A DAY IN THE LIFEOF NN

Corona virus has knocked the day light out of me, if not everyone. By nature I am an out-door person. In retirement I have rarely spent a whole day staying at home. I usually go on errands to buy one thing at a time as PN suddenly declares emergency. If her requisitions dry up I would simply go for walk. Even that would be with a purpose. She would ask me to survey the market to  scout for availability of options for a future home need.

Alas, this activity came to an abrupt stop on the fateful night when our beloved PM decided to save our country from an impending medical disaster and announced an innovative measure called the lock down, which meant “shutters down”.No one was allowed to venture out of their residence. Being residents of a senior community, the restrictions in our case were even more severe. No outsiders were allowed in, including house help for the next 3 weeks. All of us were inconvenienced terribly. However we accepted it in our own interest and looked forward to the D day of liberty.

Sadly it was not to be. We became the atypical caged birds even as the lockdown was extended repeatedly with more and more prescribed compliances, before being slightly relaxed a few weeks back. We are now perfect caged birds that have forgotten the freedom of free air and are keen to remain in the cage even if the door is opened. We stay in our apartment. If temporarily I have to go out, I am anxious to return at the earliest and shut myself in. If the door bell rings I am reluctant to open it as I fear that it is Corona that is threatening to fly in! 

I walk early morning everyday to keep my blood sugar in check. We have long external corridors to facilitate this. In Corona times I gave up this facility as the traffic was heavy and also necessitating greeting everyone through my mask. I tried to walk up and down indoors from my kitchen to the open terrace. 17 rounds take 5 minutes. A count of 100 rounds meant half an hour. I congratulated myself for solving a complex space-time mathematical equation a la  a more famous Scientist.  Just then  the lady downstairs came running with a rolling pin threatening me for disturbing her peace with my hammering steps. I then had to revert to external corridors to avoid a boundary dispute. Our aggressive Himalayan neighbour came to my mind. After all I can’t match our gutsy PM.


As we are in a seniors facility, we are entitled to a lot of conveniences even in normal time. The bank sends us the cash requested on Whatsapp and collects the cheque later. The Chemist delivers medicine at the door. Grocer, ditto. In Corona times these services have been strengthened. The only change is that I have to take delivery at the reception in the ground floor which is 3 levels down. We do have the elevator facility but for obvious reasons I prefer the stairway. You know how easy it is to go down. That is happening so swiftly in the last 6 months of Corona all over the world, be it  demand, employment, sales, GDP, or any other economic metric. For the first time the world is discovering the ‘gravity’ (pun intended) of the situation. 


Now, it is the climb back that seems daunting. In this situation I am going down and up 3 floors for collecting the supplies. The cafeteria is in fact situated 4 floors down in the basement. That trip is done at least twice a day. At 81 this is no joke. Yet the driving incentive is that I am assured it is good for my lungs and sugar level. More flights means lower sugar levels for a diabetic.

Moreover this lockdown is reskilling time in ways I never imagined.  I am learning more kitchen chores to ease life for Padmini. I make my own tea and toasts. I wash the utensils once a day. I remove clothes from the washer and hang them to dry in the terrace, and  quickly bring the stand in every time it threatens to rain which is half a dozen times in this rainy season in Bengaluru. This is not all. I am the designated door keeper and telephone attendant. I also make my bed if I feel like it. Never imagined that these simple looking activities could demand such a lot of skill and time. 

My next project  is up-skilling, like training myself to operate the gas burner, handle the kitchen knife and manage my finger chips. These are hazardous tasks and involve a higher degree of risk management.Now you know what my daily life is. Never a dull moment.

I don’t know whether I would ever return to my earlier exploratory street trips…..Ah well! I am not exactly regretting it

This is my take on this week’s Friday blog post topic suggested by Shackman.

The other bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Shackman, Conrad, Ramana, Sanjanaah, Gaelikka, Srinivas and Padmini.

Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they say about Power.

https://shackman-speaks.blogspot.com

https://jconmem.blogspot.com

https://rummuser@rummuser.com

https://ceezone.wordpress.com

https://www.gaelikaasdiary.com

https://sanjanaaah.wordpress.com

Posted in Current Events, Environment, Friday Three On One blog, Life skills, Prof Natarajan's Blogs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Recipes for my granddaughters, grandnephews and grandnieces

Food always tastes better when you recollect childhood tastes. That is because food is inextricably linked with love, security and familial feeling. When you look back and remember the dishes cooked by your grandmom or if you have eaten meals in the rural ambience, dishes always had a special taste. When you painstakingly got the recipes and cooked the same dish, something was always missing, a subtle flavour that is not there in your dish. Why, you wonder, is that special texture or flavour missing from my dish? Simple! because you are not using the traditional cooking method or utensil that was used to make that dish. 

My son was leaving for UCLA, USA. he had never even made a cup of tea for himself as his grandmothers were hovering around to fulfill all his culinary needs. He was going to fend for himself. So I prepared a spiral bound notebook with basic recipes and a poster with little packets of ingredients that I labelled with Tamil, Hindi and English names. This was to help him when he went shopping for Indian ingredients. I had also bought him a pressure cooker and demonstrated how to use it. He never had to use any of this as either his other Indian friends would cook up something for him or he would get his TamBram meal in our friend Mani and Karen’s house where he spent weekends. Karen is an excellent cook and would pack up enough food for him to last a week. Alas! When Mani dropped him iff in the Dorm, a clutch of Jai’s friends would be waiting eagerly and pounce on the food packets that would be devoured in a jiffy.

Sadly, we could not go for his graduation for family reasons. He finished is MS and then joined ILM in Marin County. He had an apartment in the Orange area of the Bay Area. I went alone to spend a month with him. Knowing that I would be cooking Indian meals I took another pressure cooker along with me. Inspecting Jai’s kitchen i found one half of the cooker that had accompanied him. WhenI asked him about this he said ,”Should there be a lid for this? I was wondering what to do with it”! The spiral bound cookbook too went AWOL!

Today, after having spent 19 years of married life with Vandana who is a superb cook, he has had to cook for his daughters and himself back in the US. Uttara is not very fond of daily cooking. She loves baking and makes a wonderful omelet. Madhura has learnt to knead the dough, roll the rotis and make scrambled eggs and masala omelet.

