Monday, May 31, 2010

My 55er on love

Team This post has been published by me as a team member of The Blue Ink Society for the SUPER 6 round of Bloggers Premier League (BPL) – The first ever unique, elite team blogging of blog world. To catch the BPL action and also be part of future editions and other contests, visit and register at Cafe GingerChai

The cutest girl at the fair caught his eye. Making way towards her he offers her a candy. As she accepts it shyly, he peers deep into her eyes with a grin. Grabbing her neck with both his grubby hands, he smothers her with sloppy chocolate kisses. Puppy love in the Air between Babies!!

The Image in This Post is a Teamwork by THE BLUE INK SOCIETY

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mango Delight

Mango, or mangifera indica is the most popular tropical, king of fruits and India’s National fruit. It has been known to have existed 5000 years ago and is indigenous to India hence its biological name. Buddhists are believed to have spread it across Asia and gradually it spread all over the world
Mango trees live for a long time and some three hundred years old trees are known to still bear fruit. It comes in many varieties ….langra, dussehri, fazli, chausa, angoori, safeda, amarpali, alphonso being the well known ones. Since 1987, every year an International Mango festival is held in N. Delhi where people can sample varieties of mango for free. Quizzes and competitions are held to create awareness about this luscious tasty fruit.
Mango tree is considered sacred. The leaves of mango tree are hung outside the house on Diwali and on the day of Greh Pravesh pooja , as it is considered auspicious.
Remember the Mango Slice advertisement where Katrina Kaif in monochrome is enjoying drinking a single drop of Slice, oblivious to everything else till the man walks in and says “waiting for me?”. She cleverly hides the slice bottle and smiles knowingly.
India is the largest cultivator of mango, but since the consumption is so much within the country, not much of it is exported. Mango pickle, mango chutney, mango drinks like Frooti and Slice are some of the processed varieties of the fruit. There was a time when our grandmothers and mothers made morabba of mango, amla,carrot, which is essentially a preservative of the fruit/vegetable in a thick sweetened liquid. But with changing tastes people hardly eat it anymore.
If you happen to travel form Mumbai to Delhi on a flight in Summers, as you collect your baggage you'll see numerous boxes of Alphonso mangoes which people carry from Mumbai as this variety, native of Ratangiri is not easily available in Delhi. Alphonso is considered to be the best variety and it is also the most expensive. It is a highly popular Summer gift item.
The influence of mango also can be seen in embroidery motifs and other apparels where the ‘paisley’ is inspired from the shape of the mango. It can be seen in Kashmiri embroidery on shawls and Kanjeevaram silk sarees from South India.
Come summers, aam panna is a favorite drink made in virtually every household. It is made by boiling green raw mangoes in pressure cooker. On cooling, the pulp is extracted, sieved and diluted with water. Sugar is added to neutralize its sour taste and roasted cumin seeds and salt is added to give it a great flavor. It works as a great thirst quencher just like nimboo pani in summers.
In this post I am sharing two mango recipes… one sour and the other sweet.
Aam Ki Launji:
Ingredients: •
1 cup Raw Mango (peeled and diced)
5 tbsp Sugar
½ tsp Saunf (fennel seeds)
¼ tsp Kalonji (onion seeds)
¼ tsp Haldi (turmeric) powder
A pinch of Hing (asafoetida)
2 tbsp Oil
Salt to taste
Peel the skin of the raw mangoes and dice into small cubes.
Boil five cups of water in a pan.
Add salt, turmeric powder, three tablespoon sugar and mangoes into it.
Blanch the mangoes and drain out the extra liquid left in the pan.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a separate pan and add fennel, onion seeds and a pinch of asafoetida.
Keep stirring for two minutes.
Now add a little salt, the remaining sugar and the blanched mangoes into it.
Saute for one minute and remove from the flame.
Serve the mango launji with pooris or paranthas.
Mango Mousse
5 Cups ripe yellow mango puree
1 tbsp Unflavored gelatin
1/2 Cup boiling water
1 Cup sugar
1-1/2 Cups whipped cream
5 Egg whites
Sprinkle gelatin over warm water in a bowl, keep stirring until it dissolves completely.
Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
Mix the mango puree with sugar in a blender.
Pour this mixture over the cooled gelatin.
Whisk the cream till it is thick.
Pour cream over the mango mixture and fold till uniformly blended.
Whisk the egg whites till stiff.
Fold the egg whites gently through the mango mixture till it is completely mixed .
Allow to set and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Mango Mousse is ready!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Children Of A Lesser God

No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an unchartered land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.
-----Helen Keller

This post is not about the Hollywood movie of the same name starring Marlee Matlin , an American actress who debuted in this movie and who is deaf from the age of eighteen months. But this post is all about a window into the world of visually challenged people.

Here in my neighborhood in Faridabad , a lot of people come to ask for charity. Women asking for funds for religious occasions. Blind people and many more. There is a blind man who has been coming regularly to my home for a long time now. He would always be accompanied by an escort. Many times I was curious as to how he went about his daily chores. And finally one day I decided to visit the local Blind school, National Association for Blind in NIT 5.

As I entered the gate I was disappointed to see that the building was very old and dilapidated. Little did i know about the wonderful work that went on inside the old building. The person at the gate asked me the purpose of my visit. I told him I wanted a first hand experience with a blind person. And I wanted to donate some money too. He asked me to go the first floor and meet the lady in the room on the right.

On reaching her room I requested her if I could talk to one of the blind person in the organization.

“Sure” she said. “I’ll call Ruby”

She made a call and a few minutes later a young woman walked in. As I looked at her it was difficult to believe she was blind. She sailed into the room with such ease.

Me: Hi, Ruby I am Abha. Can I talk to you for a while?

Ruby: Sure

Me: At what age did you loose your vision?

Ruby: When I was eight years old

Me: What happened ?

Ruby: Nothing. I wasn’t sick or anything. One day I started seeing less. When my parents took me to the doctor he said, "as she grows she will loose her vision."

Me: How did you complete your schooling? Did you study in a special school?

Ruby: No. I had a writer for exams. I have done my BA from Delhi University and am doing my Bed form IGNOU.

Me: What work do you do here?

