Meet Sophia Banks who styled Priyanka’s most googled 2016 Oscar Outfit

Priyanka Chopra’s Oscar outfit, styled by Sophia Banks, was the most Googled Oscar Dress of 2016. Choosing the right kind of dress and accessories takes months of preparation and hard work. Sophia Banks has worked with Celebrities like Amber Heard, Sharon Stone and John Travolta. Here is an interview with Sophia Banks, where she talks about her work with Priyanka Chopra; her professional life and her future projects:

Tell us something about yourself?

I moved to the USA, Launching a fashion boutique was the next step for me, it was called ‘Satine’ and quickly became award-winning Hollywood hotspot. Satine was written up in all the fashion magazines, shopped by celebrities  and because of its fashion forwardness, step me up as a ‘Trend Forecaster’ from which started my career as a fashion consultant. I began to consult to top fashion lines and design for them. One of my favourite projects was for fashion house Rodo where I was flown to Italy to design shows.

As well as styling I have been recently working as a director on fashion Commercials.

Which all celebrities have you worked with?

Of course Priyanka Chopra.

Amber Heard, Sharon Stone, John Travolta, Leighton Meister, Shay Mitchell, Erika Christensen and many more..

Sophia Banks the stylist of Priyanka Chopra
Checking out an Outfit with Priyanka Chopra
As a celebrity stylist, what are your responsibilities?

When I first start working with someone I create a style guide for them which we follow for them as a guide. I also create a trend book for them for the season.

Then I help shop and buy their entire wardrobe. I also search the world for the best dress for ever red carpet event so they make it in press all over the world.

For a lot of my clients, I do all the costume for films, TV and commercials as well.

It is my job to set a goal with them such as be a style icon or get most googled fashion dress of the year and then reach that goal.

How did you choose the famous Oscar dress of Priyanka Chopra that was the most googled outfit of 2016?

It was so amazing working with her, she is such a wonderful, kind, beautiful person who works so incredibly hard. We always had such fun choosing dresses.

For the Oscar look as it was a big deal we were very involved in the selection of the dress. We of course requested many gowns and flew to Montreal where Priyanka was filming to do a fitting with about 40 gowns in tow.

We then did the fitting and the white was a top option along with many others but it needs alterations.

What is your opinion about Priyanka Chopra?

I think she is an amazing, beautiful and incredible woman. She is also such a hard worker, she is always flying somewhere to shoot something between the USA and India. Her success is an example of what happens when you give everything it takes towards your goal.

I also love her attitude to life, she is super fun loving and easy going. We always had fun together.

Sophia Banks who Styled Priyanka Chopra
Sophia Banks in a television interview
Have you been to Priyanka Chopra’s home Country, India?

Yes I have, I am originally Australian, and so I have travelled to India and all over. It is one of my favourite countries, I love it there. It is a spiritual place for me, there is something special once you land.

Do you have future plans to work with in Bollywood or with Bollywood Celebrities?

Yes I am in talks with new clients right now and am excited to work with some amazing Bollywood talent. I am also working on my first script and am possibly looking at filming in India, so I think I have a lot of future there.

Empowering the underprivileged with newspaper cuttings

When I met him first, he was taking photocopies of Newspaper cuttings and said that he ran an NGO, for helping the underprivileged.  I was just curious to know what kind of support S. Devender Singh Anand, 67, was providing for helping the needy. “I keep all the Newspaper cutting of News that benefit the public, for instance, the Legal News” he said. He uses the Newspaper cuttings to empower the underprivileged.  Suppose someone goes to the hospital for a handicap certificate with Address Proof, Id Cards, and still he is denied the license; then Mr. Anand provides the person with photocopies of Newspaper cuttings supporting his claims.  The applicant can then challenge for his rights with the Newspaper cuttings. If required, he confronts the officials about the provisions that the claimant is entitled to “I have the information, no one can challenge me on the information.”

Mr. Anand, who was into truck transportation business, was injured and bedridden in 1992. And since 1995, after the trauma, with the experience he gained, he decided to help the underprivileged.

He says only four out of hundred physically challenged are utilizing the benefits entitled for the physically challenged, and that too mostly from the educated section of the society.  Most of the physically challenged are unaware of their privileges. He says in Delhi there is the Handicapped Finance Corporation, which is underutilized by the physically challenged. And there two special commissions appointed for the physically challenged– National level Commissioner at 6, Baghwan Das Road and State level commissioner at Mata Gujri College. Suppose the specially-abled people are not getting the justice they can approach the commission and register a complaint against the authority who is denying them their right. At both the Commissioner offices, you get booklets about the facilities entitled for the physically challenged. Those who are knowledgeable about the content of the booklets avail the facilities.

empowering the underprivileged

Helping everyone in need

Other than the physically challenged, Mr. Anand has been empowering the underprivileged like the poor, the senior citizens, the uneducated and so on.  He tries to help everyone and guides people with Newspaper Cuttings. Whenever he meets people, he tells the deserving people to approach the authorities to get their benefits and in case, they are challenged they can show a photocopy copy of the Newspaper cuttings.

An interesting piece of information that Mr. Anand shared was, there is a provision for a free legal attorney, in every Court, for those having income less than Rs 1 lakh.  “You can go to a Court, and get a free lawyer immediately when you show documents of your earning,” says Mr. Anand.

In addition to providing information, if the situation requires he physically approaches the authorities and speaks for the underprivileged.  Once he educated his housemaid about the benefits of opening a Bank Account, but when she approached the Bank, she faced many hurdles. So Mr. Anand himself went to the Bank, talked to the officials and successfully opened a Bank Account for her. She was excited because she could now save her earnings and she also got free medical insurance coverage.  Encouraged by her, her relatives also opened bank accounts.

After helping the underprivileged for nearly two decades, he registered an NGO ‘Happy Living’ to help the cause of the physically challenged.  Happy Living accepts old clothes from donors and distributes them among the needy.

Mr. Anands strong support comes from his wife, Harpreet Anand, a Criminal Lawyer, who teaches the Children of Watchmen, maids and construction workers of the locality.

With the passage of time, Mr. Anand has advanced his methods to garner information.  He now uses the new-age tool of RTI (Right to Information) to “provide Justice for those who are denied Justice”. He is an inspiration to the youth of today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amartya Sen’s reflection on contemporary issues

The auditorium was jam packed during Amartya Sen’s reflection on contemporary issues at the India International Centre, in Delhi where he had come to discuss his new book, “The Country of First Boys”.  “This book is a celebration of the mind which sees, judges but does not necessarily pass a verdict on,” says Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who was the moderator at the meeting.  Hiranya Mukherjee is described by him in the book as one of his heroes and Hiranya Mukherjee has said famously in his speech that what is true and what is unpleasant has few speakers and few listeners.  What is true and what is unpleasant is spoken by few people in our recent century and Amartya Sen is one of them.  This book contains Amartya Sen’s reflection on matters which are beyond what is regarded as his main preoccupation coming from his discipline. His knowledge of Sanskrit is that of a person who has authority over Sanskrit.

According to Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Amartya Sen uses lots of ’em-dash’ in the book. ‘Em-dash’ is the long dash, with the width of capital ‘M’ and the ‘en-dash’, the width of the capital N.  The hyphen is smaller than the capital ‘N’. So between the hyphen, the ’em dash’ and the ‘en dash’ we have a gradation of pauses in which lie a great deal of Amartya Sen’s reflections. He has given through various ’em-dashes’ qualification to what he says in the main.  He says for instance that ‘The central question is not – indeed cannot be – whether or not to use the market economy’.  “So, in the clause of this book, in the subordinate clause of this book, lies some of the valuable thoughts of the thinker,” He says very importantly in this book that today in India it has become very easy to hate.  And he quotes Ogden Nash to say that “Every kiddie in School can love like a fool but by God to hate is an art.” Now that Art, by artist and instigators has been raised to a fine art in our times.  And the weapon of choice is identity.  The identity of each one of us becomes more important.

