Tuesday, 19 May 2015


Hygge: (“heu-gah”). Danish word for the art of building sanctuary and community, of inviting closeness and paying attention to what makes us feel open hearted and alive. To create well-being, connection and warmth. A feeling of belonging to the moment and to each other. A complete absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming.
Tivoli Lake, Where The Conversation Took Place
Troels and I walked hand-in-hand through the beautiful Tivoli Gardens, sipping the Cocio we had just bought. It was the peak of the cool, breezy Copenhagen summer. The sun was still high up in the sky at 7pm, much like the spirit of the people around us.

“How do they do it in the bitterly cold winters too, when everything is dark and depressing?” I asked him.

Troels smiled at me and pointed towards the lights ahead of us. I had met him on my first day in Copenhagen and that day at Tivoli was the second time I had run into him serendipitously.

“We like lights. And candles. It’s very important for us Danes to maintain our hyggewe are the happiest country in the world, after all.” He responded, twirling his blonde dreadlock that extended to his waist.

“Maintain your what...?” I enquired, trying to decipher his thick accent.

Hygge.” He repeated. “Like when you snuggle into a blanket by the fireplace with your family on a cold night or maybe spend hours chatting at a summer picnic with your friends.”

Judging by my still unsure expression, he proceeded to explain to me the concept of hygge in great detail as we looked at the Tivoli Lake light show. He slowly put his arm around me.

 “So… Is this hygge?”

“Sure.” He said with another wide smile as he leaned in for a kiss.

Our little summer tryst ended shortly after that evening. Troels and I did not keep in touch for much longer but hygge stayed on my mind.

I started to think about how people experience hygge all around the world but only the Danes have a name for it. Is it because just 7-hours of daylight during the winters force them to? Or is it because while some let the cold bring them down, others, like in Denmark are consciously trying to fight it?

I’d guessed it’s rather important to try to be happy, comfortable and loved in a place where Seasonal Affective Disorder plagues the life of a small chunk of the population, but I was sure there was more to it. One could feel hyggeligt in any part of the world but whereexcept Denmarkwould people try to make the feeling such an important part of their life? Why does it not have an accurate equivalent in any other language?

I remember how upon asking another friend, Sanne, how her afternoon exam went, she was quick to reply with “Hyggeligt”. How could an exam be hyggeligt? I thought to myself, slightly confused. “It was a three-hour open book exam.”, she continued. “We could take in and share our lunch and listen to classical music on our iPods if that helped us concentrate. Anything to make the atmosphere less scary and more cosy.” As someone who flinches at the mention of the word ‘examination’, the idea seemed novel but very enticing. No wonder Denmark has one of the best education systems in the world, I thought.

The core of hygge lies in celebrating the quotidian lifemaking the best out of what the situation is. If done right, it can transform the most dreadful atmosphere, event or feeling into one of calmness and joy. This is what it makes it unique to the Danish culture and language. It is not forced but is rather embedded into the minds of the populace that believes in trying to derive their happiness from the ambience rather than the number of hours of daylight. It is a concept that is unique to the mind-set of the Danish and thus, their language.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

A Scoop Of Reality

I was lost in the fiery city of Reality, where only a few dared to venture. I thought I was ready for it, but it was not long before I craved the comfort of my hometown, Oblivion. Walking through the unpaved, dusty streets, I saw an ice-cream parlour in the distance and hoped to rest my weary feet there.

“You’re only welcome if you’re going to buy” said the old man at the counter before I even stepped in “And I hope you don’t expect free tasters, I’m not here to waste time.”

Taken aback and annoyed I was, but I only mumbled, “That was a bit harsh…”

“Eh, I see you’re not from around here. Welcome to Reality, kid.”

“Thanks… I’ve lost my way, could you help?”

“Sure, kid. But tell me what you’d like to have first. Hot day, isn’t it?”

The man seemed quite adamant, so I gave in. “Alright… What’s today’s special, sir?”

“Today’s special is Moral Absolutism.”


“Moral Absolutism, kid.” The old man looked at me as if I were the crazy one there.

“I…I’m confused, sir. What’s that?”

“It’s a grainy base of irrationality incorporated with closed-mindedness and topped with refusal to accept that bad can come of good and good, of bad. It’s extremely popular here; the fundamentalist’s favourite.  You might have met him on your way here if you stopped by at the church.”

“Not my cup of tea, sir.

“Would you prefer a Capitalism float, then? The small amount of rich ice-cream always remains on top and takes the cake when the cola at the bottom is actually making everything work.”

“I don’t fancy floats, sorry.”

