Tuesday, November 3, 2009

some decisions

i wondered for a very long time how it was possible to lose several pounds, not just 2-3 but tens of it in one week? without great application of mind i tried out the maths of it all and for the life of me i couldnt see how it was done. and then the light-bulb moment...i thought i would write that down here so some neednt reinvent the wheel so to speak...

see its basically like this: supposing i am very heavy and have been consuming a lot of calories and not really been moving as much as I should have been in order not to put on more weight, then what happens when i decide to go on a diet and start walking for say 30 mts a day?

where i have been consuming 5000 cals, say a day, my intake drops to 1500 since i am on a diet.. the difference of 3500 cals which my body suddenly doesnt get but is used to has to come from somewhere and since i am not supplying that, the body takes it from its reserves.

secondly the 30 minute walk would cost me something like 150 or so cals maybe even more- that too has to come either out of what i am consuming or from the store house that is my body...so we have a daily deficit of about 3650 calories, a clear one pound...think of the water loss and if one also went on an exercise regime....thus it would be possible for me to lose a lot of weight in the early part of my diet programme- so i could see how it is possible to lose a lot of weight if one was seriously overweight. but as i lose weight and get slimmer and there is less body to sustain and the calorie deficit is not as huge, then is when i find i am not losing as rapidly as i used to, and then is when i start hitting plateaus...

and that is exactly what happened too, you know... i was 69.5kgs, and in the first four months i happily lost about 6 of them with seemingly no difficulty.. since then it has been all uphill...

with my current bmr of 1300 cals, and a moderately active life style, if i go overboard even at a single meal, i am set back by a week.. so at this point of time portion control, and physical activity is something i just cannot afford to lose sight of.. of i can forget about losing..

what i have done is this: i have made some decisions such as:
1. not to skip breakfast..but not to gorge, at the same time.
2. a mid morning/mid afternoon snack is a must.
3. no eating heavy dinner.. preferably not after 730 pm anyway.
4. log 10,000 steps, minimum, everyday.. it would be ideal to log 15,000.
5. jog for 20 mts a day.
6. stationery cycling-40 mts a day.
7. calorie-burn on extra exercise should be 600 everyday... they can be through walking, jogging, cycling, anything.. but that 600 must be done.
8. try, try, try, not to eat more than 1600 calories.. that plus an error allowance of 10% would take it to 1800 cals/day almost.
9. no rice after 6 pm.. not even idlis/dosas even though they are "light tiffin items"

i hope all these show results... i have managed to lose 10 kgs and have another 7 to go.. oh but it is so difficult not to eat!! i could walk eternally, but where is the time for an office goer?

still.. it took a long time for the fat to come.. i shouldnt fuss that it is taking a long time to go!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

a simple recipe-poha

here is a simple recipe made of 'poha' (beaten/pounded rice, aval)

for best results, use hand pounded rice. machine pounded is also ok, but you need to be really quick in working with it, coz it can end up very gooey.

ok, here goes.

wash a cup of poha a couple of times till the water runs clear. drain in a collander or in a largishchai ki channi (and if u dont have that either, then just an ordinary chota channi, or just use your fingers as a sieve, for heaven's sake, u need only to drain the water!!).keep aside.

add a quarter tsp of salt and a pinch of turmeric. (there you go again; turmeric powder if you dont have, then what to do? make it optional. its just that the powder gives the poha such a pretty colour!!)

now add a teaspoon of fresh lime juice, and mix well.

voila! ur poha is ready to eat! goes well with dahi u know. if you add the dahi and skip the lime juice and turmeric powder, u can mistake the whole thing for thayir saadam.

making time? 5 minutes, max? i should think so.

ensai, as we say in kollywood!!

