Saturday, May 9, 2015

An update

I have stopped writing this blog. I have been of late concentrating on writing poems and books.
I recently published my first book of poems on Amazon. Here is the link for those interested.

I am now working on a book.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A picture speaks more than words: On Janmashtmi day-

Krishna Janmashtami  was celebrated yesterday. This is the day that Lord Krishna was born. Krishna as a child was very naughty and is said to have loved maakhan or ( white butter) and would often break pots to steal butter.   The festival is  therefore celebrated by enacting the Dahi Handi where a clay pot filled with curds, coconut, sugar, banana and money is tied at a considerable height. Young men form a pyramid and break the pot!!!

And young kids dress up as Krishna. Here are two pics:
One of the Dahi Handi
and second something that can happen only in India- A muslim couple with their kid dressed as Krishna:-) I love India.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Going gray- I have stopped coloring my hair- daring to show my white roots:-)

It was a momentous decision for me. The thought that had been in my head for a year and today was the day I decided I am going to stop coloring my hair. Like most Indian women I had a lovely mass of black brown hair till my late 20's. Then the grays started and I started applying mehendi, which gave the gray strands a lovely red hue, and my hair was indeed my crowning glory. Soon though from few the gray became more and more and hence I started using these ugly chemicals for my hair. I have been hating it and still persisted using it for the last 19 years!!!

Last year I turned 50 and have been reflecting on all those fundamental issue of life and this is one of them.   While I was focusing on healthy diets and trying to incorporate  chemical free foods,  I had continued  using these chemicals for my hair.  Using these colors and then those shampoos and conditioners had reduced my hair volume too.  The color was a horrible looking black with the hair quality  gone from  a smooth to some strange texture.

So enough is enough. I have decided, no more!
I know it will be while before I get the nice white golden hair that my mom has, and in the transition phase I will look like a frankenstein monster, hey who cares!! 
This is real freedom, no spending money on those expensive branded chemicals and making companies like L'oreal rich! I think if I had invested all the money that I spent on these colors, shampoos and conditioners and cosmetics, I would have had a big chunk of money in my savings account right now:-).  So I have wizened up better late than never right? Let Aishwarya Rai keep using them! ( The woman gets paid to do the commericals!)
  I will go back to my all natural wonderful white silky hair. Three cheers to me, for taking the first baby step to becoming a li'l older and  a li'l wiser.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My reflections on India

Yesterday, my young niece Antara shared her views on India. Reflecting on her views, I was happy with her sense of cultural pride and her appreciation of all the good things about India.
Her enthusiasm to see India race to the top is admirable. Being older, I for one hope that India does not do anything in a hurry and join the mad race to get anywhere.

I want India to take her time, and learn from the mistakes made by other countries and evolve a path that would make her reconnect with Nature. I hope India treads the path not of competition, but one of cooperation and collaboration. I hope she regains her position as a fount of not just knowledge but wisdom, and spirituality. I hope she retains her family traditions and I hope she  will de-emphasize the focus on synthetic chemicals that have harmed Nature and all living creatures.

I hope she grows more trees, she saves her forests, and her animals. I hope she enables women to live with respect and I hope that India regains her magnetic attraction and draws people from all over the globe and continues to integrate inspiring thoughts, art, music, food, and cultures from all corners of the world, so that Antara and all the coming generations continue to feel the healthy pride of being an Indian.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Antara's views about India

This post has been written by my 12 year old niece Antara who wants to share her views about India with you.

India has always been known for its various traditions, cultures and of course the bond of love and peace which has acted like a warm blanket of protection for years.

Although India has been through a lot of difficulties during the early stages ...... India still stands as one .

India has also been blessed with outstanding natural beauty.

It is surrounded by the HIMALAYAS which stand as formidable barrier and has historically helped protect the country from inv

India has also been endowed with different forests that are rich with a great diversity of flora and fauna. India's forests are a tourist delight as we get to see a wide varieties of animals and birds, starting with the common monkeys and deers to bears ,tigers, lions and of course the one horn rhinos that roam in the forest of Assam.

Our national anthem the "Jana gana man' also tells us about the beauty of our country in a poetic form.

India has been the birthplace of great people like Mahatma Gandhi also called the father of our nation, Rabindranath Tagore , one of the best poets of our nation to name a few.

Sadly we Indians nowadays are forgetting to appreciate the beauty that is gifted to us.

India has been a prosperous country in the past, and is now poised to regain it's stature in the future. Although economic growth has been a little slow in the past 2 years, but there will come a day when India will be racing towards a place in the top.


pls comment your views about india

Monday, March 25, 2013

Aachaar- Tongue tantalizing pickles

The english word pickle doesn't do justice to the spicy concoction called aachaar. Aachaar is a hindi word, and upinkayi  (Up- means salt; and Kayi is unripe or raw) is the kannada word for achaars.  You can tell me what achaars are called in  your  own mother tongue!

