An Enchanting Visit to Sri Bangla Sahib Gurudwara

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A visit to a Gurudwara brings you immense peace and raises a question: “Are you humble enough?” Are you humble enough to pick up strangers’ shoes with bare hands? Are you humble enough to sit on your knees and mop the floor while people are walking all over it? Are you humble enough to serve water & food to strangers, right before sunrise to late after sunset on a weekend? Sikhism encourages Sewa i.e., selfless service. They believe it is good for community relations and moral uplifting of a person, and such is the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara in Delhi.

My brother, husband and I at the Gurudwara
(L-R) My brother, me and my husband at the Gurudwara

History

As mentioned outside the Gurudwara, it is related to the eighth Sikh guru, Shri Guru Hari Krishan Sahib. It was originally built as a bungalow in 1664 for Raja Jai Singh (an Indian Ruler) in Jaisingh Pura, now famously known as Connaught Place or Rajiv Chowk. Then 8 years old Guru Hari Krishan Sahib resided here when he agreed to visit Delhi on Aurangzeb’s request.

During that time, Delhi was in the midst of smallpox and cholera epidemic. When the people narrated their woes to the Guru, he turned the pond water (in the bungalow) into holy nectar (or Amrit) by dipping his feet into it and thereby cured the patients. It is said that soon he took the illness upon himself and eventually died on March 30, 1664. A small tank was later constructed by Raja Jai Singh over the well; its water is now revered as having healing properties and is taken by Sikhs throughout the world back to their homes.

Beautiful Architectures at the Gurudwara
Beautiful Architectures at the Gurudwara

Timings & Entry Fee

Bangla Sahib Gurudwara is open 24 hours, all year round, including national holidays. Entry is free of cost for everyone.

However, if you are visiting only as a tourist, I would suggest you avoid going to the Gurudwara on weekends as a huge mass of devotees visit on the weekends to offer their prayers and you might have to rush through the darshan.

How to Reach the Gurudwara

Rajiv Chowk is the nearest metro station to the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara. One can reach here easily by metro and then take a rickshaw/cab to the Gurudwara which is approximately 1.2 KM away from the station.

Little guide before your visit

  • It is compulsory for both men and women to cover their head before entering a Gurudwara. So, it is advised that men carry a handkerchief/headscarf and women carry a scarf/dupatta for the same. In case you forget to take one along, don’t worry, you can take one of the re-useable scarfs available at the Gurudwara. Make sure the scarf/dupatta never slips off your head when inside the Gurudwara as it is considered disrespectful, and if it does, the volunteers may point it out to you.
  • Take off your footwear (along with your socks) before entering the main Gurudwara building. You can safely leave your shoes at the Shoe Counter on the right hand side of the main Gurudwara building. You will be given a token upon submitting your shoes, and your shoes will be handed back against the token.
  • You can buy Prashad which is usually Halwa (a sweet dish) as an offering to the all mighty. First, buy a token for the amount you wish to buy the Prashad for, and then collect it from the adjoining counter. Everything in the Gurudwara is very systematic. Right opposite to the Prashad counter is another counter where Gurudwara workers collect a portion of the Prashad from the devotees and a portion is given back to you.
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Counter where you can buy Prashad from
Counter where you can offer the Prashad you bought

Once you’ve collected your Prashad, (polythene bags are available near the offering counter in case you need them to carry the Prashad) proceed inside the Gurudwara building for darshan. This was a mesmerizing experience for me, as the building is even more beautiful and peaceful inside, than outside. I will leave this to you to experience it yourself. (PS: Clicking pictures inside the Gurudwara is strictly prohibited. So, soak in the peace and positive vibes here.)

