Category Archives: Earth is our Home

Not My Cup of Tea

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In India, a cup of tea is the most common beverage to kick-start your day.

Extensive promotions of Western-style coffee bars that have sprouted across the country luring the ‘cool’ generation with lattes and other caffeinated beverages are yet to rob a country of its love affair with a hot glass of ‘chai’.

In my family, tea is more than a ritual that you begin your day with.

It is the elixir of life itself.

The deliciously warm magic potion became a joyful addition in times of happiness, an aromatic balm that can soothe your sorrow, a faithful companion on a bored day, a welcome addition to the warmth and flavor to a plate of crispy ‘pakoras’ on a rainy day, a soulful mate fueling your thoughts in times of quiet intellect or simply because you crave for yet another cup.

It has been the essential and integral part of the rhythm of life for every member of my family – except me.

I was the Horlicks baby who had the audacity to throw up at the mere sight or aroma of my family’s favorite beverage.

I gradually got used to relatives stop midsentence an intense session of gossip and stare with their open mouths unceremoniously showcasing their tea- stained dental makeup when they heard me refuse a hot cup and chose to sip on water instead. Mother was bombarded with questions as a few handy tips were thrown in along with plotting ways to introduce me the beverage before I turned into a complete anti-tea outcast.

A few had gone a step ahead and declared that my I-don’t-drink-tea ways might even come in the way of my happy marriage, an area of research that even the acclaimed Stanford University is yet to prove – the correlation between a happy marriage and passionate drinking tea.

Luckily, my in-laws or the husband are blatantly unaware of this prophecy as they are more than happy to lend me a cup of coffee during tea times at home.

To this day, I have friends and family who don’t waste a moment to comment on my antisocial untea-friendly ways as I politely refuse a cup and stick to my choices.

Over the years, I have fine-tuned my tea making skills with variations as per what the occasion demands. I have even come to enjoy ‘the Sulaimani’ or the spiced black tea.

So if you happen to visit us at home, be sure to enjoy a steaming cup of cardamom or spiced ginger or mint tea but with a traditional filter-‘kaapi’ lover for company.

Recycling Slogans for a Greener Planet

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Little Princess took a cutout of the Honorable Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, embracing the French President in a bear hug at their meeting in Paris where they together put a common front on the need to fight for climate change, for her ‘news clip of the day’ at school.

The rest of the evening was spent repeating the words, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi says, we need to save our Earth.”

What was left unsaid was that as Mr. Modi vowed to protect the environment just as Mr. Trump dumped the Paris Climate Pact while the self-assured new diplomat from France – Macron – had gone a step ahead and recycled Mr. Trump’s slogan –  ‘Make our planet great again’.

As we leave the future of dear Earth in the hands of our political leaders hoping it gets a much-deserved new lease of life and a breath of fresh air –  are we doing our tiny bit to sustain our home – for us, our future and our children?

Little Princess and her class decided to celebrate Environment Day with puppets made from recycled material. I wondered what could be ‘effectively’ recycled – the cozy couch that was the husband’s favorite seat, the television or could it be Sid’s cricket bat?

We settled for Sid’s old socks, old newspaper, lots of old buttons and yarn. Even my cousin (God bless her) did her bit and recycled her daughter’s doll’s dress (without her daughter’s knowledge of course) for me.

The puppet which was carried to school with much zeal has not yet returned and the news clip continues to make its trip to school and back untouched.

But when I left an empty can of milk by the kitchen counter, Little Princess picked it up and dumped it in the little bin that holds old plastic and cans that will soon be dropped at the nearest recycling center and she jumped up and down saying, “Prime Minister Modi says we need to save our Earth.”

Okay, I have done my bit!

 

References : http://gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/macron-finds-his-feet-in-a-world-of-strongmen-1.2038431

The Health Bait

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As a child, hospitals meant dreary places with stark white walls that reeked of disinfectants, ruled by doctors who reminded me of villains in movies brandishing big syringes instead of shiny black guns. The unsmiling nurse who wielded his stinging powers with cotton balls soaked in disinfectant rubbed unceremoniously on a fresh wound, became the formidable doctor’s trusted accomplice.

Other than the sugar-coated diagnosis that has a chance of spelling doom to our happy existence or life altogether (bank account wiped out squeaky clean) and the battery of tests that usually accompanies anything more than a common cold – my fear for doctors and hospitals has dissipated over the years.

With exuberant doctors zealously throwing themselves on building patient relations and multi-specialty hospitals competing with five-star hotels in luxury, gourmet food and exorbitant bills paid with a flick of the insurance card, it is not surprising that the easy-going, busy, fast-food-addicted humans of the techie generation find every reason to visit these ‘health resorts’ to relax, recover and rejuvenate from their life-style acquired illnesses.

