atom there , is a stardust. Amazed aren’t you ? I mean how many of them can claim that they are actually the children of those stars, whom you spend hours staring, not like gawkers but like wanderers, watching and admiring.

The way we are all made of the same pieces, the same fragments of stardust and yet we are all so different. Just like no two pattern of a snowflake is ever same, in a similar way no two persons existing, is ever same. We are just like those miraculous tiny ice art. Each so likely beautiful yet so different. We are powerful beyond measure. Think how ? If you really feel star fragments are nothing but minute dust molecules, you got to be hallucinating about your facts. Each atom you are made of was once a host to so many powerful reactions and that energy you possess is enough to degrade or upgrade any life form. You were once a building block of that tremendous energy releasing source and now you are building block of yourself. So never underestimate yourself or anyone for we all are a gale of power. Never look down upon anyone, never accuse anyone, never make someone feel bad about themselves, however rich, mediocre or poor you are. For you all came from the same source and you all will decompose in a way no different than the other.

So next time you’re gazing at stars twinkling in the night sky, spare a thought for the tumultuous reactions they play host to. They are like tiny lint balls in this cloth of universe. It’s easy to forget that stars owe light to the energy released by nuclear fusion reactions at their cores. These are the very same reactions which created chemical elements like carbon and iron, the building blocks which make up the world around us and make us. Use your power for the betterment of this universe and make no being bleed sadness. For the parent star did the same. We once did the same. Become a source of light and warmth in this dark, infinite universe.

Neha Parveen⭐

Part 2: If Not Notice, Pretend To Notice!

​(Continuation of the previous blog)

Even mountaineers need oxygen cylinders when they go for mountaineering but politicians here are those wonders of some other world who can go to any heights without using any kind of cylinders, literally. Anyway looking at the present condition of the country, I hope everything gets better in future. But one thing I would like to do. Put a really big cellotape on their blabbering mouth which present people with such an equivocation that even Father Garnet (Jesuit priest & excellent equivocator. Person behind the gunpowder plot in 1606 aimed at finishing the king & the parliament in Europe) wouldn’t have thought of.

But there’s one personality whom I consider a great idol and who changed the entire meaning of politics when he was alive. ABRAHAM LINCOLN. And not only he, there were many more like there was this Karl Marx, Washington, recently Barrack Obama. Also our very own Nehru. System will start lying on the right track when people finally understand that with great power comes great responsibility. I am no Spiderman to say this I know but I truly believe there is a superhero in every person or living being I say. A superhero who might not be present every time but it will definitely rise when it should suppose to be doing that. This is no comic dialogue.

Part 1: If Not Notice Pretend To Notice! 

Have you seen the wilderness around? Isn’t it amazing. The beauty that nature instills within itself which, well most of our eyes fail to notice just like the evil and cold intentions of the politicians behind a silver screen door. well there was a question raised few days back (in the newspaper to which I accidentally came across). What percentage of politicians in India really do their duties sincerely, without deviating from their goal of action? huh? Come on the answer to this wasn’t as difficult as training an Irish Settler or introducing hunting skills in Chihuahua. Still nearly about 60 percent said DON’T KNOW. I mean are you kidding? Seriously overwhelming and pathetic! “Don’t know” what morons? its awkward to know people know everything but still pretend that they don’t know. It’s just like you know its an Appaloosa but you go on telling that its a Dalmatian when asked.

Don’t tell me🌸

Don’t tell me your heart doesn’t beat a little louder when the wind tickles your neck.

Don’t tell me your eyes don’t gaze a little longer, when the moon plays peek-a-boo with the innocence somewhere inside you.

I know you don’t just stare, I know you don’t just smile, when their twinkling grins make you shine a little brighter, a little longer.

The clouds which smudges the painting of the night. Like a fluffy snowball painting a blush on your cheeks.

Don’t tell me your voice doesn’t wants to sing in sync with the clashing of the nearby waves, tiding your feelings upwards and downwards.

Don’t tell me you don’t want to Bloom again, Move again, Live again.

-Neha Parveen🌸