Sep 27, 2020

My Top 50 favorite SPB Tamil Songs

 


 
I'm still trying to come to terms with the demise of SPB. His voice has been with me since childhood and I'm sure it will continue for the rest of my life. His songs evoke so many memories from childhood and growing up years, the long drives in the late 2000s when the first song from my iPod would always be Sangeetha Megam. 

RIP, Sir. Your music lives with all of us born in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

Over the past two days, I have been thinking to make a list of my top 10 favorite SPB songs but top 10 is just too hard to pick from his vast repertoire of work. Even the top 50 that I managed to compile below (in no particular order) only scratches the surface of his brilliance and I'm sure I would add more to this list in the days to come.
  1. Pennalla pennalla from Uzhavan
  2. Kangalil enna eeramo from Uzhavan
  3. Minnale nee vandhadhenadi from May Maadham
  4. July maadham vandhal from Pudhiya Mugam
  5. En kaadhale from Duet
  6. Thoda thoda from Indira
  7. Kaadhal rojave from Roja
  8. Kaadhalikkum pennin kaigal from Kaadhalan
  9. Yenthan vaanin from Kaadhal Virus
  10. Ennai kaanavillaye from Kaadhal Desam
  11. Oruvan oruvan mudhalaali from Muthu
  12. Swasame from Thenali
  13. Manasukkul oru puyal from Star
  14. Mannil indha kaadhal from Keladi Kanmani
  15. Kaadhalin deepam ondru from Thambikku endha ooru
  16. Sangeetha megam from Udhaya Geetham
  17. Keladi kanmani from pudhu pudhu arthangal
  18. O butterfly from Meera
  19. Nivedha from Nee paadhi naan paadhi
  20. Ennavendru solvadhamma from Rajakumaran
  21. Malare mounama from Karna
  22. Valaiyosai from Satya
  23. Poongatru un per solla from Vetri vizha
  24. Mun paniya from Nandha
  25. Saathi malli poocharame from Azhagan
  26. Pacha mala poovu from Kizhakku vaasal
  27. Sundari from Thalapathi
  28. Mandram vandha thendralukku from Mouna raagam
  29. Nilaave vaa from Mouna raagam
  30. Nilavu thoongum neram from Kunguma Chimizh
  31. Thenmadhurai vaigai nadhi from Dharmathin Thalaivan
  32. Medhuvaa medhuvaa oru kaadhal paattu from Anna nagar mudhal theru
  33. Idhayam oru koyil from Idhaya Kovil
  34. Idhu oru pon maalai pozhudhu from Nizhalgal
  35. Naan pogiren mele mele from Naanayam
  36. Adi vaanmathi from Siva
  37. Innum ennai enna seiya from Singaravelan
  38. Nenjukkulle innarendru from Ponnumani
  39. Yaaro from Chennai 28
  40. Konji konji from Veera
  41. Azhagooril poothavale from Thirumalai
  42. Ilaya Nila from Payanangal Mudivadhillai
  43. Oru jeevanthan from Naan adimai illai
  44. Andhi mazhai pozhigiradhu from Raja paarvai
  45. Enna satham indha neram from Punnagai mannan
  46. Singalathu chinna kuyile from Punnagai mannan
  47. Idhazhil kadhai ezhudhum from Unnaal mudiyum thambi
  48. Unna nenachen from Apoorva Sagodharargal
  49. Oru kaadhal devadhai from Idhaya thaamarai
  50. Kaadhal Kavidhaigal from Gopura Vasalile

Sep 26, 2020

Dealing with new normal

 

Over the past few months, we keep hearing this phrase "dealing with new normal" in various contexts - life as we deal with the ongoing pandemic and post that.


As I was ruminating over this phrase, I had an epiphany. The new normal isn't something new to us. We have been facing "new normal"s since the beginning of mankind, with every little change we embrace. 


A decade ago, I didn't have a smartphone, but once I embraced it, it became the new normal.


Until around three months back, I was using a knife with a 3" long blade for chopping vegetables, but then I shifted to a new one with a 4" long blade. The new knife has become the new normal for me and I find it difficult to use my old knife. Mind you, I had been using the old knife for 5+ years.


Every little change we imbibe in our lives sets a new normal. Whether this new normal makes our lives better off or worse off is dependent on multiple factors - some that are under our control, while some that are not.


