A humble tribute to innocent children who were raped and killed for no fault of theirs. There are countless Asifas, five-year-olds, three-year-olds, some-days-old kids, who are facing barbarism every single day. It’s time we take note and stop it. Please stop considering women as the weaker sex. Change your attitude towards girls.

Treadmill and all its gory glory

The constant thud underneath your feet. The constrained space. The monotony of going nowhere fast. Running on a treadmill can certainly feel like torture, but did you know it was originally used for that very purpose? In the words of Conor Heffernan, know the bitter tale of a treadmill.

It feels like hours have gone by, but it’s only been eleven minutes, and you wonder, “Why am I torturing myself? This thing has got to be considered a cruel and unusual punishment.”

Actually, that’s exactly what it is, or was. You see, in the 1800s, treadmills were created to punish English prisoners. At the time, the English prison system was abysmally bad. Execution and deportation were often the punishments of choice, and those who were locked away faced hours of solitude in filthy cells.

So, social movements led by religious groups, philanthropies, and celebrities, like Charles Dickens, sought to change these dire conditions and help reform the prisoners. When their movement succeeded, entire prisons were remodeled and new forms of rehabilitation, such as the treadmill, were introduced.

Here’s how the original version, invented in 1818 by English engineer Sir William Cubitt, worked. Prisoners stepped on 24 spokes of a large paddle wheel. As the wheel turned, the prisoner was forced to keep stepping up or risk falling off, similar to modern stepper machines.

Meanwhile, the rotation made gears pump out water, crush grain, or power mills, which is where the name “treadmill” originated. These devices were seen as a fantastic way of whipping prisoners into shape, and that added benefit of powering mills helped to rebuild a British economy decimated by the Napoleonic Wars. It was a win for all concerned, except the prisoners. It’s estimated that, on average, prisoners spent six or so hours a day on treadmills, the equivalent of climbing 5,000 to 14,000 feet. 14,000 feet is roughly Mount Everest’s halfway point.

Imagine doing that five days a week with little food. Cubitt’s idea quickly spread across the British Empire and America. Within a decade of its creation, over 50 English prisons boasted a treadmill, and America, a similar amount. Unsurprisingly, the exertion combined with poor nutrition saw many prisoners suffer breakdowns and injuries, not that prison guards seemed to care. In 1824, New York prison guard James Hardie credited the device with taming his more boisterous inmates, writing that the “monotonous steadiness, and not its severity…constitutes its terror,” a quote many still agree with.

And treadmills lasted in England until the late 19th century, when they were banned for being excessively cruel under the Prison’s Act of 1898. But of course the torture device returned with a vengeance, this time targeting the unsuspecting public. In 1911, a treadmill patent was registered in the U.S., and by 1952, the forerunner for today’s modern treadmill had been created.

When the jogging craze hit the U.S. in the 1970s, the treadmill was thrust back into the limelight as an easy and convenient way to improve aerobic fitness, and lose unwanted pounds, which, to be fair, it’s pretty good at doing. And the machine has maintained its popularity since. So the next time you voluntarily subject yourself to what was once a cruel and unusual punishment, just be glad you can control when you’ll hop off.

Up for some beer and sliders?

Sunday comes in about three-and-a-half days to be precise and if you happen to read this after that, well, no worries coz there is a Sunday every week and what better to do a beer-slider brunch at home with friends and family.

The other day I was talking about it with some friends and one of them said sliders….. can we call it ‘Kachi Dabheli’? Ya, sure because in India you might not get pretzel buns or the fancier varieties but you can sure get your hands on some paav buns and Kingfisher premium beer, atleast at this place called Ferozepur.

I couldn’t hold my culinary self and decided to share my own sliders recipe with some fine beer cocktails created by my loving husband.

Chicken sliders

One packet paav buns and don’t separate them. Cut across an entire loaf of paav buns from the middle like you would slice a cake from the middle for icing. Make mixture of hung curd mixed with very finely chopped garlic, fresh coriander, finely chopped jalapenos and chopped olives mixed with little salt. Make salsa by roasting full tomatoes on low flame for about three to four minutes and peeling off the skin, grinding it and adding finely chopped onion, green chilies, fresh coriander and a bit of fresh mint.

Cook small pieces of chicken in little butter with salt and pepper and add about 1/4th cup of white wine after about five minutes of sautéing the chicken. Cover and cook till the pieces are soft and done.

Now, spread the hung curd mixture on one side of the sliced paav loaf and top it with salsa layer and add cooked chicken pieces. Place a cheese slice (optional). Add some finely chopped onion and fresh coriander on it and cover with the remaining half paav loaf. Brush the top with butter and bake for about 10 minutes in oven (convection mode) at 180 degree Celsius.

Remove and serve!

(Do not forget to serve crisp french fries along…. Indulge)

Veggie sliders

Follow the first three steps mentioned in chicken sliders recipe. Slice onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and mix them with olive oil and herbs dressing with salt. Grill them for six to seven minutes in an oven on grill option. Now layer hung curd dressing on one portion of paavs, spread salsa sauce on it, add grilled veggies, put grated mozzarella cheese (people who wish to ditch cheese can do so), put some fresh lettuce and cover this with the other half. Brush some butter on top and bake for 10 minutes on convection mode at 180 degree Celsius.

Remove and serve!

Beer with sweet lime

Take a beer mug, fill it half with chilled beer and pour fresh sweet lime juice (has to be just squeezed as it tends to get bitter) till the top (pour sweet lime juice very slowly else it will ooze out). If you wish add ice and a teaspoon of fresh coriander juice. Voila, this is by far the most refreshing mix I have tasted.

Beer with lemonade

Add beer and home-made concentrate of lemon juice and ground sugar (the way you make desi nimbu paani). Top it up with ice and if you want, add a slit green chilly.

Beer and sprite

The classic mix of beer and sprite with a dash of lime on top is a no-fail combination.

Call friends over and indulge in some classic beery conversations with beer and sliders.

Cheers to Sundays!

Change for the better…

After a long break, my daughter, who has never troubled me for going to school, started saying that she doesn’t want to go to school and argued her side giving reasons why she doesn’t want to attend school. This was the third time she did so. First was when I drove her to school and she showed me those teary eyes and a crying face and I had to give in and got her back and the second was when she refused to sit inside the car after dressing up for school.

Makes me wonder why our children start detesting school from such an early age. She is six! Probably, it is not school that they say no to, it is the education pattern being followed in our country since ages with absolutely no change so far. The CBSE had altered the pattern from year-end examinations to all-year assessment system but alas, because it created too much work for teachers, the decision has been rolled back.

The question is that is it right to give grades to children based on their scores in year-end examinations? Is it OK to give homework to children even for weekends when we are busy unwinding and relaxing.

A strong education system is the cornerstone of any country’s growth and prosperity. There are several downsides with our education system and it is time that the prevalent education system undergoes a sea change.

When was the last time we studied anything because we liked doing it not because we can quote a huge starting annual salary? Most of us became engineers because our parents took pride in telling the whole wide world that my child is doing engineering or studying medicine, whereas the child might have felt inclined towards cooking or exploring the world but the interest was nipped in the bud and the outcome is frustration that we pass on to our children.

Another consequence of the country being in the “survival mode”, is that the insecurities of the parents are passed to the children over time and the ultimate objective is to achieve financial stability in whichever way possible.

Odium to admittance that we are a nation of conformists. We do not have the spirit to take risks and indulge in adventure because our parents taught us to play safe always. We never explored China during ancient times and we do not want to venture out to Africa till there are jobs for us. Our teachers will label anyone different to be a problem child, I was one and thanks to their limitations as incomplete human beings. We are so scared that we even make our parents choose our life partners.

I know it is practically impossible to alter the education pattern that has been structured ages ago. But we can alter the way our children study at home and finish their projects. Let us not make them mug up Hindi maatras and make them recite tables one after the other. It is important that they learn why is 5×1=5 and 5×2=10. It is important to generate interest among them for various subjects so that even after 25 years, they don’t have a nightmare about mathematics exam, well, I do.

It is time we change how we perceive education and how we want our children to perceive it. I don’t remember Pythagoras theorem, but hell ya; I know how to be independent, confident, conduct myself, solve problems without getting bogged down by society, love by choice and make a statement when I know no one will support me for making it.

 

Some of Internet’s most popular pictures with tragic tales to tell

The internet has seen several pictures that have fascinating and tragic tales to tell. I stumbled upon a few that have left an imprint on my mind since childhood as I saw them somewhere while turning pages of magazines, reading books or in newspapers.

gas-mask-town

The town where everyone carries a mask

This picture talks about the life in Miyakejima, Japan, where an active volcano emitted poisonous gas for about 20 years. The inhabitants did not give in and decided to wear gas masks throughout in order to stay on the island.

Miyake-jima or Miyake Island is an inhabited volcanic island in the Izu archipelago in the Philippine Sea in Japan. The residents of the island are required to carry gas masks with them at all times, but they do not need to be worn constantly. In case there is a dramatic rise in the levels of toxic gases, alarms go off and people are required to put on their masks. Volcanic gas emissions from this volcano are measured by a Multi-Component Gas Analyzer System improving prediction of volcanic activity.

