Monday, July 28, 2014

The Great War

Detail of Statues on the Great War Monument to the Belgian Infantry in Brussels

The war that was supposed to end all wars began exactly hundred years ago on July 28, 1914 and lasted till November 11, 1918. It is estimated that more than nine million soldiers perished on its battlefields. 

The Great War changed the way wars were to be fought in the future. It completely altered the political map of the world. But most importantly, it set conditions for an outbreak of a war that was even more unimaginable in its scope.

“In the Somme valley, the back of language broke. It could no longer carry its former meanings. World War I changed the life of words and images in art, radically and forever. It brought our culture into the age of mass-produced, industrialized death. This, at first, was indescribable.” - Robert Hughes in The Shock of the New

Image source here

Monday, July 21, 2014

Everything Is An Illusion

The Rope and the Snake Zen Parable

There is an old Buddhist parable that tells of a man walking home one evening. In the half-light he sees on the path a snake apparently crossing in front of him. He starts and jerks himself away, heart beating fast, wide-eyed and alert. Peering closely he suddenly realizes that he was mistaken, in fact it is an old piece of rope! Relieved and laughing to himself at his foolishness he goes to step over it and glancing down suddenly realizes the rope is a string of jewels. He gasps in awe!

A simple story and we nod and ‘get the point’. But do we realize how often each day opportunities arise for such mistaken identities?

The playwright Alan Bennett tells the story of a holiday at a hotel in Harrogate with his mother. They were taking tea, one afternoon, when a smartly dressed middle-aged woman entered the room with a younger man in tow. Alan’s mother turned to her son and said, “She’s here with her boyfriend, I see!” The next day, while taking tea again, the woman enters alone. Alan’s mother says “I see they’ve had a row then!”

It’s not just that I continually commentate and interpret what goes on around me, but that this ‘story’ - of thoughts and feelings I weave filters my perception of what is real. If I think you are a great person then I see you as one. If I feel the world is a hostile place then I see other people out to get me everywhere I go. Once I think something, it is as if it becomes real and I cannot distinguish between what the situation is and what I think and feel about it.

Walking home at twilight in India it would not be unrealistic to see a cobra slithering across the path. An expectation, a flutter of fear, the half-light, an ambiguous object across the path, imagination can supply the rest. It might be worth remembering that next time you meet with someone you have a bad feeling about and they seem to be antagonizing you.

Story as told by the Venerable Sochu

Story source here
Image source here

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Watermelon Slush

When I look back in time, watermelon always was the ultimate summer fruit for me when I was a child. We had peaches, cherries, young apples, and apricots, but nothing could top up a large wedge of chilled watermelon and all that juice that was flowing dawn our arms as we tried to eat our way to the rind. 

You may disagree, but for me there is nothing better on a hot summer day than a watermelon! 

Watermelon is rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acid citruline and lycopene. Because of its very high water content, watermelon is a wonderful thirst quencher. Moreover, in Traditional Chinese Medicine the red flesh of the fruit is considered as cooling.

Watermelon is quite versatile and can be eaten in many ways. You can add it to smoothies, salads, and juices. You can turn it into a sorbet, granita, or a slush.

In the recipe that follows I used a very ripe watermelon. Since it was very sweet I did not have to add any sweetener. I also did not discard the seeds. Many people do not know that the seeds are rich in B Vitamins, minerals, especially magnesium, omega 6 fatty acids, and the cardiovascular system supporting amino acid arginine.  

~ Watermelon Slush Recipe ~

  • 2 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 2 cups frozen watermelon, cubed
  • juice of 1/2 lime (optional)
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh mint leaves (optional)

  • Cut watermelon into manageable chunks. Put 2 cups into freezer and wait for 20 minutes or so. Thanks to a high water content watermelon freezes quite quickly. 
  • Place the fresh and the frozen watermelon in a blender, add lime juice and chopped mint. Blend until smooth. Done!
  • Pour into tall glasses and enjoy in good company on a hot summer day.

By Dominique Allmon

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