June 30, 2009


I was flicking channels on my TV remote and found not one channel worth watching for more than 30 secs.. It just made me wonder if plentitude means no quality!! So many channels in all languages and various options from music to soap to movies to sports to current affairs and none worthwhile. Something surely is wrong somehwere...
In the 1980s, as a kid, we had so few channels but I remember having a slew of delighful programmes that I used to look forward to.. To name some of my favourites, I loved all the BBC sitcoms /comedies ... To the Manor Born, Yes Minister, Mind your Language, Sherlock Holmes, Odd Couple to name a few....
And there were US prductions like the Here's Lucy, Different Strokes, not to mention evergreen comedies of Laurel & Hardy, Charlie Chaplin.. I remember Startrek with Captain Kirk, Dr. Spock too!! Don't they make such programmes anymore?? I am sure kids will like the clean entertainment these shows provided.

June 29, 2009

Different Strokes from Kapil Sibal

I never thought much of our minister for HRD during his earlier stint as Minsiter for S&T. But I must admit, I do admire his latest proposal to scrap Class X board exams. This is indeed a very progressive, bold move... The kids have the XII boards anyway... why have one at class X at all... I must admit that I will remember this minister for many years to come if he is indeed able to push this proposal through quickly... I recently read an article by Ms. Renu Balakrishnan, a creative writing expert (whatever that means:-)) and couldn't agree with her more on this subject!!! You can read her article here.

Children deserve to have fun in their childhood and school should be a fun place, not one boring, cramming session followed by another!!

June 26, 2009

Bloggers of the World Unite!

Recently, Blogspot was in the news as there was a legal case of pulling up a blogger and asking him to withdraw posts... You can read the full story here.
This has re-started the debate in my mind.. How much freedom do we have after all? Is there anything called 'freedom of expression' in a democracy? This is a nagging question for me, particularly since I have had to withdraw two posts from my site!! Ah yes, in my case it from friendly advice from family:) and I was forced to withdraw much against my wishes... And pray, what was the post about?? I was merely giving my personal comments on a judgement passed in the court regarding a couple who wanted to go for abortion in an advanced pregnancy!! I was told told that I was doing a contempt of court if I as much as disagree with a judgement!! Now, is this really true?? I still don't know but my family was so scared for my life that they simply had the final word on this and I meekly complied:(
But I do hear debates on various issues for which judgements have been passed, on TV and people do have difference of opinion on issues.. Can anybody please tell me what is 'freedom of expression' mean in a democracy like ours (India)??

June 24, 2009

Science Talk

I recently came across an article that says plants grow faster when spoken to and significantly faster when spoke to, by women!! You can read more about it here. Interesting indeed!! I am always fascinated by plant growth in vitro or in vivo, and I personally have always noticed that plants like to be spoken to...

When I work on plant cultures, I distinctly felt that plants (even explants, viz., tissues) grew well when I wished them in the morning and sat with them for sometime, even hummed for them:). There were cultures that didn't see me everyday and I always felt they looked less healthy:-(. I never gave it much thought as its difficult to quantify these changes scientifically and prove these observations.. But this recent research by the Royal Horticulture Society, London, has got me thinking... Maybe I could design an experiment and do some analyses by the side, of my main research focus..

Any comments / ideas are welcome!!

June 18, 2009

Chocolate Nut Brownies

I must introduce you readers to the concept of raw food. I happened to attend a raw food class conducted by Mr. Philip Clegg who works in British Council but pursues cooking as a hobby and he is extremely knowledgeable in the subject. He eats only only raw food and I was amazed to find out that there is more to raw food than mere salads... he taught us starters, soups, main courses, and yum desserts.. I will share some of the recipes with you all. Chocolate nut brownies is an amazingly simple and quick and yummy dessert to dish out... Ah yes, all his recipes have no sugar, no milk and requires no cooking... Surprised! Well read on and try them out..

Chocolate Nut Brownies
Serves 16; 32x20 cm dish
1.25 cup de- shelled walnuts
3 cups almonds
1.5 cup dates
1 vanilla pod
3 Tblspn coconut oil (cold pressed)
1 cup raisins
1 cup cocoa powder
1 pinch Himalayan crystal salt
1 pinch cayenne (chilli if not available) powder
1 pinch nutmeg

Put all into a food processor, use a S blade until it sticks together. Be careful not to overdo, as nuts in the oil will separate and make the mix too sticky and oily. Empty contents into baking dish and press down to form a compact even surface ( you must press well or they will crumble later at the time of making pieces). Put in fridge and keep for 2/3 hours for it to set. You can keep it overnight. No harm. Alternatively, you can make tight rounds of these and call them chocolate nut brownie candies. Alternatives: Try using other nuts.
Extremely yummie and healthy too!!!!!!!!

