Tag Archives: Lifestyle Hacks

Dear Parent, Life Skills dosen’t mean just Leadership skills

Most of my friends told me that they enrolled kids for Life Skills class at the behest of the school teacher. And the rest of them asked me astonishingly, ‘Life Skills! What’s that”.  None of us knows what Life Skills training actually means.

Life Skills are the skills we require to deal with the challenges we face every day in school, office, family, society, etc. There is no specific list of life skills. Depending on your age, work, environment, you require certain life skills to survive and succeed. Any skill that makes us better equipped to effectively carry out our work can be called as Life Skills.

After talking to many parents and Life Skills experts, I find that there is lack of awareness, and confusion, about what to expect from Life Skills Classes. When we send the children for Life Skills classes we expect there will a complete metamorphosis and our kid evolves to become a smart Leader; a leader, who always comes first and outsmarts everyone around them.

We want the kid to be an all-rounder both are academic and co-curricular. We rate the kid and compare them with other bright students to find out what else is required to perfect our kid’s future. We involve the kid in different activities to make them perfect -music, dance, song, sport, abacus, cookery, personality development classes.

In the recently released movie ‘Martian’, an astronaut was accidentally left behind in mars. He grows potatoes, to survive, using the skills he acquired during his training as a Botanist. He survives and comes back to earth.  We cannot train our kids to grow potatoes in space, at least we can equip them to expect the unexpected in life.

We learn many of the problem solving and thinking life skills from our family like computer operation, cooking, tying a shoelace, etc. As kids grow up they require various skills to survive in the schools, university, family, office, etc. They have to sharpen their study skills, negotiation skills, presentation skills, time management skills, organising skills, conflict resolution skills, problem-solving skills, etc. These and many other life skills are acquired through life skills training.

Why are life skills important?

The changing global economic scenario and advancement in technology has greatly impacted the education system, workplace environment and lifestyle.  The modern-day students need to acquire new skills to equip themselves to deal with the stress and pressure. They need to be flexible and learn to work under pressure as they will have to do many different and new kinds of jobs in their lifetime. Life skills are not only beneficial to the individual but also the workplace and the community.

How the community gains?

Today’s world has become a single entity.  Life skills help to communicate as easily with the international counterparts as they do with their native friends. They gain the skills to respect and adjust with diverse cultures and develop negotiation skills.

How the individual gains?

As an individual, they learn to take responsibilities. They also gain out of the box thinking and problem-solving skills. They shed the inhibition to speak and learn to work as a team.

Career Gains

Employers not only look for academic excellence but also other skills like people and time management skills. The employers search for candidates who can understand the business environment and adapt to different roles.

Most parents are dissatisfied with the outcome of Life skills training. There is certainly a communication gap between the life skills training classes and the expectation of the parents. Only an expert can provide an answer.

Once a parent told about her ward like this: “My son was very bright from childhood and scored 100 percentile in every subject. He was good at elocution and essay writing. But in college, he performed badly. He blamed me saying I destroyed his childhood by not allowing him to play with other kids”.

Bringing up kids is not an easy job anymore. Our experiments on kids can cost them their career. It is always advisable to consult an expert. If you have any queries or doubts regarding life skills please write to ancy@lifestyletodaynews.com. A seasoned life skills trainer, who gives training in renowned universities in the U.K. will provide the answers.

Lessons I learnt from my psychologist Uncle

On the world mental health day I would like to dedicate this post to a  Psychologist, about whom  I know more than I know about mental diseases and mental patients. The Doctor is my uncle, my grand uncle’s son. I call him ‘Appachan’. I don’t have enough material to write an autobiography about him, as I meet him only during some family functions or while paying a flying visit to his home. I know more about his father (my grandfathers brother) who died few months before I was born.

Appachan, the only child of his parent, left home at the at age of 18 to carve a niche for himself. He is 14 years older than my father (Papa). Grand Uncle, my father and siblings affectionately call him ‘Papa-Appachan’, now only had his younger brothers kids to shower his love and nurturing. The cumulative effect of the nurturing is that my father and his siblings quote papa-appachan’s jokes and sayings in every conversation. His jokes and saying shaped their thinking even in their grown up days. I grew up listening to Papa-appachan jokes and in my grown up days I find that those jokes can be applied to solve everyday problem.

Appachan is a celebrity in Kerala. In fact he is the most famous person in our family, so every relative likes to use his popularity to earn a higher standing in the social circuit.  There is one person in our family who introduces himself as “myself, cousin of Dr…………..”. Family relations are like that. No wonder the proverb goes ‘Blood is stronger than water’.

Since my fathers and mother have many siblings, when I used to go to Kerala for vacations I only had time to catch up with my immediate cousins. So I never knew about this uncle. One day, when I was in my teens, papa excitedly spread that days newspaper before me. The page had the pictures of all the contestants for assembly election. He asked me to spot a familiar face. I couldn’t. Then he pointed at Appachan’s picture and proudly said that he was his cousin. I think that was the day our big extended family unofficially anointed him as the family icon.