If you are the boring few who drag yourself out of cozy beds for a morning walk or fall into the old-fashioned fussy minority insisting on boring, healthy home-cooked meals with a belief that it is not fad-diets or vitamin supplements but mental well-being and happiness that is the secret to glowing health – then you have a high chance of being penalized for not paying your dues to the hospital industry with a battery of tests the next time you visit your physician with a common cold.

Just in case you are a pretty face thirsting for fame, then it is recommended that you shout from rooftops about your pathetic story of a battle with clinical depression, for this can rise you to overnight fame (and an overflowing bank account) with the prestigious job of being the fresh face and brand ambassador of the trending ‘#Depression Movement’!

 

 

 

Digital Dilemma

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When Mr. Narendra Modi, the honorable Prime Minister of India, encouraged a switch from e-governance to mobile governance, a few government officials worked feverishly on updating their Facebook status and uploading pictures that threw light on their political influences and milestones in order to impress him, especially during important meetings chaired by the Prime Minister himself.

Mr. Modi was quick to banish these hand-held pieces of technology into his meetings, the likes of which worked a few hundred seconds faster than light and kept busy government servant’s eyes and mind captive under its enticing digital spell, while the matters of the nation took a backseat.

I always assumed the founder of I-pad, Steve Jobs, had touch screens instead of walls at home. Astonishingly, his children had limited access to technological wonders created by him and went to schools that focused on hands-on learning. Luckily, his creations have been put to good use by leading schools that have switched to e-books and use games like Minecraft as teaching tools leaving Gen-Y parents confused and little children with glasses as thick as soda bottles.

I have nothing against technology but even in the digital era, isn’t moderation the key?

So, before the digital bug bites and later swallows us whole reducing our brains and cognitive functions to the size of a pea and before my children stumble onto games like Blue Whale (that has the blood of 130 Russian teens on its vicious hands), I have decided to put my family on a digital diet.

I plan to start by accidentally switching the WiFi off when I intend to have a conversation with the husband or unintentionally slip the I-pad into the microwave oven when I need to give Sid a piece of my mind.

But may be it is a good idea to make a date with Google in order to find out the best solutions to my new-found predicament!

Dearest Microwave,

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Happy 50th birthday!

I sincerely apologize that it took me more than a year of your arrival into my kitchen to thaw my paranoid mind to tapping into your efficiency and speed. But ever since I have dared to try my hand at baking, your convectional abilities have empowered me to surprise family and friends with my baking fantasies, but I wonder if the latest wheat, rye and oat cake has something to do with family members and friends doing disappearing acts from their homes when I plan to surprise them.

Last week when my cooking range failed me, I cannot thank you enough for standing by me. That morning I discovered that your radiating warmth is enough to cook up a breakfast of fluffy rice cakes and cups of hot tea under ten minutes. You are forgiven for altering the molecular structure of food in the heating process, as for a generation of humans like us who are thriving on chemically-treated vegetables and fruits, hormone-addled poultry and meat, hyper processed salty snacks – a few changes at the molecular level means nothing at all.

When President Donald Trump’s smartest advisers, Ms. Kellyanne Conway, raised concerns about microwaves spying on us, I made sure that I dressed up (at least gave up faded nightdresses that has seen better days) and sang English songs while I eyed you ( the dishwasher and the food processor) suspiciously. But the husband reassured me that no one would dare spy on our kitchen (through the microwave at least) as they would be risking their lives to ‘yeast’ poisoning and that my efforts in singing will cause them to give up spying altogether.

On your special year, I wish you more power to fill the hungry stomachs of busy women, lazy men and smart children across the world with your radiating warmth. Just in case you also spy, I also hope that your owner has the voice of a golden hen.

Yours Sincerely,

Owner

PS: I sincerely hope that no Greeting Card Giants get to read this post for that could result in ‘Microwaves Day’. This addition to the calendar might cause the companies to unanimously elect Kellyanne Conway as their brand ambassador for the ‘Microwave’ line of greeting cards! 

 

Flying ‘Desi’ on a German Airline #MoreIndianThanYouThink

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Namaste!

Are you on your first trip abroad?

Does the need to eat spicy Indian lunch during your flight worry you more than mid-flight turbulence?

Are you losing sleep over the worry that the German air hostess’s flight safety instruction in her accented English might leave you fumbling around in case of a flight emergency?

Just in case you have chosen to fly Lufthansa, then all you need to do is pack your bags and get your much-deserved sleep, for Lufthansa Airways is #MoreIndianThanYouThink and their new TV commercial will vouch for that.

