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Dr. Mathew, a public health expert, answers questions about COVID-19

The more the questions are answered, the more the number of doubts about Covid-19, in this time of the pandemic. The readers of Lifestyletodaynews.com had a plethora of questions in their minds about COVID-19 ranging from precautions, medication, and the long term impact of the virus. Dr. Mathew Varghese, a Public Health expert and orthopedic surgeon, who was featured as a real-life hero by Bill Gates was kind enough to answer the question in the mind of the readers. He spared time for an in-depth video interview about almost every question that is relevant to a common man in the present scenarios. Read on to find the informative answers which are educative in nature:

According to experts, the pandemic is not going to end in July, will it end?

The experts are basing their information on facts of previous epidemics and the behavior of coronaviruses. You had SARS1; we had Middle Eastern Respiratory Disease. These are the experiences that help to guide us in our understanding of this disease.

Mathematical models have been done. They are modeling to show that possibly by July, or maybe even August, the epidemic will reach a peak, and gradually settle.

A definite time? Difficult to answer

Historically if you look at epidemics, they have all been like this. Including the Spanish flu, which came, lasted for quite some time, and then eventually disappeared. So it is not that these pandemics will be there forever.

They will eventually be overcome by human immunity and resistance to fight against viruses. Therefore it is difficult to answer when this pandemic will end.

How long will it last?

We do not know. But usually, pandemics have a history of infecting a certain number of people and then petering out.

So there is a growth curve, which may be steep or slow, reaches a peak, and goes down.

When a large number of people have herd immunity

That growth curve starts going down, only when a certain proportion of the population is infected which then has the resistance to fight against the virus. This is called herd immunity.

When a large number of people in a community have been immunized by the infection, they have herd immunity.

What is the percentage of people that need to be infected, to get herd immunity?

There are experts that until recently have been saying 60%. But there are some recent reports saying that even up to 20-30% of people been infected gives you sufficient herd immunity for the pandemic to end.

Somewhere between 20-60%

Anybody who says that this is going to end in 10 days or 15 days, it is all guesswork. We do not know, but we hope, once herd immunity of a certain proportion somewhere between 20-60% is reached, we will have overcome the pandemic.

Will the virus be eradicated?

In Coronavirus, we do not have a vaccine as yet. It will take about one, one and a half years at least before a vaccine comes.

Even then, if you look at the few vaccines that are available today, they do not provide you permanent immunity like smallpox or oral polio vaccine does.

QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19

They give you a limited period of immunity. Flu vaccines need to be given every year to protect the elderly from the effects of flu-related pneumonia.

We do not know how effective will the vaccine for coronavirus be. We have to wait and see. Until then we cannot answer this question, can we eradicate it or not? But looking at the historical behavior of flu unlikely we can eradicate it forever.  

Is there any possibility of home testing for coronaviruses and is that legal?

As yet there is no home testing available, so the question of legality does not come. We do not have such a test.

At this point in time we do not have any home testing

In the future, there may be and it may be useful to test that. But at the same time, at this point in time, we do not have any home testing that is available with us.

IMMUNITY

Is immunity the biggest weapon against coronavirus?  

Yes, the first virus that was identified, you know what it was? It was a plant virus, Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV) in 1891. The first human disease-producing virus, you know when it was identified? 1901, it was a yellow fever virus. Remember, till today, 120 years down the line we do not have a drug to cure virus illness.

When somebody says that I am immune, it could be because they had an infection or they have been vaccinated and become immune.

We overcome virus illnesses by the body producing antibodies that fight the viruses, kill the viruses and we win. Those antibodies that the body produces are what give us the immunity.

When somebody says that ‘I am immune’, it could be because they had an infection, or they have been vaccinated and become immune. Either of the two is essential to have immunity.

So is this natural immunity?

No, it is a healthy individual who can raise antibodies in sufficient numbers and strengths to fight the virus. When you say you have good resistance, you are saying you are a healthy person without any malnutrition, without any other illness which may be lifestyle diseases or other diseases that make you vulnerable and immune-compromised, and therefore vulnerable to get the infection.

It is a healthy individual who can raise antibodies in sufficient numbers and strengths to fight the virus.

How to increase immunity?

Your health is based on a balance of things. Balance of what you eat. You have to have a balanced diet, which means a proportion of food has to be carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Labourers need to take a large number of carbohydrates. People who are inactive take fewer carbohydrates, less fat, and more protein. And you need to have a balance of physical activities also.

QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19

But that’s not sufficient.