There are many doctors who give up their profession to become celebrities in music, film and sports. Appachan is unique – though he donned many hats, he remained true to his calling. In movies he acted as Psychologist; he wrote columns in magazines,as a psychologist, answering queries of readers.I can hardly think of any other doctor whom even the children consider as role model. Malayalees above 35+ know him as a famous Psychologist, Columnist, Cartoonist, Humorist, Author, Political aspirant, Actor, etc.  It is very simple to describe his physical appearance – with his tall figure and goatee beard he resembles the former Prime Minister of India, I. K. Gujral.

He was much ahead of his time. A self-learned man, as a youngster he applied on himself many of the tips that we learn today during leadership training.  We are told in career counselling classes to write down our short term and long term goals. Appachan says that in his younger days, he wrote in a diary, ‘Dr……….., Psychologist’. After five decades he discovered the diary in his ancestral home.

He is a wonderful writer, he was the first to write about Sex related issues in Kerala. He says as a novice when he met an editor of a famous magazine, the editor asked to write an instant essay. When the editor saw the essay, he was amazed, he asked Appachan “where from did you get this amazing writing skill”.  Using his amazing writing skills, and psychological expertise he answered the complicated queries of reader in simple words. He became a household name for providing answers to complicated relationship issues, at a time when discussing such issues were a taboo. A story goes that he was called to give a message at a gathering but as his talks were seen as too explicit for the audience he was interrupted in the middle. Nowadays speaking about human relations in no more a taboo.

When someone grows in stature – fame and money, the relatives and friends usually complain about their arrogance. Not in the case of Appachan. All his relatives are aware of the unwritten rules and etiquette that we are to follow at his home. Appachan will be always busy with consultation in the upper floor of his house. When we call on hims, after sharing pleasantries with the other member of the house, we patiently wait for him. After finishing the consultation he comes and spends a few minute with us and ends the conversation with an invitation: if we are ready to wait for the lunch to be prepared we can have, or if we are in a hurry we can leave.

He is down to earth and lives is a simple house. When we visited Appachan’s house for the first time after our marriage,  my husband told me that being a celebrity he expected appachan to be staying is a palatial bungalow. A normal two storied home cum counseling centre also serves as space to unleash his creativity. Before meeting him, I heard a lot about the wash basin in his house where the tap was shaped like an Elephant Trunk. So on my first visit to his house I eagerly awaited to see  two thing- a celebrity uncle and his famous wash basin.

He is not taken aback by false propaganda as is proven by a review about him in a consumer forum. When you google his name, one of the first result that shows is “Dr…………….The worst psychologist”. More than the review, the responses made to the post are more convincing. One person commented “Dr …….. is a good person and lives a simple life. Where others would have made money, his life is still very simple. You can check it out for yourself, just visit his home.”

Now he is 80+ and age has taken toll on his health. Psychically he is weak but his mental power is still as vigorous as few decades back. He still continues his work through counselling sections; and by setting an example through his simple lifestyle.

3 Kerala Style Apple recipes: When apples are cheaper than onion and vegetables

In a Butter Chicken recipe video, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor says that the style of cooking changes with time. Butter Chicken cooking method he demonstrates in the video is different from traditional methods. What he says in the video is right not only about the method of cooking but also about the basic ingredients used for cooking traditional dishes.

In Kerala during my childhood my mother used to cook those items that were abundantly available in that season. During mango season there were mango thoran*, mango coconut curry, mango chutney, mango pickle and so on. During the season of Jackfruit we had Jackfruit thoran, Jackfruit seed fry,  Jackfruit halwa, and so on. When my mother comes to North India she will make thoran, theeyal* and fry of all the locally available vegetables.

This week when I went to the local market, where we can bargain and get fresh vegetables at lower rates  as compared to regular shops, I got onion at Rs 80/Kg and Apple at 40/Kg. I bought 2 1/2 Kg of apples. It is in human nature that when you see an item is surplus, even if it is your favourite thing, you lose interest in having it. The basket of red apples simply lying around reminded me of basket full of mangoes in my mother’s home during summer season. A friend Sudhir suggested adding apple pieces in Sambar, where from I got the sudden Idea of trying out Kerala recipes with apples, as shallots (not onion) are required for the dishes.  And Kerala recipes are a perfect combination with rotis.

No wastage in apple recipes

Apples are fleshier and hardly very little is lost while cleaning the fruit. However if we clean Okra, french beans or yard-long beans there will be lot of wastage while trimming the stem end.  Besides apples need not be skinned like beetroot or papaya.

Why apple is a perfect substitute for Kerala vegetable curries

Thoran, fry, theeyal, pachadi* and pickle is made literally out of every fruit and vegetable available in Kerala – Pineapple, mango, yam, avacado, bottle gourd, bitter gourd, etc. The tinge of sourness and the texture, makes apple a perfect substitute for chambakka (Rose water apples) and mango  recipes of Kerala.