I don’t know if they will ever look at these recipes. Yet, after Sanjanah has asked my blogging group to write on this theme…I am recording these easy to make recipes!! If they still want to cook TamBram food…my cookbook is available for them.

Thayir saadam or Curd Rice

The iconic soul food for Tamizh people is curd rice!! It is the last course in any meal. It cools the stomach and system. When the stomach is upset, curd rice is prescribed. Buttermilk is served as a thirst quencher in the very hot terrain of South India.

The easiest dish a beginner can learn to prepare is Yoghurt rice.

rice                     1 cup

water                 2 cups

Optional: Grated carrots, cucumber. Pomegranate seeds and halved green grapes.

Method

1. Wash and cook rice in water for 3 whistles and 1 more whistle on low flame. Cool and open and use the rice.

Optional

1. Grate carrots, cucumber (optional).

2. In a small saucepan add 1 teaspoon of oil. Crackle mustard, add hing, curry leavesand if you have a small piece (1/2” of grated ginger) and a chilli.

3. Add to rice. Pour half a cup of milk and mash. Then add ½ cup of yoghurt and mix well with ¼ teaspoon of salt.

4. Add grated vegetable, pomegranate seeds, grapes and mix it well.

5. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Sambhar Rice

Sambhar is an important first course gravy in the South Indian meal. Sambhar has an interesting story (with many deviations). Shahuji Bhonsle, second Maratha ruler of Thanjavur (reign 1684-1712) was expecting an important visitor to his palace. His cousin Sambhaji, the son of Maharaj Shivaji was coming to Thanjavur from Poona. A grand feast was under preparation but an importnat ingredient, kokum, that was used as a souring agent for the Maharashtrian amti or dhal was unavailable. The red pigeon pea that was an important gram in Tamil Nadu was used. Tamarind grows abundantly in this area and is used in many gravy dishes. The tweaking of the dhal was named after Sambhaji, a great cook himself.

Rice and sambhar is made into a one pot dish and is served all over the south from homes to railway stations, street vendors to restaurants and starred hotels.

INGREDIENTS

To pressure cook

Basmati  rice           1 cup

Toor dhal                   ¼ cup (soak the dhal in one cup of water in the morning before you leave for  work…otherwise soak it for 20 mins in hot water…helps to cook fast)

Water                      4 cups—including water used to soak dhal/tamarind paste

Carrot, Peas,        1 cup—chopped/cubed (can use frozen mixed vegetable…avoid

Beans, Potato    cabbage)

Turmeric powder – ¼ teaspoon

Saute

Sliced onion                 1 large

Tomato                         2 or 3

Curry leaves             3 or 4 leaves (optional)Tamarind paste      1 teaspoon

Sambar Powder     1 teaspoon

Hing                           ¼ teaspoon (optional)

Salt                             1 teaspoon

Seasoning

Oil + ghee                  2  teaspoons

Mustard seeds         1 teaspoon

Coriander leaves – 2 tbsp (optional to garnish)

METHOD

  1. Wash rice
  2. In a saucepan or in the pressure pan, pour the oil/ghee.
  3. Add the mustard seeds and crackle. Add hing and curry leaves.
  4. Add the onions and sauté till it becomes transparent.
  5. Add chopped vegetables, chopped tomato, turmeric powder, salt, sambar powder.
  6. Place in a pressure cooker the rice and soaked dhal along with sauted veggies, and onion and spices.
  7. Add 4 cups of water nad cook for 2-3 whistles. Reduce the heat and cook for another whistle.
  8. Let the cooker cool. Meanwhile add tamarind paste in a small saucepan with ½ cup of water to dissolve—or zap in micro for 2 minutes.
  9. Open the cooker, add the cooked tamarind paste and add 2 teaspoons of ghee. Bring to boil. Add chopped coriander and eat hot.

Tasty Tip: You can buy coconut milk in any Asian grocery shop—it comes in tetrapacks like juice containers. You can open and store in fridge. Add a teaspoon of this when cooking with the tamarind…it gives a special flavour.

You can add half a teaspoon of garam masala and or coriander/dhania powder at the time of seasoning with mustard for extra flavour.

ONE POT KHICHDI

The khichdi is a national dish. It has many names according to the area it is served. The main staple can also differ from rice to broken wheat, millets, semolina and now quinoa as well.

This dish tastes great with akha/whole masoor or brown/black lentils. You can substitute rice with dhalia or broken wheat.

Ingredients

Rice                                 1  cup

Yellow moong dal        3 tablespoons

(split yellow gram)

Salt                                 ½ teaspoon

Ghee                                1 tablespoon

Cumin seeds/jeera       1 teaspoon

Pepper powder             ¼ teaspoon

Hing                                ½ teaspoon

Curry leaves                   1 teaspoon

(shredded)

Method

1. Saute the moong dhal for a few minutes till it lets out its aroma.

2. Combine rice and moong dal with salt and 2½ cups of hot water and pressure cook for 3 whistles.|

3. Heat the ghee in a saucepan. Add cumin seeds and let it brown. Add curry leaves, pepper powder and asafoetida. When the spices open up and crackle, pour over the cooked khichdi and mix well.

4. Serve hot with a yoghurt raita.

Tasty tip: To make this khichdi into a one pot meal, add cubed carrots, beans, cauliflower florets, peas, capsicum etc. You can add a chopped onion to the seasoning, sauté and add it to the khichdi.

You can use tuvar dhal as well.

Rasam

Just as in the west Chicken Soup is for the soul, rasam for a South Indian is a soup that offers succor and panacea for body and soul. It is the best cure for colds and sinus problems……and  the blues! Rasam means liquid or the essence of goodness.

(For 2 mugs of rasam)

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon of tamarind paste (can add 1/2 spoon more for sourness)

½ cup          Cooked and mashed tuvar dhal/red gram/pigeon peas

1                  Tomato large, chopped

1 teaspoon  Sambhar/rasam powder

¼ teaspoon  Turmeric powder

 1 teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon           Coriander leaves for garnishing

For the Seasoning:

1 teaspoon             Ghee 

½ teaspoon           Mustard seeds

½ teaspoon           Jeera/cumin seeds

½ teaspoon           Asafoetida/Hing/Perungaayam powder

1 teaspoon            Curry leaves, shredded

1/2 teaspoon each of coriander, cummin and pepper powders

Method:

1.    Boil the tuvar dhal in a pressure cooker or till soft. Mash and keep aside.

2.    Take a cup of water in a saucepan, add the chopped tomatoes, the tamarind paste, some curry leaves, sambar/rasam powder, turmeric powder and the salt.

