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.


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.



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.


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.


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.