  • Next, proceed to the pond near the main building. It is believed that a dip in the pond can cure your problems and wash away your sins. So, you may go ahead and take a dip in it. The pond also has various colourful fishes in it (don’t worry, they won’t harm you).
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Devotees taking a dip in the Holy Pond
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My husband and I at the Pond
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Colorful fishes in the Pond
  • Enjoy the langar at the Gurudwara. Langar is a meal served all afternoon to every visitor, irrespective of their social standing or religious affiliation. It mostly consists of dishes like khichdi, roti, bhaji and kheer. As I was running short of time, I couldn’t enjoy the langar here, but it definitely is on my to-do list.
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Langar at the Gurudwara

It was a rejuvenating experience for me as it brought immense peace and content just sitting and listening to the continuous Kirtan. Your troubles and trials seem to take a back seat here. I look forward to visit more such places.

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Zoom Out!

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We are all caught up in different seasons of life. Rejoicing during moments of successes, fortunes, and riches and lamenting in our failures, misfortunes, and debt. Often forgetting to zoom out and analyzing whether all of it is really worth it. Sometimes it’s important to scrutinize the bigger picture to realize that today’s difficulty will not define our entire life. In fact, what seems tough right now might turn into something beautiful soon.

When we focus only on the day to day activities, without realizing whether they are important or not, we keep completing tasks but never attain happiness or peace of mind. It is vital to differentiate between what is important and what is urgent. For example, preparing Minutes of the Meeting or folding laundry is urgent but reading to our children is important. We usually concentrate on the urgent, pushing around the important things and fooling ourselves that we would do the important part someday soon. If something is urgent, it will somehow get done. On the other hand, if important things are pushed around, we only end up repenting to have lost the time or opportunity.

To realize this difference between important and urgent, we need to zoom out of our lives and take a good look at the bigger picture.

We should not define our life with today’s failure or success. Life is just like the seasons in nature. Sometimes like the wilted autumn, sometimes like the spring flowers, while at times it’s as bright as the summers and on other days it’s cold as the winters. But none of the seasons alone define nature. Similarly, to get a clearer understanding of our life, our goals, and the things that really matter, we need to zoom out at times.

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Yummies: Satisfy your sweet tooth with these quick dessert recipes!

…after all, happiness is knowing there is a dessert in the fridge!

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Someone once said “Life is short, eat dessert first” and I absolutely do the same! Be it happiness, or sadness, bad days, or good ones, it’s always a perfect day for a dessert! So here are a few of my go-to dessert recipes which have been a part of my quick dessert menu!

Biscuit chocolate balls (No bake)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6-8 Marie Biscuits
  • 3 teaspoon Condensed Milk
  • 3 teaspoon Cocoa powder

METHOD:

  • In a small mixie jar or food processor, coarsely powder the biscuits.
  • Transfer the powdered biscuits to a bowl; add the condensed milk and cocoa powder and mix well to form an even mixture.
  • Shape the mixture into balls and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  • Garnish with your choice of toppings. You may use desiccated coconut, Gems, chocolate chips, or any other coloured sugar toppings.

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Shahi Toast

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2½ cups Full Fat Milk
  • ¼ cup Sweet Condensed Milk
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 4-5 Saffron trands (Kesar)
  • ¼ teaspoon Cardamom (Elaichi) Powder
  • 6 pieces of plain Rusk (Toast)
  • ½ tablespoon Pistachio
  • ½ tablespoon chopped Cashew Nuts
  • ½ tablespoon chopped Almonds

METHOD:

  • Mix milk, sweet condensed milk, sugar and saffron strands in a thick – bottomed pan and bring it to a boil on medium flame.
  • When it starts to boil, reduce the flame to low and boil until mixture turns thick and reduces to around 1½ cups. This should take 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  • Add cardamom powder to the mixture.
  • Take the mixture off the burner and set aside to cool at room temperature.
  • Meanwhile, arrange the rusk pieces on a serving plate.
  • Once the milk mixture cools down, pour it on the rusk pieces in the serving plate. Garnish with pistachio, cashew nuts and almonds.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes, and its ready to serve

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Parle-G Ice Cream Sandwich (No bake)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Parle-G Biscuits (You can also use Bourbon biscuits)
  • 1 scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 1 teaspoon Jam (preferably strawberry)
  • 1 Strawberry sliced
  • Chocolate syrup (optional)

METHOD:

  • Spread the jam on one slice of Parle-G biscuit.
  • Top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  • Place a couple of slices of juicy strawberry on top.
  • Put the second slice of biscuit on top of it.
  • Pour some chocolate syrup on the sandwich according to your taste and its ready to serve.