3.    Bring to boil and simmer on low fire for 5 minutes until the raw smell of the spice powder is gone. You may mash up the tomato as well.

4.    Liquefy the cooked dhal with another cup of water. Add to the boiling gravy and bring to boil. You will see a yellow foam forming at the top. Taste for salt.

5.    Remove from the flame and while hot, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. (Optional)

6.    In a small saucepan, heat the ghee/oil. Splutter the mustard and jeera seeds, add the asafoetida and some more curry leaves.

7. Add the cumin, coriander and pepper powder…take care not to burn it. Top the rasam with this aromatic seasoning.

7.    Serve hot with white rice and vegetables.

Tasty tip: Add a teaspoonful each of cumin and coriander powder and ¼ teaspoon of pepper powder to the seasoning ghee for extra flavour. 

.PS: I cook tuvar dhal …maybe 2 cups/1/4 kg and keep in the fridge/freezer. I take out just enough for sambhar/dhal fry or rasam as I need

Pulao

Pulao is a one pot rice dish made by cooking fragrant basmati rice with aromatic spices, herbs and even stock. Pulao or pilaf is easy to cook unlike the Biriyani. There are many kinds of pulaos made in India like vegetable pulao, Matar pulao, tawa pulao, Coconut milk pulao, zarda pulao, kashmiri pulao and Chicken and mutton pulao.

Ingredients

1 cup               Basmati rice

1 teaspoon      Jeera

1 onion            Sliced

1 tbsp               ginger/garlic paste

1 cup                mixed vegetables

3 tbsp              curds (dahi)

1 tsp                 garam masala powder

2 tbsp              chopped coriander (dhania)

1 tsp                 oil/ghee

½ teaspoon    salt

Method

  1. Chop cauliflower florets, french beans, carrots and green peas.
  2. Wash the rice and keep aside.
  3. Put 2 cups of water to boil.
  4. Heat the ghee and oil in a pressure cooker. Add the jeera and let it splutter.
  5. Add onion slices and sauté. Then add ginger and garlic paste and stir for a minute.
  6. Then add the mixed vegetables and fry for a minute.
  7. Finally, add the rice, curds, garam masala powder, coriander, 2 cups of hot water and salt and pressure cook for 2 whistles.
  8. Allow the steam to escape before opening.
  9. Serve hot.

Tasty Tip: You can use any vegetable of your choice.

Chutney

An importany accompaniment the number of chutney recipes can be mind boggling. This is a dish that I tweaked from an English marmalade and gave it a new avatar.

Orange skin and Ginger sweet and sour chutney

GINGER 50 grms
ORANGE RIND 1 CUP (2 oranges)
SESAME OIL 4-5 Tblsps
MUSTARD SEEDS 1/4 Tsp
ASAFOETIDA 1/4 Tsp|
TAMARIND Paste 1 Tbsp
RED CHILLI POWDER 1 TSP
SALT 1 TSP
JAGGERY/Brown Sugar 1-2 TBLSP
TURMERIC POWDER 1 TSP

METHOD

Blend to a paste the ginger and orange rind with the tamarind pulp with a 1/2 a cup of water.

• In a pan heat the oil and add in the mustard seeds and asafoetida.

• When the mustard splutters, add the finely grated ginger.

• Saute the blended orange ginger for 2 minutes.

.• Add the red chilly powder, salt, jaggery,and turmeric powder.

• Keep it in a low flame and let it come to a mass.

• This will take around 5 to 7 minutes.

• When the orange ginger paste gets completely cooked and the oil starts leaving the sides, switch off the flame.

• Allow this to completely cool and store it in a clean dry container.

• Use dry spoon when ever you take it for use.

Note:
• 2-3 green chillies can be added while blending the orange and ginger.

Sweet Semolina Kesari

This is also a national dish that changes according to the area in which it is made. Kesari means saffron and the semolina is coloured to make it more attractive. The variations are many. This is a dish that the new bride cooks as her first dish in her new home.

Episode 3 Rava Kesari

Ingredients

1 cup sooji (rava or semolina)

1 cup milk and water

¼ teaspoon cardamom powder

2 tablespoon cashews

1 tablespoon raisins

1 cup sugar or add as required

1 tablespoon ghee or clarified butter

Instructions

  • Heat ghee in a pan. Add cashews and saute for about a minute or till they turn golden in colour. Add raisins and saute till they plump up on a low flame.
  • Add sooji and fry continuously till it becomes brown/tan.
  • Add milk and quickly stir so that lumps do not form.
  • Add sugar. Stir and bring the mushy mixture on a slow flame till it thickens.
  • Lastly add cardamom powder.
  • Stir the halwa and switch off the flame.
  • Serve sooji hot or warm or refrigerate.

This is my take on this week’s Friday blog post topic suggested by Sanjanah.

The other bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Shackman, Conrad, Ramana, Sanjanaah, Gaelikka, Srinivas and Raju.

Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what’s cooking in their blogs.

https://shackman-speaks.blogspot.com

https://jconmem.blogspot.com

https://rummuser@rummuser.com

https://ceezone.wordpress.com

https://www.gaelikaasdiary.com

https://sanjanaaah.wordpress.com



Posted in Current Events, Food and Beverages, Friday Three On One blog, Holistic Cooking, Life skills, Society, Uncategorized, Wellness and health | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

POWER–NN

Power is something human beings constantly seek to do things and to get something done.

When you are powerless you feel helpless. Constantly you have to seek someone else’s help even for trivial things. You become totally dependent. 

The first kind of power everyone needs is the power of fitness and good health. Quite often this important power is taken for granted by those who are endowed with it. Only when they are ill or confined to bed for some reason, or lose the function of even a little finger they realise what has been snatched from them. The other day I got the creepy feeling that a tiny ant was trying to enter my right ear. This alarmed me. I had an urge to stop it by using my little finger. The other fingers were too big for the job. But unfortunately I had hurt my little finger badly earlier in the day by jamming it while closing an almirah. It was in a bandage and I was in pain. Hence I used my other little finger and thanked the Almighty for thoughtfully empowering me with two hands!

