All posts by Prasi

Back Yard Barbecue – Grilling Veggies

Appa Grilling on Dad's Day 2011

I tried something new in 2011 and it turned out that I love it. One of our favorite summer activity has become grilling. I bought a small grill and did not wanna invest in a big, expensive grill because it was my first time barbecuing. I found it to be a great activity and it also gave my wife a break from the kitchen ;). My buddy helped me assemble the mean machine and we parked it in my back yard. It was gas operated so I also had to get a gas cylinder.

Now that I bought the grill and have it assembled, the next question that arose was what am I gonna grill?!? It was puzzling initially because I am a lacto-vegetarian and I thought my choices were limited. On visiting my local supermarket, I was surprised to see the available options. I also had to buy the associated tools to help me with the grilling process?

Close up of the grill

 

Now coming to the menu, I liked the combination of veggie burgers, veggie kebabs and corn. These became my all time favorite. There are various types of veggie burger patties that I chose from. I prefer organic masala veggie patties. It throws a little spice apart from the different organic veggies. In my area, I can get them from Trader Joes or Whole Foods. The veggie kebabs requires some preparation. My wife helped me soak the veggies and paneer/pannir in yogurt and some spices like chilly powder, black pepper, etc for few hours. I preconditioned the  skewers / sticks in water so it does not burn when it comes to contact with the fire in the grill. The soaked veggies and paneer are then pierced on the skewers. I prefer using olive oil when grilling because of the taste and health aspect. Warning: Grilled food can be low carb or very rich in high calories. It all depends on how we want it to be.

In addition to the meal aspect, I find grilling as a great way to socialize and entertain guests. It has been a good family activity and a different routine to dining without the table in the back yard. If you have not tried grilling, I would strongly recommend that your try it. If you have grilled before feel free to send me your tips in the comment section below.
Happy Grilling!!

Got Stress – Get Nature!

Mercer Park, NJ

I would define stress as an imbalance which every common man experiences. I will not address stress as a disorder or condition but a mere state of the mind that is under pressure. Lack of such equilibrium could lead to other imbalances like depression which is a widely spreading so called “disease” amongst Homo Sapiens. As the saying ‘Prevention is better than cure’, I reckon that the cure is not a million dollar drug. I prescribe mother nature as the main cure for stress and related conditions. Nature has the power to alter our state of mind and give us a sense of rejuvenation to steer our lives towards the horizon.

Coco Cay (Private Island), Bahamas

I try to unwind at every opportunity. Some of my favorite places include up-on-the-hill locations and or under crowded nature trails. I believe that the human mind deserves a break from the routine tasks. This break will allow us to think better and focus on our goals. The ‘break’ for our mind I refer to does not have to be an exotic location, thousands of miles away but could be our back yard or a local park. Any place where our mind finds peace is the location that cures our stress. Nature is my stress reliever! What about you? Where do you find peace?

Social Media – Whats so crazy about it?

Social Media

What is social media all about?

Some people like it and some people dont. Some consider it a threat and others think its a nuisance. A lot of people live with it and some cannot live without it. Social media can be addictive and in my humble opinion too much of it is not good. As my father says often ‘too much of anything is good for nothing’. I sometimes tend to use it more than I think if I have time to kill. Lately, I have been spending time with my blog so I have very little time for social media ;).

I see the purpose of Social Media as below:

  • Stay in touch with family / friends. In my case, my family is spread out so I get an opportunity to keep up to date with those on my friend list.
  • Read about the latest products, news, etc. I follow my local town’s tweets during storms or bad weather. All emergency details are updated on the town tweets. We have even seen political changes in various parts of the world, thanks to Social Media.
  • Messaging or chat feature. I dont need to use a separate chat client when I am already on most social media sites.

Things I dont like about Social Media:

  1. Gossipping!
  2. Living on Social Media. Some people I know do that. I often see a like or comment within seconds of posting almost every time I post something. This is something I dislike the most after gossipping.
  3. Security issues. It is advisable to have the correct security settings.

