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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Prayer for Peshawar

When you send your kid to school, you don't expect a massacre to happen there. That's why it's so inhuman and horrifying! 

This has been a heartbreaking day for most of us who have heard about the massacre of innocent school children in Peshawar by terrorists. I sat at my desk, feeling the tears leap to my eyes. Over 100 students are reported to have been killed, shot at mostly in the face and head....I can't get over it.

This is SICK, BRUTAL and INHUMAN. 

Think of the mothers whose lives have snapped today. No mother can ever be or feel the same again when a part of her, more precious than her own life, is ripped out. 

It's not just the children who died today.

It's their mothers too.

Today, my prayer is for Peshawar: the innocent children who died and their families who have to find strength from within to accept this reality. 

Read these tweets. You will understand what I mean.




I pray to God for the well-being and peace of each and every mother in Peshawar, whose loss we cannot even begin to fathom. 

But we know their pain. We can feel it too.

Say a little prayer for the innocent souls as they journey on to another realm: Go in peace, little ones, we are all praying for you because that's the best we can do.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

How I made my first Kerala Fish Molee

I have something to confess! Are you ready?

I made my first fish curry. And here it is - Kerala Fish Molee.



The recipe is from the popular cookbook The Suriani Kitchen. The flavors came out so well and it was delicious! You must try this recipe at least once.




Monday, December 8, 2014

The Mother-in-Law: The Other Woman in your marriage

Every day, we read or hear horrific accounts of daughters-in-law being mentally or physically harassed. There are plenty of statistics on cases relating to bride burning, dowry harassment and domestic violence in Indian homes. As long as it does not happen to us, we don't give it any serious attention.

But this book will make you SIT UP and PAY ATTENTION.

Narrated factually and with a dash of wit, Veena Venugopal explores the lives of eleven Indian women and tells us shocking truths about their mothers-in-law. Each story has a lesson for every woman.

There is a mother-in-law who justifies her alcoholic son beating and raping the daughter-in-law, another mother-in-law who delights in taking her daughter-in-law for her check-ups because the latter is suffering from cancer and after each hospital visit, the mother-in-law uses it against her! The premise of this bold book is this: Your mother-in-law is NOT YOUR FRIEND.

                                        [Veena Venugopal, author of The Mother-in-law]

Why Mother-in-Law is "the Other Woman" 

This is from Veena Venugopal’s book and in her own words:
  • There is no fashion police stricter than the Indian mother-in-law.  All ‘Mummyjis’ assume they are in charge of their daughter-in-laws wardrobe.
  • Some rules by Indian mothers-in-law: Must wear mangal-sutra, blouses must have sleeves, salwar kameez must have dupatta, etc.
  • If appearance is the biggest area of conflict between the modern day Mummyji and her daughter-in-law, the second is work. In India, about 50% of women employees are reported to quit their jobs before they get into middle management jobs. Know why? Because of Mummyji!
  •  The problem begins early – and that’s the clincher. When the rules are first laid down, the daughter-in-law agrees to almost everything. That sets the foundation for the rest of her life.   

When I first began reading the book, my immediate thought was, How can this be true? How can one woman be so cruel to another woman who is part of her family?
                                                                                                          
In India, some things will never change. These are:

1.    By nature, women are territorial and sons are definitely their marked territory. How many times or how often do you hear of a father-in-law ill-treating the daughter-in-law or a brother-in-law ill-treating the sister-in-law?
2.     Women have pre-determined expectations about what their son’s wives should look like, speak and behave like. They also pre-determine how much their son’s wives should weigh!
3.    Through all the real life stories featured in this book, one thread is common and the author highlights it: the married sons, over whom the whole battle of the women is centred on, plays either neutral or pretends to be ignorant. And if push comes to shove, they stand with their mothers.

DON'T MISS: Being Single in India: Why so much fuss and prejudice? 

There are so many happy families where the mothers-in-law treat their daughters-in-law with  love. 

Wouldn't it be nice and inspiring to document some of those happy stories too? The book could have concluded on a positive note.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Aravind Balasubramanya's 'Capturing Divinity' released today

It's a divine "incidence" and not a "co-incidence" that on the very day that I have finished reading Aravind Balasubramanya's book, "Memoirs of a Sai Student" THRICE, I get an email from Brother Aravind, sharing details of the book release of the sequel titled, "Capturing Divinity." 



