“What is true friendship?,” I often ask myself that question. Friendship is a close bond between two people where there is a feeling of warmth, trust, respect, and openness in the relationship. A true friend is hard to find, and often, we don’t even realize the value of our friendships until much later on in life. I want to relate an incident that made me recognize that when we do find such special people, we should do our best to keep them close to our hearts.
As a teenager I grew very attached to a friend. She was intelligent, beautiful, fun, mischievous, and most importantly a good human being. Even though we lived in different countries and she visited Calcutta only a few times a year, we had built a strong and beautiful friendship. We enjoyed many wonderful times of fun and laughter until one day I messed it up! I mentally accused her of doing something which I did not know to be true. I was not even brave enough to share the issue at hand… I simply cut off all ties with her. Part of my reaction was due to my ego and the other part was the foolishness of being a young adult. She attempted to figure out what went wrong, but every time she called, I would create a thicker and taller wall between us. When she called to congratulate me on my engagement, I was still shrouded by my veil of ignorance; I simply could not understand the value of our friendship. Instead of facing my fears and having the courage to talk about what was bothering me, I took the cowardly approach of breaking off all communication. It was not until many years later that I saw it in a new light.
In life, we are often faced with the challenge of addressing our own interpretations of truth. We believe only what we want to believe because that’s what supports the story our mind has woven. As we continue to intertwine ourselves in that web of stories, we lose our rationality. It’s only when we can stop, reflect, and dig deeper that we can be fully aware of what we are doing and its consequences. When I finally realized what I had done to our friendship, I apologized for my abhorrent behavior and did so with total humility. I did not know whether this would put our friendship back on the map, but I said sorry in the most genuine way I could. To my surprise and immense relief, she understood how painful this was for me and forgave me. Yes, we had lost many years in between - we both married, had kids, and built our lives - but we were fortunate enough to have a second chance of rediscovering a lost treasure. Since then, whenever we have met, it has been with the same feeling of love that we shared when we were kids. We talk for hours when we meet as if the years lost between do not matter. We cherish every moment we are together. And now I know in my heart that this is true friendship, which I will hold on to dearly for the rest of my life.
Sautéd vegetables with Quinoa and Avocado
As autumn approaches, I feel the need to comfort myself with warm, earthy foods. Even though I like holding on to some summer favorite like zucchini, I am ready to venture into recipes that call for some root vegetables. This dish was a spur of the moment addition to my kids’ lunch list. Healthy with protein packed quinoa, and a pleasant transition from summer into fall, this dish has few ingredients, is super easy and tasty. The recipe calls for some heat with long hot pepper and jalapeno but that is completely optional.
¼ cup quinoa, soaked for 8 hours
2 Tbsp olive Oil
½ white onion, sliced thin
½ cup zucchini, cut into matchsticks
½ cup sweet potato, cut into matchsticks
½ long green pepper, diced small
1 ½ cup vegetable stocks / water
½ avocado, sliced
¼ jalapeno, diced small (optional)
2 tsp cilantro, minced
Salt to taste
Cook the quinoa in vegetable stock or water until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and leave it to cool. Add olive oil to a thick bottomed pan placed on a medium flame. Saute the onions till they are translucent. Add the green chilli, zucchini, and sweet potato and cook for a few minutes till the veggies are al dente. Next, add the quinoa and salt and cook again for a minute or until the mixture is heated. Empty out the quinoa and veggies into a serving bowl. Top with avocado, cilantro and jalapenos and serve.