The current pandemic situation has brought in a lot of changes in our behaviors. There are also many macro-economic and political issues emerging during this situation, which are mostly beyond our control. Instead of worrying or getting anxious about these external issues, let's focus our attention inward - our actions and behaviors that have changed.


List down all the changes you have made (voluntarily or forced upon) in the past six months. 

Against each change, write down whether this has made your life better off or worse off. 

If it is better off, continue to embrace this change more consciously.

If it is worse off, think about the feasible alternatives to make it better.


To give you a few examples from my own life,

  1. Having an early dinner. I finish off my dinner by 7-7:15 PM. This change has made my life so much better. My digestion has improved, I feel light and fresh while I wake up the next day.
  2. No quiet time for myself. There's always so much noise and interruptions, given that all of us are at home. I'm not able to get focused time for myself to do any deep work. I recognized this problem within a few weeks since the lockdown started. From then on, I have been waking up by 6 AM consciously, so that I get a solid 2 hours of quiet time for myself. I have also accepted this situation and don't force or expect myself to do deep work during other times. 
 

Some of the areas to think about, where you might have made a change in the past six months:

  • Sleep routine
  • Eating habits
  • Exercise
  • Social media usage
  • News consumption
  • Binge-watching
  • Family time
  • Shopping patterns
  • Monthly expenses
  • State of mind
  • Productivity
  • Addictions
 

Let's focus on what is in our control - our actions.

Sep 23, 2020

20 ways to overcome laziness

 

A few days back, I had posted a question on Insta Stories - "What are the challenges/obstacles you face in achieving your health goals?"


I received many responses to this question and one of the common challenges that many respondents mentioned is laziness


Laziness is triggered by a lack of enthusiasm or energy to get things done in a day. The word "energy" here implies both physical as well as mental energy. It might be hard to pinpoint whether we are lacking physical energy or mental energy while we introspect, as both feeds off each other. A year ago, I had written this post - 10 factors that impact our energy levels. Do take a look if you haven't seen it.


Given the current pandemic situation, many of us have our "off" days. Let's not beat ourselves too much and push harder to be productive every single waking hour. At the same time, keeping ourselves busy with productive and enjoyable activities take our minds off the uncertain situation.


I have compiled below a list of 20 different ways that have helped me overcome laziness. The intention behind this list is to have sustained energy throughout the day and not have energy spikes for a couple of hours and then come crashing down.


  1. Do not snooze but at the same time, do not wake up with a jerk. Once the alarm rings, take a few minutes to tune your mind that it is time to wake up
  2. Do not scroll through your phone first thing in the morning. A quick check of messages/emails is okay. If you can delay that, it is even better
  3. Get a few minutes of quiet time with yourself
  4. Do not rush into anything as soon as you wake up. Allow yourself to sit down and sip your favorite beverage slowly for 15-20 minutes
  5. Spend a few minutes in the morning, doing an activity you enjoy - for me, it is either reading, writing, or journaling
  6. Get some form of workout done in the morning - a brisk walk, Yoga, jogging- whatever you like
  7. Take a few deep breaths and feel grounded
  8. Make your bed. Do not unfold your cozy blanket anytime during the day
  9. Have a bath before 10 AM
  10. Wear comfortable and presentable clothes. Change from your night pajamas or workout wear.
  11. Expose yourself to morning sunlight for 15-20 minutes
  12. Get connected with nature - plants, flowers, chirping birds, clouds, sky, or pets. A few minutes of conversation with my pet cat gives me so much energy.
  13. Have clear intentions for the day. It needn't be a long to-do list, but 2-3 important goals you want to accomplish for the day. Make this list the night before
  14. Eat a light breakfast. Heavy breakfast usually makes me sluggish and I don't like the feeling, especially when I want to get some work done.
  15. Restrict your cups of tea/coffee as much as possible. The energy fluctuates quite a bit when we get too dependent on caffeine.
  16. Keep moving every hour, especially if you have a desk job.
  17. Finish a few minor activities that don't require much time but helps you to move a bit -putting things in their respective place, a little bit of cleaning or organizing, folding washed clothes, etc 
  18. Avoid lying down on the couch or the bed when you want to catch a break for a few minutes. Sit down on the floor and stretch your legs if need be.
  19. Avoid long afternoon nap. A 15 min power nap is okay but if possible, avoid that as well.
  20. Have dedicated, fixed times for TV, Netflix, social media, or Youtube. The more time we spend on these distractions, the less time and energy we have to get anything done.