I am so happy to know this because I enjoyed reading Aravind's earlier book. He writes with sincerity and a great sense of humor. The way he writes captivates your heart because he goes into the tiny details of Swami's personality and his own and does a fantastic 'Bhakti-mapping' too! 

"Capturing Divinity"  has been released and can be bought from the Sathya Sai Bookstore. The ebook will be arriving very soon.

You can also write to orders@sssbpt.org to order your copies.. If any queries, please write to enquiry@sssbpt.org

Monday, November 3, 2014

3 Posts on the Awesome Power of Staying HAPPY!

Here’s a fantastic round-up of the three HAPPY blog posts I read. You could try looking at it too. Go ahead, give it a shot!

Don’t POSTPONE joy

There’s something about being happy that makes all of us happy. I mean, come on, do you honestly enjoy seeing anyone suffer? We want the world to be a happy place, don’t we? We all want to lead happy lives. Do read: 5 Exceptional Posts that will motivate you today 

                                                           [Image Credit: Unsplash]

This post from Helen McKay, who says, “Don't postpone joy” makes sense. Her wise words also say, “I believe happiness is about appreciating small things and simple experiences: the kind of things that leave lasting, enjoyable memories. Our lives are full of joyful experiences, yet many folk don’t value them, as they should. So often, people put off the things that will make them happy, until they have achieved a set goal; but then – having reached that goal – there is always another reason why they cannot enjoy a state of bliss. Procrastination is a bad habit. Whatever you want to do in life, do it now – don’t procrastinate and put off starting. Between your dream and the fulfilment of it, life lies waiting.” Read the full blogpost here.  

It's not easy to let go of one's marriage and revert to living single again. Here's a from-the-heart perspective from a writer about how tough it is to be living alone. Lorna writes, "I still care, I still want him to be happy. But the truth is, I haven't even bought a mop yet. What does a mop have to do with moving on? Let me explain."  She says, "It's time to break it down to small, manageable chunks, be gentle with myself and begin with the last stage of moving on."

Fed up with crabby relationships? It’s no big deal! I  really enjoyed reading Anisa Virji’s blog post on how to release yourself from crabby relationships. She sums it up well, “Releasing yourself from such crabby relationships can have a wonderful effect on your well-being and the quality of your life.” I can SO connect to that!

In life, the sweet moments truly count! When you look back at your life, it’s those moments that flash back. So, here’s a thoroughly tempting post to sweeten this festive season – delicious desserts from across the world which aren't typically served in our homes!  

                                                  [Image Credit: Unsplash]

And if you're reading this post, clearly you're thinking about your happiness quotient in life. So, what makes you happy? Draw up a list. Go for it!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Breast Cancer: 7 facts you need to know about how to protect your breasts

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As this is a cause I feel strongly committed to, I decided it’s time to pitch in and write about it. From the moment I wake up, there is so little time to reflect on anything. But after talking to many women - those who are working in offices and those who are at home, one thing is clear: women get no rest or "Me" time. It is your life, your body and your happiness. Make time for your health no matter what.

                                                 [Image Credit: Unsplash]

Breast Cancer: Early Detection, Exercise and Detecting Breast Density   
Here are seven facts you need to know about your breasts – and what you can do to protect them [Source: Prevention Magazine, October 2014]

  1. Doctors say that early detection of breast cancer can improve the chances of survival by a whopping 99%. Start yearly breast check ups and mammograms. It is not enough to get cleared. Remember to follow up with your doctor on a regular basis.
2. This is one of the newest recommendations from oncologists: Find out how dense your breasts are. How do you find out? Ask the radiologist who is taking your mammogram to check your breast density. If the density is low, follow up regularly. If it’s high, consult your doctor at once.

3. Exercise alters oestrogen metabolism and lowers a woman’s breast cancer risk. To protect yourself from breast cancer and all cancers, doctors recommend 30 minutes of exercise for five days a week.   

4. Women who consistently breast-feed for the first six months have a reduced 10% risk of death from cancer. Why? Breast feeding lowers the levels of oestrogen and progestin in a woman’s blood and increases the level of oxytocin. After a substantial period of breast feeding – 6 months to one year – the hormones together reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer. 