Monday, June 8, 2009


yesterday was my gardening day. till the day before yesterday, i had no desire whatsoever to venture into the hot sun and pull out weeds or apply compost to the plants... it is too hot and just watering the plants every now and then was enough, i thought. and thats how it is hereabouts. then suddenly, no rhyme or reason, i just decided that i had to buy "yeru" (thats red soil mixed with dried cowdung) to apply to the plants which needed nourishment.. the weather had to me, suddenly become gardenable...know what i mean? one day too hot, the next day, time just right to start gardening!! it is an internal clock, i think, i have no other explanation. so i trotted off to this "nursery" near our house, bought four bags of the "mixture" and four saplings of bouganvilla. dont ask me what colour. i dont know. the lady who sold me the plants was vaguer still about the colours, the saplings themselves obviously bore no flowers. she said they might be pink and orange, but she couldnt be anything more specific than that except, well yes, she did tell me in very clear terms that they were 'not red'. i was prepared to take my chances.. if all of them turn out the same color, so what...i had to have the plants then and there and i wouldnt wait a day longer for them. she did ask me to return in a week's time, when i could find plants with flowers and i could pick the colors i wanted, but i was adamant that i wanted to wait no more.
when i came home, it was nice and cool in the evening, just right for planting my saplings.. after changing into my salwar set, i got down to the digging of pits and planting of the saplings. mission accomplished and plants watered..... this was on saturday. i also spent some time in my roof garden deweeding and applying the compost i had bought that day to some of my plants etc and i had covered half the place, and had left the rest to the next day.
sunday dawned clear and bright, and by 9 am, yeah, i know rather too sunny to spend time in the garden, but i dont let things like that stop me, i was up there on the roof again, attending to the second half. at the end of 10 minutes i found i had two armsful of 'karpooravalli' cuttings ( Plectranthus amboinicus ). now, this karpooravalli plant has thick leaves, is very very aromatic, in fact smells of karpooram (camphor) and is supposed to be medicinal and very good for the throat. in fact, our elders tell us that every time you think your throat is going bad or you have a cough, just chew a couple of leaves of this herb and you will be alright. so here i was holding two armsful of medicine, and what was i going to do with these cuttings? already my garden was overflowing with the plants and i had planted them all around the house. and i just couldnt bring myself to chuck them out into the garbage bins strategically placed on the streets by chennai corporation's garbage collecting contractor. what to do? what to do? then i had this brilliant plan. there is a ganesha temple quite close to my house. i go to this temple every morning. i told myself that if i took these cuttings to the temple, i could offer them to the devotees that came there. no sooner thought than done! calling out to my mil that i was going to the temple, i collected the cuttings and off i went. it was close to 10 am then and the temple closes around 11am. happily, i thought the time was just right!! but to my dismay, i found devotees scarce on the ground!! it was then that i realised that sunday mornings, most people got up late and lazed and it is only in the evenings that religious and social outings take place... what to do? what to do? brilliant idea again..(surfeit of brilliant ideas and plans here, i thought to myself!) if devotees dont come, i go to them. the temple, if you have been to indira nagar(which of course, you may not have) you will know is surrounded on three sides by small independent houses. kind of a crescent with a tangent on top of the crescent which is another road with more houses and flats. between the temple and the almost circle and tangent behind the temple is a playground! so it is like this, temple, road in front of it, play ground behind it, a semi circle, which is more like a horseshoe,with houses on the outer edge, road in front... the top of the horseshoe kind of extends to the right and left for more road and more houses....so no houses adjoining the temple. get the picture? well ok, anyway....
