Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Enjoy the count down......

 The countdown has begun..... a few more hours to clock 12 and the year 2013 will end. Nevertheless it gives rise to a new beginning, giving us time and chance to build bridge to our destinies. May the year truly be the emergence of a whole new peaceful and compassionate human world and a time of beautiful times. 

If you are a theist, May god be with you and bless you during all times. If an atheist, well, .........seek help and guidance from a greater force than you.  Stay blessed whatever your faith. 

As for me, entering the new year with lot of faith, hope, cheer , good will and many resolutions.....Ah, well. Resolutions.!!!! Hmmmm....:)

Here's wishing you all a happy, hopeful, cheerful and healthy new year.....enjoy the count down.......


Monday, December 23, 2013

Some precious memories with friends

Many a times, my family and friends have caught me smiling when I am alone. Even during my solitary walks or while traveling, I smile to myself and suddenly turn around to see if anybody has noticed me. Those are times when I reminiscence about some funny past. And an important part of my past are my friends S and A with whom I have made some beautiful memories.

S was my playmate and closest buddy who lived next door and studied in a different school. As best friends we would’nt let a third friend intrude between us, except during group games. We played lot of games and made lot of memories. One of my cutest memory with her is while playing the pretend game of house. (ghar ghar)

Her school mates would join us along with a few road friends and we would assign ourselves different roles of a family and play. We would get dal, rice, and other kitchen items in small play sets and would imitate the way our parents behaved. We would get creative with the natural things available around us. We would make a small chulha with 3 small stones as base put some twigs and dry leaves in between and burn them. We then would put rice and water and put it to boil. When we needed oil for cooking we would use the berries of the red vine spinach( basale soppu) growing in the garden. We would crush the berries till it yielded a slimy liquid and use this thick liquid as oil . We would pound the hibiscus petals with water and pour the resulting gel in the egg moulds and use it as yolk while baking fake cakes with mud. We had substitutes for coconuts, a weed which had berries similar to coconuts. Sometimes the gooseberries which fell from the tree duplicated as vegetables and so many more substitutes like that replicated our toy house. S's sister and my sister were 6 years younger to us and of the same age. We actually didn't want them to join us as they were too young  but our parents would insist we involve them too. Not knowing what to do with the 5 year olds, we would say "You both are men" and give them a newspaper to read and keep them away.

We knew no Fischer price toy house or Barbie doll house then. We used our mom’s saree or bedsheets to make a tent. Sometimes, we would put up a tile house. There were lot of mosaic tiles around our house. We would build a home with those mosaic tiles like the way you build with a pack of playing cards. We would place narrow flat stones or tile pieces as sofas. But the best part of our house was the doggie which we had in our play home. Guess what played the role of a doggie?

 It was a big dead cockroach( I hear you guys saying “eeks”) It was S’s friend Haseen’s idea. She would tie a dead cockroach to a thread and tie it a plant near by and called it 'Ruby'. Now whenever, I see a big dead cockroach on the road or in the car parking area, (my house is pest free), it reminds me of 'Ruby' and  a smile plays on my face.

Another friend with whom I share beautiful memories is my namesake  and college mate. She is my teen friend and so the memories with her are different.

We both have learnt carnatic music and like pop music. During our free hours in college, we would practice Cyndi lauper, Stevie Wonder, Wham, BoneyM, Madonna etc.,on our college staircase along with playing hangman. She and I have bunked classes( our parents knew) and would practice at her home which was close to the college. We had sung George Michael's 'Careless whispers' for our college day program held at town hall, along with 3 other friends( they too knew carnatic music and were good at Ghazals also) and it was a hit . We were overjoyed with the response and decided we must sing songs on Sportsday which was to be a week later. We had decided to sing  "Hooray hooray it's a Holi… holiday". We decided to maintain the tune  but we reworded the lyrics and made it as "Hooray hooray it's our Sportsday today"  and also many other lines were changed, we included the chief guest's name as part of the lyrics. We were so busy composing the lines that we were left with no time to practice. But we were confident that we were good singers and so we thought we would pull it off.

We went on to the stage confidently and held the mike. As we started singing, none of our pitch synced.  The base shruti(sur) was different for each one of us (we generally practiced with ‘sa pa sa’ to get the shruti right) it was a total fiasco at the start.   We were rubbing our palms, seeing one another and finally got off the stage giving a below average performance. All this in front of our chiefguest Cricketer SMH Kirmani. This was one of the most awkard moments of our life then for us. Thankfully, we were five of us. Many a times, when I listen to that song, I am reminded of that incident and immediately can’t stop smiling and my palm covers my face. This was also a learning experience for us " not to be overconfident and one has to practice however talented"

These are just two of my  memories  with them,  that i often re- run when i am alone.There are so many more that i can write reams and reams  about my memorable past with these girls.