You need to have minerals. Minerals like Zinc, like Copper, various other minor elements are required for your enzymes in your body for fighting and producing cells for fighting viruses. So these we get from the natural food that we take like the vegetables, like the nuts, and the pulses.

We need to take a balanced diet; stay healthy and physical activity keeps our body fit. Intellectual activity keeps our mind fit.

Physical health, mental health, well-balanced nutrition are foundations for good immunity.

So we need to have good physical health, good mental health, and good nutrition that are balanced to maintain our body health. That is the baseline foundation for good immunity.

PREVENTION

Most people have to venture out for work, essential, medical emergency, so how do we protect ourselves from being infected?

This is basic. Everyone has to remember. First, we have to understand how the virus spreads. The virus spreads from one person’s breath to another person’s breath.

The virus spreads from one person’s breath to another person’s breath.

If you are close to each other and breathing into each other’s nostrils or mouth you are actually infecting each other. If a person is within your breath air distance, you are likely to get infected if the other person is infected.

How do we prevent this?

We can’t stop breathing. You continue to breathe. So we need to wear a mask.

1. The first safety step is a mask, a good mask.

A cloth mask with porous layers in it doesn’t work.  It has to be a mask with multiple layers that prevent the virus. Remember viruses are very small particles. It can go through the pores of your cloth mask.

Therefore you need to have a mask which has a filtration capacity to filter the viruses.

Mask to protect you from the other person’s breath.

Remember any mask is better that no mask.

So if you don’t have any masks then use a multilayered cloth mask. At least two or three layers so that the probability of the virus entering your airway is less than normal.

2. The second safety step is to keep a safe distance.

This is debatable, whether you say one meter or two meter or whatever.

By and large minimum 1 meter distance should be kept. That is important to prevent you from getting infected from the other person’s aerosol. It is the droplets that come out of his breathe when he breathes.

QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19

Remember if you are shouting, or you are singing you bring out more aerosols. So if you are standing opposite somebody who is singing and it is likely to send the aerosol further down the line, maybe 3 meters also, 4 meters also, be careful. So it is important to have the mask.

Sometimes these aerosols, small droplets, fine droplets, which contain virus particles, land on your hands. And any human being touches their face atleast 20 times in an hour. So from our mouth, from our nose, from our eyes, we get the viruses on to our hands. When we touch an object we transfer the virus from the hand to the object.

When we cough without a mask, we put those aerosols on the objects around us. The objects around us are contaminated, and if somebody comes and touches those objects, we transfer the virus to the hand.

3. The third most important safety step is Hand Washing.

Regular hands washing, especially, if you have touched foreign objects outside your house. Unless you are in your home where somebody is infected and home quarantined, then don’t touch any article that he has touched.

Don’t go to him closer than one meter. Don’t go to him without the mask. You have to be very careful. Any outside object that you have touched, wash your hands.

QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19

Any unknown person bringing you an object, wash your hands. Anybody giving you some items through courier, wash your hands soon after you have touched. If you have a doubt, leave the object untouched for 5-6 hours and that is sufficient enough to be sure there are no viruses on the packet.

How to wash our hand?

I say that soap and water is enough to wash hands.

Soap and water is the best.

Why do you say that?

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way. The virus has a coating. That coating is easily washed away by soap because it has got a lipid content.

What are Lipids?

Lipids are fat-related substances. You know oils are washed only very effectively with soap. Therefore soap is more efficient than plain water or even sanitzer.

You are not happy with sanitizers? Why?

  • It is expensive.
  • It is difficult for poor people to get sanitizers.
  • They finish off in no time.
  • Because you want to conserve the amount of sanitizer you use a small amount. You put a little bit on your palm and rub. That is not sufficient.

Use it liberally. Back, between your fingers, your thumb all have to be. And that is the same technique for washing also.

Liberal, not thrifty use of sanitizer. 

So the steps for cleaning your hands with sanitizer, cleaning your hand with soap and water, remain the same. Every finger, front, back, thumb separately. Palms everything has to be cleaned properly.

Soap and water is the best. But in the absence of that, you can use a sanitizer. Liberal use, not of a thrifty use of sanitizer. 

Should we also use soaps for washing vegetables, and fruits and packed grocery?

No, you don’t have to do that. Vegetables are usually cooked and eaten. Washing them in a good amount of running water is sufficient. On top of that, you are cooking it. However, if you have salads that you are consuming, make sure that you have washed it thoroughly with running water.