One of the most extraordinary essays in the books is about the system of calendars. The calendars in India may mean ‘The Gregorian Calendar’, the official calendar – we have a plethora of calendars. And one of the calendars, the ‘Bengali calendar’ is followed by the Bengalis for all significant ceremonies in Bengal.  In the essay, Amartya Sen says that Bengali calendar follows modifications made by Akbar, know as ‘Tarikh-e-Ilahi’ when he brought it in line with the  ‘Islamic Hijri Calendar’ in which the first year was the year when Prophet Mohammed went from Mecca to Medina. So highly ritualised observances in Bengal are following a Hijri Protocol.   But going beyond that, Amartya Sen talks during the interaction about the tumult of dates and definitions of date mean for us in India.

amartya sen's reflection on contemporary issues

What does Calendar mean to the culture of India?

“I got involved because I was struck by the multiplicity of calendars in India.  One or two of them are very much based on Imagination about Kalyug of the calendar. But most of them are based on Astronomical observation.  And some of our great Mathematicians like, Aryabhata comments on Shakha Calendar in 499, and he talks about the nature of these calendars. Aryabhata was a person who believed already that Sun did not go around the Earth. And it was the motion of the Earth that made Sun go round.  In Arabic literature, Aryabhata was translated three or four times; Brahmagupta 7 or 8 times. Al Biruni, who came to India at the turn of the millennium, he discusses Aryabhata and his views about gravity. If it is the case of the earth churning how come things are not being thrown out and Al Biruni said – Aryabhata claims that every object attracts another object and Earth being a rather large object compared to us, we don’t get thrown out because we are pulled back to the Earth.  So this was one of the early discussions of gravitational forces. But one of the issue he raised is about Prejudice and Open Mindedness. Aryabhata was the great originator of the School of thought.  But Al Biruni had many reasons to believe that Brahmagupta was probably a bigger mathematician eventually because many of the problems that are still regarded very more prominent had come later than Aryabhata.

But then Brahmagupta followed Aryabhata in mathematical thinking and developed it. Brahmagupta does not want to break from Hindu Orthodoxy. He claims that Aryabhata should be denounced on grounds he did not believe in the Hindu Orthodoxy.  However, he follows Aryabhatta in Mathematics. He draws extensively on that. Al Biruni tells Brahmagupta that he recognizes that he has made a bigger contribution to mathematics than his teacher, Aryabhata. But why is it you denounce Aryabhata for being Agnostic because you don’t give any argument? And when it comes to calculation the eclipses why is it that you follow Aryabhata method rather than those you think it is important for you to admire and defend.  Which means why don’t you calculate eclipses by Rahu and Ketu and so on, rather than the mathematical calculation. I think that is a kind of reprimand, which comes from someone outside.  And it is a kind of brilliantly delivered question.  The great scientist and mathematician Pierre-Simon, marquis de Laplace, makes a brilliant point saying that one thing that becomes evident in the Indian Calendar is that this is a civilization, which is much more concerned with analytical thinking and mathematics and not with observational science. He gives the other cultures, the Greek and the Chinese, higher marks for observation-inference; and a higher score for Indian mathematics for that period for Analytical Excellence.

The ‘Kaliyuga Calendar’, sounds like it began 4 million years ago.  It is a possible world from the analytical point of view but then, of course, it is not the world in which we live.  But then some people believe that it is the world in which we live and keep on denouncing others who try to talk about the world that we live.  As the debate, we have today.

The oldest probably is the ‘Nirvana Calendar’.  But the Hijri Muslim Calendar is a Lunar Calendar, and it happens to be ahead of Bengali Calendar.  Akbar thought, for the sake of integration that he was wanting, he wanted calendrical unity.  He took the Hijra counting up to the date and converted from that point onwards into the solar system.  Akbar converted the date from the date that he ascended the throne.   The lunar calendar was going ahead while the Bengali calendar was going slowly. The calculation is very simple. You can easily do the calculation by comparing a Hijri calendar with a Bengali calendar. A calendar has many things to offer. The Bengali calendar, the important thing is, no Hindu ceremony in Bengal completes without invoking the time when Prophet Mohammed went from Mecca to Medina.

India’s Fascination for hero worship?

There were the Dynasty like the Mauryas, the Guptas and so on. The Hindu period, the Muslim period, The Hindu period is a period of 5000 years, which is the bulk of the written history. The kings were Buddhist, and the country was Buddhist. It wasn’t a Hindu period in fact. You can call it ancient period. It was never separated from religion.  Nalanda was established in 420 A.D., and it has a Buddhist foundation.  The mixture of culture was tremendous then.  When Nalanda was started, the Buddhist powers were declining, and the Hindu powers were re-establishing. They happily continued to support Nalanda. That show a degree of magnanimity that would be good to see today.

There was a kind of absorption of world culture.  And there is no dishonour to note that there are riddles in Atharvaveda but no maths.  The maths came much later through Aryabhata and Brahmagupta.  Aryabhata and Brahmagupta were inspired by the Babylonian region and that influence matured India into a Trigonometric Invention.  The transmission of scientific knowledge and mathematical knowledge have crossed the world by some of the texts. For example, if you take the Trigonometric term like ‘Sine’ – Aryabhata called it ‘Jya’ which means a ‘bow string’. When the Arabs translated it Centuries later, they translated ‘Jya’ as ‘jiba’. But ‘jiba’ did not have any meaning in Arabic, so the later translators in Arabic did change ‘jiba’ to ‘jaib’. Now ‘jaib’ means a ‘bosom’ so in 12th-century, Latin translator, Gerard of Cremona, used the Latin equivalent for “bosom”, sinus; thus, jyā became ‘sinu’.

The interesting thing is when you think about this you have Arab mathematics, Indian Mathematics, European Mathematics. And Indian mathematics inspired by Babylon. As you can see, there is a kind of secularity of movement. And it is that we have to give a regard and not allow ourselves to be localised.

Regarding Sanskrit as a language coming from a particular religious era

Sanskrit is a vehicle also of Textual Buddhism, Jainism apart from Hinduism.  There are different types of Sanskrit – Classical Sanskrit, Vedic is different Sanskrit.

Originally Buddhist texts were in Sanskrit, but Buddha was egalitarian. But he said that the text should be in colloquial, which was then practised and that people could not follow in sophisticated Sanskrit anymore.  So ‘Dharma’ became ‘Dhama’. So they had to do Pali and Sanskrit. There was a Sanskritisation that took place in Buddhism. When the great philosophical works were done, they were using proper classical Sanskrit.  Buddhism went from a written Sanskrit to a colloquial Sanskrit and back to a very classical Sanskrit. When I was visiting Thailand, I talked to some of the Buddhist scholars. They were very well versed in Sanskrit.

The great mathematician Al-Khwarizmi, whose book ‘Al-kitāb al-mukhtaṣar fī ḥisāb al-ğabr wa’l-muqābala’ (The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing) was the source of Algebra, was also a Sanskrit teacher.  So there is a kind of a whole movement of ideas.  I think we have to give the languages the life and the dynamism that they have. And recognize what they are rather than freezing them.

Supreme Court order that debars persons without requisite education, no toilet, more than two children, leprosy, from contesting Panchayat elections. 

We have to distinguish between what our objectives are and what the state of the country is.  If you say that everyone should be literate, and everyone should have toilets in their houses, that does not mean that until that happens these people are not people; and not citizens.  Those who don’t have these facilities are the strongest influences in fighting for that and to eliminate them from contesting. And to say those who already are privileged will decide. That is what happens in India in general, the privileged take decision and they do not worry about the lack of privileges of others. These people do not have an education. They do not have a toilet they are already suffering.  And to add something more, on top of that you won’t even have political rights.