the first house- a college mate used to live there decades ago, i remembered even as i rang the door bell. turns out she still does!! only, she was away from the city for a couple of days, and the doorbell was answered by her husband. i explained that i lived on first avenue, gave my name and told him that i had these karpooravaalli cuttings, and would he like some? u just stick the cutting in the mud, or a pot, water it and it just takes root... he said he would certainly like some and took a bunch of cuttings... next house and an old mami and her mil answered the door, they took more than a bunch.. they assured me that karpooravalli leaves made very nice "thuvayal" and "bajjis"... then the next house and the next house... ten houses later, my bag was empty and the cuttings had all found nice homes to take root and grow in. feeling mighty pleased and self congratulatory, i returned home. (btw, in one of the houses, a guest of the house thought i was a salesperson and tried to shoo me away. i explained i wasnt there to sell anything...then the couple that lived there came out to find out what was going on; they took rather a lot of the karpooravalli and said rather nice things to me...) my mil thought i had taken leave of my senses traipsing from house to house distributing karpooravalli...... come to think of it, this was just a couple of days after world environment day... so...
apron on, i slapped my son's hat on my head and taking up the "mun vetti" and "gadapara", i set out to explore my "compost" pit.. now, i have dug a couple of pits about 2 feet deep, 2 feet wide and 3 feet long, into which we dump our kitchen waste and the leaf fall. i had thought two years ago that i was making huge pits, but i find they are simply inadequate. we generate a humongous quantity of leaves! and of course kitchen waste. my word! how we eat fruits and vegetables!! before long a small mountain of dry leaves vegetable and fruit peels collects in that corner of the house. anyway. i pushed aside one portion of the leaves, and underneath i found a treasure waiting... lovely lovely black compost! to cut a long story short (yeah, yeah, i know it is already a small novel!!) it took me four and half hours to retrieve all the compost, and spread it around the house and apply to all the trees and bushes and plants. how lovely that felt! and my trees and plants must be so thrilled with all that yummy food!! despite my routine walking, step exercising, jogging and suryanamaskaring, i discovered a lot of muscles at the end of the day..but that is another story. what i want to say here about the compost is this: it is amazing, i tell you....leaves dry and full...brown and green....and when piled up and left alone, just disintegrate into almost black powder. and it smells so great! the bottom most lot becomes really really powdery and as you go up the pile the leaves are quite shredded and dark and you can use them as mulch.
from now onwards i am not going to simply collect all the leaves in one place. it doesnt make sense to bring them all to one place. i could and i will push them around all the trees around the house... that way the smaller plants growing under these trees would get nourishment... something like the delayed release medicines that humans take, moisture would be kept for a longer period and i wont have "double work" nor will my "help" have double work.
we have a lot of saplings of different plants, like ashoka, curry leaves, basil and a white flowering plant which is a composite, but i dont know the name now, will have to find out... i am asking myself why i shouldnt 'pot' them and distribute them to people living in flats... and distribute the semi compost too... must think this thing through.....and see if it can work.....