Power is the strength to do things or to get things done, by not only humans but by things created or exploited by them. When referring to the strength of lifting or moving, we measure it by a strange expression, ‘horse power’. 

Humans are called powerful based on their personal influence or the position they occupy in the establishment. Personal power is the result of your own qualities and your past record of making things happen or swaying public opinion.

A typical example is Mahatma Gandhi. He was a Nobody who influenced the humongous population of a huge country to seek independence from a colonial regime. And this was in an era when there was no internet or even an aeroplane that could be used by ordinary human beings. To add to the communication barrier the oppressive regime resorted to strict censorship and routinely opened and read posted letters in the name of intelligence gathering. Gandhi was a bundle of contradictions and yet people trusted him. The frail man’s simple message miraculously reached their heart. His only powerful weapon was self denial. He stayed away from celebration and power when India attained independence and even advised the Congress leaders to wind up the party to make a fresh beginning! That is why we call him the Mahatma. 

Self denial is indeed the most important source of personal power. Mao Tse Tung is now a highly criticised person even in China. Yet by himself following self denial and practising austerity, he influenced the Chinese thinking to lay the foundation of  what is perhaps the most powerful country within a period of 75 years after independence. Given the huge population of China this is a great  achievement indeed. 

As opposed to personal power, positional power belongs to the seat of power. Any duly appointed person exercises it by virtue of his/her title. Such power is very temporary. That has unfortunately given rise to dynastic rule in India to perpetuate the rule by a family. This disease has spread to other politicians too. Those who illegitimately occupy the seat know that their days are numbered and often appoint themselves as rulers for life, only to be ousted and assassinated in line with their own declaration! 

The nuclear power has been the contribution of the 20th century in the field of power and is seen as an important differentiator in the domain of power play in international politics.

Now to another concept of power. In mathematics there are two digits which are all-powerful. These are 0 and 1. Any number multiplied by 0 becomes zero. Zero has huge positional power when placed after any number. The value of the number gets multiplied 10 times every time you place a 0 after it. Any number raised to the ‘power’ of zero gets reduced to just 1. Any number divided by 0 rises to infinity. Likewise 1 represents uniqueness literally and figuratively. Multiplication value of 1 is zero! Any number raised to the power of 1 or divided by 1 remains unchanged. Zero and One have revolutionised human thinking and behaviour totally and irreversibly through the technique of binary arithmetic.

We cannot think of life without computers, cell phones or software industry. At the root of all this digital revolution are Zero and 1. Millions of jobs and livelihoods would have been impossible without the digital revolution! Such is the nature of power wielded by just Nothing and 1.

The latest developments in AI and ML covering learning, reasoning, problem-solving, perception, speech and facial recognition, annotation, language understanding autonomous decision making and execution has the potential to reduce the status of human beings to nothing are the founded on the 2 deadly digits. Remember that we are still only in the first generation of AI. Two more generations are still in the making and may take 2 decades more). By contrast every other power looks tiny and insignificant.

This is my take on this week’s Friday blog post topic suggested by Ramana. The other bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Shackman, Conrad, Ramana, Sanjanaah, Gaelikka, Srinivas and Padmini.

Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they say about Power.

https://shackman-speaks.blogspot.com

https://jconmem.blogspot.com

https://rummuser@rummuser.com

https://ceezone.wordpress.com

https://www.gaelikaasdiary.com

https://sanjanaaah.wordpress.com

Posted in Current Events, Friday Three On One blog, Life skills, Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

POWER

The forceful thrust
With which a mother
Pushes out her
Ready to be born baby

The howling thundering
Forceful gusty winds
That bring sheets of rain
To a thirst arid earth

The hidden fault
A line of disaster
That meshes deep within
And causes tremors, quakes

The mighty roar
Of an ancient uprooted tree
That comes crashing down
Crushing lives with its weight

The sweeping, spreading
Hungry licks of a flame
That races across miles
To reduce to ash everything

The roar of an angry lion
The hiss of a venomous snake
The trumpeting of a mighty elephant
The bark or meow of a loyal pet

The force and anger
Of a drunken, clenched fist
That hits an innocent, cowering face
That bleeds and breaks brittle bones

The gradual build up
Through practice, training
Participating, running, cycling, racing
To an ephemeral, changing finish line

The energy of light
Humming through wires
In liquids, chemicals, viruses
Holding its controller in fear

The authority of hidden might
Of wealth, coins and cash
That multiplies in vaults
Feeding greed, starving lives

The shares, the numbers
Of gnomes in businesses
Who control economies
Fates of people, nations

The counting strength
Accumulating in ballot papers
That herald a re-elect
Or a new political regime

The strength of eight
Sinewed shoulders
That lift biers and coffins
To carry to a final rest, release

The POWER of a smile
A tear, a hug or embrace
That can turn disasters to
A loving nourishing experience

Power…an emotion
Power..an experience
Power..a control
Power…a resource of strength
Power…a Divine blessing

This is my take on this week’s Friday blog topic that was suggested by Ramana. You can go to the other powerful writers Shackman, Conrad, Ramana, Sanjanaah, Gaelikka, Srinivas and Prof.Natarajan.

Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they say about Power.

https://shackman-speaks.blogspot.com

https://jconmem.blogspot.com

https://rummuser@rummuser.com

https://ceezone.wordpress.com

https://www.gaelikaasdiary.com

https://sanjanaaah.wordpress.com

Posted in Current Events, Environment, Friday Three On One blog, Life skills, Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

LIVING IN THE NOW..PN

You only have control over the present, so live it to the fullest. Bhagavad Gita

These are troubled times. We have an equal number of members who can look out for tomorrows and others who are glad for their todays. I am looking forward to what our kiddo has to say about this.

In the Vedic and Buddhist traditions, a great deal of the philosophy is centred on the NOW. Meditation is an important part of the spiritual experiences in the oriental way of thinking and in their philosophy. Karma or to call it by its popular interpretation, Fate has an integral part of our thought processes.