Having the correct settings is important and it depends on your discretion on how much one wants to share with whom. I have a range of groups like close family, close friends, professional groups, distant family / friends (usually those I have not met or dont know well), limited access (for family / friends with whom I dont want to share much), etc. Thus I conclude that social media can be an effective tool when put to good use.

Symbolism of light

The Lamp

The philosophy of light and it’s symbolism is woven into various cultures globally. The spark or flame has been in existence from the beginning of civilization. In addition to the heat the flame creates, it also produces the light. During the christmas holiday season I was amazed at light displays in my neighborhood. A few years back I saw the Christmas tree in Manhattan and the Time Square area of NYC decorated with lights. The whole experience of light viewing can be a great experience. Fireworks are events that draws large groups of people because of the use of fascinating lights that many admire.

Happy Birthday!

While we were on vacation last year, my good friends came up with a quick idea to celebrate my wife’s birthday. Whatever the purpose of the light, the symbolism means the same. I would explain this symbolism as the process of dispelling darkness i.e, getting rid of our ignorance. In our minds, it can be accomplished by learning with an open mind.

One of the few things that never changed over time is the concept of fire. With various types of electric lights that are available today, the natural flame still holds its value.

Metamorphosis – Stage by stage syllabus in life!

Little Prasi

I would define metamorphosis as a process of change from one form to another. Everything / everyone goes through an evolution as a part of the time change. I stay transformed as a different person and continue to evolve as I grow older (and wiser 🙂 ). The most important part of my metamorphosis is to learn and remember my lessons. IMHO, the downfall of man begins when we forget our lessons or when we fail to apply our lessons of life in the correct way. Some people prefer to be ignorant to suit themselves, karma will take care of that. The lessons of life I refer to are practices and norms which every one of our forefathers have put together over generations. It is vital that we understand, respect those traditions and values.

Big Prasi

Growing up is just not only the physiological growth of a person but the transformation process from a student to a better student. Yes, a better student because the learning process never ends even though we learn by leaps and bounds. Even after graduating with the degrees we aim for and get all the certifications needed for our jobs, the life of learning continues. As wisely stated by the great poetess Avvayar, “What you have learned is a handful; What you have not learned is a worldful.”The only reason I see it ends is either if we turn into a vegetative state or end our role in this present life. Lets make this life a meaningful one by learning and putting our knowledge to good use. Good luck!

Heat stops working in Winter – What to do?

Heat is a basic necessity in winter, especially in colder countries so it can be a nerve racking experience. Stop panicking and get something warm to wear. 🙂 Then the real work begins. Depending on where you live and what heating system you have, begin troubleshooting. Disclaimer: Use caution when working with electricity and gas! 🙂

In my house, I have a gas furnace in my basement. Being a new home owner, I am less experienced with these matters but I would like to impart my two cents.

  1. Firstly rush to the thermostat to check if heater is on. If it is turned on then check if it is at the correct temperature. If not, then change the temperature and you are all set. Ignore everything else and go on about your day.
  2. If step 1 failed, check if any of the switches tripped in the main switch box or main switch area. If you find the furnace switch off, then turn it on (Use discretion because there could be something electrically wrong with your furnace as well). Turn the switch on and wait to see if your heat starts working again.
  3. If step 2 failed or is not applicable, hurry to furnace room in the basement or where ever it is located. Identify the furnace. This is the most important part because without knowing where the furnace is, it will be very difficult to troubleshoot this issue.
  4. See if the pilot is turned on. Pilot is the area of the furnace that flames up when the temperature goes down. A gas heater typically pumps the warm air from the pilot into the house through ducts that are strategically installed in the rooms of the house. Refer to the manual or online resources to have it lit up.
  5. If all else fails, call a handyman or service professional to get it fixed. Good luck!

