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Stories and tips to improve lifestyle. Well researched articles about health, food, profession, fitness, green living.

Celebrate eco friendly holi with toxic-free holi colours

holi colours

Holi means the festival of colours, so there is no use preaching to stay away from the colours. It is a well-known fact that the colours of Holi stay on for more than a day, which means some of the colours are getting absorbed into the body. Hence opt for eco friendly Holi colours. Read this post to find out the benefits of vertical farming.

We see a large number of Holi colours in the market which may be toxic in nature, but we are unable to verify if the colours are toxic. So the best option is to buy branded, packed colours like Rangeela that mentions toxic-free colours on the packing.  However, we tend to buy the unbranded colours because they are cheaper and brighter in colours

As the saying goes, ‘look can be deceptive’ – the brighter the colour, the greater the chances of presence of Lead which is a toxic element. There is a number of toxic element that is added to make the colours darker. 

TOXIC ELEMENTS USED IN COLOURS AND HEALTH HAZARDS

“Green colour is obtained from copper sulphate -which may cause allergies in the eye or even temporary blindness.

Purple is obtained from chromium iodide – which may cause bronchial asthma or other forms of allergy.

Silver is obtained from aluminium bromide – a known carcinogenic.

Black is obtained from lead oxide – may cause renal failures or learning disability.

Red is obtained from mercury sulphite – may cause skin cancer or Minamata disease (mental retardation, paralysis, impaired vision…)

Shiny Colours are a result of powdered glass being added to the colours.” – holifestival.org

Not only are the colours harmful to human skins, but also the environment. When the colours go down the drain, the toxic elements mix with the soil, the river and the air polluting the environment, endangering the flora and fauna, and adding toxic content in the vegetables.

Get the colours tested 

If you are unsure of the toxicity of the colours and still want to buy them, test the product in some reputed institutions. One such institution that conducts toxicity tests for colours is NRCLPI (National Referral Centre for Lead Projects in India) in Banglore. “You can courier the sample,” says Mr. Vinay Kumar of NRCLPI. The test will ensure the eco-friendliness of the Holi colour powders.

Holi colours - NRCLPI

 How to prepare Holi colours at home 

Always homemade eco friendly holi colours are the best choices to stay from any kind of malpractices and health hazards. Traditionally many families prepare organic colours at home using kitchen ingredients, leaves, tree barks and flowers that are available around the house. Not only are the raw materials eco-friendly, they have many health benefits too.

  • The yellow colour is naturally available in turmeric to which you can add gramflour to increase the volume.  You can also dry and powder chrysanthemums for the yellow hue.
  • Dried and powdered Henna, Palak and leaves of Gulmohar can give green colour.
  • Rose petals, red hibiscus flower, kumkum can be dried and powdered to get a red colour. Also, redcolour can be obtained from grated and boiled beetroot.
  • Buy dried flowers from the market, soak them overnight to get a saffron colour.
  • The brown colour is found in tea leaves.

Nowadays herbal colours made from extracts of flowers, tree barks and leaves are available in the market. As they do not cause health hazard they are in high demand. Sometimes the herbal holi colours are also scented using essential oils like lemongrass and orange.

Food Fest Delhi confirms Delhiites love Good Food

If we make a comparison of what the Delhiites love more: food or Music; then Delhi can be officially declared as the city of foodies after 50,000 Delhiites turned up for the Food Festival Delhi in Nehru Park. ‘Palate Fest’ was held at the same venue a week after the ‘World Percussion Festival’, around 10,000 viewers came on the three days music fest. While announcement for the percussion fest was made with much fanfare, many days before the festival; there was only one news report of the food fest, in Times of India, on the second on the day of the event. Read about the unusual calmness on during morning walk, the day after diwali. 

I went late in the evening on the second day of the food fest, and the mood was completely different. Previous week the park was filled with music lovers, men with ponytail, bandanas, beads and earrings; women in gowns and western wear entranced in the scintillating performance by world-class percussionists.

Genuinely Gourmets

This week the park was filled with well-heeled, well-traveled Delhiites who were well aware of the cuisines and wines in a different part of the world. The park was systematically divided into various zones like the green zone (vegetarian food) and the red zone (nonvegetarian), and there was a corner for creative food items. That the visitors were true food lovers was obvious because no one worried about the calorie count; more queue was found in front of heavy calorie food in the Red Alert Zone.

By the time I reached I could hear the same reply from the stalls, which first sounded like marketing gimmick -“over”, “Khatam”, “khalas”, “Our most sought after item is over”. However, someone, all the way, from Turkey would not say “the grilled lamp over” just to advertise his product when over 100 customers still lined up in the queue.