Ruby: I am a Hindi stenographer teacher.

Me: How do you do your daily activities like bathing , taking a bus or an auto to work?

Ruby: I have got used to it. It has been so long now. I also take help from people on the road.

In the meantime the peon came with tea. Ruby sipped her tea. Since I am not a tea drinker I declined.Once she had finished drinking her tea. I asked her a few more questions.

Me: So what are the activities that go on at this centre?

Ruby: Teaching classes, computer, writing of Braille books, Home science and Kindergarten.

Me: I would like to visit the computer room. Will you take me there?

Ruby: sure.

We walked out of the room towards the hall . She confidently went to the table and handed over the Braille book she was carrying. Then she walked out of the hall, kept the empty cup on the window sill, and confidently climbed down the stairs . As we approached the building she stopped at the third door and said. “This is the computer room”.

She opened the door and we walked inside. I saw six to seven people sitting in front of the computesr. She walked towards a young man wearing dark glasses and said, “This is Yusuf”. You can talk to him.

I took a chair and seated myself next to him

Me : Hi Yusuf. Can I talk to you for a while?”

Yusuf : Sure

Me : At what age did you loose your vision?

Yusuf: When I was fifteen.

Me: What happened?

Yusuf: I had high fever and lost my vision after that.

Me: So you remember everything from that time… colors , faces, nature…

Yusuf: Yes. I remember everything.

Me : What is your designation here?

Yusuf: I am a computer instructor

Me: And your qualification?

Yusuf: I have done CAPS ( Computer Application and Programming Skills) from National Institute,Dehradun.

Me : So how do you use the computer?

Yusuf: We use a software called JAWS (JOB ACESS WITH SPEECH). As I type something the computer says it aloud.

He asked the spelling of my name and typed in the keyboard
I heard the computer say Abha Midha in a highly accented American voice.

Me : So you are able to do all your daily chores yourself?

Yusuf :Yes. Everything. Bathing, shaving, washing clothes, ironing clothes, washing utensils, playing chess, cards and cricket.

Me : You can really play those games? How?

Yusuf: Our cricket ball comes with special tiny bells inside which clink when thrown. That is how we are able to place the ball.

Similarly the pack of cards is special. It has Braille dots on each card. And the chess board is special too. The white pieces have a raised dots and the board has depressions where the pieces fit and don’t fall down.

I was totally amazed to hear all this.
And he continued,” I am here in this job, but I am on the look out for a better one. Visually challenged people can work in MNCs, and BPOs too. I want to earn Rs 25,000 to live a comfortable life.”

I marveled at his optimism and spirit. As I was leaving, he said, “visit the library . The Librarian will show you all the things kept on sale.”

I walked back to the hall on the first floor. The Librarian showed me a folding stick which was barely 9 inches long but opened to a full length. She also showed me a pack of cards, the unique chess, a slate for mathematical calculations and a pearl Abacus.

On the adjacent table sat a visually challenged woman. Her fingers were on the Brialle book and she had a Brailler in front of her.

“What is she doing” . I asked the librarian.

“She is copying a book from Braille to a new one. We often run short of these books.”

I walked back to the lady in charge and gave her my donation.
“Can you show me the Homescience and other activities?”


Once again we went to the ground floor. She took me to the kitchen. Here one blind girl was washing the utensils and the other was making chapattis under the guidance of a lady. Then she took me to the tailoring and knitting room.
We walked out of the building to the adjacent building. She opened the door. As we walked in, pointing to a cupboard she said, “These are the cricket trophies our members have won over the years”

By now I was speechless seeing those big Trophies displayed with pride in the visitor room.

But the last stop was the most heart wrenching one in the Kindergarten room. She opened the door and I saw young girls and boys sitting on the chairs. There were two teachers present in the room. Two young girls, barley five, were busy reciting poems . My attention went to one young boy who had a slate in his hand and was diligently pricking the paper with pins. Tears welled up in my eyes as I saw the young toddlers who had such a tough future ahead.

As I way about to leave, the lady went to the visitor room and came back with a card. “Here. This is your invitation. On Sunday two couples are getting married. Do come and experience this event”

I thanked her and walked out of the premises. In my forty six years, it was the first time I had an experience with a blind person’s world.

I knew what was required next. I would not waste any time and go to the Eye Bank in Faridabad and donate my eyes.

Some facts:

• Over 40 million people in the world are blind, and over 120 million people have significant Low Vision conditions that cannot be corrected, cured or treated by conventional refraction, medicine or surgery. This number is
expected to double by the year 2020. (World Health Organization, 2004).

• Over 90% of these visually impaired people live in developing countries like India.

• Less than 15% of these visually impaired people in developing countries like India have access to vision
enhancement or vision rehabilitation services that could help to change their lives.
• There are over 1.4 million visually impaired children age 0-14 years

Tips on Eye Donation:

• Fortunately lost sight can be restored through medical intervention of Corneal Transplantation through donated eyes. YOU CAN LET THIS HAPPEN. DONATE EYES OF YOUR DEAREST.
• Eyes of the deceased of any age can be donated whether he / she has pledged his / her eyes or not. For Eye donation, call the nearest EYE BANK.
• Spectacle wearers, diabetics, hypertensives and people suffering from systemic diseases like asthma and tuberculosis also can donate eyes. Patients who have undergone cataract surgery also can donate eyes.
• All religions endorse the practice of EYE DONATION.

Those of us who have been blessed with a healthy mind and body need to stop a while and reflect on those who are challenged mentally, physically or visually.

I hope this post stirs some feelings in the readers and many of you will pledge your eyes so that one soul can see the beauty of this planet once we have departed from here for good. Go ahead, DONATE YOUR EYES.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My First Recognition

We all love a pat on the back. Acknowledgements, recognition,awards add zest to our lives.

Oprah Winfrey in one of her Talk Shows said that every individual yearns for Validation. To be loved and appreciated by our kith and kin and across the masses, is a universal need of humans.

This Mother's Day was special for me. Not only did my sister from Mumbai join us with her daughter for the day, but there was a pleasant surprise in store for me early morning. As i checked my mail i discovered that my Blog which was just five weeks old had been selected by Indusladies. com, a website of Indian ladies spread all over the world and with a viewer ship of over a lakh members.