 

interesting-pictures-1960s-afghanistan

Afghanistan in 1960s

Barren patches, a life enveloped in fear and subdue is what comes to our minds when we think of Afghanistan. It wasn’t so in 1960s. There were short skirts, swanky sunglasses, tinted lips, nice cars and an abundant lifestyle in Afghanistan but it followed the footsteps of Iran. I had Irani students with me in College in Pune and I remember them as one of the ‘coolest lots’. They loved music, getting dressed up and loved all good things in life but did not want to go back because their country looks different from what it was.

The above picture is taken by American university professor Dr. Bill Podlich, who in 1967 opted to work for UNESCO in Afghanistan.

It was a decade later that the Soviets invaded and pulled the once peaceful country into war and I abhor them for this because this led to Taliban rule and the US invasion in 2001. It is distressing to see what human beings turn things into because all they need is power and little do we realize that nothing that we have today will go along when we die except our deeds and doings.

nullarbor cliff

Nullarbor Plain

Text books taught us that the Earth is round and yes it is, I am not questioning it but Nullarbor plain’s aerial view will change that way you look at the globe. Located on the Great Australian Bight in Southern Australia, is the gigantic, undistinguished Nullarbor Plain. It looks like the end of Earth. This site is the world’s largest single piece of limestone, covering an area of 270,000 square km and extending some 1,000 km from the east to the west.

Imagine yourself in a train and the train runs across a surface in an absolute straight line for about 483 kilometers; that is Nullarbor plain for you. The plain also has places where underground caves or sinkholes have collapsed to form dents in the surface.

interesting-pictures-august-landmasser

The man who refused to salute Hitler

August Landmesser, popularly known as the man who refused to salute Hitler. Landmesser was born on May 24, 1910. He was a worker at a shipyard in HamburgGermany. The reason why he refused to perform the Nazi salute is rather sad. He was into a relationship with Irma Eckler, a Jewish woman. Eckler was sent to a concentration camp where it is presumed that she was killed. We all are aware of the atrocities carried out on the Jews by Germans. The Landmesser-Eckler love story was a victim of the dreadful Holocaust.

In 1937, Landmesser and Eckler tried to flee to Denmark but were apprehended. This was the year when she was again pregnant. He on the other side was found guilty in July 1937 of “dishonoring the race” under Nazi racial laws. If history is to be believed, then Eckler was taken to the Bernburg Euthanasia Centre in February 1942, where she was killed. They together gave birth to two daughters, who had nothing much to look upto and all thanks to the Holocaust.

interesting-pictures-haunted-hotel

The Haunted Hotel in Colombia

There are several hotels and resorts that are haunted but this one in particular comes with a breathtaking view of a 157 metre waterfall. Tequendama Falls (or Salto del Tequendama) is a major tourist attraction about 30 km (19 miles) southwest of Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia. It is thronged by many tourists and once upon a time, this hotel served the elite, who came to visit the waterfall.

The luxurious Hotel del Salto, which was opened in 1928, was abandoned in the early 90s after the river got contaminated. This place has stood witness to the many, who have used it to commit suicide since then.
Hotel del Salto now stands as a museum of biodiversity and culture. It sure has many tales to tell and many lives to narrate, only if it could speak.

American Masters: Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe

One of my favorites, Marilyn Monroe is one of the most talked about celebrities the world saw.  She was born as Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926, in Los Angeles California. Her mother, Gladys, was abandoned by her lover after she got pregnant. Gladys was mentally unstable and was unable to care for Norma, so she was placed with foster parents. Marilyn or Norma married James Dougherty at the age of 16. Dougherty joined the military and she worked at a defence plant. She pursued modeling alongside.

Her penchant for acting made her take up a course in acting when she met Ben Lyon, an executive at 20th Century Fox. Through him, she got her first role from Darryl F. Zanuck, who named her Marilyn Monroe. She divorced Dougherty and pursued a full-time course in acting.

In 1948 she was signed by Columbia Pictures and appeared in several minor pictures. She became a star in 1953. In 1954 she married baseball legend Joe DiMaggio. Her marriage however lasted less than a year because she preferred acting over her husband, who did not like her to act and felt insecure.

It was in 1955 when this particular picture was taken when she appeared with Tom Ewell in Billy Wilder’s comedy The Seven Year Itch. She continued to act and finally married the love of her life, who mentioned in his diary that Marilyn often embarrassed him infront of his friends as she was not as smart as he thought her to be. This left her devastated and made her resort to alcohol and like substance.

Finally, after years, she appeared in public and sang birthday song for President Kennedy. Three months after Marilyn sang the birthday song, she died. She was discovered by her housekeeper on August 5, 1962, in her Brentwood home, the victim of an overdose of barbiturates. Many believe that her link with the Kennedy family caused her death as she either committed suicide or was killed.

Confessions of an Army wife…

Evolved yet longing to discover, strong yet an emotional being, palpable yet at times trying to take things in her stride, that is a woman and having an array of like traits along with these is an Army wife. For she is enriched, she is confident and she is a pillar of strength for many associated with her.

I almost daunted my folks when I told them that I am in love with a man who is a part of the OLIVE GREENS. Questions and more questions followed and I was all alone answering them with conviction because I had decided that being a journalist, I was ready to lead a family life and keep off my career for years.

Coming from a defence milieu, I had a reasonable idea of what it means to be a soldier’s wife and I was ready to take on the voyage full of thrilling escapades. Life was no easy game for me from the day I donned my wedding attire.

My husband was in RR when we tied the knot and he had to get back to the valley after 15 odd days of togetherness. I got back to work in Chandigarh and my civilian friends felt sorry for me as they gave me uncanny expressions saying, ‘here comes the lonely newly-wed bride.’ I was somehow prepared for this but I also got pompous gazes when they said, ‘Oh! Your husband is in the Army.’

Days passed and he got posted to Bathinda and my editor-in-chief mercifully sent me to Bathinda as a staff correspondent. I had just started enjoying my family life when he had to go for a three-and-a-half month course and I was again left all alone in a major’s accommodation and I had to do up the house on my own as he just moved me and the stuff inside and left, this was the first house I was setting up.

Then came all the responsibilities that an Army wife has to take up with aplomb. Ladies club, raising day, AWWA activities, family visits etc. I heard a lot of hullabaloo about these things. But it was a learning experience as you discover to manage, organize and gain confidence in yourself while doing these activities.

It has been over nine years now that I have been living this experience and I feel that no two days have been the same since I got married to a soldier. Whether it was taking the car’s delivery all alone, getting stuff packed and unpacked all by myself or living my pregnancy all alone and driving down to the MH all alone as my husband was in the field, every single day has just made me stronger and I am more evolved than yesterday, thanks to the Army.

And lastly, some of my most quoted lines; A life lived for others is a life lived worthwhile, rightly quoted by Albert Einstien but confirmed by a soldier and for being married to a courageous soldier, I am a proud Army wife.

Why is it important to eat seasonal fruits and ditch the cold stored ones

Seasonal fruits and their benefits are known to us as our grandmas and grandpas often told us about them but what tops our list when we go out fruit and veggie shopping is an array of fruits that are placed over shelves from ice-cold chambers as they are preserved for off-season consumption. One of them is apples. It is sold throughout the year with a shiny layer of wax to preserve crunch and freshness. We often underestimate the abundance of nature and go in for more expensive and better looking produce, which is not only not in harmony with nature, it is also heavy on your pocket. I will elaborate why seasonal produce, fruits in particular, are a great choice and add up to your immunity and well being.

Fresher: seasonal produce is always fresher than fruits stored in cold storage that lie in an icy chamber for months together before being considered for selling. Apples, pears, grapes, California oranges are some examples that people often buy in all seasons because they look good due to the chemicals applied on them and they cost more.

Cheaper: because it is seasonal, it will always be cheaper. Fruits like jamuns, starfruit, jujubes, etc. are not intended for a year-long sale, which means no shortage in the market. When farmers harvest abundant produce in season, the cost of the produce goes down. There are lesser transportation charges as the produce is available locally.

Nutrient rich: when fruits are consumed immediately after harvesting, they are higher in nutritional value like anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C, folate and carotenes, that reduce when stored for a longer span of time. Off-season fruit is also low in phyto-nutrients.

After seeing the pros of seasonal fruits, it is vital to talk about the kinds of seasonal fruits and their benefits.

Jamun (black plum) – Jamuns are packed with vitamins and minerals like  iron, manganese, zinc, calcium, sodium and potassium. The Gallic and tannic acids present in jamun are powerful antioxidants that fight disease. People suffering from diabetes swear by this fruit and consume not only the fruit, also its bark, leaves and seed.

Water melon – A fun fat-free delight, this fruits is high in water and fiber. An excellent summer fruit, water melon helps control body temperature, inflammation and blood pressure. Rich in Vitamins like A, B, C, water melon has high concentration of lycopene.

Mangoes – The king of fruits and everyone’s favorite, mangoes are indeed a juicy delicacy. Mangoes are sweet but have low glycemic index. This fruit is packed with selenium, Vitamin A, E and C. It helps fight inflammation and is high in anti-oxidants.

Jujube (ber) – My favorite! This fruit fights cancer, it strengthens immune system, aids in weight loss, promotes healthier skin, improves digestion and is packed with Vitamins.

Star fruit (kamarak) – extremely low in calories, it is high in Vitamin C. Star fruit is rich in antioxidant phytonutrient polyphenolic flavonoids. It is a good source of B-complex Vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, and pyridoxine (Vitamin B-6). Small amount of minerals and electrolytes like potassium, phosphorus, and zinc and iron are also present.