Apple-Coconut Chutney

apple chutney - apple recipes

Ingredients

Coconut –  1 cup (grated)

Dry Chilli – 2 No.s

Apple – Quarter piece of a small apple

Salt – as required

Curry leaf – 3 Nos.

Method

Put all the ingredients in a mixer-grinder and coarsely grind. Add very little water and maker sure the coconut is not ground to a smooth paste.

Apple Thoran

Apple Thoran - apple recipes

Ingredients

Apple: 2 No.s (Medium Size)

Coconut – 1 Cup (Grated )

Green Chilli – 3 Nos

Shallots – 2 No.s

Garlic – 1/2 tsp

Ginger – 1/2 tsp

Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Mustard seed – 1/2 tsp

Oil -1 tbsp

Salt – as required

Cumin Seed powder – a pinch

Method

Cut the apple 1 inch long and 1/2 inch broad slender pieces and keep aside.  Coarsely grind all the ingredients, except salt and apple, for 3 seconds. Add the grounded mixture to the apple and gently mix with a spoon. Heat a wok and pour the oil, when the oil heats, add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seed crackle add the apple mix and blend with a spoon. Lower the flame and close the wok with a lid. After  5 minute remove the lid, you can see gentle smoke/vapour which means the dish is nearly cooked. Stir and cook with open lid for a few minute and remove from fire.

Apple Theeyal

Apple Theeyal - apple recipes

Ingredients

Apple – 1/2 of a small apple

Coconut – 1 cup (grated)

Shallots – 7 No.s

Garlic –  3 pod

Ginger –  1 inch piece cut is juveniles

Red Chilli – 3 Nos

Coriander powder – 1 tbsp

Fenugreek powder – 1/2 tsp

Cummin seed Powder 1/2 tsp

Tamarind – Size of half a lemon

Curry leaf – 4 to 5

Salt to taste

Method

Soak the tamarind in 1 cup of water for 1/2 an hour. Boil the apple (cut is 1 inch long and 1/2 inch broad sizes) and 3 shallots in tamarind water with salt and turmeric. Cook until the apple and shallot are tender. In a dry wok heat the coconut, when it turns brown add the rest of the shallots, ginger and garlic (all sliced). Stir for a while and add dry chilly, coriander, fenugreek and cumin seed. When the coconut becomes dark brown, remove from fire. let is cool. Grind the coconut mixture to a smooth paste in a mixer-grinder without adding water. Blend the mixture with the cooked apple. Now heat the mix for a while after adding a little water, do not let it boil. Remove from flame when you see the smoke.

Tip

Apply a little salt on the apple pieces so that they do not change colour.

Malayalam words used

Thoran*:  A dish made of finely chopped vegetables and grated coconut.

Theeyal*: A curry made with roasted and finely ground coconut paste.

Pachadi*: A simple side dish prepared in coconut and yogurt.


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Maggi took a break: Now Let us have some ghar ka khana (home made food)

In the hectic lifestyle of the cities, we Aam Admi’s follow a balanced diet – consuming almost equal amount of nutritious food as well as junk food everyday. Everyone knows that junk food and fast food are injurious to health, but due to time constrains we decide that having something – junk or unhealthy – is better than having nothing. At home preparing healthy food, or ghar ka khana, regularly can be stressful so if woman are given a helping hand they can prepare healthy food. It is said that Joseph Maggi invented maggi so that working women can prepare healthy healthy food easily for their kids.

In their busy schedule parent usually prepare lunch box consisting of bread and jam or cooked instant noodles. The lunch box recipes makes no one happy. Neither the children are happy with the  cold snack, nor the parents are happy with the nutritious value of the food packed in the lunch box. If the children are inculcated with the habit of eating home-made food, they never give up that habit. With some quick trick, and 20 minutes to spare, parents can prepare healthy and homely lunch box recipe for kids. Here are a few lunch box recipes, that will bring smile on the face of parent and children.

