My Bucket List had a book in it and I was not sure as to what and how I should be writing one. Some well-wishers suggested to write a travelogue as I used to travel for work or otherwise.
I was also lucky that I am a member of this blog group and help came up instantaneously. The sum total was the realization that I should be writing from the heart.
Encouraged by the support I decided to start writing and brought up an idea of forming the ‘Book Writers’ Club’ which was joined by a few friends. And I wanted my first few pages to be seen and reviewed by the club members.
I got a real review, ably correcting the plenty of mistakes and telling what should be taken care of from one of the members. She had one book published and here I am talking about her second and lovely book ‘Love.Exe’
If you have downloaded a complicatd software on an unreliable computer with moody internet, you get a picture of how the author unfurls the story. The story progresses like the exact stages in the software download, with the several yes/no, true/false confirmations concluding with the finish button.
That alone would make the book a hit among the tech savvy new generation. Particularly since the background is set on the dream destination for Indians for study and work – the U S A and Ivy League colleges, full scholarships and dream jobs with new gen tech and online companies.
About the Author
Manju Nambiar, originally from Kerala in India, after higher education in USA, now works in a leading frim in San Jose California and lives there with husband and daughter. Her first book ‘The Money Lender’ has been a hit.
The book is available on Amazon
The main character is a bright and beautiful girl from an orthodox South Indian family with ambition set on the typical Indian youngster intention of living the American Dream.
Marriage is what the parents think of daughters and that is what the compromise for any dream.
There is a transition from an attempted arranged marriage to love led marriage. Imagine the situation when the parties involved are the same in both the scenarios.
As a reader, I have a weakness of getting attached to the lead character. That is not the problem. The problem is that whoever is a villain to the good character (mostly heroine) has a red mark on him from me. And when the author cleverly brings the two close to where they work, I am not happy to see the villain making any gains on the heroine.
But I am unique. Almost all the others love the twist and are fascinated by the details of a real Indian experience in the campus and workplace in USA, especially when the love dominates the details. The book is a complete success in meticulously detailing every steps in the life of Indian Americans living the American Dream in the University and work office.
That’s when, though I wouldn’t like the villain coming anywhere near my heroine, all except me will be thrilled at the way the two get closer and closer and closer.
That makes a reader to get hooked on the book. That is everybody, young, old and even me.
Great romantic book and highly recommended.
The world is fighting an epidemic and most of us have no clue as to how to manage it.
Wash your hands several times, social distancing, wear masks etc are precautions. Then there are lockdowns, quarantine, containment zones etc as imposed restrictions.
Herd immunity is something being spoken about. Let me start with what I imagined what it could be! (Caution: this has no scientific backing or verified results, just a figment of my imagination).
Healthy people get the virus. Their strong immune system attacks the virus and make it very weak or kill it. They in turn pass the weakened virus through contact to others. These transmitted viruses are weaker after being attacked by the strong immune humans. The transmitted weak virus gets resistance inside the new body.
This then become the norm and the virus is defeated. This is what I thought herd immunity is all about.
Look at the above Pinterest image. It’s telling something similar.
No blame on anyone who keep people away indoors. But did the lockdowns and quarantine work? Perhaps yes and perhaps no.
Then we’ve the Swedish model where the government just took the backseat and relied on people to take precautions on their own. No specific lockdown and least damage to economy and livelihood of people.
Now Sweden has the least bad news from the pandemic.
Not many want to experiment which could be termed as playing with people’s lives. But the need to survive is getting countries to unlock even before the vaccine.
There will be a spike, but results already show that the mortality rate is majorly down.
People may go bankrupt and die economically if not unlocked. If herd immunity is acquired in the process, it’s a blessing. Albeit, late!
The pandemic has everyone affected. And we are resigned to the fate of practically writing down one year from our lives.
A recovery is required and it’s happening differently in different places.
It happened in China first and let’s not waste time to know how they recovered too. And there are bright spots where the happening itself is little.
But the world has to bounce back and so does Kerala.
There are a few things special to Kerala. Those include natural beauty, hospitality, emancipation etc.
There are also political dramas and extreme devotion to it.
And ‘Kerala Model’ is something like a self praise and it covers even the pandemic. The only thing that’s not a self praise probably is the title ‘God’s Own Country’. That’s a term used by outsiders as Keralites have some honesty.
Kerala Model is something that’s still talked about but we’re clueless on it. No one knows if keeping people indoors indefinitely, hoping to be vaccinated while still indoors is the right strategy.
So we won’t lift quarantine even if the rest of the country have forgotten about it. Of course, we haven’t acknowledged that people from outside and the tourism inside are the ones who supported us. So hurt them, both!