India is one of the oldest nations of the world. Geographically, this nation spans from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean, however, this great nation has never limited its definition to sameness; for this is a country that can boast of diverse cultures, faith, languages, color and about 333 million Gods.

As an expatriate myself, living and respecting diverse cultures, languages and religious faith up until the time that I have relocated has helped me adapt to living and respecting the beliefs and culture in a new country with absolute ease.

This could shed some light as to why you would (not surprisingly) find an Indian selling hot tea at subzero temperatures in Antarctica!

During our last trip abroad, the husband and I (in all our exuberance) decided to treat our taste buds to the cuisines of Europe. However, our exuberance faded out the very next day as our hungry Indian taste buds craved just about one cup of rice and the humble dal (a dish made from steamed lentils) for lunch.

Luckily, we managed to find an Indian restaurant that did treat our starved taste buds to satisfaction but left us digging deeper into our pockets. To the Indian owner’s delight, the fulfillment of eating a simple Indian meal outdid the weight of the bill, for we turned out to be his regular customer in the days that followed.

Since Indians (by rule) almost always prefer Indian food irrespective of the part of the world they are in, it is not surprising that New York street food has the humble ‘dosa’ dressed up in varieties as their popular delicacy.

With India’s growing influence on the world, Lufthansa, a leading carrier of Indians across the world, has stood true to its word of being #MoreIndianThanYouThink, right from air hostesses welcoming you with a ‘Namaste’ to flight safety instructions repeated in Hindi to smiling air hostesses serving hot Indian meals while you treat yourself to your favorite Bollywood hero dancing to the tunes of a popular Hindi number on the in-flight entertainment system.

So if you wish to travel across the seas the Indian way on a German airline, fly Lufthansa!

This is an Early bird entry for #Indiblogger’s Lufthansa’s #MoreIndianThanYouThink contest. For details please log on to www.indiblogger.in/drive/more-indian-than-you-think-apr-2017

Eye on the Sky

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Lately, the turbulent skies have become media’s very own playground.

First, there was the ban on electronic devices onto flight cabins in flights bound to US and UK from ten Middle Eastern airports that caused passengers ( who usually spent their journey treating themselves to the in-flight entertainment  while indulging their taste buds to mouthwatering hot food cooked by gourmet chefs about a day and a half before) to panic.

Luckily, social media came to the aid of this catastrophe with a few zillion tips on facing a journey through the skies with gadgets sitting in the cargo. One of them suggested writing poems about your husband (while he sat beside you chewing on rubbery chicken tikka, headphones in place).

Social media had a field day lambasting an Indian lawmaker following a flying ban (after he succumbed to a rare case of unapologetic power-drunk air rage) having repeatedly hit a steward with his footwear (25 times exactly). The unfortunate MP was forced to take to the roads and trains struggling to effectively discharge his duties and responsibilities. Finally, a delayed idea of regret expressed in a letter to the Civil Aviation Ministry called off the ban and the MP was relieved to use washrooms without having cameras zooming after him.

When a popular American airline turned into a flying hellscape after they demonstrated to the world that ‘drag and drop’ of customers was their idea of re-accommodation, the inhumane video seized media attention with users zealously overworking their creative abilities to outdo one another’s ‘drag’ cartoons.

A hefty lawsuit , an apologetic CEO and some happy ‘Gulf’ airlines paying back their pending dues – social media has finally run out of ‘drag’ jokes and is back to discussing an adorable cat interrupting Mr. Mayor’s interview and if a musically-inclined chicken is the next musical prodigy.

Yet, hungry news mongers have their eye on the sky for the storms in the turbulent skies are just about a flight away!

 

Creativity Rebooted

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A long time ago, about a few years after the dinosaurs were wiped out from the face of the earth, owning a telephone was a luxury.

Six months after father made a booking for one, our very own shiny green phone arrived along with two directories (that doubled as pillows when our relatives visited us). My brother and I set out to make brief calls, under father’s watchful eyes, to our school friends whom we otherwise never bothered speaking to.

Wonder what an ancient Roman would say if you told him that he could watch Gladiator while riding to Athens in climate-controlled comfort or how your great grandparents would react if they looked down from their heavenly abode and saw their great grandchildren holding onto tiny slabs to listen to ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ before they have uttered their first words.

Artificial Intelligence experts claim that robots will take up most of the physical and rote jobs for humans leaving man free to focus his intellect on creative tasks, subsequently creating a few million jobs in entirely new fields.