Climate Change

“Climate change could be addressed at different levels. One level of addressing could be – what can be done to reduce global warming.”

Favourite Book

“I have no favourite books; favourite books are like favoured books.  And it is one book that some societies have favoured – Books that are in favour. I want my Milton, I want  my Tagore, I want my Shakespeare, I want all of them.”

3 Kerala Style Apple recipes: When apples are cheaper than onion and vegetables

In a Butter Chicken recipe video, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor says that the style of cooking changes with time. Butter Chicken cooking method he demonstrates in the video is different from traditional methods. What he says in the video is right not only about the method of cooking but also about the basic ingredients used for cooking traditional dishes.

In Kerala during my childhood my mother used to cook those items that were abundantly available in that season. During mango season there were mango thoran*, mango coconut curry, mango chutney, mango pickle and so on. During the season of Jackfruit we had Jackfruit thoran, Jackfruit seed fry,  Jackfruit halwa, and so on. When my mother comes to North India she will make thoran, theeyal* and fry of all the locally available vegetables.

This week when I went to the local market, where we can bargain and get fresh vegetables at lower rates  as compared to regular shops, I got onion at Rs 80/Kg and Apple at 40/Kg. I bought 2 1/2 Kg of apples. It is in human nature that when you see an item is surplus, even if it is your favourite thing, you lose interest in having it. The basket of red apples simply lying around reminded me of basket full of mangoes in my mother’s home during summer season. A friend Sudhir suggested adding apple pieces in Sambar, where from I got the sudden Idea of trying out Kerala recipes with apples, as shallots (not onion) are required for the dishes.  And Kerala recipes are a perfect combination with rotis.

No wastage in apple recipes

Apples are fleshier and hardly very little is lost while cleaning the fruit. However if we clean Okra, french beans or yard-long beans there will be lot of wastage while trimming the stem end.  Besides apples need not be skinned like beetroot or papaya.

Why apple is a perfect substitute for Kerala vegetable curries

Thoran, fry, theeyal, pachadi* and pickle is made literally out of every fruit and vegetable available in Kerala – Pineapple, mango, yam, avacado, bottle gourd, bitter gourd, etc. The tinge of sourness and the texture, makes apple a perfect substitute for chambakka (Rose water apples) and mango  recipes of Kerala.

Apple-Coconut Chutney

apple chutney - apple recipes

Ingredients

Coconut –  1 cup (grated)

Dry Chilli – 2 No.s

Apple – Quarter piece of a small apple

Salt – as required

Curry leaf – 3 Nos.

Method

Put all the ingredients in a mixer-grinder and coarsely grind. Add very little water and maker sure the coconut is not ground to a smooth paste.

Apple Thoran

Apple Thoran - apple recipes

Ingredients

Apple: 2 No.s (Medium Size)

Coconut – 1 Cup (Grated )

Green Chilli – 3 Nos

Shallots – 2 No.s

Garlic – 1/2 tsp

Ginger – 1/2 tsp

Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Mustard seed – 1/2 tsp

Oil -1 tbsp

Salt – as required

Cumin Seed powder – a pinch

Method

Cut the apple 1 inch long and 1/2 inch broad slender pieces and keep aside.  Coarsely grind all the ingredients, except salt and apple, for 3 seconds. Add the grounded mixture to the apple and gently mix with a spoon. Heat a wok and pour the oil, when the oil heats, add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seed crackle add the apple mix and blend with a spoon. Lower the flame and close the wok with a lid. After  5 minute remove the lid, you can see gentle smoke/vapour which means the dish is nearly cooked. Stir and cook with open lid for a few minute and remove from fire.

Apple Theeyal

Apple Theeyal - apple recipes

Ingredients

Apple – 1/2 of a small apple

Coconut – 1 cup (grated)

Shallots – 7 No.s

Garlic –  3 pod

Ginger –  1 inch piece cut is juveniles

Red Chilli – 3 Nos

Coriander powder – 1 tbsp

Fenugreek powder – 1/2 tsp

Cummin seed Powder 1/2 tsp

Tamarind – Size of half a lemon

Curry leaf – 4 to 5

Salt to taste

Method

Soak the tamarind in 1 cup of water for 1/2 an hour. Boil the apple (cut is 1 inch long and 1/2 inch broad sizes) and 3 shallots in tamarind water with salt and turmeric. Cook until the apple and shallot are tender. In a dry wok heat the coconut, when it turns brown add the rest of the shallots, ginger and garlic (all sliced). Stir for a while and add dry chilly, coriander, fenugreek and cumin seed. When the coconut becomes dark brown, remove from fire. let is cool. Grind the coconut mixture to a smooth paste in a mixer-grinder without adding water. Blend the mixture with the cooked apple. Now heat the mix for a while after adding a little water, do not let it boil. Remove from flame when you see the smoke.

Tip

Apply a little salt on the apple pieces so that they do not change colour.

Malayalam words used

Thoran*:  A dish made of finely chopped vegetables and grated coconut.

Theeyal*: A curry made with roasted and finely ground coconut paste.

Pachadi*: A simple side dish prepared in coconut and yogurt.

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Also read the following post: Seven Onion Substitute For Everyday Cooking

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maggi took a break: Now Let us have some ghar ka khana (home made food)

In the hectic lifestyle of the cities, we Aam Admi’s follow a balanced diet – consuming almost equal amount of nutritious food as well as junk food everyday. Everyone knows that junk food and fast food are injurious to health, but due to time constrains we decide that having something – junk or unhealthy – is better than having nothing. At home preparing healthy food, or ghar ka khana, regularly can be stressful so if woman are given a helping hand they can prepare healthy food. It is said that Joseph Maggi invented maggi so that working women can prepare healthy healthy food easily for their kids.

In their busy schedule parent usually prepare lunch box consisting of bread and jam or cooked instant noodles. The lunch box recipes makes no one happy. Neither the children are happy with the  cold snack, nor the parents are happy with the nutritious value of the food packed in the lunch box. If the children are inculcated with the habit of eating home-made food, they never give up that habit. With some quick trick, and 20 minutes to spare, parents can prepare healthy and homely lunch box recipe for kids. Here are a few lunch box recipes, that will bring smile on the face of parent and children.

Tip: To make the cooking easier and happier, both the parents should lend each other a helping hand in preparing the lunchbox. Here are a few recipes to be make the lunchbox of kids tastier, healthier and happier. To know more about lunchbox home delivery system read this post.
  1. Potato tricks: A lunch box recipe that every child will like to pack to school. Boil potato overnight; and in the morning add some spices to make it tastier. Use the potato base as stuffing for roti and sandwich. Add some tomato sauce, kids will love the combination.
  2. Cottage cheese magic: A lunch box recipe with lot of calcium. Crumble the cottage cheese and add spices as per choice. You can also add chopped tomatoes, onion and capsicum. Use the base as stuffing for sandwich and paneer parantha. Or else, cut the paneer into 1”inch cubes; cook the paneer using paneer butter masala. Instant butter panner mix requires less cooking time.
  3. Egg unlimited: Kids love eggs; and its easy to prepare, tasty and nutritious egg snacks. Sandwich or roti rolls can be made by stuffing boiled and crumbled egg; scrambled egg or omelet. Whip an egg and pour it over the roti in the pan, flip the roti over two or three times, until the egg is cooked well – Egg Parantha is ready!
  4. Minced Chicken: Any dish with a hint of chicken in it, is inviting. Minced chicken can be converted into limitless number of dishes. On a busy morning you can go for a minced chicken stuffed sandwich or roti. Or, if time permits, refrigerate, boiled and drained, noodles overnight; in the morning mix it with shallow fried minced chicken and other ingredient to make chicken chow mein.
  5. Vegetables Cutlets: A play-way method lunch box recipe that will inculcate the habit of eating vegetables. At leisure prepare and refrigerate ready-to-fry vegetable cutlets. In the morning fry the cutlets and place it between bread slice along with cucumber and tomato slices. The vegetables can be sliced  and kept beforeitself.

