WHAT TO EXPECT AND ASK ? BY SANDEEP SILAS

WHAT TO EXPECT AND ASK ?

SANDEEP SILAS

Don’t make me so big that I think I own Your Earth

Don’t give me so much that I think I can command the oceans

Don’t place me so high that I forget I am human

Don’t make me so powerful that I am distanced from hungering humanity

Don’t give me all what I ask, lest I forget the struggle and the value of achievement

Let me live with the mountain and the sea in perfect harmony

Let me watch in amusement the flight of birds

Let me eyes think my body is moving with the flying clouds

Let me touch the trees and the green leaves

Let me smell the beautiful flowers, fragrance pervading my soul

Let me feel the warmth of another human hand

Let me not shy away from extending a helping hand

Let me seek shelter in times of trial in You

Let me pray for easing the suffering of others

Let me be a part of You

Make me an instrument of Your will

Your wish to become my path

Your design to become the plan of my life

Your command to be my endeavour

Your presence to be my feeling

Your proximity to be my pride

Your grace to fill my soul

Your holiness to become my divinity

All this I ask and no more

If you think this is the way

May your lips too utter this prayer

(Copyright: Sandeep Silas)

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What goes into the making of your cup of TEA? by Sandeep Silas

What goes into the making of your cup of TEA?

Tea, the cup of multipurpose uses! From political, spiritual discussions to head ache relief, tea is sometimes had just like that, as a tradition of family getting together or public socializing.

Have you ever wondered what time, labour, machine work, packaging that goes into getting you the cup of tea? Or as we once enacted the play, “Tup of Twee !”

 

Bringing you an insight that is worth a watch!

Tea Garden in the Himalayas!

Plucking the tea !

Withering of tea leaves !

Rolling

Drying Process

Sieving

Segregating

Finally, the golden cup of tea!

George Orwell’s eleven “golden” rules for the ultimate tea experience, is a delight for the person who loves his/her cup of tea!

(Quote): “When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden:

First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’ invariably means Indian tea.

Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britannia ware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.

Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.

Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.

Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.

Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.

Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.

Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one’s tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.

Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.

Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.

Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tea-lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.

Some people would answer that they don’t like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.

These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tea leaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one’s ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, ought to represent.” (Unquote)

Reading the tea leaves

Reading the tea leaves has been not only a favourite pastime but, an indulgence of the tea table! I bring to you some pieces from Literature in English those celebrate the tea !

The Portrait of a Lady: “Under certain circumstances,” declares Henry James at the opening of The Portrait of a Lady, “there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

The Mad hatter’s tea party (1865): “By the middle of the 19th century, the ceremony of tea had become so central to Victorian society that a short-lived periodical called The Anti-Teapot Review parodied so-called “Teapotism”. Lewis Carroll took aim at tea-table tittle-tattle with the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
“I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.”
“You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter. “It’s very easy to take more than nothing.”

The Importance of Being Earnest (1894): “Wilde is at his most brilliant when taking the customs of the upper middle classes and subverting them: Algernon’s usurpation of the female tea-table in the opening scene of The Importance of Being Earnest is not just a consummate performance, it’s also a crucial indicator of his decadent aestheticism (something which many critics of the time saw as effeminate). After Algy scoffs all the cucumber sandwiches prepared for Aunt Augusta in the opening scene, the second act revolves completely around a tea scene: Cecily and Gwendolen both assert their engagement to a man named “Ernest”, during which tea descends into an elaborate war of excessive politeness (“Destestable girl! But I require tea!”, muses Gwendolen). At the end of the act, after Algy and Jack have been caught in their masquerades and are left to stew, Algy drowns his sorrows: “I haven’t quite finished my tea yet! And there is still one muffin left.”