Tip: To make the cooking easier and happier, both the parents should lend each other a helping hand in preparing the lunchbox. Here are a few recipes to be make the lunchbox of kids tastier, healthier and happier. To know more about lunchbox home delivery system read this post.
  1. Potato tricks: A lunch box recipe that every child will like to pack to school. Boil potato overnight; and in the morning add some spices to make it tastier. Use the potato base as stuffing for roti and sandwich. Add some tomato sauce, kids will love the combination.
  2. Cottage cheese magic: A lunch box recipe with lot of calcium. Crumble the cottage cheese and add spices as per choice. You can also add chopped tomatoes, onion and capsicum. Use the base as stuffing for sandwich and paneer parantha. Or else, cut the paneer into 1”inch cubes; cook the paneer using paneer butter masala. Instant butter panner mix requires less cooking time.
  3. Egg unlimited: Kids love eggs; and its easy to prepare, tasty and nutritious egg snacks. Sandwich or roti rolls can be made by stuffing boiled and crumbled egg; scrambled egg or omelet. Whip an egg and pour it over the roti in the pan, flip the roti over two or three times, until the egg is cooked well – Egg Parantha is ready!
  4. Minced Chicken: Any dish with a hint of chicken in it, is inviting. Minced chicken can be converted into limitless number of dishes. On a busy morning you can go for a minced chicken stuffed sandwich or roti. Or, if time permits, refrigerate, boiled and drained, noodles overnight; in the morning mix it with shallow fried minced chicken and other ingredient to make chicken chow mein.
  5. Vegetables Cutlets: A play-way method lunch box recipe that will inculcate the habit of eating vegetables. At leisure prepare and refrigerate ready-to-fry vegetable cutlets. In the morning fry the cutlets and place it between bread slice along with cucumber and tomato slices. The vegetables can be sliced  and kept beforeitself.

The entire cooking process will take only 15 to 20 minutes. The cooking process is made simple if the dough for roti is prepared and stored overnight.To cook faster utilize all kinds of kitchen gadgets.
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Ancy Abraham

5 summer drink recipes to beat the heat

On scorching summer afternoons, you see parents giving chilled juice bottles to kids as soon as they alight from the School bus. Only few kids are lucky enough to get such minute parental attention as in most homes both parents are working. After School kids come home and serve the food themselves with the result most kids do not eat and drink on time. Drinking a lot of water in very important in the summer season, but due to tiredness and laziness kids will avoid drinking water.

Many kids suffer from stomachaches and they sometimes faint in the classrooms in summer. There is a general feeling of lethargy and sickness which may be the sign of not taking a lot of water to stay hydrated. A medical professional once told me to take a lot of seasonal fruits during the summer like watermelon, pomegranate and strawberry. Kids do not eat fruits unless given forcefully and parents do not have the time to persuade them. The healthiest and the easiest way to make the kids intake the fruits is to prepare juice and refrigerate them.  When the kids return from school the first thing they will do is to open the refrigerator and have some cool homemade, refreshing summer drinks.

It is not true that kids do not like homemade food.  Parents who cook regularly at home say their kids like homemade food. (Tip: understand your kids taste bud and cook accordingly.) The 5 summer drinks mentioned here are not as sweet and yummy as the packaged drinks, and you won’t find them on menu cards, but once the kids develop a taste for these drinks they will drink it without any compulsion.

The summer drinks mentioned here are for people of all age groups and you can easily prepare them using ingredients that are regularly used at homes. Unlike the aerated, sugary, soda drinks, that just quenches the thirst these healthy summer drinks option also provide necessary vitamins to resist heat and diseases.

Healthy summer drink recipes, easy to prepare and refrigerate. Kids rehydrating drink after school - Juices of Aam Panna, Bael phal , Nellikai arishtam...
Aam Panna – Raw mango juice, a refreshing summer drink

Raw Mango Juice (Aam Panna)

As a child, the only time I loved having aam panna was while travelling by train during summer vacations. My Mother carries the aam panna pulp in a small container and sugar in another. We, siblings, make friend with other kids while travelling together for two days. Mother prepares the juice and serves to all the kids. Aam panna in those moments were rejuvenating, soothing and enjoyable like never before.

Ingredients

Raw Mango – 1 Medium Size

Sugar/jaggery- As required

Cumin Seed – 1/4 tsp

Water – 2 cup

Method of preparation

Steam the mango in a pressure cooker/ steamer. Remove the peel on cooling and extract the pulp. Add the cumin seeds, sugar and two cups of water. Stir well. Pass the concoction through a strainer to remove the pulp. You will get a translucent juice.

Health Benefits

Resists heat; provides Vitamin C and anti-oxidants; prevents Dehydration, diarrhoea, Indigestion and Constipation; an effective solution for Diabetes; checks Anemia and Improves digestion.

Healthy summer drink recipes, easy to prepare and refrigerate. Kids rehydrating drink after school - Juices of Aam Panna, Bael phal , Nellikai arishtam...
Gooseberry extract (Nellikai Arishtam) – a summer drink to resist heat stroke

Gooseberry Extract (Nellikai Aristam)

Gooseberry has many medicinal properties hence the extract is known as aristam (medicinal wine). Gooseberry is prepared with jaggery so as to keep the percentage of alcohol low. Mother used to prepare Gooseberry liquor at home which is similar to the process of wine making except that yeast and sugar is not used. Gooseberry extract is the best resistance against heat and resists many diseases. In Ayurveda gooseberry is an essential ingredient for hair products due to its cooling effect.