Are there any other tips/tactics that have helped you kick laziness out of your lives? Do share in the comments below.


Sep 21, 2020

Book Review: Inna naarpadhu iniyavai naarpadhu by Dr. K. Sivaraman

 


Dr. Sivaraman's writings have had a profound influence on my life these past few years. Ever since I read his Aaraam thinai back in 2014, my approach towards food and health has undergone a positive change. I look forward to reading his books every time they get released. The latest one added to my collection is "Inna naarpadhu iniyavai naarpadhu". As the title suggests, the focus of this book is towards health in our 40s. He looks at health from a much broader, holistic perspective as always - food, physical activity, relationships, mental wellness, acceptance, love and more.

He starts off with this warning - naarpadhu kannasandhaal noyaLiaakum vayadhu. He goes onto elaborate on the struggles and challenges faced by those who are in their 40s presently and how their struggles are far different from the previous generations' 40s.

What I admire about his writing are his language skills that make a strong impact and an easy connect with the reader. Anecdotes, popular phrases, examples from Tamil literature, poetry and movies help convey the message more interestingly. I'm glad I took the time to devour his words slowly by reading just 1-2 chapters a day. It is not a book to brush through.

He has touched upon health ailments that most people in their 40s typically encounter - diabetes, blood pressure, menopause, andropause, high cholesterol, obesity, abdominal fat etc. The recommendations he has shared related to food habits, walk, yoga, pranayama, music, dance etc are easy to understand and follow.

"Anna karandiyil ini yaarukkum soru parimaaradheergal. Sotru karandi tablespoonaaga maarattum" => This was more in the context of weight loss and for people with conditions like diabetes. His stance on millets and indigenous rice varieties still holds true for people who want to maintain their health.

The chapter where he talks about the influence of FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) on one's health was hard-hitting.

"Indha aiymboothangal seidha mudhal aniyaayam nammai edharkaagavum nadakkavidaamal somberi aakiyadhu dhaan"

I couldn't control my laughter when I read this line in the context of how AI and ML are playing a role in our health these days.
"Artificial intelligence nangu poshaakkaga valara indha big data dhaan sathumaavu kanji"

I have underlined so many such hard-hitting, beautiful lines throughout the book. Not possible to list them all here. Highly recommend you check out this book if you are nearing your 40s or in your 40s. Even if his health perspectives don't resonate with you, his language skills will keep you hooked onto this book.

How to interpret an idea?

 In my previous post on The Seeker's journey, I had made this statement - Never take any idea you hear at plain face value. I wanted to explain this statement with an example.

I recently completed this course on Coursera - "The Science of well-being". Brilliant course with a lot of takeaways. One of the points the instructor mentions in the context of happiness at work is that we feel happy when we experience the state of "flow" more often. 

"Flow" is this state where we are completely immersed in an activity, we lose track of time and we find the activity itself to be rewarding.

Though I'm yet to read the original book - "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, I have come across this concept in multiple books and courses in the past few years.

I have experienced this state of "Flow" multiple times while I'm putting together a software product plan, reading a good book, writing a blog post, or cooking an elaborate meal. And yes, I can vouch for the happiness it brings - to be engrossed in an activity for 1-2 hours without getting distracted is such a blissful feeling. I have applied and validated this idea for myself.

A few days back, I came across a different idea in Durgesh Nandhini's Online Minimalism Workshop that I've been attending.

We collect numerous thoughts in our mind every single minute and we carry them in our mind backpack. Journaling and meditation are tools that help release the weight of this backpack we carry. But if we use these tools once a day, say before bedtime, we are still carrying the weight of these thoughts all day long. This weight can make us feel jittery and exhausted. Instead of waiting to empty this backpack once a day, we reflect every one hour to check how we are feeling. A few seconds of awareness and self-reflection can reduce the weight we carry.

When I heard this idea, I was nodding my head as it made so much sense to me. I agree with this idea of frequent self-reflection and the need to be aware of our thoughts more often.

Now, if I were to implement both these ideas, there is a possibility of conflict - when I'm in a state of "flow", I don't want to be interrupted by external distractions or the need to self-reflect every hour. If I had to set an alarm that rings every hour for self-reflection, it might come in the way of my "flow".

Instead of keeping an alarm to become mindful every waking hour, I have consciously planned to incorporate multiple moments in the day for self-reflection - while doing chores, going for a walk, do-nothing times, etc. It may not be 16 times in a day but it is not once a day either.