On the occasion of Mother's day they selected 59 of the best blogs of Indian Mommies and took out an eBOOK and my blog DAFFODILS was one of them. Also they had included over 250 posts from the selected blogs.

As i celebrated Mother's Day with my Mum, daughters and sister, i was thrilled to be validated on three accounts. As a Daughter, as a Mother and as a Blogger.

Thank you for making me feel good!!!

Wordless Wednesday 1

Saturday, May 8, 2010

In Transition

‘Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end’

--Seneca (5 BC to 65 AD)
Roman dramatist, philosopher and politician

I would probably have never been bitten by the Blogging bug had it not been for two of my friends whom I first met in a community called Forty Plus and Rocking (FPR) on Orkut. They are Ritu Lalit and Tikuli Dogra. Many times I would read about their blogs and when I joined Facebook I would see notes and get requests to follow their Blogs. They were my sole contact with the blogging world. Every now and then the thought of blogging would come to my mind but it would go away as quickly.

And some time later I went on a holiday to Vaishno Devi. I had wanted to go there for a long time and I was very excited about this trip we took in our new Xylo. And even while we were holidaying, mentally my mind was jotting down the travelogue. On reaching home I knew I simply had to write a blog. And thus began my entry into the world of Blogging.

I had seen badges of Indiblogger on Ritu’s and Tikuli’s blog and assumed that it offered free blogging space. After trying to make sense of it all, I finally phoned Ritu who guided me about getting a free bog on Wordpress or Blogger. I chose Wordpress as I had heard about it.

Five weeks into Blogging and I had written sixteen posts. It was then that a friend suggested I get my own domain. Not having a clue how to go about getting a domain I called up my friend’s son who though a MBA is very tech savvy. My next call was to my nephew in Bangalore who is a software engineer , the only techie in, my family. And two hours later I had bought my own domain.

During these five weeks I had the good fortune of not only reading the Blogs of some great bloggers on Indiblogger but also befriending them and adding them on Facebook. As I gradually got accustomed to the community I interacted by commenting on their blogs and getting comments on my own.

Just when I had begun to feel comfortable with Blogging and had recorded a fair amount of hits on my blog, 583 to be precise, I had to give it all up for getting a domain for myself. Once I had bought the domain began the daunting task of copy pasting my sixteen posts. I had got accustomed to editing my blog on WP but I didn’t make much headway in Blogger. It was then that I thought of taking professional help and asking the SEO guys for help. My experiences with the SEO people was confounding to say the least. I shall share it in my next Blog. In the mean time I am sorry to loose all the precious comments of my new blogger friends. They were a great source of encouragement and gave me good perspective on my posts. As the Seneca quote says…. New beginnings arise from new endings..... I look forward to your comments once more. I , on my part will enjoy reading your posts, and have already added you to my Blog roll. My Blog is in transition and it’ll take a few days for everything to get going again. Till then bear with me !

And Now Tech Savvy Cakes

Science and innovation have always been known to go hand in hand. From the days of Thomas Alva Edison, man has striven to find inventions that make our lives easier and comfortable.

In the past decade, two inventions that have touched our life deeply are Mobile phones and Internet. Mobile phones when they started ,were the domain of the elite as the call rates were exorbitant. As they became popular, a number of players came into the market and today every garbage wala, every rickshaw wala and your everyday vendor in the street owns a mobile.

Another interesting discovery is Photoshop and Picasa. They have changed the way we treat and edit pictures. We have all received forwarded mails with crazy Photoshop editing.

If you add animation to a Photoshop creation, the effect is even crazier. One of the most hilarious mails i received was a photo of Mona Lisa displaying her bosom in an animated trick.

The internet revolution started with Cyber Cafes, where on weekends people would flock to send emails and chat with distant friends and relatives. As the trend caught on, every corner in every city and town had a Cyber cafe. And some time later as the trend caught on in offices and schools, having an internet connection at home and a PC for every desk in the office became mandatory. So much so, that my neighbourhood cafe which once used to do brisk business has opened a tailoring shop in half of its commercial space.

When Ebay and Amazon became popular the trend of e-commerce became popular in India too. Recently a housewife From Delhi started an online business of home delivery of condoms at the click of a mouse. I am not joking, this piece of news was in the front page of HT City.

When my younger daughter told me that her friends birthday cake had a picture of her i didn't believe her. "Not possible", i told her. "Must be a Photoshop creation of the cake". And we left it at that. Some months later when my elder daughter's friend gifted her a cake with a collage of her picturess i could hardly believe my eyes. But it was in front of my eyes.

A few months later she asked me. "Mum, where is your picture in the Orange saree?". " "Must be somewhere in my folder". i remarked. "It's not there", she said. "Never mind, there are other pics", i had replied. Threee days later she surprised me with an Anniversary cake which had several pictures of me and hubby and even one of me as a bride. I was deeply touched and the thought crossed my mind...'Girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice'. She had emailed the pictures to a bakery in Malviya Nagar in Delhi which baked the cake. Before cutting the cake we took several pictures of the cake which i am sharing with you.

And believe me, this is an edible cake and not a Photoshop trick. So next time you want to make your spouse, kid , relative or a friend feel special, gift them a photo cake. Happy Celebrations!

Indusladies ebook contest

9th May, 2010 is Mothers' Day. On this we honor our mothers for giving us a lifetime of unconditional love. a website based in Austin Texas, for Indian women across the globe , and with over a lakh readers is bringing out an ebook comprising of a list of selected Indian Mommy bloggers. So if you are an Indian Mommy who blogs about kids, family and parenting do give in your entries to IndusLadies before 6th May. This is a chance to publicize your blog to over a lakh readers.

You'll find all the relevant details here:

So hurry! This is your chance to get noticed.

A Tribute To Mothers

If I was damned of body and soul,

I know whose prayers would make me whole,

Mother O mine, O mother o mine!

--Rudyard Kipling.

Mother's Day is just around the corner. After waiting for a year the countdown has begun for the day to honor mothers and motherhood. Mother's day which originated from USA has now become popular the world over as motherhood is a universal phenomenon. Thanks to Archie’s the concept has become popular all over India too, as in the rest of the world.