The Love Song of Alfred J Prufrock (1915):”Prufrock may have measured out his life in coffee spoons, but the crisis of TS Eliot’s groundbreaking poem is actually all about tea: “Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,/ Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?” Of course, as the paralysed Prufrock finds, tea still leaves plenty of time to bottle it – “Time for you and time for me,/ And time yet for a hundred indecisions,/ And for a hundred visions and revisions/ Before the taking of toast and tea.” Needless to say he can’t summon the courage and consoles himself afterwards with the doubt that “After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,/ Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,/ Would it have been worth while …”

And so, let’s have a cup of tea!

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Sandeep Silas speaking at the Festival of Peace

Address of Sandeep Silas delivered in the distinguished presence of Hon’ble Union Home Minister, Government of India, Shri Rajnath Singh, at RIM event, Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi on January 15th 2019 !

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Homage to #Mahatma #Gandhi on the occasion of his 150th Birth Anniversary ! by ‘Deep’

 

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Chimes of La Gruyeres by Sandeep Silas

India Outbound

Nov-Dec 2014

Chimes of La Gruyeres

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Enchanted Life of Castles by Sandeep Silas

India Outbound

July-August 2014

Enchanted life of Castles

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Vallrobe Caves- The underground magic by Sandeep Silas

India Outbound

May-June 2014

Vallrobe Caves

 

 

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The Light Within by Sandeep Silas

THE LIGHT WITHIN

SANDEEP SILAS

I am where the hydrangeas grow
And the rain showers the hills

The whistling thrush sings on my window
A song of love and peace
No matter the lightening, no worry the thunder
There is a time for everyone which shall come on its own

I’ve stopped searching the sky for whispers
I’ve forgotten the feeling of lying on grass
I don’t walk on dew anymore
I am content with the rain that the heavens pour

No more I look for oceans in her eyes
Nor do I wonder what Nostradamus says
The trifling nature of humans is nothing before the might of Time
It was all written in your stars when you were sent to earth
The pleasure and pain
The walks, the falls and the rise again
How people shall pinch your feathers away
When they are envious of your flights
How Brutus will stab his Caesar again
How Shylock will demand his pound of flesh
You are no more in your mother’s womb, my child
You better brave the new world order
The tempests, the stones and the mocks

They come again and again
To spite you and to harm you
They are not imaginary fears
They are the plots of the imperfect
Who have not felt the presence of God
And are afraid not of His mighty sword

Many like Alexander have come and gone
Their ambitions carried away in drops of poison, of their own making
Only the Kookaburra, and the Whistling Thrush remain
To narrate the story of yesteryears
Still they carry on with puffed chests
The airbags, those a mere pin can deflate

I’ve given up chasing butterflies, those hover on blossoms briefly
They will go on living on flowers, sipping sweet nectar
Carrying the pollen unwittingly
To other pastures and foreign lands
I have become the undying witness to the passing time

I know every Achilles has a soft heel
No one lives beyond his time
All pebbles of the river bed, disintegrate slowly
Till they become just sands of Time

I look to the light that lives within
Call it by any name, it is the same
It is the candle of the good deed
It is the fire of the funeral pyre
Choose your light with wisdom and care
You are the Light that lives within

(Written: Shimla: June 9, 2018; 6.05 am to 8.22 am)

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6th Ibadat-e-Aman (Video Recording), February 9, 2018

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Rann of Kutch… ocean of salt or salt of the earth? by Sandeep Silas

The Bible in the Gospel of Mathew 5:13 reveals a meaningful phrase:

“You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its
flavor, with what will it be salted? It is then good for nothing,
but to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men.”

When I cast my eyes the first time on the Rann of Kutch I felt this come to me very powerfully. We had come to the White Rann by evening, my brother and I. We had first travelled from the Tent City by bus, then by camel cart to enter this territory that was for many years a salt wasteland without a human visitor.

Modern day travails and stressed out lives in the cities have led men to discover and reach such places to feel the grandeur of Nature and be engulfed with an awesome feeling.  There is something beautiful and wondersome in Nature; it kind of overpowers the senses and tells you that all the efforts and boasts of Man are just empty whispers of the impermanent!