Understanding the intent of each idea we hear is extremely important. Once we understand it, we will start to implement it consciously, without the need for an external trigger. How we implement it can vary from person to person, depending on various factors.

Sep 19, 2020

The seeker's journey

 

This post is inspired by a conversation I had with a good friend this morning.

In our childhood and our 20s, we search for the "WHAT" to understand how the world works. The education we receive in schools and colleges and the skills we build during this phase satiate our appetite for information to some extent. This knowledge we gather from various sources (school, parents, family, friends, society at large, etc) creates certain perceptions, judgments, and prejudices, that eventually form our beliefs.

As we enter our 30s/40s, this search shifts from "WHAT" to "WHY". We start asking many deep questions about life, our choices, and our behaviors. What we seek gets shifted from Information/knowledge to Wisdom. In this journey of seeking, I have learned four key lessons that I wanted to share here.

(1) As we embark upon this journey, we would come across people who are wisdomous (borrowing this word from Joey's vocabulary).

Their ideas and thoughts would resonate with us strongly. We tend to be attracted to their words - intellectual attraction, if I may say so. We feel a lot inspired by reading their content, listening to their talks or just being in their presence. Sometimes, we can get carried away to such an extent that we may be under a trance (without being aware). When inspiration and admiration turn into a full-blown want of "becoming" like the other person, we start facing a lot of disappointments. It is okay to feel inspired and draw a few ideas from someone's life experiences. BUT, we can never expect ourselves to BECOME the other person. Each of us is unique, our life story is unique, our experiences and context are unique.

(2) Never take any idea you hear at plain face value. If an idea resonates with you, reflect on it, and see if it would make sense to incorporate in your life story. If it doesn't, let the idea go by or park it for later reference when the time is right. If an idea doesn't resonate with you, move on without the need to explain or defend your decision to yourself or someone else.

(3) Take inspiration and ideas from multiple people. Similar to diversifying your financial investments to manage risk, diversify your sources of inspiration to get a balanced perspective.
Instead of a single spiritual "guru", I'd prefer to get my daily dose of inspiration from multiple sources - people, books, podcasts, blogs, etc.

(4) When what is being preached and what is practiced don't match, we sense the contradiction and misalignment. We lose trust in the other person and end up feeling disappointed. This tinge of disappointment will prick harder when we had placed the person on a high pedestal and revered his/her qualities at the level of "Guru"/"God". If we consider the other person as a fellow traveler in the journey of life with certain experiences, we wouldn't even have any expectations in the first place. Just as how we are evolving, the other person is also evolving, his/her environment is also changing.

Have you had similar thoughts in your seeker journey? Do share in the comments below.

Sep 18, 2020

How to slow down?

 


Someone had recently posted this very interesting question in a Whatsapp group that I'm part of

"How can one slow down?"

I responded with this answer - "Becoming clear about my priorities, questioning my ambitions - these have helped me slow down"


Priorities and ambitions influence many of our life choices. Let's dive a little deeper into each of these.


Priorities:

Gaining clarity on this one aspect makes most of our decisions and life choices easier. 


Often, I have come across this phrase of juggling multiple balls, in the context of managing multiple aspects of our life - family, health, career, personal growth, spiritual growth etc. When multiple balls are juggled, there will always be a few in the air and chances of them falling are quite high, unless and until you are an expert juggler.


Multitasking / wearing the super-woman hat / super productive / doing it all => these are multiple manifestations that highlight our juggling capability. I had succumbed to all these manifestations at different points in my 20s and 30s. But I have come to realize that juggling is such an energy-draining activity. I'd rather have sustained energy throughout my life than burn out in my 30s/40s, trying to do it all.


If I need to accomplish this goal of having sustained energy throughout, I need to be clear about my top priorities. There is of course a prerequisite. Such prioritization is ONLY feasible if one's basic needs are met. 


As I pondered over the various aspects of my life, I have now been able to prioritize my top 3 in this order. 

  1. My health and well-being
  2. My family
  3. Meaningful work


Once I have clarified it for myself, many decisions have now become easier. For eg, 

I wouldn't take up work that demands long working hours or come in the way of my family time / my Yoga time.

I would eat my meal when I'm hungry and not feel guilty that I didn't wait for my family members.


