All posts by Ancy Abraham

Blogger, Author & Editor of Consumer Issues, Nature Lover and Walking Enthusiast. Worked as a magazine assistant editor for a consumer magazine. Writes about lifestyle topics related to health, food, shopping, etc. Writing for LST for the past 6 years.

Migrant workers are not beggars

“Your salary and my monthly earnings are almost the same Mam” Kumar said. As usual I was travelling by chartered bus with my colleagues. And Kumar was incessantly bragging about his rags to riches story. Kumar was the driver of the chartered bus ferrying us from office to home. He was in Delhi for over a decade and now he owned a house and a car which he used as a taxi. He always hinted that he was financially well off than us, the educated class.

Success stories like Kumar’s inspires millions of youngsters from villages to folk to cities to earn their livelihood and eventually fulfil their dreams. The dream of a migrant worker to the cities in India varies from sending some money back home, building a Pucca house in the village, giving good education to kids and to move up the ladder of the society from poor to middle class lifestyle.

A decade ago, while traveling to office, I could see truckloads of families setting foot to the City. With dreams in their eyes, hope and happiness, tiredness of the tedious journey hardly mattered.

The winter mornings were filled with picturesque scenes of mothers preparing rotis on makeshift chulha (Oven) and children sitting around enjoying the warmth of the fire. The smell and smoke of the cooking and huddling of the little ones gave the impression of a village in a city.

Their makeshift shanties were insecure. I asked my friend “why don’t these men come alone, why do they bring their women and children to this unsafe City?” She said “Just like our fathers brought our mothers and us when they migrated to cities, these men also want to be with their family”.

We forget that we are all migrant workerss to the City. Every city dweller is a migrant worker. We are glorified migrants. Two decades, four decades, maybe hundred years ago families came in search of greener pastures and found a firm footing.

Education is what differentiates the glorified migrants from the modern migrant workers in India. According to reports a majority of the migrant workers in the past 10 years are uneducated. Leave alone education, they cannot even read and write.

Million dollar smile. Author: Unknown

Take the example of my maid. She is from a landowning family in her village. There is an air of dignity around her. She and her husband came to this city 30 years ago and now their family consist of 30 members including children, daughters in law and grandchildren. She does not believe is giving schooling for children because she says there will be no dearth of menial jobs in the city. Madams and Sirs in Kothis (bungalows) cannot survive without a train of helpers in the form of drivers, maids, gardeners and so on for which education is not required.

She will prepare dozens of rotis and aloo sabji (potato curry), in the morning, and leave for work. Children will have the rotis until it is over and then they survive on langar, food from the house of employees and Maggi. Take a survey and probably the migrant workers might be the largest customer base of Maggi. Roti and Kapada (food and cloth) they get in plenty from the employees.

What clothing and food to accept was a matter of choice. It was my maid who told me that the bread that I bought mistakenly for wheat bread was actually ginger bread. She knows because one of her other employees buys ginger bread regularly. The migrant workers have got an exposure the sophisticated city lifestyle, that the middle will never get to experience. An office boy once said that if you want an imported winter jacket go and stand shivering on the roadside of Lajpat Nagar. Some rich man will come and give you a Jacket.

Never in their wildest dream did they dream that corona will create a great barrier between them and their employees. The overflow of food items from the employees came to a grinding halt. The migrant workers suddenly realized that they are the have nots. Suddenly the were flushed out of their rented homes like the cockroaches are eliminated with hit spray.

They knew they have something which the we have not. They are land owners back home. Now whenever the migrant workers are interviewed about the food that they got they will say that ‘we are treated like beggars’. Migrant worker got a dignity. If we got an apartment in the city, they got a piece of land in their village. They expect to be treated with dignity.

One reason that only 30,000 migrant workerss returned from Kerala and 2 million are still staying is because of the food. The migrant workers were given food of their choice.

For the migrant workers who are walking towards their homes or those who are travelling by buses or trains, we must be sensitive towards what food we offer them. Give them food that can stay fresh for 3 or 4 days, like lemon rice, masala poori, and pickle. They can be given some energy bars instead of Parle G biscuits. The taste of the energy bar should be favourable to them. It is not what you give, but how you give that matters. Instead of using the situation as a photo op or as an opportunity for charity, support them as a friend or brother.

Let them walk, we cannot stop them from walking. We can help them by making their walks comfortable. Offering them the right kind of food, foot wear and clothing. Just like The Mahatma and the Buddha they are walking towards enlightenment and freedom.

For 52 Days hospital is home for these Angels on earth

The trending hashtag of health worker ‘We stay at work for you, please stay at home for us’ is being literally followed by Aleyamma Philip, a nurse in Bharatpur in Rajasthan. Along with colleague, Rekha Rani, she is staying at her Primary Health Care Centre taking care of those in quarantine.

Since March 22nd, they haven’t gone home 35 km away in Jaipur. Rekha, a mid wife, has two little kids who are being taken care, back home by her parents.

She stayed away from her family so that we remain safe

Aleyamma, a Lady Health Visitor (LHV), identifies every new traveller to Bahaj block in Deeg district, in Bharatpur. So far, 300 have been quarantined in quarantine centres .

She visits them every morning to check on their condition. The health of the locals is also monitored.

Rekha and Aleyamma stay at the PHC and cook their own food. Aleyamma’s two grow up children, are with her husband Joseph in Jaipur. She finds solace in the video calls with her family.

No matter in which part of the world they are these Angels on earth are offering their services much beyond their calls of duty. On this Nurses Day we must spend a few minutes to remember the services of Nurses like Aleyamma.

TERRACE Farming BY an Ex-air force personnel!

George VJ, an Ex-air force personnel, is being featured in LST for the second time. During the 2018 flood, in Mavelikara, Kerala, he moved the furniture and household goods, on a war footing, before flood entered the house. We published a video on his commendable survival techniques.