Oriental Cuisines
At the Habibi Lebanese Restaurant; the Lebanese chefs, the Arabic ambiance and the ‘hummus’ made one feel like you are in the Gulf countries.
The endless queue in front of the Turkish stall, displaying juicy meat slowly grilled on a skewer with the enticing smell, proved every gourmet desired to taste the authentic food, made by the originators. Gulf expatriates say shawarma is not marinated and grilled properly in India, so I paid four times more than in the roadside stalls to experience the authentic Shewarma, and the taste was awesome!

‘The Toddy Shop’ which served authentic Kerala cuisine was the only Indian cuisine stall I could locate. Again here, there was a long line of customers waiting to have a taste of Kerala food.

Creative Delights
Some creative gastronomy endeavors like the sweet and savory waffle recipes got a huge fan following. By the time, I reached most of the best of waffle combinations were over.

Bakes on there’s (pushcart)
Cakes and bakes of entrepreneurs (mostly women) from in and around Delhi gave a tough competition to the aroma of the grilled and steamed food that filled the air, . The beautifully iced cakes and colorfully wrapped chocolates on decorated ‘thela’ (vegetable pushcart) was a feast to the eye. Cakes and bakes usually is a home-based business with a loyal customer who vouch by the taste, uniqueness and presentation of the products. One bakers brownies gained so much popularity that people were desperately asking for the delicacy. But the brownies were over in an hour so customers were asked to return the next day.

The Food Fest concluded on a high note with the encore more stalls; more cuisines next time. The Food Fest Delhi was a huge success, and the people were ready to shell out any amount of money for tasty and unique food; unlike the music fest where there was no need to spend money. I returned with a new resolution that I am going to buy a ‘waffles maker’ at the earliest.

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White tiger killing Man – questions our civic responsibilities

According to experts and the media, ‘the White tiger killing Man’, tragedy at the Delhi Zoo took the turn for the worse when the onlookers provoked it with sticks and stones. The video clippings captured show for the first few minutes the encounter was just between the two – the curious tiger and the crouched man before it- probably the onlookers were ignorant or confused regarding how to save the man from being attacked. After a while a bystander threw stones and sticks at the tiger thereby provoking the tiger to ultimately attack Maqsood. I tried to find out why the stones and sticks were thrown at the tiger and the answers were right there on the internet. Just google ‘how to survive attack‘ and the first search result of Wikihow says ‘use a large stone or stick to fight and also be aggressive and loud. Unfortunately these defensive techniques proved fatal in Maqsoods case. Read about an unexpected Metro Snag in Delhi in this post.

‘Vijay’ the tiger acted more civilized than human beings on contrary of being a wild beast with killer instincts. When Vijay spotted Maqsood in his territory he did no jump and pounce at him (as we would expect having watched documentaries, films and cartoons about tigers), instead he leisurely walked towards Maqsood and inspected the intruder. He gave Maqsood ample time of 600-900 seconds to save his life. For those who are aware of the defensive techniques, to survive a tiger attack, ten minutes is enough time to save oneself as the incident that happened in Kuala lumpur forest shows where a woman saved her husband from a tiger by hitting it using a soup spoon. Ultimately the blame game will continue, whether the zoo keepers or the victim is responsible for the gory incident.

However zoo visitors in India should refrain from flouting warnings and instructions on the boards. In India we break rules in every sphere of activity but if we interfere with jungle laws, then not mercy petition work out there. Here are a few examples of how visitors to the zoo disobey the instructions on the warning boards:

  • The board say ‘do not feed the monkeys’ –  people feed the monkeys with breads and peanuts
  • The board says ‘do not the shout and disturb the bear’- the visitors hoot and rattle the grill to catch attention of the bear.
  • The board says ‘do not knock on the glass enclosure of snake’ – people knock on the glass disturbing the snakes.

To conclude India as a whole need to practice better civic sense and civic responsibilties which they learn in Moral Science classes in schools. Unfortunately Moral Science is the least important subject allotted in schools with hardly one period allotted in a week. And in most cases other subject utilized this hour to complete their portions. The kids of today can be trained to responsible citizen of tomorrow with high civic values as the witnesses say the White Tiger killing the Man at Delhi Zoo it was a child who first threw the stones and sticks may be based on information it gained from the internet, television or Moral Science Classes.

A tour to Rudraprayag flood hit area

 

Minutes after I switched off the television after watching disturbing pictures of a journalist reporting in shoulder-deep water, and people helplessly waiting for rescue and food, I got a call from a volunteer in Rudraprayag flood hit area –  one of the worst hit districts in the 2013 flood, that this district encounters a less grievous situation in the 2014 flood which drowned the Kashmir valley. In his on the spot report , the reporter who works for rehabilitation of 2013 flood victims, said that the roads for commuting are not flooded while you can see the traces of receding flood waters in long distant locations.

The reporter who traveled to Rudraprayag flood hit area a few months back said he drank the crystal clear waters of the Ganges during his last on the contrary now the furious Ganges flows with a mixture of mud she carries from the mountains far away–Since  the Dhabas and the Lodges on the roadsides of Rudraprayag flood hit area functions on full swing there is no scarcity of food, water or shelter.

However the long haul in commuting on the passable roads eroded by floods, good enough for one just one vehicle to pass through, left the reporter stuck on the road for over two hours.

Yet in the midst the destruction caused by the cloudburst, landslide and flash flood, the reporter can’t stop describing the beauty of the Mountains. He says ” the beauty of the Himalayan mountain dressed in the melting snow can neither be captured in a camera nor described in a few lines.

 

 

Pedestrians reclaim streets on Raahgiri Day

Every Sunday from 6 to 10 AM, the inner circle of  Connaugt Place is reserved only for pedestrians. Putting aside their usual habit of waking up for brunch on Sunday, Delhiites pour is by 6:00 AM on Sundays at Connaught Place. One parent said that her children were so excited about the event that they hardly slept at night. And they reached the venue before 6:00 AM. “I wish that they  had the same enthusiasm to wake up on week days to go to school.” She says. Watch the video ‘Glimpses of Raahgiri” here.

On Raahgiri day streets are  car-free for few hours for pedestrians to enjoy street activities that they miss due to  heavy road traffic and lack of availability of space.  The first Raahgiri Day was on Novermebr 18th , 2013, in Gurgaon,  a Sunday, with around 10000 participants.

The Sundays after that have become time for celebrating street activities in Gurgaon. The number of participants is increasing manifold week after week. In Delhi the first raahgiri Day on July 13th was attended by a crowd of 5000. Meenakshi Lekhi, MP New Delhi Lok Sabha, lead the cycling rally.

Kids arrive with skating kit. As one mother said “At school they have limited space and time to skate. Here they have four hours and as they skate in a circle they can skate without fear of hitting someone. “

Raahgiri has altered the lifestyle of Delhites, they have changed from night owls to morning larks. Despite the huge crowd at the venue, there is peace and no cramming for space. The chirping of birds is audible as the noise pollutants are at standstill for few hours and fresh morning air can be inhaled.

There is nothing like cycling at leisure – hands free from the handle, some times without pedaling, whistling an old Kishore Kumar song, holding the baby on shoulder and riding the cycle. There are many more such cycling fun seen only on Raahgiri Day. “I’m cycling after 20 years” said a 45 year old man with lot of excitement. It was a pleasure to watch girls riding cycles without fear, very few girls ride two-wheeler, let alone cycle now a days in Delhi.

Raahgiri Day is attracting huge crowd as there is something for everyone of all age groups.  Babies as young as 6  month old and eighty year old elderly can be seen enjoying all the activities. In the Drum Jamming Session the young, the middle aged, the elderly, the men, the women, the professionals, the amateurs and the on-lookers were all creating music and dancing to the music. The other activities include yoga, zumba dancing, gym work outs, ……….. In a counter of traffic police, questionnaires for kids were distributed to spread awareness about road safety.

 Why you should go for Raahgiri this Sunday?

  • The venue is easily reachable by metro, bus or car.
  • Apart from the conveyance you do not have to pay for anything else.
  • Cycles are rented free for from Times of India corner after depositing mobile phone as security (NB: cheap phones are not accepted).
  • You can reach home in time for the routine Sunday brunch.
  • Every sunday there is something new and exciting
  • The Raahgiri Day excitement is just catching up, so better make the best use before the event gets more crowded

Raahgiri day is in its salad days, now the crowd consist of people who were craving for the space, time and clean environment.  But in the coming days Raahgiri will alter the lifestyle of majority of Delhiites for sure. This week there was a Raahgiri in Dwarka, Authorities are planning Rahagiri Day at more venues in Delhi.

Enjoy Raahgiri Day coming Sunday, breath some fresh air, take football and cricket equipment and play without fearing of breaking window glasses of someone’s car or home.