Ingredients

Gooseberry – 1 Kg
Jaggery – 1 Kg
Cloves and Cardamom – Powdered

Method of preparation

Select fresh gooseberries, wash and dry them. Make small holes on the gooseberries with a fork. In a porcelain jar, place one layer of gooseberries followed by a layer of powdered jaggery. Finally, add the cinnamon and clove on top. Close the lid tightly, cover the lid with a cloth and keep it undisturbed for 2 months.  By now the Juice is extracted. Squeeze and strain the juice and store it for more than a year in a cool, dry place. For kids, a spoon full of gooseberry extract diluted with water is highly refreshing for the whole body.

Health benefits

Gooseberry extract is rejuvenating and it is used as a remedy for jaundice, dyspepsia and cough.

Healthy summer drink recipes, easy to prepare and refrigerate. Kids rehydrating drink after school - Juices of Aam Panna, Bael phal , Nellikai arishtam...
Bael (Stonne Apple) Juice – A traditional Indian summer drink to beat the heat

 

Stone apple (Bael) Juice

There was a bael tree in front of the temple near my home. In those days Bael was common, large fruits hang on the tree like Christmas hangings. When the fruit falls, the hard shell breaks and the yellow pulpy fruit inside is visible. Some passerby will take the fruit and have it. I did not know the value of the fruit until coming to Delhi, where you have to buy the fruit and juice. In the villages in North India Bael (Stone apple) is a holy fruit and the fruit juice is considered as an excellent heat resistor.

Ingredients
Bael / Wood Apple – 2 medium size
Jaggery – 2 tbsp
Salt –  A pinch
Cumin Seed – 1 tsp
Water – 2 glasses

Method of preparation

Split the fruit using a pestle, and scoop the pulp. In a bowl, mash the pulp so as to soften the pulp and separate the seeds. Now add a glass of water and pass the juice through a strainer. If required add more water and press the pulp so that the juice is separated and only the fibre remains in the strainer. Add the rest of the ingredients – jaggery, salt and cumin seed to the juice. Blend it in a mixer and serve it.

 Health benefits

The ripe fruit keeps the body and mind cool, cures acidity also. It helps to improve the digestive system and controls diabetes.

Healthy summer drink recipes, easy to prepare and refrigerate. Kids rehydrating drink after school - Juices of Aam Panna, Bael phal , Nellikai arishtam...
Watermelon Crush – A summer drink which requires no water to be added

Watermelon Crush

Watermelon is sweet and watery so there is no need to add water. We can add some flavours to make the juice tastier and healthier.

Ingredients

Watermelon – 1 medium size

Sugar – 2 tbsp.

Mint leaf – 3 to 4 Nos.

Lemon juice – 2 tbsp.

Method of Preparation

Peel the watermelon and remove the seeds. Blend the chunks in a blender for a minute. Now add the sugar, mint leaf and lemon juice. Blend it again. Pour it directly into a serving glass and cover with a plastic sheet before refrigerating.

Health benefits

Watermelon consist of 90% water, hence the juice helps to stay hydrated and prevents heat stroke. The fibre in the fruit helps to maintain a healthy digestive tract. According to some studies, a glass of watermelon juice before an intense workout helps to reduce muscle soreness.

Healthy summer drink recipes, easy to prepare and refrigerate. Kids rehydrating drink after school - Juices of Aam Panna, Bael phal , Nellikai arishtam...
Lemon Juice – Easiest and most common healthy summer drink

Lemon Juice

When you want to have some chilled summer drink, the first option that comes to mind is the soda lemon juice. Many small juice sellers become famous due to the twist they provide in the lemon drink. In my hometown, a juice seller got customer queuing up because of his famous lemon juice with ginger extract. Multifarious tweaks can be added to the lemon juice, here is the simple recipe that I prepare almost every day:

Ingredients

Lemon: 1/4 Cup

Sugar: 1/2 Cup

Water: 1 Cup

Salt: 1/4 tsp

Method of preparation

Mix the Lemon juice with sugar, salt and water and keep it in the refrigerator. Lemon juice will remain fresh for two to three days.

Health Benefits

Lemon juice helps you to stay calm and cool. It helps to improve the immune system, cleans the stomach and purifies the blood. Lemon is also useful in treating arthritis, rheumatism, obesity, constipation and dental problems.


https://lifestyletodaynews.com/food/milk-powder-recipes/

Solar Power: A wonderful boon

The survival of life, human culture and the very existence of our planet Earth largely depend on developing and using renewable and nonconventional sources of energy. The first source of such a form of energy that comes to people in their right minds is solar energy. There are a wide variety of reasons why solar power is most beneficial to humankind. The Sun’s light and heat make life possible on the Earth. As such, energy from the Sun is the only source of every other form of energy including nuclear power. Read about a Weird Museum which has a rare collection of toilets included solar powered commodes.

solar power

Solar energy is green energy. It is virtually free from pollution. The use of solar power does not result in the emission of gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide which are deleterious to humans and other living beings in several ways. Moreover, solar power causes no noise pollution since solar panels and other devices have no moving components.