Peach – The peels and the pulp of peaches possess antioxidant properties that help boost skin health, fight cancer and obesity. Peaches are rich in phenolic and carotenoid compounds, which possess anti-tumor properties. To add to it, it has a delicious taste to it.

Strawberry – Strawberries are storehouses of several nutrients. The fruits help improve eye care, aids in brain function, provides relief from high blood pressure, arthritis, gout and various cardiovascular diseases. It boosts immunity.

There are several other seasonal fruits like guava, cherries, plums, grapes etc. Remember to have them all when they are harvested and restrain from eating cold stored fruits to optimize health. The next time you want to have an apple this season, ditch the idea and grab a bowl of black plums or jamuns or grab a guava.

Hair loss and why men can’t do much about it

I am a keen observer and one of my recent observations is women losing hair, especially from the front. Men often suffer from male pattern baldness and men you cannot actually do much to reverse it, despite claims made by products and companies to regrow hair, not much can be done. But women losing hair in their 30s is something that made me research the internet spending hours scanning and reading reports and some conclusions I made that make sense, at least to me.

To start with, one of the biggest fears we have as we age is losing hair. ‘Aw snap! Look at my hair brush’, is a common expression we all have very often. Men tend to look at themselves in the mirror and freak out seeing a receding hairline but the fact is that in humans, men tend to lose their hair sooner and more frequently than women. Cashing on these fears, the hair-care industry is booming despite showing any significant results.

Did you know that human body also loses hair but it goes unnoticed. Maybe because the intensity is low and body hair does not appeal to us as hair on scalp does.

History and evolution

Monkeys are our ancestors and all mammals are covered in body hair unlike humans, who aren’t covered in fur for a number of reasons. The primary reason is that hair on our body makes it harder to cool the body. Human ancestors travelled long distances on foot in scorching sun and often needed to cool their bodies but were unable because we had excess body hair, which reduced with time. Sweating is the most effective form to cool down the body and fur present on the skin makes it hard to sweat. Therefore, humans evolved and started losing the fur over the course of generations.

It is not only the human species that lose hair, primates and other mammals also experience thinning of the hair.

Some theories by experts as stated by The Guardian:

In evolutionary terms, when ‘man’ became the hairless ape it coincided with the discovery of fire, which selected the less hairy cavemen as they were less flammable. So, it could be construed that as ‘man’ became older and generally slower in his reactions that his hair disappeared in order to prevent any hirsute horrors. Therefore, balding men have a genetic advantage that may now be redundant. Also, baldness may confer an aerodynamic advantage when swimming, chasing prey or potential mates. –C Jackson, Tseung Kwan O Hong Kong

A well-polished bald male head was often used by tribes of cavemen to blind predators. As a result every cavemen hunting group of 8 had one bald member, and thus thousands of years later 1 in 8 men experience early onset of baldness.

Females, by contrast, rate their hair highly because it is a way of attracting the attention of a potential mate. Therfore, baldness is much rarer in females than in males. It all comes down to how much energy the body is prepared to invest in any particular attribute. You may wish that it would invest more in your hair, but unfortunately the investment decisions were taken millenia ago and programmed into our DNA. All you can do now is grin and bear it. Or wear a wig. – Les Reid, Belfast UK

Apart from these theories, there is one observation that prevails, i.e. Vitamin D deficiency. Lack of Vitamin D leads to hair loss and a majority of us are deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D is also vital for prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other conditions.

Due to indoor office jobs and almost no exposure to sun, we are facing acute shortage of the sunshine vitamin. There are other factors like thyroid disorders, medications, stress etc. responsible for hair loss. Lack of iron is another cause that lies undetected as we do not go in for detailed medical tests at regular interval. Lack of iron also leads to dry hair, rough texture and scanty growth of hair.

Next time a hairdresser tries to woo you at a salon, tell him to get the basics right. You can have the hair you had as a child or a teenager with proper nutrition. Go in for shampoos that contain no suplhates, parabens, salts and dyes. And again, this information might be useful for women only and men, please put the blame on your ancestors, who thought hair aren’t important to look good and this fact is so deeply rooted in your DNA that you can’t do much about it except taking it in good stride.

The Emoji Movie; what I have to say

Unfortunately it wasn’t showtime for The Emoji Movie, which hit cinemas in the USA today, i.e. July 28. It releases here in India in August this year and well, it will be the same, nothing better. I stumbled across the flick and I thought to let you all know in advance.

Critics the world over are wondering that why did someone make something like The Emoji Movie. Kids may have waited for the flick for long but all they are in for is sheer disappointment.

As far as the story line goes, it is like this. Phones are ruling the planet and so is everything related to it with emojis adding a significant bit of drama. CinemaCon had made the first announcement about the dull flick in 2016 and people since then are waiting for The Emoji Movie released by Sony Pictures Animation.

Sony Pictures Animation president Kristine Belson had put it in a press release that “The power of emojis is that they allow you to express yourself in a fast and very fun way, and that is what our movie is about: self expression.” The title however seems to lose its meaning ‘express yourself’ midway.

There is a world inside a smartphone owned by a high school freshman named Alex. This place called Textopolis is inhabited by various emojis and this is where the movie has been filmed. There, an emoji named Gene, voiced by T.J. Miller, who is not very happy about himself because he possesses several facial expressions as compared to others, who only have one each. This unhappiness within Gene looms large and Gene wants to become like everyone else.

Everyone at Textopolis has one function and all they do is carry on with that one function or expression till eternity. Every single day, the emoji go to work and wait for their turn to arrive as Alex decides which emoji to use depending on his communication that day. A teacher delivers a lecture on one of the most significant invention in communication history, the emojis, but the movie fails to deliver the ‘important’ bit attached to the existence of emojis.

Others, who have lend their voices in the movie are James Corden, Anna Faris, Jennifer Coolidge, Patrick Stewart, and Maya Rudolph.

The only take away home is for kids as they might realize that staring continuously at tiny screens might not be as good as they think it is.

Movie buffs are in for better stuff to look forward to in August.

Eat, Pray, Love!

“In a world of disorder and disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted.…And sometimes the meal is the only currency that is real.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love.

Eat, Pray, Love….. I can watch it forever. It is light, enjoyable, I can relate to it and it always leaves an impact on me that lingers on for days. The reason is an incredible journey of a woman, who has had enough in life and she needs to shake up her soul. She needs an appetite for life to add the much-needed essence of fancy for food, a feeling to love and to be loved and making that eternal bond with the almighty. I think we all need it sometime or the other in our lives.

In the bestselling memoir Eat, Pray, Love, author Elizabeth Gilbert travels the world to rediscover herself. She decides to embark on a journey of self-realization starting from Rome, then to India and finally ends it at Bali. Liz, as everyone calls Julia Roberts in the movie, is reeling from a messy divorce and unbearable depression. She finds nirvana in three simple words: eat, pray, love.

Liz finds immense pleasure through Italy’s cultural delights where she experiences the ‘no carbs left behind’ food and simply loves it. The once calorie-conscious Liz indulges in a gelato any time of the day without feeling guilty. In Italy, Liz has an epic dinner that starts with Spaghetti alla Carbonara with a side of sautéed spinach and garlic. She tastes fried zucchini blossoms filled with cheese and feasts on Tiramisu for dessert. There is warm bread dipped in olive oil, veal and red wine too, ah… sounds epic.

Her spiritual journey in Varanasi, India, takes her to an all-new level. Here she tastes the slow-cooked vegetable curry, which we make all the time in our homes. She learns the nuances of meditation and finds solace doing so. Her last stop is Bali, an Indonesian island, known for its splendid beauty and oriental appeal. She finally finds her love for food growing and quite satisfying indeed while in Rome, she quenches the thirst of her wandering soul as she gets closer to the almighty in India and she finds a reason to love and to be loved in Bali.

Every time I watch the flick, I think of food and out of all the food shown in the movie, two recipes that I have made often and added my own twist to, are my all-time favorites. I am sharing them with you. They are simple, appetizing and can be termed as ‘comfort food’.

Spaghetti all’amatriciana (You cannot go wrong with this one)

  • 2 red onions
  • 7 large tomatoes
  • handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons chili flakes
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp bottled jalapeno
  • 1 Tsp crushed garlic
  • 20 leaves of basil
  • 1 Tsp oregano
  • 200 – 250g spaghetti
  • Olive oil

Preparation

Peel the tomatoes and chop them up in small pieces. Take little oil in a pan and add the chopped tomatoes. Cover it and let it cook for 10 mins on low flame. Chop up the cherry tomatoes as well and finely chop the onions and the basil. Start boiling some water and boil the spaghetti according to instructions.

Once the tomatoes are cooked and tender, grind them in a grinder and keep aside. Take another pan, add oil, add garlic and sauté for 10 seconds. Add oregano, pepper flakes and chopped onions. Sauté till the onion starts to turn light brown, add chopped bell pepper and jalapenos. Cover and cook until the bell pepper gets moist and soft. Add cooked tomatoes paste, cherry tomatoes and basil, mix well and cook for about three to four minutes. Add salt to taste.

Place spaghetti pasta on a plate and add sauce on top and serve.