 Making pickles and papads used to be a summer time activity in most middle class households.

My amma would go with my appa to the local market and buy 10  or 20 kgs of raw mangoes or limes.

These would be then washed thoroughly and spread on a clean towel and left to dry.
Then they would be wiped dry again and cut into the desired sizes using an Indian cutting device called the Eelgemanne. (It is made up of a block of wood with a bowed knife with a disc shaped grater at the end of the knife  that serves as grater to grate coconut).

 During my childhood, I recall my grand ma and mom slicing raw mangoes during the summer season.   The sliced mangoes or limes would be then be mixed with rock salt and placed in ceramic jars called "bharnis" . The pickles would soak in the salt for 2- 3 weeks and then freshly roasted red chilli powders would be added to the pickles and allowed to marinate for a few weeks more.

The smell  of raw mangoes and my pet dog Roohi, drooling, her taste buds tickling in anticipation of a slice to eat is also strong in my memory.  I guess just like mangoes make us salivate, apparently they have the same effect on dogs too. Roohi was a vegetarian dog!

To come back to achaars, In India we practically make achaar's of every kind. Limes, lemons, chillies, gingers, mangoes, carrots, amala, tamarind.. A special ginger called the mango ginger which belongs to the ginger family but smells like raw mangoes is also used to make a  mild and refreshing chaar that goes well with curd rice!! 

North indian achaars make use of mustard and mustard oil, whereas south indian achaars usually are made of red hot chilli powder and salt.

The dry achaars, the wet achaars, the saunf filled achaars. The  north Indian achaars are less spicy , and are great to be enjoyed with piping hot parantha's. Mixed punjabi  achaar's are my favorite!  If  you can't get your favorite chachi to make them for you, get them from your local punjabi stores.

Among south indian achaars, here is my favorite brand of  achaar! :

Narsu's Vadoo Manga is one of  my all time favorite brand of whole mango pickle. They used to be extremely spicy, now less so, and some may find them a little  salty ! But I freak out on them! I remove recall as an 8 year old I would wash these pickles to remove the excess spice and eat them.

Despite the washing, the tender mangoes would still be fiery hot, as a scientist I know now that chillies  open up a receptor called the TRPV1 which allow the spicy sensation to be conveyed to the brain!!
In Karnataka we also make a upinkayi from a citrus fruit called Herlekai. This is even yummier than the common lime pickle. I think think the thicker skin of this fruit makes it tastier.

 I will try to get the pic of Herle kai soon!

A meal seems less complete without the achaars. What do you say?


SouthIndian Filter Coffee- The morning cup of joy

As the golden sun rises over the eastern horizons,  most South Indian households wake up to soothing sounds of  MS Subbalaxmi's Suprabhatam and the aroma of freshly brewed filter coffee.  Coffee holds a special place in my heart.  Coffee in India is grown in the lush green hills of Coorg (aka  Kodagu in kannada)  in Karnataka, India. Coffee plantations are delightful places to enjoy a holiday. Coffee is grown along with pepper and betel leaves in these plantations.

Coffee arabica and coffee robusta are the two varieties of coffee grown in Coorg. The peaberry coffee with it's small rounded perfect bean is a connossieur's delight.  Despite all the wide variety of electric coffee devices available, my personal favorite is the simple stainless steel filter.

It all begins with a trip to the local coffee roaster shop, where you buy freshly roasted seeds.  The aroma of freshly roasted coffee can send me into raptures. In fact my mom used to roast and mill fresh coffee powder using a cute little coffee grinder at home. These days we generally pick fresh roasted, milled coffee powder.  The coffee needs to be ground as per the device you will use to brew coffee.

In the 1930's, my grandmother used to use simple sedimentation methods to brew coffee. The coffee would then be strained through a fine cloth. I also recall  jaggery  being used in place of sugar to sweeten the coffee with the addition of freshly milched milk.

The filter is a simple device, where you place the coffee on the top container and add hot water ( water should have just reached the stage of boil, it should not be boiling) for the perfect cup.

Inside the top container is a broad holed strainer that prevents the water from draining too fast into the snugly fit container below. Add sugar to taste and freshly boiled milk.  Pour these into steel containers and with a swift elongated movement of the hand pour it into another container. This process repeated a few times will ensure a frothiness to the coffee! Now relax and enjoy your morning cup of joy!!!

Quite a few South Indians use a chicory flavored coffee. Chicory is also called coffee weed. It is a plant with blue flowers and dark roots that are dried and roasted and added to coffee powder. It is an acquired taste that I have never been fond off. I like my coffee straight with just the right amount of sugar and milk!!

When I lived in the US, I have had the opportunity to taste a variety of coffee ( Colombian, French roast, Venezuelian etc) and for a while I did indugle in the American black coffee, but my favorite brew will always remain the south Indian peaberry filter coffee:-)