Solar energy is perennial albeit variations. On cloudy and winter days solar energy is a less efficient form of power. However, the emergence of photo voltaic technology means that we are not solely dependent on heat from the Sun. Even on cloudy and winter days we get light from the Sun. Photo voltaic technology is capable of converting solar radiation into electricity.

Solar power is useful in operating several devices such as heaters, cookers, lamps and calculators. Manufacturers of mobile phones, laptop computers and other gadgets are exploring how solar energy can be used for the functioning of these tools.

Using solar energy for cooking is advantageous. Depending on firewood will result in the destruction of forests, food chain and biodiversity. Besides, the development of technology to improve the quality of wood means that we can use rubber trees and pine trees as good sources for the construction of buildings and the manufacture of furniture.

The successful use of solar energy for street lighting in several parts of Africa deserves attention. This is possible by the use of solar batteries. By using solar batteries we are able to enjoy the benefit of solar technology at night. Even though these batteries are heavy and need to be replaced at present; scientists are working for the development of better battery technology.

The use of solar energy gives people energy independence. Setting up of solar panels on rooftops of houses and offices will make people energy independent. Putting solar panels on rooftops is expensive. Nevertheless, thanks to constant efforts to improve solar devices, it is coming down considerably. After establishing solar devices; people do not have to bother about paying electricity bills. In addition, solar technology needs little or no maintenance. Solar panels will continue to supply electricity for thirty plus years. Undoubtedly, the technology will become better in the days to come.

Solar power is capable of serving energy needs of people living in remote areas. People in several parts of the world have no access to power grids. The need not to depend on power cables is a major advantage of solar energy.

In today’s world, we are dependent on fossil fuels for our energy needs. These sources are dwindling rapidly. We are unable to get energy from these conventional sources of energy for another century. A conscious consideration of this reality will make us come to the right conclusion that solar power is the most dependable source of energy for the sustenance of our planet and life on it in the days and years to come.

About the Author:  
swami  sirSwaminathan Pillai is A senior academic and Journalist with specialties in history, politics, current affairs, health, disability and social issues. Well developed multi-media skills & experience in Broadcast Journalism. He is congenitally blind who with his wealth of knowledge has enlightened many.

 DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

Solar Power Plant to reduce a hospitals Electricity Bill

In a first of it’s kind, a missionary hospital in Delhi will generate 30% of the electricity with solar energy, saving Rs 3-5 lakh on monthly energy bill. The effort of the hospital management and staff has been appreciated by the Green peace. Mr.Sunny George , of the hospital, shares with lifestyletodaynews the story of the installation of solar power plant  and how other institutions can follow the example for a Cleaner, Greener and Sustainable Environment:

Why did the institution decide for an alternative source of energy?

The rising cost of energy was a big concern to a charitable organization like Holy Family Hospital. It’s been great to see a lot of technological makeover, in recent times which has cut down the cost of manufacturing of the solar panels. Thus making it more acceptable as an alternative and cost efficient means of generating power. To know more about the boon solar power read this post.

The foremost advantage of solar energy is that we can generate electricity with no emission of green houses gases. It is produced by conducting the sun’s radiation without any smoke, gas or any chemical by- product. Another added advantage is that beyond initial installation, maintenance and solar energy is low. Life expectancy of panel are 25-30 years. Due to the above, solar power is getting more and more acceptable as an alternative and cost efficient means of generating power.

How is solar power generated?

We have installed a 300 KW rooftop solar panels in our hospital roof. Electricity is directly fed into our Electrical panels in synchrozation with the grid power supplied by BSES. Our average daytime consumption is 8000 units and in peak summer it touches 10000 units. We are expecting generation of 1800 to 2000 units per day thru these panels.This is the first solar installation in a hospital in Delhi in a PPA model. On our second phase we would like to cover 50% of the total electrical load.

If excess power is generated how will it be utilized?

BSES is coming up with Net Metering. In this, we are allowed  to export the power, back to the grid and it get adjusted in the future electricity bills. Even in our future expansion in solar power,the excess or the unused power in our lean period,won’t get wasted or needed to be stored in the batteries.Avoiding the batteries for the storage in the solar PV system,it cut down the cost by 30% and help us from the harmful effects of the batteries.Batteries are made of variety of chemicals to power their reaction,which are are extremely toxic in nature and can cause damage to human and environment.

Is solar power energy a viable option for all institutions?

Solar power energy has a high capital cost,so it is not within the capacity  of most. The Hospital, instead of spending on the solar power had a agreement with a German company to provide solar energy in PPA model(Power purchase agreement), for 20 years. The company has provided with the funds and their expertise in the solar power plant.

DSC_9135 copy
Solar panel

Finally, some of the readers would like to know the technical aspect, how does solar panel work?

Solar panels used are of polycrystalline modules.Silicon wafers with impurities are made to form the semi-conductor which convert the sunlight into electrical current. The array of solar modules connected electrically form the panel. To make the proper use of the terrace space , solar panels of 300 watts was used instead of 250 watt,which is more prevalent in the market.

