Life Building

The next day, I sat alone on the floating jetty(?) and was feeling really content letting the sun warm my skin and the breeze ruffle my hair. I am very averse to discomfort yet the freshness that I felt compelled me to jump headlong into the lake. Again and again I plunged into the depths of the fjord, each time seeking to jump farther and dive deeper. The interval was just enough to let me feel my limbs.

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A couple of weeks ago I was at the lakehouse of the Karolinska Institute’s student union, Solvik. The ice had only just melted and the overbearing, gloomy grey skies had been dispersed by the ever increasing daylight. Thanks to the initiative of my lovely friends, we organised an overnight gala, wine flowed as we gathered around the fire. Juicy, flavorful meats sizzled on the barbecue.

I was pretty languid after the intense experience of the sauna (my very first), alternated with jumps into the freezing ice water but as my sobriety receded, I had my share of fun on the dance floor and then sneaked off to the sauna again, though the alcohol dulled the bight of the late night chill. All in all, a very pleasant, relaxing experience.

The next day, I sat alone on the floating jetty(?) and was feeling really content letting the sun warm my skin and the breeze ruffle my hair. I am very averse to discomfort yet the freshness that I felt compelled me to jump headlong into the lake. Again and again I plunged into the depths of the fjord, each time seeking to jump farther and dive deeper. The interval was just enough to let me feel my limbs. I will forever be grateful that this moment got captured for posterity,

I had a ecstatic feeling of cleansing, of solace and life. After tiring myself out, I did what I do best, I pondered. Unlike my phases of existential agony, this time, the splendor around me would not let me slide into the melancholy I am so well versed with. I don’t really remember what I was thinking but I know I was content, the very best kind of happiness there is.

Yesterday, I was considering where my ideas about life and such come from. I readily identified the obvious sources and re-discovered some obscure ones. The earlier I looked back, the more fragmented these influences were, partial understandings of concepts way beyond my age at the time,. Yet it was these half understood ideas that had the most profound impact.

One of earliest ones, was Swami Vivekanandathe famous Indian ascetic. In my school, students were sorted into colored houses, each representing an acknowledged sage with a profound influence on the Indian society. I was assigned to the saffron colored, Vivekananda house. Buddha famously rejected extreme asceticism alongside materialism and then promulgated the middle path. Vivekananda had a similar realisation, though in contrast to the passivity of Buddhist philosophy, his was one of activity. The strength of spirituality, manifested as  energy to live life to the fullest. And by that he meant a drive to excel in every aspect of life.

I always imagined this to be akin to having an inexorable force, propelling me to my self determined destiny. The belief that, I could throw myself headlong into challenges, with a constant, unrelenting persistence and I would surmount anything. This was the ideal to live by. As I grew, several other ideas, thoughts and goals blended in. The bedrock of what I want to do is the certainty that I can do anything.

This also begs, the question then, can I stop? Could I imagine being content or would I always be stuck in the pursuit of a ever distant goal?  It doesn’t help that not everyone shares this compulsion. Going against the herd sounds glamorous but this is hardly ever the case. Most often that not, everyone is choosing their own unique path, and mine seems to be getting harder by my own doing. Unlike people who cannot escape their burdens, I was lucky enough to have a chance at an easier life. Is constant wanting or waiting or struggling, a sure way of making my life hell? I feel so at times yet I  reject the notion of stopping, of being satisfied with what I have.

That being said, it is really easy to find happiness along the way and it can look something like this,

The pure bliss of letting go (of doubt)

Cook in 7 days

I was asked about my plan for dinner, to which I replied ‘Oats’.While I was still in India in the relative comfort of food cooked by people who knew what they were doing, ‘Oats’ had been my perfect answer to my very noticeable lack of culinary skills, yet after six days of consuming the white, gooey stuff I was in deep contemplation about the choices I made in life.

It has been two weeks since my last post (also the first! :p). After spending the first week subsisting on cup noodles and oats, I brought to life another long standing dream of mine. I learnt how to cook and though I don’t want to over-emphasize my accomplishments, I think this was a great personal milestone.

I did pretty well initially with sandwiches and such, though it was the conversation with my mother on Saturday that roused me from my ‘chalta hai’ (~ it’s fine) mood…

Early experiments with feeding myself

I was asked about my plan for dinner, to which I replied ‘Oats’.While I was still in India in the relative comfort of food cooked by people who knew what they were doing, ‘Oats’ had been my perfect answer to my very noticeable lack of culinary skills, yet after six days of consuming the white, gooey stuff I was in deep contemplation about the choices I made in life.

I was despondent, filled with remorse as I recalled countless days spent procrastinating, as I lived out my last few days in luxury back home. I further plunged into despair as I fondly remembered the time honored tradition of my family, consuming copious amounts of gravy chicken and ‘roomali roti’ every weekend. Furthermore, I was admonished by girlfriend, who in her generosity had prepared for me, the most fabulous home made chicken ever. However, I had dashed any hopes she might have had of inspiring me.

And then the realisation struck, I was here, alone and with no one to look I had the freedom to do as I please. Sure, I would have to invest some effort into it, but I had always loved cooking, meager though my abilities were. In a fit of rampant enthusiasm, I managed to create an exquisite egg curry, something, I would have never deemed myself capable of..

The first inspiration

There are a few moments when one is filled with the wonder and delight of mastering  life, a feeling of overcoming, of victory in face of adversity. I had broken a glass ceiling (albeit a very low one) but as they say ‘Buy yourself packaged food, you feed yourself but learn how to cook and you feed yourself cheaply! Forever!’ So, I cooked and I explored, I discovered the thrill of creation.

The portfolio

I accidentally found a local delicacy , filmjölk, which is fermented milk. I wanted to purchase regular milk, imagine my surprise when thick, sour cream poured out instead. Thankfully I took google’s advice before departing for  an indignant refund attempt. It definitely appears to be an acquired taste though I did manage to find a purpose for the 1L I have. I also discovered that peanut butter mixed with warm milk is a tasty counter to the cold.

Aaaand of course, presenting my crowning jewel, the source of my greatest culinary pride, my first dish with meat, a very unique chicken curry that lit up my taste buds. It was the most fulfilling meal I have ever had. I still dream about that magical day where I became a full fledged cook..

The best achievement so far

I even had it sampled by my friends, who were all suitably impressed when they had me over for dinner,last Friday. It was sincerely the best meal I have had since coming to Stockholm. I unfortunately forgot to snap a pic of the chicken dish (not mine) and the ras malai :\

Good food and good company! :D

So, I can now proudly claim to be a self fed guy :D On a serious note, this has been an excellent learning experience for me which I get to celebrate with a very lucky find, found clearing my shelf of stuff left by the previous tenant.

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Well, winter is coming!