“Hmm, how about a lovely scoop of Minorities then? Full of different flavours and textures that are just as good as the popular but not regarded equally.”

By this time I was thoroughly perplexed and determined to leave. I definitely wasn’t ready for this sort of complexity. I just wanted some regular ice-cream. “What about vanilla, sir? Might you sell that?”

He smirked and answered, “Out of stock, kid. It’s never available in Reality. Plain Vanilla is for those living in Oblivion. You must be from there.”

“Yes… As I said, I’ve lost my way…”

He opened a drawer and scrambled for what seemed to be a map.

“Here, kid. Take this and try not to return, it’s a tough world out here. Take this piece of advice from a man who’s been here longer than you’ve lived.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“But do remember, now that you’ve already seen Reality, it will always linger in your head. It’ll make you question every decision you make when in Oblivion. If you’re not careful, it will haunt you and infect your thoughts until you finally decide to permanently move here and become one of us. Get away as soon as you can and don’t ever look back, kid. Yours is the best world there is.”

I thanked him again and ran out of there, forgetting my weary feet.

 Once I got back to Oblivion, I was thankful. I was extremely thankful for having made it.

Of course, I celebrated with a scoop of the finest Plain Vanilla available, the simplicity of it negating my need to ever venture into Reality again.

Monday, 22 July 2013

A new beginning.

"You were supposed to be here at five to ten!" The principal said to me sternly.  I, chagrined, could not stop looking at his funky tie. If I went by the 'three strikes and you're out' policy, this would be my first strike. 

Scanning for the correct tutor group on the list, I almost did not notice him holding up the streak of purple in my hair as he said in a nettled tone, "And what is this in your hair, young lady?" Strike two. "I will get rid of that by tomorrow." I managed to only mumble; feeling lucky that he wasn't facing me at that moment or he would have seen my panic-stricken face. 

I made my way to the tutor group, feeling more than just slightly uncomfortable. As if being a new student at a huge, prestigious school doesn't put you out of your comfort zone enough, the series of events in the past few minutes threw me far away from the comfort zone into unchartered territory.

I rushed past various unfamiliar faces and made my way to my tutor group table.  The teacher smiled at me and seemed welcoming. The entire table had a warm vibe to it and I finally started to feel nice about being there.

The speaker was full of energy and almost every sentence that came out of his mouth was worth being on a tapestry. I was extremely interested in what he was saying and all was going well until he asked, "So, how many of you have your cellphones in your pocket right now? Please stand up." Suddenly, lying didn't seem like such a bad idea but my conscience got the better of me as I found myself to be one of the first on my feet, thinking to myself, "Strike three..." 

I spent a lot of the session hoping that the principal had not formed too bad an impression of me. Soon there was a short break and I followed the other students to the cafeteria, unfamiliar with the way. Nothing was what I was used to. Be it the humongous campus, teachers, students or even the drinking fountains; it was all different. It felt like a life upgrade. 

Following the break we collectively evaluated the attributes of the IB learner's profile where each table made a consensus definition of one of the attributes and found out how close it was to the that of the IB. Feeling courageous, I volunteered to be the leader of the table and managed to keep my cool and express myself well when asked to speak up in front of the class. That was when my day evolved from not-so-good to great. 

I regained my usual confidence, heartily participated in all the other assignments and made new friends. Just in a day, the school managed to make me recognise that comfort zones are unnecessary and that the 'three-strike' policy doesn't work in practicality.  The shell had finally broken. 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Death and all his friends

I received an unexpected call at 1 am last night. It was one of my best friends.

I whispered into the phone and greeted him so that my mother in the adjacent room wouldn't hear me. I was waiting for him to tell some silly joke or say that he called because he was bored but his serious tone assured me otherwise.

"Hash, my dada (paternal grandfather) hasn't been doing so well. The doctor had come and he said that he probably won't make it through the next night... Or maybe even this one."

I wasn't sure what to say but I managed to blurt out a concerned "Are you okay?"

"Yeah." he said, trying to reassure me.

"Are you sure? Do you need a hug?"

"No, I'm fine; don't worry. I just needed to tell someone about this..."

I was amazed at how strong he was about this, with a sense of déjà vu. This was the the third time something like this had happened to him this month alone.

First, it was his maternal grandfather, who at the start of this month lost a long battle to a stomach tumour, next was his ailing paternal grandmother just a few days ago and this morning, his grandfather.

In such times, one might say that they are in a better place now or that they are finally rid of their suffering but no consolation will do for the mind of a good-hearted teenage boy who has been spending all his time studying due to the pressure of the upcoming exams. No time for any grievance. No time for contemplation. Heck, none even for actually absorbing the events that took place in the past few weeks.