 

Tiramisu

1 package cream cheese, softened (250 grams)

½ cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons light rum or whiskey will also do

1 cup whipping (heavy) cream

Plain sponge cake (you can either make it or buy it from a local bakery)

½ cup black coffee (keep it strong)

2 teaspoons cocoa powder

Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat whipping cream in chilled small bowl on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold it into the cream cheese mixture.

Cut the sponge cake horizontally in strips. Arrange half of the cake strips on bottom of an ungreased square pan or round pan. Add rum to the black coffee and drizzle some of it over these strips. Spread half of the cream cheese mixture over this.

Arrange remaining strips on cream cheese mixture. Drizzle with the remaining coffee and rum mixture. Spread the remaining cream cheese mixture. Sift or sprinkle cocoa over top. Cover and refrigerate for about 4 hours or until filling is firm. Store covered in refrigerator.

 

 

The biggest threat to mankind

I read an article recently about the biggest threat to humankind and surprisingly it was not “global warming” as we all believe it is. The biggest threat to humankind is antibiotic resistance. Scientists and biologists feel that if timely measures are not taken to treat it, it can wipe out the entire human race.

Antibiotics are prescribed by doctors to treat bacterial infections. Due to excessive use of antibiotics to treat common disorders like stomachache, flu, cough, toothache, new strains of bacteria have evolved which are resistant to these antibiotics. Due to this, the bacteria have stopped responding to antibiotics.

The more horrific side of this is antibiotics coming into our bodies from food. The overuse of antibiotics in food-producing animals is being blamed for the increase in resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs.” When these are passed to humans, they can cause serious illness. However, other experts suggest that antibiotic use in food-producing animals poses very little risk to human health but the point is that the risk is there.

Since the 1940s, antibiotics have been given to farm animals like cows, pigs and poultry in order to treat infections or prevent an illness from spreading.

Low doses of antibiotics are also added to animal feed to promote growth. This means a greater production of meat or milk.

These low doses may also reduce animal death rates and improve reproduction. For these reasons, antibiotic use has become widespread in agriculture. In 2011, 80% of all antibiotics sold in the US were for use in food-producing animals.

Antibiotics are generally fine when used properly for treating or preventing infections. However, excessive or inappropriate use is a problem. When antibiotics are overused, they end up becoming less effective for both humans and animals. This is because bacteria that are frequently exposed to antibiotics develop a resistance to them. As a result, the antibiotics are no longer as effective at killing harmful bacteria. This is a great concern for public health.

Resistant bacteria can be passed from food-producing animals to humans in a number of ways.

 

If an animal is carrying resistant bacteria, it can be passed on through meat that is not handled or cooked properly. You can also encounter these bacteria by consuming food crops that have been sprayed with fertilizers containing animal manure with resistant bacteria. In India, the excessive use of fertilizers and manure is adding to the already existing problem.

Once spread to humans, resistant bacteria can stay in the human gut and spread between individuals.

Resistant bacteria in supermarket foods are much more common than you might think. Commonly reported harmful bacteria from foods include Salmonella, Campylobacter and E.coli.

One report found resistant bacteria in 81% of ground turkey meat, 69% of pork chops, 55% of ground beef and 39% of chicken breasts, wings and thighs.

Many products claim to be “raised without antibiotics,” including some that are labeled organic. This does not mean these products are free from resistant bacteria.

 

Evidence suggests that these products still contain resistant bacteria, although they are slightly less resistant than regular products grown using antibiotics.

A study found that organic chickens were more frequently contaminated with bacteria like Salmonella and Campylobacter than non-organic chickens. However, the bacteria in organic chickens were slightly less resistant to antibiotics.

There is no clear-cut evidence directly linking antibiotic use in food-producing animals to increased illness due to resistant bacteria in humans. It may be impossible to completely avoid resistant bacteria in animal foods.

However, there are things you can do to significantly reduce your risk.

Practice good food hygiene: Wash your hands, use separate cutting boards for different foods and wash utensils thoroughly.

Ensure food is cooked properly: Cooking meat to the proper temperature should kill any harmful bacteria.

Buy antibiotic-free foods: You can minimize your risk even further by looking for labels that read organic, raised without antibiotics or antibiotic-free.

Do not pop in antibiotics for minor ailments: Let the doctor decide whether you need an antibiotic or not. Do not take it for everyday ailments.

Finish the course:When on an antibiotic course, always finish the course even if you feel better in three days.

The debate on antibiotic use still continues.

Although there is no evidence that antibiotics in foods harm people directly, most agree that the over-use of antibiotics in food-producing animals is a problem. It can contribute to the development and spread of drug-resistant bacteria, which is a potential risk to public health.

 

This is how you can make drinking water safer, purer

Water is the elixir of life and no life can sustain without water. A human being consumes two to three liters of water every day on an average and this brings us to a standpoint where we need to think how safe is our drinking water and how does water storage affects drinking water.

In the olden times, our kitchens thrived on steel and clay pots. Now, it is plastics, which is not safe. We tend to store water in all sorts of plastic bottles, jugs or containers, worse is Pepsi, Coca-Cola bottles. It can be a low grade or high-grade plastic but we need to remember that plastic is plastic. Plastics carry lot of chemicals and bacteria. Drinking water from plastic storage tanks is not safe. These containers are made using several chemicals like polyethylene, polypropylene, bisphenol, high density polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate and cross linked polyethylene. These chemicals cause several health risks.

When you store water in plastic bottles, harmful substances like fluoride, arsenic and aluminum are produced, which can be poisonous for the human body.

Storing water in plastic containers is not safe as harmful chemicals such as BPA in plastic, cause a health risk by clinging to the water molecules. Dioxin production takes place when plastic melts in hot environment and with every passing year, summers are becoming unbearably hot. Imagine how much plastic can actually get mixed with water when it comes in contact with scorching sun. When water is left in plastic bottles under the sun for a longer time, heating takes place and this releases a toxin called Dioxin, which when consumed can accelerate breast cancer. Our RO systems are connected to the overhead water tanks that are made of plastics mixed with colours and dyes.

Biphenyl A, which is found abundantly in plastics, is responsible for diabetes, fertility issues, early puberty in kids and behavioral problems. Plastics lead to liver cancer and a reduced sperm count and this happens primarily due to a chemical called phthalates present in plastic.

Another stupid concoction that is sold in plastic bottles is ‘TONIC WATER’ or ‘VITAMIN WATER’. These are simple marketing gimmicks to fool people like you and me. Not only does the concoction gets deteriorated as such bottles stay in transit and logistics for a long time before it reaches supermarkets, these bottles are also exposed to varying temperatures. I mean, a truck driver, who delivers plastic bottles with water or such fancy waters is the least concerned about your health. He parks his truck in the sun for I don’t know how long, may be days together, before he finally gets them to a supermarket. In the process, the water has already deteriorated. In addition, the Tonic water has high-fructose corn syrup and chemical additives that should never ever go inside your mouth.

Plastics tend to influence our immune system. The plastics when ingested cause havoc on the immune system.

Now, that enough has been said about plastic bottles storing water, the question arises how to store water and remove impurities from drinking water.

I would suggest the traditional clay pot, also called ‘Matka’. Water stored in a matka or earthen clay pot is devoid of BPA. The water is cooler than water stored in plastic containers. It is also known to enhance metabolism and adds a natural taste to water. Matkas or earthen pots are made of two types of mud clay: the first is taken from the surface of the earth and the second after digging more than 10 feet deeper into the earth.

Clay is alkaline in nature and doctors state that an alkaline diet kills cancer cells. The alkaline clay interacts with the acidity of water and neutralizes the pH balance. If you have gastric problems or acidity, try having water from a matka and it will help cure the problem.

As stated earlier that plastic bottle water causes the sperm count to fall, clay pot water helps improve the level of testosterone in your body.

Clay is nature’s answer to remove all forms of radiation from the body. So, imagine what it can do to water. Obviously, make is safer and purer for consumption.

I once did a story on uranium’s presence in the water in Punjab’s Malwa region, which was picked up by news channels and scientists from various countries and had led to a massive research on the subject. During one of the interviews, I was told by a professor, who was well read in the concerned subject that storing water in clay pots can remove arsenics and uranium from water.

What happens when a toxin bonds with a clay? When toxins and clay unite, an electromagnetic bond is formed which often converts the toxin into another compound thereby neutralizing its toxicity and is harmless to the body.

Apart from matka, water can also be stored in glass and steel containers but clay pot remains by far the best way to store and purify water.

Happy drinking!

 

Refined oils and the myth they carry

Since our childhood, we have been hearing about cooking oils. It was dalda (hydrogenated vegetable oil) earlier, which was freely used for cooking food and I remember the blue plastic can and the yellow plastic container it used to come in. It definitely made the food tasty. Then came the recommendation that dalda is not good for heart and it was soon replaced by vegetable oils.

Oils are liquids at room temperature. Hydrogen is added to oils in order to make them more solid, or ‘spreadable’. Hydrogenated oils can be sold directly as ‘spreads’ and are used in processed food like cookies and cakes to extend the shelf life and maintain the flavor.

Sunflower oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, groundnut oil, corn oil etc. was seen in every kitchen and then came one liners like, “apke dil ki umar badhaye”, “Dil par control, khane par nahi”, etc.