He is the Assistant General Manager (Academics). TUV Rheinland NIFE Academy Pvt Ltd, and his wife is a teacher.

How long have you been farming at home?

I have been farming since 2012.

Cabbage farming

Do you do only home terrace farming?

Terrace farming was the beginning, now, in the lockdown,  extended farming to front and back yard also.

Wick irrigation; requires watering only once in two days

In total how much space is used for cultivation ?

In terrace around 350 Sq feet, and the extension on front and back yard is around  1000 Sq feet area.

Cucumber

What are the methods of planting- sacks, soil, pot, or any other method?

In the terrace planting is done in grow bags  and pots. I use empty cement bags in place of grow bags, which is available at free of cost. (One grow bag in market is costing Rs 18 to 25 as per size.)

Root vegetables

What all do you grow?

I grow Tomato, Eggplant, Okra, Beans, Cucumber, Green chilly, Bitter Gourd, Red Amaranth,  Ginger, Turmeric, Banana and Papaya.  In addition there is a small poultry farm only to meet the requirement of egg at home. 

George is able to meet the green vegetable requirement of three families

Do you buy food items from outside ?

Other than green vegetables I buy all other food items.

Front yard farm

What fertilizer do you use?

Cow dung, bone powder, fish amino acid and waste items are used as fertilizers.

Cabbage

Why do you farm?

I started as a hobby to get refreshing mind , now the produce meets a good portion of food (vegetable) requirement for my family. Further it  gives a sort of satisfaction while sharing the surplus items to needy poor people of neighborhood.

Vertical garden

How much time do you spend for farming daily?

I spent average 1.30 to 2 hour/day. When I am out of station, my wife, a busy school teacher and home manager, takes care of the plants.

Tomato

Is farming profitable for you?

More than to say YES, the return in the form of feeling joy and satisfaction cannot be counted in terms on money value.

Ivy gourd

Some say that home terrace farming harms the house? What do you think?

Necessary precautions are taken so that there will be no harm to the terrace.  The grow bags is not directly placed over the terrace, it is placed over brick or an 6 inch high support. So the water oozing from the grow bag  will evaporate soon. Enough gap is maintained between the bag and surface of terrace.

Red amaranth

What are your future plans?

At present my spare time is extended to the maximum . In future, once I am fully available at home,  I will expand the farming to available land. Present poultry will be expanded. An Aqua farm is also in the pipeline to meet requirement at home.

Lawn

How has lockdown helped in farming?

Extending farming to front and back yard was possible due to extra time available due to lockdown.

Wax Apple

The previous feature about George

His residence is on the banks of the Achankovil river. He also took pictures of the preparation post-flood; and the relief and cleaning activities after the flood. With his military training and experience, he could help not only his family but also many others.

He was actively involved in the relief works. well admired by colleagues and friends for his meticulous planning, vision and dedication to execute any work with perfection. Watch the video.

Meet the Bean to bar chocolatier couple in India

Apart from the milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or homemade chocolate, another range of chocolate is slowly gaining a loyal group of customers in India. Know as the bean-to-bar chocolate you might have seen them displayed at events, fairs and malls.

Coincidentally, two weeks ago I came in touch with a chocolatier couple based in Chennai, L Nitin Chordia, and Poonam Chordia. They started Kocoatrait the only zero waste and sustainable bean to bar chocolate brand in the world.

They are the first certified male and female chocolate tasters in India. In addition, they own Cocoatrait, a consultancy firm for chocolates, and Cocoashala, an education, and training institute for chocolates.

Nitin and Poonam are part of the bean to bar revolution that is happening world over and particularly in India. In a bean to bar chocolate making the entire process from procuring the cocoa seed onwards is done by the same manufacturer in small batches.

In a bean to bar chocolate we know exactly where the seeds come from. For Kocoatrait, they procure cocao seeds from Kerala and Karnataka.

Like in wine making, the terroir of the chocolate is important. Climate, soil, terrain, of planting Theobroma Cocao influences the flavour of the chocolates.

Poonam the creator of Kocoatrait brand incorporated a number of local and indigenous ingredients in the 12 vegan chocolate varieties. Lemongrass, sukku coffee, lavender, coconut, banana, masala chai and red rose are some of the exclusive chocolate flavours. The rose petals are sourced from Rajasthan, Jaggery from UP thus keeping the production of the chocolates local and sustainable.

Kocoatrait chocolates are all vegan and free of vegetable fat or oil. And to keep the chocolates sugar-free natural sweeteners like Jaggery and coconut sugar are used.

The cocao seed processing to the final packaging iof the chocoate is done in small batches with lots of dedication, hardwork and passion. Every process is ensured to be sustainable, local causing the least harm to the environment.

The couple run the wet table top grinder for 24 hours continuously to bring out the natural flavour of the cocoa. And the chocolates are wrapped using packaging materials made from reclaimed cotton and coconut husk.

I had a online interview with Nitin Chordia who talked about their brand of bean to bar chocolates and about the benefits of consuming chocolates. The interview was an eye opener about the benefits of consuming dark chocolates. Nitin also tells how to develop a taste for dark chocolates which is good for health.

About Bean to Bar Chocolates

What is bean to bar chocolate making? How prevalent it is in India?

Bean to bar chocolate making involves making pure chocolate starting from cocoa beans without substituting the fat, which is cocoa butter in this case. This is a new wave globally in chocolate making and India is not left behind.

It involves making specialized and pure chocolate in small batches. We have 5 successful Bean to bar chocolate makers in India and I had earlier predicted 40 such Bean to bar makers by the end of 2020. 

Bean to bar chocolate is seldom imported.

Milk vs Dark Chocolates

What is the difference between milk chocolate and dark chocolate?

