A pinch of faith

We secretly believe and hope to sail through life achieving all that we ever wished for, but troubled waters somewhere hit the life shores and knock us over. While battling internally through dark ties, is there a way to deal with these moments of helplessness and weakness ?  Learned people and wise words can show a way, but we need to find our own path and must reach out for our own truth.
There is one thing that helps us all through by following us in our journey of finding our truth, and that is our own little PINCH OF FAITH.  A deep down feeling of “knowing” that it will all pass and you will get through.
Faith helps defy fear, because fear is a paralysis that shuts down our sense of reasoning and therefore our sense of taking a rational action.
Faith gives us courage.  All the unfathomable things achieved by great men started with courage.
Faith gives us hope.  Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison in a hope that he would be free one day and change things forever.
Faith is light that doesn’t let any cobweb or doubt enter our hearts while we are struggling to stay afloat in tough times.  **Faith helps us see the temporary nature of everything in life.
Do what you must in your reach to set things right, do it with the determination of steel that sees you through till the end, do it by taking full ownership of consequences, do it with all your might and will and lastly, do it with that PINCH OF FAITH.
—- Anadita Singh

The guardian tree

The Guardian Tree or ‘NAGALINGA’. believed to be a native of the Central American rain forests, nobody is sure how or when these tall, spectacular beauties arrived in the Indian sub-continent.  While some scholars say they were brought by European traders, others propose a more ancient migration route.
The tree could have been a native of an ancient land mass connecting Asia and the Americas several millennia ago, that later separated into the Continents that we know today.  Bengaluru and Chennai were once famous for their NAGALINGA avenues, very few of which survive today.  There are bound to be at least a couple of them in every neighbourhood though.
Known as Mallikarjuna, Lingada Huvu, Nagasampige and Kaman Gola around India, the trees are commonly planted as GUARDIAN TREES around Shiva temples and Buddhist shrines, as they hold special significances in the mythologies of both religions.
They are also called CANNONBALL TREES in English, because of their spherical woody fruit that fall to the ground with a loud crash as they ripen.  The strong-smelling pulp of the fruit is edible, but with caution, as it’s known to cause allergies.  It is used in traditional medicine as a disinfectant and an anti-depressant.  The pulp is sometimes fed to pigs and poultry as an anti-helminthic.
If you want one of these beautiful trees in your neighbourhood, you will have to remember that it is going to be an enormous tree, and you’ll need to make sure there aren’t any overhead cables and things obstructing its growth.
Collect one of the fallen fruit and scoop out its translucent bluish pulp.  Separate the black oval seeds from the pulp and dry them out in the shade.  Plant them in partial shade, and water them daily until the seedlings are about a foot high.  Plant them out in the sun, with plenty of room for them to grow tall and big.  If you can’t find any ripe cannonballs, you can just as easily take a woody cutting from the top of the tree and plant it out in the sun.  And, in just a few years, you’ll be the proud parent of one of these beautiful, mysterious trees, that will be the talk of your neighbourhood for years to come.
—-Sriram Aravamudan.