Monday, May 25, 2009

Salad-my favourite food

i love salads... fruit, vegetable, fruit and vegetable...easy to make, easier to eat! here is what i have been doing lately...

Fruity-vegetable salad

I have used:

one each of



tender cucumber



5 jackfruit pods/bulbs, deseeded

half a cup of dahi (yoghurt) made of double toned milk

a quarter tsp each of ground black pepper, mustard ( you can ground about ten teaspoonfuls and store in a glass jar )and salt for the dressing.

cut all the fruits into small cubes; stir into dahi, pepper, mustard and salt. pour over the fruit-vegetable, mix well, cool for a few minutes and dig in.. it is truly filling, lovely taste and non-fattening!!

you can go with any combo of fruit and vegetables or just a fruit or vegetable really.. i tried with just tomatoes and it was yummy!! i keep changing the fruits... papayas are a great favourite of mine... apples are crunchy and mangoes are ...indescribable! try cabbage, capsicum, green gram sprouts also...

ensai... as they say in our own tamil movies....

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Chennai Marathon, August 2008

The Chennai Marathon.

I don’t quite know what I imagined it would be like. We, some of the lady officers of the Railways in Chennai, did go for ‘practice runs’ on two Saturdays and completed the Chennai Run- all 7 kms of it, without stopping, although the speed at which we ran wouldn’t have set any records on fire! Quite a few registered for the run, but it was only the four of us (vk madam, hema, rathi and I) who religiously ‘practiced’ as we say in our part of the world and the four of us who completed the run. We congratulated ourselves each time… it’s a piece of cake we told each other, we would breeze through….
The big day arrived..31st August, 2008 it was. Believe it or not, I was like a little kid before Deepavali, I could hardly sleep! I was so excited! Did the others feel the same way? Yes they did, they told me so….as I said, Sunday dawned nice and bright, in my area. At the appointed hour I presented myself, complete in our logo-marked t-shirt, tracks and running shoes at the place where we were all to board a bus which would take us to the starting point of the race. Unfortunately, due to one or two laggards, we got a tad delayed and by the time we arrived at the Island grounds from where the run was to be flagged off, the place was a sea of humanity. People everywhere, in every direction, in colorful t-shirts and tracks. There were thousands of school children, all assembled there by the diktat of higher administration one gathers. Still they were there and that was important. Anxious parents stood alongside- I don’t understand, why when they came along with the kids, they couldn’t just join in the run. I really don’t. Perhaps, they too didn’t quite know what to expect just like me. Or for that matter the organizers themselves!!
In the end, we joined somewhere in the middle with a few thousands ahead of us and what seemed like a few hundred thousands behind us. There were many announcements in Tamil, the local language, much extortion to be safe, and take care of the child next to oneself as one’s own child/brother/sister and so on. Green, blue and white balloons were released and we watched them become tiny white specks high up in the sky. We waited and waited for the chief guest to arrive and eventually he did and somewhere up ahead, the flag was swung and we were off… at least the first few hundreds were off… and we? We started shuffling ahead!! So much for running! We were hard put to stay on our feet, there was a mass pushing from behind. If one was not alert then one would surely fall? And there would be a stampede?! However, we started finding gaps, and three of us started forging ahead and started to slowly jog our way through people of all ages, shapes and size. There were school bands playing well known tunes, there were loud speakers blaring away and all the while we steadily moved forward. There were videographers along the way, capturing the moment for posterity. Before we knew it, we had completed two kilometers and had arrived at Anna Square. As we jogged across the road, we found water sachets being distributed- 830 AM, the sun was already high in the sky and people were sweating buckets and water was very welcome. But we didn’t go to get one, people crowding around people distributing water was very off-putting and we just carried on. Soon we found that running was not the safest thing to do on marina that day! Kids sprayed water over each other and once they finished, the plastic sachets were just chucked on the road. Before long, the whole stretch of road was covered with litter, mainly plastic water sachets. Carefully and steadily we jogged our way to the light house, took a U-turn there and jogged back to Queen Mary’s College, where there was a reception committee of sorts, noting down the chest numbers of the joggers who passed through the human tunnel that had been formed at the ‘finish-line’. Feeling thrilled with ourselves for having completed the run, we got ourselves some bottled water and waited for the others to join us. We found our transport waiting in the appointed place and left feeling very accomplished and good. All of us stopped off at the restaurant in Sterling Club for a well deserved break fast and broke up to go home… I talk about that marathon even today.
P.S. last week I got a certificate from the organizers… for participating and completing the 7-KM Chennai Run!! I couldn’t stop showing it off to all and sundry, I tell you!! And guess what?! It was signed by Ms. Kanimozhi, the charismatic daughter of the present CM of Tamil Nadu.

Monday, March 30, 2009

weight loss review

september 2008...that was when i reviewed my weight loss.. and my fans would be wondering why i have been lying low. well for good reason. i havent thought about it thats why! yup! yeah!! yes!!! portion control, exercise, careful eating, counting calories etc has slowly become a part of my life and routine. desire to 'taste' this food or that food, eat "just for taste" has definitely taken a back seat. i have been chugging away at it slowly and steadily.. the proverbial tortoise, that is me.

and the results? good, very good. in fact, great! almost 18 pounds dropped another 18 'only' to go...

fruit and milk for breakfast, phulkas, dal and subji for lunch, snacks mid morning and mid afternoon comprising marie bisc. and tea with sugar free, dinner veggies, fruits and yoghurt..yes to the fried stuff also but in very very tiny quantities.. so life isnt that bad.

i wrote all of the above in march '09!! and forgot all about the draft waiting patiently for me!! but havent forgotten that i want to lose weight. between then and now, i have made a trip to singapore and one to west lafayette.. my daughter's fridge is full of delicious stuff.. but control, control, that was the mantra and i returned from w.l. without putting on an ounce.

well between march and now, that is 8 months down the line, you would expect i would have lost at least 8 lbs? no such luck, and of course i have only myself to blame, dont you know.....but it is not back to 69.5 kgs.. i am , shall we say, "maintaining" at 59.5kgs... yup, ten good kilos gone and good luck to me. my target as you will see on calorie count is 52 kgs.. but that really seems such a long way off...