With S, my friendship is so famous in our neighborhood and family circles that whenever one of our name is mentioned the other name follows.

With A, an year after college, I lost contact with her after she migrated to the US. And immediately an year later I received a beautiful picture post card from Italy where she was on a holiday mentioning her postal address. ( We did not have a mail id then)

And from then on there is no looking back with this friend so much so that even our husbands are friends now. So who says, men and women don’t sustain old friendships after marriage. Atleast, it does not apply for people like us.

Also, some say:
“A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil; but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and small, silly presents every so often - just to save it from drying out completely.”

Well, I can’t relate to the above saying too. Atleast not with genuine friendships. My friendship with these two girls built in the primary years of my life are so strong that a customary call,  sms or meaningless whatsapp is not required to keep in touch with them. They are built on a strong foundation of beautiful memories that even if we don’t communicate for an year, we pick it up as though we met just yesterday. Two days back was S's  birthday (dec 21st)  and when i spoke to her after many months, I could feel the same vibes as 3 decades back. There are no put ons of best behaviour or artificiality after all we have been through some of the awkward moments and learnt some life lessons  together, no formailities here also since we are familiar with each other's quirks and idiosyncrasies. Some friendships , I believe are cosmic. I am blessed to have two such friends one from my childhood and another from college.

We have not just grown together playing games, silly quarrels, watching movies, eating together, going for live shows,singing on stage shows, bunking classes, manipulating our meter reading in electronics lab but even the talks we have had must have strengthened the bonds too.  We have talked, talked and talked on many days endlessly all through the night. They were  about our dreams, desires,dresses, problems, discussing our favorite actors, movies, music, TV serials , crushes, leg pulling fun sessions etc.,  You just have to name it and we have done/ talked about it.

Hey! But wait……don’t name" makeup". We hav’nt done that. Atleast not with the above girls.Funnily, as girls till date, we have never discussed make up. Not even during teen years.

But , I have had my make up session too.

 It was with this girl who was in grade 6 and I was in Grade 7 then. She was an Indian born and raised in Texas, my neighbors niece. During her month long stay in india, she joined us to play. Since she stayed close to my home, It was I and her who played often. As an Indian raised in the US and a Bharatnatyam dancer, sarees and colorful make up fascinated her. She would draw out the make up box and all the sarees from her cousins wardrobe and would often doll her up and I enjoyed being her make up woman. She also loved my mom’s silk sarees and so my mom’s beautifully maintained sarees were also the casualty.

 It was also my first introduction to the makeup box, a red vanitycase. It contained the eyeliners, the eyeshadows, mascara, lipsticks, nail polish ,foundation,blushes etc.,. I loved the colors, the textures and the shimmers and often experimented with them on her face. A purple saree on her and a purple eyeshadow, a Red saree followed with a pink eyeshadow. The worst part was when the greens, hotpinks and purples had to be cleaned off. It once stained a green chiffon saree of her cousin. Anyways, it was not me who faced the wrath.  This was a friendship just to give her company for a month, nothing at an emotional level. More like a a seasonal friendship. If she had continued her stay in India, perhaps I would have ended up being a make up woman:)

Today, as I stand in my balcony and watch all those little ones playing, I can’t stop smiling as well as nodding my head that childhood memories are  definitely the best part of our lives. 

  Do you have such friends?  Have you  made such beautiful memories?

This post written for Indiblogger's Dove guessing game with a friend.

Pic courtesy: google images

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My window to the world - My Tab

  I am not a gadget freak and so frequently don't  upgrade electronic and up end technological devices.I hate the complications like the wires, the connectors, the battery chargers and all those mini luggage like leather folios and cases that come with electronic gadgets. Moreover, I consider them a dead investment and by frequently upgrading, i am a contributor to e-waste.That said, i don't deprive myself of technology. Everytime, I have to upgrade or buy an electronic gadget or device, i give a lot of thought and do comparison study.

I like anything that is portable, sleek, wireless and gives maximum utility value. Tablets I found is one of those functional sleek device . It is portable and I find it to be a mini version of a laptop and a maxi version of a smartphone. So, after a lot of thought and comparison study of various brands some 2 years ago, i decided to buy a tab. I zeroed in on a tab which was pretty economical and offered good value for my money and ordered it from an online store.