Every son and daughter wants to make their mother feel loved, appreciated and shower her with affection and gifts to make her feel special for giving her unconditional love to her children.

The credit for the celebration of Mother's Day goers to an American lady, Ana Jarvis whose persistent efforts made President Woodrow Q Wilson sign a Resolution on May 8, 1914, declaring the second Sunday in the month of May as Mother's Day. Since then this day has been celebrated to honor mothers.

As Lin Yutang a Chinese writer said, "Of all the rights of a woman, the greatest is to be a mother". I am a Mum of two grown daughters and feel that motherhood being a challenging task, completes the woman in me. When you carry your child for nine months and finally when the miracle of life happens, you feel you have come a full circle. And you begin to realize all that a Mum does in her entire life for her children.

My Mum had a wonderful way with stitching clothes. After finishing her household chores she would sit on the sewing machine and stitch the finest of clothes for we four sisters. This is a trait I inherited from her. When my first daughter was to be born, Mum way away in Africa and I had to prepare the entire range of baby clothes myself. I went to Connaught Place in Delhi and bought brochures for knitting baby sets. I did everything from stitching nappies, sheets, dresses and just before my delivery I had packed a small suitcase of all things needed.

Three and a half years later my second daughter was born and my task become twofold. Watching them go to Kindergarten, primary school, middle school, facing their first boards, graduating , Post graduating, their first job has been a bonding experience to say the least. And when you have daughters there are so many girlie things you can share and discuss . Crushes, infatuations and meaningful relationships.

Today the concept of mother hood has changed a lot from the traditional Mum and Dad scenario. Women across the globe are adopting children to experience motherhood. Angelina Jolie being a prime example. Here in India, Actress Sushmita Sen adopted two girls and has been a single Mum to her daughters.

As the trend of Mothers Day has caught on in India, there are a number of websites which deliver gifts to consumers.

I checked out a few:

Some of these websites come with built in search options of price range to suit every budget.

You can gift a variety of gifts to you Mum to make her feel special on that day.

Jewellery, chocolate hampers, flowers, perfumes, wrist watches, mobile phones, home appliances, home decor, cakes, silverware, handicrafts in wood, marble or brass, Books and CDs, apparels and accessories, personalized photo frames and Mugs, a crate of the best quality Alphonso mangoes, Dining vouchers at an exclusive restaurant etc to show your gratitude and appreciation of a life time of giving .

As mothers bring up their kids from infancy to adulthood, they have to play myriad roles in the process of bringing up children who are balanced, talented and good human beings who can contribute substantially to society. They become cooks, maids, nurses, chauffeurs, coaches, teachers, organizers, diplomats, negotiators, personal shoppers, disciplinarians, comforters, friends, mentors, and more.

I am fortunate that my Mum lives very near to my house. I have already written a blog about her in "Kitty Party" This Sunday the 9th, I’ll be going to Mum's house with my daughters and hubby to have lunch with her. I plan to cook Butter Chicken and take flowers and a gift for her. This way three generations will be together on Mother’s day and we will share happy memories.

The following quote sums up this blog beautifully:

Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs in my field, since the payment is pure love. ~Mildred B. Vermont

We never know what the next day might bring, so take full advantage of this day and shower your Mum with love, care, warmth and affection that she deserves for juggling several roles so that at the end of the day the beneficiary is her beloved child.

Yoghurt Please

Summers have arrived with a bang. While we still have to witness the excruciating heat of a scorching June day, April has broken the temperature records of decades. So i thought about writing a post about a favourite nutrition food with unique health qualities, and a summer cooler, Yoghurt.

Yoghurt is a fermented dairy product which has been consumed for thousands and thousands of years ever since the beginning of domestication of cows.

Yoghurt, curd or Dahi as we call it in India.... is a unique healthy food option.Yoghurt has been known to be used about 5400 years ago as per Wikipedia. It is believed to have originated from Bulgaria but gets its name from the Turkish word Yogurt which means "to thicken". Dahi is derived from Sanskrit word 'dadhi' one of the five elixirs or panchamrita. In my neighbourhood Nav Greh temple the pundit daily anoints the nine idols with dahi and other items.

History says that during the times of the conqueror Genghis Khan in the 13th century, his armies were sustained by eating yoghurt.

It found its way into the Nursery rhyme.....

Lilttle Miss Muffet

Sat on a tuffet

Eating her curds and whey..... which dates back to the 16th century.

And then it also found its way into English Primary books...

Curd rice hot

Curd rice cold

Curd rice in the pot

Nine days old....

It is made by adding bacterial culture to milk at warm temperature and allowing it to "set" into a characteristic texture with its tangy taste. The bacteria Lactobaciullus casei, a strain of friendly bacteria are responsible for the conversion of milk into yoghurt. In this process the milk's lactose is transformed into lactic acid. In India housewives often ask neighbours for 'Khatta" or "jaag" which is nothing but a tablespoon full of yoghurt required to be added to warm milk to set the curd.

Check out the benefits of including yoghurt in your daily diet:

The good bacteria present in it prevents the growth of harmful bacteria that causes bacterial infections and diseases.

Being a Dairy product, it is highly beneficial for bone and teeth health. Especially good for women who are prone to osteoporosis post menopause as it prevents bone density loss.

Yoghurt contains more calcium and proteins because of the added culture.

It helps to curb appetite by giving the feeling of a full belly.

People who can't digest milk have a healthy alternative to eat yoghurt

Yoghurt helps boost the immune system. It encourages the right kind of bacteria to multiply in the gut. The bacteria help to digest food and prevent stomach infections.

It contains proteins, calcium, Vitamin B 2, B 12, Potassium, Phosphorus, Iodine, zinc and magnesium.

It is believed to promote good gum health.

Beneficial for hair and cures itchy scalp and dandruff.

Yoghurt lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol and raises HDL (good) cholesterol.

In India it is popular and a must item for a meal. The most popular form of consuming yoghurt is as raita.

Raita is nothing but a whipped and smooth form of curd , diluted with water or milk and including a variety of options like... grated cucumber, boondi, potatoes, diced onions and tomato, pineapple. Raita has a cooling effect on the palate which makes a good foil for spicy Indian food.

Another very popular dish of curd is Dahi Bhalle, which includes fried dumplings of lentils in thin curd.

Dahi Bahlle is so popular that it is a must item in the Salad section of a 5 star hotel buffet.

Another similar dish is papdi chaat... which includes fried papdi, a sort of small deep fried roti made of refined flour with toppings of potato, gram, coriander chutney and sweet tamarind chutney.

In Punjab, it is taken a lassi....

a smooth diluted drink made of curd with added salt and roasted cumin or jeera powder. Some people also like to drink sweet lassi with dry fruits. In Gujarat this same drink is called Chaas.

It is also eaten as a dessert. In West Bengal it is eaten as Misti doi

......which is made by boiling milk to slightly thicken it, sweetening with sugar and allowing the milk to ferment in clay containers.

In Gujarat it is eaten as a popular dessert..Srikhand, which is made with hung curd, and sweetening it with sugar and adding saffron and cardamom for flavour.

In India the fondness for dahi takes it all the way to Janamashtami festival. which is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Krishna.

On this day a handi which is a small clay pot, full of dahi is hung high up in the air and a group of youngsters make pyramids to break the handi, a community celebration ritual on the day of Janamashtami.

Besides the dishes mentioned above you can add more yoghurt to everyday diet . Some healthy tips:

Replace Mayonnaise and salad dressings with yoghurt.

Replace ice cream and milk shakes with mixed fruit yoghurt.

Make dips with yoghurt instead of sour cream.

Use it to marinade meat and chicken.

In India where it has always been an essential part of diet, it used to be made by every mother. But now we have brands selling hygienic curd- Amul, Nestle, Mother Dairy etc. It can easily be purchased form supermarkets like Spencer, Reliance fresh and others.

Are you a yoghurt person?

O Ash

You guessed it right. This blog is about the phenomenon called Aishwarya Rai Bachhan. The fact that i am blogging about her is a sure indication that i am her fan and have loved watching her handle her career and life with poise, grace and dignity since 1994 when she catapulted into stardom by winning the Miss World title. She also won the Miss photogenic title in the same Beauty Pageant.

She showed attitude and oomph as Sanju in the lehar Pepsi advertisement. From Pepsi to the recent Lux advertisement with her hubby Abhishek Bachhan has been an incredible journey for her.

Her film career hit stardom with the movie... Hum dil de chuke sanam for which she got her first filmfare award.

There are numerous reasons why her fans love her so much and there are 17,000 websites devoted to her. Check out some of the reasons:

She is the most photographed woman in India.

She brings to life the beauties and character of Paro from Devdas, Jodha Bai from Jodha Akbar and as Umrao Jaan.

But her range of appeal is not limited to the Indian subcontinent, but the whole world over. She is truly a Global Indian.

In 2003 she was the first Indian actress to be a jury member at Cannes Film Festival.

In 2004 she travelled to Siachen glacier to boost the morale of jawans.

In 2004 her wax statue was made in London's Madame Tussaud.

IN 2004 she carried the Olympic Torch Relay

In 2004 she was chosen by Time Magazine 's "100 Most influential people" and appeared in cover of TIME magazine in 2003

In 2005 she became a brand ambassador for Pulse Polio.

Again in 2005 she became the global brand ambassador of L'Oreal.

In Feb 2005 she performed at HELP Telethon Concert for 2004 Tsunami earthquake.

In Jan 2005 she was voted as the "world's most beautiful woman"

In 2006 she appeared at the closing ceremony of Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

In 2009 her family laid the foundation of a special school for underprivileged girls in Daulatpur in UP which will be named after her.

She is a trained classical dancer.

A special Tulip in Netherland was name after her as 'Aishwarya Rai'.

She is the first Bollywood actress to appear on Oprah Winfrey show.

In2009 American toy making company Mattel modelled a celebrity Barbie doll on her.

In 2009 she was awarded Padam Shri

Prior to entering the world of modelling and an actor, she studied Architecture for a year.... a real beauty with brains.

While the media loves her to no end, they don't stop to pick up criticism. Prior to her marriage to Abhishek Bachhan the media was full of stories that her kundli had dosh and ill fortune would befall the Bachhan family. None of that happened and she has recently gone to celebrate her 3rd anniversary in an exotic locale.

She is a true example of someone who has utilised her talents to the maximum. In my opinion there is just one role she needs to don. That of a mother. And considering she has done such a wonderful job of all her responsibilities she ll make a super Mum too. All her fans are waiting for that day.

Am waiting in anticipation for her soon to be released Mani Ratnam movie RAVANA. I am sure shall rock once again!

Do give your comments!

The Elusive Truth

We have all grown up studying about the universe in our school Physics. While the physicists have made tremendous discoveries about the Universe with sophisticated instruments keeping an eye on the happenings of the Universe, the creation of Universe and much of its contents still remains a mystery.

Fo a long time now the universe is believed to have originated from a Big bang which occurred at some 13.3 to 13.9 billion years ago. This theory states that the Universe has expanded from a primordial hot and dense initial conditions at some infinite time in the past and continues to expand to this day.

The Big bang theory is the cosmological theory which states that the Universe originated from the violent explosion of very small agglomeration of matter of extremely high density and temperature.

Before the Big bang there was no space, no time, no matter, no nothing. Then in a moment of creation, the Universe was born.

After 14 billion years the circumstances of that event will be replicated, watched and measured by the Large Hadron Collider ( LHC) at Geneva’s CERN Laboratory. This is the world’s Premier Particle Physics Research Centre.

The LHC is essentially 27 km long two Pipes running through a large concrete tunnel along which protons are accelerated in opposite directions in order for them to collide with one another.

The mystery of how the Universe is put together is one of the most challenging tasks of the physicists the world over. We have all studied that proton is a fundamental particle of an atom. It is made from 3 even smaller particles known as quarks. But the proton is 100 times more massive than the 3 quarks that make it. Physicists have no idea where all that extra mass comes from.

Physicists don’t know what most of the Universe is made of. If you add up all the matter there is, it accounts for only 4% of all that there must be. Scientists call the missing 96% dark energy or dark matter which we can neither see nor measure. CERN's challenge is to investigate what these cosmic dark matter are made of.

While there is a lot of excitement at LHC's there is also the stress of something going wrong during experimentation as the conditions created in side the LHC are extreme, an attempt at emulation of the conditions just after the Big bang.

So lets wait and watch what the LHC is going to unearth in the coming time. Will we really come to know how our Universe was created?

All About Junk Food

The term Junk Food was coined by Michael Jacobson, director of Centre for Science in Public Interest , a Washington DC based Non Profit watchdog in the year 1972. The phrase junk food is a slang for foods of useless or no nutritional value. Their contents are rich in sodium salts, sugar and fats which are high calorie but useless in value.

Junk food are popular because of their simplicity and low cost to manufacture, consume and taste. They have long shelf life and are easy to transport. Some popular junk foods are chocolates, pizzas, burgers, potato wafers and fries and fizzy drinks.

Junk foods have become popular the world over with food chains like Macdonald, Pizza Hut, Dominos pizza and Indian version like Nirualas as they serve hot ready made meals right at your doorstep. The fact that they are lip smacking tasty adds to the addiction factor.

However the contents of fast food need serious consideration to your health.

Fat contents have high cholesterol levels. A high calorie content with sugar leads to obesity. cholesterol and salt set off Blood pressure, strike and heart diseases.

Excessive salt can affect functioning of kidneys too.

Consuming junk food regularly can cause lack of energy since they don’t provide essential nutrients and you feel weakened. It also causes poor concentration as after an oil rich meal you feel drowsy and fail to concentrate.

But perhaps the greatest danger of eating junk food is to your heart. Heart failure is due to plaque formation in arteries which require heart to put in extra effort to pump blood.

High cholesterol apart from forming plaques and constricting arteries , affects liver where it is metabolized.

Junk food has become a way of life the world over but one must limit the number of times one drops in at these outlets.

Some simple tips for eating Junk food:

Go for grilled chicken instead of fried or nuggets.

Choose non cream based soups.

Have a salad or soup instead of fries.

Use mustard or ketchup instead of mayonnaise.

Order small portions instead of combos and add a fruit or salad.

Choose diet sodas instead of regular ones

Go for veggie pizza instead of meat and thin crust instead of deep dish.

Here’s to healthy eating!

Dam Maro Dam

This news caught my attention in the TV.

A large number of firang hippies entered the Rajaji National park near Haridwar. They entered without paying the ticket which is Rs 600 for foreigners and created a ruckus. Dancing and singing with their guitars, disturbing the animals in the Park.

No one knows how they managed to enter in such large numbers unnoticed by the Park authorities. Soon the matter was reported to the police. But the firangis refused to leave the Park . They demanded that they be allowed to set up their tents for shahi snan in Haridwar. The matter is still to be resolved.

I feel this is outrageous. It is one thing to give a warm welcome to foreigners and another to let them break rules and create disorder and nuisance. They ought to respect the rules and regulations of their host country. If a group of Indians had done the same thing in the West, they would have been arrested for sure.

What do u feel about this? Do comment.


The benefits of eating fruit was known even to our great grand mothers. In India too there has always been a tradition of serving fruits to guests, and mothers will always include a fruit in the tiffin of their school growing children. Fruits are natural laxatives that help to regulate body’s digestive process. They provide roughage and fiber that is important in helping body get rid of wastes. That is why many doctors recommend eating whole fruits instead of drinking fruit juice.
Fruits come in all colors. Dashing red apples. Golden and green ones too. Luscious yellow mangoes. Green and black grapes. Oranges and Kinu in brilliant hues. Red strawberry, Yellow Papaya. Blue blueberries and Red cranberries.
The pigments in the fruits are on account of something called PHYTONUTRIENTS. Phytonutrients are extremely powerful antioxidants that help protect your body against cancer causing free radicals and may also slow aging process. So if you want to avoid cancer and age gracefully, be fruitlicious!
Dieticians suggest up to five servings of fruit in a day. They make excellent fillers for hunger pangs. But banana, mango, grapes and chikoo should be taken in moderation due to their high sugar content. Fruits are also low in sodium which help reduce the chance of gaining water weight.
I have picked up 5 popular and easily available fruits and their benefits.
' An apple a day keeps the doctor away' is a cliché. But fossil remains show that apples were gathered and stored 5000 years ago and probably cultivated too by our ancestors.
Apples are excellent detoxifiers and apple juice can help destroy viruses in the body.
Eating 2 apples a day will help reduce your cholesterol level up to 10%
Also help in healing gout and rheumatism.
A good source of Vitamin B. Also contains vitamin A and C.
Contains high level of Potassium and helps as below:
Healthy bowels
Cardiovascular health
Protection from strokes
Protection from ulcers.
Improves blood pressure
May boost mood
Boost energy
Help reduce water retention
Oranges are loaded with vitamins, most abundant vitamin being Vitamin C.
Helps in
Prevent Kidney stone
Help lower cholesterol
High Blood pressure
Also contains calcium which help[ protect Bone and Teeth.
Here in Faridabad we have a Papaya Chowk. As you go towards NIT, just before the BK Chowk, along both sides of the road are vendors selling papaya. You can eat a fruit plate and buy papayas for home. Papayas contain enzymes that enable digestion of food. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin C.
Good for heart
Helps in male fertility
The king of fruits is everyone’s favorite. And comes in numerous varieties langda, chausa, angoori, safeda, dashari alphonso prompting a Mango Festival in Delhi. It is high in Iron. Doctors recommend this fruit to pregnant women and people suffering from anaemia
Rich source of Vitamin A, E
Beneficial in
Kidney problems
Respiratory problems

Kitty Party

oday I had gone to Mum’s house to attend her Kitty party. Since she lives in my neighborhood I always make it a point to attend. It helps me to get aquainted with her friends and neighbors.

The very mention of Kitty party conjures up images of bored housewives making a hullabaloo in an elite restaurant, or discussing latest fashion trends in clothes and jewellery, or the current sale in the Mall. Something on the lines of the TV serial by the same name, by Shobha De starring Poonam Dhillon, which was on air a few years back. But that is not quite the case. Women all over our country bond through kitty parties. We all need friends and neighbors to share our joys and sorrows.