In the grid connected solar power system,energy generated from the sunlight through the panels are fed into the solar inverters, which in turn converts the DC into AC, similar to the grid supply with three phase,415 volt and 50Hz. This is then, fed directly into the main LT panels,which consume the power drawn from the solar inverter and the left-over electricity from the grid.

About Sunny George
SunnySunny is the Engineering Head, of the Mission Hospital. Connect with him on google+ 

 

 

Lead poisoning: How safe are you?

lead pencil

One day my son poked his finger with  pencil lead and screamed frantically fearing he might be ‘lead poisoned’. I shrugged off his fear saying  lead is not harmful for the human body and that pencil lead does not contain lead, it a mixture of graphite and clay.

But after doing some research, I realized that lead accumulated in the body has many health hazards. Although lead has many uses like in the automobile industry, once the element is released into the environment, it finds its way into the soil, air and water. Human beings absorb led by inhalation, ingestion and dermal contact. Children under the age of 5 absorb 50% of the lead they ingest. Read how to celebrate toxic-free, lead-free holi in this post. 

In developed countries like US the blood lead level in children has to be less than 5microgram/deciliter of blood.  The more the level of lead in the body, greater are the chances of acquiring health related issues. Children are the most vulnerable as their IQ may drop if the toxicity increases.  In developed countries an adult having a blood lead level of more than 40mcg/dl has to undergo medical treatment to reduce lead level to less than 40mcg/dl.

Symptoms of Lead poisoning

It is not the pencil lead, but the paint used on the pencil which may contain lead. Children tend to to eat the paint while writing. Lead accumulates over a period in the blood and so it is hard to detect. Lead poisoning goes undetected as many of the complications of lead poisoning can be confused with other diseases: tiredness and fatigue, headache, anemia, abdominal pain and cramps, hearing damage, learning disability, slow growth,……..

Where are we exposed to lead?

Lead may be found everywhere –  in the food, house paint, toys, cosmetics, lead batteries, etc. If a blood lead test is conducted we will find that some of us have unacceptable blood lead level. According to tests conducted by organisations working towards spreading awareness of lead poisoning, 51% of children in cities in India have blood lead level of more that 10mcg/dl. Until you are using products that mention ‘lead free’ on the label, you may be surrounded by many products in an around the house that contain lead.

lead 2

  1. Fuel: You might have heard of the term ‘unleaded petrol’.  The good news is – as part of ‘project Lead-Free’ conducted by some organizations, oil companies now offer lead-free petrol. Still in some countries, lead petrol is used.
  2. Paint: According to an expert, any product used for providing colours like colouring powders and crayons may contain lead. In India nowadays we get unleaded paint. But paint companies can mislead the consumers with confusing ads. There is a difference between ‘no lead’ and ‘no added lead’. A smart consumer must be able to detect the difference.
  3. Glass: The translucent and colourless glass is mostly given the attractive colours using lead.
  4. Water:  If your home or the housing colony has a lead based piping system, then lead is leaching into your drinking water.
  5. Newspaper Ink: The ink used in newspapers and magazines may contain lead. So when you wrap food items in newpapers, the lead in ink might be absorbed by the food.
  6. Trinkets:During the Christmas season , a shop keeper in the US had to remove all the trinkets containing high level of lead kept for sale.
  7. Lunch Box:Then cheap colourful  lunchboxes  might have some amount of lead.
  8. Painted Pottery:  Thanks to the interest of foreign tourist in painted pots, shopkeeper voluntarily say that the pots are not painted with lead paint.

What are the precautions?

  • Check if your house was painted with lead paint and if the water contains lead.
  • Avoid tinned food sealed lead soldering. Buy lipsticks that are lead free.
  • Do not cover food with printed side of plastic covers as the print might contain lead.
  • If you children play with peeled paint or soil; check the soil and pain for lead concentration.
  • Maintaining hygiene at home by asking children to wash hands before and after meals.

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Westerners love spicy Indian food

 

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While strolling through the park, I chatted with two beautiful visitors to India, Mohan and Indu from US and UK. They are here for spiritual pursuit.  While we chatted, daily visitors to the park were religiously following their routine like walking, jogging and yoga. We talked for a while about lifestyle in the two parts of the world and about their views about India. Find out why some fans recommended Neymar to opt ayurveda for his back injury.

What do you like about India?

Indu: I like the plentiful variety of sweets available in India. As soon as you enter a sweet shop you are awed by the collection of sweets like Gulab Jamun, and other colorful delicacies. All the ‘sabjis’ (vegetable dishes) here are tasty, and they are not spicy indian food like some people say.

Mohan: Back home I cook Indian food. For instance, I will add lime to milk and curdle the milk, and then squeeze the water out of the curd and prepare with masalas.

You mean Paneer Masala?

Mohan: Yes!

Is it comfortable to be a vegetarian in The US?