Take the time to sit down and understand your priorities and their respective order. The number of balls that you juggle up would reduce. The speed of juggling would reduce. You will automatically experience the bliss of slow life. 


Ambitions:

Goal-oriented living gives us a certain direction. No doubts about that. BUT, are these our genuine goals? Or are we influenced by society and peer pressure to take up these goals?


I was chasing designations and fancy titles in my 20s but they are no longer relevant to me in my 30s. They say nothing about who I am as a person or what my skills are. Meaningful work is important to me, but this can be accomplished without any fancy title. Much of our time and mental energy is expended, chasing these titles - Director, VP, CxO etc. And the industry bigwigs are adding more and more levels to the career ladder, so our pursuit never stops.


I'm no longer interested in reading 40-50 books per year. I used to take up these reading challenges but I no longer want to focus on the quantity. I enjoy reading, I will continue to consume content in the form of books, articles, videos, courses etc. I don't want to set up any measurable goals as my intention is not towards completing many books but imbibing the learnings/take-aways in my life.


Start questioning every single ambition of yours. Journal about it - why did you pick this particular ambition? How would it make you a better person? What would happen if you don't achieve this ambition? What is the OPPORTUNITY COST - when you choose to pursue this ambition, what other areas will be impacted in your life? Is it worth the opportunity cost?


Once you are crystal clear about your priorities and your ambitions, the chances of slowing down are higher. 


Sep 16, 2020

Why I don't want to infinite scroll?

 

 In the book "Hooked", Nir Eyal talks about the "Hook" framework for building habit-forming products. One of the components of the Hook framework is Variable rewards.

When a person gets engaged with a product, variable rewards keep him/her hooked onto the experience, like that of a slot machine. You never know what you might expect. So you continue to engage and get different rewards - new content, new images, new gossip etc.

All our news feeds and social media feeds are classic drivers of this behavior, with the promise of variable rewards.

These variable rewards are enabled by what is called an "infinite scroll" feature, a powerful one that can keep you hooked onto a product/app for more time than you can imagine.

In my journey of mindful content consumption, I have become extremely wary of products that have this infinite scroll feature.

Email - no infinite scroll but there is a variable reward. You never know what email you are gonna get but still relatively okay.

Instagram - keeping my following count to 60, so the number of posts I get in a day is minimal. BUT the Explore option has an Infinite Scroll and I consciously avoid using it. I don't have the Instagram app on my phone, so I don't get into this Explore mode.

FB and Twitter - deactivated and bid goodbye. These are platforms designed for variable rewards and infinite scroll. Not planning to waste any more time and mental energy on them.

Youtube - though I have reduced my channel subscriptions count drastically, I still end up scrolling through the Recommendations section now and then. I need to stop this behavior or figure out a way to disable it on my phone. In the documentary, "The social dilemma", the person who wrote the Youtube recommendations algorithm recommends a browser extension to disable Youtube recommendations. What an irony!

The other often overlooked service, where I end up succumbing to infinite scroll, is Google search. No, I'm not referring to Search as an activity. On Android, there is a Discover option in the Search app where news articles are listed depending on your search patterns. I realized that I do scroll and absorb news content from here, spending a significant amount of time. 

 

I have disabled this option this morning and as I was browsing through Settings, the topics of interest that Google collects about me are displayed. Not surprised or shocked, seeing this list, as I'm quite aware of why personalization is a big value prop in the software world.

I don't want to consume more information than needed, even though it might be personalized to my interests. When I want any info, I'll search and explore it by myself, when I'm ready for it.

Infinite scroll is a vicious loop and a time drain. Let's be aware of products that have infinite scroll enabled and devise ways to be in control of our attention.

Sep 15, 2020

5 step process to follow during do-nothing moments

  

We have heard of the popular saying - "An idle mind is devil's workshop". Many of us believe in this statement so strongly that we keep ourselves busy every single moment of our waking lives. Whenever we catch a break, we tend to reach out for our distractions, just so that we don't hear our voice inside. The few seconds of idleness, the few minutes of boredom, the few moments of uncomfortable feelings after being triggered by something/someone - we immediately grab our devices to distract our minds. 


The problem is not with the idle mind but with the numerous thoughts that come and go inside it. Thoughts cannot be controlled, but how we feel can be.


Our minds can never be completely idle. It is always busy processing some thought or another. When we haven't brought a thought to closure, it keeps chewing on it even further. Especially those thoughts that triggered powerful emotional responses from us. That could be the reason why we believe in the saying and give a horrific name to it like a devil's workshop.