It's also events like these that make me lose faith in everything and assure me that my skepticism about the existence of the almighty is rational because if he was there and was as forgiving and rightful as the fanatics claim him to be, he would know that no family would ever deserve to go through what my friend's is.

I chide Emily Dickinson for even daring to call Death a gentleman because a gentleman wouldn't miserably mess up his timing not once but three times. Because Death's carriage is not something a person's loved ones would like to see them get on.

So, today, I am an angry girl. Angry at the believers who say that the almighty will always be there and make sure the right thing is done, angry at Death for showing up repeatedly at the worst time and angry at myself, for being able to do nothing about it.

As I marvel at my friend's immense strength, I can only be the best damn person to lean on and hope that the departed souls rest in peace.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Healthy cooking and chocolate chip cookies

If you are or have been a student in India, you will probably understand the concept of 'study leave'. That one month's time before the massively overrated and overhyped board exams where all your hopes of having a social life and maintaining personal hygiene are completely destroyed. The time where the only place you can find solace is the toilet seat. The time when you're supposed to get off Facebook and put your face in a book till you're almost about to cry. The time you're so accustomed to sitting at the study table that you've forgotten how to walk.

Fortunately or unfortunately, it's been quite the contrary in my case. For me, 'study leave' is the time when I'm completely leaving all scope of studies. When I'm pampering myself with manicures and warm baths. The only time when I'm actually attending Zumba and Pilates classes on a proper schedule. When the only book my face would be in is Molecular Gastronomy by Hervé This. Most importantly, the time when I'm cooking and baking to my heart's content.

Sadly, all my favourite sugary foods seemed very counter-productive and cancelled out all the hard work I put into Pilates and Zumba. So, when my chocolate chip cookie craving remained unrestrained; I knew I would have to go down the scary route of 'healthy cooking' and kick the recipe up a notch. It definitely is not as bad as it sounds, though, because these might just be the best cookies I've ever made. And trust me, I've made lots of cookies.

The icing on the cake is that they're on the verge of being guilt-free with the use of wholewheat flour, oats, olive oil and honey instead of sugar. Perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and cakey on the inside with gooey dark chocolate chips enhancing the goodness of every bite.

So here goes the recipe;


Goodness <3

1 cup honey
1/2 cup olive oil (the one with the lightest flavour that you can find)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk (I used skimmed)
1 cup wholewheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup uncooked oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used Callebaut's 53% dark chocolate buttons)

-Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line a baking tray with parchment or a baking sheet.
-Mix all the ingredients together except the oats and chocolate chips till it reaches the consistency of elastic dough. (Like that of bread.)
-Fold in the chocolate chips and oats until well combined.
-Drop the dough by rounded spoonfuls on the baking sheet or take small balls of dough and make round patties out of them.
-Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or till slightly firm and golden brown.
-Enjoy straight out of the oven or wait till completely cool before storing in an airtight container.

The cookies last for about a week but are surely best consumed fresh. The cookie dough can be frozen as well. The recipe makes about 30 medium sized cookies.

Feel free to post any queries in the comment section. :)


Tuesday, 12 February 2013


I have a tendency to get nervous about the weirdest of things. Not the usual ones like standing in front of a crowd, talking to new people or confronting the principal after having done something wrong that get me neck-deep in anxiety.

It is things like receiving a gift or anticipating the arrival of the odd-sounding dish I ordered in a restaurant. The random common things which an average person would gracefully pull off are those that set me on edge. Just like writing this blog post currently is.

Being the perfectionist that I am, I compulsively have to make sure that everything I say is grammatically-correct, ever-so-slightly humourous, spontaneous and still shouldn't look like I am trying too hard. This means innumerable visits to the thesaurus website, looking up the meaning of words I already know to make sure I have used them correctly and so, so many deleted drafts stinking of mediocrity.

Fortunately enough, it's the good kind of nervousness I am experiencing. The kind when you know something great is about to happen. Like when I went for my first Zumba class. I remember telling myself, "Okay Hash, you are probably going to suck at this but just do it because it will be good for you." Similarly, I am repeatedly giving myself a pep talk saying that blogging will be good for me as writing is the only way I can freely express myself and all those pent-up feelings and not so pent-up opinions need to be vented out for the world to see.

Prevarication aside; I'm Hash, a teenage girl with lots of opinions and this is my blog debut. Nice to meet you.

P.S.: If you were looking for an introduction or bio, here it is; http://about.me/hashmita