The entire cooking process will take only 15 to 20 minutes. The cooking process is made simple if the dough for roti is prepared and stored overnight.To cook faster utilize all kinds of kitchen gadgets.
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Ancy Abraham

Fasting: A powerful therapy in healing chronic diseases

On Good Friday a 38 year old, obese, friend decided to fast by skipping breakfast and lunch. She ended up for the next 5 days in Intensive Care Unit of a hospital suspecting cardiac arrest. She vouched never to fast again. This was a unique experience for me as usually after religious fasts – fasting, prayer and denial of certain food – people say they feel better physically, mentally and spiritually. So I began the research to ascertain whether fasting is good or bad for health.

I discovered that fasting is not just a religious custom but the most ancient and cheapest form of treating diseases. Fasting Therapy is widely being accepted to drastically improve chronic and debilitating illness like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and diabetes. “Fasting is a simple, elegant therapy that has amazing medical benefits. It effectively treated high blood pressure, overcame Type II diabetes, consistently produced dramatic improvements in autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, and provided effective relief for asthma attacks and migraine headaches.” says Michael Klaper, M.D. a gifted clinician, internationally recognized teacher, and sought-after speaker on diet and health.

fastomg

The cause of most of the diseases is the accumulation of excess and poisonous substance in the body. People, especially in the cities follow a sedentary lifestyle and consume excess food resulting in overburdening the digestive system. By staying away from food for a few days the elimination system in the body removes the poisonous substances accumulated inside. Read this post to find out knee replacement can be avoided by ayurveda.

Fasting sounds like an easy home remedy, because most people skip breakfast as part of dieting. Fasting however should be taken only for a certain duration of time, under professional guidance. Fasting for a prolonged period can be dangerous, so before fasting you must know the benefits and procedure of fasting. And also you must know when to fast, how to break the fast and when not to.

Only a well-experienced doctor, who uses fasting therapy as a treatment, can provide answer to the queries. So I had an interview with Dr. Matthew Brennecke, MS, ND, a board certified naturopathic doctor, in Colorado, who prefers fasting therapy  to pharmaceutical medication for his patients. Here is the interview with the doctor :

Only a well-experienced doctor, who uses fasting therapy as a treatment, can provide answer to the queries. So I had an interview with Dr. Matthew Brennecke, MS, ND, a board certified naturopathic doctor, in Colorado, who prefers fasting therapy  to pharmaceutical medication for his patients. Here is the interview with the doctor :

What are the benefits of fasting?

There are a lot of benefits to fasting. It gives the vital organs complete rest.  It stops the intake of foods that decompose in the intestines and poison the body.  It empties the digestive tract and disposes of putrefactive bacteria. It gives organs of elimination an opportunity to catch up with their work and further promote elimination. It re-establishes normal physiological chemistry and normal secretions. It promotes the break down and absorption of exudates, deposits, effusions, diseased tissue, and abnormal growths. It permits the conservation of energy. It clears and strengthens the mind. It improves function throughout the body. It can restore a youthful condition of the cells and tissue, which rejuvenates the body.

Does it cure any disease?

But it doesn’t cure anything.    Curing is possible,but it takes work and you can start by exercising and putting the right foods in your mouth.

Does fasting mean abstaining from food for a certain time?

Not only is there quite a bit of confusion regarding fasting, but there are also many fasts to choose from.  Are you going to water fast, juice fast, do a master cleanse, etc.?  Which one is right for you?  This usually depends on the disease we may be using it for.  Oftentimes, we choose fasting as options to decrease symptoms experienced by the patient when it comsto IBS, arthritis, thrombophlebitis, or skin afflictions.  But, we have to be careful to avoid starvation, in which vital organs can be broken down for proteins, unmonitoredketosis, which results from the breakdown of fat, or electrolyte imbalances,which can cause a whole host of issues.   If we want an opportunity to cure any of our chronic disease, we needto start making the right choices when it comes to diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices.

What are the procedures to begin and break the fast? 

(I’m a little uncomfortable answering this procedure question because if it is printed, it might encourage people to start a fast on their own without consulting a doctor beforehand).  I can say that when breaking a fast, do it slowly.  It usually takes about 4 days to get back to eating normally.  Usually starts with vegetables, then adding in fruit, then small portions of regular meals, then can start eating normally on fourth day.  The longer you fast, the longer it takes to break the fast.  This is where the doctor needs to be on-board.  These 4 days of breaking the fast is some of the hardest and vital parts of the fast as it is slowly introducing food back in the system. The most important thing is to no overeat when the fast is over.
Can a person undergoing medication take a fast?
This depends on the medication.  Most medications will be fine to fast with, but there are instances where taking medication while fasting is very dangerous and could be deadly.  For instance, taking insulin for diabetes while fasting could result in hypoglycemia, which can cause dizziness, unconsciousness, or even death.  I have to emphasize that seeing a doctor before starting a fast is vitally important.
How much awareness do general public have about fasting therapy?
Not much awareness at all.  Most people don’t fast or even understand why someone would fast, but they also don’t realize the benefits that can be had from fasting. Fasting is an underutilized therapy that has the ability to help the patient feel better in the long run.  But, then again, fasting also puts stress on the body in not having easily accessible nutrients flowing through the gut at all times.
Do people come to you asking for fasting therapy or you recommend it?
Both.  Most of the time I recommend it because it has the ability to help the patient out.  But, I always do a physical exam, run blood labs, and take into account the patient’s general constitution before I make the suggestion.  If the patient is emaciated, I don’t recommend fasting.  If the patient has any extreme weakness or degeneration, I don’t recommend fasting.  If the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, I don’t recommend fasting.  If the patient is low count in basic blood labs, I don’t recommend fasting.  If the patient is elderly or pregnant or a child, I don’t recommend fasting.  If the patient has problems with their nervous system or heart disease or difficulty breathing, I don’t recommend fasting.
Can an obese person of 40 yr, who has never fasted, successfully undergo fasting therapy?
Yes, but as stated above, the proper blood labs and physical exam must be done beforehand to determine whether this person is a candidate for fasting therapy.  There are many instances where middle-aged obese people have great success in fasting and reap some incredible benefits.  They can lose a significant amount of weight within days of starting a fast.  But, it does take the patient’s dedication to endure the fast.  Fasting can be extremely difficult for people, especially the first few days.  You oftentimes feel like you’re starving, get dizzy, have low energy, get headaches, but those feeling do pass most of the time by the third day.
About the Doctor
Dr MathreDr. Matthew Brennecke, MS, ND is a board certified naturopathic doctor practicing at the Rocky Mountain Wellness Clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado.  He prefers using natural therapies to pharmaceutical medication when possible, so as to limit side effects to treatment and sees a variety of patients with a range of chronic conditions.  He can be reached at Twitter@RockyDocFOCO or on Rockymountaindoc@yahoo.com
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A visit to one of the weirdest museums in the world: the Toilet Museum

Toilet Museum

When I asked someone about a shop, he said it was near the Sulabh Shauchalaya (Sulabh Toilet). That was a weird landmark, I thought, until spotting Sulabh International situated on a sprawling green landscape which does a number of commendable work in the field of sanitation. So I decided to visit the world famous and the most exciting of the Sulabh institutions – the Sulabh International Toilet Museum.