We instinctively believe that whatever happens, happens for the best. Whatever happens in our lives is a result of the two bundles that we carry in our souls, Paapa and Punya…sins and merits. When we concentrate on our deeds, on our doing, we are in fact focussing on the NOW. Meditation helps us to….

Be present in the present as the present is the presence of the Supreme Presence.

Current day self-help teachers advise us to live in the present. We can give our best in the present because we are there totally in mind, body and soul. The past is important. It gives us the experience to mould our present reactions to a given situation. We must and should plan for the future. Whether we look at the past or expect from the future, in actual practice it is the present on which we have total control. Whatever action has to be taken is in the NOW.

However, this is not easy to do for the mind is a monkey. It will wander and not let us focus on the present. It requires willpower and that is not an easy thing to harness. So one of the things that our philosophy tells us to do is to spend our moments of uncertainty, doubt and vacillation with service. When we turn our focus to giving, to serving somebody else’s needs, the focus becomes NOW, the present.

Eckhart Tolle, has written a great deal about the Power of Now.

He says, “DO NOT BE CONCERNED WITH THE FRUIT OF YOUR ACTION — just give attention to the action itself. The fruit will come of its own accord”. This is a powerful spiritual practice that is also one of the basic tenets of the Gita.

Tolle says, be where you are. “Learn to look around without interpreting. See the light, shapes, colors, textures and be aware of the silent presence of each thing. Be aware of the space that allows everything to be”. We automatically tend to connect the dots when we are in any situation. We do not look at a rainbow and just look at it, absorbing its beauty, the wonder of it. We are programmed to look for the pot of the gold at the end of the rainbow. We want to see if there is just one, or 2 rainbows. We want to click the photograph for our eternity. We are afraid that a rainbow will never happen again. We want to time it, to call a few people to see it, WhatsApp it and ……..

One of the biggest obstacles to being fully present is our cultural, universal obsession with the idea of more and instant gratification. We want more food, more information, more news, more hits on Facebook, more money, more material things, more experiences, travel etc. etc. And we want all this just now. We are highly impressed by people who are informed, hyper-busy, who multi-task constantly and who are “achievers”! We say and admire the person saying s/he must be important! In today’s technological world, this instant gratification of ‘more’ is available non-stop …easily, instantaneously, simultaneously and in a never ending list of possibilities. Being busy all the time playing mind games, there is no time for doing things that will really improve our being qualitatively. With so much information, we are lost for what is truly relevant. So much stimulation has left us blasé and unfeeling. Multitasking is only making us a Jack of all trades, master of none.

Tolle says “When you surrender to what is and so become fully present, the past ceases to have any power. The realm of Being, which had been obscured by the mind, then opens up. Suddenly, a great stillness arises within you, an unfathomable sense of peace. And within that peace, there is great joy. And within that joy, there is love. And at the innermost core, there is the sacred, the immeasurable, That which cannot be named”.

When we train ourselves to realize deep within us that the present moment is all that I will ever have, our whole being changes and becomes still.

Yasmaannodvijate loko lokaannodvijate cha yah |

Harshhamarshhabhayodvegairmuk- to yah sa cha me priyah ||

“He, by whom the world is not agitated and whom the world cannot agitate, he who remains calm in times of joy, anger, fear and anxiety, is dear to me.” Says Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. It is a great lesson to remain calm and composed, both in times of joy and in sorrow. This helps to maintain a sense of equanimity. When I accept this moment fully, then I gain ease in the here and now and with myself.

Here are two stories about living in the NOW

Arjuna and the Fish Eye

In the epic Mahabharata, the renowned archery master Dronacharya was training the five Pandava brothers in the art and skill of archery. Karna was also his tudent.. Karna was the stepbrother of the Pandavas, but nobody knew this. There was a keen rivalry between Karna and Arjuna.

One day, the five Pandava brothers and Karna were tested on their skill. Guru Drona tied a wooden painted fish high on a tree branch above a pool of water. He then asked each student to shoot the fish in the eye while looking at the image in the water below.

As each student came up to perform the feat, Guru Drona asked, “Son, what do you see?”

The oldest, Yudhisthira, answered, “The sky, the tree, the …,” and before he could finish, Drona stopped him mid sentence and asked the next student to take his place.

The next Pandava, Bhima answered, “The branch of the tree, the fish, the…,” and was rejected.

Karna, who was easily the best archer too failed in this test. Finally Arjuna, the ace-archer, was asked the same question. He immediately answered, “I see the eye of the fish.”

Guru Drona was delighted and said, “Shoot!” Arjuna’s arrow unwaveringly pierced right through the eye of the fish.

A Zen Story

After winning several archery contests, the young and rather boastful champion challenged a Zen master who was renowned for his skill as an archer. The young man demonstrated remarkable technical proficiency when he hit a distant bull’s eye on his first try, and then split that arrow with his second shot.

“There,” he said to the old man, “see if you can match that!”

Undisturbed, the master did not draw his bow, but rather motioned for the young archer to follow him up the mountain. Curious about the old man’s intentions, the champion followed him high into the mountain until they reached a deep chasm spanned by a rather flimsy and shaky log. Calmly stepping out onto the middle of the unsteady and certainly perilous bridge, the old master picked a faraway tree as a target, drew his bow, and fired a clean, direct hit.

“Now it is your turn,” he said as he gracefully stepped back onto the safe ground.

Staring with terror into the seemingly bottomless and beckoning abyss, the young man could not force himself to step out onto the log, no less shoot at a target.

“You have much skill with your bow,” the master said, sensing his challenger’s predicament, “but you have little skill with the mind that lets loose the shot.”

This is my take on this week’s Friday 5 On 1 blog topic that was suggested by Raju. Please do go over to the other bloggers to see how they are comfortable in their NOW.

https://shackman-speaks.blogspot.com

https://jconmem.blogspot.com

https://rummuser@rummuser.com

https://ceezone.wordpress.com

https://www.gaelikaasdiary.com

https://sanjanaaah.wordpress.com

Posted in Current Events, Spirituality, Zen | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Living in the NOW!..NN

Living in the Now will mean different things to different people. 

For a daily worker in India in the unorganised sector who needs to earn his wage working everyday to keep hunger away, it is not an option but a challenge to face the next 24 hours without work. 