For peace and harmony

Choosing colours according to your zodiac sign helps create PEACE & HARMONY at home.  An ancient esoteric belief is gaining favour with many, that the colours at home influence or alter moods and feelings of the inmates.
ARIES : Red, scarlet and carmine are usually colours associated with this sign.  However, your self esteem and sense of independence tend to disable you from comprehending another’s point of view, so avoid these colours.  Use the harmonising and healing hues of GREEN in lanterns, torans, rangolis, candles, table display to decorate your room.  Also, bringing in live greens as embellishments will surely dress up your home with positive vibrations.
TAURUS : Being an earthy sign, shades of green, orange and yellow at home empower your personality traits.  To help strengthen love and social harmony at home, you need to control your streak of rigidity and stubbornness.  Surround yourself with vibrations of RED-VIOLET and VIOLET by placing accents in these colours in your home.
GEMINI : Bedspreads, cushion covers, drapes, candles, artifacts in shades of blue will emanate calm and cool vibrations in your rooms promoting feelings of peace in you.  Since any display of passionate emotions makes you uneasy, you would do well to align with HUES OF BLUE.
CANCER : You need a lot of inner quiet too.  Even as you use the colours of your sign, such as white, opal, iridescent silvery hues, smoky grey and blue, opt for INDIGO.  Use this colour liberally in your torans, rangolis, candles, curtains, carpets, table cloths and what have you.  Indigo radiates just the kind of energy that will balance your over-sensitive nature.
LEO : While gold, orange and red colours in your house will surely be compatible with your innate virtues of loyalty, generosity, creativity and royalty, the energies emanating from ULTRAMARINE BLUE and INDIGO will surely add that extra sparkle and light at home.  Use liberal doses of these colours to empower the vibrations of social harmony and joy while dressing up your home.
VIRGO : Your sign, by default, makes you, at times, sceptical, fussy, and overly critical in pursuit of perfection.  Surround yourself with the vibrations of AQUA BLUE.  The colour will aid in calming both, the positive and negative electro-magnetic links around your body at home.  Bring the colour into your home by ornamenting with appropriately-shaded accessories.
LIBRA : Colours that promote love and social harmony for you are RED, SCARLET & CARMINE.  Dress up your house with candles, flowers, frames, torans, etc in these hues and your aura will be in harmony.
SCORPIO : If the predominant colours in your house are those of your sun-sign maroon, crimson, dark red or violet, then it is believed, the weaker traits of your personality tend to get empowered.  Choose shades of GREEN to ornament your abode.  The hue is said to heighten the virtues of your personality such as loyalty, depth and determination, and temper the weaknesses.
SAGITTARIUS : Incorporate the auspicious colour of TURMERIC YELLOW in your décor.  The vibes you will receive from this colour will help you to have a more balanced perspective towards whatever unfolds.  A spattering of ORANGE will further enliven the spirit and mood of your living space enabling you to bond well with those in it.
CAPRICORN : One of your characteristics best avoided is undue conservatism.  Bring out the silverware or anything else that will help deck up your house in silvery hues.  Envelope yourself in the vibrations of SILVER.  It will help you be more tolerant towards others and accommodating to changes, new trends, attitudes and outlook of family and friends.
AQUARIUS : One of your weaknesses is that you can be very cold.  Hence, ensure your house is adorned with embellishments in GOLD and ORANGE colours.  The energies of these hues are believed to invoke traits in you that promote love and social harmony.
PISCES : Decorate your house in the traditional auspicious colours of YELLOW, ORANGE-YELLOW and other EARTHY TONES.  The vibrations of these shades will enable you to be structured and grounded, by tempering your flip side impractical, laid-back or complicated.  Bed sheets, cushion covers, curtains, table cloths, candles, flowers, rangolis, radiating the energy of these colours will help harmonise your relationships with those at home.
——- Shahin Ashraf Ali.

I choose to be a happy being

Blast from the past…


As children, we often sang this little ditty : IF YOU’RE HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT, CLAP YOUR HANDS, and again, IF YOU’RE HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT, STAMP YOUR FEET, and so on. The pursuit of happiness is not easy.

Material possessions——-wealth, a car, a house——do not guarantee a good life. Close relationships, job satisfaction and working towards greater good ——-DO.

The tendency TO BE HAPPY is an INHERITED TRAIT. The secret to happiness is KNOWING WHO YOU ARE ALREADY HAPPY. Happiness needs to be a BEING STATE.

the-art-of-being-happy-lies-inSonja Lyubomirsky, ( author of THE HOW OF HAPPINESS) : 50% of our happiness levels are GENETICALLY DETERMINED, 10% are affected by CIRCUMSTANCES, while the remaining 40% is subject to SELF-CONTROL.

Seeking external sources of happiness can SABOTAGE YOUR PEACE. Dr. Aymee Coget suggests : Focus on controlling your emotional state by CHOOSING HAPPINESS. The American writer, Rita Mae Brown says :…

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Authentic Mexican dishes

(1) MOLE :  It is a sauce containing a complex mixture of more than 20 ingredients, ranging from chilli pepper to chocolate.  Also referred to as MOLE POBLANO, this thick and tasty sauce is served over turkey, chicken, pork or even rice.
(2) TAMALES : is a traditional Mexican dish, made usually with corn dough, called MASA. It is either wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves.  This preparation is interesting because it can be eaten with chicken, turkey, eggs, honey, fruits or beans —- as fillings.  TAMALE could be paired with ATOLE, a thick hot chocolate-flavoured drink made from watery corn-starch, which is a by-product of TAMALE preparations.
(3) POZOLE : Known to be the traditional pre-Columbian stew from Mexico, POZOLE is made from hominy corn.  This is stewed for hours, sometimes even overnight, with either chicken, pork or just vegetables.  Once it is thick and smooth, other seasonings and garnish are added for a desired flavour.  Typically, lettuce, radish, onion, lime, oregano and chilli are added.
(4) GORDITA : It is a small cake made with corn flour, which is stuffed with cheese, meat or other fillings of your choice.  Prepared as a thick tortilla, this dough can also be prepared with wheat flour.  Some interesting fillings, in a GORDITA, include pork, chicken, beef, beans, cheese, potatoes and eggs along with your choice of your Mexican sauces.
(5) CHILAQUILES : These are nothing but corn tortillas, cut in quarters and lightly fried.  These tortillas are made interesting because of the green and red Salsa or MOLE poured over them.  The mixture is then boiled, until the tortillas begin to soften.  Once this mixture is ready, it is served with either re-fried beans, eggs, beef or chicken and onion and avocado slices too.