As the name suggests if there is milk in a chocolate recipe, then it is referred to as milk chocolate. Milk chocolate usually has a very less percentage (less than 20%) of cocoa and is dominated by sugar and milk.

When chocolate is made without milk and has a higher cocoa percentage it is called dark chocolate. One must be very careful and note that the milk should not be substituted by sugar and hence of 50%, dark chocolate makes no sense. Most of the balance of 50% is sugar! 

Comparing Bean to bar chocolates with dark or milk chocolate categories is like comparing oranges and apples. They are not the same.

What is the rate of consumption of milk and dark chocolates in India?

As of today, predictably so, milk chocolates form most the market. Dark chocolate is a category that is currently very small but promising huge growth opportunities.

Particularly after the pandemic, we have noticed more people understand the benefits of dark chocolates. We are in no way implying that the entire country will start consuming dark chocolates going forward. 

Are dark chocolates healthy?

Not all dark chocolates are equal. Dark chocolates above 65% are considered healthier when they are made without adding any other vegetable oils or milk.

When milk is added to chocolate, our body’s ability to absorb the antioxidants that exist in cocoa is nullified. In my opinion, a freshly made Indian sweet is better to consume than 50% dark chocolate.

In our earlier research, we figured out that any Indian sweet has a maximum of 36% sugar content whereas a 50% dark chocolate would mean 50% sugar content! This is alarming! Hence we cannot say that all dark chocolates are healthy. 

We Indians have a sweet tooth, how do we eat dark chocolate which is bitter?

While Indians have a sweet tooth, we also like beverages like beer wine and coffee. We must also note that in India we do not know to differentiate between a sugar craving and chocolate craving.

Also, it is a myth that all dark chocolates are bitter. The bitterness depends on the quality of cocoa beans used while making chocolate. Lower quality cocoa beans are usually bitter and hence are cheaper.

During my early days as a chocolate taster, I have tasted and enjoyed 100% dark chocolate made without any sugar and was still able to quite easily enjoy it. I enjoy 100% dark chocolate quite regularly these days.

We must also note that much like wine beer and espresso coffee one needs to develop a taste for dark chocolates also. With more education, people will start appreciating the flavour nuances in dark chocolate just like how they do in the case of wine and coffee.

Is there difference between Indian and international dark chocolates?

This is not a straight forward question to answer. However to put it simply most of the international dark chocolates being imported are commercially made and mass-produced chocolates.

Most of the available dark chocolates in India are also mass-produced.

However, if you have to choose between mass-produced Indian and imported dark chocolates, I would have to say that imported dark chocolates are perhaps a better buy (produce wise and not necessarily value-wise) simply because of the strict Ingredient laws that govern chocolate production internationally.

We must also remember that we are paying a much higher price for imported chocolate (3 times more than the price it is sold in retail in the country of production) simply because a majority of the price constitutes import duties and transportation costs. Hence you are not actually paying the entire price for the product. 

Sustainable Chocolate Making

What is sustainable or zero waste chocolate making? 

Chocolate making where, every aspect of a business including sourcing of raw materials, use and reuse of existing resources and packaging material which is safe and good for the environment Give while taking and not to create landfills is our definition of sustainable and zero waste.

How you have made your brand Indian, traditional and eco friendly?

Almost all the ingredients that we use in our products are made in India and are organic. We use traditional stone grinding to refine our chocolates which help us retain flavour.

We use the most energy-efficient machinery to produce Kocoatrait chocolates. They may not be cost-efficient processes and equipment but the intention is to be eco-friendly and hence we make our choices a specific way. Last but not the least, our packaging is zero waste and that completes our offering.

What is the cocoa husk packaging that you use to wrap the chocolates?

While creating Kocoatrait as the world’s 1st truly zero-waste, sustainable, and eco-friendly chocolate, we were clear that we have to start from the outside. The wrapper needed the most attention because, like potato crisps, the packaging of chocolates have always been seen in a negative light towards the impact of it on the landfills and oceans.

What we decided to do was to work with reclaimed waste cotton from garment factories and Cocoa husks that we generate during a roasting process. We put them together and make a material that is upcycled, completely paper-free, plastic-free, tree-free, compostable, biodegradable, and recyclable.

This is the first and only such wrapping material used by a chocolate brand. Until March 2020 we have helped save 50 kgs of single-use plastic chocolate wrappers from entering landfills and the ocean. 

How lucrative is chocolate making business in India?

The mass-produced chocolate business will continue to behave like an FMCG offering with pressures on sourcing and margins. As far as Bean to bar chocolate industry is concerned, we see very high profitability, the ability to start small and very attractive ROI

Can a rubber or coffee planter make more income from cocoa plantation?

An existing rubber or coffee planter can usually add cocoa as an additional crop within the same farm. However, we must remember that cocoa has a long gestation period.

When the planter starts selling cocoa, it certainly gives him the luxury of a balanced income. Every crop whether it is rubber, coffee, or cocoa behaves like a commodity and has the same uncertainty. 

Ferro Rocher, Toblerone, a box of Quality Street Chocolate, Snickers, Galaxy, and Mars are some of my favourite imported chocolates. Are they milk or dark chocolates? Should I eat or not eat them?

All the above-listed products are milk chocolates. whether you should eat them or not depends on the purpose or intent of the value to be derived.

Broadly speaking, if you are up for some indulgence and a sugar rush, all the above will fit your bill and you could consume them. People usually consume dark chocolates with the aim of lower sugar intake and the health aspects (antioxidants) which they could benefit from. 

the day I stopped google search for health symptoms

In this past one week, you might have searched Google, at least once, for the term Coronavirus. Not just Coronavirus, but a few other words along with it like symptoms, remedies, and prevention. This is fine.