3 days later it was delivered at my doorstep. I opened the box and found the tab encased in a leather folio . I removed the tab from the case and the tab’s look for a moment reminded me of 'the slate'. The black thin slate which most children of my generation wrote on in pre-primary years. The stylus reminded me of slate stick (balpam):) Ofcourse, the similarity ended there, this tab was functionally and aesthetically different.

pic courtesy of slate: google

my window to the world - my  tab

From then on, the tab powered by android 4.0.4(icecream sandwich) became my companion on the move. It is my workpad and leisure pad. I do my official work, check my mails, skype, FB, twitter, read blogs, listen to music, connect on several of my family and friend groups like geni, yahoo etc.,. It has many uses like a dictionary, calculator , camera,paint, games etc., 

It moves with me to the kitchen when i am trying a new recipe, it moves to my study for work, to my balcony when i am skyping etc., Not just me, after return from school, my teens who are in class 12 and class 9 now, use it extensively to download pdfs, educational apps etc. Infact it, acts like a mobile online tutor for them since they don’t take private tuitions and most of their doubts are clarified by one of their most helpful and favourite free educational site. This mobile and portable device is used extensively in my home and often keeps changing hands and moves from room to room.
Other than the educational use, it has entertaining use too. Since the screen is bigger than a smart phone, one can watch movies, news and youtube videos on the go. The e-books keeps the reader in me happy. Many playstore apps(.apk) can be downloaded. You can download IRCTC app, book air, bus and rail tickets, movie tickets, mark weekend events, shop online,SOS apps etc.,

It also acts as a notepad and you can jot down your to do lists and shopping lists and there is no chance of losing/ fishing that list  out of your bag unlike the paper jotted one. Although i must confess here, i love using pen against paper. It gives a different high when you jot down your list manually and put a cross against the jobs done.

The biggest advantage is that you can surf/call through sim, wi-fi as well as dongle.

The only disadvantage is that I remove it from the clunky leather case when the keyboard is not required and then it is uncomfortable to handle the slab. The tab is smooth and slippery and so it has had many a risky falls while handling this way. This is also a pain while you watch the videos. With the folio, it occupies a major space in your hand bag. The recharging of the device is a huge headache when there are frequent powercuts. When not charged regularly, there is no life to any of these devices. The manufacturers must consider incorporating the electronic devices with solar charge panels.

To overcome such hiccups in android tablets, I understand,  Lenovo has come with a new solution called a betterway. The company has introduced an improvised and easy to handle multi mode  tab called Lenovo yoga tablet.

The tab has three unique modes, giving users a better way to use a tablet- to hold, tilt and place it in stand mode. The tablet adapts itself to the way people use. One can conveniently and safely carry it without a bulky case. What's more, it has 18 hours of battery life to fit the users mobile lifestyle. 

An ideal tab according to me should have Expandable storage, fast processor, quality display, long battery life, easy to handle, sleek, water/dust proof, light weight and above all has to be inexpensive /match the money.

This post exclusively written for Indiblogger's # Betterway contest in association with facebook.com/LenovoIndia

Monday, December 2, 2013

Washington-il thirumanam

Wedding in Washington  (Washingtonil Thirumanam) is a tamil play which I have been wanting to see since many years.

The play in original format is from a book from the same name . It  was  serialized (written form) in the 80’s in a tamil weekly called ‘Saavi’.  I then did not know to read my mother-tongue but the  witty illustrations that accompanied the story caught my attention.  I would ask my mom to tell me the story.  The story she said,  was  how a tambrahm wedding is conducted in Washington  where sourcing things like garlands, and other indian wedding needs were difficult and the humorous situations that lead to the wedding. So, when this story was adapted as play, it was on  my wishlist since long.

 Kalasagaram  a cultural center of twin cities staged Goodwill creations “ Washingtonil thirumanam”  last evening.  We started well in advance as  we  were aware that the Governor of AP was to be in the audience. There were lot of security checks  and also  we had to negotiate the mindless Hyderabadi traffic though the venue is only a few kms away

The story line like said above is  how  US millionaire couple Rockfellers  are charmed by the customs and rituals of an Indian(  read tambrahm)wedding. They are fascinated by the land of philosophy and spiritual significance. They want to witness  this and  so conduct  an Indian wedding in Washington DC. They sponsor a chennai based  middleclass family’s wedding in The US. The entire family, friends, priests, caterers, domestic help, goldsmith, florists  are flown in chartered flights from India to the US. Not even an appalam making paati (papad making old lady)is spared. She  along with her team lands in the US with  rolling pins to roll appalams for the wedding. (This story was written in the 50’s when event management or wedding contractors were unheard of)

The story is simple, but the drama’s lifeline is the liberal dose of  humorous situations and witty dialogues.