Again ‘herd immunity’ is a bad word. And Arsenic is poison. But then, we don’t know what’s herd immunity, but we know homeopathy is good.
And we take homeo medicine Arsenic Album 30 to boost immunity. Then herd immunity could be not be by accident! We are basically jealous people and we don’t like gold being brought in by a few. What if we get beaten up by police, it’s worth shedding blood for herd immunity.
We’re clever too. Make the return of non residents the hell, and they will stay back to send money.
But what about tourism! Someone has to pay a price. Let it be tourism industry, which will get killed if tourists are to be quarantined.
I have been waiting for the quarantine to end for the past 6 and 1/2 months for returning home from Bangalore. See we have always a vested interest.
Wellness is a fundamental right of everybody. Wellness coaches, promoters, researchers are all important in the wellness ecosystem.
It’s a billion dollars business and rightly so. But it’s sacred too. Biased and thus corrupted misinformation should be banned.
Researches and some of them winning Nobel Prize are important source of information. Role of experts then are to communicate these findings to people in simple explanations and advices.
Such experts do well to personalise the expertise by offering coaching and practice sessions and charge for that. That’s alright and welcome.
But there could be instances where such experts with large following, adjust the concept to favour business lobby for extra money. This is dangerous. This could make the wellness efforts less efficient. This should be avoided and prevented.
We need honest advices. Participants should see the truth and adjust their routine to derive maximum benefits.
Be healthy, be happy!
Kudos to the Indian Premier League (IPL) organisers for conducting this year’s matches among the difficulties of the pandemic.
But it’s not quite the same without the crowds and the cheer leaders in their magnificent costumes, or the shortage of it.
IPL is a bit too much, as it’s every night for many days. But we tune in for the excitement it brings. And when you don’t have a team from your territory, you tend to support your favourites.
That’s why many people like me, support Chennai Super Kings as Mahendra Singh Dhoni is there.
And yesterday’s was a mixed bag, as it was okay for either team to win.
But someone wins due to carelessness of the officials is not exciting finish. Third umpire has the support of digital proofs to take care of any ‘bare eye’ decision of on field umpires and for that matter spectators in the stadium.
But when millions of us are getting the review of the third umpire with the digital replays, it’s not cricket Mr. Third Umpire to make such a mistake. The bat’s clearly in and a team is robbed of the victory by a studied decision which became stupid.
Growing tree from seeds is the natural process. But modern planting is about faster methods like budding and grafting. Except of course the staple grains which are broadcast with seeds.
Avacado is good fat and for a Keralaite like me, an acquired taste. Then why not grow avacado!
I have seen the trick of growing it in water and decided to try. Pierce the seed on sides with small sticks so that it can rest on the sides and float on water in a small container or bottle. And i placed it on the terrace for the ample supply of sunlight. The right way is to use three sticks, but I have used only two.
Success, it’s sprouting. First the root came down into the water to draw the nutrients and then the leaves. I have to transfer it to a pot and eventually to the land for my own avacado tree.
Childhood memories are probably the fondest and naturally there’s a concern when some of the reasons for such memories disappear over time.
One such thing facing extinction is the ‘unda payasam’ a typical Kerala dish. It’s a true Kerala dessert as a key component is the ‘ethakka’ the Kerala banana.
I used to like Unda Payasam, equal to or more than the ‘Ada Pradhaman’ the numero uno of all payasams.
That’s why I thought of making it when I got some ethakka. Of course, I am drawing from memory and taste as to how it would have been made.
Ingredients: 1. Kerala banana ( ethakka) 2 medium size, 2. Rice powder 1 cup, 3. grated coconut 1/2 cup, 4. Coconut Milk (thick) 1 cup, 5. Jaggery 1/2 cup, 6. Ghee 1 tablespoon, 7. Cardamom seed powder 1/2 teaspoon, 8. Salt.
Mix rice powder with grated coconut and some salt and add hot water to make into a smooth paste.
Take 3/4th of the dough and make into small balls. Make small balls as it will slightly expand on cooking. Place them in a steamer and steam for about 15 minutes.
Cut the Kerala banana into small pieces. Heat the ghee in a pan and roast the banana in it. Roasting for a few minutes is sufficient.
Take the rest of the dough in a hard bottom vessel. Pour about 4 cups of water and place on the burner. Add grated or powdered jaggery according to the sweetness required. Allow the mixture to come to boil.
Add cardamom powder and mix well. Add the steamed undas and roasted ethakka and allow the jaggery to get absorbed in them too.
When the payasam assumes a slightly thick constituency, add the coconut milk. Reduce the flame and allow to simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
Unda Payasam is ready. The sweet and slightly sour ethakka is giving the payasam a unique and delicious taste. Also the rice undas make it a rare pleasant feeling.