Architecture – Not just the science of designing / erecting buildings…

Taken in Washington, DC

I always admire architecture. I dont know much about the different styles or types but architecture of any kind amuses me. Historical places, religious places, museums, monuments, etc all have amazing architecture that I could admire. Last year I visited Washington, DC where I had a opportunity to see the federal / government buildings and the President’s house.

Photo Courtesy: Pradeepa Mohan

 

Recently I saw the pictures of Nan Hua Buddhist temple in South Africa. My brother, sister and brother in law visited the temple on New Year’s Day. It looked like a very big temple with much peace and serenity. The beautiful view in the pictures gave the feeling as if it was taken in East Asia itself. I look forward to visiting this temple in my next trip to South Africa.

Taken at Maryland Siva Vishnu Temple

 

I visited Maryland and drove through Maryland a few times last year (2011). I had the privilege of visiting the Siva-Vishnu Temple at Lanham, Maryland twice. The art work closely resembled the typical South Indian Hindu temples. The minute intricate artwork and symbolism found in this architecture is beyond my knowledge and research. I wish to learn about this in detail one day.

Mi Casa

 

Last but not least…in conclusion of this post, I would like to analyze the architecture of my favorite place on the planet, ‘my home’.  With toys, board books, puzzle pieces, shapes, building blocks, dolls of different kinds, cars and other toys wherever I see, my house is being renovated and reconstructed by my toddler. 🙂 No matter what the style / design or architecture, once it becomes someone’s home, it is their castle.

Chlorophyll – Its all about the green.

Asbury Park, NJ

Is it all about the green? The green I am referring to here now is not the chlorophyll i.e, green pigment found in plants. The moola, bucks, dollar, pound, rupee, rand, etc is what many people think the world revolves around. There is more to this life and this world than the presence of a bank balance alone.

Being prepared for the worst is better than depending on the hopes for the best but there is still more to it than just the financial preparation. The investment I would like to make in my part time is in the real greens. The green I am referring to now are the plants / trees that bail us out in many ways by providing us with the wealth for our lungs and good health. As we approach warmer climate the green thoughts are running through my mind about the plants I should be planting. I was not successful the past 2 years with the vegetables I have chosen so I do hope 2012 is the year of abundance and productivity.

What’s up with the weather? I ain’t complaining!

Asbury Park, NJ taken from my iPhone 4

The weather affects our lives in many ways. This year the winter in my area has been a little different from the past years. I have not lived here long enough to throw a record but everyone in my region would agree the light winter this year.

I had a recent conversation with my uncle  about this and I remember my father mentioning before also; with the rising unrighteousness (dharma), there will be a reflection of that on the weather / climate conditions. I found that interesting and strongly believe that everything in this world is interconnected.  As per the great Sir Isaac Newton, every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Before getting too philosophical let me get back to the weather. Can’t wait for spring as it is my favorite season of them all. Stay warm and keep indoors in these last winter days.

State of the Union!

Chola Temple, Courtesy: Prathap Sarma
Courtesy: Prathap Sarma


Politics! This is something I try to stay out of most of the time but seldom successful at it :). Last night I saw the state of the union presented by the US President. If you ask me the real state, I have many opinions of my own but the presentation I would say was well prepared. I started following US politics recently. I am a fan of the political system ran by the Chola Dynasty especially during the Classic Period (Sanga Kaalam).

Head quartered around the fertile Kavery River region in South India, the Chola political system had a unique styled democratic flavor of monarchy. The primary focus of the government was to resolve public issues and matters of concern for every citizen. I believe every democracy was / is supposed to be about resolving common public issues and to bring  about everlasting solutions with deep foresight. There should be a sense of fairness and jutice in any democratic process. After all, as Abe Lincoln said this is for the people, of the people and by the people. Do we see this fairness and justice in the world today? Is life fair for all? Is everyone equal in the eyes of the global legal and political systems?

It is not my place to answer this but it is a good idea for us to think about the state of our individual unions; whichever part of the world we live in!