Some  of the funny situations are when thousands of appalams have to be rolled out and they find a huge terrace of a skyscraper to sun-dry the appalams, the priests interview by a reporter of Washington post  while doing sandhyavandanam on the banks of River potamac etc.,.  The rockfellers are smitten by the nischayathartham( betrothal), jaanavasam( baarat), Thaali( mangalsutra) and she thinks they are great fashion statements.

On the day of  jaanavasam (baarat)  a sambandhi sandai erupts( The quarrel between groom and bride side). The  groom's mama refuses to accept that there is no open car( like a horse in baraat, an open car in used for jaanavasam)  to take the groom around and there is no proper filter kaapi available to drink. He refuses  to drink the coffee made from milk powder and wants coffee made from cow’s milk. Mrs. Rockfeller who is watching the sandai (tiff) asks the bride’s party why cows were not brought in flight.  Just one of the comical situation to show to what lengths they would go to witness a real wedding in the US.

There is more wit in the play which rises due to lingual  mis-pronunciation and differences. For instance payasam(kheer) becomes poison,  appalam becomes apple-ham, idli as Italy, adhirasam as sweet pizza. Aiyaswamy becomes “Hai shamy to “ Hai shame” , panju  becomes punch etc

One of the highlights was when the actors descended down from the stage and the jaanavasam( baraat) went around the audience. The stage, props and some of the players made it seem so realistic. Two actors worth mentioning were Koothapiran( Natarajan) and the producer of Goodwill Kovai Padmanabhan. Excellent in the roles of Sambamurty shastrigal  and the groom’s mama( who quarreled).

The two along with the actor playing paati stole our hearts and there was thunderous applause when they delivered dead pan humorous expressions and dialogues. The rest of the cast was so-so.

I found the play not worth the hype. The story was written may be in the 50’s when going to ‘Foreign land’ (Read US) was a great achievement,  things like love marriage, internet and wedding management were unheard of. Some of the situations are not relevant to today’s times. Moreover since the 90’s almost every other second Indian has visited the US and there is not much glamour attached to the name US.

Although, it did not meet  my expectations( may be i had great expectations)  the hall echoed with laughter for every second dialogue and the huge hall was packed beyond capacity.  It was heartening to see that theatre had not suffered a huge setback due to TV and internet. A huge clap for people like Kovai paddu and Koothabiran( an alumni of Chennai’s beasant theosophical school, Kalakshetra) who are still keeping the art alive.  Both the actor are live wires and it was surprising to know that they both were 82 year old( amazing energy levels!).

The actor Koothapiran and the Governor who was the chief guest are supposed to be school mates. It was interesting to hear to  the 82 year old relate a few anecdotes of Kalakshetra,  The way he related  showed that communication is an art, those anecdotes could make another post.

Friday, November 29, 2013

When I embarked on " Mission Kodubale"......:)

Kodubale is a crispy fried speciality of Karnataka  made with rice flour. Shaped like doughnut, many people say it looks like a bale(bangle in kannada) and so it is named thus. This is one of my favorite snack since childhood and it is easily available in most Bangalore  condiment shops and bakeries. Especially, the iyengar bakeries of Bangalore make some of the best kodubales. 

My  parents home in bangalore was on a lane flanked by Belur iyengars bakery on one side and Hasan iyengar's bakery on the other, I have tasted this snack many times especially when the fresh batches of kodubales are put for sale during 3p.m. This snack was even a favorite with many of my relatives who travelled from other states so much so that when ever they left,  we bought them a packet too or whenever we went to their homes, we made sure a  kodubale packet  traveled with us.

Malti aunty, my parent's neighbour from mysore was an expert in making Karnataka dishes. They would often make it at home, since they observed kosher and never ate outside food. When she made the snacks she would share it with us. My mom learnt the recipe and she  started making them later.  The crispy crunchy and subtly spiced rings would melt in ones mouth . The ingredients for this are simple but the art of frying is very important.

They are available in  the so called Iyengar bakeries of Hyderabad( just brand name, not the original)  but they don't match the taste of the original  kodubale's . So I  had not tasted them for long. I frequently make Bangalore trips but my childhood/teens snack is not on my priority 'To buy'  list. 