Super cool dos at Jeju Island

(1) The ATV : Get your Batman on and indulge in cool edgy rides while at Jeju.  Skid along as you get set to break allowed limits and be a total badass.
(2) Horse Riding : Get on those handsome horses and race with the wind.  Take in some fresh air and adventure to experience the magic of Jeju.  Giddy up !!
(3) Find Nemo : Hah, kidding.  Visit the Aqua Planet and say “Aenyonggg” to the fishies.  Take pictures of them and have a super entertaining time.
(4) Rock n’Roll : Sand castles are so last decade. Be innovative, and make cool rock structures.  get that arty genius out and pull off a Picasso.
060551_110901015106(5) Just Chill : Take some time off to, well, do nothing.  Just pick a cool spot and laze around, enjoying the surroundings.  Sometimes, all it takes is to do nothing and chillax.  Planning is so over-rated, no?
(6) Check how close you are to being Superman : Come on and box, box, and box some more as Jeju helps you find out how strong you are.
(7) Drive your own yacht : You get to feel like a total king.  Drive your own ‘luxury yacht’ and soak in all the glory.  That is cooool.
(8) Gorge On : No matter how much you love travelling, some corner of your heart always wants Ghar ka khana.  So, dig into some delicious Indian food while in Jeju.  Our personal favourite — The Baghdad Café.
(9) Finally jump around a little and see the scenic backdrops which you will find in bulk.  You know that a perfect picture is always the cherry on the cake, after a mind-blowing trip.
—— NDTV Goodtimes  

The cushion of the sea

Blast from the past…



There is what is called the CUSHION OF THE SEA.  Down beneath the surface that is agitated by storms, and driven about with winds, there is a part of the sea that is never stirred.  When we dredge the bottom and bring up the remains of animal and vegetable life, we find that they give evidence of not having been disturbed in the least, for hundreds and thousands of years.

The peace of God is that eternal calm which, like the CUSHION OF THE SEA, lies far too deep down to be reached by any external trouble and disturbance, and he who enters into the presence of God, becomes partaker of that undisturbed calm.

—-Doctor A. T. Pearson

When winds are raging o’er the upper ocean

And billows wild contend with angry roar

It is said, far down beneath the wild commotion

That peaceful stillness reigns evermore.

Far, far beneath…

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Panyembrama is a secular Balinese dance form designed by I Wayan Beratha, and first performed in 1971.  Traditional Balinese dances are sacral in nature and thus unsuited for secular performances.  That these dances were used for welcoming non-Balinese, and in non-sacral contexts, was a point of controversy in the late 1960s.  A secular dance was needed, one which could be used outside of the temple, particularly for tourists and thus maintain the sacredness of the original dances.
PANYEMBRAMA was one of the several dance forms, which rose from this situation, and was intended for non-Balinese (particularly Westerners) audience.  I Wayen Beratha, a choreographer with the Kariwitan Conservatory (Indonesian : Konservatori Karawitan who was well-versed in traditional Balinese dance, was tasked by his organisation to create a new secular dance.  He combined the most beautiful moves of traditional dances such as LEGONG, CONDONG and PENDET, in order to create what would become PANYEMBRAMA.  This basis in traditional has also led to PANYEMBRAMA being classified as a form of classical dance by art critic A. M. Hermin Kusmayati.
Panyembaram was first performed in 1971, at the Pandan Festival.  This dance form has been taught at Balinese dance schools and been used at temples in religious ceremonies, as a sort of welcoming dance for the Gods.  The name PANYEMBRAMA comes from the Balinese word ‘sambrama’ meaning ‘welcome.’  In lengthy events, the dance is usually performed first, particularly, before a secularised LEGONG DANCE.
The dancers — always young women — come on stage carrying a metal (usually silver or aluminium) dish with incense and flowers in it.  These dancers, numbering 2 or more, wear layered clothing, decorated with a golden pattern called PRADA.  Around their bodies they wear a KAMBEN (sarong) as well as a tightly wrapped cloth which covers from the chest to the waist.  On their heads they wear golden head-dresses and frangipani flowers.
To open the PANYEMBRAMA dance, the performers kneel, as if praying.  They make welcoming movements to the guests, accompanied by GAMELAN.  Their movements are slow, accentuating the curves of the dancers’ bodies.  At the end of the performance, the dancers move  in circles, throwing flowers  at each other and the audience, with the scents being carried in the air.  Unlike some other Balinese dances, PANYEMBRAMA is not intended to convey a story.

Food facts

From dried fruit to flavoured water, it’s shocking just how many of us are duped into believing new-fangled myths about the pitfalls and benefits of today’s endless varieties of food.  Dietician Juliette Kellow takes a closer look at some of our favourite healthy-sounding foods and serves up the facts about what’s in them.