This is not often realised by the other sections of the society including the leftist and rightist politicians who declare a strike (no work day) at the drop of a hat to express their solidarity with the well heeled organised sector of workers and others agitating for some cause or the other. Incidentally the entire organised sector enjoys the day as a nice holiday, relaxing at home. Outwardly they protest against the strike called ‘bandh’ in local parlance but thoroughly celebrate the off day. Only the unorganised sector labourers go hungry. They constitute some 75% of the work force! They have no protection, no sympathisers or empathisers. The only others who protest against such disruptions are bosses of businesses who lament the opportunity revenue loss.

In my parents’ time living in the now for them meant no day dreaming. They would remind themselves about the life style they could afford, after setting off some savings for future contingencies like health problems, children’s education etc. They were frugal and simple in their habits. No expensive holidaying, no borrowing, no speculation, no keeping up with the Joneses or spends on unwanted things. Thus factoring in their future needs was their way of living in the Now. This was labelled conservatism.

In my working days, the pattern set by my parents was the basic approach to life. I too remained conservative till my marriage. Then the pattern changed somewhat especially after a stint abroad. Yet, through all the stages I was cautious enough to remain solvent although I did borrow from banks for buying my car and house. Towards the fag end of my career came the credit card and open stock market in which I made limited investment. I used the card as a facility but always repaid the entire outstandings on the next due date. 

The credit card culture has vastly changed lives of people all over the world. It has taught us instant gratification, whether or not we can afford a certain spend. We need no ready cash. Our family can demand anything and get it. That is the power of the piece of plastic. This is a typical example of not living in the now. People spend today what they are hoping to earn in the next 12 to 18 months. Card issuers charge a hefty interest and are not too keen to acquire customers who will pay clear the amount immediately. In league with pushers of luxury goods and exotic holidays they make tempting offers that are easily bitten by gullible customers. This culture has come to stay. It has changed our mindset. We believe that living in the now means not worrying too much about tomorrow. People spend as if there is no tomorrow, never mind if they can’t discharge their debt obligations in future. The more debt you accumulate, the bigger person you are! Living beyond means is par for the course. This is probably what constitutes the economic boom and demand driven economy.

At the other end of the spectrum are those who believe madly in wealth accumulation. They are relatively very small in number but huge in accumulation. 5% of the people who own 50% of the world’s wealth. 10% own 90% of the world’s riches. The wealth they own is rising every day. Many of them employ dubious means to dodge taxes. Some are influential enough to restructure tax laws to their advantage.They are too powerful to be touched. They are another type who live in the now. 

To some extent Corona virus has acted as a great leveller. It has not spared even the head of the most powerful country in the world. 

What then could be a balanced approach?

What all the types explored above, except the Indian unprotected unorganised sector worker need to know is the uncertainty of life. Birthdays are of little consequence. The truth is that you are reborn everyday when you rise from your bed. Death makes no distinction between the rich and the poor, conmen and the honest. It strikes at will, at random. Even the next moment is not guaranteed. Everyday is your birthday. Live one day at a time. Celebrate it by being kind, showing sympathy and empathy to one and all humans and other creatures. Be moderate in your approach to life and its celebration. Shun hatred. Attend to your needs but don’t yield to greed. If your happiness is dependent on another person’s misery, avoid it. 

When it is bed time count your blessings. It is an opportunity to mentally remember the people who have made your day memorable. The next morning, if there is one, will be another day, another new Now!

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MEDICINE TODAY…PN

My blog is going to be a pean of praise for an extinct species called the GP.

Our generation had the advantage of having a family doctor who knew all about you from your babyhood, through childhood infections, your marriage, kids and their problems. The GP could diagnose from a point of strength as s/he knew what problems existed in the whole family, very often the clan. So asthma, allergies, diabetes or BP problems could be something you developed or had been handed down from previous generations.

What was most important about a GP was that they made house visits. The medical bag was an iconic image and a well dressed physician came calling to diagnose and prescribe medicines. Very often they carried the medicines or asked a family member to pop into the dispensary and collect dispensed medicines.

The Compounder in a doctor’s dispensary was an important personality who knew equally well in terms of illnesses and recurring ailments. In some cases, the Compounder was also the secretary who maintained a card in which your medical history was recorded. Some well to do doctors also had secretaries who maintained your medical history. A doctor would spend time in a day recording or dictating a patient’s current problems and that would go into the record as well.

The GP was a familiar personality in my life till recent years. We are part of a government service that is available to retired government personnel. We visit a dispensary and the doctor gives us our regular medicines. The services for a senior citizen are made easy to access and avail. however, no home visits are made.

In our Senior Citizen’s facility we have a in-house nurse who is familiar with our problems. Till lockdown started, we had a doctor coming to our premises and would consult for a fixed fee. Now, our consultations are online with strange doctors who keep changing every consult.

Doctors would check your pulse, put a stethoscope to your chest and back, make you cough, breathe deeply, look at your eyes and nails. Today doctors look at your reports, ask you for symptoms and write up more tests. They barely listen to what you have to say about your aches and pains.

You go to a specialist for advice based on your symptoms. Already even in a particular speciality, say like orthopaedics, there are further distinctions as docs specialiose in knee replacement, hip replacement, spinal problems and reconstruction/trauma specialists and so on and on. In fact, you dont have GP’s anymore…you have Internists!

The Doctor is IN!!

The much told joke is with so much focus on parts of a body soon you will have doctors specialising on the left leg and right leg, left eye/nostril/ear and the right side as well. even in dentistry there are so many different specialists I have difficulty in recognising the doctor with my mouth wide open and different doctors drilling in and out!!

The internet maybe has taken the place of the Materia Medica or your friendly neighbourhood GP.

To wind up, in today’s hyper Covid Corona world, this is a meme doing the rounds. So where are the doctors?

This is my take on this week’s Friday blogs post suggested by me. The other bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Maria. Sanjana, Raju,  RamanaShackman Srinivas and Conrad

To see what many others have to say about this matter that affects all of us, do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say.

https://shackman-speaks.blogspot.com

https://jconmem.blogspot.com

https://rummuser@rummuser.com

https://ceezone.wordpress.com

https://www.gaelikaasdiary.com

https://sanjanaaah.wordpress.com/

Posted in Current Events, Environment, Life skills, Society | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

MEDICINE TODAY..NN

Medicine owes its origin to nature. Nature was associated with cure. The body’s nature and mechanism is to recover naturally. Even today creatures other than humans are heavily dependent on nature to get cured if they contract any illness. 