Do-nothing moments are essential to understand ourselves. I had earlier written about why we need to have these do-nothing moments in this post.


Initially, you might feel uncomfortable and fidgety but over time, you would start hearing the voice of your intuition, get answers to questions that have been troubling you for a while and reset your thought patterns. I'd highly recommend that you consciously allocate a few minutes here and there during the day, to sit quietly and do NOTHING. These do-nothing moments are not for meditation practice. It is okay if thoughts come and go. It is okay if those thoughts make you feel uncomfortable - sad about a past event, angry with or jealous about someone, uncertain about the future etc.


For the initial few days, just get into a habit to sit for a minute or two, doing nothing.


Once you become comfortable, try this five-step process during those do-nothing moments:


  1. Observation - how do I feel right now? What are the thoughts that are popping up in my mind right now?
  2. Awareness - Surface up one of the thoughts. Become aware of it completely
  3. Acknowledgment - Acknowledge this thought, show gratitude to your mind for bringing up this thought. 
  4. Acceptance - Understand the emotions this thought triggered in the past or it is triggering now. Accept those emotions without judgment or guilt
  5. Questioning - Go deeper and ask yourself why these emotions are triggered by this thought. You may not get the answer right away but pose the question and leave it at that. Your mind will somehow bring the answer to the forefront when you are least expecting - either you will get the answer yourself or from someone else. When it happens, it feels like magic. 


Embrace do-nothing moments. It will help you understand yourself much better. 


Sep 8, 2020

Embrace the process of learning

Because of a few changes happening, I spent some time yesterday and reallocated my time budget and my time-boxed weekday calendar. I prefer to time-box my day in 15-min slots from 6 AM to 10 PM. But I don't rigidly plan for every 15-min slot. I intentionally leave a few slots open here and there to have more flexibility and do-nothing moments. I don't want to pack in so tight that I end up feeling suffocated. The word I LOVE is balance - balance in every little thing. When it comes to time management, I work better when there is a fixed schedule with a planned list of tasks.

As I was revising my time budget, I made sure that my time for learning isn't compromised in any way. Continuous learning is one of my core strengths and I just enjoy the process. I believe that as we grow older, the joy of learning should never be lost.

I allocate an hour per day for learning and reflection. Thanks to the Information age, there are plenty of resources easily accessible for most of us on the planet. The only prerequisite is to keep our curiosity and interest intact and not lose it amidst the pressures of our daily lives.

As I mentioned earlier, I spend my morning tea time reading newsletters of some of the thinkers I admire. This morning, I was reading Adam Grant's monthly newsletter - Granted where I came across this interesting NYTimes article - Kids can learn to love learning even over Zoom.

This particular passage caught my attention

In school and in life, success depends less on how much we know than on how much we want to learn. One of the highest aims of education is to cultivate and sustain the intrinsic motivation to learn.
The article then talks about the three key principles that nurture interest in learning - mystery (curiosity), exploration and meaning and how these principles can be applied in remote teaching as well. Do take a look at the article, certainly worth your time.

These principles are equally applicable to adults as well. The daily grind, the umpteen distractions and the lack of time towards reflection are some of the reasons that have negatively impacted the time we invest in learning. 

Let's prioritize learning and embrace the process wholeheartedly.

P.S. When I refer to "learning", I don't necessarily imply books only. Podcasts, videos, online courses, blogs, newsletters, long-form articles, trying a new skill etc are all potential sources of learning.

Sep 3, 2020

Exposure to tastes

 I think I was around 8-9 years old when this incident happened. I never used to like cabbage until then. My paati (grandma) used to be the one who cooks food at home. My mom was working. I don't remember the details but for some reason, I didn't like the way cabbage was prepared at home. Then one Sat morning, my mom cooked food at home for a change and she had pressure cooked cabbage. Paati was scared to use a pressure cooker, so it was only used by mom on rare occasions. I loved the taste of cabbage that day and was asking for more. I even called it "panju gos" (cabbage that was as soft as cotton). My mom was so delighted with my reaction as her cooking was rare at home and people hardly appreciated when she did. Anyway, that's a topic for a different day.

From that day, cabbage has become one of my top favorite vegetables.


D loves to eat potatoes but she prefers only the version where potatoes are finely chopped along with the skin and sauteed (vadakkal kari in Tamil). She doesn't like the version where whole potatoes are boiled or pressure cooked, chopped into cubes and sauteed with spice powders. 