Yeah it’s that simple! (And delicious too!)

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Bread Rasmalai

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 litre Full Fat Milk
  • 6 slices of White Bread
  • 50 grams Sugar
  • 10-12 chopped Cashew Nuts
  • 10-12 chopped Pistachio
  • 10-12 chopped Almonds
  • 2 pinches Saffron

METHOD:

  • Pour the milk in a wide heavy bottomed pan and boil it on low flame till it reduces to half of its original quantity (i.e. ½ litre).
  • Add sugar, cashew nuts, pistachio, almonds and saffron, mix it well.
  • Boil it on low flame till it reduces to 1/4th of its original quantity (i.e. ¼ litre). Keep stirring in between.
  • The thick mixture you get is called rabri. Take the rabri off the burner and refrigerate it.
  • Meanwhile, cut the bread slices into round shapes using a bottle cap or a cookie cutter.
  • Dip the bread slices in the chilled rabri and leave it for 20-30 minutes. Your rasmalai is ready to be served.
  • Always serve it cold. You may garnish it with some cashew nuts, pistachio and almonds.

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Bread Fruit Cake (No bake)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 Bread slices
  • 1 cup whipped Cream
  • 4 teaspoon Sugar Syrup
  • 4-5 slices Kiwi
  • 5-6 slices Strawberry
  • 1 chopped Apple
  • Chocolate syrup (optional)

METHOD:

  • Start by cutting sides of the bread slices.
  • Take one slice and apply 1 teaspoon sugar syrup to it. You may do this using a silicon brush or a spray bottle.
  • Now apply whipped cream to the bread slice evenly and place the fruit toppings one by one.
  • Place another slice of bread on top of it, and repeat the same steps as done for the previous slice.
  • Once you stack up all the 4 bread slices, pour the remaining whipped cream and coat all sides of the cake.
  • Top it with fruit slices and garnish with chocolate sauce.
  • Refrigerate for 1 hour, and it’s ready to serve.

You may use fruits and toppings of your choice. This can be made using Gems, choco-chips, ice cream and or any other favourite topping of yours.

 

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Enjoy!

 

 

Xerox – A Love Story

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A story of how Xerox played an important role for two strangers and what happened when one of them fell in love.

“One copy each. Please make it quick,” both said at the same time to the photocopy guy standing behind the Xerox machine. The photocopy guy raised his head and took a good look at them, first at Soham and then at Anita.

“I’ll be late for the meeting. Please generate a print for me first,” said Anita in a hurry. She was already running late for her startup pitch.

“I need to submit a copy of my thesis in 15 minutes or I’ll be debarred from the course,” said Soham. He was pursuing his Ph.D. from a college nearby.

Upon hearing them beg for taking out their copies first, the photocopy guy said “We have two Xerox machines,” and they both sighed in relief. However, none of them stopped ranting about hurrying up as they didn’t want to get all the more late for their respective commitments.

As soon as he handed out the copies to them, they grabbed them and rushed towards their destinations.

Anita was relieved to reach the investor’s office just in time. But the very next moment anxiety took over Anita as she glanced through the Xerox copy! Yes, her documents had been exchanged with Soham’s thesis.

The next day Anita waited for Soham outside the Xerox shop as Soham had found Anita’s number in the photocopy he’d taken by mistake and had planned to exchange their copies back. The scorching summer heat of Delhi forced Anita to wait inside a cafe nearby. Soham arrived after 10 minutes and they exchanged looks as if mocking each other in a funny way.

“Hi, I am Soham Sharma. Sorry for the goof up,” said Soham extending his hand for a handshake.

“Please. It wasn’t anyone’s fault really. I am Anita Rai. I am sorry about your course,”  Anita replied while they shook their hands.