You don’t have to use soap. I have seen people using Soda bicarb, washing soda, detergents. No. Some of the detergents will soak into these vegetables; some of these may be toxic.

Washing vegetables in good amount of running water is sufficient.

Especially washing soap, you don’t want them to be consumed into your body. So running water is good enough.

If you are very worried, you may use warm water and wash these vegetables that you are going to consume raw. Or the fruits that you are going to consume, wash them thoroughly with water. Running water is good enough for you.

There is a recent report that sunlight will help you fight the virus. How effective is sunlight to fight the virus?

Sunlight has a spectrum of rays, from the very narrow spectrum to the very long spectrum – infrared to ultraviolet.  Ultraviolet rays do kill the viruses, but they need to be exposed for a certain period of time.

 If you are thinking of getting yourself sunbathed, remember Ultraviolet rays are also bad for your skin. We do not recommend it as a method to protect yourself from the virus.

Drying and keeping objects in the sunlight for 5-6 hours may be good enough.

However, if you are thinking of keeping objects in the sunlight, which have been probably contaminated, you may keep them out in the sun, leave it. Just drying and keeping in the sunlight for 5-6 hours may be good enough.

One important item which you may use the sunlight is for your masks. Any surgical mask, which you buy, can be reused provided you dry it sufficiently.

Any surgical mask can be reused provided you dry it sufficiently.

You take four masks, number them 1,2,3,4.

1st day wear Mask No. 1.

2nd-day mask No. 1 goes on the washing line. Leave it in sunlight and use mask No. 2.

3rd day the second-day mask goes up the washing line and mask No. 3 is used.

4th day, mask No. 3 goes on the washing line, and mask No. 4 is used.

5th day, Mask No. 1 comes back and you recycle it to a maximum of about 28 days.

One set of four masks can be used for 28 days. This has been found to be reasonably sufficient, for the recycling of your mask. And that is the only area where I would use sunlight to sanitize the mask.

QUERIES

Curiously, some of the coronavirus positive cases are those who have never ventured out of their houses, for 6 months, and followed all the precautions at home, how could that happen that they got infected?

It is not possible that they have had no contact and yet they got infected. The virus did not come out of thin air. It came through a source that was infected.

It has to be they handled some object, they handled something, they met somebody, coming to their house, who was infected and therefore they became positive. It is not possible that there was no interaction for the chain of infection to continue.

The virus did not come out of thin air.

There has to be some interaction from some infected person, either directly or indirectly through objects of exchange. Maybe notes, handling notes. Maybe some other package that was given by a courier.

There have been reports of Pizzas delivered by pizza delivery boys who were infected and they infected people.

It could be anything that the virus landed to your body from.

QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19

There is a doubt in everyone’s mind that in these three months we might already have been infected and healed from coronavirus?

Yes it is possible. Many of us had mild flu, cold, cough, and no other symptom and we became alright.

It is possible that you are infected and you got cured.

That is exactly what was seen in the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt where it was found that 60% of the young healthy men were infected but asymptomatic. So it is possible that you are infected and you got cured.

In such cases will we be able to find out if we were infected?

Yes there is a way to find out and that is by testing for antibodies.

The problem with this test is that the antibody tests are not as reliable as the antigen test that we call the real-time PCR. Those are far more sensitive and far more specific. Whereas the antibody tests are non-specific and not so reliable. The testing for antibodies will help us identify these cases.

The testing for antibodies will help us identify these cases.

What is an antibody?

The antibody is a body substance created by our cells to fight the virus. So it is something in your blood that is protecting you from infection from the future. So if you have an infection, initially there is no antibody because the virus is a completely new organism that has entered your body.

The antibody is a body substance created by our cells to fight the virus.

As it enters, the body recognizes it as a foreigner and starts fighting it. As it fights, the antibody level goes on increasing till it reaches a peak and the body wins or sometimes the virus wins and the body dies. Usually, the body wins. 99.5% of cases the body wins.  And we are able to eliminate the virus. So testing for antibodies will help us identify these cases.

Are there any long term side effects for a coronavirus patient?

The virus, since it has been identified, has been only six months old causing its symptoms and the disease. As yet it is too early for us to say are there any complications that are long term.

Short term we know what is happening. But long term we do not know. Only time will tell. Most viruses do not leave long term effects except for diseases like poliomyelitis, and a few other viruses that leave long term damage to the body.

Most viruses do not leave long term effects

But by and large, coronaviruses do not belong to that category and therefore we do not expect, but time will tell. At this point in time, I can’t answer that question.