We have been fed with wrong information on fats and oils and people still do not know what to use and what not to. Which oils are best for high temperature cooking? Which fats are the healthiest? What are saturated fat? These are some of the questions that are still lurking in everyone’s mind. And then comes the classic one, “Acha bhalaa healthy aadmi tha, ek dum se heart attack aa gaya”, and the doctors say that the arteries were severely blocked. If the arteries are blocked, how can Mr X be a healthy acha bhalaa insaan.

Laboratory tests conducted by Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on 21 different brands of refined vegetable oils soybean, sunflower, groundnut, mustard, coconut, olive, sesame and palm have found that almost all of them have trans fat levels well within limits permitted in the US and Denmark. These limits say trans fat in oil should not exceed 2% of the total oil. Tran fat are not the problem, the problem is healthy fat and bad fat.

Doctors say that saturated fat is bad and vegetable oils high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are good and heart healthy because they contain little to no saturated fat. Let me remind you that these doctors took just about one class in nutrition and that too about 20 years ago. Moving ahead, doctors say that to prevent heart diseases and lower cholesterol, we need to consume more of these PUFAs.

Chiropractors and health experts from around the world say that these recommendations are wrong. The foods that we have been told to eat in order to avoid disease are the real villains and cause inflammation, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

Read on to know which fats to consume and what to take off your list totally.

 

No, vegetable oils are not good

Am sure you have a jar or a bottle full of vegetable oil in your kitchen as you read this. That oil was not the way it looks now when it was extracted from its source. It was deodorized so that it doesn’t impart any flavor or smell into your food and this is certainly going against nature. Sunflower oil is not smell-free, it is made that way and so are all other oils you are using right now.

The stuff is toxic, put it in the drain right away. The fake butter spreads like margarine should never ever be wasted money on. It is better to eat a little bit of butter rather. You use them because they are low in saturated fat.

Framingham heart study (quiet famous) proves that the more saturated fat you consume from natural sources, the lower the serum cholesterol. Natural fats do not use any chemicals for getting processed. An interesting observation is that out of people who have heart attacks, just about 25 per cent have raised blood cholesterol levels.

The doctor’s recommendation about using PUFA does not fit the bill as vegetable oils actually contribute to the inflammation that leads to heart attacks. It is because they are highly chemically processed. Due to their unstable molecular structures, PUFAs are very responsive to light, heat, and air.

These oils become rancid as they get chemically processed and this leads to free radical damage and inflammation in the body. The deeper problem is that these oils come from extremely low quality genetically modified foods. Those crunchy fries you get in McDonalds are fried in canola oil, which is known to cause heart lesions but it is used in the USA as it has a high smoke point. These vegetable oils are very high in the pro-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids.

During the hunter gatherer age, the omega 3:omega 6 ratio was more or less 1:1, which is the ideal way. But, surprisingly, most of the oils we use these days are around 1:22. This means too much of omega 6 and this causes inflammation and cardiovascular risk.

What Omega 6 in excess does to your body

Apart from cardiovascular disease and diabetes, it causes inflammatory intestinal issues, cancers, asthma, auto-immunity diseases, infertility, high-blood pressure. And, no doctor will tell you to change your cooking oil if you visit one for infertility, hormonal imbalance or asthma.

Processed Vs unrefined oils

Almost all oils have to undergo some extraction process, you can opt for minimally processed or unrefined oil that has no deodorization and no chemical hexane extraction done. Virgin oils are the best as they are close to their natural forms.

Do not eat this

Totally eliminate corn oil, canola oil, all vegetable oils, soybean oil, margarine and “spreads”, dalda, safflower and sunflower oils.

Eat this rather

Saturated fats like butter, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil. Also, do a variation in the fats you eat. Did you know that coconut oil is excellent for metabolism boosting because it contains medium chain fatty acids that enhance metabolic activity. Ghee and butter are excellent for the gut. You will realize that eggs made in coconut oil or butter will make your feel full sooner and for longer than eggs made in any refined vegetable oil. Try it in breakfast tomorrow and let me know.

Naturally occurring saturated fats are good for cooking and you are free to use them liberally. They are extremely essential for brain, hormonal, cellular health, energy and feeling full.

Use olive oil, avocado oil and sesame oil for dressings as they have a low smoke point. These are monounsaturated fats are high in omega 6 and 9. Also, use them sparingly as compared to saturated fats.

Vegetable oils contain more plant toxins and tend to run rancid when heated.

And, the most important of all, add a supplement containing omega 3 and 9 to your diet like the cod liver oil or salmon oil capsules.

This is why children are hitting puberty early

Early puberty or precocious puberty has started to become normal these days and people seem to be just fine with this. But, have you ever given it a thought that what has changed now that did not exist during our time or when our parents were teenagers.

If I start to list out all of it, I will need too much space. I have come to list out some significant changes, how they affect the sexual health in children and sexual maturity.

Doctors think it is happening with greater frequency since the 1990s, especially among girls. Many factors have been implicated, hormones in food, hormone-mimicking pollutants in the waterways, and even social issues.

Imagine a girl of age six and a boy of age seven showing signs of puberty, I do not think this is normal and no, it is not in our ‘genes’. We happen to blame everything on our genes when it comes to health issues, habits, an increasing waist line, I mean just name it and it can be linked to genes.

I am not a doctor but my interest in these issues has led me to read, research and satiate the curious self within.

One possible reason for the rise in precocious puberty could be the obesity epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in America, in the last 30 years, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents. As far as India is concerned, by 2025, India will have over 17 million obese children and stand second among 184 countries where the number of obese children are concerned, says a study published in Paediatric Obesity, an international journal.

How fat plays a role in puberty

Puberty requires the body to have a certain weight and fat distribution, hence we see the delay for female gymnasts and ballerinas. This means that 8-year-old girls weighing as much as a normal 12-year-old are at risk for precocious or early puberty.

Also, across the board, fat children have high levels of the protein leptin. This chemical, through a complicated chain involving the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, can stimulate the release of the three main hormones in puberty, hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. In short, obesity among kids leads to early puberty. The facts are backed by a study by Kirsten Krahnstoever Davison of Penn State.

Milk can be the culprit

Let us come to the basics. When god made us and this Earth, he intended that cow or buffalo milk is meant to be digested by a 50 pound calf and not by a 3 kg human infant and so on. Mothers proudly invest in milk (coming in packets), add a dash of bournvita or whatever those chocolate coloured powders are and make kids have a glass full the first thing in the morning. Even I did this but now I don’t. Yes, my child does not drink milk and the difference I have seen is that she has gained height after getting off milk and bournvita, her skin has become flawless, her hemoglobin has increased and she has oodles of stamina.

Now, what is it that the packet milk or commercial dairy contains which is harmful? An excessive dose of estrogen. When cattle refuse to give milk, the dairy owners or farmers inject hormones (estrogen). The result is a hearty supply of milk but this milk is extremely high in estrogen. Estrogen is a female hormone, excess estrogen leads to male breast in boys (we often see this now) and an early sexual maturity in girls as young as seven to nine years of age. Organic dairy is however acceptable and can be consumed.

I am talking of dairy, it means milk and all of the milk products. Also, if your child complains of uneasiness or stomachache after having milk, please get a test done for lactose intolerance.

Milk does no good to your child if he or she is lactose intolerant, it will only add fat and more of it and lots of uneasy episodes. Please get it checked. I have lactose intolerance and I figured it out recently. Unfortunately, I grew up having loads of milk and now imagine the harm it has done to me. I cannot go back in time but I can mend my ways now.

Meat

Yes, you heard it right. Meat, especially that chunky juicy and extra soft chicken leg that you get in a bucket, is poison. Chicken is injected with estrogen to make it fleshy, plump, soft and juicy. Remember, chicken is suppose to be white meat, if it is pink, don’t eat it.

Eating meat can aggravate estrogen dominance. In fact, women who consume more red meat and eat less fish and vegetables are thought to be more at risk for endometriosis. Overall, more meat consumption is associated with less fiber consumption, which raises bad estrogens and grows the wrong bacteria in your microbiome and 70 per cent of our health depends on this microbiome.

Growth-promoting hormones are implanted in most cattle. These hormones promote protein synthesis and result in cattle that are 10 to 30 percent larger than non-treated counterparts. Synthetic hormones in cattle mimic naturally occurring hormones in the animal.

Some children eat meat and chicken almost every day. It is making them estrogen dominant, hence the early puberty.

Soybean

I had once heard a doctor saying that soybean is an excellent source of protein and everyone, especially women, should eat it on a daily basis. I started consuming soya, soymilk, soya chunks, bla bla and more bla. Ultimately, I got PCOD, a syndrome which affects most of us these days. Now, I do not consume soya, and guess what, my PCOD has gone and that too without any medical treatment. Now, imagine what soybean can do to kids. Yes, estrogen dominance again. Corn and soya are among the most genetically modified or GM foods. Stay away from GM foods as they are not natural.

Soybeans contain isoflavones, which are chemically similar to estrogens. Soybeans are a complete protein source and a dietary staple in many cultures. Soy contains phytoestrogens called isoflavones that may mimic the activity of the hormone estrogen in your body.

Overly nice looking fruits and vegetables

Pesticides are used in many commercially grown fruit, vegetable, and grain crops to protect them from insects, weeds, fungi, diseases, mice and other animals, bacteria, viruses, and mold. There are several pesticides, insecticides and fungicides that inhibit male hormone and there are many that mimic estrogen.

