Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Something's Got to Give

For those of you who are pondering over the question of whether to return to student life for a year or two and take refuge from the "real world", I highly recommend that you do.

It has been just over a month since my classmates and I started our master's program. We've had an exhausting month of assignments, problem sets and more assignments and problem sets. Not to forget an unending list of readings. There's less time to party than most of us would like. Many of us have been running on a sleep deficit, and the schedule for the rest of the term leaves little room for hope that things will improve. Despite this sorry state of affairs, I'd say that the vibe in our classroom is overwhelmingly positive. I think it has something to do with the fact that nearly all of us are returning to the classroom after a few years out in the big, bad world.

Being a student in your late 20s or early 30s (and for the more adventurous, even later than that) is refreshingly different from being in an undergraduate program. Having worked and traveled and seen much more of the world than I had when I first went to college, I now know that education is at least as much about the friends you make, the professors you meet, the conversations that you have, and the ideas that you exchange as it is about classroom learning. I also know that whilst grades are important, they're not more important than genuine learning, which will, in the long run, carry you further than grades will.

I also find that if you look hard enough, you might even find philosophical lessons hidden deep in your class lectures. This might sound laughable; it certainly would have to 17-year-old-me. But here's an example (there are more, but there's only so much macroeconomics I want to write about on this blog). Today, in our macroeconomics class, we talked about the impossible trinity. At any given point in time, you can have no more than two of the following things: a fixed exchange rate, free capital movement and an independent monetary policy. You can't have all three. In the words of the professor, "something's got to give." I think that's a good lesson not just in macroeconomic theory, but also in life. Although most of us would like to "have it all", most often something's got to give. One public debate that comes to mind is whether women can have it all - career and family. I found Anne-Marie Slaughter's recent, and somewhat  controversial piece in The Atlantic interesting reading. Which side of the fence are you on?  

As for me, although blogging was one of the things that has had to give over the last few weeks, I have still been cooking. No matter how busy, we still need to eat! I put this pork curry together one evening as my room mate and I indulged in some groaning about all the problem sets that we had to complete over the weekend.

Pork curry
(My own recipe)

600 grams lean pork, cut into bite size pieces
3/4 can of coconut milk
a fistful of corainder leaves, finely chopped

1/2 onion finely chopped
2 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp ginger paste

2 tbsp saunf/fennel seeds

Dry ingredients
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp pepper powder
1 tbsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
3 tbsp coriander powder
2 level tbsp garam masala powder
Salt to taste

Add all the dry ingredients to the pork and set aside. Heat oil, and add the fennel seeds. Once they change colour, (careful not to burn them!), add the chopped onions and ginger garlic paste. Once the onions turn pink, add the pork, mixed in with the dry ingredients. Stir to make sure everything is evenly mixed. Cover and cook for around 10 minutes on a medium flame. Next, reduce the heat just a little and pressure cook for one whistle (i.e. until the pressure cooker lets out a loud whistle! You can't miss it). Turn off the heat and let the pressure release, which should be no longer than 10 minutes. Add coconut milk. You may find that the gravy is too thick for your liking, in which case, dilute with a little water, which is what I did. Next, adjust salt, and then you are then done. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve piping hot with rice (preferably with no problem sets on the side).  

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