5. Harvard researchers found that women who had the highest cartenoid levels in their blood had a 19% lower risk of blood cancer than those with the lowest levels. You can find cartenoids in fruits and vegetables such as carrots, leafy greens and red bell peppers.

6. According to Ayurveda, turmeric has many medicinal benefits. Recent studies show that its key compound curcumin can kill cancer cells. So, add more of this powerful spice to your daily meals. 

7.  Surround yourself with positive energy or practice being quiet so that you can listen to your inner self. Find ways to improve whatever you like to do. Show love to yourself more than before. Find joy in little things – a walk in the park, singing a song you love, being with the people who care about you and don’t make you feel bad about yourself. 

If you are contemplating breast cancer treatment, check my earlier post on 'How to choose your doctor and get your body confidence back.'

Don’t let cancer make you bitter. Make it a learning experience to feel better, wise and happier. [Medical inputs: Prevention Magazine October 2014] 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Lots of Travel, Lots of Fun

The unexpected is always more fun.

Lots of travel in 2014 - this is not something I had expected because of the water tight, hectic schedule that is a part of my life. Like a bolt from the blue, travel simply happened...just like that. And the best part of my trip to Sydney is that I am getting lots of time to spend and enjoy with my nephew Vihaan, whom I have just seen fleetingly across the last few years. This isn't a guilt trip. It's an unexpected gift from God, bringing me lots of happiness and love. Thank you, God and dear Angels.

And I am loving every minute, as if it's a delicious feast to savor.



Saturday, September 20, 2014

Daawat-e-Ishq review: Aditya Roy Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra showcase memorable moments in this Love-Dhokha Story

Daawat-e-Ishq is not about a love story that revolves around food. It is about Love and Dhokha. It is about a young girl's 'daring to dream' story. Are you ready for this?



Daawat-e-Ishq: Love, Dowry and Dhokha

The opening scene in Daawat-e-Ishq takes you straight into a ‘bride seeing’ ceremony in Hyderabad. The boy’s mother looks her nose down at everything offered. It’s the typical “no girl is ever good enough for my son” scene that is shown.  The prospective bride is Gulrez Khadir (starring Parineeti), who is a sales girl in a shoe shop. She has many dreams: of going to the US to study fashion design, of designing her own shoes and opening a shoe shop….yes, she is street smart, ambitious, full of amazing energy and she has a “weak spot for men who speak English well.” So, when the boy and girl get a chance to talk alone, all hell breaks loose!
Gulrez Khadir is incensed that the prospective groom asked her if she watched “beelue” films instead of pronouncing it correctly as “blue.” She finds out that he had lied about  his educational qualifications too. 
Gulrez’s father, (starring Anupam Kher) is a clerk. He is afraid of his daughter’s BIG dreams which he sees as ‘unrealistic.’ His daughter's dream of making it big almost comes true when she falls in love with a suave, English speaking young guy who seems to be deeply in love with her too. He is all set to pursue his MBA in Kalamazoo and she is already dreaming of her life there. His parents, who profess to be very forward thinking, well-to-do, suave and educated, tell Gulrez and her father, they are fine with their son marrying whoever they want…but they need “help” so that their son can pursue MBA in the US. All the prospective bride's father has to do is to “help” by depositing 80 lakh rupees for their son’s education.
Gulrez is heartbroken that the guy she is in love with did not have the guts to question his parents when they made this demand. Her question to him is, “You and I fell in love and we want to get married to each other. Why are we talking about our marriage in terms of dowry?"
Then Gulrez realizes the fundamental fact of LOVE IN INDIA: whether arranged or love, the girl’s family always has to pay the highest price for it. Whether it is called a ‘list,’ a ‘help,’ 'gold' or 'property,' it is all pointing to one ugly thing: DOWRY.
Daawat-e-Ishq: Serving the Sweet Dish of Revenge 
So, Gulrez (called as Gullu) decides to fulfill her dream of going to the US and making it big as a shoe designer. She convinces her very reluctant father that it’s now their turn to make prospective bridegrooms and their families pay for the humiliation they have been through. They travel to Lucknow by posing as very rich NRIs who are looking to “shortlist bridegrooms.” 
Gulrez changes her name to Sania Habibullah from Dubai. And now it is the father-daughter duo's turn to put bridegrooms and their parents under scrutiny.