When largely the elderly and those with comorbidities have succumbed to coronavirus, some young healthy people with no health issues died due to coronavirus, what could be the reason?

Again difficult to answer. But in my hospital, I have been keeping track. We have a 200-bed corona ward in our hospital. We have been regularly treating coronavirus patients right from the beginning of the epidemic.

We have had many cases coming to us. What we have found is 90% plus of those patients that have died, whether they were young or they were old, were diabetics. We don’t know what happens in them. For some reason, diabetics have been vulnerable.

For some reason, diabetics have been more vulnerable.

And those that have died have shown significant changes in their lungs. And what has been described in the lungs, earlier what was thought to be pneumonia was later on found to be not pneumonia, but clotting in the vessels of the lungs.

What do lungs do in our body? They oxygenate the blood. This oxygenation happens because blood is flowing through the alveoli in the lungs.

Some have been described to have what is known as ‘Cytokine Storm’.

And when the blood vessels are clotted blood flow cannot happen. Oxygenation cannot happen and the patient dies in the absence of oxygen. Because of the tissues not getting oxygen for survival. That is what happens. Some of these patients who are young and dying have been described to have what is known as ‘Cytokine Storm’.

What is a Cytokine Storm?

It is a reaction vomitted by the body to fight the virus, but the reaction is an overwhelming reaction and that actually causes side effects to the patient and the patient dies from it.

The younger people dying are usually ones who had a cytokine storm and usually, these are the ones with diabetics or some other major illness.

What is the precaution to be taken by pregnant women, especially while going to the hospital for checkup?

The precautions remain the same. Mask, distancing, hand wash.

Remember when you are pregnant; a pregnant mother is two lives; the mother and the child. So there is a double reason to be as cautious as possible keeping away from

  • Crowded outpatient areas.
  • Closed and poorly ventilated areas.
  • Poorly ventilated doctor’s chambers.

Make sure that when you go, you should have seen the clinic earlier. It should be well ventilated. The number of air chambers should be good so that your probability of getting the infection is low.

QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19

Can we accompany our child along with us?

I would not recommend that. Except in a dire situation, where no one else is at home to protect the child, to be with the child, you may carry the child.

Remember, children may be impulsive. They suddenly go and touch things, they may suddenly interact with people, and they may also pull off their mask.

Take children with you only in a dire situation, where no one else is at home to protect the child.

Therefore because of the impulsiveness and unpredictability of behavior of children, we do not recommend that children should be accompanying pregnant mothers for antenatal care.

ADVICE TO MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS

You have directly handled patients during prime times, be it HIV+ve or Coronavirus patients, what is your advice to the medical service professionals who are directly dealing with Coronavirus patients?

My advice remains the same. If you protect yourself you will be able to take care of your patients better. While I myself have seen so many patients who are coronavirus positive, frankly infected, I have dealt with them without fear.

For the last 31/2 months now I have been dealing with patients every day. But I take my precautions. My job as a physician is primarily a responsibility for patient care.

If you protect yourself you will be able to take care of your patients better.

I have taken the Hippocratic Oath, and I will care for my patients, come what may. And this was what we noticed when the HIV epidemic came up. Huge stigma against those HIV victims Then they started coming up with innocent victims and not so innocent victims of HIV. Those are all judgmental issues.

We should not be judging people for an infection. We should not be stigmatizing people for their infection. Our job as professionals is to take care of these patients. We do it to the best of our ability, without any stigma. However while we do it, we protect the patient and we protect ourselves.

How do you do that?

  • Make sure that you wear a surgical mask. If it is close contact it has to an N95 mask that you need to wear.
  • If you are going to do an invasive procedure you must wear gloves.
  • Or you must wash your hands before and after you touch the patient.
  • As far as possible keep away from the breathing area of the patient.

How do you assume that you have not got an infection from somebody? You may be infected without having any symptoms. You need to wash your hands before you touch the patient. And after touching the patient you protect yourself by washing hands again.

If you have to touch the face, the eyes, the nose, and the mouth of the patient, or any other invasive examination is to be done, make sure that you are wearing gloves. Do not do it without gloves.

QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19

Maintain distance. Any object that you use, after touching the patient, or any object that you use on the patient, should first be sanitized, used, and then sanitized again. Like the Stethoscope that I used for seeing the last patient with a backache, I sanitized it with sanitizer.

I am an orthopedic surgeon; you will wonder how the corona patients come to me. Yes, they come to me with a backache. Body aches are common in viral infections.