lately, and that is about a week back, i resumed jogging... and good timing.. monsoons have set in!! i am fed up- but give up i wont. i have been casting around in my mind to discover equally calorie burning activities- indoors, that is important. at the moment going to the gym is not an option. let us leave it at that for the present.. it is not an option.. so what to do? still working on it, meanwhile i have an old stationary bike i sit on and pedal away... not difficult pedalling and all that, i dont want to lose interest in exercising, and it really hurts the seat, you know ? to be sitting and cycling for more than 20 mts at a time... the fat must be fast vanishing from there, i suppose, was not so difficult once upon i time....still, easy cycling uses more energy than just sitting around on your seat right?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Indian English

i have been nominated for a training course in singapore...well, one can never say, the course itself could get cancelled in which case no seeing singapore at government expense yaar, but theek hai, sub chalta hai...but the reason why i mentioned this is this: no sooner nominated, i did a google search on singapore, found out this and that about the place and while doing that, my attention was grabbed by a hyperlink "indian english" and i was curious...now how many times i must have seen that phrase in the hundreds of pages i must have read on the net i cannot say, but this time round it did catch my eye and i said to myself, really? indian english? now what is that?
now of course, i speak it, i write it, i read it, and i do everything possible with it... but i didnt, sort of think of it as 'indian english'...know what i mean? being 'convent educated', and then having gone to a CBSE school where i was taught english by an anglo-indian, i think you are that, no sir? (maria philip sir, are you reading this blog?i do remember very fondly, you and your enactment of "Othello"), i always thought that i spoke british english albeit with a thick south indian accent (wow! i have admitted to that??!!!) and of course was too uppity re the american english. but u cannot escape american english, right, esp when you have hazaar relatives living in america, and your favourite movies are all hollywood made!! and you end up writing a bit of that also ( that word! now i can view that without cringing!!).

never has another wikipedia page given me more fun time than the one on indian english- and made me so thoughtful...i went on hmming all the time when i read that page, and guess what, (is that american?), at the end of the reading, and did it take time! i was at peace with myself and my english. i no longer worry about not speaking perfect english, i am not worried anymore that i am, day by day, becoming more american-english speaking, and i am positively proud now, of speaking our kind of english. and i wont be judgemental about any kind of english, it had to take that page to make me this!!

btw, do you know that spellings are not going to be a big deal in the CBSE exams anymore? yup! i remember reading somewhere, an article which starts out as english and with many spelling changes becomes german!!maybe that is where we are heading!!


Friday, March 13, 2009

Swaminarayan temple in delhi

Last week, when i was in Delhi, and "we are put up" as we say in this part of the world, in Mayur Vihar,my husband and i decided to go to "Akshardham". Often have i passed this temple on my way to and from Mayur Vihar, and every trip i made to delhi, i'd tell myself, "this time i will surely go there" but wouldnt get round to doing that. what is there behind those high walls, i kept asking myself but didnt find the time to find out, alhtough i have been to delhi hazaar times.

finally, on the day before holi this year, we made the trip to akshardham. here is what i experienced.

we drove to the temple; at the entrance, we were asked to alight from our car... obviously, the 'security' at the gates said, you cant go to the parking lot.. get down here, and walk to the temple; right we said and off we got and walked to the row of 'counters'. at counter no. one we got a form which we filled in to store our mobiles phones and my "ladies hand bag". we were asked to remove the batteries from the cell phone.. there goes my called list i thought but we obeyed and we were given a token in token of having received our goods. btw, at this point i must make it a point to tell you that there are arrangements available for you to fill in the form comfortably, pens dangling down strings harnessed to upright writing desks, where you stand and fill out personal details. you can store away any number of mobile phones, in fact families are encouraged to put all their stuff in one lot and not fill up 'n' number of forms... but you need to give only one mobile number. be sure to remember the number, coz you got to rattle it off when you go back to collect your 'things'. there is much security check, and seriously, at one point i thought this was more like taking a flight than going into a temple. much later i recalled that there was an unpleasant incident a few years back in our of our States in a similar temple.. no wonder, in retrospect... i think.

right, after the security frisking, and boy did that girl frisk me, yes, separate counters for men and women, we were in....