They ordered coffee and discussed how the other day had turned out for them. While Anita was disheartened to lose another investor, Soham interrupted her by saying “I’m sorry but I couldn’t resist from going through your document. Pardon me, but there are many areas which could be improved to build a stronger business model,” Soham shared his views upon how a few things could be improved and Anita was impressed by his immense knowledge on the subject. That’s when she asked, “How are you so familiar with the subject?” To which Soham replied, “I too worked hard for a similar startup once. But I had no one to guide me and then life had some other plans for me.”

Anita asked Soham if he could help her better the pitch and he instantly agreed.

They now met almost every day at the same coffee shop and Soham was always enthusiastic with the startup. He paid attention to each and every detail and planned to leave no stone unturned. What they didn’t realize was a seed of love had been sown and Anita couldn’t wait to meet him day after day.

Their work cum coffee dates extended to dinner dates and soon they were spending the entire day together. Anita never felt happier in her life. Although she sometimes wondered how Soham managed to take out all the time from his schedule while pursuing his Ph.D., she never asked him as she didn’t want to cut down the time they spent together.

A week or two passed and Anita was now ready to pitch the final proposal to an investor whom she had approached two days ago. She insisted Soham to accompany her as he had worked day and night to better the business model. But he did not agree to it and told her to go on alone as at the end it was her dream. After a lot of insisting and resisting, Anita went on alone with her pitch.

Anita gleefully came out of the investor’s office. They loved the pitch and were willing to invest in her project. She quickly took out her phone and dialed Soham’s number but it was out of reach. She dropped him a text message informing him about the big win and asked him to meet her for dinner tonight at The Oberoi at 8:00 PM to celebrate.

She got home and started dressing her best as she had decided to propose to Soham this evening! Her happiness was boundless and she kept singing and swaying around the house. She reached the hotel 10 minutes prior to the decided time and waited there patiently. When Soham didn’t turn up until 8:20 PM, she dialed his number again and it was still out of reach. She tried his number several times but always got the same message from the other side. She had now started to worry a little and hoped for Soham’s well-being.

After waiting for quite long and trying his number a dozen times, she decided she couldn’t just sit there and wait for him now. But she didn’t know where to go or whom else to call. Soham had never mentioned anything about his family or where he lived. She only knew where he studied. She went to his college but there was, of course, no one in the building at that time of the night. She had no other choice but to wait until the next morning.

She couldn’t sleep the entire night and kept calling Soham’s number but reached nowhere. The next morning, as soon as the clock struck 7:30, she rushed to his college. She frantically searched for the administration department and inquired about Soham Sharma. She met Mr. Randeep Sahay, the Administration Head and explained everything to him. She was confused to see a scandalized look on Mr. Sahay’s face and asked him what was wrong.

To which Mr. Randeep replied, “Soham Sharma was a Ph.D. student here but he jumped and committed suicide from our college building five years ago because he faced a heavy loss in his startup!”

Vibes

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Vibe, short for vibration, is the atmosphere a person or a place creates around them. Not all of us are consciously aware of people’s vibes or energy, but certain people radiate positive vibes while others negative. A person’s energy is a result of the combination of their past, their mindset, their beliefs, and perceptions. Many a time you feel comfortable and happy around people whom you’ve just met! While the other times you feel like just getting rid of someone the moment they come close.

After pondering a little on the subject, I realized why and how do people with positive vibes attract the masses.

They Smile Often

People with good vibes smile often. Not in a creepy way, but in a welcoming way. A smile when meeting someone instantly makes the other person comfortable and creates a good aura.

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Down To Earth

People who preach simple living always tend to attract you because you don’t need to show off your wardrobe collection, or your bank balance, or your child’s scorecard to them! I love this tribe!

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Treat Everyone the Same

Treating everyone the same, regardless of their age, or social or financial status is a quality only a few of us hold. Every person needs to be treated with respect. Just because you are better than someone in one aspect, doesn’t mean you look down upon them. They might be better than you in some other aspect. You can always learn something new from every person around you if you treat them equal and listen to their experiences and stories.