The protocols are the same: Protecting yourself, and protecting the patient.

They came to me with back aches. They didn’t know they had corona. I didn’t know they had corona. I examined them. I suspected on the basis of some of the questions that I asked. I sent them and they were confirmed to be coronavirus patients.

We need to be careful. The protocols are the same: Protecting yourself, and protecting the patient.

Hydroxychloroquine is used to treat lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and malaria, does that mean that those with these conditions can kill two birds with one?

Don’t get wrong impressions.   The diseases of Lupus and Rheumatoid, these are autoimmune diseases.

What are autoimmune diseases?

These are diseases that the body’s immune system fights its own cells. Normally our immune system fights foreign cells, viruses, bacteria, allergens. But in this type of condition, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or Rheumatoid Arthritis, these are Autoimmune diseases where the body fights its own cells and causes disease. 

You are not winning two wars at one time.

So the body’s immune system is busy fighting its own cells, therefore when an invader comes, you are vulnerable. So even if you are taking Hydroxychloroquine your invader will have an upper hand. It is just like internal strife is the right moment for an external enemy to fight and win over you.

Similarly, malaria is an external infection because of a parasite. So there is a fight between the body and the malaria parasite. So you are actually fighting one war inside your body.  When another invader comes, even if you are taking Hydroxychloroquine that invader has an upper hand. So that kind of cross-protection does not happen. So you are not winning two wars at one time.

Some people still believe that Coronavirus is a myth or a conspiracy? What do you have to say?

As yet, there is no evidence to show that coronavirus has been created as part of bioterrorism. We do not have any reasons for that. There are hypotheses but it has not been proven anywhere. We do not have any reason to say that.

The only proof we have is, Coronaviruses which are ordinarily seen in bats and some of the animals, and most commonly in bats have 500 species of coronaviruses.   They are a real storehouse of coronaviruses, without any disease in them.

Bats are a real storehouse of coronaviruses, without any disease in them.

But when it jumps from bats to human beings, you have the disease coming. Had there been an intermediary? We do not know. 

But remember, when we tinker with nature too much, when we tinker with the natural habitat of these animals, in the animal kingdom, we are likely to have an interaction between the viruses in the animal kingdom and the human interface. And that is when we have diseases jumping from animal kingdom to humankind.

When we tinker with the natural habitat of these animals that is when we have diseases jumping from animal kingdom to humankind.

So the key message that is there in this pandemic is we should not ruin our environment, we should not ruin our forests, we should not unnecessarily damage our animal kingdom. We are all part of an ecosystem, we are part of that an ecosystem, we have a responsibility to protect the ecosystem to stay safe.

Concluding Message

The virus is here, it will have a natural peak, and they die down naturally. The vaccine is the way to protect it for the longer-term. But a vaccine will take a minimum of 11/2 years to come by.

Until then the only way to protect from the virus is by preventing spread of the infection from one human being to the other.

  • Wearing a mask
  • Keeping a safe distance
  • Washing your hands regularly.

And staying away from places that people gather as we do not know who is infected and who is not infected.

Thankyou so much, keep safe, all the best.

Dr Mathew Varghese is a Public Health expert and Orthopaedic Surgeon. He is currently the Head of the Department of Orthopaedics, St Stephen’s Hospital, New Delhi. His work with polio patients caught the attention of Bill Gates, who named him in his blog as a real life hero who inspires him.

Why people love Sushant Singh Rajput?

This talented actor, Sushant Singh Rajput, had a fan following all over India, He was loved not just for his acting but for his many other outstanding qualities.

He was a brilliant student who completed studying the 10th standard Physics syllabus, when he was in 8th class. He was a gold medalist in Physics Olympiad and he had cleared the Delhi Engineering Entrance with 7th rank.

He was passionate is so many fields, especially in Physics and Astronomy. He had a large collection of books and an expensive telescope to watch the the ring around saturn.

During the 2018 flood in Kerala he donated Rs 1 Crore and the same year he donated Rs 1.25 to Nagaland. The people of both the states will always remembering him for his helping hand.

That he was hiding a turmoiled mind behind his smiling face no one knew. The dream journey of a small town boy from Bihar had inspired many. He was the pride of the town.

May his soul rest in Peace.

12 tips to productively engage Kids during the lockdown

As schools are closed around the world, keeping kids productively engaged at home has become a major challenge now.