Illness is the opposite of wellness. The first sign of illness is physical uneasiness marked by one or more symptoms. The first response of the body to an illness is a lack of appetite. Thus illness is suspected in an animal or a baby if there is a sudden resistance to the intake of food. This results in restlessness. In the not too distant past a person who fell ill suddenly was advised to go easy on food. The old Sanskrit saying is “langanam parama oushadham”, meaning that skipping food is the best medicine. Even today this is the first step in home cure when medical help is not available or affordable. This resulted in detoxification of the digestive system. Obviously this was not a ‘cure all’ prescription. 

The next step was the intake of well identified indigenous herbs, plant, flowers, vegetables, fruits and seeds. There were practitioners who were trained for generations to examine patients through physical examination of their eyes, nails, pulse rate and its feebleness and by which they offered treatment with plant extracts and concentrated solutions for an extended period of 1 month or more. 

Today 99% allopathic medicines are chemical compounds made in labs based on complex chemicals and floated in the market after intense check for adverse side effects. Does it mean they are safe and without side effects? Unfortunately seldom! The so called minor side effects are accepted as a necessary evil. The immediate advantage is that unlike other systems of medicine they deliver instant relief.

Antibiotics are particularly magical. But their curative value is a question mark in many cases. Many of them are only suppressors of ailment. The main problem is that they destroy good bacteria along with the bad ones they are required to fight. Further doctors prescribe antacids simultaneously to protect intestinal linings. Repeated administration of drugs make them ineffective, leading to increased dosages and side effects.Apart from the side effects and decreasing efficacy strong allopathic drugs have to be administered after rigorous investigations. These are very expensive and time consuming in some cases.

Various regulations on professional malpractice make doctors defensive. They are compelled to take a large insurance cover. Protected by Patents laws, drug manufacturers are not answerable even to god for the usurious pricing of drugs once they hit the jackpot of official clearance of their drug discovery. The cumulative price is paid by the patient. Further medical insurers and corporate hospitals run their businesses to maximise profits for their shareholders They are in a grand alliance with doctors, medical investigation labs and drug marketers!  An ailment is the grand opportunity they are looking for. The patient has to battle out this grand alliance and is expected to bankroll them and successfully combat the ailment single handedly. If he has the means, all luck to him.  If not, the elimination of his ailment would be the beginning of a personal economic disaster. In the alternative the ailment may consume him. Either way he is the loser. 

This is my take on this week’s Friday blogs post suggested by my wife Padmini. The other bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Maria. SanjanaPadmum,  RamanaShackman Srinivas and Conrad

To see what many others have to say about this matter that affects all of us, do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say.

https://shackman-speaks.blogspot.com

https://jconmem.blogspot.com

https://rummuser@rummuser.com

https://ceezone.wordpress.com

https://www.gaelikaasdiary.com

https://sanjanaaah.wordpress.com/

Posted in Current Events, Environment, Life skills, Prof Natarajan's Blogs, Society | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What is All the fuss about? PN

People, and I do not want to include leaders, businessmen and celebrities…are behaving in the weirdest manner in the coronavirus pandemic situation. Like Nero, they are playing rousing marches on violins instead of airing soothing, healing melodies that give out hope and succour. You may ask…what is all the fuss about?

Well….the fuss is because of an instinctive need to stay alive, stay well, stay, healthy and stay mobile!! The pandemic is here panning every human being…some say even the animals…and our environment. Yet, there are people who put rights over health regulations and in their holier than thou attitude to life and others lives they take stands that I call Demandments!!

Let’s have a look at these Ten Demandments of our enlightened brethren who question, argue and pooh pooh the pandemic safety safeguards.

  1. Mask or Not

Till the pandemic started, the masked face–eyes only.. was associated with Comic book heroes and maybe a single heroine or with Middle eastern women.

In Bollywood…songs were written aboutthe beautiful eyes hidden seen in a glimpse while the whole face of the heroine was hidden. In India, historically, women took to hiding their faces behind the veil or the sari ends/palloos to protect themselves from marauders who galloped in to the land and kidnapped/abused women. This then became the norm and women had to cover their faces from the other menfolk in the family, including sons and grandsons. In the past few decades, there has been a hue and cry—okay..fuss about women taking to the hijab forcibly or out of choice.

Today, all of us are wearing the mask to protect ourselves from the airborne droplets of a virus that is deadly. However, there is a huge section of society that is inimical to the idea quoting their freedom to bare or wear! So are we fussing, or the liberated souls?

  • Economy or Lives

    Many people, that includes politicians and big businesses, are more obsessed by the economic backlash of the lockdown. All governments are talking about reopening the country at a rapid rate that can negatively worsen the pandemic. Options to gradually easing in normal economic activity that can worsen the economy but save lives is not high on their agenda. Fuss or finances?

  • MEDIA gloom and doom

There is very little media focus on the numbers and individual cases where people have recovered, of fighting fit people who have come back from mild, medium and extreme affliction. It is all about numbers—national and worldwide—and no spotlight on the battle won individuals. Fuss or misplaced focus?

  • Professional Protestors and Demonstrators

In all nations, protesters need to exercise their voices to criticize governments for trying to keep them healthy. Their demand is their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of enjoyment that can literally take the air out of their lungs. In this, they care a two hoot for the next person and are quite happy to infect others with a sneeze or cough. Social distancing is for the fuss pots, is it?

  • Been there, Done that

    And…there are all these statisticians who are dishing out cold plates of comfort saying that “45,000 people a year die from automobile accidents, 480,000 from cigarettes, 360,000 a year from swimming pools, but we don’t shut the country down for that.” The statistics themselves are questionable or puffed up and who is to reason with them that when did swimming pools, car accidents and cigarettes become contagious? Just fuss or fudging?

  • Hugs, handshakes and bussies!