However, there are times you Google specifically for symptoms like coronavirus headache, coronavirus inflammation, coronavirus cancer…and so on. This is where I want to share the importance of E-A-T algorithm introduced by Google in 2018. I will explain later about EAT and the Medic Updates of August 2018. First I would like to share a story.

My Story

The story begins in 2014 long before Google introduced E-A-T in SEO. I got admitted, for one month, to get ayurvedic treatment for arthritis. There were symptoms of arthritis for a year hence I was on medication.

Arthritis is a relatively harmless condition unlike deadly diseases like Cancer – that is what my family believed. That was because there were no hereditary cases of severe arthritis in my family.

According to the ayurvedic doctor, there are about 5000 variations of arthritis. Furthermore, the ancient Sanskrit texts on Ayurveda say that a doctor cannot claim to completely cure four diseases, out of which arthritis is the foremost.

Only when my health condition got out of control did I decide to undergo proper ayurvedic treatment. There were excruciating pain and trouble in walking.

Ayurveda is a holistic treatment; therefore as the treatment began there was more pain and inflammation. Furthermore, for the first in my life, I came to know how functional every part of my body was. The situation is like taking the car for servicing and the mechanic finds a number of faults with the car, which you had never imagined.

Every day I used to clear all my queries with the doctors. Some replies were unsatisfactory. There were too many queries. Besides you cannot pester a doctor with ludicrous queries.

Therefore, to get more information I searched Google. The disease crippled and brought to a halt my speedy lifestyle. I had scores of queries for Google.

I was searching Google for arthritis and life span, arthritis and cancer, arthritis and degeneration, arthritis and deformation, arthritis and gingivitis. There were search results for every query. In case the answer was no satisfactory I would modify the question until I got satisfactory answers.

There were stories of many arthritis patients – a young lady in her twenties, a mother with three kids and a single mother with two grown-up children – all depended on their family to fulfill their daily routines. There were no positive motivational stories.

After reading all the articles I thought I was either going to die or remain bedridden forever. Thinking about my kids’ future, one night I was in a frenzy and loss of breath.

The next day Doctor told me that Rheumatic Arthritis is reversible. He showed me two of his staff who came there crippled with Rheumatoid Arthritis, now they were free of the disabilities and working like others.

Then I went to my room and searched Google for Arthritis reversal. There were many articles and inspiring stories on arthritis reversal. Those stories gave me the motivation to approach arthritis positively and to expect a recovery very soon, On a positive note, that day I stopped searching for health queries regarding arthritis.

That day…..

That day I got the answer for the query for my cardinal question ‘Can I live a normal life once again’? Five years after the severe arthritis attack, I now live a normal life. Like the doctor said arthritis is not completely curable. By following certain food and lifestyle changes, the disease has come under control.

Google Search and Coronavirus

At this time when Covid-19 is spreading, faster and wider than wildfire, I would like to tell you how to make good use of the August 1, 2018 Medic update introduced by Google. To ensure quality content in sensitive topics like health and money google brought in the EAT ( Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness ) algorithm.

To be ranked high on google, the author of the post must be able to establish  Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness about the topic. Now the question is how can a reader understand the EAT of the post that he or she is reading.

Here is how you can decide on the EAT of the post:

The Bio of the Author

Medical News Today

When you read a health post check the credentials of the author. In the above example, the claims of the author have been reviewed and verified by a Doctor. That gives authority and trust to the post.

Read the comments

The comments of the readers are very important in asserting the trustworthiness of a post. In the above comments, the readers are doubtful about the genuineness of the post. In such cases, the author’s replies are very important.

Medical claims backed by science

Every medical claim that the author makes must be backed by science. In the above example, the author quotes from WHO. The quotes make the article authoritative and trustworthy.

Tips on how to search google for health topics from my personal experience

Listen to the Doctor

Some doctors have put posters outside their consultation rooms asking the patients to leave their google knowledge outside.

Listening to the doctor with an open mind is very important. A doctor gets his medical degree after years of hard work. They are those multitalented, studious, disciplined classmates who chose medicine as a profession with a passion to serve humanity. They have to clear tough exams to qualify for medical studies.

Listening and following what the doctor says is very important. Google can provide additional information and clarity about the disease. What a doctor says about your health condition and what you think about your health issue may be entirely different. The doctor is always right. There should be mutual trust between the doctor and the patient to get proper healing.

From my personal experience, I understand that we end up with the wrong information when we search for health issues we feel we are suffering from. For instance, now you are doubtful whether you got COVID-19 because of an irritation in the throat. The search results for your queries on COVID-19 and throat irritation might either give you jitter or false hope.

Yesterday a Volgger apologized for spreading false information on Coronavirus. She had said in her vlog to drink hot water so that coronavirus goes from the throat to the stomach and thus dies. Now she says her claims were a mistake.

I would say that you should not overdo google search. Google for Coronavirus symptoms or Coronavirus Cure and the top search results are from the renowned health organization from the world over. Trust what they say.

Search for the disease, not symptoms

You must search for a specific disease like Coronavirus. Then you get the proper search results. If you search for symptoms, you get confusing search results. If you google ‘cold, cough, sneezing’, then these are the symptoms for the common cold, flu, coronavirus and even cancer. Weight loss is a symptom of cancer, liver disorders, and many other diseases. Therefore you should google for disease in general instead of symptoms in particular.

Top Search results are most credible

According to Marie Haynes, a renowned SEO consultant, the top three Google search results have a Wikipedia page. Which means those are from credible sources that have Expertise Authority and Trust.

PS: This post was written with an intention to give a proper direction to everyone who searches about Coronavirus. Maintain social distancing, wash your hands always and stay safe until coronavirus in contained.