In my neighborhood I have been a member of the same ever since I settled in Faridabad some 22 years ago. And barring a few minor hiccups we are going strong. This is a very convenient way to stay in touch with friends and neighbors. In my neighborhood we have taken this beyond socializing. I am also a member of Havan Kitty where we do havan in each member’s house by turns. We have been given books and every time two ladies are selected to perform the havan just as a pandit would do . Two more are selected to give pravachan or a bhajan.

But today’s Kitty in Mum’s house was special by all means. My Mum has been suffering from osteoporosis since nearly two decades and has had several surgeries for implants. She used to walk with a stick until six months ago. But in spite of that she was very social and active and popular in her area. I would always praise her to my friends. Sometimes i feel meri nazar lag gayi. Six months back she started loosing mobility of her limbs especially her legs. She had to undergo neurosurgery and since then, she has not recovered and is bed ridden.

A few months back she made good progress and could walk with a walker till the living room from her bed. But then she had a fall and things went in back gear. At this time her morale hit an all time low and we as a family had to motivate her to be positive.

Her kitty friends drop in regularly to inquire about her progress. Today was the kitty party of this group which has women of her age only.

They all arrived dot on time and we made them sit around her bed in the bedroom.

pookh lagdi hai? One enquired in Punjabi. When Mum said ‘Yes”. She said , “ Malik te vishvas rakho. Sab theek ho jaana

As we all played three rounds of Tambola there was lots of hasi mazaak, the kind that occurs in mohallas of Punjab. Mum is very enthusiastic about Tambola and as usual won several times. We soon spread plastic sheets on the bed and lay the table right there. One of her friends made delicious laccha tandoori paranthas using a kadhai of all the things! I had seen tandoori rotis and paranthas being cooked in tandoor but it was the first time I saw them being cooked in a kadhai. It was a lesson in culinary skills. Dessert was rasogullas which I bought on the way to her home. Anything to cheer Mum up. Followed by water melon.

It was time for her friends to leave. We all had a great time especially Mum who was in high spirits. They all hugged her and wished her a speedy recovery, praying that she would once again start going to the Park in the evenings as she used to do six months ago. I thanked all her friends and asked them to keep visiting Mum. With so many good wishes around, and my faith in both God and her strong will I am sure she’ll walk again.

Praying and keeping my fingers crossed for her. I hope the next kitty party in her house will be in the living room.

Discovering Sai Dham

I was introduced to the faith of Shirdi Sai Baba by my sister about a decade back. Ever since I had been visiting the Sai Baba temples in Faridabad and made a trip to Shirdi in 2005. I first heard of Sai Dham when I had gone to the Sai Baba temple in sector 16, Faridabad. The temple management of Sector 16 was arranging for auto rickshaw transfers to Sai Dham, beyond Agra canal, or nehar paar as we call it in the local lingo.
Away from the din and noise of the city, in the lap of Mother nature amongst lush green and peaceful surroundings, stands an imposing edifice of the great Saint of Shirdi – Shri Sai Baba. It vibrates peace and provides relief to a large number of people , who throng the place. The spiritual atmosphere of the place is soul stirring. As devotees approach the complex, they experience bliss within and forget the worries of life.
Started in 1988, this temple popularly known as Sai Dham, with the grace of Sri Sai Baba, has grown into a premier Sai Institution. It stands on a 3 acre piece of land, donated by its founder, Saisevak Motilal Gupta in Faridabad which is part of National Capital Region.
It has a spacious hall of 560 sq metres floor are and a mezzanine floor of 320 sq metres, with a 5.25 feet life like white marble idol of Baba installed therin which looks compassionately on His devotees and sheds His grace all around.
Within the complex is a Lendi bagh, a beautiful garden of about 2500 sq metres.
Sai Dham has Shirdi Sai Baba School which provides free education with food, clothing, study material and health care to 650 children hailing from under-privileged families.
Sai Dham provides free training in Computer Operations, Tailoring, Embroidery, Knitting and Electrician.
Health care services have been rendered to the poor and needy for more than a decade. Homepathic treatment from a network of 15 centres, cataract IOL Eye operations, Plastic surgery of cleft lip children, providing artifical limbs to polio victims. Allopathy. gynaecology, eye and TB clinics, AIDS & Family Planning awareness, Blood donation camps on 2nd Sundays of every month, Ayurvedic treatment for Diabetes, Magtherm-Heat Radiation Therapy along spinal cord for joint pains, cervical, back ache, migraine, paralysis.
It conducts Mass marriages four times a year. I was witness to the same today and am just back from Sai Dham.
Besides this there is adult education and guest rooms for aged.
A lot of people have come forward as sponsors to make all this happen. Rani Mukerjee, Gerrman Embassy, Canara Bank, Syndicate Bank, State Bank of Patiala, Indian Oil Corporation and others.
A chance meeting with Mr Motilal’s daughter Mamta got my interest and involvement with Sai Dham as she was promoting the activites of Sai Dham on Twitter. She was looking for a journalist to cover the mass marriage of 15 couples on 4th April. So I managed to rope in a journalist from Dainik Jagran.
As we entered the premises of Sai Dham , a beautifully decorated gate welcomed the visitors. The interiors of the building was decorated with marigold flowers.
As I walked towards the open verandah in front of the mandir, I saw 15 havan kunds, with aasans and samagri for the mass marriage. Mamta told me she would be late so i should introduce myself to her father Mr Motilal Gupta. Soon enough I found him making arrangements for the marriage. As I wished him and introduced myself he said," aap andar jao, dulhan tayar ho rahi hai. aur mummy se bhi mil lo ". Everyone addresses Mrs Kanta Motilal Gupta as Mummy.
As I walked in I saw dulhans getting ready. The table was full of pink chunri and shingar for the dulhans. Associate women of Sai Dham were helping the girls put on makeup, making joodas and helping them wear the wedding saree. Sometime later I wandered outside and saw a stack of brand new bicycles lined up in the ground which would be gifted to the newly married couples. Besides this, household items like gas chulha, beddings, fan, pressure cooker, utensils and clothes were kept to be given to the newly married couple to help them start a life. Today’s mass marriage was sponsored by Rotary Club Delhi.
According to Hindu faith, daan or charity should be a part of every person’s life. And kanya daan ( giving away girl in marriage) is the greatest punya. So a lot of people come forward to sponsor the marriage of a couple or give gifts during mass marriage.
Soon the 14 brides and grooms lined up in the huge hall of the mandir in front of Sai Baba’s statue. The pandit recited the mantra and the Jai Mala was done. The couples shifted to the venue of the marriage for the pheras and the marriage ceremony. During the entire event Mr Motilal was the master of ceremonies, asking the gathering to keep quiet so that the marriage could be conducted. He made sure that every guest in his room had water, soft drinks and mithai. Later he took the group of Rotarians to the School run by the Sai Baba Trust and addressed them in the library about the work Sai Dham was doing for the underprivileged children and poor women.
As we walked back to the mandir hall the students of the Sai Baba school gave a cultural show. A group song, followed by a dance of Sudama and Krishan Milan and finally a group dance by girls to the tune of the famous song Jai Ho from the movie Slumdog Millionaire. In the mean time the marriage ceremony got over and the newly wedded couples sat down to enjoy the programme. Later the members of the club showered blessings on the couples and gave them gifts.
After that we proceeded to Mr Motilal’s office where all the Rotarians and other supporters of Sai Dham had lunch. Inspite of such a hectic day Mr Motilal handed me a blue file containing all the details of Sai Dham’s activities. And finally we headed home.
By writing this blog, I am making a tiny contribution in creating awareness about Sai Dham and I shall continue to volunteer my time in a suitable capacity. If you ever happen to visit Delhi, do visit Sai Dham in Faridabad.
Om Sai Ram.