Inside Toilet Museum

The initial inhibition I had about talking on the subject of toilet and defecation was removed when Shikha, the guide at the Museum, explained the various types of commodes used different ages of history.  “Urination ought to be done at least at a distance of 10 cubits from the source of water. Defecation to be done at a distance of 100 cubits from the source of water.” read the Aryan Code of Toilets, displayed at the museum. Read this post to know now solar power plant drastically reduced the electricity bill of a hospital

toilet museumtoilet museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird exhibits

The Toilet Museum is unique and has been rated as the third
most weirdest museum in the world. There is an interesting collection of toilets and commodes from around the world. The mobile commodes used by the Englishmen during hunting camps and the throne like commode used by King Louis XIV of France. The museum also has charts and pictures about the the sanitation systems beginning from the Harappan civilization to the space age. A picture shows how bad sanitation system caused the black death in the 14th Century.

Toilet Museum

Works at Sulabh International

Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, the founder of Sulabh International, developed eco-friendly two-pit, pour-flush compost toilet technology, Sulabh Shauchalaya, for the individual households as an alternative to the comparatively expensive septic tank based systems. This Toilet technology has been recommended as a Global Best Practice by UN bodies for about three billion people across the globe. The advantage of the toilet system is its affordability and adaptability. According to the availability of material in the region the toilet is altered. One interesting toilet was for those who were used to defecate in the open. The toilet was roofless and with spiraling steps leading to the toilet, so that they can defecate without closing the doors.

Total usage of waste

Nothing went waste at Sulabh. The defecated were dried and used as manure. The urine and waste water was recycled to produced that was used for all purpose other than drinking. The garden lights is run on Bio-electricity and cooking is done with Bio-gas.

There was so much to learn from the trip apart from seeing some of the weirdest commodes in the world. Toilets and sanitation is an essential aspects of the lifestyle of a city. We need to talk about sanitation and hygiene as openly as we talk about health, diet and environment.

At 83, she is preparing for her next veterans athletics meet

When professional sportsmen hang their boot at 40, Daisy Victor began participating in athletic events when she was just few days shy of her 50th birthday.  “I am only 83 years old” says Daisy who runs and exercises everyday in the ground near her house in Madhavaram, Chennai, and she also hits the gym twice a week.  She also practices long jump at the Nehru stadium every week.  In National and International Veterans athletics Meets so far she has won 377 medals from 104 meets. She won 46 golds from 22 internationals meets and 96 golds from 33 national events.

Daisy, a former employee of BSNL in Chennai, and a mother of 6 children took up athletics seriously in 1981 when she participated in the World Veterans Athletics Meet in ChristChurch, Newzeland. Her biggest moment was when on her return from the event, she was introduced to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by the Flying Sikh Milkha Singh.

veterans athletics

Daisy’s indomitable spirit has inspired the youngsters, including her 13 grandchildren who are proud of their grandmother’s achievements.  During summer vacations, boys and girls come to her to get coached for athletics. Schools and Colleges invite her  to inspire the youth to make sports and exercise a part of their lifestyle.

Secret of her Success

“All my achievements is because of the Grace of God. He gave me the strength and talent to run.” says Daisy who wakes up at 5 in the morning and begins the day with prayer along with her husband Victor Sundararaj.

veterans athletics

“Though women are physically active through out the day with household activities, they need to do exercise everyday for their necks, hands, legs, etc” says Daisy who began running and winning as a school girl in Bellary. It was her father, who was a sportsman, encouraged her to participate in athletic events.

When asked what the elderly must do to be physically fit she said “They must do physical exercise and walk atleast 15 minutes everyday. The should not be walking leisurely but brisk walk”. Read this post to know more about the advantages of brisk walking.

She says people should follow a strict diet and a strict routine to remain healthy and fit. She takes very little rice, consumes a lot of vegetables and avoids snacks and tea as much a possible.

Her running and exercise has kept her away from certain hereditary lifestyle diseases. Says her son Stephen, “When she was 75, she argued with a doctor who said she was diabetic. She said since she is physically fit she should not be diabetic. But the doctor told her in her family diabetic begins at 35 years of age, so she should consider herself lucky as she could keep the disease away for 40 years.”

When most people struggle to walk a few miles at this age, Daisy travels everyday by bus and she talks to people, inspiring them with her own testimony of determination and complete faith in God.

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Palazzo pants for all occasions

Palazzo pants are loose pants that look more like a skirt. More often celebrities are spotted wearing palazzo pants paired with shirts, tank tops and jackets. And their style is enhanced with branded bags and matching  stiletto. To know more tips about losing weight read this post. 

Palazzo pants are the latest trend  of this summer. Women wear palazzo pants to malls, shopping, parties and tourist destinations. The long flowing pants looks very elegant and attractive when worn on all occasions. And in winters you can use the chiffon palazzo pants.

Why wear a Palazzo pant?

Palazzo is the style of this summer season.  Palazzo is not just for celebrities. With a little modification to suit the lifestyle, palazzo pant can be worn to office, parties and markets.

Palazzo pant gives an edge, in style quotient, so that the one wearing a palazzo stands out in a crowded metro or in an public event. Palazzo pants are loose flowing so they are comfortable to be worn to work.

How to wear a Palazzo pant?

You can wear a palazzo pant which is foot length and team it with a high heeled shoe.  Palazzo pant can be paired with traditional Indian tops like kameez; or with short shirts and tank tops.

Palazzo pants in different hues and materials

Palazzo pants are now available in silk, crinky chifon, chiffon and cotton variety and they have been adapted for the everyday lifestyle of the common man. For girls and women who want to look smart in office, in parties, shopping or for an outing; any time and every where the Palazzo pant is comfortable and stylish.

There are a variety of palazzo pants available in the market in various colours and materials. Pair palazzo pants with an elegant top and look pretty and smart for office, party or an outing.

palazzo pantsCrinkle Chiffon Palazzo pants as Party wear

Wear a loose flowing crinkle chiffon palazzo pants party wear with a matching long Kameez and look stunning at parties.

 

palazzo pantsPrinted Palazzo Pants for casuals

A printed cotton palazzo pants is comfortable for casual wear paired with a short shirts. 

 

 

 

palazzo pantsSilk palazzo pants for evening wear

This silk outfit looks gorgeous for a social event like a birthday party or an anniversary. 

palazzo pantsMatching accessories for palazzo pants

A matching pair of ear rings, colourful necklace or a stylish hand bag will increase the style quotient.

 

 

 

palazzo pantsPalazzo pants official wear

Get ready for office looking stylish, trendy, official and smart.

 

 

palazzo pantsMothers in Palazzo pants

A modern mom who is trendy and gorgeous in palazzo. Make sure that the palazzo pant bottom does not drag on the floor. The palazzo pants look elegant with a flat heel shoe.

 

 

 

palazzo pantsPalazzo pants for formal wear

Wear the palazzo pants with the trendiest kameez in the market. The best look comes when the palazzo pants are worn in contrasting colours with the top.

palazzo pantsPalazzo pant with prints

A printed casual looking palazzo pants can be worn to college on a normal day. Pair it with a short kurta of contrasting colour. 

 

 

 

palazzo pantsPalazzo pant with a short top

Who said palazzo pants are only for celebrities. Wear a short top with palazzo pants, wear a bead necklace and get ready for office any day.

 

 

palazzo pantsPrinted palazzo pants

Printed palazzo pants look elegant on college girls. Where ever you go you get noticed for the style and elegance.

 

 

 

 

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Fluid Fashion – Comfy cum stylish garment for modern women

Remember Kangana Ranaut and her LIVA, natural fluid fashion adverts that filled the national newspapers a few weeks back. Natural fluid fashion has come of age and is going to be the raging trend of the coming years. I can say this with confidence because celebrity fashion designer Anita Dongre designed summer collection for her brand Global Desi with Natural Fluid Fabric. And, whatever prints and designs Anita Dongre introduces every season is copied and recopied until the trend is adapted by every household in India.

