The Beauty of Wilderness

How many times in a day do you really try to close your eyes and take in the atmosphere around you? Well, for most of us including me the answer would be zero times. But today when I got a chance to go to Pomona Island, it was like contemplating life once again. Most of the times, I engage into writing travel posts directing people what they would find in a place, but this post would probably reflect my inner contemplations, a state of self realisation that I had in Pomona Island.

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The land is nothing but wilderness with wild grasses, flowers and buds growing in irregular zigzag positions throughout the land. In the midst of this wilderness runs an almost empty road which is extremely lucky to get a few visitors throughout the day. Apart from humans, it mostly cherishes the visits of its four-legged friends. The huge chunks of rocks are abstractly designed by graffiti’s. Nevertheless,it is a widely deserted place at the backdrop of a developing city.

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Photo Courtesy: Dimple Meera Jom

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It is indeed interesting to just stand in the middle of the road and notice your surroundings. The first observation that you make is the beauty of wilderness in front of a heavily developing city with construction cranes rising up as overhauling towers. Quite faintly and after certain intervals of time, you can hear the rushing of the tram wheels. The heavy winds blowing past you and hitting the trees that line  road makes a rustling sound that instantly hits your ears. Sometimes, when the velocity of the wind is too high you might notice a blanket of dried chestnut leaves floating in front of you or behind you before ultimately hitting the road where it would lie till eternity, being trodden on, or till one of the wind blowers moves it aside.

My visit to Pomona Island is a feeling similar to what one achieves when meditating in a silent room. It is an environment which is much desired once in a while but is mostly not accessible due to the hustle and bustle of the busy city life. But here was a place lying in the heart of the city which can make you enjoy the beauty of wilderness and bask in the music of silence. This is a place which should be cherished and looked up to every time one needs a little bit of ‘me time’.

However, on the flip side Pomona Island is also having a long drawn controversy between people who want the wilderness to stay the way it is and those who would prefer to invest in developing the area so that it is fit for human residence. Both have their own pros and cons, and it yet to be seen who wins. But till then, it is a really great idea to visit the place and enjoy the beauty that it portrays in nothingness.

Sometimes, doing nothing and just admiring your surroundings does you a lot of good.

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Stepping out of the well, Manchester Homeless Crisis

Anyone who has walked through the streets of Manchester will have noticed that our city is, and has been for a while now, in a serious homeless crisis. With Halloween that just passed and Christmas round the corner, many mancunians are now getting ready for a festive end of 2015. Unfortunately for an increasing number of people, this coming winter will just be a long challenge for survival.

Probably entire libraries of books have been written already on the origins of such a phenomenon in our modern societies, but nevertheless the problem persists and nobody knows how many will die this winter in our very streets.

The range of reasons which can lead to homelessness is large and varied but ultimately it often leads to very sad stories. The process of ending in the streets is like a long, painful fall into a deep well. Once you reach the bottom, you could think things won’t go any lower, but in reality it is only the beginning of a journey on one of the only two paths available: stay and die in this well or try to pull whatever resources and strength that might be left in an attempt to get out of it. In any cases, both directions will lead to a person’s greatest life-changing experience.

Regardless of the so-called technologically advanced world- that is our modern society, whatever the number of so-called development and assistance programs our governments run, many will just inevitably get pulled toward the first path. And how could they be blamed? The circumstances, which led to the fall into the well, would have often strained to the maximum the resources and strengths of the person. Once at the bottom, totally dried out of any sort of possibilities to even attempt to get out of that situation, many will let destiny decide what to happen next.

And then there are those who once at the bottom, luckily, still find a way to pull together whatever is left of hope, will or even faith. During this long, never-ending, journey toward the ultimate goal of getting out of this deep well, every steps will be as difficult and painful as the next one. Sometimes, even personal will and strength is not enough, often one will feel to even abandon. In other times, the smallest external intervention of mercy and compassion can prove decisive. It could take just that little gesture from one person, compassionate enough to come and help, to throw a rope into the well and get him or her out. The question is: Can we be that compassionate person? And if yes, how can we go about it?

Well, all around the country, there are already a great number of people who have come together and decided to act, to be that person who comes and throws a ray of hope. The number of organisations trying to help homeless people is ever increasing, in all major cities. In a way it is unfortunate as it shows the direction our so-called liberal societies are taking. On the other hand, these NGOs, charities and volunteer groups are the last line of defence for our civilisation to remain in the realm of love, mercy and compassion, basic characters of humanity.

In Manchester, one of them, The Homeless Hub, has been working for years now to maintain this last ligne of hope for the ever increasing number of homeless people our city bears.

The Homeless Hub describes its mission as follow:

Our mission is to bring change to the lives of those we touch by creating opportunities for the marginalised and disengaged to change their lives. We work with the homeless and the marginalised across Manchester. We want to change our world. We are not afraid to lead the way and challenge the status quo.