      ( Pic courtesy: Google)

But, on my visit to my neighbourhood supermarket last week, i saw  'Maiya's products(MTR) exclusively on a shelf.  I  was tempted and immediately picked up a 100 gms  Kodubale packet from the shelf.

My fussy children too loved the crunchies and so the  packet  was gone in a trice and the taste was close to the ones I had tasted in Bangalore.  

Since my children loved this,  I decided to make these crispies at home yesterday.  The weather was also favorable, it was raining due to Lehar in Coastal AP and so an ideal weather to warm up in kitchen and do some experiment.  After a call to my mother to cross check the ingredients, I embarked on "Mission kodubale". 

My plan was to try  on a small scale  (10-15 nos)first .
 If the mission was a success , i would  make more numbers,  lug in DSLR to click the photos and renew my cookery blog.  Afterall,  It remains untouched since long.     But kodubale had other ideas. It decided If it makes to my cookery blog,  lesser readers would know about it, it instead made it to my 'Musing and rambling' blog . How?

Here goes, "Mission Kodubale"

I mixed the ingredients, like i said on a small scale so, i took a small cup each of flour& rice flour and half a cup chiroti rava.  but on mixing, the dough swelled in  capacity( did'nt anticipate this).

I rolled the dough into thin cylinders, made small ring  patterns , put them in the pre- heated oil. So far was happy with the outcome, a few more minutes and i would head into the balcony  with a plate of crispy hot  kodubale and cup of cinnamon green tea  along with my daughter.

My daughter who is on a pre-board leave, took  a break and just then walked into the kitchen. She  helped me in making roundels with the remaining dough  at the far end of  kitchen platform.

I suddenly remembered   the frying instructions and so lowered the flame to sim so that the interior of the kodubales too would be fried else they would turn raw while the outer turned crispy.  A few seconds later, all i knew was there a pop up from the oil, one of the kodubales had burst out of the oil and was floored, splashing oil all over the kitchen. I,  who was close by felt a few of the minor splashes but my daughter at the far end had a pretty bigger splash on her wrist(nothing serious though). And before we realized, there was another pop and splash, now I bravely switched off the gas and came  out of the kitchen. A  3rd and 4th followed till the 7th. By then we were watching the pops and splashes from the dining hall. 

All but two popped and i was left with two kodubales in the pan and an oily kitchen. The oil though less had splashed till the farthest wooden cabinet.  

After a hearty laughter session( it was real fun when it popped)  and narrating the incident to all our relatives, I ended up cleaning the kitchen with shampoos and washing soda. It will take some more time or may be i will not embark on this mission again. But the mission was not a failure........ it turned out to be an invention of "kodubale dosa".

With the remaining dough, i pulped  them with water in  a mixie and made dosa batter.  The dosa turned out  really crisp like wafers but could make only 6 wafer thin ones. It turned out to be kodubale dosas( like rava dosa) and served as lunch for my teens. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My mantra to build immunity and strength

When  little  children  come together, it is a fest for the germs. They become vibrant and make merry going around and  latching on to the innocent children, especially school going children.  These children  have lesser immunity to fight or resist the viruses/germs  and are prone to frequent microbial infections.

 My son was 2 months old when my daughter started schooling at 2.6 years. Every other week she would invariably pick up some viral infection from her school. There was  lot of cross infections between them during her early school years. Those periods were easily  a down time for me when both children were sick.  Much as I avoid separating or isolating them, the two of them would roll over each other and play.
At home, I was advised by my  experienced  elders who have raised many children,  not to take the children to the doctor for every cold/cough, since the doctors would treat them with antibiotics. They would tell me that it was normal for children to catch cold  and infections during their early childhood and it would only help build the immune system.

 Instead they suggested good rest and good home  made immune boosting  food and liquids for the children when they fell sick. Apart from the herbal decoctions like ‘Inji sorasam’( a herbal drink made with ginger, lime juice, honey and coriander seeds), and  ‘Oma sorasam’( made with ajwain ), tulsi tea etc.,  they would insist I add haldi to everyday cooking without fail.

Initially, I was apprehensive to follow their advice as she would  be missing her school and classes. So to get quicker relief, we would take our  daughter often to the clinic. After an hour  long queue and waiting at the paediatrician’s lounge , she was prescribed anti-biotics for 7 days. The  anti-biotic course  made the normally bubbly child  very cranky and less energetic. After 2 or 3 visits which were very frequent, we refrained from taking her and resorted to time tested immune boosters which our  elders prescribed.