Meet women fashion entrepreneurs in India

The Indian fashion industry is one place where you can find a number of women entrepreneurs. Through their creations, they nurture some of the subtle aspects of nature, culture, tradition, and environment. A woman knows best how to bring out the best in her creations. She knows how to protect and give a breath of new life to those things from the bosom of mother nature that are on the verge of extinction.

Sustainability is the watchword these days. Creating products that are sustainable is not just trendy, it is the need of the hour. Climate change and the environment depletion make us all sit up and think about what we can do to save mother earth as we know her. These women fashion entrepreneurs are on the path of sustainability.

Here are interviews with a few women fashion entrepreneurs in India, who have carved a niche for themselves in the field of fashion and sustainability.

Rebecca Reubens

Rebecca Reubens

Dr. Rebecca Reubens core expertise is for bamboo and rattan. She is the founder of Rhizome, a multidisciplinary sustainability design studio. She is a world bamboo ambassador for the World Bamboo Organization. A trained industrial designer from the National Institute of Design, India, she focuses her creations on design, craft, and sustainability. She is associates with multi-governmental institutions, governments, NGOs, SMEs, and communities in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Rebecca is the author of the book, ‘Bamboo: From Green Design to Sustainable Design‘.

Here is an interview with her, where she talks about sustainability, her journey so far and her experience of being a woman entrepreneur:

About her enterprise

Tell us something about Rhizome, India’s first multidisciplinary sustainability studio?

Design impacts sustainability because it orchestrates how materials are harvested, produced, used and disposed. The question is only whether you want to take accountability for these design decisions and their impact on sustainability. Rhizome, since its inception in 2009 does commit to doing this. We go beyond the environmental aspects, and also consider the social, economic and cultural aspects which influence sustainability. 

What can we expect to gain by visiting your studio?

Bright minds hard at work and good design! 

Who can visit?

Anyone and everyone

Journey So far

From your student days at NIFT, how has your journey been so far?

Exciting, and always growing larger and yet quieter. The scope and understanding of what all impacts design and needs to be considered while designing has expanded exponentially, whereas, the ego has become smaller. 

About Sustainability

Why have you chosen bamboo and sustainability?

I chose bamboo because of sustainability. Bamboo is one of the most sustainable materials known to man and needs to be leveraged for sustainability. While I don’t only work with bamboo – I work with other sustainable materials as well. Bamboo is my material of choice because I have been working with it for almost two decades now. I began my bamboo journey as a student at NID, then as a part of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan, and finally through my own practice.

What are your future ventures, especially at this time when a sustainable lifestyle is become a necessity due to compelling environmental reasons?

We have a new brand of sustainable jewelry called Baka. We are moving also into the fashion space. 

Fashion Tips

How can the college-going youngster and the young office going population adapt bamboos and sustainability in their lifestyle?

Buy less, and what you buy, buy sustainably. Read and keep yourself informed. Check up on tall claims and beware of greenwashing. Pick the real ones – we all know who they are – and buy things that are classic and will last you longer. Buy into experiences rather than ‘stuff’. Look at alternate service models rather than ‘stuff’ – take public transport or an Ola instead of buying a car.

How can the common people, especially the college-going and the office going people make the best use of your creative collection?

Our collections are extremely practical and competitive in terms of price and performance. They are a good design. So its really simple – buy them, use them, don’t throw them away. Get a piece customized from us – we want you to love what you own and keep it forever. 

As a successful woman entrepreneur, how was your journey so far?

It was possible only because of support from my family and friends. Cultivate a strong network – this is what will catch you when you jump into the universe with eyes wide open. 

Women’s Day Message

It would be super if there was no women’s day – because gender equality existed. Unfortunately, it does not. Some of us are more privileged than others – we need to speak up and be the voices of those who cannot speak for themselves. Fight for equality – quietly and loudly – make sure you are heard and seen if you are privileged. Be the change you want to see.

Rebecca Reubens

Medha Khosla

Medha Khosla

Medha is the founder of the designer brand Anomaly, that focuses on workwear wardrobes. The clothes are designed for Indian professionals and designed using natural Indian textiles. She was educated at the prestigious Pratt Institute of Brooklyn, New York. Armed with the skills, expertise, and exposure of working and studying in New York for ten years, she returned to India. Anomaly has become well-known within a span of four years since its inception.

About her enterprise

Tell us something about your brand “Anomaly’?

ANOMALY is a premium clothing brand specializing in high-quality essentials for men and women. We are a brand born out of dislike for excess, desire for subtle detail and clean design. We create classic, everyday staples crafted from natural, Indian textiles. 

Journey So far

Tell us about your journey so far?

It’s been a rewarding and challenging journey at the same time. Being a first-generation entrepreneur and never having worked in India before, I’ve faced many difficulties in setting up our studio and workshop. Finding the right team is an ongoing work in progress. I have had to fight many battles in order to execute my vision and goals for Anomaly. But, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else as I continue to grow and meet incredible people along the way!

As a successful woman entrepreneur, how was your journey so far?

Tough, rewarding, full of hurdles and great opportunities at the same time. While it is no doubt difficult to navigate a man’s world in business. It is very inspiring to build a business from the ground up and enrich the lives of our workers and karigars with relevant skills. I have decided to keep going no matter what the challenges because resilience and perseverance are key to continuous success. 

About Sustainability

How are your creations sustainable?

We approach sustainability in a holistic manner from designing smaller collections, using ethical and lean production methods to manufacture based on need/orders. We use only natural textiles like cotton, linens, and silks and ensure each and every textile scrap is upcycled into trimmings, home accessories, and fabrics. Our philosophy is ‘less is more’ and we believe sustainability must be practiced in every aspect of the design, sourcing and manufacturing process. 

What are your future ventures, especially in providing sustainable products?