Remembering Pavanji

Aaye hain to jaayenge , raaja rank fakir
ek singhaasan chadhi chale , ek bandhe janjeer

My brother-in-law, Lion Pavan Chaudhry is no more. He left all of us on 31st March. Pavanji as we all called him fondly, was an extraordinary human being as was evident from the huge number of people who came at his cremation and today at the Chautha. He was Chairman, Lions Club International District Trust.

You were someone who set high goals for yourself and so effortlessly scaled those heights. A highly successful and renowned Income Tax lawyer and a leader who spent decades serving the society with your association with Lions Club.

Today as i entered the hall to the chants of Amritvani , finally the finality of your untimely death sunk in. Perhaps it was your ever smiling face in the photo which put all of us at a little bit at ease after we saw you battling between life and death at the hospital.

The news of your critical illness reached us while we were out of town and we cut short our holiday as we wanted to be with you at the hospital. But we all have only a fixed amount of time in this life. But we could make it to pay our last rites.

Today people from Lions Club sent condolences from all over the country and abroad. Your friends and co workers came from neighbouring states to pay last respects. Your colleagues from High Court Bar association spoke so highly about you, especially about your cool and happy temperament.

My first memory of you was at my engagement. Soon after my marriage you invited us to your home in Lajpat Nagar. Later even as you shifted to Noida we were always in touch at family functions. The marriage of your sons, birth of your grandchildren, the birthday of your father where you invited the entire family to make your Dad feel special.. Your caring nature was known to one and all. I can still remember that morning Sunny and i spent in your chamber in High court. As i poured my heart out to you in my hour of need, you were more like a brother than a brother-in-law. Your patience, insight, understanding and words of wisdom shall always remain with me.

Your positive frame of mind, your leadership qualities and your humane nature is something we shall cherish as a memory. You were an inspiration to every person who came in touch with you. And you remain an inspiration even after you are not with us physically. Even after you are gone, your good deeds are there for all to see and follow suit. You DONATED your EYES so that a living soul could see life in its full colours. I had been wanting to donate myself, and now we both plan to go and donate our eyes too.

You shall always be with us in spirits and in our hearts. RIP Pavanji.

Of Gizmos

Somehow I have never been Gizmo friendly. I don’t know why. We all have our fortes and inadequacies. My inadequacy came to the fore during my recent holiday to J &K. As we stopped for breakfast at the highway I decided to take a few pictures with my digital camera. I had recharged the cells for twenty four hours, but after a few clicks the power wouldn’t turn on and I was stuck. I nearly panicked. The thought of a holiday without snaps was as depressing as going on a holiday and not doing any sightseeing. Before I could gather my wits my younger daughter said, Mum use Dad’s mobile. It has 5 Mega pixels camera. I heaved a sigh of relief.

My hubby has a thing about mobile phones. I have lost track of the number of phones he has changed. He hardly uses the net except to check his PNB account but can easily access the net on his phone. I use the net extensively but have never accessed the net on the phone. To me a phone is for talking and sending and receiving messages. I am happy with that.

We stopped at Khanna town for medicines. As I spotted a Western Union signboard in Punjabi I decided to take a picture. Once again my daughter chipped in.

Mum, use the zoom feature. Press the + button. I did just that and clicked the photo from the comfort of my car.

“ how do you go to the normal mode now? Is there a default button?

No Mum… use the – ve button. I finally learnt the trick

Meanwhile my Hubby was fiddling with his mobile. And within a few minutes he had accessed the net. The next instant my daughter logged into Facebook and updated her status. “Crossed Ludhiana. Still on the way to J&K”.

“How did you access the internet”

I activated GPRS

and then?

I searched for LAN

and then?

I entered the password

You knew the password?

I tried hit and trial method


I tried 12345 or abcde and it worked!

Before this could register he said “ have you used Sina?’

What’s that?

Sina .com is the largest Chinese infotainment web portal. Sina English is the destination for news and information about China.

I never heard of it. Never heard anyone mention it. How do you know? You hardly use the net?

Hubby said nothing. Only a mysterious smile. By now things began to be clear. It was one thing to be computer savvy and another to be Gizmo friendly. And it was clearly advantage GIZMO. I realized it was time to pull up my socks and be in sync with technology before my family decided to shift me to the nearest available museum. So I am now headed to the nearest mobile shop and will buy a fancy mobile. And I wont stop till I have learned all the features it has to offer. So that next time my hubby smiles mysteriously, I too can smile back. Just as mysteriously!