'Hope gap' by Queen Rania of Jordan

Many of us get very inspired by some speeches made by leaders of the world or very humble mortals. For me, one such talk was by Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan. She was addressing the "India Today Conclave "- New Delhi, India in 2006. Her insight about bridging the 'hope gap' between the 'haves and have nots' was simply brilliant. Reminded me of the 'hope' I see in some of the parents who we help in a Trust, primarily run by my husband. Although they hail from abject poverty, the spark and hope they have to somehow break out of the poverty trap is heartening to see, in some of them.

I would like to reproduce here, a part of the talk she delivered on that occasion for the benefit of those who missed it, reproduced from her official website.
"…Even though Delhi is many miles from Amman, I feel a sense of familiarity. In part, it is because of the warm hospitality I have received since the moment I arrived. But it is also because I believe our nations share a similar spirit – one that is driven by optimism… and openness towards the world. Both India and Jordan have storied pasts, yet we do not fear the future; we believe we can harness the best of both, without compromising either… Our countries have shown we can reach out to the world, and embrace what modernity offers, without losing our grip on the culture and customs that make us who we are. Perhaps our shared openness stems from the fact that we both have youthful societies. Roughly one in three of your citizens, like ours, is under the age of 15. Young Indians and Jordanians represent a tremendous wellspring of talent and drive… and helping them reach their fullest potential is our greatest opportunity and obligation. Jordan, like India, deeply values knowledge, education and learning. We too want to foster an environment in which our people’s creativity can bloom."

"Even though Jordan may be a small hamlet next to India’s mega-metropolis, we welcome India’s emergence as a great world power for the twenty-first century… because we believe you have a key role to play in shaping the future we share. … India is everywhere, as anyone who attended the World Economic Forum in Davos can attest. Today, you have an historic opportunity and ability to influence other nations. But I respectfully submit that with that ability comes a special responsibility: At a time when other global powers are preoccupied with their own challenges, India can lead in bridging the divides that have held too much of the world back for too long."

"After all, you know what it means to be a developing country in a globalizing world – trying simultaneously to manage policy reform and to meet your people’s rising aspirations. … India today has the credibility and humility to exert the kind of leadership that puts people… humanity… and peace… at the heart of the world’s agenda. I have said, in the past, that I believe the greatest challenge we face is not religious divides or technology gaps or divisions between the developed and developing world, but the hope gap that separates people, from birth, into those who have a future and those who do not. The hope gap opens when our very youngest are denied what they need to thrive – health, nutrition, and literate mothers who can pass that value along. The hope gap widens when schoolchildren lack for books, technology and support – including teachers with training and access to global communications tools. This is unacceptable. We have to do better. Our hearts and our heads demand it."

"That is why, though it is fashionable to speak of India as an emerging economic power, I am convinced the world needs you to be a moral power as well. India can play an historic role in narrowing the hope gap – and, in so doing, build a brighter future for humanity as a whole."

Free Will or Destiny?

This is a oft repeated question in philosophical discussions and we always have people taking the side of Free will or Destiny... But the best answer to this vexed question, according to me, is how H. H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji explains it.

He says and I quote, "When people consider the past as free will they are filled with remorse and regret. When they consider the future as destiny, lethargy and inertia set in. A wise person will consider the past as destiny and the future as free will. When you consider the past as destiny, no more questions are raised and the mind is at ease. And when you consider the future as free will you are filled with enthusiasm and dynamism. Of course there will be some uncertainty when you consider the future as free will, and some anxiety, but it can also bring alertness and creativity. Consider the past as destiny, the future as free will and the present moment as Divinity.

This is like the Last Word on this subject isn't it??

June 15, 2009

Inghe Brahmanan!

Before I realised, our home had an influx of brahmin priests - come to perform a homam. We usually don't have such events at home and so was rather uncharacteristic. The occasion was our house re-warming after a complete makeover that we subjected it to:)
It was quite a task organizing for the event, ingredients for the homam, per se, and the most important of all, arranging for lunch.. A very enterprising lady bravely announced she could cook for the 30 plus guests with ample help from her assistant... So, off I was from work... shopping in Mylai streets for sticks / dung / flowers / fruits / spl ingredients for the homam, not to mention groceries and veggies:-). On the whole the exercise was enjoyable but I wonder if I will inflict myself with such an event if I had a choice:-). Check out the snaps in the link provided here
Those of you who are wondering why I have given such a heading for the post, there is a serial currently showing in one of the tamil channels - Enghe Brahmanan that talks of the life and times of the brahmin community:)

June 11, 2009

Peanut butter

This one amazing simple recipe that many don't seem to know.... Oh, its available in supermarkets but its not the same like it comes out fresh and yum at home.. take 200 gms of roasted peanuts (with or without the skin - I prefer with the skin), add 2 tsps of sugar, a pinch of salt in a mixie and grind. At first, you will get a fine powder and with more spins on the mixie, the oil from the peanuts break out and you will have a smooth paste of peanut butter!! Transfer to a container and store. Refrigeration is not required. Goes best with bread toast and spreads well.. Enjoy!