Among those who are chosen to be interviewed, there is Tariq Haidar (starring Aditya Roy Kapoor) who owns Lucknow’s most popular kabab joint. He is a high school drop out who speaks English badly, has a crude manner of talking, is a down to earth man for some one who is very rich and he falls deeply in love with Sania Habibullah. Her plan is to trick him into marrying her and then file a fake case against him citing section 498 A.
Now, citing section 498 A has been a clever move to bring in an element of pushing awareness around a social cause. The glitch is this - the movie highlights how the section can be exploited rather than how women can use it to protect themselves from dowry harassment. Law abiding citizens may not appreciate this "twist in legislative intent" that the film seems to focus on.
Tariq and Sania have nothing in common but there is a chemistry between them that blossoms. Here’s where the story loses its plot, becomes predictable and turns cheesy.
Daawat-e-Ishq: What I Liked 
In Daawat-e-Ishq, let me tell you what I really liked: 
1. Brilliant performance by Aditya Roy Kapoor as Tariq Haidar - a high school drop out who cannot speak English fluently. He was just amazing in terms of capturing the raw, refreshing spirit of Tariq Haidar! The movie shows that though Tariq is not suave, sophisticated or educated, he knows how to respect a woman in the manner befitting a real man unlike a 'city' guy. 

2. Natural, effortless acting by Parineeti in her portrayal of 'Gullu' - the ambitious sales girl who has a mind of her own and when she is determined to get something, nothing can stop her.

3. Several memorable moments in the movie such as where Tariq Haidar tries to woo Gullu by serving her food in the presence of his parents, how he has a conversation with her where he tells her that her real value is not in the dowry she brings but her beauty, her personality, charm and intelligence.

4. It is a pleasure to see the refreshing vignettes of Lucknow and Hyderabad. The heritage status, diversity and cultural richness of these two places are well portrayed. There has been a clear and note worthy effort to steer clear of "dolled up" landscapes. Every scene is clearly set in sync with the city and what it represents.


5. The music has a rare life that it breathes into the story. There are no fancy landscapes, exotic locations or make believe lands. Each song matches the mood of the situation and the protagonists breathe life into their characters with every song.  



Daawat-e-Ishq is an entertaining love story that is served with love and a dash of cheesy predictability. Watch it with your loved ones and enjoy the performances by its lead actors and have fun listening to the songs too!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Seven Exceptional Posts That Will Motivate You to Own Your Choices in a Fast Changing World

Here you go with my favorite posts for this month’s reading list:


Is there a connection between writers and pubs? YES, says Billy Wilder. Head out to ScotlandsPubsandBars.co.uk, a great resource detailing dozens of pubs with connections to music, industry, literature, sport, architecture and more. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? 

If you aren’t tipsy yet, you have to read: Vidya Sury’s thoughts on the book “The World Has Changed: Conversations with Alice Walker”

Alice Walker’s book 'The Color Purple' had given me sleepless nights because of the heart wrenching narrative. 

Another heart-wrenching post is from Vishnu about  the “We own you” mindset of Indian parents wherein “your success is their success, your failure is theirs, your income is theirs….” For those of us who are in the denial mode, just look around. You will see this popping up everywhere – in schools, at PTA meetings, in family conversations.  Sadly, it is our children who suffer the emotional impact of our expectations. So, if you are a parent or planning to be one, Vishnu’s post is a MUST READ. 

Now I want you to pause whatever you are doing, take a deep breath, exhale and relax. It's a beautiful day outside - can you feel the golden sunshine embracing you, reminding you of all the love and friends who fill your life with happiness. 

Nothing in life is MORE IMPORTANT than realizing you own your choices, your life and your power to change whatever you are going through now. 

Be HAPPY - no matter what. 

You can also BOOST your mood with Five Exceptional Posts That Will Motivate You Today and Anupama Prakash's excellent book review on Bird Song - A Novel of Love and War by Sebastian Faulks.


And while you are it, make yourself this yummylicious Oreo shake from Rak's Kitchen. You'll LOVE it!

♥♥  I thank you with all my heart for reading my post. I dedicate this post with love and gratitude to all of you who love to read.  REQUEST: Please SHARE this article on your favorite social networks. Every share, like or tweet makes me reach out to more people in a positive way. I am grateful and I appreciate you for doing so. ♥♥

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India is my Country & my Pride