Mighty pleased at recreating the fond memory and in reviving this traditional dish. Simply yummy and absolutely satisfying.
I follow the YouTube channel Zaikastreet for some good recipes. Here’s one which attracted me and I can’t believe, I made it!
The channel has recipes ably demonstrated, but some of them are in Hindi. This one is in Hindi and I will try and describe how it’s made.
The ingredients are Bottle Gourd about 750 grams, Kova (boiled down thick milk extract) from a litre of fresh milk, sugar, cardamom powder, nuts and food colour. Silver food leaves (I didn’t have).
Peel the gourd and cut into 4 or 6 pieces. Remove seeds and grate the entire gourd. Squeeze by hand or in a cloth to remove water.
Pour one tablespoon of pure ghee into a pan, and heat on medium fire. Add grated louki and stir till the remaining water is dried out and the vegetable is cooked (15 minutes). Add sugar to taste and stir for another 5 minutes.
Now mix the Kova and continue stirring. Add 1/4 teaspoon of cardamom powder and some of the broken nuts. I used cashew, almonds and kismiss slightly roasted in a teaspoon of ghee. Add two drops of food colour (I used green). Stir the mixture well till it become into a consistency for spreading on a tray.
Grease the tray with some butter and spread the mixture evenly in it to the desired thickness. Spread the remaining nuts sporadically on top and level using a wooden spatula.
Ideally the silver leaves on top would have made it look more store like.
Keep aside for an hour or so, if necessary in the chill tray of the refrigerator.
Cut into squares and the barfi is ready. I have the best taster at home who’s a fantastic cook too. And Sunu (my wife) said ‘simply amazing’.
Subscribe to YouTube channel ‘zaikastreet’ for more such recipes simply and ably demonstrated.
Here’s the video link to the barfi
Amul has done it again! This time with a coffee flavour. Lovely chocolate with the goddess of coffee. I am now a total fan of Amul Chocolates.
Sometime back I wrote about their 55% cocoa dark chocolates. And then they came up with a fruit and nut one. There are other varieties too.
Another attraction is the price. Dark chocolate is ₹100 ($ 1.35) and this one is ₹125 ($1.7). All for 30 chocolate squares weighing 150 grams.
There is added sugar. But then, like the famous statement about Greta Garbo, ‘if mind has to sin, it can at least compliment itself on the best choice’.
Well done Amul. I like what you are doing.
Disclaimer: it has nothing to do with the most famous name associated with the company Amul. That it’s my namesake Kurian with an e.
Intermittent Fasting has numerous benefits. Starting with the basic weight loss to such unbelievable benefits like prevention or reversal of deadly diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and even Cancer.
There’s one beautiful thing also in there, anti-aging! How cute is that! Especially for someone like me.
A Japanese study in 2019, on four humans,reveal many things. Yes only 4 people, but humans. And if nothing else, it’s sure to lead to extensive studies to make us all look younger.
Scientists found 42 beneficial compounds, 30 more than previously found in 34 to 58 hours of fasting. These compounds that assist in slowing aging are activated some 60 times their normal when fasting extends to 58 hours.
I am already on a 20 hour fasting, daily, hoping to bring in ‘autophagy’ the 2016 Nobel Prize winning revelation that repairs damaged body cells for numerous benefits including anti-aging.
Perhaps I may move to a 58 hour fast, once in a quarter, to look young.
Butternut Squash on grocery store shelf always attracted my attention and I bought one.
It’s a pumpkin family one and pumpkin pie came to mind. And I wanted to make it the Indian way for ease of finding ingredients.
One of Tarla Dalal’s Website recipe was adopted for this time consuming dish. It even said garam masala for ingredients.
Mix one cup of maida (refined flour) with cold butter and half a teaspoon of salt. Make into a coarse breadcrumbs consistency. Add some cold water to make into a soft dough. Cover and allow to chill for half hour.
Cut and deseed the butternut squash into wedges and bake on a slightly greased tray for about 45 minutes in a preheated oven.
Roll the soft dough on a floured surface into a 12 inch diameter crust base. Slightly grease a pie dish or tart pan preferably with removable bottom and place the crust base in and adjust the sides. (I didn’t have a proper tray for this in Bangalore and hence just used a silver foil).
Scoop the baked and softened butternut Squash wedges and mash into a purée. Add condensed milk, two tablespoons of baking powder, one teaspoon cinnamon powder, 3/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg, half teaspoon ginger powder, half teaspoon powdered cloves and salt. Mix well so that there are no lumps in the mixture.
With a spoon fill the mixture into the chilled crust and bake for about 40 minutes or till the filling is set and the top has turned into a nice golden brown.
Certificate came from one of the best cooks, Sunu, my wife who said yummy scrummy.