February 28, 2019

#WordlessWednesday: Of poetry vibes and poetry tribes

It was in January that walking book fairs made a stop at Goa, and I was thrilled...mainly because
  • in an age and time where poetry is losing its glory, here were this young duo (Shatabdi Mishra and Akshaya Bahibala) who were trying their level best to reignite interest and resuscitate it back to life. 
  • ‘Poems on the road’ was not just a casual and fun approach but also a earnest attempt at making poetry more accessible, more approachable. 

The van that became poetry

For the uninitiated, Poems on the road was basically a two month long ‘Pan India’ road trip by Walking book fairs, covering a distance of 10,000 kms, in 20 states, and 30 cities. 

From December to February, it covered Sambalpur, Raipur, Khammam, Hyderabad, Anantapur, Bangalore, Mysore, Coimbatore, Kochi,  Goa, Pune, Mumbai, Indore, Ahmedabad, Udaipur, Jaipur, Gurgaon, Delhi, Sonipat, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Greater Noida, Agra, Lucknow, Patna,  Ranchi and provided a democratic platform for people to express their views freely.

With over 500 poetry titles stacked in the back of their minivan, this duo set out with the sole aim to promote poetry. 

The lovely collection

What ensued were wonderful interactions where poetry connoisseurs got together to express their thoughts and bring about a positive change. There was an  open mic as well, wherein one was invited to perform their written poems and/or discuss favourite works.

Initially, I was a little skeptical. A library in a moving van...was intriguing but seemed a little too dramatic for poetry. However, what I witnessed made me instantly review my impression and accept that not all fine tastes need be high maintenance.

The certificate and book I was awarded

Of course, as the name suggests, Poems on the road was not about fancy-shmancy poetry readings, with snooty poets sipping on wine and twitching their noses to each other's poetry.
On the contrary, it was as low key an event as possible. Poetry on wheels. A van parked off the road and a group of poetry lovers surrounding it; reading, discussing, and performing poetry in front of a niche audience. Expanding circles one city at a time, like children gathered around an ice cream truck, like moths to a flame. 

A humble tribute for all to see. 

Professing love to poetry. 

Since we are on the topic of poetry, I will take this opportunity to introduce to you all, my e-anthology of poems, titled 'Potpourri'. 
You can check it out at Amazon here
Do let me know what you think of it. It would mean a lot to me. 


Linking this post to #WordlessWednesday. You can check the other submissions here.

February 16, 2019

Packing for a day trip #SuperBloggerChallenge #Instacuppa

There are two types of travel junkies in the world
The spontaneous firebrands, who with their come-what-may attitude, believe in throwing themselves into impromptu trips, and those who like to be prepared and plan ahead for everything life and travel may throw their way.
When it comes to day trips, I prefer to belong to the latter category.

Having said that, here is a listicle of essentials that I would pack for a day trip.
What you primarily need to carry is a medium to large sized duffel bag that you can preferably sling over your shoulders. A backpack or a large hand bag may also suffice. Make sure these have zippers and at least a couple of compartments in order to to keep the contents safe and handy.
  • Sunscreen - Absolutely essential especially if it’s summer. Use a sunscreen of SPF 15 or more, depending on the weather.
  • Medicine box - Don’t forget to pack in the medication that you are on, in case you are on any.. Also, throw in a couple of band aids, an antiseptic, an anti-diarrhoeal and an anti-emetic just in case of emergency. Saves you the trouble for going in search of a pharmacy.
  • Snacks/munchies - Granola bars make for a great snack for road trips. They provide the required calories and are also healthy and nutritious.
  • Kindle reader/book - so that you can read that lovely book you are dying to finish.You can either carry your carefully thumbed physical copy of your current read, or if you like to carry your entire library along, then the kindle would be your preferred. However, now with the kindle app, you can also read on your phone. But this will only mean consuming phone battery a lot faster. 
  • Phone - a must have to always stay connected even while on the go. Just in case you want to check your mail, send that urgent text, or make calls while on the go, 
  • Camera - Depending on your photography skills,you can either carry a SLR, a DSLR, or a Nikon handycam. If you believe in real light packing, then you can also settle for the camera on your phone.
  • Charger cables - for your phone and kindle reader. 
  • A fully charged power bank - to charge your phone when it runs out of charge. 
  • Sunglasses - to protect you against the harsh rays of the summer sun and also to add that added style quotient to your day-time look.
  • Travel brochures - If you’re in a new city, travel brochures can be collected at the railway station, airport, and even at the concierge’s desk at the hotel you are staying.
  • Itinerary - Make a short itinerary for all the things/places you want to see during the day trip, along with the distance and time it takes to reach there from base. Then number them accordingly according to location. Keep the itinerary handy so that you don’t waste time and fuel due to haphazard travel.
  • Wallet - Always keep loose cash, in case of places that do not accept cards
  • Keys - Home keys, because  wherever you go, you’re coming back home. Car keys, in case you’re driving.
  • Tickets - If you have to switch a bus/train/plane.
  • Ear plugs - to plug into your music and get away from the frivolous banter of chatty co-passengers. Sometimes you need your mind space.
  • A spare tea shirt - For emergency situations of ketchup spills and baby vomit.
  • Box of tissues - always comes in handy. Keep a box of wet wipes preferably. They are refreshing and smell real good.
  • Hand sanitiser / lotion - to kill all the microbes that are traveling with you. 
  • And last but not least, ID card and/passport - in case of emergencies, especially while traveling to unknown places. Also these are legit proof of your existence on the surface of the earth. So carry them along!
Phew! That's about everything you need for a safe day trip.
With these packed in your duffel bag, all you now need to do is sling it over your shoulder and head for the road.