We are working on building our accessories range into an exclusively sustainable collection of upcycled home goods. Strengthening our business as an ethical production house for other brands and startups is very important to me as I strongly believe our studio has the right skill set for helping other like-minded brands grow. We would like to tie up with bigger companies/corporates to develop a line of sustainable clothing or accessories for them – this would be an incredible step forward for us to execute a shared vision on a larger scale. 

Will sustainable fashion become affordable to the common people?

We need to first identify what affordability means to the average Indian buyer and educate them on why it is better to choose a sustainable garment or textile over synthetics and cheap mass fashion. There is a lack of awareness amongst the average consumer and so they choose to opt for a cheap garment over a well-made, ethically produced and beautifully designed garment. Sustainable fashion cannot be cheap because a lot goes into the development and creation of a garment from the design to sourcing to execution. We need to stop comparing everything to mass fashion and instead focus on why sustainability is more valuable and imperative in today’s world. 

Fashion Tips

How relevant and affordable it is to the college-going and the young office going population?

We focus on elevating classic silhouettes into contemporary garments relevant to a wide audience from 25-65 years. Our styles are not trend-based but designed for everyday wear and all seasons. Our price points are very accessible especially since we only use 100% natural, high-quality textiles to create a superior quality product. We don’t compromise on either and keep our prices very competitive at the same time. 

Now slow fashion and repeating garments are becoming a trend, can you give some fashion tips to the young generation about what factors they have to take into account to look trendy and presentable every day?

Taking care of one’s garments is essential. We recommend choosing the right detergents and hand washing whenever possible for longevity in one’s wardrobe. I recommend finding unique ways to style one’s staples to feel and look presentable. The more we care for our garments, the longer they last and stay relevant. 

Women’s Day Message

Keep breaking barriers and follow your passions. Don’t stop trying and be prepared for failure. Women are holding this world together and this is the time for us to push ourselves to the forefront – be seen and heard.

Medha Khosla

Image Courtesy: Rebecca Reubens and Medha Khosla

10 must-have winter wears for anyone in delhi

Winter is here and the warm clothes are out in the wardrobe. In cities like Delhi, the temperature is unpredictable on a daily basis. The average temperature in Delhi can vary between 6.5 °C and 15 °C .

So if you are staying in North India, and especially in Delhi, throughout the winter season, you must posses a number of winter wears. There are a variety of winter wears and accessories available in the market.

Those who have been staying in Delhi for many years would have collected a number of winter wears during the successive winters. For those who migrated to the city recently, there will be a limited collection of winter wears.

So I chose Myntra products here. The prices range between Rs 250-25000. You can follow the links to the products.

Just like you buy from a shop, you get the option of return, exchange and alteration for the products.

Sweater

There are a variety of sweaters available in the market. Sweaters can be thick or thin depending on the knitting and the quality of the wool.

During the beginning and the end of winter, we disregard the sweater. Be Caution!! You can end up with serious ailments. Buy Sweaters between the range of Rs 700-5000.

Any knitted top is a sweater. A sweater can be known by other names like pullover and jumper.

Cardigan

Cardigans are sweaters which are open in the front. They can either be with buttons or without buttons. A light cardigan is an essential for everyone to protect oneself from health scares during the beginning and end of winter of season. Price ranges from Rs 400 to Rs 10000.

I have chosen H&M brand because their style is new and refreshing. And they are providing a lot of discounts.

Coat

The Coats seem heavy, sophisticated and not affordable. There is even doubts whether coats are required for Indian winters were the temperature hardly goes less than 6 °C .

However it is always advisable to have one coat handy for harsh winters. Buy anyone of the coat types – long sleeve coat, overcoat and trench coat.

While going out, especially in the peek of winter, a coat keeps you warm and comfortable. Winter coats are available from the range of Rs 1500 upto 15000. Buy one coat and it can be a lifelong asset.

In case you are unable to purchase now, you can buy at discount rates during off-season. The fashion of coats do not change every season.

Jacket

DownJacket and Padded jackets are comfortable for travel and official wear. The fleece jacket looks elegant as a casual and an official wear.

Nehru jacket for men is a fashionable as well as a cosy winter wear. Winter wear Jackets are available from the range of Rs 300-25000.

Thermal Wear

Thermal should be on the top of the list for winter shopping. Thermals are inner wears that keeps you warm in winter.

After the cardigan is worn in mild winter, winter wear thermals are used, when temperature goes down, to keep oneself insulated from the piercing winter chills. Thermals are great money savers.

If you have 2-3 pairs (thermal top and thermal bottom), you can survive a winter season without buying much of other winter wears. Prices range between Rs 300-2000.

Shawl & Stole

Shawls and stoles are mentioned together because stoles are used like shawls also. Shawls are one-large piece of cloth used to cover the upper part of the body.

Shawls are available in a variety of fabric that gives varied degree of warmth. However during mild winter a stole can be used like a shawl.

A stole is mostly used round the neck. Stoles are cheaper than shawls, at the same time they look glamorous and trendy.

H&M got winter white stoles. In fact they have winter white collection in almost all sections of winter wear.

There are a variety of stoles that add glamour to any winter wear. Shawls are available from the range of Rs 400-13,000; while stoles are available from Rs 250-4000.

Muffler & Scarf

The functions of all these loose cloths – muffler, scarf, stole and shawl interchange, depending of the fashion sense of the wearer. In the above picture the scarf is worn round the neck, when traditionally it is used to cover the head.

If you know how to carry yourself in the winter attires, then all these wraps add to the fashion quotient.

Cap

A majority of us, Indians, consider wearing caps as not so glamorous. Both men and women would rather bear the brunt of the harsh winter, rather than cover the head properly.

However the bold ones are daring to go bald; and fashionistas are changing hats to remain change. This winter, let us make ourselves look trendy by wearing beanies.