The best way is that never buy vegetables and fruits that look extra appealing. If possible grow your own kitchen garden, buy fresh produce from vendors and not malls. Peel fruits and vegetables before giving them to your kids, at least, this will get us rid of a substantial percentage of dangerous chemicals. Immerse fruits and vegetables in table vinegar and water for about 20 minutes. It helps remove the wax and other chemical coatings from the produce.

Do not take your kids to international fast food chains

I cannot name them here but you know what I am talking about. Since the time, these international burger makers, fries makers and chicken bucket sellers have come to India, kids have seen a mammoth increase in obesity and adults are no exception. Imagine, sprinkling 50 grams of sugar on dal-chawal, roti-sabzi, even burger and fries. Can you eat it? I do not think so. Now, add a coke or sweetened soda to it and there it goes. You can have it. Medical science permits two teaspoons of sugar per day. Imagine gulping down 15 teaspoons of sugar with one meal; that is sweetened soda for you.

And ya, the fruit juices that come in cartons and tetra packs. I can’t believe this that kids’ meal onboard a plane, on a train, at restaurants etc. contain a pack of this poisonous liquid. It is nothing but a concoction made of very little fruit juice, loads of sugar and several preservatives.

Oh wait, there are these ‘No sugar and preservatives added’ juice types. Read the ingredients, it will say fruit juice concentrate and water. This fruit juice concentrate is made of sugar, added flavours, colours or dyes, and preservatives. When these companies prepare juice, they simply add water to the concentrates they buy from various other companies and dish out a selling gimmick to us ‘No sugar and preservatives added’. And, we happily buy it. Do not buy it. Buy a juicer instead and make fruit and vegetables juice blends at home. Your kids will love it. Excess sugar and preventives, salt and colourings create the same havoc on your children as they do on you.

https://youtu.be/iFVn3kuZ4Dc (Watch it).

Do not keep these fast food varieties (the frozen ones), tetra and bottle drinks at home and please do not serve them to your guests. They are no longer ‘izzat ka sawal items’. Make potato chips at home, they are way more healthy than the commercial French fries.

What types of products contain “foreign estrogens” or unnatural estrogen

  • Weed killers
  • Sunscreen lotions that contain 4-MBC (You will look cuter with a bit of tan and so will your child. Do not overuse sunscreens).
  • Food preservatives such as BHA (Almost all packet foods contain this).
  • Canned foods and plastics (BPA and BPA-S).
  • Insecticides and pesticides.
  • Food Dyes (Means food colourings, the ‘edible’ ones).
  • Food chemicals that are used to protect fats and oils from becoming rancid.
  • Anti-perspirants that are made with Metalloestrogens or toxic metals (Apply lemon as a deodorant. Trust me, it can cure the worst body odor).
  • Make ups and skin care products that have the preservative called paraben (Check out for paraben-free options. Biotique is a fantastic option).
  • Tap water (most city waters are contaminated with estrogens from oral contraceptive pills. Use glass bottles to preserve water. Say bye to plastics).
  • Detergents and surfactants (Thode mein zyada wala funda is good here. Use less detergent powder).
  • Growth hormones in dairy and meat products (I have already mentioned this).

 

Now you will think that what to eat if not all this. Simply follow a thumb rule that do not eat it if it is made inside a factory or comes in a packet. Make your own chana puri in mustard, coconut or olive oil. Make fries at home, fry papad, make cakes and cookies at home with jaggery (it imparts a better flavor than white sugar), make chips at home. Cut thin slices any vegetable of your choice (sweet potato, potato, tomato, zucchini, brinjal, carrot, jackfruit, raw banana, etc.) and drizzle with olive oil, add salt, pepper, and spices of your choice and spread the slices on a baking tray. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes on 200 degrees celcius (the time will be more for moist vegetables. The thinner the slices are, the crispier they will be). They are yum and you won’t ever grab a packet of chips.

Lastly, be an example to your children. They will eventually follow your eating habits.

We need Selenium and here is why

Several researches have been carried out in order to answer the query that how much selenium is needed and whether diets low in selenium lead to cancers. There have been no clear views on this but one thing that remains absolutely clear is that selenium is a vital mineral for the human body.

Our food consists of several vital nutrients and minerals and out of them; Selenium is one of the important dietary minerals that we need. However, we need it in small amounts, but we require it every day. Selenium is slotted in a tiny bunch of important proteins that play a significant role in health. The proteins that contain selenium are known as selenoproteins.

Benefits of selenium

This wonder mineral offers a variety of benefits and has emerged as a super mineral for today’s generation. Selenium is great for thyroid dysfunction. It is a great antioxidant and helps support the immune system. Selenium helps keep cancer away as it supports anti-cancer abilities of the body. It helps in regulating and ensuring a proper blood flow lowering the chances of heart diseases.

Foods rich in selenium

Let us see the top 10 foods that are rich in selenium.

Tuna

Tuna is consumed the world over and is loaded with selenium. A 4 Oz serving of Tuna gives 122.70 mcg of selenium. Tuna can be used for making a variety of dishes.

Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts are counted as one of the best sources of selenium. These nuts are easily available and are tasty. They can be eaten by themselves or can be added to recipes for an enhanced flavor. Studies show that just two Brazil nuts a day can bring selenium levels to their normal range in a short span of 12 weeks.

Broccoli, Cabbage, Spinach

We swear by green vegetables and selenium is just one of nutrients they contain. If you have not included them in your diet yet, then do so because they are storehouses of not only selenium but various other nutrients and minerals.

Shiitake mushroom

Out of the different varieties of mushrooms, Shiitake mushrooms or white button mushrooms are one of the best sources of selenium. They taste great and are rich in Vitamin D and selenium. Use them while making soups, salads, sautéed vegetables and other preparations.

Chia Seeds

If you want a super food in your diet then this is it. Chia seeds have selenium, amino acids, Omega 3 and Omega 6. Chia seeds can be added to anything, as they are neutral in taste and takes a gel like form when exposed to moisture.

Lima/Pinto Beans

Everyone’s favorite, Lima and Pinto beans are rich in selenium. They also deliver protein and fiber to the body. Moreover, the best thing about these beans is that they are tasty.

Brown Rice

Thank god, brown rice contains selenium. You can simply ensure selenium intake by eating this staple. Brown rice is gluten free, rich source of selenium and offers lesser calories. Carbohydrates, B vitamins, and soluble fiber are other benefits of brown rice.

 

Sunflower, Sesame and Flaxseed

Grab a handful of seeds and your body will thank you. Add selenium to your daily diet through this delicious and nutty option. These seeds are also rich in Omega 6 and Omega 3, fiber and protein.

Chicken

Yay! Your favorite food contains selenium too. Chicken is loaded with protein and offers selenium too. A 3 Oz serving has 22 mcg of selenium.

Shrimp

Shrimps are a delicacy the world over and are prepared in almost all cuisines. A 4 Oz serving of shrimps give 56.13 mcg of selenium.

 

Periods shaming in India: Time to fight the taboo

Periods shaming is largely prevalent in India and has gone unchecked because the roots of it lie in our culture. This happens and we all know it but why isn’t someone doing something about it. Today as I was sipping my coffee in the morning, I came through a post sent to me by my friend Roopali from Noida about a shocking incident that came to fore in Muzaffarnagar in the state of Uttar Pardesh. I hope the Chief Minister, Mr Yogi Adityanath, will take note of the incident.

About 70 girls were ‘stripped’ naked by a school warden of a residential school in Muzzafarnagar, who reportedly saw menstural blood on the floor of the hostel’s bathroom. The girls were allegedly made to sit in the classroom in that state.

The school, Kasturba Gandhi Residential School, has initiated an investigation against the warden. According to an NDTV report, one of the students said, “There was no teacher around. We were called downstairs (from the hostel). Madam made us to take off our clothes saying she will beat us if we did not. We are kids, what could we do? She would have beaten us had we not obeyed her.”

At least 35 students have left the facility. Many of them have come forward with similar allegations.

The warden has been removed and an inquiry has been initiated. But, does it end here? The problem is not what the warden did, the problem is what made the warden think that menstruating is criminal and deserves to be shamed.

I had a friend in Ferozepore as a child. She lived in a joint family and had several aunts. Her aunts and her mother would restrain from entering the family kitchen on certain days and would cook for themselves at a small kitchen made away from the family kitchen. The kitchen had separate utensils too. When I asked her that why was this happening, she said that they are impure for certain days and aren’t allowed to enter the kitchen and eat what is cooked for the family. So, they have to cook for themselves and not interact with the male members of the family during those days. I came back and told my mother about it, to which she said that my grandmother also didn’t allow my mother to enter the kitchen during those days until my grandmother fell ill and my mother had to do the home chores.

This left a deep scar on my outlook towards a boy and a girl. It told me that I am a girl and I am different. There is something different about being a girl. Thankfully, I did not get the disturbing feeling of being impure etc. due to the exposure I had in life.

During the olden times, the wise must have thought that women need to rest during menstruation and thus came the cultural diktat but the decree was abused, altered to such an extent that women were considered impure and what not. A minister was quoted as saying that women must not enter religious places during those days. This is preposterous to me. That man should be told that when he was inside his mother’s body, he was surrounded by the same blood that he and his god-forsaken society considers impure.