Remember, adventure is out there!

“Note: This article is written as a part of SuperBloggerChallenge2019 conducted by Healthwealthbridge.com, Allaboutthewoman.com and should not be repurposed, republished or used otherwise. The content herein is owned by the blogger. SuperBloggerChallenge2019 is not responsible for any kind of infringement caused.”

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February 12, 2019

Chai and I - a love story! #SuperBloggerChallenge #Instacuppa

My relationship with tea goes back a long way. I think it was the Madhatter's tea party that first got me all curious. I must have been barely seven then. That was a time and age when children my age were forbidden from touching any kind of adult beverage. However, even as a child, I was always the curious sort and an early introduction to books had only managed to fuel this sense of wonder and curiosity in me.
I would watch the adults sipping on their cups of tea, while I listlessly nursed my glass of milk, sulking at the unfair privilege age allowed them.
Alice was allowed to attend a tea-party. Then why wasn't I? I had raised the argument with my father once. "Because we are not mad hatters," he had laughed at his own joke. I was being clearly outwitted.

Until one day, I decided enough was enough. I was clearly missing out on something. I couldn't wait until I was a grown up to quench my thirst for this forbidden beverage. It would take me ages to get there. And so, with dogged determination, I did what every manipulative seven year old would do in times of emergency; I tried throwing a silent tantrum.
I stayed mum all day, refusing to talk to anyone until my demands were met. I pushed away my glass of hot milk and with animated gestures insisted that I was served what everybody else was having. After several futile attempts at dissuading me, my mother finally gave in and agreed to offer me a sip from her cup, on the lone condition that I'd finish drinking my milk later.
I grinned. The silent tantrum had worked. The negotiation was done! I promised I would drain my glass of milk to the last drop if only she'd allow me to have a few sips. Although I was aware that it was clearly my mother who had got better part of the deal, I knew beggars couldn't be choosers. Besides I was afraid they would adjust themselves to my silence (and God forbid, even begin to enjoy it) had I to push my luck.

For a good many months, I obediently settled for sips of my mother's tea as part of our negotiation...until one day, curiosity (that was until then my forte) got the better of her, and she stealthily entered into the kitchen just in time to see me draining my glass of milk in the sink. My secret was out!
She stared at me in silence. My mind was already coming up with excuses. I knew my life was over. My mother would lecture me on the hungry kids of Somalia, her favorite topic, when I refused to eat the veggies on my plate. She would take away all my books and distribute them among my cousins. Or perhaps she would forbid me from having another drop of tea. Before she could say anything, I went in full drama-queen mode. I started to over-explain. I bawled. I protested. I told her I couldn't let the milk ruin the taste in my mouth...not when I was being allowed just a few precious sips of the chai I so craved.

She was still staring at me. And then she laughed. "We have a tea-junkie in the house" she told my father, narrating my shenanigans later that evening. They both chortled as I stood there, staring at them with my best puppy dog expression, hoping I had convinced them into allowing me to make the grand 'doodh to chai' switch-over.

The next day onward, I was given my own cup of tea. And that is how my journey with tea started...

While the other adults in my extended family frowned at my parent's decision to allow me what I wanted (tea over milk, to be precise), I acted eternally indebted to them, much to the point of suspicion, until I was completely sure they weren't going to change their mind.

As I grew up, I started thinking of myself as a tea connoisseur of sorts. No matter where I went, I could not make myself leave the place without trying the tea there. Hitherto, I have enjoyed various varieties, namely lemongrass tea, iced tea, kulhad chai, butter tea, tandoor chai, Darjeeling tea, Assam tea, oolong variety, and some other herbal infusions.

Thinking about it, I can say that my preferences too changed dramatically over the years.
During my childhood or pre-teen years, I loved the more milky, extra sugary type of tea. I guess this had more to do with the tea-drinker adult image that I was so fascinated with. During my adolescent  years, it was masala chai that became my favorite. Perhaps the spice level of that chai was more in tune with my feisty teenage years. Somewhere during medical school, my choice of tea changed again. Late night cramming for exams and a hectic schedule meant me downing cups of black tea to keep me up and about.
Cut to present day, I am me, more mature and level headed (or so I like to believe), much more concerned about my health and fitness than I was years ago. I am still a tea lover nevertheless. But over the last few years, my choice of tea has changed once again, this time to a more soothing cup of green tea.

When I first started having green tea, around three years ago, it took me a while to get adjusted to its characteristic 'grassy' flavour. But soon enough, it had found its way into my routine. Green tea, is not just more soothing and relaxing, but also possesses a lot of health benefits.
Allow me to elaborate...

What made me opt for green tea?

Green tea is loaded with healthy nutrients. It is rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, flavonoids, and catechins.

  1. Oral health: Green tea helps maintain good oral health. The catechins in green tea inhibit certain bacteria responsible for bad breath. Also killing off the bacteria reduces the risk of plaque formation and cavities. 
  2. Green tea possesses around 30-40 mgs of caffeine (much lesser than in coffee). Hence green tea provides you with stable energy without the risk of risk of muscle tremors. It also increases your concentration span and helps you stay focused. 
  3. Green tea increases good cholesterol (HDL) and reduces bad cholesterol (LDL)
  4. It helps regulate hypertension by lowering blood pressure.
  5. Studies show that the catechins present in green tea decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and Parkinsonism. 
  6. L-theanine present in green tea helps you stay relaxed without being drowsy. 
  7. The large amounts of antioxidants in green tea reduce the risk of cancer.
  8. Green tea increases metabolism and promotes burning down of fats. Hence helps control weight gain.
  9. Research shows that green tea decreases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and also increases longevity. 
Ergo, green tea is literally the elixir of life. Of course all the above benefits are based on correlation and should be supplemented with healthy eating and fitness habits. One cannot be reckless in all their habits and expect a miracle out of green tea alone. 

However, every time I traveled, I was rudely reminded of how good things in life are often either overpriced or simply unavailable. The cafes en route would either roll their eyes when I ordered green tea or came up with an exorbitantly priced pitcher of some ambiguous green-tea brand. So when I read about the vacuum insulated tea infuser bottle by #Instacuppa, I immediately made up my mind and placed my order at Amazon. 
With advanced temperature control, this double wall vacuum insulated design helps keep both hot for 1 hours and cold up to 24 hours. Also the vacuum insulted thermos travel mug is the perfect travel companion for those who want to have their regular green tea-fix even on the go, and be spared of judgmental looks and hole in the wallet.
The infuser bottle can be used not just to create infusions of green tea, but also to prepare infusions of coffee, fruits etc. Detach the steel infuser, and it can be used as a simple water bottle too.

How to prepare green tea using infuser bottle?

Of course, it is no rocket science.
  1. Firstly, detach the infuser basket from the bottle.
  2. Separate the long infuser from the short strainer.
  3. Add one tbsp of loose leaf green tea in the bottle
  4. Cover the infuser with the short strainer.
  5. Put the infuser back in the bottle.
  6. Add hot water to the bottle until it reaches just below the strainer level.
    1. Cover the bottle and let it stand (infuse) for four minutes or more. The colour of the water changes almost instantly.
    2. For faster infusion, flip bottle upside down for a few times. 
    3. After four minutes, your tea infusion is ready. 
    4. Pull the strainer and infuser off the bottle and sip on your freshly brewed green tea straight from the bottle.
    And that, my friends, is how I prepare a perfect cup of green tea. 
    I normally prefer to add a dash of lemon in my green tea. Lemon aids in the absorption of some of the nutrients in the green tea. 

    So that's it, folks. Now that you all have read a slice of my love story and are privy to the secret of my energy (nope! it has never been a chocolate milk-drink that the ad mad world leads us Indians into believing), I will end this post by rephrasing a popular scrapbook line that most of us would fondly remember scribbling in each other's scrapbooks as kids.

    "Drink hot coffee green tea. Drink green tea. Burn your tongue and remember me!"


    “Note: This article is written as a part of SuperBloggerChallenge2019 conducted byHealthwealthbridge.comAllaboutthewoman.com and should not be repurposed, republished or used otherwise. The content herein is owned by the blogger. SuperBloggerChallenge2019 is not responsible for any kind of infringement caused.”

    February 10, 2019

    #ShortStory: 'The final crossover'

    She owned this blanket with cherry blossoms that she adored. You would think it had some sentimental value; maybe it was a gift from a loved one, or a prize perhaps, or perhaps a distant memory of a romantic liaison that got too close before it disappeared.

    However, the truth was far from it. In actuality, this blanket helped her crossover from one world to another...from fact to fiction. She had first discovered its magic when the cherry blossoms on the fabric had teleported her to springtime in Japan. It had taken a few seconds to realize it had been just a dream. Never had she slept so soundly; it had almost felt like she was traveling through a different time frame.

    Since then the blanket had become her favorite. It was a magic carpet and dream catcher rolled in one. As she lay in her bed, she would swaddle herself up head to toe in it...and never realize when the whole day’s exhaustion would sweep her away.
    As she drifted off to sleep, the blanket would then start its job...of dream travel, take her to places she had only read about but never seen, show her things she could have only imagined.

    Until one day, something unexpected happened. She was beside herself with grief. There was this huge tear in the center of the blanket. Something sharp had ripped a hole right across it.

    As night fell, she became more and more distraught. No matter how she folded it, the rip in the blanket no longer allowed her to envelope herself in it.

    “How could I have let this happen?” she wept herself to an adventure-less sleep, clutching a corner of the cherry blossom designed duvet.

    She brought out her sewing kit and tried to approximate the edges of the rip, only to find her frustration grow exponentially with every pull and tug.
    The rip had created a huge gap that was too large to be tacked. Her lovely blanket had been ruined. And she feared, so was the magic it had once possessed.
    Heart broken, she stared at the huge hole mimicking the gaping wound she felt inside of her.

    Soon enough, she confined herself to her home. She’d spend all day thinking how to mend the damaged 'cherry blossom' blanket. Her nights too went tense and sleepless. She missed the adventure the blanket provided.  The comfort, the security that she felt was now lost. And as time went by, she became increasingly convinced that they were never coming back.

    The cherry blossoms were fading, drifting her away from the magical realm of her escapades, her rendezvous, her imaginings. Not allowing her to reach them from the confines of her bedroom window.

    It was a cold wintry night, when an unusual sort of notion crept in her head. She could no longer bear to see the ripped off cherry blossoms on her blanket. She had to make sure they stayed intact in her mind forever. She picked up her sewing kit in one hand and clutched her blanket in the other, and for the first time in weeks made her way outside.

    No sooner had she stepped out, a cold wind blew through her hair, raising a chill through her frail body. It was as if the world had changed while she was brooding.
    As she dusted the blanket, she noticed in its upward motion, something she had never observed before. Her heart was no longer sulking at the hole in the blanket. Instead, it was beating faster at the breath taking sight through it...the mesmerizing canopy of a diamond studded sky.

    Next morning, it was passing pedestrians who spotted her stiff and lifeless in the cold, her skin pale, her lips blue. She wasn't breathing.

    “Who, in their right mind, sleeps under the stars in this kind of weather?” they scolded nobody in particular, like all witnesses to tragedies, who mean well and think they know better. “The woman should have been careful.”

    Shocked bystanders speculated on her state of mind. But there weren’t many who could deny she looked happy.

    As she lay there in peace, head resting on crossed palms, she appeared to be gazing at something she couldn’t tear her eyes away from. Rigor mortis had set in. But the smile on her face added to her otherwise tranquil countenance. The sewing box sat beside her, unopened.

    It was a terribly windy morning. As people held on tightly to their billowing hats and coats, they found it impossible to fathom how a tattered fabric could hang still from a nearby branch..as if offended at being discarded just before the final crossover!


     ‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’ 

    Winning post for the weekend of 8 - 10 Feb 2019

    February 04, 2019

    #MedicalMondays: Antibiotic resistance

    Today, on the first Monday of the #MedicalMondays segment, I am going to address a matrer of growing concern in the field of medicine all over the world, and lately in India as well...antibiotic resistance.

    India has seen a rampant rise in the use of antibiotics, over the last few years.
    My house-help, a 28 year old female, often insists I prescribe her antibiotics, even for a minor cold or cough and is disappointed when I refuse to do so. In fact, why just her? My friends and relatives have also, in the past, been guilty of doing the same.
    Sometimes, I myself, have been tempted to pop in an antibiotic without confirming the accurate pathology of a viral flu.

    Ergo, the need to shine some light upon this topic of growing concern...

    What is antibiotic resistance?
    Antibiotics are a group of drugs that are capable of destroying or inhibiting the growth of bacteria.
    They are used to treat bacterial infections like pneumonia, TB, ear/throat infections, urinary tract infection etc.
    Bacteria are constantly evolving inside the human body. Repeated use of an antibiotics causes these bacteria to gradually withstand the curative effect of that antibiotic, thus allowing the thriving bacteria to mutate and multiply in large numbers. Thus the antibiotic, which was once effective, is now ineffective and unable to fight the infection.

    Why is it that we have become an antibiotic-obsessed nation? 
    It is a common misconception that stronger the medicine faster the patient improves. And what ‘strong’er drug than an antibiotics to hasten the recovery from a niggling cold, or untimely flu, thinks the common man.
    However, what is often not realised is that the effectiveness of any kind of treatment does not depend on the strength or dosage of the drug but on its appropriateness with reference to the ailment.

    Let’s discuss this in a little detail...

    Causes of Antibiotic Resistance :

    • Misuse and overuse of antibiotics.
    • Over prescribing of antibiotics
    • Abrupt stoppage of antibiotic treatment.
    • Lack of proper hygiene and sanitation.
    • Poor infection control.
    • Indiscriminate use of antibiotics in live stock
    • Inefficient and slow lab tests. 

    Misuse/overuse by patients:
    Antibiotics are often taken for viral flu and common cold (self-medication).
    Around 80% of common colds are viral in nature, and so an antibiotic in such cases would be ineffective.
    It must be remembered that antibiotics fight only against bacterial infections and are useless against viruses.

    Recommendations of antibiotics from relatives who mean well, self-proclaimed doctors, or the Internet should be discouraged. Consult a trusted medical professional for a prescription instead.

    Misuse/overuse may cause the antibiotic to be ineffective in the future and hence should be avoided.

    Another cause of antibiotic resistance is noncompliance on the part of the patient. 
    Abrupt stoppage of antibiotic course on cessation of symptoms has been observed in patients. This kills the susceptible bacteria, allowing the resistant bacteria to mutate and give rise to the resultant increase in an antibiotic-resistant strain.
    Hence when prescribed a course of antibiotic, it becomes important to complete the entire course.

    Antibiotics are largely used as growth supplements in livestock to improve health of the animals and produce a larger yield and high quality animal products.
    The antibiotic-resistant bacteria produced in the gut of these animals are then transmitted to humans through the food chain.
    Also, 90% of antibiotics administered to livestock are excreted through their urine and feces into the soil, and act as fertilizers for plant produce; another means of entering the food chain.


    • Do not demand antibiotics from your doctor. Also do not share antibiotics with family members without prescription, or save prescribed antibiotics to use for a later date.
    • If you are adviced antibiotics by your doctor, take them as prescribed. Do not discontinue treatment until the course is complete. 
    • Maintain sanitation and hygiene. Wash your hands. Stay as clean and bacteria free as possible.
    • Embrace a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy. Exercise regularly. This will keep you away from infections. 
    • Keep a chart/record for vaccinations and take them as per schedule.
    • Spread information about resistance and explain the dangers of inappropriate use of antibiotics among family members and friends.

    The problem is global. But with judicious use and controlled management, we can prevent ourselves from becoming an antibiotic hazard.

    Remember: when incorrect or in excess, even medicine turns into toxin. 

    See you Next Monday...
    Until then, stay aware, stay healthy!

    Disclaimer: Self-medication, with little/no prior knowledge of medicine may be harmful. ‘Medical Mondays’ aims to mainly create more awareness on issues pertaining to health and well being. However, the needs of every patient are different, and an online transfer of information has its own limitations. So please confirm with your consulting physician before attempting any drastic measure. 

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