Vegetables are costlier than non-vegetarian food items, so being a vegetarian is tough. While shopping for vegetables, you have to read carefully all the labels to make sure there is no animal product.

 Do you walk and exercise?

Mohan: Yes, I walk and exercise back home, but here I do not as I wear this tradition Dhoti and chappal.

Aren’t the American’s more health conscious?

Mohan: They may be more health conscious, but there are many obese people in The US than in India because people eat many burgers and grilled chicken. There are many food shops in The US, so people have food all the time.

How do people manage waste food in The US?

Mohan: There is a food collection system.  One can call the food collectors who will come and collect the extra food, store them, and distribute the food to the poor countries.

The conversation with the two visitors to India gave some ‘food for thought’:

Obesity is on the rise in India

In India, the present teenage generation eat many burgers, pizzas and grilled chicken. When these kids are in their twenties in a decade’s time, will we be also saying, “India has many obese people because of unhealthy eating habits”?

Once, a consumer organization conducted a survey in a school. They kept on one table healthy food as roti’s, sabji, puri, cholae, panner etc. and on the other table junk food like potato chips, instant noodles, pizzas, etc. The children were asked to take whatever food they liked. They went and picked the junk food. According to this study kids daily diet largely consist of junk food.

Buying international brands of  grilled chickens, burgers, and pizza is a luxury in India that a lot of the middle class cannot afford on a daily basis. However, if the day comes when the KFC’s, Macdonald’s and Dominos are cheaper than the samosas and Chola Bhatura’s then middle class will have more burgers than homemade food.

Ask Yourself:

If a shop offers a Veg Samosa for Rs 20 and a Mac Donalds Chicken Burger (normal size) for Rs 10 what will you buy:

  • 2 Samosas
  • 1 Burger

India urgently needs Waste Food Management System:

India culture cannot predict the number of guests who will come for a party, with the result of large food wastage at the end of the day.  A large amount of “curries” are dumped on the road. Usually, people distribute the food among the poor or take the food to some orphanages. However, there are some difficulties:

  • The food spoils as it is prepared many hours in advance.
  • Orphanage inmates need healthy and nutritious food, but the food prepared for parties may be rich in taste and appearance but not exactly healthy.
  • People give leftover food to birds and animals in the park. Animals and birds are not used to having cooked food so the food decays in the park emanating putrid smell.

Therefore, we urgently need an emergency number to call to give away the leftover food. Friends if you have any other solution, please discuss.

My initiative to manage leftover food:

After having food at my home, many people request for the recipe of food I prepared. I wish to utilize my culinary expertise in a different way.  I will make a habit to write one recipe or tip a day, not about exotic recipes but, about how to utilize the leftover food. When I discussed waste food issue with a friend, she said we can make a cake with the sour milk. I will blog the recipe for sour milk cake in a shot while, meanwhile find out how you will manage the waste food and comment in this article.

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5 reasons why network marketing survives?

Though  Multi Level Marketing (MLM) companies are always in the news for the wrong reason, everyday thousands of people join some kind of network marketing  business. Why do people join a commission based business, which they were criticizing until yesterday? There may be many compelling reasons:

  1. The fact that you can earn extra income is inviting.
  2. The training and business proposal sections are so disciplined that you feel lucky to be part of the group. After all a common man can never imagine attending such power-packed and inspirational training sections while shuttling between office and home for regular jobs.
  3. Many people testify to life changing experiences after joining network marketing. An illiterate, uncouth man suddenly gets a makeover as a well informed, impeccably dressed business man.
  4. People do not feel burdened to pay for the unique, attractive and sometime uninteresting products as they get the add-on business opportunity.  Usually you just buy a product and use it, here you buy a product and your dreams and goals get a new lease of life.
  5. The add-on benefit is more valuable than the product itself – the friends you make at the meetings; the opportunity to do a business; the unending discussion that you have with the friends, travelling to new and exquisite locations for training, mingling with people of various cultures and many other reasons make some network marketeers remain hooked to the network marketing company.

The legality of network marketing is a much debated issue globally. However everyday new and innovative range of products are introduced into the market using the word of mouth method. What strikes me about network marketing is the uniqueness of the products and the brand loyalty of the representatives. Read the post to find out how passion and persistence helped successful people to reach their goal.

Every person that I know is a member of some kind of network marketing scheme – cosmetics, kitchenware, education schemes,…. But most of them are unaware of their being part of a  Network Marketing Business. So they say that in their business model they get commissions if they join someone in the scheme; and it is OK if they fail to join new members, they can be satisfied with the product purchased. According to me the above sentence is the definition of networking marketing.

 Network marketing in any other name is acceptable to the public – social scheme, education scheme, independent business representation. Which came first the MLM schemes or the double-faced attitude of people about money making. Whichever came first, as long as people want to try new ways to generate income, new network marketing schemes will come up in innovative marketing garbs – chit funds, health products, real estate business…….