Some facts (TOI report)

  • Only 12% of India’s 355 million menstruating women use sanitary napkins, rest use old rags, unsanitised cloth, ashes and husk sand. In comparison, 100% women in Singapore and Japan, 88% in Indonesia and 64% in China use napkins.
  • Incidents of Reproductive Tract Infection (RTI) is 70% more common among these women.
  • Inadequate menstrual protection makes adolescent girls (age group 12-18 years) miss five days of school in a month (50 days a year). Around 23% of these girls actually drop out of school after they start menstruating.
  • Around 70 per cent of women cannot afford sanitary napkins. (If you have a maid working in your house, ask her if she needs assistance for herself and her daughters and ensure that a packet or two is given to her every month. If you won’t, nothing will change and the taboo with periods will continue in our society).

Today, through this post, I urge parents to change the mindset among their children about periods. Daughters should not be told that something different has happened to them when they reach the age and sons should be taught to be more accepting of this natural cycle. A woman is already going through discomfort during those days and the least she needs is a lecture on what she should do and not do.

It is 2017, we still tell women and girls how to dress up, we tell them to drink but not like men because they can’t hold their drinks, we tell them not to put their under garments out in the sun, we tell them not to venture out at night because some demented man will consider them to be ‘available’. Every single day, we are telling them to do things that make men important and everything women do should be done considering men. Really? And why?

We are not modern yet. Modernity comes from your thoughts. You might be clad in a saree and not know English, yet be modern. We need to forego the belief that people who do not converse in English or do not wear short dresses aren’t modern. Uplifting the lives of people around you is being modern, considering someone else’s discomfort is being modern, considering male, female and other sex as equal is being modern, ensuring your personal and financial independence is being modern, taking care of your parents being women is being modern.

Last but not the least, we are examples to our children, they will learn and accept what we believe and teach them. So, ladies the next time you pass a statement like, “I don’t know how to drive or I have to ask papa if he allows this or don’t go outside to play as you are having your periods”, remember, your daughter is getting OK with the fact that women do not have to drive because men do and it is OK for men to decide everything that takes place in the lives of women associated with them and that periods are something that will make her give up many things in life. Trust me, your effort to educate a girl is going in vein if this is how you think and do.

Change! And change for the better.

The military diet: review and more

What is military diet? Putting it simple, it is a simple diet plan aimed at inducing quick weight loss and can aid ten pounds of weight loss in just one week.

Wow! Really? Yes, it is for real but again like every diet, only if you stick to it by the book. No substitutes and absolutely no cheats.

No diet is a magic pill and ultimately it boils down to how much you take in Vs how much you expend. The whole concept of military diet is the ingredients working together in a way that leads to weight loss. The only condition is that just stick with it and see for yourself.

Why is military diet better

This diet is good for over eaters and people who like to binge simply because it does not exclude any food group. Also, the portions on this diet are clear and this makes you unable to overeat if you stick to the diet. The best bet is that no one feels deprived of anything as there is sugar, salt and carbs too.

It is real weight loss

Unlike several diets that only lead to a loss in the water weight, military diet makes you lose actual weight. The body tends to retain water when you eat loads of salt and consume soda but when you eat healthy and drink water, the body flushes out excess water. This diet will also make you lose some water weight but fat too as it is a calorie deficit diet.

The Military Diet Day 1

breakfast 

½ Grapefruit
1 Slice of Wholegrain Toast
1 Tablespoons of Peanut Butter
1 Cup of Tea/Coffee

Lunch 
½ Cup of

1 Slice of Wholegrain Toast
1 Cup of Coffee/Tea

Dinner 
3oz of meat

1 Cup of Green Beans
½ Banana
1 Small Apple
1 Cup Vanilla Ice Cream

 

 

The Military Diet Day 2

 Breakfast 
1 Egg
1 Slice of Wholegrain Toast
½ Banana

Lunch 
1 Cup of Cottage Cheese
1 Boiled Egg

5 Saltine Crackers

Dinner 
2 Hotdogs without buns

1 Cup of Broccoli
½ Cup of Carrot
½ Banana
½ Cup of Vanilla Ice Cream

The Military Diet Day 3

Breakfast 
1 Slice of Cheddar Cheese
5 Saltine Crackers
1 Small Apple

 

Lunch 
1 Egg Cooked to Your Liking
1 Slice of Wholegrain Toast

Dinner
1 Cup Tuna
½ Banana
1 Cup of Vanilla Ice Cream

Results

You must be wondering that what is the period of doing this diet and for how long can it be followed. Well, again, you have to follow it for three days atleast and then continue eating normal but not exceeding 1500 calories with little sugar, not an overload of both salt and sugar. You can again get back in case you want to lose more weight.

 

The diet is to the point, just right and has no frills attached. Just follow it and see the results. Do it only if you are high on willpower otherwise you will leave it in between and end up feeling frustrated.

Get ready to face some difficulties but if you really want it, then you will sail through. You do not have to be an exercise freak while doing this else you will start feeling hungry. But, don’t restrain if you follow a basic and simple exercise routine, which doesn’t burn too many calories.

The reason why it is so popular is because this diet works. This diet is for you if you really want to lose weight fast and that too without investing much into fancy foods and diet foods.

 

Top 10 backwater resorts in Kerala

Kerala is just perfect to experience a stress free and relaxed holiday. The wholesomeness of this place is simply incomparable to any other place. The culture of the state is simple and unique. It is minimalistic yet very impressive. The state thrives on tourism and one of the experiences the state offers is the backwaters. We have listed out the 10 best backwater resorts in Kerala.

The Lalit Resort & Spa, Kasaragod

Situated at the North Kerala coast, this resort is amidst beautiful coconut groves. The place lies amidst the Nombili River and the Arabian Sea making quiet a backdrop for lots of fun. There are cultural performances to witness and a beautiful outdoor swimming pool to add to the experience.

Lemon Tree Vembanad Lake Resort, Alappuzha

Experience Vembanad Lake in all its splendor at this luxury resort. Located on the Janashakthi Road, at Kayippuram in Alleppey, the resort offers a unique and relaxed atmosphere. Fishing at the lake is gratifying and so is practicing yoga and water sports.

Vythiri Village Resort, Wayanad

If you are looking for an uber luxe place in Kerala then this is it. The Vythiri Village Resort is scenic and beautiful. While here, do experience their yoga and ayurveda facilities, spa and massages. See the beautiful backwaters while on a houseboat with your loved one. Cycling, archery, zip lining and campfire are other activities they organize.

Punnamada Resort, Alappuzha

The Punnamada Resort is nothing short of an alluring little paradise tucked by the lake. Due to its location, this place offers a beautiful glimpse of mother nature to tourists. The place offers plenty opportunities to sightsee and experience a houseboat.  Rowing Boat and Mini Golf is also available at the resort. There are several indoor games available here.

Coconut Lagoon, Kumarakom

This resort close to Vembanad Lake in Kumarakom is a heavenly abode where tourists can enjoy boat rides and village walk, visit to Kavanar bird sanctuary and farms. Do organic farming and fish cultivation and see Kathakali and traditional music concert. The resort is surrounded by palm trees and is quite a site to see.

Vasundhara Sarovar Resort, Alappuzha

This immaculate and lavish resort is surrounded by a tropical garden and is also encompassed by Vayalar backwaters. This place is also close to Andhakaranazhi Beach. The resort offers spa, massages to relax, or grab a drink or two at their Lake View bar. Their swimming pool is definitely worth a dive and the restaurant offers an assortment of dishes.

Kumarakom Lake Resort, Kumarakom

This resort is popular for its incredible backwaters. The resort is located in Kumarakom and is a frequently visited resort by people from around the globe. This place is also a heritage resort and its construction stands as evidence to it. It overlooks the lake adding oodles of beauty to this place.

The Zuri Kumarakom Resort, Kumarakom

Another resort located on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, it offers luxury at its best. There are private gardens and plunge pools, apart from a common swimming pool, which adds to the feel of this resort. The verdant green cover makes it an ideal place for honeymooners and families. The rooms are spacious and comfortable.

Vivanta by Taj Malabar

The Victorian charm comes alive at this resort. Taj does not need an introduction as it has told the world what luxury is all about since years now. This resort is well appointed and has excellent spa facilities. The landscaped pool is another attraction here and it overlooks the Cochin Harbour.

Houseboat experience

While in Kerala, a houseboat experience is a must. There are various houseboats, both owned and operated by hotels and resorts and private operators. Spend time at a houseboat, stay here, eat here and bask in God’s own country.

Put your dumbbells to work at home

You do not need a gym to workout. Two dumbbells, motivation, and a will to do it is what you need to pump up those muscles.

Bodybuilders swear by dumbbells and they can’t do without them. Now, it is important to know the significance of dumbbell moves before you actually get to know the moves.

You use those sophisticated machines at the gym but aren’t inching even closer to what you have in mind, it is because you aren’t working the muscles that matter.

Dumbbell exercises will tone up and work muscles that matter and remember that strength training is more effective in melting fat than cardio alone as it burns calories for upto 24 hours after you have ended a session of strength training.

Let us get started.

  1. Dumbbell standing biceps curl

Don’t fret, it is not as tough as it sounds. Simply stand with feet hip-width apart and do not arch your back. Keep the toes parallel. With palms facing up, hold a dumbbell in each hand. Curl the dumbbell up with elbows in front of your ribs and squeeze biceps hard as you do a rep. Remember, not to move the body while doing this exercise.