Quality of life would be at its prime with robots babysitting autopilots in the cockpit, take up long-haul trucking routes on highways, clean up the city while we get our much-needed night’s rest and may be even take up to doing your morning jogs or attempt yoga postures that you had given up trying, with not as much as a frown, while you are just too busy fanning your creative side and unleashing your inner artist.

Statistics for obesity will never fail to disappoint with its increasing figures, but not to worry, there are robots to nurse you, feed you and take care of you while you recuperate after your Dr. Bot’s liposuction procedure.

In the first, Japanese venture capital firm Deep Knowledge added a robot named Vital to its board of directors.

I wonder if Vital will be held accountable for its executive decisions as is in the case with its human counterparts or if Vital will evolve enough to become the first robot to get into a corruption scandal.

Now that Artificial Intelligence has found its way into the board room, a little more creativity can empower robots to run the world, while we intelligent species of human beings can blissfully just work or even pretend on keeping our creative juices flowing!

 

 

Organically Perplexed!

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'Enjoy your meal! We grow everything ourselves!'

During a visit to the supermarket, I spotted bunches of fresh green palak leaves stacked to perfection on one side with its equally-fresh ‘organic’ counterpart stacked on the next. I was left in a dilemma as to whether it was healthier to feed my family to cubes of cottage cheese simmered in blanched and pureed palak leaves that have been treated to a good healthy dose of pesticides or a crisp green batch of the same that have been treated to manure (or dung) from organic-fed cows and generously watered with fresh treated sewage water.

As my not-so-green fingers and pathetic gardening abilities forbade me from growing  my own batch of herbs, I thought that my family will be better off on a diet minus the delicious ‘palak paneer’. I instead chose a batch of perfectly-rounded, red ‘hydroponic’ variety of tomatoes. I have not bothered snooping around at Google’s doorstep trying to find fault with the ‘hydroponic’ technique of farming, as ignorance (in this case at least) is bliss.

As I glanced upon the white glistening crystals of ‘organic’ sugar, I willed my mind not to think of the unusual ‘organic’ techniques employed to give it its beautiful white sheen.

At the poultry section, I came across a variety of eggs, priced exorbitantly, that had a picture of a fat, healthy and happy hen that appeared to be smiling. Upon checking, I learnt that the ‘smiling’ hen had actually been put on a ‘vegetarian diet’ as the owner had decided to go on a mission to improve humanity’s brain function and immunity with this brand of eggs. We must applaud the owner for this creative marketing strategy and forgive the fact that this person is just by the way earning some extra bucks in the process.

Thankfully, extensive marketing techniques coupled with a drastic increase in the educated lot of customers opting for anything that claims to be produced organically, we have a new brand of bottled water that claims to be organic.

Yes, you heard it right – ORGANIC water.

There is already the Smart Water that improves brain function, Vitamin Water to boost your health and Diet Water to make you skinny.

What could be next, a new range of gluten-free water or Trans fat-free water?

Thank goodness that even in this world of ruthless industrialization and inhumane marketing strategies, somebody still cares about our health!

 

It is a Man’s World..

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…but it takes a Woman to make life here worth living!

As a life giver, she stands an embodiment of strength, love, compassion and loyalty, bringing color to a stark bleak world. If this also means that she can talk for hours to end with a mute companion or unearth an event from a bygone era just to win an argument – so be it!

It takes a man to complement a woman and vice versa. Yet, it is this very equilibrium of the rule of nature that is under threat.

“Where the women are worshiped, there the Gods will dwell,” goes the saying from the golden era of the Vedic Culture in India, where a venerating regard for women formed the basis for a rich Indian history that included women who have risen to great heights of spirituality, education, science and even warriors in the battlefield.

The Indian Gods went a step ahead in their reverence for their women and had their names after their wives names – ‘Sita-Ram’, ‘Gowri-Shankar’, ‘Janaki-Vallabh’, ‘Radha-Krishna’, ‘Uma-Maheshwar’.

Is there a need for the women’s liberation association if we can simply follow the ancient Vedic culture, questions vocalist – Vishaka Hari.  She rightly points out that the present world is in need of a balance where the man and woman must respect and complement, rather than compete, with one another’s existence, as real beauty lies in dignity and decorum – not in ridicule and derision.

So, dear women, celebrate all that you represent – celebrate your emotional strengths and weaknesses, celebrate your capacity to love and be loved, accept your vulnerabilities for you are human too!

Salute the patient mother, loyal employee, shrewd entrepreneur, the dedicated teacher for it is she who can nurture and restore the balance and harmony back into this world through her sons and daughters.

As for the men, they are well aware, but just have a funny way of showing it!

It was another man, William Golding, who once quoted ‘I think women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men; they are far superior and have always been.’

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