Some of which I followed:

·         Good hygiene: washing hands before and after food, covering the mouth while coughing,  using own hanky etc.

·         Good rest: sleeping on time and ensuring a minimum sleep of 7 hours.

·         Physical activity :  Playing in the warm  sunshine/ exposure to early morning rays ( good source of Vit D) , outings even in the wintry cold ( exposure helps build resistance) and  deep breathing early in the morning ( it was more  like a fun time activity when we walked into the balcony to have fresh air).

·         Herbal foods: lot of liquids  in the form of ajwain water(gripe water) ,  tulsi tea, nelli mulli tea( amla),haldi milk,  deepavali legiyam  ( an  awaleha similar to  chyawanprash made at home by elders specially during diwali but would last through the year), tender leaves of neem ground with haldi and jaggery, ajwain ka patta,  etc., were given seasonally and they came in handy to combat the seasonal changes, to build immunity and detox.

·         Home made food:  Most immune boosters  are in our kitchen spice box. Most Indian traditional  foods  are made with these -  jeera,  black pepper(excellent detox), asafoetida (anti-oxidant), curry leaf( vit c)  coriander seeds, chilli, mustard*, haldi** etc.
 The food which they liked and  which was a part of our daily diet was pepper rasam.     Pepper Rasam served with mashed  rice and ghee with a dollop of dal was a healthy food during winters( soupy consistency).  I would use lemon juice for the tanginess of rasam . By itself, this was a  healthy food. To it, I would add a herbal pack called ‘Samahan’ to keep them away from common ills. Once a fortnight, I would even make  a rasam called ‘Vepampoo rasam”( from sundried neem flowers, this  rasam had all the 6 flavors of sour, sweet, bitter, salt, astringent and pungency )

·         Seasonal vegetables and fruits completed their wholesome diet.( it was difficult getting them to eat veggies and fruits and so had to try many tactics like camouflauging them in soups and juices)

                                               Physical exercise through games and a dose of sunshine


T                                  seasonal traditional diet involving a dash of immune boosting spices

vegetables and fruits

As they grew, they found it boring to eat the same old diet of fruits, veggies and they disliked the herbal smell of samahan . They developed a taste for global cuisine (continental  & Chinese ) and it was difficult to get them to drink the kashayams ( herbal teas) and bitter  concoctions.  Moreover, even my time was at premium and I found it difficult to make all those herbal teas during times of need.

I relaxed the food habits  as they were growing,  after all they were around 8 and 5+ years.I allowed them some variety and so they did eat the  Cheesy pasta, burgers  or noodles occasionally but Indian diet was a must. At the same time,  I introduced them to   “Dabur’s  Chyawanprash” which took care of their immunity and strength.

Now 9 years later, They themselves are conscious eaters. They eat balanced food but  the stress of  handling  a vast syllabi, school projects,co-curriculum and environmental  pollution  have caught up.  They now have erratic sleeping hours thanks to their project submissions( at short notice), coaching,  school work,  play time,  and TV time.

Very importantly, they still don’t miss  their meditation and pranayam. Thanks to the school which has made it a part of  their curriculum  additionally they also chant the Gayatri mantra  which strengthens their mind too.

Their immune  and strength is still  boosted by Dabur’s “Chywanprash” which they have it on their own (like jam) without any prompting. Coughs and cold are taken care by Dabur's Honitus.

                            The above are some of the ready made products i use from the trusted brand " Dabur"

Drawing from my own experience, 

 I would suggest Hygiene, nutritious  Indian diet, seasonal vegetables and fruits,  sufficient rest and moderate physical activity are the mantra for boosting immunity and strength.

This post exclusively written for Indiblogger's Immune India in association with Dabur Chyawanprash

* Mustard - That little step called seasoning I would always miss in cooking and found it a waste of time, but later realized is one of the most nutritional step having massive health benefits. Thanks to my elders who insisted on tempering the foods.  The mustard seeds are powerful immune food.

** Haldi( again  a powerful immune booster)  which we use in our every day Indian cooking is the most talked about in the ‘Western world’ now. GNC, a famous American nutritional supplement brand sells pure turmeric as a capsule and calls “ Powerful Ayurvedic antioxidant”. Just a teaspoon of this boosts your immunity and keeps various diseases at bay.

Disclaimer:  This  is just preventive care and cannot be substituted or treated as medical advice. I have related my experience, children with asthma and other ailments may need special care. 