It is said that we wear fashionable garments to impress others though we many feel uncomfortable in our outfit.  Fluid fabric being light weight and unfussy, makes the modern professional woman look elegant and fresh even after a grueling day of work and commuting. With bright colours and chic patterns Anita Dongre used the fluidity of the fabric to design outfits in her popular styles – traditional, boho chic, contemporary, classic, western, to stylish saris. The loose flowing fabric shaped into churidhars, western wears, maxi dresses, tunics, crop tops, high waist skier and T-shirt dresses are the right choice for the summer and fall.

fluid fashion 1The fluid fabric is launched by the Aditya Birla Group under the brand name LIVA. The fluid fabric is manufactured by extracting cellulosic fibres from woods from trees specially grown for this purpose. The fibre is said to be “natural and biodegradable, crafted from the choicest wood pulp”.

This summer when I visited Anita Dongre showroom to see the latest collection, the LIVA fabric outfits simply looked outstanding and attractive. With their free-flowing silhouettes and breathable drapes, fluid fabrics can be designed for regular or party wears. Be it a working day or a day out for a get-together, in our Indian culture we love to be draped in a Sari or wear colourful churidhars. But thinking about the discomofort and the work hassle that the outfit will cause we compromise. Either we wear a comfortable outfit and look plain, or we wear a fashionable wear and remain conscious the whole day about the dress, which will affect our productivity. This is were the new fluid fabric brings the balance, you can move about effortlessly and confidently in your favourite style of dressing.

fluid fashion 2

Fluid fashion is about looking and feeling good everyday, with the added satisfaction that we are not exploiting nature. Trees can be replanted which means the latest fashion trend is eco-friendly.

Natural Fluid Fabric is being rampantly used by leading designers to created their latest collections. Fluid fashion outfits are being sold by many renowned brands. Celebrities are finding the fabric a welcome change from the regular fabric that are welcome change from the boxy silhouettes or tight dresses.

The winter/fall collection are now in the market and there are yet more new styles and combination of the fluid fashion. The fashion Designers are planning to bring in more designs using the fluid fabric. I feel very Natural Fluid Fashion is getting trendier and very soon the wardrobe of every fashion conscious woman India will have fluid fashion outfits.

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Acupressure points for cervical and other disease diagnose

Aren’t their times when the doctor says that the disease was diagnosed too late! You are confused! You have all the symptoms of some kind of disease, but do not know whether to consult a doctor or not. If the doctor diagnoses a disease then your money was spent right. On the other hand, if the doctor says that the pain was just a feeling out of fear of falling ill, you feel silly! So here’s how to diagnose an ailment, with acupressure points, at home, before consulting a doctor! Read how fasting a powerful therapy to cure diseases in this post.
 
To know acupressure points for cervical, you have to press the meridian under the big toe (here point 5), if you feel the pain that means you have a cervical problem. Similarly, there are nearly 40 such points on the sole of the foot, and palm, connected to the internal organs. When pressing the point, if you feel a pain, then you has an ailment related the organ connected to this point. Even if you do not know the name of the disease you know which organ is ailing, so press the point for 3 minutes two to three times a day and after some days the pain will disappear. The acupressure points treatment has the origin in China.
acupressure points for cervical
Press point 5 and if there is pain, it mean some kind of cervical problem

Story behind acupressure points and other touch-and-heal treatments

It is said that in ancient India some people realised that the elephants would settle down quickly when pressure is exerted on certain points behind the ear using sharp objects. Ancient doctors used the same technique on the human. Using such manipulative technique the first surgeon Sushruta sedated the patients before surgery and revived after surgery. In the West treatment similar to acupressure points is known as Reflexology.

How acupressure points cures

‘Acu’ means to remove the toxic materials in the body; acupressure means to apply pressure to remove the waste material from the body. By pressing the points, for a specific time, a number of times a day, the organ will be cured of some common types of ailments. The acupressure points work on the principle that the body has an inbuilt mechanism to revitalise itself and to relieve the organs of some kind of tensions.
Historically all traditional forms of medicine are based on the idea of ‘prevention is better than cure’. If the disease is detected in the early stages, then faster relief can be attained from acupressure points treatment. If the disease is mild then the pain will be reduced in 2 to 3 days. In severe cases, it may take one or two months.    
 
A good thing about acupressure is that you can detect the ailment in its initial stage. When you press the meridian point on the sole or palm you will feel the pain even in the initial stage of the disease. So you can visit a doctor with confidence for further treatment. 

Acupressure points of some ailments

  • Burns: Strongly massage the middle portion of the front of the wrist.
  • Toothache: Every tooth has a corresponding point on a finger. Press the point continuously for three minutes.
  • Backache: Massage the point between the index and the middle for some time.
  • Chest pain: Keep pressing the middle of the back of the forearm.
  • Asthma:  Rub from the middle of the chest to the sides for 5 minutes. Then press the joint in the middle of the dip on the neck for 1 minute.
  • Constipation: Press the middle of the chin for 5 minutes daily before your morning routine.
  • Digestive System: Roll the soles of the feet on a grooved wooden roller for 5 minutes daily to activate the digestive system.
  • Acupressure: Treatment is also effective for corns, controlling hunger, obesity, painless childbirth, etc. 

However, there are some exceptions where acupressure points treatment may not cure. For instance cancer, large gall stones, mature cataract, and kidney stone.

 
When you should not use acupressure points:
  • Open wound or fractured bone
  • Contagious diseases
  • Tumour
  • Lymph nodes
  • Some points during pregnancy

8 Home Remedies for Fever and Cold

home remedies for fever and cold

Every working parent lives with the nightmare of children falling sick. When the dreaded thing happens, parents, have to ensure that the fever doesn’t go high resulting in pneumonia, fit or other complications. Before consulting a doctor, there are many preventive measures that can be taken using ingredients in the kitchen to ensure that the cold and fever doesn’t escalate. Home remedies for fever and cold are risk-free and without side effects.

Children are prone to cold and fever mostly during climate changes or when they are exposed to a new climatic condition. Home remedies for fever and cold will keep them immune to viral attacks. Give them a balanced nutritional diet and let them play outside the closed air-conditioned accommodations at least for an hour every day.Whatever steps you take there will be an occasional attack of fever and cold; Parents have to keep aside some day-off for such emergencies. No escape from that!

Always keep handy a few easily available ingredients, that are useful for home remedies for fever and cold. Whereby you can start natural, no side effect, remedies as soon as you see the first indication of cold or fever. Even when there is no sign of fever give a spoon of honey and inhale vapour steam after playing in the water, having a lot of ice creams or when someone else having fever or cold,…….

Also Read:5 summer drink recipes to beat the heat

Products mentioned below are always available at home. As the products are all natural, you can administer preventive dosage even at the slightest doubt of fever or cold attack. Home remedies for fever and cold are natural products from the kitchen, so they produce no side effect when used as a precaution against the onset of fever and cough.

Tulsi (Holy Basil)

Take a few leaves of Tulsi, wash it thoroughly and press the leaves to extract the juice. Add a tablespoon full of honey to the Tulsi extract.

Shallots

Sometimes referred to as small onions, shallots extracts are an elixir for fever and cold. Peel off the skin, crush, and then extract the juice from the shallots. Give the shallot extract in combination with honey and Tulsi juice.

Pepper

Crushed pepper with honey gives immunity against a cough and cold.

Honey

In the winter season if you take a spoonful of honey every day you can prevent a cough and nasal blocks.

Inhaler

Whenever there is a stuffy nose or a cough, use an inhaler added with some inhalation medicine. Close the room and leave the inhaler switched on for some time (Make sure to maintain the water level in the inhaler).

Crystal Sugar

There is a variety of crystal sugars with medicinal value. Crystal sugar can have every day. Babies can be given the sugar either as a powder or mixed with water.

Liquid Diet

Children refuse to take food when they have cold or fever. It is said that consuming less food is a natural process of the body to fight the fever and cold; there is no need to forcefully give food. Always give water as the body should not be dehydrated.

Rest

The best remedy for fever is to take complete rest. Most children recover after getting one day of complete rest – No games, only sleeping and drinking a lot of water. Parents should take a day off to give the child complete care & Love.
In addition, also keep some medicines handy at home as a cough syrup, a paracetamol syrup, capsules for inhalation, ……..

More Indian than you think

As India has a population of 121 billion, which is one-sixth of world population, Hollywood movies produced nowadays have an Indian angle to capture the Indian audience. May be it is an Indian actor, a shooting done in an Indian location or the story of an Indian family. Anyhow, Hollywood knows that Indians watch or buy only those content or commodity that has an Indian angle.

There is no doubt that the Indian way of thinking, contributed to the success of Lufthansa airways. In fact I started noticing the Lufthansa Commercial only because of the Indian angle given to the TVC #MoreIndianThanYouThink. The Lufthansa Airlines commercial shows the German Airlines serving Indian food and welcoming the flyers with a Namaste will capture the attention of any Indian.

Every state in India has a different diet, however one commonness in the spicy ingredients used in all the preparation. For instance, Keralites have mountains of rice with rivers of buttermilk and fish curry prepared in Kerala tamarind for lunch. A friend from Kerala who recently went on her first international flight trip, felt the food of the International Airlines she travelled were beggarly. For her the little bowl of spice-less rice was like having a starter. After hearing such experiences I firmly believe that Lufthansa Airlines providing Indian cuisine on the flight is a great blessing.

Be it the creamy layer of the Indian society, or a middle class Indian, when they go on a foreign trip they crave for spicy Indian food, so they sneak in electric cookers inside the hotel room and cook some Indian food on their own. When someone flies abroad their predominant worry is about missing authentic Indian food. Hence to know that Lufthansa will provide spicy Indian food on the flight is a great relief for the Flyers.

While staying abroad with my father when he was on an outside India posting, he used to always advise me to stick to Indian values. For instance in that place people used to have soft drink or coffee after Lunch and Dinner. My father said such habit is not customary to the lifestyle in India. After returning to India, I wasn’t fussy at all about food, and hence my cousins say they could hardly believe that I was abroad for 3 years.

On the other hand, I had a tremendous exposure to the cultures of various countries, and I watched more English movies and daily sops. And since my friends used to read a lot I also inculcated the habit of reading lot of English novels. Hence I had a cosmopolitan outlook, while following the culture, habits and dressing style which is very much Indian.

Ever since I got employed, I always worked in the English departments of media, educational institution etc. Staff in this department have an air of sophistication and western style of communication. Hence other departments feel a bit reluctant to mingle with the group. Wherever I worked I was the common link between the other departments; the peons and the helpers feel that I am one among them. They fail to understand what I was doing in the sophisticated English department. As far as I was concerned, I could get a sneak-peak and a better understanding of the different classes of the society. There is always a peculiar Indian touch in my articles because of my Indian lifestyle. I can give one example.

Once I was doing a story of the sugar level and other ingredients of popular soft drinks in India. I was not particularly happy with the story because all I had to do was to write about the sugar content and other ingredients of various soft drinks. I gave some box stories about the goodness of lemon juice and how sodas are made locally in India and so on. There was lot of appreciation for the box items, and the reader and reviewers felt that the Indian box stories were more interesting than the main story which was about the big soft drink companies in India. My typical Indian look and manners gave me an edge in inter-department communication that helped me in delivering all the projects provided to me with an Indian touch that was well received by the readers.

Definitely Lufthansa is thinking more Indian than I thought the German Airline could think of. Lufthansa Airlines will reap the benefit for being more Indian than I and all fellow Indians think.

4 Lent food of Kerala Christians

Yesterday, was Easter and the 40 days of fasting and 10 days of the passion week has come to end. This year many people said that they never knew that christian fasted and abstained from non-vegetarian food, including milk and alcohol, for 50 days in a year.

Fasting, abstaining from certain food, penance and praying has relevance in the Christian religion, from the time of Christ itself. Christ went on a 40 days fast in the wilderness, before beginning  his 3 years ministry leading to his Crucifixion and Resurrection. 40  days lent is one of the basic foundation the Orthodox and the Catholic churches, founded by the Apostles. Believers get purified, detoxified and they get the energy to survive spiritually for the next one year.

Christianity came to Kerala in the early days itself, when St. Thomas (who is know as Apostle of India), came to India in AD 52. In the past 2000 years, Kerala Christian’s tradition of prayer, food, and culture is a blend of the Bible, the life of Jesus, the association with other Apostolic Churches in the world and Kerala tradition.

The first forty days of fasting is purely full of prayers, fasting even without drinking water upto 12:00 pm; and having lunch after the Mid day prayer and kneeling 40 times. The simplest form of fasting is abstaining from meat, fish and egg for 50 day. The toughest form of fasting depends on the one who fasts. Some of the Ashram priests, it is said, have light lunch including kanji (water rice or gruel) and stir fried moong (green gram). And they have even lighter supper — Such men do not live by bread alone but by the word of God.

There are a lot of symbolism connected with the lent season, which raises nostalgia. Certain lent food prepared during the last 10 days of the passion week have lot of symbolic value. The 40 days of fasting ends on the Friday before Good Friday, and the next 10 days are dedicated for more prayers and more spiritual activities.

Here are some the food items which are symbolic of certain holy days of the Lenten period:

Lent Food
Kozukattai

Kozhukattai Saturday

The family of Lazarus, and his two sisters, Martha and Mary, was Jesus’s favourite. Lazarus died and was buried. On the third day Jesus came and rose Lazarus from the dead. It is said that Kozukattai was one of the favourite food of Jesus. He had kozukattai with Lazarus family. The raising of Lazarus from the dead is remembered on this Saturday.

People make kozukattai at home and share it with friends, relatives and neighbours. Kozuattai are steamed rice dumplings with a stuffing of cocounut gratings, jaggery and a pinch of cardamom.

 

Lent Food
Pesaha Appam

Vattayappam/Pesaha Appam

The tradition of Pesaha Appam dates back in the Jewish tradition 2000 years before the birth of Jesus. The Jews remember the Passover day when the Israelite’s left the Egyptian slavery and started their Exodus to Israel. During the preparation to leave Egypt, the Israelite’s were asked by Moses to prepare unleavened bread. On the day before his Crucifixion on Good Friday, Jesus observed the Jewish Passover festival with his 12 disciples, at the house of Mark. The ‘Last Supper’ painting of Michelangelo depicting the event is very popular.

Kerala Christian prepare unleavened bread or Pesaha appam (Pesaha mean Maundy Thursday) with rice flour and urad dal as the main ingredients. There are a number of different variation of preparing pesaha appam. And an accompaniment called Pesaha pal is also prepared. In traditional homes all the members of the family gather round the table, with the head of the family at the main chair. The youngest member of the family will ask the head of the family about the relevance of the festival. He will explain and distribute the appam to the family members.

Good Friday Kanji

Lent food
Good Friday Kanji

Rice Gruel (kanji) at the end of the long Good Friday service is a nostalgia for Kerala Christians. After fasting for the whole day, and having Chorukka (bitter drink) at the end of the service, the Rice Gruel, with stir fried green moong (green gram) and kadu manga(a special mango pickle) is an incomparable delicacy blended with spiritual and traditional values. In olden day the Kanji was served in earthen place with jack fruit leaves shaped as spoons.