June 7, 2009

Heritage temples

I chanced upon a group that conserves and reconstructs heritage temples back to their glory with minimal changes to architecture and settings.. We were a motley group of 25 people from varied backgrounds on the trip to Pazhaverkadu.. I was quite impressed with the passion and commitment from some of the key members of the group who run an NGO called REACH. I must say that they are doing an amazing job of finding out heritage temples in ruins and building them back. For more info about them check this link

It just occurred to me that even economically, apart from the spiritual and mythological angles, such an activity spurs rural economy. Restoring a temple in a town /village brings back temple tourism and the town slowly can develop into a temple city and the economy can revolve around it.. Quite fascinating it was to see pics of the Adi Narayana Perumal temple back in 2006 and now in May 2009 after considerable cleaning and maintenence from local folks.. Calls for a lot of patience and perseverence but well worth the effort!! Kudos to REACH and their ilk!! May their breed flourish

June 6, 2009

M S Dhoni

I like this guy's ishtyle! He is good on and off the field, indeed. Yesterday, our media reported some rift between Sehwag and MS Dhoni. But I liked the way he gave it back to them... We've had captains caught in similar situations before but they have usually chosen to be silent and deny only when asked.
But our man addresses a customary pre match press meet with his full team present, says what he wants, and leaves before any media guy could begin asking a question. He simply rubbished the report and apparently as he was leaving, he tossed a stack of printed copies of his statement at the reporters and said, "here, otherwise you will misquote me on this as well [Nahin toh tum log isko bhi ulta likhega]".
I do particularly like it when the media is put in place:)


Yes, we recently had a make over of our home.... it was a crazy one month and more but was exciting in many ways... Discomfort apart, I liked the choosing of tiles, flooring options that I learnt, and how quick some carpenters can be:).. I am happy to post a link for you guys to see and comment.
If any of you are planning a similar exercise, I will be more than glad to help you out. What's missing in the link, but a major exercise we undertook are the Fenesta windows. They are the current rage...UPVC windows and they sure look neat and chic. I liked their options with bug screen and different glass windows to suit the place. They are amazingly sound proof, with triple sealing, channels to drain rain water and glass that keep out the heat by 30% (unverified:-))
With regards to flooring, we experimented with a wooden floor for the master bedroom. Looks grand.. I highly recommend it to people, particularly rooms that have less traffic.. It definitely feels nice and easy to walk on it, barefoot... can't say the same of the vitrified tiles we have laid in all other rooms. Oh yes, they are easy to maintain and no hassle at all but hard on the feet, while the wooden flooring requires a whole new set of rules for inmates, maids etc.. But nett nett its worth the effort and more..
As we all know, the soft furnishings like curtains, light fittings have actually made the home very inviting, cosy and warm. So, look forward to welcoming you all home!!

June 5, 2009

Improvised Dosa

Happened to share this recipe with a friend and thought it was a good idea to post it... Till I shared the recipe, I had no idea that it was a little known variety of dosa. So here it goes.... when the dosa batter goes sour, no sweat, that's when this improvised version tastes best:-) ( hey, that rhymes well). Deep fry moru mollaha ( green chillies soaked in butter milk and dried in sun) and add to sour dosa batter. Mix well and make these dosas in a kadai.. The downside is it consumes more oil than the regular dosas but its not every day that you're gonna have sour dosa batter at home.. so go ahead and indulge:)

To the uninitiated on kadai dosa, put a little oil in kadai, when ready, place a laddle full of batter, spread and leave the laddle over it to ensure the dosa spreads evenly. And in this case, ensure, there are enough moru mollahas in each dosa. Alternately, spread the dosa batter and insert the moru mollahas into the dosa in such a way that every piece you eat will get a bit of the chilli. Turn it over and ensure both sides are done well. And volia... tasty dosas ready to down, with no side dish required. Polish off with some buttermilk to have a complete fill.

Those of you planning smaller cocktail dosas can also try this one out! Do let me know how it turns out!