Pic courtesy: google images,the last one (dabur products) is mine.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ancient knowledge to raise healthy generations

Every parent  wants to raise a healthy and well developed child. So as parents, we ensure and encourage they get the best possible health and developmental care since the day they are born by immunizing and vaccinating the infants against various diseases.  These  early health care  help them in having less chance of getting infected or developing major illnesses as they get older or as they go through life.

In Indian families, we also have the privilege of our experienced elders like nanima, dadima, patti and ajji’s  who are richer in native wisdom to help us  in raising a healthy and well developed child. Most of these native wisdom or traditional knowledge has its roots in one of India’s  ancient medicinal system ‘Ayurveda’.  I  have observed, followed and experienced this science of healing which helps one in keeping fit and healthy.

 I strongly believe and practice  home made remedies, granma’s remedies or Ayurvedic remedies when it comes to primary health and wellness issues even today.  To relieve from pains, aches or common ailments like cold and colic pains the various spices, herbs and herbal teas (kashayam/khada) and powders of ayurveda  are my Doctor in need. In days of yore and even now in some house holds like mine, if the child or anybody had cough, they’d mix a pinch of turmeric, a dash of pepper in warm milk or give fenugreek seeds for a stomach ache.

I still remember, night was the time when my children would cry and complain of all those aches and pains   and the clinic was my kitchen.  I have my reasons for relying on this time honored  and trusted practice.

Long long ago, I and my brood  of cousins were born in our Grandparents home at Mylapore(Chennai). Though, we were born in an hospital under a gynaecologist and went to a paediatrician for our vaccinations . Patti(grand mom)  relied mostly on ayurvedic and home made medicines for post natal care of her children,  the  healthy developmental growth of her grandchildren and to treat  the  common ailments and other growing pains.
She also had her older sister  who was a rich source of traditional knowledge, the Venkatramana ayurvedic hospital  on one side and the  herbal apothecary ‘Dabba chetty kadai* on the other side to aid her.
My  mom often tells me how I would catch cold frequently as a baby and my grand mom used to make vettrilai kashayam( betel leaf herbal tea) and administer it to me through a shell shaped drinking aid called ‘sangu’  in the night and  I would be relieved of the nasal congestion in the morning.
I was 6 years old when my sis was born, and she would always cry of colic pains in the night. She was given allopathic medicines like Piptal by her paediatrician which never stopped her cries, but my  grandmom’s elder sister would burn a piece of dried rhizome over a flame of sesame oil lamp. The ashes of the burnt rhizome  were mixed with honey and given to her and she would sleep peacefully thereafter. The dried rhizome  piece is called Vasambu ( Acorus calamus/Sweet flag) and is a veritable treasure trove used to treat children and very young infants.
This vasambu has many goodness properties  that it is fondly called ‘Pillai marunthu’ (infant’s medicine) in Tamil. It is believed to have a positive effect on the mental development, to relieve colic problems, regulates body heat and bowel movement. It is believed to improve a child’s voice and enhance his or her intelligence.  It is a popular ingredient  for the remedies of cold and cough and other bronchial and respiratory disorders. It is also a good sedative for infants since it has the property to act on the central nervous system. It also acts against flatulence, dyspepsia and vomiting. Overall, a wonder herb that is good for overall good health of body and mind.  In most traditional homes where ayurvedic medicines are practiced,  it is a tradition to insert a gold wire into the vasambu  and rub it against a grinding base stone to make a paste out of it. This paste is then mixed with honey and just a little of the mixture is smeared on the tongue as a daily ritual. It was a ritual at our grandparents place too.
 There is no shelf life or expiry date for this dried herb  and so it does not lose its medicinal properties even if it is old. Many  young parents still  tie this with a soft  string around the waists and necks of their children to keep them away from insect bites or make beaded bangles out of it. I still use them in my cupboards to ward off grocery pests since it is a natural insecticide and keeps away insects.

Apart from my parental home experience, my marital home is another  native wisdom treasure, since my husband’s grandparents, grand aunts, uncles have good experience of this ayurvedic knowledge.
Both my children have had oil massage bath with sesame oil (in ayurveda, it is called queen of oils and is the only oil to penetrate all seven tissues) and  pure castor oil as purgative every alternate day. This is done to cleanse the system of the baby which is mostly on milk as food. This is called Rasayana chikitsa in ayurveda.  An oil massage bath first and a purgative later to detox.
Similarly, sesame  oil  which has multi healthy benefits in pure form is also applied over the eyelids and softly brushed over the eyes while giving bath for the kids to ensure a good vision.
Pure castor oil as purgative is administered in little infants to cleanse the tummy of infants from milky wastes.
Apart from the above, Jathikai(nutmeg), Masikai(oak gall), chitharathai(thai ginger), adhimadhuram( liquorice),  ajwain kashayam, jeera kashayam, Tulsi kashayam and many more ayurvedic herbs and teas were used to knock off all those growing and infancy pains /problems in infants, overall development and to ward off major health issues later and build a good immune system. 
All these herbal practices were conducted as  certain traditional rituals  and done regularly to ensure a healthy start for the child. Since a healthy start to life encourages good health and wellbeing throughout life.

In many Indian homes, where ayurveda  has been a way of life for the elders  there is a ritual for new borns, where  gold ring is dipped with honey and ghee and rubbed on a new born’s tongue. This is believed to stimulate the brain. Even rituals like piercing of a child’s ear on their ayushhomam( first star birthday) is followed  from ‘Bala chikitsa’ branch of Ayurveda. The room where the baby is kept is sterilized with smoke from medicinal herbs to have sterilized and clean air.   All these rituals have its roots in Ayurveda.
In the last few years, the attitude towards ayurvedic medicine has changed and people are conscious of their well being. India is going back to its roots and leading the world too.
 Many people would rather not prefer to get treated for their everyday ills at the neon drenched, swanky corporate hospitals or even poly clinics  that slowly drain their life savings.  Many prefer ayurvedic remedies  and  today there is an awareness  that  herbal medicines are food that cures and are natural materials, most of which are part of our everyday diet.
Infact, new age media  talks effusively about fitness, nutrition and terms like ‘Wellness’,’Holistic’, ‘Spa’, ‘ balanced lifestyle’ and ‘detox’.  All these were known to our elders and were part of their daily life,  though they did not have glamorous names.
  So, my strong belief  in Traditional knowledge which leads to natural growth.This post exclusively written for the above prompt from Indiblogger in association with Dabur lal tail.

                                the above ayurvedic products I use for everyday ills

*     - (Dabba chetty kadai is  the  fond name of a small shop which stocks ayurvedic herbs and other spices in small pigeon holed cube like boxes  hence the name ‘Dabba’ meaning box  and chetty is the business community of Tamilnadu, kadai meaning shop. It is  famous for herbs and ayurvedic prescriptions like postnatal medicine, paediatric medicine  and other homemade  ayurvedic drugs and has clients across the globe.  A tiny shop which has defied time is 128 years old and doing brisk business even now at Chennai's Mylapore)
P.S: This was a post which i wanted to write since the last couple of years.  It took a prompt from indiblogger to make a post on this. Thank you Indiblogger and Dabur.
Pic courtesy: Google images, last one is mine.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Not GOD, but.......

“Ma, come and see this. ”   - That was a call from my 14 year old  who was watching TV. Knowing very well, what he was watching and my lost interest in that, I dismissed his call. He called out again, “ “Amma, don’t miss this historical moment, do come and watch”.

Historical? Or is it hysterical?

 I did’nt tell him, but told that to myself.

As a subscriber to newspaper, newschannel and a few books, I was annoyed with the media, print and electronic  and even the public for building  news only about him in the past few days.  No other news was given more prominence  not even Anand-Carlsen match.

Almost every other media, talked about this so called GOD.

He was brilliant alright, but GOD?!

No ways, mortals like me don’t understand. I too have been a huge fan of cricket during my school days but don’t understand the love and adulation by the media and his fans to raise him to the pedestal of god. I have seen how his fans reacted the moment he came on ground on his 38th birthday. I was witness to this event. Like I have written in that post, more than the game, I was watching how crazy the fans were of him. Although it was a match between MI and DC of hyderabad, the locals supported him .

Since I had no interest in the game anymore, neither was I a fan of  ‘GOD’, god particle or whatever.  I was least interested to watch  his retirement , what some call  as ‘end of an era’ .

  But then, for my son’s sake,  I walked over to watch the TV and yes, his thanksgiving speech moved me and made me emotional too. The crowd reacted the same way that I saw some 2 years ago  on his 38th birthday.

His body language showed what a fine human being he is. The words struck like genuine . Rare are the people who remember their mentors and makers. And here was the man who mentioned everyone in his speech and he did’nt even spare the pitch.  The speech struck an emotional chord with me too.

I was a huge fan of cricket in my teens, not anymore. I won’t raise Sachin to the pedestal of God but….

he definitely seems like a fine humble human from his farewell speech.

Put your fan following to good use, Sachin! Happy retirement!!