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Return of the Mojo

Calvin and Hobbes _8

Eleven months have passed since I last roamed these streets. Months that had the quality of gushing streams that will carry you a great distance before you can so much as say ‘hey’. The blame, of being away or little writing that makes the heart sing, lies conveniently with the day job or inconveniently with my inability to get my s*** together.

“How’re you?”

“Struggling to stay afloat.”

Until now.

Nothing has changed in the assault of daily routines and deadlines. But the head feels lighter, even without the wine.

Why?

Because believe it or not, for the thousandth time everything seemed to be alright when I stepped away from the madness to breathe. And the release brought revelations that there will be work and school night bedtimes, what-to-make-for-dinner conundrums and furniture store dramas brought on by flaming red chairs. But there will also be books and hugs and morning rays on your face and the burning desire to pick up where you left off a year ago with that story you’re hoping to tell.

Of course weekends have that sneaky habit of making you feel you can change everything if only you make everyday like today. Finish half a book, watch a masterpiece, take an outdoor run, write into the night. And then the week begins, dragging you out of your regimented practice and taking you to war. There you falter, losing control of time, that most precious treasure and reeling from all the mortar flying around you (blame the war metaphors on Hemingway).

Most part of life is never as bad as that, only the head and heart colluding to make you believe it to be so. And we go on believing until either things fall apart or (hopefully) we wake up. The waking up is best when self-induced because then it is more likely to last. But sometimes you need all the help in the world and may you find it.

As Anne Lamott reminded me recently, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a minute, including you.”

Happy unplugging!

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Rote Beete Suppe (Beet Root Soup)

It was 1975. Two Indian friends were visiting a common German friend in East Berlin, then capital of the German Democratic Republic. That friend’s parents had years ago left their Nazi occupied country and settled along the Polish-Ukraine border. She had found her way back to divided Germany. That evening she served them a pink, sour soup. It was something she’d learned from her mother.

It had enticed the taste buds of my Father-in-law, one of the visitors, so much that he learnt the recipe from her. Making it several times during his stay in the country, he eventually forgot all about it when he returned to India in the early 80s. That is, until recently, when the sight of Saure Sahne (sour cream), leftover from my mushroom soup experiment, brought back the unique flavour of the beetroot soup and he delighted us with blending it all together again.

The dish is a popular soup in Eastern Europe, finding its way into Poland and Germany, through people carrying stories and special recipes along as the settled in newer parts in the region, in the aftermath of the war. The elaborate version of this soup, with many vegetables and even meat, is referred to as borscht (in Russian) and by differing names as dialects change across borders. This is a red hot (or pink depending on how much sour cream you like in it) soup not only in its form but also in the debates surrounding its origin.

This dish has now travelled to me, sans borders and the limits names and places often impose on people, travelled like all good things do, free as stories from life should be. And now I’m sharing it with you.

Rote Beete Suppe (Beet Root Soup)

This recipe serves two.

Ingredients:

1 big bulb (or 2 medium or 3 small) of Beetroot

200 gm Saure Sahne (Sour Cream)

2 tsp Butter

Salt to taste

Method:

Peel, wash and clean the beetroot bulb. Chop it into small pieces, preferably squares.

In a grinder mix the chopped beet root and sour cream to make a paste.

In a pan heat 2 tsp butter, add a little salt to taste, add the beetroot & sour cream paste.

Stir for a minute and add water according to the consistency you want.

Once boiled, cool it.

Add Black pepper as per taste and coriander as garnish.

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The Week That Was: How I (Almost) Lost My Mojo

You know how, when your parents are doctors, they make you take an annual full-body scan (around your birthday). What? Yours don’t? (Too late in the day to call child services. Oh wait, we don’t live in Canada).

So where were we? Ah yes, body scans (that don’t involve hot Polish flight stewards). There’s this hoopla around my birthday each year (because that’s the only way I’ll remember it) involving blood letting followed by numerical shame. So far it’s been sane. But this time I flunked, miserably. Having prided myself over being a non-fainter, a fever-avenger who only discovered what a body temperature rise feels like at boarding school flu epidemic, age 10 (Oh, so that’s what a fever is), my blood count in the recent test has fallen below borderline, causing much eyeball widening action by the medicine man & woman. Truth is, I wasn’t surprised.

For the first time, perhaps ever in the history of my life, I was sapped of energy, of mental faculties, of interest in everything, for a whole week. It was like my body was begging me to stop, catch a breath, lay still. It was unpleasant. It was not me. I knew I wasn’t eating too well, working out or even breathing normal. Work, by nature, is always frantic. Toddlers are always unpredictable. And yet after going through the motions for months, I was suddenly losing steam.

And after all the promises of doing something about it, “making time for myself” was not on the to-do list. Until the numbers came.

Single digit haemoglobin counts are not my thing, me of the floating above average on the body tests. But suddenly, with the enemy being real and writ in ink, I seemed to be jolted out of running through the day on high speed rails. I was forced to acknowledge each breath, to make it count, to slow the heck down. After weeks I stopped to look at the sunset (without & through my camera lens), to flip through the bedside poetry book, to hear my heart settle, without scrambling ahead.

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Numbers will stay below (blood) poverty line for a while. Routines will follow the clock I often lose to. But I’m hoping I won’t forget to keep my promises, to me.