(1) DRIED CRANBERRIES, sound like a nutritious snack, but you get a lot of added sugar.  Ocean Spray Original Craisins contain just 65% cranberries —– the rest is added sugar and just a little oil to stop them sticking together.  Whitworths Cranberries are even worse, as sugar is the main ingredient. In a 150g pack there are 22tsps of added sugar.

(2) CEREAL BARS, may seem like a good choice for breakfast, but you could end up with more calories, fats and saturates than a chocolate bar.  For example, a healthy-sounding cashew and blueberry with a yoghurt coating bar has 217calories, 11.6g fat and 8.2g saturates.  In contrast, a Cadbury’s Flake has 171calories, 9.8g fat and 6.1 saturates.

(3) BAKERY BREAD or a posh artisan loaf from the farmer’s market may seem more nutritious than the regular sliced version.  However, according to a study by campaign group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), bakery bread often contains heaps more salt than the 0.4g typically found in a 40g pre-packed slice.  Bakery loaves don’t usually have nutritional information either, so you can’t identify how much salt they contain.

(4) FRESH SOUP has a more wholesome image than tinned, but it can be higher in salt.  Garden Soup or Chicken Soup contains 0.8g salt per 100g — the same amount as Cream of Chicken Soup with 0.6g salt.  And with fresh soups, the serving size can be bigger —– half a carton of fresh soup weighs 300g, while half a tin of soup weighs 200g.

(5) FLAVOURED WATER ; It might seem a good way to stay hydrated, but you could end up with more sugar than a can of fizzy drink.  A 500ml bottle of Volvic Touch of Lemon & Lime has 116calories and 27.6g sugar, which is equal to around 7tsps.  A can of Sprite has 91calories and 21.8g sugar, around 5.5tsps.  Instead opt for sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lemon juice.

(6) SOY SAUCE : If you are flavouring food with soy sauce, you’re probably having more salt than you’d bargained for.  A tbsp. has around 2.3g salt —– that’s 38% of the daily maximum.  Reduced-salt varieties are better options, but should still be used in small amounts.

(7) COCONUT MILK, an essential ingredient in Thai dishes, but your heart and waistline won’t thank you for it.  A quarter of a can has around 170 calories and three-quarters of the maximum amount of saturates we should have in a day.  Choosing a reduced-fat version cuts this to around 80calories and a third of the saturates we should have daily.

(8) PESTO : Perfect for whipping up a meal with pasts and veg —- but if you are a vegetarian, it may need to be off limits.  This is because pesto often contains either parmesan or grana padana, both of which are made with animal rennet.  Other things vegetarians should watch out for are fish sauce in ready meals or cooking sauces, anchovies in Worcestershire sauce, and pork or beef gelatine in sweets and desserts like mousses.

This & That

(1) No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.

(2) Grey hair is neither a blessing nor a curse.  Whether you cover it or flaunt it, you should view its onset with ‘equanimity.’

(3) What did the bartender say after Charles Dickens ordered a martini ?  OLIVE or TWIST ?
(4) What you can do, or dream you can ——– BEGIN.  Boldness has magic, power and genius in it. —- Goethe.

(5) Priyanka Moraes says, “I love the sun —— a perpetual giver, an unconditional lover ……. a great equaliser.”


(7) Every heart sings a song ————INCOMPLETE ——– until another heart whispers back.  Those who wish to sing, always find a song.  At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet. —— Plato.

(8) Music was my refuge.  I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness. ——Maya Angelou.

(9) I dropped out of Communism because of lousy MARX, and got a job in a bakery, because I KNEADED THE DOUGH
(10) You can’t start the next chapter of your life, if you keep re-reading the last one.

(11) Where did the poor meat-ball live ?  In the SPHAGETTO.

(12) I write in order to build houses, where my thoughts may find shelter. ——- Corina Victoria Sein.

(13) KNOWLEDGE WORKER, a term coined by Peter Drucker, Founder of Modern Management in 1959, to describe what was then a new trend, an important segment of the work-force concerned, primarily, with knowledge and the manipulation of information.

(14) What do you call a baby monkey ? A CHIMP of the old block.
(15) A person I know is 10% Polish.  He is a TAD POLE.

(16) Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do ARE IN HARMONY.

(17) Every time you go to bed, you should consider that you won’t get up.  That way when you wake up, you’ll be grateful for the day.  Look at yourself in the mirror and say, ” I’M BLESSED.” — Buddha. 

(18) What are the 4 main food groups ?  CANNED, FROZEN, INSTANT & LITE.

(19) Midget sues grocer, cites —- BELITTLING REMARKS.

(20) Federal Agents raid gun shop ——- FIND WEAPONS.