The taste of any preparation differs based on the cooking technique followed, the seasoning used, the spices added, the way veggies are chopped and numerous other factors, including the mindset of the person cooking the meal.

We quickly dismiss our children as "fussy eaters", "don't like to eat veggies", "doesn't like Indian food" etc. We make such fast conclusions with kids as young as 2 years. How much of exposure have our children received before we reach such conclusions? How many different vegetables do we buy in a week/month? How many different ways have we tried preparing the vegetables?

Have we put in the required effort before resorting to quick-fix solutions from a pack - health mix powders, fortified fruit juices or drink powders loaded with synthetic vitamins and minerals? The attractive marketing and the tall health claims are influencing us to take such snap decisions.

We are living amidst a wealth of information. Just a google search for "cabbage recipes Indian" will yield at least 25 different ways of preparing this vegetable. I'm so grateful to the numerous food bloggers and vloggers who have taken the effort to document many traditional recipes from various regions. It is up to us to develop the curiosity and interest towards exploring and cooking, regardless of age, gender, income, designation, working status etc.

Umpteen options are waiting in line that discourages us from taking this path. Online food delivery apps, packaged foods, instant foods etc all with the promise of convenience and "health-washing". Not to forget the time stealing distractions like social media, Netflix and other streaming apps that take away our precious time which can be put to better use.

Cooking is a productive activity for our health and well-being. Not something to be outsourced to third parties.

Sep 2, 2020

Nu-Shakti Mix me Ingredients Review

 

Since "immunity" is the buzz word these days, multiple products are cropping up that leverage this word big time in their marketing promotions. One such drink that is being promoted by many influencers is this Mix-me drink. 

These celebrities stress on the "12 vitamins and 5 minerals" and they even go onto claim that this is a healthier option than packaged fruit juices. 
 
Let's look at the ingredients list. The very first ingredient is Sugar. One serving sachet of 20 gms contains 19.4 gms of sugar (nearly 5 tsp of sugar). The brand promise is increasing immunity but a drink with 5 tsp of sugar will deplete whatever immunity we already have. 

Synthetic orange flavor is used, along with artificial color (INS 110 - Sunset yellow). A study by researchers at the University of Southampton has shown evidence of increased hyperactivity in young children who are given foods rich in certain artificial colors and INS 110 is one such color.

Let's look at the synthetic vitamins and their respective values.
 
 
As you can see, natural, real foods can give us plenty of required nutrients as compared to such synthetic, sugar-loaded mixes.

Parents, let's ALWAYS choose real foods for our child's immunity and avoid such products. Let's invest the extra effort needed to plan and cook with real foods and avoid these unhealthy shortcuts.

References:

Sep 1, 2020

Cuisines of India

 

A few weeks back, I had tried a new recipe for lunch using black eyed peas - Goan Alsande Tondak. As usual, my daughter D came to the kitchen and asked what's for lunch.
Me: I'm making a new recipe today. It's a dish made by people living in Goa
D : Oh okay

For the next 30 minutes, she kept asking me now and then whether lunch is ready. She was happy to try the gravy along with a few chapathis. 

Kids are curious and they love novelty. Not only that - Give a twist to an existing dish, give a new name and they would get all excited. That's how jaggery wheat dosa become pancakes, savory wheat dosa become crepes, veg oothappams become pizza oothappams 😉

The amazing thing about India is that every 200 kms, the cuisine varies, the taste differs, the ingredients change. The sheer variety offered by the various states within India is just mind-boggling. One lifetime isn't enough to try out all the dishes within the various cuisines of India. 

The irony is that though there is so much variety, visit any multi-cuisine restaurant, the menu is more or less the same. If you want to eat authentic food from a particular region, it isn't an easy task, even in a cosmopolitan city like Bangalore. 

The exposure to Western cuisines is so huge, thanks to pizza and burger outlets in every nook and corner. Our aspiration and interest towards procuring cupcakes, sourdough bread and kombucha is so high, compared to trying out a panjeeri laddoo or a bowl of paal kozhukkattais.

I have heard comments like "What's in TN cuisine? Just one brown liquid after another poured on top of rice".

I cannot control what others think or perceive about various Indian cuisines. But what I can do is increase my repertoire of recipes and try out different dishes for my family and ensure my daughter gets as much exposure about cuisines from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

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