Apart from being the fashionably in thing, a beanie can protect the ear and heads during winter. Prices range from Rs 250-2500.

Gloves

On Christmas eve, there was a party and we were out in the cold for a few hours. I was the only adult wearing a glove, the rest were kids.

After that chilling experience, my friends vouched that they will always carry gloves or mittens in their handbags during winter.

The big learning was that bare hands can make you shiver. And that gloves should not be used just as an official accessory, they can very much be an essential part of casual and party wears.

Socks

When our elders insist us on wearing a socks from the beginning of winter, we consider it as pestering. Truth is if you keep your feet warm, you can avoid major health hazards. If you are still reluctant to wear socks or stockings, you will bear the consequence as you age. Wear at least a shoe-liner. Prices range from Rs 100-2000.

Picture Courtesy: Myntra & Christian Vierig/Getty Images

5 verses from BOOK OF LAMENTATIONS and CLIMATE CHANGE

While reading Lamentations Chapter 5, in the Bible, I felt that if we do not mend our lifestyle now, coming generations will again have to write another book of Lamentation.

In the book of lamentation, prophet Jeremiah laments the destruction of Jerusalem which was caused by the sins of their ancestors. And he prays to God for redemption.

In the present context, climate change is causing destruction of the world bit by bit. More and more resources are being spent on resisting global warming and to protect the environment. Instead of human resource development, now protecting natural resources has become a matter of urgent concern.

With immediate effect, if we do not make amendments in our lifestyle, in the coming days, Climate Change will cause greater destruction in the world. More than what we are witnessing today.

In 2018-19, according to reliable sources, 2400 Indians lost their lives due to extreme weather events. Wildfires destroyed forests in Amazon and California. News reports say that almost all the Koala Habitat could be lost in the Australian bush fire.

Sensing the hardships that they are going to face in the future, kids (students) like Greta are out on the streets asking us, the grownups, to mend our way. They find it unnecessary to study for a tomorrow which wont be there because of Climate Change.

The Book of Lamentation, written 4000 years ago, has Verses of Agony faced by the then generation because of the vices of their ancestors. Those verses resemble the situation our descendants, in the near future, may have to experience if climate change is not dealt with properly.

Some of the verses from Lamentations Chapter 5, that our kids might find relevant, if the climate change is not revoked, are as follows:

# Lam 5: 7 : “Our fathers sinned and are no more, but we bear their iniquities.”

The millennial kids are the ones who are making the above statement, we the adults, those born before 2000 are blamed for the climate crisis. Until a few years back we had lavish consumerism.

We consumed and lived in comfort. Making life easier and finding ways to make our life successful was the ultimate motive of our lives. Yes we were thrifty and irresponsible.

Until our kids grew up to be teens and youths, and they realised that their parents lifestyle cannot be followed. They understood that there need to be radical shift in how we live and treat the environment.

So children like Greta Thunberg asked their parents to sell their additional houses. Plus she took the extreme step to not to fly by air.

# Lam 5:4:”We pay for the water we drink, and our wood comes at a price.”

The climate change is going to effect the food security. Because of the floods and droughts and the global heating, the yield of crop is getting effected.

In the coming days the prices of food are going to increase due to difficulty in production. And the water is going to be a precious commodity.

Now itself many cities are facing crisis for potable water so they are buying water from other places.

#Lam 5:9 :“We get our bread at the risk of our lives, because of the sword in the wilderness.”

Please replace ‘wilderness’ with ‘wildfire’. The farms and vineyards escaped the wildfire this time.

But we need to take steps to prevent such massive wildfires in the future. In India, Our work should be prevent the destruction of crops due to the environment hazards.

#Lam 5:10: “Our skin is hot as an oven, because of the fever of famine.”

If not famine, the rate of global hunger has been increasing according to UN’s FAO ( Food and Agricultural Organisation). A paper presented by FAO warns that the number of hungry people will increase if “countries fail to tackle climate change and build resilience to its unavoidable impacts”.

#Lam 5:21:”Turn us back to you, O Lord, and we will be restored; renew our days as of old.”

In today’s context, the above prayer, is a request to restore earth in all her glory. We can bring back Earth in her clean , green and productivity. We need to have the will power to change.

3 Climate Change repellents

If we do the following steps we can call contribute a bit from our side to resist climate change:

  • Reduce wants
  • Follow a zero waste lifestyle
  • Spare a minute before doing anything to find out how my action is going to effect the environs and the global community.

Change is happening everywhere because of the gravity of the consequence of Climate Change. Media Giant ‘The Guardian’ has redefined their language on reporting climate matters.

They have replaced ‘Climate Change’ with ‘Climate Emergency’. They made a number of other relevant upgrade in style guide so as to communicate clearly about Climate Change with readers.

What is the change that you would bring so that your children do not end up writing a book on lamentations and climate change. Lamenting about you being the reason for the destruction of their environment and habitat? Please comment below about how you will repel climate change.

‘Ullathu kondu onam pole’ (celebrating Onam with whatever available)

There are two proverbs about how Onam is to be celebrated. Ullathu kondu Onam pole which means celebrating Onam with whatever little is available; and Kanam vittum Onam unnanam which means one must celebrate Onam even by selling one’s property.

Onam is a harvest festival celebrated in Kerala. Onam is a time of bountiful.  There is no dearth of food commodities for serving lavish sadhyas (feast) for ten days of Onam. Therefore the term Onam is used to represent abundance. If plenty of dishes are cooked in any house throughout the year then people say ‘for them every day is like Onam’.

Onam is more about food than anything else. What you consume on each day of Onam is almost a ritual. Traditionally after the elaborate cooking on ThiruOnam (second day of Onam), there won’t be any cooking on the next day that is Munam Onam. In some places whatever is left will be consumed as Pazhamkanji (fermented rice gruel) on the fourth day of Onam that is Chadayam.