 

A Midnight for the Mass



midnight mass

During the festival seasons, the most debated issue in the media and at homes is about the branding of the festivals. As we try to fiercely hold on to the tradition there is fear that the celebrations overtake the spiritual side of the festival. Read this post to find how the Christmas cakes have evolved in three generations of a family.midnight mass
This Christmas season cakes worth crores of rupees were sold in Delhi itself. Cakes, Santa, Star, Christmas tree, are not symbolic to the birth of Jesus in any manner. When ‘x’ is used instead of Christ, to denote Christmas (Xmas), Christ is sometime forgotten. During a Christmas celebration when a compere asked the audience about the meaning of Christmas. A child replied “Birthday of Santa Claus”. After all it was a child, and the child of another faith had come for Christmas celebration – that is something to be Joyful about.
midnight mass
There is Hope! The spirit and fervor of the festival is still alive.
In recent years after the midnight mass when the Christians go home to celebrate, thousands of people of other faiths visit the Churches in Delhi. They attend the prayers inside the church (language is not an issue), light candles and wait patiently for the visit of Santa, who comes with cakes and sweets.
The people in the above pictures are neither members of the that Church nor Christians. They are few of the thousand who come to this Church, every year, on Christmas Day. The prayers the people, from north India, are attending is being conducted mostly in malayalam.

Ancy Abraham

A Delhi Metro Snag Like Never Before!

delhi metro

Delhi metro snag like this on has never happened before in the last five years. During the peak hours, today, Delhi metro was taking three times more time than the original. This was a huge loss for the long distance travelers . There was a student, going to attend an examination. She should have reached the examination center within an hour, however  after one and half hour she was still stuck inside the Delhi metro. Read what the Visitors from the West have to say about Indian food and Cleanliness. 

Never a Delhi metro snag like the one today! 

Most of the commuters got into Delhi metro before peak hours to avoid the rush – and, they got into trouble. There was one old lady who was travelling for the first time and she did not carry a mobile phone. Inside the metro she got separated from her ailing daughter-in-law. I hope she go down safely and met her daughter-in-law at the busiest of all Delhi metro stations ‘Rajiv Chowk’.
 
Working Mother’s faithful companion
The greatest beneficiaries during the peak hours are the working mothers. Juggling between home and office, they have a calculation on the time required to reach office by metro. The metros are costlier compared to taking a monthly pass for DTC Bus (Delhi Transportation Bus); the advantage is speed, punctuality and evasion of traffic congestion. There was a time when commuters used to identify Delhi metro by the time of arrival – the 9:00 AM Delhi metro; the 10:08 AM Delhi metro,……. That’s an old story, now snags of all kind overshadow the good works – once the signalling cable was stolen; another time the metro doors wouldn’t close,…..

Metro Trains changing the image of Delhi

One day a few foreign tourists were heard commenting inside a metro “Delhi metro services seem to very systematic!”. Delhi metro is the symbol of  a emerging, growing India. The only service that you can blindly trust to give proper customer service, value for money and customer satisfaction.  Delhi sustains on this growing network of metros connecting every nook and cranny of the capital, and the non capital regions.
Delhi metro has always overcome trying situation; they can work out a system of informing the regular commuters about the snags. For instance Delhi metro should identify regular commuters using feedback forms or by taking contact number while issuing cards. When there is a snag an SMS can be send!

Ancy Abraham

Saptaparni tree – Sweet Smell; Sweetens Season

The volume of green canopy, covering a large area of land, makes the district park different from the parks in the residential area. The hue and scent of the park changes with the the changing season. In summer the neem trees are bright and full of life. In rainy season the park become greener as the dust from the foliage is washed away by the rain and the grass grows taller. Now the autumn is here and the trees circulate the cool breeze with a tinge of perfume of their flowers. 

I associate the autumn season in Delhi with the ‘Saptaparni’ tree (Alstonia scholaris) also called White Cheesewood, Milkwood Pine, Blackboard Tree and Devil’s Tree. Residential areas have blackboard tree lined on either side of the road. While passing through the roads in the evenings, the cool breeze scented with the strong, sweet smell of the blackboard flowers, soothes the mind. The beautiful smell is a pleasant companion for the festive fervor that is associated with October/November months. 

According to records, the saptaparni was brought from the Himalayas and planted in residential areas in Delhi in the 1940’s. A tree that grows more than 30m in the himalayan forest has a stunted growth in Delhi. 

In some places the saptaparni tree is also known as devil’s tree. There is a superstition that  witches reside on the tree; and the enticing smell is used by the witch to woo passerby’s, so that she can drink their blood.

For me the saptaparni is a natural air freshener that sweetens the atmosphere in the bright and colourful festive season of Diwali and Dusshera. The saptaparni also heralds the coming of the winter season, which is the most favourite season of the year for the delhiites.