and gosh, what a grand sight... truly magnificient.. well manicured lawns, huge huge structures, carved and stuff like that. quite reminded me of halebid and belur. to enter the main temple of Swaminarayan, you need to take off footwear (you are allowed to keep your socks on) and store them away in the 'boot house'. the guys manning the boot house ask you "how many people" and depending on the number, we said two, they hand out a bag of appropriate size. well, we said two, and the boy handed over a small bag, in which we mushkil sey stuffed (my) nike and (his) adidas shoes.. not sounding hoity toity here, just to say that those shoes can really be big for those bags!! after that we climbed a wide flight of stairs and entered the temple.... what ornation! what carvings!! such high ceilings!! so peaceful! so cool... i was quite awestruck. having recently returned from rome, recently, as time goes interms of yugas and years, and having spent much of my stay in rome gawking at ancient structures, i couldnt help but feel the goose pimples that grew over me at the thought of walking down halls and corridors which would form history. todays people are tomorrow's ancestors, right? i had visions of people of the 25th century looking at akshardham and saying, this is how our ancients lived.. look at the carving on wood and stone and granite.... and so on and so forth. the huge huge huge brass murti of Swaminarayan was impressive... was it only brass? i wonder. i wouldnt be surprised if it was gold... no expense has been spared in the building of this temple. and it is like no other temple i have seen in india....

a couple of hours is just not enough. one should plan to spend a full day at this temple. go around 11 ish in the morning after breakfast, and spend the whole day there. on holidays esp, u would need the time, coz the place would be crowded like anything and you would have to spend a goodly hour in the various 'Q's. we didnt go on the boat trip nor did we see the exhibition- we just hadnt planned on spending the whole day there. we thought it would just be like any of the many other temples we have been to. go, pray, return...

actually, this is not just a temple of worship, it is also a tourist attraction...know what i mean?
like here,in india, in our 'normal' temples, you will not find washrooms, far less so immaculately kept, receptions where American-accented prettly sari-clad young girls 'volunteering' handing over the glossy pamphlet and explaining in detail what one would find there. this young girl told me, that 'Swami narayana bhagwan hai'-i had asked her if they beleived He was God, and she said He is God and the conviction shown in her eyes. huge huge lawns with lovely seasonal flowering plants, mosaic floors spic and span, silence, no oil lamps, and come to think of it, no bells either, except where you do the "abhishekam" and the poojari rings the bell...no flower offerings, no breaking of coconuts... yes, to repeat, to the toilets/washrooms, heavy security, a snack bar, and a full fledged food court. we bought 'kachoris' (2 medium sized ones for 12 rupees, or was it 15? piping hot and tasty as tasty can be) and a kulfi, equally reasonably priced, sat under a tree and ate, in bliss, marvelling at the fact that the kachoris, so neatly presented, so tasty was so "not at all expensive", talked about the whole show and came to the conclusion that there was a lot of NRI believers' money plowed into this enterprise, that it must be a no-profit venture. there is the souvenier centre selling all kinds of religious knick-knacks and gifts....

its a temple not only for swaminarayan, but there are shrines for the other gods of the indian pantheon, krishna, vishnu, shiva, parvati, lakshmi...i dont recall brahma... but that could just be my memory, these days 'it is failing like anything', as we say in my part of the country...

i havent seen the temple my husband's cousin and others built in Iowa, but i have heard them talk of it, and i beleive it must be something like Akshardham only on a much smaller scale... he talked of 'Swaminarayan', a kitchen (which of course our temples in south india do have), washrooms and so forth...

its like nothing like i have experienced before in india... if i was to draw a very loose comparison, than i would say it was like being in the Vatican!! so many similarities between india and italy... but that is the subject matter of another blog...

anybody who visits delhi, must, must, must see this place... it is worth spending the whole day there... and it is quite a sobering experience, very awesome and above all, so, so peaceful! i came away very thoughtful and slightly envious of the project managers who executed this project...this is purely from a professional point of view....whenever i see the Arakonam-Chingleput broad guage line,or other similar railway projects, i feel a sense of pride and possession, since i was involved in that project and i kept thinking how proud the people who envisioned this project, who dreamed it, who put it on paper and then on the land must feel about it...

all in all i had a great time.