This year’s Onam for me was the actualization of the first proverb –  an Onam celebrated with whatever was available in the Kitchen

As Onam was in the middle of the week and Kids were in the Middle of their mid-term exam, we couldn’t shop for the Onam sadhya. Besides, our Malayalee uncle who supplies Kerala items at our home every week gave a miss this Onam season. We had decided to have an elaborate Onam sadhya later in the week, but, on Thiruonam day, when people started posting images of their sumptuous sadhyas on WhatsApp and facebook we changed our mind. We decided to prepare a sadhya with whatever ingredients were available in the kitchen (ullathu kondu Onam pole).

There was green gram, split chickpea, jaggery and coconut available. So I prepared green gram stir fry (Payar thoran), fried green gram curry (Payar curry), Chickpea payasam (kadala parippu payasam) and fried coconut chutney.  The accompaniments included tender mango pickle, banana and pappad. And there was ghee to flavour the brown Kerala rice.

The frugality in the number of dishes was because I was confined to the four walls of an apartment is a metropolitan city. Had I been in Kerala, even in the gravest of situation, I could prepare some more vegetable dishes by picking up leaves, roots, stems, fruits and flowers from the edible plants around my house.

If there is plantain tree then I can prepare banana fry or stir fry, Banana flower stir fry and banana stem stir fry.  Two or three taro stems will be enough for a stir fry. One or more of a variety of edible leaves like Veli cheera (sweet leaves), kuppa cheera (amaranth leaves) and chembila (colocasia leaves ) can be easily tossed into a stir fry. According to traditional medical practitioners, most of the leaves around our houses are edible and nutritious, provided they are washed thoroughly.  

Coming back to our Onam in the city this year-  it was a high-protein Onam Sadhya.  Delicious to the core and the banana leaves gave a complete feel to the Onam celebration. There were seven dishes, one-third of the number of dishes normally served for an Onam Sadhya.

Ullathu Kondu Onam Pole
A high-protein Onam

The next day Munam Onam (third day of Onam ) we received a pass for Onam Sadhya at Kerala House. It was one of the best sadhyas I had in my life. I felt like I was attending a typical Hindu wedding in Kerala during my childhood days. I was reminded of another Onam proverb Onam und ariyanam which means Onam can be experienced only by having an Onam sadhya.

Onam Sadhya at Kerala House

The perfect restaurant for an authentic Onam Sadhya in Delhi

We went to Mahabelly for a family dinner on our wedding anniversary. We waited for our turn for one hour outside the restaurant because they are very strict about serving on a first-come-first-served basis. You can either book your table online or book on the spot outside the restaurant.

 If there was any irritation about being made to wait, especially on a wedding anniversary, it was washed down by the unlimited chilled lemon juice that the waiters served to those who waited outside.

Art & Design

Onam Sadhya in Delhi
A perfect blend of the tradition and the modern

Once we went inside, what struck me was that this Restaurant stood apart from all the other Kerala Restaurants that I visited so far. Usually Kerala Restaurants give priority only to food, however, at Mahabelly there is a Kerala ambience because of the art and design of the restaurant. There is a mix of tradition and contemporary in every aspect, right from the name of the restaurant, ‘Mahabelly’.  Mahabali, the legendary king is believed to visit Kerala during Onam.

The Funny Posters

Onam Sadhya in Delhi
The funny posters attract everyone’s attention

The funny posters attract everyone’s attention because they reflect the current demography of Kerala. The bar named ‘Mala Bar’ ostentatiously displays the signboard of a Kerala Toddy Shop. And the washbasin is shaped like an Urali, traditional copper cooking vessel of Kerala.

The customers of Mahabelly are of mixed demography, “We have a mixed group of people coming here and it is not restricted to a single demography as such. We have a lot of Malayalees visiting us who are our bread and butter. Apart from them also have people from the North, the locals from here and also a lot of foreigners.” Says Zachariah Jacob, one of the three partners, of Mahabelly.

The Food

Onam Sadhya in Delhi
Tasty, authentic and attractively served

On that day, we had Kappa, fish curry, Kerala porotta and Chicken roast. The food was tasty, authentic and attractively served. Located in Upscale Delhi, the rates seem reasonable. We all were of the opinion that this is the best Kerala Restaurant in Delhi. I emailed to Zachariah, to allow me to write a review about the restaurant. He invited me to experience an Onam sadhya when there was a shooting going on by Red FM. Mahabelly has got great reviews by almost all leading media houses in India.

So this review is not a sponsored post. This is a usual lifestyletodyanews blog, written to inform and inspire you. Just to inform you that if you want to experience one good Onam sadhya in Delhi, during the Onam season, Mahabelly in Saket, is the right option in Delhi.

Onam Sadhya

Onam Sadhya in Delhi

On September 10th, 11th and 12th Mahabelly restaurant will be exclusively serving authentic Onam Sadhya, during lunch and dinner with ingredients brought directly from Kerala. There will be around 21-25 dishes, including two yummy payasams, served on original banana leaves. The rate is ₹888 per head, which is all-inclusive.

For those who cannot do without non-vegetarian even for an Onam sadhya, there are a few non-vegetarian starters also available.

Kerala Toddy

Onam Sadhya in Delhi

On being asked whether Kerala Toddy is being served, Zachariah said, “We are not serving Kerala toddy. Unfortunately, the licensing rules do not allow us to serve Kerala Toddy here. At the same time, we have a lot of other options, especially southern themed cocktails, which are specially curated for the kind of cuisine we serve.”

So this Onam, if you are in Delhi on September 10th, 11th or 12th, celebrate the visit of our beloved king Mahabali by having an authentic Kerala Sadhya at Mahabelly Saket.

HAPPY ONAM