The organisation operates a variety of projects and events, including food banks and street feeds. Wether you think you could participate in person to distribute hot food, drinks and clothes or help by giving a small financial donation, please, remember that no matter how small you think your help is, it could be that one crucial step taking one man or woman out of the well.

If you think you could help in any way, please visit The Homeless Hub now and register your interest.

Four Cannot-Miss QuickMeals

Life in Manchester is very fast paced. In this tempo sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves and thus our daily balanced diet is disturbed. Of course, there are also those who want to diet and remain in shape. But that is no excuse for missing daily meals. That is why I bring to you four Quick Meals which can be prepared without much hassle and are tasty and long lasting. These meals are very healthy and contain a balanced diet which an adult human being would require. The ingredients are easy to find and always available in the kitchen.

KIMCHI SLAW

Requires you to only toss and mix red cabbage / green cabbage, vinegar and sugar. For those who want to include other vegetables like juliennes of carrots, potatoes, turnips, radish or even chopped potatoes are most welcome to experiment with it. It is recommended to garnish with some coriander/mint/parsley leaves.

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GREEN SALAD

Use toasted sesame seeds or toast the seeds instantly during your cooking time. Keep it aside in a plate until needed.  In a pan heat groundnut oil (or olive oil according to your choice) and garlic. Add the pak-choi and spinach with a little water. You can also put in more greens like broccoli, lettuce, cabbage and the like. Stir till the spinach has wilted and the pak choi is properly cooked. Garnish with the toasted sesame seeds.

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MINI PIZZAS

Heat olive oil (or groundnut oil) in a pan. Add Kale, red chilli (roundly sliced), green chilli (roundly sliced) and fry for 1-2 minutes. Take pizza breads and layer it with sliced cheese or grated cheese. Put the kale fry on top of it. (Add more cheese if you want to) Put it in a pre-heated oven and bake for 5 min. Voila your mini pizzas are ready to eat!

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SPICED CHICKPEAS SALAD

Soak chickpeas overnight in a bowl of water. Take a bowl and add in olive oil. Put some paprika sauce, horseradish sauce, soya sauce to make it spicier (depends on your palette). Add in the chickpeas and give it a nice toss. Sprinkle sugar or add in a little honey if you think the chickpeas are too spicy. Now enjoy a nice chickpea salad by adding in cucumber, onions, tomatoes and lettuce. You can serve it in a bowl or even in little paper cones.

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These four recipes are very quickly made and does not need the knowledge of state of art cooking. Anyone who does not cook regularly can cook these meals. Moreover those who love cooking can experiment with these as and when they get time. If you are bored of seeing the same food in your canteen then you can try to get some of these cooked from home. Recipes like the MINI PIZZA and SPICED CHICKPEAS SALAD can even work well in a cocktail party or in a lazy evening when you boycott work and want to chill out with friends. These can also be made in bulk and carried as picnic foods.

If you have more such QuickMeals in your mind, do share them with us.

Signing off until next time!

Calling Photo-voters for the 2016 Calendar

Photography is a mixture of both art and science.

It is the capturing of a moment in time.

It is the reflection of one’s vision on digital frames.

It is also the beauty of time, space, people and place.

This very beauty has been reflected by the final photographs that have been selected by the Manchester Evening News as their finalists to make an appearance in the next year’s calendar. Some of the photographs are stunningly beautiful and define the very essence of the city. The images reflect the myriad hues that the city basks in every morning and night.

All these images are winners in themselves and each photographer deserves praise for their perfect capturing of the moment. But as a year has only 12 months, only the top voted pictures would make it to the final.

Wondering which images would be featured? Well, it is time that you stop wondering and start playing your part in the making of the calendar. Your vote can actually decide which photographs would feature in the calendar. Moreover, you could get a chance to get a free calendar by collecting tokens.

Voting lines are open only till the 22 of October 2015. So do not waste a moment and start voting for your favourite images at http://goo.gl/ZW3jlW.

I would end this post with a photo that was taken by me with the promise that more photos would be coming in the days to come.

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Manchester : City of the Youths

Every time I have heard people discussing about Manchester, football has remained the prominent topic. Manchester United Football Team is the most loved team amongst the youths all over the world. In fact, those waiting for me back home are probably more anxious to get Manchester United goodies than knowing about my life abroad.

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Although ManU is a privilege that most of my friends are denied of, I would not agree more to the fact that Manchester is beyond ManU. It is a city with a heart that is immortally youthful considering the young population of the city. The city lives for the youngsters and has been progressing due to the developments envisioned by them.

The younger lot of this city constitutes a cosmopolitan group making it a pot-pouri of cultures and traditions. With such diversity in the youngsters the variety of interests are also diverse. From music, literature, theatre, films to charity organisational events, food, religious festivals, youth festivals – there is a lot to catch up on.

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But with so many events it becomes really difficult to keep a tap on what’s going around the city. This blog aims and hopes to inform its readers about some of the events that would interest the heart of the city.

Do look out for interesting things to do in the future.