Lent Food
Wherever Kerala Christians go they carry their tradition – Courtesy Roshini and Manu Stephen, ScotlandVellayappam

Vellayappam

Vellayappam is kind of dosa prepared from rice flour, crated coconut and; fresh coconut toddy or yeast used as leavening agent. On the two main festivals of Kerala Christians, Christmas and Easter, vellayappam is prepared in large numbers for the relatives, neighbours and helpers. For a Kerala Christian Christmas cake is exotic. For them vellayappam with chicken or mutton stew symbolises the celebrations of Christmas and Easter.

Meet Poonam Bevli Sahi a Painter and a Business Woman

She successfully manages two careers, as a Graphic Designer and a Painter with elan. Poonam Bevli Sahi has been running her designing studio, FACET, for the last few decades. She got many prestigious customers, Help Age India being the first, who design their dossiers and other communication material at her office. Many well known companies have got their designing works done with her for decades, as they trust her reliable and quality services.

When you go to her office-room there will always be an unfinished canvas which is being painted. And the canvas is the indication of her other profession as a Painter. She has been Painting, and wining prizes, since her childhood. Asked how she finds time for painting, in the midst of the already busy and time-bound designing career, she says steals time.

Poonam Bevli Sahi, I know her since I used to get the designing work done at her designing cum home, for the magazine that I worked with. There is an artistic feel in her home, beautiful wall hangings, artistically shaped furniture and everything placed in such a manner so as to accentuate the beauty of the surrounding. And the most attractive was the floating flower arrangement in a copper vessel.

Poonam Bevli Sahi has conducted a number of exhibitions both in India and Abroad. Many of her paintings are brought by private painting collectors around the world.

From March 2nd to 8th, she has been exhibiting her paintings at IIC, Delhi with the theme of the painting being ‘Life is a Circus’. She narrates the various  challenges in life which is similar to the tasks carried out by Circus artists. Circus is an unexplored theme in painting.

Poonam Bevli Sahi inherited her passion and painting talents from her mother who herself was an amateur Painter. Her mother was married young, and before starting her career at NCERT, she used to do a lot of canvasses.  And she used to visit, with her mother and sister, many painting exhibitions and interact with artist. The exposure to the world of paintings, she says constantly fuelled her passion for painting.

When asked whether painting, was a hobby, which she pursued during her free time, she reiterated that painting was her profession. Leading a disciplined life with proper diet, yoga and meditation helps to manage all the activities.

When asked about how she portrayed women in her paintings, she said that for her men and women are  equal.

In today’s world when women try to balance their family and career, like a trapeze artist, Poonam Bevli Sahi is an inspiration for women. With proper delegation, passion and hard work you can be successful in two parallel professions.

When asked what message she would like to give to the young women entrepreneurs, she said there is nothing impossible for women. Be consistent in your pursuit and you will achieve your dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering J Jayalalithaa

I got an opportunity to stay in Coimbatore when Jayalalithaa was Chief Minister of Tamil Nandu, and I got the chance to experience some of the benefits of her projects. Her administration and welfare reached the deserving.  You could feel the Amma touch, if she was behind the project.

During our first year in Coimbatore, we were staying in a rented house.  Some relatives, who were settled in Coimbatorefor decades, came to our home.  It was for the first time in their life that they venture to that part of Coimbatre. The old Coimbatorians,  could not believe that this part of Coimbatore, which was known for its notoriety and anti-social activity, has transformed into a well planned society with professionally and economically well off people settling there in beautiful mansions. Then they recollected that during her previous reign, J. Jayalalithaa had initiated a plan to ridden the area of the anti-social elements. And this beautiful well-planned settlement was the result of her efforts.

The other instance was when a friend bought a house in Coimbatore. Since her husband was busy with his job, she decided to carry on with some of the registration work. She called me for help. But we both were unsure as to how to go to the Government Offices and deal with the red tapism. Then someone said that all we have to do was to submit the papers at the Housing Board Office, go home, and watch the proceedings on the internet. It was a pleasure to monitor, on the computer, the movement of the papers from one department to the next. A colour bar showed the movement of the documents – the colours moving from red, to yellow, to blue and so one. After a week finally the green light glowed which indicated that the registration process was finally done. What a pleasure it was, in those initial days of internet, to comfortably get the registration done without frequenting the government office, and without paying any bribe. Government officials were scared of Amma to ask openly for bribe, that is what the residents of Coimbatore used to say.

And then J. Jayalalithaa made it mandatory that every building should install Rain Water Harvesting System. Building societies called meetings to collect funds for the Construction of Rainwater Harvesting Units. People protested and criticised the Chief Minister. Some said that the she was helping her relative sell pipes and water tanks. But the end result of rainwater harvesting is there for everyone to experience. According to experts the ground water level of the places were Rain Water Harvesting took place has gone up.

I stayed in Coimbatore only for few years, but many a times I use the above examples whenever I talk about development or administration. Inadvertently she left an indelible mark in the hearts and minds whoever went to her area of jurisdiction.

jayalalitha

3 New year resolutions for people with arthritis

Every year we take new year resolution to give up a bad habit or to begin a good  one. This years theme for World Arthritis Day on October 12th was “It is in your hand, take action” to live life to the fullest. Most of the people with arthritis, whom I know, put in lots of efforts so that they can keep in pace with the demands of the world and live life like normal human being. The excruciating pain, fatigue and disability are some of the hindrance for a arthritis patient. Some succumb to the condition, while other turn all the obstacles into opportunity. If those suffering from arthritis take some new year resolutions to improve their lifestyle then they too can live their life to the fullest.

Arthritis is becoming quite common in Delhi, especially after the yearly outbreaks of Chikungunya virus.  People experience joint pain and difficulty to walk even a few months after they had Chikkungunya. Now a days, if you stagger, people inquire if you were suffering from Chikkungunya.

There is lot of commonality between Chikkungunya and Arthritis pain, and in some cases Arthritis pain and deformation are triggered after a Chikungunya attack.  People of any age can get arthritis, but if you take some precautions you can avoid worsening of the  condition. If you chart out a healthy lifestyle pattern for yourself, some of the damages get repaired and you can enjoy a normal lifestyle.

Most of the arthritis patients I meet have come up with their own creative methods to mitigate the pain. Some rely on allopathic medicines, others on Ayurveda and some on herbal remedies. They now know which food causes pain and which one relieves pain.

On this New Year, those suffering from arthritis should take the New year resolutions to live life to the fullest. Here are a few, new year resolutions, ideas based on the experience of those arthritis patients who have overcome all odds by following a healthy lifestyle:

Eat the right Food

Preferably follow a vegetarian diet, which is easier to digest. Some fishes are good, but egg and meat are better not to be consumed regularly. Have lots of water especially on an empty stomach.

And sometimes it is good to fast. Most religions have fasting period in the religious calendar. If you follow the fasting with discipline that will help relieve the pain. If you have never fasted in your life, then consult a doctor before fasting. Arthritis is an auto-immune disease where the body cells are attacking one another. Experts say that  during fasting period the body cells get time to relax and repair.

Walking and Exercise

Of all the medicines, walking is the best prescription for arthritis. Some say that they walk instead of driving or riding a scooter. But that is not enough. Every day you must walk atleast 20 minutes, as part of fitness regime. Consult your doctor to find out how much time is recommended for your walking and exercise. Also find out if you are permitted to Jog. Walking is the best medicine for arthritis. If you walk atleast 5 days a week, you can maintain a healthy lifestyle. When you feel pain, doing exercise will mitigate the pain.

Meditation and Spirituality

Mental and spiritual well being is a crucial aspect of arthritis. The condition aggravates when one is mentally disturbed. Hence you should spend atleast an hour every day for Meditation. You must find the inner peace and the soul connect. Many patients with RA positive,and some even chronically bed ridden, claim to have been miraculously cured because of their belief in God. Some doctors recommend meditation  for an hour daily. Being at peace with oneself and avoiding stress helps in coping with arthritis.

 

 

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