Gone, gone…forever gone. In recent years a hug was prescribed to show you care. A clasp of hands and arms was advocated to assure each other about the genuineness of a relationship or transaction. In Europe warm greetings were governed by three air smacks. Today, even at weddings, the hand is bestowed clothed in gloves!! Si is the namasthe not enough to send across the warmth and real intentions…unnecessary fuss or germichecks?

  • Duh and Duh again

    I will eat out even if it is a crowded restaurant. I have to see movies in a theatre. I have to fly out to Timbuctoo because it is my holiday time. I will go to the beach and parks and have a bunch of friends join me. I want to go to the casinos and try my luck never mind if it is the virus on number 8 in the roulette!

  • Wild-fire parties

Have you heard about Gender reveal parties? I will throw a “Gender reveal Party”, fire blue or pink flares into the air and start a wildfire… because that is the trend. Stop fussing..if you must know, it is a party that involves revealing the gender of an unborn baby. A Syrian couple recently spent as much as USD 100,000 on gender reveal party of their baby. What did they do with that kind of money? Project the child’s gender onto the Burj Khalifa in Dubai!

  • Sales and shopping

This is the wear and throw away times and I have to go shopping. If I am partying, I need a new outfit. If it is a wedding, I can’t be seen in something I wore last year and haven’t even looked at it. So, open up the malls, the designer stores…I am not fussing…this is a genuine need for my self-esteem!!

10. Fusspots in testing times

Okay…you are nothing but a doom and gloom person. Stop fussing. If I stayed indoors, wore masks, maintained social distancing, reported possible signs of the virus, tested is that stopping the numbers ballooning? So let me do what I want…I may not be there to enjoy my life…

So like Nero…I shall play the violins and dance to reels and race towards extinction. You stop fussing…

This is my take on this week’s Friday 8 On 1 blog post topic. The other seven bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Maria. SanjanaRamana,  RajuShackman Srinivas and Conrad.  This week’s topic was suggested by Maria.

So without further ado, please do go over to their blogs and check out what their fuss or no fuss is all about.

Posted in Current Events, Friday Three On One blog, Life skills, Society, Women | Tagged | 6 Comments

What is all the fuss about?……NN

Google says fuss is a state of excitement, and it’s usually about something not worth worrying or “fussing” about. Most fusses are types of commotion. If someone makes a fuss, they’re overexcited and in a tizzy over something, like someone who can’t stop asking questions.


Fuss has two components. One is the person who is fussing and the other is the person or object that is fussed about. Occasionally the two are the same!

Fuss can mean many things. For example, an over-caring anxious mother may wish to feed her child endlessly assuming that the child’s stomach has more capacity to take in food until the child brings it all out. This is an exhibition of extreme love and concern. A very simple case of over enthusiasm. Unfortunately, the child is the sufferer. In my experience no mother ever believes that her child has drunk enough milk.

Likewise, over-ambitious parents punish their kids in the process of making them more competitive in studies, sports, music, and other extra mural activities. They want their child to top in every competition including spelling-bee contests. There is no limit to this type of cruelty. It helps them brag about their super-child. All this fuss is driven by selfishness in the garb of doing good for the child. This is a little different from overfeeding.

Possessiveness also leads to a lot of fuss. Lovers and parents exhibit this quality in abundance.

Next there are people who are fastidious about their needs or requirements. Often times, these so-called needs and requirements are artificially imposed on subordinate colleagues or employees. The boss claims to be a perfectionist and cannot tolerate any underperformance. In the early days of my career when there were no computers or electronic typewriters (the first versatile model was the high priced IBM Selectronic machine introduced in 1961. I first saw it only in 1972) I got the reputation of being a fussy boss for demanding from my secretaries, typed letters without any typographical flaws and unwilling to accept penned or erased corrections. This was not a must in those days. My demand meant retyping, occasionally more than once. Some errors occurred since my secretary failed to hear and jot down correctly while taking dictation in shorthand. On other occasions I modified a word or two that seemed inapt. Nevertheless, I was also grudgingly complemented for my ability to place my finger on an error as soon as the paper was placed before me for signature.

The Brits are known for their fussy table manners and dining etiquettes including how to position the dining implements while serving and eating a meal. This is more fussy when you are seeking to be served more. I had a taste of it in St. Stephens College, Delhi. I thought this was a kind of snobbery. The urban upper strata of the Indian society have learned the art of chewing food with their mouths closed and with no the chewing sound being heard. Their country cousins merrily enjoy their dishes with a loud smack of their lips and are happy to continue their conversation with a morsel of food (I don’t mean foot) in their mouth.

A legacy that the British masters left behind is the bureaucracy in India. This includes the servile behaviour expected of all subordinates towards anyone of a higher rank. Any superior is always addressed as ‘Sir’. His name cannot be uttered within his hearing distance. Of course, calling a boss by his first name was blasphemy. As I was also in the bureaucratic establishment, I too followed this rule meticulously. When I joined a private foreign bank, I discovered that everyone was addressed only by their first name. Unable to change my life long habit radically I addressed my boss as Mr……. His Secretary came to me the very next day that counselled me to call him by his first name. I said I would do so but needed a few days to change to this informal mode. I also secretly admired his simplicity and lack of fuss. I thought his secretary was returning at the end of this brief conversation, but she abruptly turned and said “Mr. Natarajan, George also wishes to know how you can be addressed.” Only then I realised the main purpose of her visit! There is more to the story, but that has to wait for another occasion.

Some of you would have heard this one about this tale that describes how fussy and formal the Brits are. There was a plane crash over the sea and two brits, X and Y, hung on to the opposite ends of a small log that was floating for several hours till a small boat spotted them and came near the end where X was hanging for his dear life. The rescuing boatsman asked him who Y was. X said “How would I know; we have not been introduced”.

Hypochondriacs make a lot of fuss about their real and imaginary illnesses. If two of them are in a serious conversation, both of them will part with a list of additional illnesses in their compilation of ownership.

I hope I have spoken enough. I am scared that someone may make a fuss about it being long- winded.

Prof N.Natarajan

This is my take on this week’s Friday 8 On 1 blog post topic. The other seven bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Maria. SanjanaPadmum,  RamanaShackman Srinivas and Conrad.  This week’s topic was suggested by Maria. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

Posted in Current Events, Friday Three On One blog, Life skills, Prof Natarajan's Blogs, Society | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments