Friday, November 6, 2015

Lose Weight, Look Great This Diwali : Follow Our 5 Weight Loss Steps

With Diwali just around the corner, you might be looking for some practical ways in which you can shed a couple of kilos quickly. We fully agree that there is no quick fix remedy to lose weight and crash dieting causes more harm than good. However, our tried and tested weight loss tips might just be what you need to get you started on your weight loss journey and lose up to 2 kilos within a week.
These tips also can be incorporated into your daily routine for achieving healthy long-term sustainable weight loss goals.

Image Source - Anandprabu's Klicks 
Increase your liquid intake: This includes drinking more water, infused water, coconut water, freshly squeezed home-made juice (without adding extra sugar) and green tea.  Increased water intake makes you feel fuller, rejuvenates and improves your overall metabolic activity and flushes out the toxins from your system.  Since it is difficult for the body to tell the difference between hunger and thirst, drinking water helps to curb hunger and cravings. It might also help to eat water-based foods like soup or fruits and veggies (watermelon, cucumber, grapefruit etc) that are rich in water and mineral content .But, it is important to understand that water is not a substitute for food and drinking too much of water could be dangerous. Though there are many opinions (depending on one’s weight, age, environmental factors) on how much water one should drink, it is generally agreed upon that 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day is optimum. It is also essential to reduce your sodium (salt) intake as it can cause bloating.

Get involved in an activity: Most of us are constantly thinking about food. Our minds are constantly preoccupied with questions like what to cook, how to cook, when to eat. Thanks to Social Media and countless food channels on Television our minds are flooded with images of tempting culinary wonders from across the globe. The more you think about food, the more difficult it will be to limit those calories and curb cravings. So, getting involved in an activity or work helps to steer your mind clear of those impediments that come in the form of fried chicken or cheesy burgers. Though not mandatory, it will be beneficial if the “activity” involves light to moderate cardio workouts like walking or jogging. Learning a new sport, taking swimming/dance lessons or even getting involved in community service is good. Those who have a certain health condition or those who suffer from morbid obesity, can engage themselves in yoga or meditation to begin with. Even simple tasks like taking your dog out for a walk, reading, blogging, learning a new language  or even learning to play a new musical instrument might help. For example, if writing is my passion then I will decide to write at least one article per day, for the next five days. This way, chances are that I will be thinking of what to write more than what and when to eat.

Keep your menu simple. Boring is good! : This is again a continuation of the previous step. Plan and prep your menu ahead of time so that you don’t end up eating that bag of chips. Keep sliced, chopped-up fruits and veggies within your hands reach.  Having breakfast is an integral part of losing weight. Instead of whipping up a fresh batch of muffins for breakfast or racking your brain deciding between dosa or upma, it is simple and convenient to have a bowl of oats or cornflakes (not the sugary ones) with a piece of fresh fruit (bananas, apples, berries, pomegranate, papaya etc.) along with freshly brewed green tea. Though this is not the most nutritious option, it is much better than having an oily breakfast of puri-bahji or aloo paratha. You might also want to avoid full fat milk and use skimmed milk instead. Soy or almond milk can also be used.  Those who frequent the gym might want to add boiled eggs or a green smoothie for building lean muscles. For a mid-morning snack, an apple or any fruit of your choice along with a cup of green tea (black coffee, black tea with less sugar) will satiate your hunger pangs. Now if that doesn’t curb your hunger, you can have a handful of dry fruits or nuts. Avocadoes are an excellent source of good fat and are extremely good for teenagers and growing children. But always remember to eat in moderation. 

Lunch can be a simple grilled chicken wrap or veg wrap or Rice (brown rice ideally), daal, sabzi or even grilled fish with steamed vegetables. Its best if you can get hold of fresh organic ingredients sourced from local farms. Do not over-complicate the dishes by adding a lot of masalas and spices. Also remember to stay away from processed foods and excess oil.

Now the key to weight loss is having an early-light dinner. Soups or salads (without the mayo dressing of course), lean protein etc. are excellent options.  Keep it simple and clean. Make sure that you have your dinner as early as possible so that your stomach gets plenty of time to digest the food before you go to sleep. If you are craving a post dinner dessert, you can have a bite of dark chocolate which contains flavonoids and powerful antioxidants. Finish off with a cup of chamomile tea which helps to reduce stress, bloating and promises a good night’s sleep.

Repeat the same menu for a week: Do not try to be innovative with food while you are on a diet. We end up eating extra calories while we try to be creative with food. To elaborate, if you decide to have cornflakes for breakfast, then eat cornflakes as breakfast for the entire week. But you should remember to change the choice of fruits that accompany your meals and the vegetables that go in your salads every day for nutritional variety.

Go to bed early and get 7-8 hours of sleep daily. Most of us are sleep deprived and survive on tea, coffee or some sort of energy drink to make up for the lack of sleep. You also tend to overeat when you are tired to compensate for the lack of energy. Getting enough sleep stops you from late night snacking and aids fat loss. Waking up early is just as important as it gives you more energy. It gives you a head start to plan and organize your day. It might also give you that extra bit of time to go for that morning walk which you have always been planning in your mind. You can also use this time to prep your food ahead of time so that you don’t end up snacking.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Kovan's arrest - I strongly protest

I strongly protest against the arrest and slapping of trumped up sedition and other bogus charges against the Tamil folk singer Kovan for criticizing Jayalalithaa in his song. Are we living in a democracy or dictatorship ? In a democracy people have a right to criticize politicians and the government.

In feudal times the king was supreme, and the people were his subjects, and so they had no right to criticize the king.
In a democracy, however, this relationship is reversed. Now the people are the masters, and all state authorities, whether President of India, Prime Minister, other Ministers, Chief Minister, Chief Justice of India and other Judges, bureaucrats, police, etc are nothing but servants of the people.

That being so, the people have a right to criticize the state authorities, because surely the master has a right to criticize his servant if he thinks the servant is not working properly.

Consequently Kovan had every right to criticize Jayalalithaa.

I had thought that Jayalalithaa had learnt her lesson, and had mellowed down, but now it seems otherwise. She still seems to have dictatorial tendencies.

As regards the police officers who ordered the arrest of Kovan, and the policemen who carried out the order, they must all be put up on trial, and given harsh punishment. They must not be allowed to take the plea that they were only carrying out orders of Jayalalithaa.

At the Nuremburg Trials after the Second World War, the Nazi War Criminals took the plea that 'orders are orders ' ( i.e. they were only carrying out orders of their political master Hitler ), but this plea was rejected and they were hanged.

This article appeared in Justice Katju's blog. Posted here with his permission. Follow him on twitter here

Crispy Cheesy Delights

I am very glad to say that I am a total turophile. There is nothing in this world more motivating than cheese for me. Serve it cold or hot, it tastes always good. Add cheese to any boring dish and it becomes full of life. When all else fails, cheese is always there for you. Please indulge in these cheese fingers to brighten up your mood.

This is such a simple and quick recipe.

Prep Time: 10 mins    |  Frying time: 10 mins    |  Serves: 3-4

List of Ingredients:

    1 cup Gram flour (Besan)

    5-6 tbsp Water

    1 large Potato, boiled

    1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

    Coriander leaves, shredded

    Salt, red chills and black pepper

    1 tsp Garlic paste

    Bread crumbs

    Oil to fry


Take gram flour in a large bowl, add water and form a smooth paste. Add cheese to this mixture and make a firm dough. Now add the mashed potato along with the seasoning and coriander leaves and mix well.

Make oblong shaped rolls of this dough and keep aside.

Roll it in the breadcrumbs and dip in the hot oil for frying

Let the cheese rolls drain the oil on tissues.

Serve hot with the choice of sauce.

Kitchen Notes:

    While making the paste (in step 1), add water slowly to avoid runny batter. In case the batter is runny, add more gram flour.

    Fry on high flame to get crispy fingers.

Modi's Vikas

Before the May 2014 Lok Sabha elections Narendra Modi was projected by a large section of Indians as the modern Moses, the messiah who would lead the beleaguered and despondent Indian people into a land of milk and honey, the man who was best suited to be the next Indian Prime Minister.
And it was not just the BJP and RSS who were saying this. A large section of the Indian so called 'educated' class, including most of our 'educated' youth, who were carried away by Modi’s slogan of vikas were saying this, thinking that now millions of jobs will be created and they would all get jobs..

I was flying from Delhi to Bhopal before the Lok Sabha elections.. Sitting beside me was a Gujarati businessman. I asked him his opinion of Modi. He was all praise for him. I interjected and asked him about the killings of over 2000 Muslims in 2002 in Gujarat. He replied that Muslims were always creating problems in Gujarat, but after 2002 they have been put in their place and there is peace since 2002 in Gujarat. I told him it was the peace of the graveyard, and peace can never last long unless it was coupled with justice. At this remark he took offence and changed his seat on the plane.

 Today in the whole of India, Muslims (who are over 200 million of the people of India) are solidly against Modi (though there are a handful of Muslim chamchas who for various reasons disagree). The atmosphere of intolerance which has been created in India under Modi's rule, the hate speeches of many BJP leaders, the brutal lynching of Ikhlaque, 'ghar wapasi', 'love jihad', beef politics, vandalization of churches in Delhi etc have created fear and insecurity among the minorities

It is claimed by Modi supporters that what happened in Gujarat was only a 'spontaneous' reaction (pratikriya) of Hindus to the killings of 59 Hindus in a train in Godhra. I do not buy this story. Firstly, there is still a mystery as to what exactly happened in Godhra, and who was responsible for the killings. Secondly, the particular persons who were responsible for the Godhra killings should certainly be identified and given harsh punishment, but how does this justify the attack on the entire Muslim community in Gujarat. Muslims are only 9% of the total population of Gujarat, the rest being mostly Hindus. In 2002 Muslims were massacred, their homes burnt, and other horrible crimes committed on them.

To call the killings of Muslims in 2002 as a spontaneous reaction reminds one of Kristallnacht (see online) in Germany in November 1938, when the entire Jewish community in Germany was attacked, many killed, their synagogues burnt, shops vandalized, etc after a German diplomat in Paris was shot by a Jewish youth whose family had been persecuted by the Nazis. It was claimed by the Nazi Government that this was only a 'spontaneous' reaction, but in fact it was planned and executed by the Nazi authorities using fanatic mobs.

I have said in my article 'What is India?' (see on my blog as well as on the video on the website that India is broadly a country of immigrants (like North America) and consequently it is a land of tremendous diversity. Hence the only policy which can hold it together and take it on the path of progress is secularism and equal respect and treatment to all communities and sects. This was the policy of the great Emperor Akbar, which was followed by our Founding Fathers who gave us a secular Constitution. Unless we follow this policy our country cannot survive for one day, because it has so much diversity, so many religions, castes, languages, ethnic groups, etc.

India therefore does not belong to Hindus alone, it belongs equally to Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Jains etc. Also, it is not that only Hindus can live in India as first rate citizens while others have to live as second or third rate citizens. All are first rate citizens here. The killings of thousands of Muslims and other atrocities on them in Gujarat in 2002 can never be forgotten or forgiven. All the perfumes of Arabia cannot wash away the stain on Modi in this connection.

 It is said by his supporters that Modi had no hand in the killings of Muslims in 2002, and it is also said that he has not been found guilty by any Court of Law. I do not want to comment on our judiciary, but I certainly do not buy the story that Modi had no hand in the events of 2002. He was the Chief Minister of Gujarat at that time, and the horrible events happened on a large scale in Gujarat Can it be believed that he had no hand in the events of 2002? At least I find it impossible to believe it.

Let me give just one example. Ehsan Jafri was a respected, elderly former Member of the Indian Parliament living in the Chamanpura locality of Ahmedabad in Gujarat. His house was in the Gulbarga Housing Society, where mostly Muslims lived. According to the recorded version of his elderly wife Zakia, on 28.2.2002 a mob of fanatics blew up the security wall of the housing society using gas cylinders, they dragged Ehsan Jafri out of his house, stripped him, chopped off his limbs with swords, etc and burnt him alive. Many other Muslim were also killed and their houses burnt. Chamanpura is barely a kilometer from the police station, and less than 2 kilometers from the Ahmedabad Police Commissioner's office. Is it conceivable that the Chief Minister did not know what was going on? Zakia Jafri since then has been running from pillar to post to get justice for her husband who was so brutally murdered.

.Modi has claimed that he has developed Gujarat. It is therefore necessary to consider what is the meaning of 'development'. To my mind development can have only one meaning, and that is raising the standard of living of the masses. Giving concessions to big industrial houses, and offering them cheap land and cheap electricity can hardly be called development if it does not raise the standard of living of the masses. GDP growth is meaningless if it means benefits only to a handful of big businessmen. The further question to be asked is : who is getting the fruits of this growth, the Indian masses or only a few big businessmen ?

Today, 48% Gujarati children are malnourished, which is a higher rate of malnourishment than the national average. In Gujarat there is high infant mortality rate, high women's maternity death rate, and  57% poverty rate in tribal areas,  and among Scheduled Castes/Backward Castes. As stated by Ramchandra Guha in his article in 'The Hindu' of, 8.2.2013 in Gujarat environmental degradation is rising, educational standards are falling, and malnutrition among children abnormally high. More than a third of adult men in Gujarat have a body mass index of less than 18.5 – the 7th worst in the country. A UNDP report in 2010 has placed Gujarat after 8 other Indian States in multiple dimensions of development e.g. health, education, income levels, etc. (see Hindustan Times, 16.12.2012 P.13)  Farmers suicides are common in Gujarat.

 Mr. Guha further states in his article: “As a sociologist who treats the aggregate data of economists with scepticism, I myself do not believe that Gujarat is the best developed State in the country. Shortly after Modi was sworn in for his third term, I travelled through Saurashtra, whose polluted and arid lands spoke of a hard grind for survival. In the towns, water, sewage, road and transport facilities were in a pathetic state; in the countryside, the scarcity of natural resources was apparent, as pastoralists walked miles and miles in search of stubble for their goats. In terms of social and economic development ”.

The slogan 'vikas' has now lost its magic and lies in shreds. The Indian economy is stagnant. Hardly any new industry has been set up after May 2014, and foreign businessmen, far from investing in India are exiting e.g. Jim Rogers ( see online ). Why will foreigners invest in India when even Indian businessmen are not investing ?

Prices of foodstuffs have skyrocketed in recent times, e.g. dal selling at Rs.200 per kilo. Is this vikas?

This article appeared in Justice Katju's blog. Posted here with his permission. Follow him on twitter here

Monday, November 2, 2015

Are you ready for the “Donate Your Clothes Challenge?”

You do not have any space left in your wardrobe. In fact, it is bursting with clothes, both old and new. One slip of the hand and you won’t know if it was an avalanche that hit you or if it was just a pile of clothes from the shelf. You have not worn that pair of skinny jeans since college and have been holding on to it in the hope that someday, you will fit into them again. You have not given away any of your child’s clothes, especially those adorable mittens and booties, because there are so many memories attached to them. What about those tight cartoony T-Shirts that you outgrew ten years back? Are you keeping them for your younger sibling hoping that he or she will wear it someday? Let’s not forget those baggy loose clothes that you wore all through pregnancy. Will you wear the same clothes for your next pregnancy? What about that old-forgotten blanket kept in a cardboard box high up somewhere in the attic? Will you take it out this winter? Then there is the bed linen you haven’t used in a while because it no longer matches the room’s color scheme or decor.

 Let’s face it, we are hoarders. We like to hold on to our stuff because letting go is difficult. So, as we tuck ourselves in or our dear ones in warm cosy quilts and duvets, let us take a minute to think of the plight of the homeless or the poor who cannot even afford even a warm cup of coffee. The images of the millions of refugees trudging across Europe, despite the harsh weather conditions, are even more heart-rending. 

If the Ice Bucket Challenge gave you the chills, our Donate Your Clothes Challenge will make you feel warm and nice on the inside. It’s very simple. All you have to do is clean out your closet and give away the clothes that you no longer wear, to the ones who really need them this winter. Once you have done this you can go ahead and tag your friends and family to do the same. This will serve as a gentle nudge to remind them if they have not done so already. You can post pictures of yourself with the clothes you are planning to give away or even write about that special feeling that comes along with giving away something very close to your heart. Use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and everything within your reach to spread the word. 

You can reach out to your family or friends and ask around if they know somebody who would benefit from this endeavour. Asking the nanny who takes care of your kids or the domestic help that comes to your house might be a good place to start with. The intrepid ones can talk to community members or leaders and can take the initiative to organize a campaign for donating clothes. You can call up your local charity or an NGO of your choice or even the local/community news channel and enquire if they are interested in collection and donation of old clothes. Only such proactive engagements will yield positive results. 

Winter is very well on its way and we have very less time. Britain could be headed for the coldest winter in more than 50 years if weather forecasts are to be believed. As the temperatures plunge to a frigid low, the death toll this year is expected to rise. In India, winter is the second major reason for deaths after lightening as per the natural disaster statistics. This is tragic news for the elderly, infants and the other vulnerable sections of the society who cannot afford warm quilts, blankets, nutritious-warm food or shelters with central heating. What’s even more tragic are the easily preventable ‘excess winter deaths’ of the homeless-the ones who cannot afford a place to stay. So, for the millions of homeless across the world this winter is going to be about life or death while the rest of the world enjoys the festive season. So as the cold wave sweeps across the land, can we spread the message of hope across to people who are struggling to stay alive this winter? This is your chance to be someone’s hero. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

What are our kids watching on TV?

My toddler started taking an interest in cartoons recently. That is when I realized that the cartoons/ programs on Nick Jr., Disney Jr., Baby Tv etc. are repeated every other day. There are NO NEW EPISODES. They keep on repeating the few episodes they have, over and over again without thinking how it might affect these kids. The whole idea seemed quite daunting and alarming. I mean, aren’t these cartoon channels even the least bit concerned about the Indian kids? Why haven’t the parents reacted yet?

If you were a 90’s kid, you would have probably seen shows like The Rugrats, Hey Arnold, Spongebob Square Pants (not the terribly dubbed version in Hindi), The Wild Thornberrys, The Flinstones, The Jetsons, DragonBallZ, The Loony Tunes, The Scooby Doo Shows, The Powerpuff Girls, The Angry Beavers, Cat Dog, Beyblade, The Avatar, Card Captor, Naruto, Captain Planet, Duck Tales, Tiny Toons etc...the list goes on and on. We have some amazing memories of some amazing cartoons that we grew up watching if you were lucky to have cable TV at home. There was mystery, adventure, romance, action, comedy and what not. What happened to our Cartoon channels? Have you ever wondered?

Do we not love our kids? Or are we just plain ignorant or just not paying enough attention? If you happen to pay attention to the cartoon shows that your kids have been watching, you are sure to go bonkers. There is nothing new on these cartoon channels except for the unimaginative desi cartoons with despicable accents, some creepy-strange looking Japanese or Chinese cartoons and unnerving repetitions of classic cartoons like Tom and Jerry or Mr. Bean, Johnny Bravo, Dexter’s Laboratory, Blue’s Clues or Dora the Explorer. So, you think Chhota Bheem is the best because your kid is crazy about the show. No, it is because you don’t know any better and your child never had the opportunity to see some wonderful cartoons that we, the 90’s kids, grew up watching. Don’t our kids deserve any better than these cheap Japanese imports like Shin Chan or Doraemon? Strangely, these uncanny characters that grace our television from morning till night, day after day, are awfully flawed and are not the best role models for our kids.  

 I shall maintain my silence regarding the religious connotations of shows like Chhota Bheem or Kisna. But, I am of the strong opinion that they could be made a bit more imaginative than the morbidly redundant story-line of the desi-superhero beating up monstrous villains with “oohs”, “aahs” and “dishoom-dishooms”. Are these cartoons doing any justice to our cultural heritage? Wait, no! Absolutely not. Are these cartoons reflective of modern India? No! And most importantly, why the terrible accent? They could have at least done away with the accent.

Well, this again is my personal opinion. I prefer my child watching cartoons than playing with the mobile or fiddling with the laptop. While these cartoon companies are minting money by showing sub-standard cartoons to our children, we must remember that these cartoons are going to be a big part of their childhood and it is up to us parents to make it memorable and meaningful.

                                                                                                               -Letter from a concerned parent.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Restaurant Review: Little Italy-A taste of Italy in Bangalore

“Little Italy” restaurant is located off the Hosur main road, a stone’s throw away from Forum mall, in Koramangala. It is easily accessible due to its location and has got Valet parking, so customers needn’t worry parking. As the name suggests, Little Italy packs a delectable menu of 100% pure vegetarian, authentic Italian dishes for those who love Italian cuisine or just simply want to give it a try.

The restaurant is spacious and has seating on the ground floor hall, first floor hall as well as the ground floor lobby. However, we would advise against the last option as it would mean that one has to sit through the generator’s mechanical judder, which with Bangalore frequent power cuts might be just too often. The interiors are done aesthetically with a predominant brown color on the seats, wall and ceiling. Though we had called for reserving in advance, we were informed that we could just walk in. We were initially seated on a table near the wash area. When we expressed our displeasure with that seat, we were promptly shifted to another table of our choice.

We were happy and relieved to see that the menu card had details of the ingredients and cooking method of each item listed on the menu. This is really helpful for those customers who are not well acquainted with Italian cuisine. Though the names were in Italian, they’ve also got an alphanumeric key which makes it easy to order. However, we did try our share of tongue twisting which was hilarious. 

The menu card is clearly divided into sections like soup, starters, 1st course, 2nd course, Mexican and desserts. We started with “Zuppa Di Cippole” which is spring onion soup served with crunchy croutons. Each mouthful was delicious and bursting with flavor. The spring onion was neatly chopped into equal size pieces which instantly melted in the mouth and the croutons were really crunchy. As for the starters, we decided to go for “Verdure Trifolate” which was a mix of mushroom, cheese, baby corn, tomatoes, olives etc. served with farmer’s bread. It was heaven on a platter. Not a single ingredient was out of place and the vegetables were cooked to perfection. For the 1st course we had “Tortellinie Di Zia Cuncetta” which is tortellini pasta in white sauce. It was a tad bit disappointing as compared to the soup and the starter, but it is only fair to appreciate the effort that has gone into preparing such a complex, delicate dish. We were tempted to try the Nachos with cheese as well and therefore decided to skip dessert. They even have a separate menu for wine, cocktails and mocktails but we skipped it.

The service was prompt, courteous and pleasant. It was definitely a good experience and definitely worth the money spent.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Are you hungry, thirsty or just bored?

Food brings people together. Food is a necessity, comfort and luxury all rolled into one.We eat when we are hungry, when we are thirsty, when we are bored, when we depressed or just for fun.

When you reach out for that favorite cookie jar or that big bag of chips, this is a question that you should be asking yourself. " Am I really hungry?" Most of us confuse thirst for hunger. This realization is really important if you are someone trying to lose weight or simply working towards a sustainable weight-loss plan. Think about the number of times you have felt a bit dehydrated and you dug into that big bowl of ice cream. Now, these are unwanted calories! You could have just drank plain water or sipped on some freshly squeezed juice. What's even more unhealthy is drinking milk-sugar loaded tea or coffee just because you feel like it. Then there is emotional hunger, when one is not satisfied by usual portion of food he/she is used to eating. When you experience emotional hunger, you might just want to keep on binging till you cannot eat anymore and later on, sleep for hours or not sleep at all. Relaxation techniques, reading, a long journey or any kind of distraction to keep your mind away from the emotional trigger may help. 

Consider this scenario, you had a satiating lunch just over an hour ago but your favorite show is on TV. It might be hard to resist munching on popcorn or drinking cola because the food makes the TV program even more entertaining. The same applies to post-dinner family movie time where we snack on our favorite calorie laden desserts without guilt. Let's face it, food makes other activities more fun. While there is no denying it, our motto for a healthy life should be "eat to live and not live to eat". 

So what should you do? Before you eat or drink anything you need to take a minute and ask yourself "Am I really experiencing hunger?"If your lips and throat are dry, you might want to just drink water. If your tummy is growling and there is the gradual onset on hunger pangs, you should decide to eat. Ideally, you should try to eat every three to four hours. Planning and prepping your meals ahead of time will stop us from eating unhealthy food.  Lots of celebrity endorsed diets prescribe eating small meals throughout the day. This will work if your meals are planned out by a trained dietitian and the diet is coupled with a proper exercising regimen. But if your diet is not well planned out by an expert with the exact calorific details you might just want to have a healthy portion of breakfast, lunch and dinner that incorporates plenty of fruits and veggies. And remember, moderation is the key!

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

King Khan and Kajol celebrate 20 years of DDLJ

King Khan and Kajol celebrated 20 years of the iconic romance movie, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge on the sets of Dilwale.

Watch this video and take a trip down the memory lane.....

Here is the link to the video

Copyright and credits belong to the FilmfareOfficial YouTube Channel.

Fruit custard with a twist.

There is no better way to win the hearts of family members than by whipping up a delightful bowl of dessert!

Give this recipe a try! This is a sure shot winner.


Half liter milk
3 tablespoon custard powder
Assorted cut fruits of your choice (You can also use canned mixed fruits)
A Can of Nestle Milkmaid (Condensed Milk)
1 packet Marie Biscuits


-Mix custard powder with some milk to make a smooth paste
-Boil the milk, add the custard paste and simmer for 2 minutes. Switch off the flame and let it cool.
-Crush few Marie biscuits by hand
-In a small bowl, add little custard and then add few cut fruits
-Then add the biscuit crumble
-Repeat by adding custard and then fruit and again biscuit crumble thereby creating layers
-Finally top off the layer by adding Milkmaid, few crumbles and a cherry on top.
-Refrigerate for 1 hour
-Serve cold

"Floating City" sightings from China.

The mysterious sightings of a "floating city" are now strewn all over the internet after thousands of residents from Foshan, Jiangxi witnessed the silhouette of skyscrapers hovering in the sky amidst the clouds, over their cities. Many of the residents have managed to snap pictures or take videos of the strange phenomena. While many scientists have explained that the bizzare event is nothing more than an inverted mirage called Fata Morgana, many conspiracy theorists firmly believe that it is the result of Project Blue Beam of Nasa. Well, there is no way to know for sure. Atleast for now..!

Monday, October 19, 2015

An open letter to all of us Indians.

We ought to be ashamed. We ought to live in fear!

The last few weeks have borne witness to some of the most shameful, horrific incidents one could ever imagine.

In Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, a man has been lynched to death over rumors of eating beef. A Dalit family in Noida had to resort to stripping as a means of protest against the inaction and indifference meted out to them by the UP Police force, while onlookers leered at them with nonchalance. It has only been some time back since Kannada scholar and rationalist MM Kalburgi was shot to death at his residence, in the state of Karnataka. More recently, in fact just a couple of days back, a young police sub-inspector was stabbed to death by thieves.  A day back, a migrant worker was beaten to death on allegations of workforce theft. Our men are killed. Our women are burned to death- mothers not witches! Our children and infants have been raped and molested, repeatedly.

 Let's not even start with how we treat animals. We speak volumes about worshiping animals but are the worst offenders when it comes to protecting animal rights and crimes against them.

Has mob mentality taken over the Indian psyche, yours and mine..?

Our lives are not safe and so is our dignity. We all live and lead separate lives. We do not care and when we do, we are afraid. We become shadows of ourselves and shrink back to some safe corner to vent out our frustration through social media sites, where we feel invincible. We are voyeurs who like to secretly watch and share the spectacle of suffering, the agony of the "Other"! Oh, we love to read and discuss sensational crimes. Death has become enthralling with the prevalence of social media. We watch the video of someone dying in the most gruesome way and callously move on to watch something even more exciting. It does not bother us. Our responsibilty ends at tweeting about it or sharing it on Facebook or Whatsapp.

We will not raise a finger till something happens to us.

We like to build and live in grand, palatial mansions and dream of becoming citizens of far- away foreign lands. We like to blame the Government, the Opposition, the Ministers, the "System", the Police, the corruption, the socio-political environment, our religious counterparts and everybody else. The privileged would blame the poor and vice versa. We like to say that poverty and illiteracy are the real bane of the country. While this is true to a great extent, take a minute to ponder about crimes like the Sheena Bora murder case or the Bangalore techie case or the many rape cases in our cities.

Why is crime so prevalent? Why are rapes so common? Who is really responsible? It's us! We are! Yes, me and you and a billion of us. It is our inaction- for we are cowards.

We do not get up for pregnant women or senior citizens while travelling in public transport. We do not make way for ambulances and like to squeeze through every bit of space available on the road. And once the ambulance manages to find its way, we are shrewd enough to trail behind it like a swarm of hungry bees, so that we can reach our destination on time. We like to waste our food and throw away our old clothes. We helplessly watch as children sleep endlessly for hours in the lap of women begging on the streets. We hear the cries and screams of our next door neighbor everyday. We know that she is a victim of domestic violence, but we still hesitate to call the police. We  take pictures and videos when someone pleads for his life lying in a pool of blood on the road. We are afraid to offer clothes to the woman who has been raped and stripped naked.

We simply do not want to get involved! Period.

But,what if we get into trouble one day? Will a good Samaritan ever extend a helping hand to us?
We will wait for another Nirbhaya to awaken our collective consciousness into action. By then, another toddler would have bled to death without receiving emergency medical care. And, someone's father would have breathed his last, after his bike fell into a pothole. But we simply cannot afford to have our hands and clothes stained with blood. We simply can't!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Banana Bread - No Fail Recipe

When life gives you overripe Bananas…You make bread with them! 

Being a delicate fruit, bananas tend to ripen very fast and since some of us are rather fussy about eating spotty- brown-mushy bananas, much of it goes waste. Well not anymore! We will use these ooey gooey bananas to make some super simple and super delicious…..BANANA BREAD!!! This is the perfect comfort food for fall. 

The recipe is so simple and best part is that there is no need for a mixer.Clean-up is easy as well. You can just mix everything in one big bowl. As mentioned, the best bananas to use for the banana bread are the really-really ripe ones. The banana peel should be at least half browned, really spotty and the inside should be squishy and brown. So, let’s start with the recipe!!!

Prep Time: 15 mins    |  Bake time: 60 mins    |  Yields: 12-13

List of Ingredients:

  1. 100 gm of Butter, unsalted (at room temp)
  2. 1 cup powdered Sugar, 250 gm
  3. 2 Eggs, beaten
  4. 2-3 large Banana, mashed
  5. 1 1/2 cup of self raising all-purpose Flour (maida)
  6. 1 tsp of Baking Powder
  7. 1/2 tsp Baking soda
  8. 1/2 tsp of Salt
  9. 1 tsp of Vanilla


Cream together butter and powdered sugar in a deep bowl. Whisk the mixture till a smooth paste is formed.

Add eggs and crushed bananas. Combine them well. Make sure that eggs and banana should be at room temperature.

Sift together flour, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Add vanilla. Pour into greased and floured loaf pan.

 Bake at 175 degrees for 60 minutes. Let it cool down for 10 mins. Take it out and keep it in air-tight containers.


  1. All the ingredients should be at room temperature.
  2. NEVER melt the butter for creaming step. If the butter temperature goes down below room temperature, DO NOT use it.
  3. After adding flour to the mix, DO NOT whisk. Just fold in one direction to make a smooth batter
  4. In case you are using salted butter, skip adding salt.
  5. Batter, to be poured, should be slightly flowy. In case not, add little warm milk (2 tsp) for the correct consistency.
  6. Do not try to take out bread when it is hot becuase it breaks down while doing this.
 Enjoy this and keep me posted!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

"Let them eat chicken or paneer!"

Dal-chawal is the quintessential meal of the common Indian man. The ordinary Indian man stocks up his dal and chawal at the beginning of the month as soon as he lays hands on his monthly salary. For him, buying fresh produce like vegetables and meat on a regular basis is totally out of the question. Now if reports are to be believed, then toor dal might also become a luxury commodity to the common folk with its retail prices expected to sky rocket towards Rs. 200 per kilogram. The price of urad dal is also likely to go up in the coming days owing to the shortage of supply due to shortfall in production. As per Government data, the prices of pulses have gone up by 30% over the short span of four weeks. A year ago, the price of toor dal was around 85 per kg as per the data from the Consumer Affairs Ministry. Government officials admit that they are fully aware of the situation and are doing their best to boost the supply through imports

Watch India's cattiest fight in full Qawwali face-off!

Here's a truly brilliant ad that we can all rave about!  Watch the advertisement of TrulyMadly- a matchmaking app, made in collaboration with the All India Bakchod titled 'Creep Qawwali'. The clever lines of the Qawwali are about the creeps and stalkers that women have to deal with on a daily basis both online and offline. 

Here is the link to the video

Copyright and credits belong to the TrulyMadly Youtube Channel.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The biggest weight-loss mistake you are committing!

How many times have you complained "I've tried everything but the scale won't budge!"

Ok, so here is something you or your dietitian might completely overlook. Before getting befuddled with the calorie counting, the macro/micro nutrients in the food, the detox or paleo diet or the 100 other names that have recently swooped into our everyday lives, we might have to consider starting with the basics of weight loss. Most celebrities including the likes of Oprah Winfrey or even Akshay Kumar would swear by the idea of having early dinners. Yes, you heard me right! It is as easy as it sounds- early dinner. Now, let’s add one more word to this magic formula- 'early light dinner'. 

Most of us are in the habit of skipping breakfast altogether, a quick convenient lunch and dinners of epic proportions loaded with fat. We starve through the day and binge through dinner, thinking that we actually earned it. We unknowingly end up exhausting or exceeding our daily calorie intake limit in that one single meal, thereby making dinner the biggest meal of the day. Add alcohol and dessert to the concoction and we have a recipe for disaster. Now, what's even worse is that most of us go to bed soon after the heavy dinner session with a bloated stomach. This vicious cycle continues, day after day, week after week. We are not entirely at fault here. With working parents, busy schedules and school going kids, dinner times are family times when the whole family comes together to relax and have food. With the boom of restaurants/take outs and the home delivery options, more and more people are starting to consider eating 'outside-food' a more convenient and cost effective option, as compared to making food at home from scratch. Even while preparing homemade meals, we resort to heavily processed foods for making things easier. Because we tend to be more active through the day, the food we eat get metabolized easily. On the contrary, the food that we eat at night is more likely to be converted and stored as fat.

Weight gain is just one of the unwanted effects of our late-epic-dinner time culture. Most of us complain about unexplained post-nasal drip, cough, asthma and difficulty swallowing. These could be signs of acid reflux.  So, if you are in the habit of eating late at night and especially if you tend to overeat or eat heavy foods that are high in calorific value and then lie down soon after, you might end up having acid reflux. 

So what is the optimal time for having dinner? Anywhere between 7 or 8 PM is good. That being said, the rule of thumb is that one should eat 2 to 3 hours before bed. This in turn gives your stomach ample time to digest the food. You might also want to eat light, clean unprocessed home-made food as much as possible. 

What if you are one of those people who don't have the option to have an early dinner due to work timings or other unavoidable circumstances? As long as you eat smaller portions of less oily food and manage to stay within the calorie limit (ideally between 325-350 calories), things should be just as good. 

And of course, post-dinner snacks are a big no. If there is no way you can keep your post-dinner cravings at bay, then snack on fresh fruit. They are a far better alternative to chips or sugar laden treats. Give this a try and trust me, the scale will budge..!

Indian Judiciary is beyond redemption.

I was asked my opinion on today's Supreme Court verdict declaring the National Judicial Accountability Commission #NJAC Constitutional Amendment Act unconstitutional.

So far as my own opinion is concerned, it matters tweedledum or tweedledee whether we have the Collegium system or #NJAC, as I believe that the Indian judiciary is beyond redemption.

What kind of a judiciary is it which often takes 20-30 years to finally decide a case(including appeal, revision, writ petition etc.)?

There are over 32 million cases pending in the Courts of India and it is estimated that even if no new case is filed it will take 360 years to clear the backlog. People who for some reason get involved in a litigation are weeping and crying because date after date is given but the case is not taken up for hearing.

Is it a judiciary or a joke?

I may only mention some facts about my parent High Court at Allahabad.

1. Criminal appeals filed in the High Court in 1985 are now coming up for hearing, that is, after 30 years. Similar is the position of civil appeals.Is this a High Court or a joke ?

2. The list of most benches is hardly touched, and only fresh matters taken up. This means that if on the first hearing of a case it is adjourned for some reason ( e.g. a counter affidavit is called for by the Court ) the case will thereafter never come up for hearing unless a heavy bribe, often of thousands of rupees, is paid in the registry to the concerned official. And even then, the case is very unlikely to be heard as in most benches the list of the court is rarely touched.

3. There is a senior judge who presides over a bench hearing writ petitions. He reportedly disposes off 150 cases or more a day, but without opening the file, and by simply saying, with half closed eyes " Suit, suit " ( i.e. go and file a suit, which in crude language means go to hell, because sending someone to a suit is like sending him to hell, as it will now make him run from pillar to post for 20-30 years or more before the suit and its appeals are finally disposed off )

4. There is a Judge who comes to Court at 11.30 or 12 ( the Allahabad High Court sits at 10 a.m. ), dismisses all listing applications ( i.e. applications praying that some pending case be listed ), and rises whenever he likes.

5. If the hearing of a bail application is adjourned for some reason ( e.g. the govt. counsel wants to file a reply ) one never knows when the bail application will be listed again.In my opinion, it matter little whether we have a Collegium system or the NJAC because the Indian Judiciary is in my opinion beyond redemption.

Similar is the position in many other High Courts.

Apart from the above there is now massive corruption even in the higher Judiciary. While many judges are upright, many others (which may be 50% or even more) are not. The subordinate judiciary is said to be 75% or more corrupt.

Mr. Shanti Bhushan, a very senior lawyer of the Supreme Court and former Union Law Minister filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court a few years back stating that half of the previous 16 CJIs have been corrupt, and he could not certify the integrity of 2 more of them. Even after that affidavit was filed many Chief Justices of India who retired had serious allegations of corruption against them, and there are serious allegations of corruption against the present CJI Dattu. Many of these CJIs, SC and HC judges were those appointed through the Collegium system.

One judge originally from Madras High Court against whom there were very serious allegations of corruption almost made it to the Supreme Court as the SC Collegium unanimously  recommended his name but it was only because of the objections of the Tamil Nadu lawyers who produced documentary proof of his corruption that  this move could not materialize. In fact, a bill for his impeachment was moved in Parliament but it become infructuous when he resigned.

So it makes no difference what system of appointment of judges we have, as the entire judicial system has broken down.

This article appeared in Justice Katju's blog. Posted here with his permission. Follow him on twitter here.

Can I be your friend again?

Look around you my friend.
Look carefully.
Listen my friend.
Listen carefully.
You & I have become enemies.

Did we fight.
Was it a war?

We sold our souls to a crafty few.
They call it Politics.
I call it evil.

We have been divided.
Your caste is pit against mine.
Your creed is pit against mine.
Your religion is pit against mine.

Don't you see what they have done to us?
We don't talk anymore.
We have become rabid.
We fight for them.
We fight for their ideology.
We lay down our lives for the evil few.

Wake up my friend.

Look around you my friend.
Look around carefully.
Forget creeds, castes and religions.
Forget politics.

We have one life on this earth.
Let's try to make the most of it.

Can I be your friend again?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Toddler dies after choking on a grape in a Pizza Hut restaurant.

Most of us are in the habit of packing fruits, especially grapes as snacks for kids to school. But you might want to be extra careful from now.

Image Source - Facebook

A toddler from Hartlepool has died in a hospital five days after choking on a grape in a Pizza Hut outlet. Two year old Jacob Jenkins was put on life support for five days since the heartbreaking incident on Friday.  The little boy had apparently stopped breathing 30 minutes after the grape got lodged in his throat and was in an induced coma till his parents decided to take him off life support. The Pizza Hut restaurant in Hartlepool has reportedly removed grapes from its menu to avoid such horrific incidents in the future. Family members and well wishers from the community gathered in Seaton Carew to release balloons to pay tribute to the little one.

The Title Track of 'Prem Ratan Dhan Payo' is a visual treat

So, have you heard? Have you seen the title track of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo? It's an absolute colour fest, a riot of colours and brings in some fondly cherished memories of the Sooraj-Salman duo's evergreen musical blockbusters like Maine Pyar Kiya (1989), Hum Aapke Hain Kaun..! (1994) and Hum Saath-Saath Hain (1999). We are looking forward to some melodious music by Himesh Reshammiya, magnificiently ravishing sets and lots of romance with Salman and the stunning Sonam Kapoor as the sizzling lead pair. And, lets not forget the eye popping exuberance, grandeur and opulence of India's elite, set against the very colourful Rajasthani backdrop. The result could be pure magic, a treat for the eyes! The cast will also include Neil Nitin Mukesh, Anupam Kher, Swara Bhaskar, Deepak Dobriyal, Armaan Kohli among other renowned names from the industry. The movie is scheduled to hit the theatres this Diwali on November 12. Expectations are soaring high with Salman's Bajrangi Bhaijaan already being a phenomenal hit this year. The theatrical trailer of the film which was released on 1st October 2015 on social media websites received over 6 million views within 3 days. Girls, watch out for some exquisite sarees, lehengas and jewellery worn by the female actors! Will Salman deliver yet another mega box-office hit? We can't wait to find out! 

Here's the title track from the movie.

Credits: Rajshri Productions YouTube channel

Top Google Searches in Syria.

The top google searches indicate the desperation of Syrians to take refuge in European countries as the situation deteriorates in the war-torn country. The Syrians have been searching online to seek answers about how to escape from their homeland to safer pastures despite their bleak chances of survival while undertaking unimaginably treacherous risks. The most popular searches were about how to reach Germany and other parts of Europe. "Immigration to Germany" and "Asylum in Germany" were the most popular search terms. People have also been searching about nearby hospitals, about treating burns at home and even how to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The YouTube video by AJ+ indicates the murky road that lies ahead of the Syrians and the Syrian refugees. 

Here's the link to the YouTube video

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Every day is a learning experience in stand-up comedy - Comedian Praveen Kumar

“Every day is a learning experience in stand-up comedy”, says Praveen Kumar, as Krishna Raval probes him for secrets to his success.

Praveen Kumar has been nominated for Forbes Top 100 celebrities in India (2014). He has also been rated as one of the Top 10 stand-up comedians in India by Times of India (2011) and one of the top 10 comics in India to look out for by IBN live (2014).

After he graduated from BITS, he wanted to do something related to comedy and so he got married ;) .He has performed over 900 shows in around 17 cities in India. He has performed with the famous comedians like Kapil Sharma, Vir Das, Papa CJ, and Cyrus Broacha.

Krishna Raval: Let me begin with my heartfelt compliments. I enjoy your work, and admire your courage to follow your dream. Not many can leave the comfort of a steady life to find their calling.
And then the journey from the first act to this point where you are well-known all over the country, you have come a long way, clearly speeding up to reach places.

Praveen Kumar: Thank you.

KR: Thank you for agreeing to indulge in a conversation with us.
PK: It’s absolutely my pleasure.

KR: I am always curious about an artist's inspiration.

My first question is, where do you get your inspiration from? I mean, even while socializing, or having a heart to heart with someone, does the idea already start spinning? Or do you actually make time, sit, mull over things and choose a subject for the next performance?
PK: Great question. I don't usually think about topics to decide what I should work on. I take topics from my personal experience. Mostly disasters and incidents that leave a bad taste. Then one day I just sit and work on the story by adding my own approach to it and converting it into an act that I can perform on stage.

KR: You have an MBA from BITS, Pilani, and had a steady job. You quit everything to pursue your dream. Was it a gradual process? Or was it a spur of the moment 'now or never' kind of a decision?
PK: It was a gradual process. I never thought I will quit my day job when I started comedy. But slowly when I started enjoying it more and more, it gradually led me to pursue it full-time. I just knew that is what I wanted to do, and then it was just a matter of time.

KR: How difficult was it to change your career knowing it will give you satisfaction, but might not fetch a steady income right away? What were the challenges?
PK: I put my papers after I was pretty sure that I will earn at least 75% of my salary through my comedy. I do miss the steady income, but I am very happy with the way comedy is treating me. I know I made the right choice. No regrets at all.

KR: Can you share that one special moment with us which gave you an assurance and the confidence that you made the right decision? Did that moment arrive after a lot of uncertainties and hurdles?

PK: That moment comes every time I get down the stage after a successful show. My mother recently came to one of my shows and she was very happy with it. With all support from my wife, parents and friends, I know I am in the right space.

KR: Who is your best critic? Do you practice your work with someone before your performance?
PK: My wife. She tells her opinion from the audience’s point of view. It definitely helps. I also bounce off my ideas with other comics to get their perception.

KR: Do you have a role model? Are you learning different aspects of your field from someone?
PK: Every day is a learning experience when it comes to stand up. You have tons to learn from everybody. Be it an amateur or a professional.

KR: There are many upcoming artists in your field. Do you think the competition is tough? Do you enjoy a particular comedian's performance?
PK: To the contrary, it is even better if more people work in our field. There will be more shows, and we will be able to reach more people. Personally, I enjoy Sundeep Rao’s and Sanjay Manaktala’s performances.

KR: What is your favorite thing about your job?
PK: The satisfaction of making others laugh.

KR: Do you gauge the reaction of the audience and revise your work again and again? Have you ever been disappointed by a response and learned from the experience?
PK: Yes I have had very bad shows when I started off in 2009. Luckily I didn't get disappointed but worked on my mistakes.

KR: Any parting advice or suggestions for the upcoming artists?
PK: Keep at it. There is no other way of getting better than getting on stage. First you need to get better, then you can look for publicity, and money will follow later.

KR: It was a pleasure talking to you, and we wish even more success for you in the future.
PK: Thank you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

An important Tip before you decide to lose Weight!

Before you make up your mind to embark on a weight loss journey or rather adventure, there are some questions that you need to ask yourself. The answers will ultimately decide the course, as well as determine whether you will succeed in your endeavour or not. So take your diary, dwell on these questions for a while and after some serious contemplation, whenever you are ready answer these questions.

"Why do you want to lose weight?

Are you doing it for yourself?

 Do you really want to lose weight?

Do you have a health concern ?

 What is it that really motivates you?"

If the answers to these questions sound like "My husband wants me to lose weight", "Everybody tells me that I need to lose weight" , "The society expects me to look thin", " I want to look like those models on magazine covers" , "I want to be size-zero" etc. Well then, you are absolutely on the WRONG track. Then you might have to reconsider your intention to lose weight.

On the other hand, if your answers are like " I want to lose weight because I want to be at my fittest best", " I want to look and feel great", " I want to have a healthier relationship with my food", " I want to play outdoors with my son without a care in the world", " I want to age gracefully and keep diseases at bay", "I want to be a role model for my kids and family" etc. then, you are absolutely on the RIGHT track! One has to be self motivated and does not necessarily have to conform to societal compulsions , norms and standards if he/she is happy with his/her physical appearance and body image. If you do not see a problem with yourself and you do not have a medical condition that needs you to lose weight, you should not blindly jump into the bandwagon of weightwatchers. Rather, you might want to slowly start incorporating healthy lifestyle changes into your daily routine. This is more sustainable in the long run.