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Compliment Others

It takes nothing to compliment others. Further, you never know how much a word of appreciation can mean to someone. Learn to compliment as often as you can. Compliment people on their outfit, or haircut, etc. Make sure your compliments are genuine. If nothing, a simple ‘Nice to meet you’ or ‘Nice seeing you today’ can sometimes make someone’s day.

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Acceptance

The best way to spread good vibes is by the simple act of accepting. People who accept others the way they are, and empathize with others are going to be a natural favorite! You can be yourself with them without being judged.

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Under The Stars: Drive-In Theatre

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Every time I hear “Under the Stars”, it gives a calming feeling. It reminds me of the summers from my childhood, sleeping on the terrace, right under the beautiful star-laden sky were the best times.

The phrase also reminds me of the open cinema or drive-in theatre. A drive-in theatre is a form of open cinema theatre which has a large outdoor movie screen, a projection booth, and a parking area for automobiles right in front of the screen. Within this enclosed area, people can view films from the privacy and comfort of their cars. Each car has an individual speaker stand near it for better hearing purposes.

I spent most of my childhood and teen years in Ahmedabad. I remember watching almost every movie at the Sunset Drive-In Cinema, Ahmedabad in the earlier years. It used to be a mini picnic for our family. Mom would cook a special dinner which we would have around the movie interval, and dad would pack floor mats and chairs in case we wanted to sit outside the car. No fans were needed as a cool breeze in the city areas during the summers wasn’t a myth back then.

Whenever we had guests over, a visit to the Drive-In was a must along with other tourist places, and everyone would simply fall in love with the experience. Also, the ticket prices to date are as cheap as INR 60 per person!

However, with the advent of air-conditioned theatres and the modern culture, a gem like this is getting ignored these days. Given a chance, I would still watch every movie at the open theatre and continue to fill my treasure of memories from there.

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Train Journeys from the Past

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As a child, I always looked forward to train journeys. I would be more excited about the journey than the destination! So, I decided to pen down a few things I miss from my childhood rail travels.

The Thrill of Boarding the Train

I always felt an adrenaline rush while boarding the train because I didn’t want to miss it. Even if it was going to halt for an ample amount of time, I would hurry in as if it would leave right away. Reaching our seats with every family member and the entire luggage felt like a victory back then!

The Monkey Act on the Seats

If you haven’t done this as a child, you’ve not really enjoyed your train journeys! Climbing from one birth to another was an unexplainable kind of joy!

Also, the middle birth that miraculously appeared at night was an unresolved mystery for me for long!

The Running Trees

Back then, when we traveled in sleeper coaches, the windows didn’t have glasses or grills. Staring out the window and being awed by the trees running in the opposite direction was a favorite pass time. Also, spotting a few deer and peacock wasn’t less than an achievement!

The Food Bag for Train

I used to start preparing a bag of goodies a day or two ahead of the journey. These could only be eaten inside the train and included packets of chips, biscuits, cold drinks, and chocolates! The moment the train started, the treasure of snacks had to come open without any further delay. (PS: I still continue to carry my bag of goodies)

Also, the delicious homemade aloo ki sabzi, pacchkuta, and pudi with some bhujia were religiously looked forward to during the train journeys.

The Train Vendors and Station Food

No matter how many packets of chips or biscuits I carried, I still made a puppy face to convince my parents when the bhel wala, or the samosa wala came shouting in their melodious voices! I particularly remember every time we traveled from Ahmedabad to our home town Jodhpur, the train used to halt at a station named Abu Road somewhere around midnight, and my dad used to get down to get Rabdi(an Indian dessert) for us! Each bite was cherished back then, and those memories are a treasure now.

Playing Cards and Reading Comic Books

Another thing we did religiously was play cards at least once during each journey and we still do! Reading comic books like Champak, Pinki, Lotpot, Diamond Comics and many more was one of the best parts. Today’s kids with tabs and mobile phones will never understand the restlessness before buying a new comic book and finishing it within hours!

Reaching the destination within two hours by flight isn’t as much fun as enjoying and spending time with family during an eight-hour journey by rail. I still prefer traveling by train, especially when I’m not traveling alone.

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