  1. Dumbbell glute bridge

Hold a dumbbell on your lap as you lay on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat. Now, press your hips up with your weight into your heels and create a straight line between upper back and knees and squeeze your butt as you do a rep. Pause for a second and repeat after coming back. Do not arch your back.

  1. Dumbbell floor press

Bend knees after lying down and feet flat. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and raise your arms over shoulders and lower the dumbbells until the elbows touch the floor and keep repeating.

  1. Dumbbell lying triceps overhead extensions

Keep your feet flat as you lay on your back and knees bent. Now, hold a dumbbell in each hand and raise your arms over your shoulders in a straight line. Lower the weights until the elbows are touching the floor and repeat. Squeeze the triceps as you do this move. Try using a weight that is difficult to move with control to get maximum impact and don’t let elbows flare.

  1. Dumbbell bent over row

Stand straight with toes parallel and feet hip-width apart. Hang your arms straight and hold a dumbbell in each hand and place hands underneath shoulders. Slightly bend at hips and push them back and lower them paralleling the torso with the floor. Do not move the torso back and start rowing the dumbbells up squeezing elbows up and back towards the body. Do not lift your head as you do this.

  1. Dumbbell bent-over reverse fly

Stand with toes parallel and feet hip-width apart. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, put hands underneath shoulders as you hang them straight. Slightly bend at knees, push the hips back, and lower until the torso is parallel to floor. Now, lift the dumbbells out to the sides with palms facing each other and squeeze the shoulder blades at the top of the rep. Come back to the starting position and repeat.

  1. Dumbbell reverse lunge

Get into a lunge and hold a dumbbell in each hand with arms at your sides and palms facing each other. Lower your hips and bend the knees until an inch over the ground. Do not touch the ground with the knee. Return to standing position and repeat.

Making use of hashtags effectively

Hashtags have become staple for social media marketing. They started with Twitter and are ubiquitous. The # sign when used by the book can initiate new avenues for you as they act like a bond, which holds social media marketing campaigns collectively. Keep it in mind that hashtags can be infuriating if not used in the preferred manner. How to use them in your favor, let us take a look.

Remember that there are no rules in place for using hashtags but unconfirmed data suggests that following a few guidelines with hashtags can increase your SMM rate.

Basics of your hashtag

When you choose a hashtag remember to keep it simple. Complex words are not search-friendly. Special characters are a complete ‘no-no’ and cannot be used in hashtags. Numbers can be used, for example #AroundTheWorldIn80Days.

Hashtags coalesce

Be it your website, advertisement on the TV or a campaign across the social media platform, hashtags can unify your campaigns. Every commercial has a hashtag displayed somewhere on the screen and if you search that hashtagged phrase, you will be led to more links explaining the campaign in detail and this is how you sell.

Put your hashtag to test before finalizing

You need to be sure that your ‘witty and different’ hashtag is not already associated with something. Do not be hapless in hashtagging. Choose an exclusive, yet appropriate, hashtag for your brand so that your business grabs the limelight.

Concentrate on the timing

There are tools galore that help you schedule Tweets when no one else out there is readying to converse with your consumers. However, keep a check on when will your campaign have the maximum impact and act accordingly.

More than one to hashtag

Hashtags unite and construct conversations. They are more than just words or better said more than just one word. They are a trend that does not seem to age. Promote engagement and enhance understanding by making sure people are able to use your hashtag the right way and it will do wonders for your campaign.

Customizing hashtags

Customizing hashtags can build a personal bond with audience and big brands do this often. The hashtag leaves very little space for tomfoolery leading to a clear call to action.

Use hashtags responsibly

There are rules for trending topics. The most important one is that your hashtag needs to be appropriate and relevant. Do not expect to draw attention by hashtagging trending topics with Tweets that are extraneous. Exploiting Twitterverse is not going to do any good as unpleasant Twitter habits can suspend your profile and will attract spammers and you do not want that. Facebook is a classic example of this. Facebook allows hashtags and people use them too much. In fact, it was noted that Facebook posts with hashtags had less engagement as compared to posts without them.

Hashtags on Google+

Damn the user count! Hashtags are becoming the key for Google and even if you do not assign one to your post on G+, it will assign one to your post on its own and make it searchable through the largest search engine in the world and you cannot turn a blind eye to this one. Can you?

It is your content and it needs to be found and wants to be found yet with so many of these being published every day, yours is becoming gradually more hard to find. But fret now, let your content, campaign and post deluge with hashtags and we have told you how.

From where did booze, goodbye and cocktail originate?

What could have been possible if there were no words. Probably nothing! Etymology, the study of origin of words, is interesting, atleast to me. English words are based on religion and I am sure so are the words in other languages. An average human being uses about 3000 to 5000 words daily, men and women, respectively. Ever wondered how did they originate. I will tell you how some of the words we use everyday found their existence.

Goodbye

Goodbyes and farewells have emotions attached to them. The most common word used to bid farewell to people is goodbye. It actually means ‘God be with you’ and traces its first use back to the 14th century. It hasn’t changed since then unlike several other words that have undergone changes with people and generations. The word goodbye we use today is exactly the way it was made.

Hello

Now, this one has a very interesting story attached to it. It might not be true but it sure is fascinating. Remember who invented the telephone? Alexander Graham Bell did. His girlfriend’s name was Margaret Hello and he used her name as a greeting so that people remember her. Others believe that the word hello actually comes from Spanish word Hola, which means stop and pay attention. The next time someone says hello to you, do remember Margaret Hello and do pay attention.

Booze

The word was originally spelled as ‘bouse’ in English in the 14th century. The word underwent changes and was spelt as booze for the first time in the 17th century. The Dutch had a word ‘busen’, which meant to drink too much or to get drunk. The word booze we speak today is a combination of these words.

Plastic

In the erstwhile era, the word plastic actually meant something that could be reshaped or molded. It is a combination of two words, Plastikos from Greek and the Latin word Plasticus. Both of them mean something that can be molded. The word dates back to the 1600s.

Muscle

The word muscle comes from ‘little mouse’. People thought that muscles appear as if there are little mice under the skin. Am sure, back then, there was no cellulite and muscles actually looked the way they should. Alas, today we have to burn it up at the gym to get the ‘little mice under my skin’ effect.

Lunatic

People always believed that insanity is caused by the changes in the Moon and even today, astrologers associate changes in the Moon to changes people undergo in their lives. The 28-day cycle, the high tide and the low tide and the storm of content that appears over the internet when Moon appears bigger and brighter. But lunatic actually comes from a Latin word luna, which means Moon.

Jeans

You have it, I have it, we all have it. The word Jeans was first used in the United States of America in 1843 but much before that, the word Jean was used by people in Italy. French made jeans using fustian, which is a kind of twilled cotton cloth from Genoa in Italy. Americans simply made it plural.

Cocktail

If stories are to be believed then cocktail first happened when tavern owners started combining the dregs (tailing) of barrels that got empty. A barrel’s spigot is known as a cock. A concoction used to be amalgamated and sold off at bargain prices. Therefore, this cock-tailing led to the fancy margaritas and martinis we have today.

A teardrop island called Sri Lanka

Close to India, is an ecstatic country called Sri Lanka. The teardrop shaped island towards the southern tip of India is abundant with mesmerizing beaches, historic temples, forests, Colonial fort. People visit Sri Lanka to soak up its natural beauty, swimming, sailing, surfing and more.

Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya is a 19th century hill station and is a treat for the eyes. The place boasts of golf course, one of the best rail journeys, clubs, waterfalls and tea plantations. The mountains around this place are pure nature and nothing else.

Pinnawalla Elephant Orphanage

One can see elephants eat and bathe here. Seeing an elephant is a calming experience as these animals love nature and are composed. The place is beautiful with clean water and green environs.

Ella

The Ella gap gives a breathtaking view of a spectacular gap in the southern mountain wall. The hill station has tea plantation and abundant forest. People often come here to witness fresh nature.

Dambulla Cave Temple

The temple is home to 150 Buddha statues in a cave. It talks about Sri Lanka’s ancient times and the religious inclination of people. The temple is well preserved and nestles in tranquil surroundings.

Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa is a place with historical remains. These remains will take you back into the erstwhile era and you can envision how people lived back then. The place comprises stupas, statues, temples and tombs.

Adams Peak

One of Sri Lanka’s most beautiful places, Adam’s peak is a delight to watch. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and is a perfect spot to watch sunrise. The peak is visible from most parts and people especially make an effort to climb the peak to see natural beauty.

Old Dutch Fort at Galle

The charming Galle Old Dutch Fort is a must see because it is very well preserved and talks a lot about the colonial rule. One of the best preserved sea fort within South Asia, you can get a spectacular view of the sea from this fort.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Sri Lanka’s most eye catching site, the Sigiriya Rock Fortress is indeed a pleasure to see. It is a boulder garden that consists of caves where Buddhist Bhikkus lived and meditated. It is surrounded by lush forests and water gardens. The magnificent view from the top is simply amazing.

Unawatuna beach

Sri Lanka is an island and this makes it a beach paradise. Unawatuna beach is a little horseshoe beach and has villages around. There are plenty of activities done here with amazing food served.

Bentota and Induruwa

One of the finest stretches of beach that stretches south from the magnificent Bentota lagoon is quiet a place to relax and unwind. The place has an array of hotels to choose from. The soft sands and clear waters are welcoming.

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