The Tent City is set up every year for six months when the weather is good and the salt is walkable, the slush having dried and the whiteness the best. The tents are comfortable and more than that give a feeling of adventure, a difference, which we all look for from daily routine.

The Sun was about to set and that gave us a spring in gait to walk as far ahead as possible from where there is no interference between the Sun’s glory and its colours as it dies another day, and the bewitched eyes.

The voices of onlookers created a noise that was incomprehensible to the ears. I was reminded of a play, in which we actors were to stand on stage and act as if engaging in avid conversation, while all we were to say was “gabble, gabble, gabble…” The Party in theatrics is nothing but gabble, gabble or bla, bla…

The majesty of the Sun was unparalleled. The more it went towards its imminent demise for the day, the more it glowed! Bright orange, blood red, mango yellow, and then a blob of red disappearing slowly but surely.

Its path for the day had been traversed, its duty done, it seemd to have set in our portion of the hemisphere but in fact it was rising in another. What a beautiful lesson in duty it is, to keep on shining with glory be it this part of the world or another. It also reveals that no Sun can forever shine in one part of the earth, it has to travel to another!

The White Rann, a huge expanse of raw salt, a pure offering of the retreated Arabian Sea conveys a strange indescribable feeling of awe and surrender, lying quiet in its immensity, clothed in silence, and soaked in Nature.

William Wordsworth’s “It Is A Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free…” came to my mind:

“It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquility;
The gentleness of heaven broods o’er the Sea;
Listen! the mighty Being is awake,
And doth with his eternal motion make
A sound like thunder—everlastingly.”
The Sunset gave way to twilight; the much celebrated time of the parting day when birds return to their nests, cattle hordes run back, the priests rise to retreat within their temples and offer prayers, kitchen fires light up homes and smoke billows out of chimneys.
The sunstruck visitors too retreated and a hush fell upon conversations and hearts. Some kind of a fulfilment that one experiences after a tete-e-tete with Nature.
The Tent City revealed under the lights what it had hid as ordinary during the day. Here were some puppets, there was a rickshaw, a boat, a lighthouse, and a guard tower. Huge spaces served as welcome lounge, dining halls, recreation centres, playgrounds, VIP Meeting Place, and medical assistance. In the midst of many circular fields around which the living tents were erected, there were sitting areas so designed as to give a complete view of the 36 or so tented enclosure. I was reminded of the medieval ages when armies used to march on foot, camp in tents as they advanced and conquered more territory.
Food was local Gujarati style and you could have as much as you want.
A cultural programme followed after the tent city dwellers returned from watching the Sunset. A local band played songs, people danced Garba (Gujarati traditional dance) and some went to the eye of a telescope for stargazing.
The Tent City also dishes out small adventures like para-motoring and rope gliding. The record has been safe so far.
Sleep under a tent was fast though initially the ears kept on hearing conversations in adjoining tents as there were no concrete walls but cloth curtain wall those separated one tent from the other.
Morning tea came in a flask at 6 a.m. and in 10 minutes everyone was expected to be on the bus for the sunrise. This time the bus took us to a different area. Here the State Government has built a huge steel Viewing Tower, which can accomodate more than a hundred people at one time. We decided to walk far ahead so that none stood between us the rising Sun.
The rising of the Sun was as charming as its setting. The two events in metaphor and in real life were absolutely different, but the player was the same. The soft glow, called in Hindi, ‘Laali’, gave way to more defining moments those could be captured in the eye of the camera. Kabir’s couplet came to mind:

कबीर का दोहा

“लाली मेरे लाल की, जित देखूँ तित लाल |
लाली देखन मैं गई, मैं भी हो गई लाल ||”

The softly rising Sun, changing colour from orange, to yellow to red to white, coloured the sky amazingly in its ascent.
The plain white ocean of salt  before it absorbed its colour and stride kept on changing from orange hue to a golden one!
The salt of the Earth, though trampled under our feet, had not yet lost its flavour nor its purpose!
There is still hope in humanity!

 

(Text and Photographs by Sandeep Silas)

 

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