The thought of staying at home with kids during the lockdown has built up a certain level of stress and anxiety, especially for overworked mommies. Juggling Work-from-home, helping kids with online classes and household chores in the absence of a serving maid has increased stress and anxiety.

For kids, their attention span is limited to a maximum of 20 minutes. Maintaining balanced positive emotions are instrumental for their mental well-being. Parents can and should decide to engage their children in activities which they find beneficial and entertaining.

Daily routine is the key

Begin with a routine both for kids as well as parents.

To the extent possible, maintain a regular schedule for the child. Preferably in consultation with them maintain a schedule around their daily activities like mealtime, reading time, online classes, bed timing, e-device using houses, etc.

Identify the hours when the child is free and these are the hours you need to keep them engaged.

List out activities that your child can do independently and those that would need supervision. The schedules should for the kid be drawn keeping this in mind.

This will help you as well as the kids to feel at ease while also maintaining discipline.

It is advised that parents should try and get maximum of their work done during the children’s naptimes.

Stay Active

Physical exercise is one great way to get a day started. Make them join you for morning stretching exercises or yoga or any work out indoors. This engages the child and at the same time helps them to be fit and active.

Let them learn to embrace each day with gratitude and make children learn something new each day.

Social Connectedness

Give time to children to connect with their extended family and friends through audio and group video calls during this period. Make them discuss how everyone else in the family is coping in these hard times.

This also helps them to be socially connected and responsible. This also helps to know their extended family better.

Family time should include personal time for each other as well as edutainment time (combination of education and entertainment).

Picture Courtesy: Edible Garden

Control Media content

Children are watchful about what is going on around them. Regardless of age, every kid is aware that the conventional lifestyle has currently taken a pause.

Limit the amount of screen-time focused on COVID-19. Too much information can lead to anxiety.

Older children who are exposed to news and social media can feel the heat already. So communication becomes very important wherein talking with your children in a calm, and simple way enables you to control their anxiety as well as yours.

Productive screen-time

Of course, it is essential to limit your child’s screen time, but if right balance is struck technology can be a great way to engage your child.

 It is practically impossible to limit screen-time these days. Instead it is advisable to find ways to make this time more productive.

Look for online creative classes based on your child’s interest. Post lockdown, there are many short virtual classes on Music, Dance, Art, sketching, photography, etc.  

Take advantage of the free online virtual tours like zoo tour, museums around the world, etc. This can help the child a virtual holiday and also learn about new places sitting at home .

Introduce them to good educational apps that aid in a great way to support the school assignments.

Develop Life skills

Irrespective of the gender, teach or involve your child in basic life skills such as cooking, cleaning up room or other household chores, depending on the child’s age.

Baking is one kitchen activity that most kids would love to do along with their parents. Helping with taking out the ingredients, licking the sugary whisk, making shapes out of moulds, checking the oven to watch them bake, decorating it on their own, their cute interaction and the never-ending queries – adds up to the excitement and in the process they get to learn new things.

Role-play activities

The joy of role-play is that kids can choose to become anyone they like for a short time, and the choice is endless! 

Allow your child to dress up themselves and get into somebody else’s shoes or in an imaginary situation and ask them to do a role play and share their thoughts.

Trust me, it’s much fun!

Picture Courtesy: Edible Garden

Art therapy

Allow children experiment and explore new skills like Origami, playdough or any such art/craft ideas. Yes, there are many physical and mental health benefits associated with it.

Origami helps develop hand-eye coordination and mental concentration. Play-dough encourages the child to improve his/her creative imagination and enhances the child’s pre-writing skills.

Encourage them to start reading books

If you don’t have access to physical books, encourage them to read e-books or nowadays, with the help of a couple of apps and sites, hundreds of Audiobooks can be accessed for free. Audiobooks are of great interest to children.

Blackboard corner/Fun wall

Give them a corner of their own to explore in their room, decorated with big black chart paper (blackboard look) and chalks to paint on. Make your child do art work or learn or may be write on what they learnt each day or use it to create a check-list on what they plan to do the next day, etc. This truly can be a fun session, especially when they get to see that their parents are monitoring it.

Picture Courtesy: Edible Garden

Group-activity

Create an activity plan in consultation with parents of their friends and engage them to do some activities together over video calls. This could be, reading s story books with good moral and values ,developing story from a given thread ,narrating about a book they have read/animation movie they have recently seen, doing some DIY activities together, watching documentaries, playing quiz (that’s a school activity for my son), etc.

This activity is a great solution if you need to go for online meetings with your colleagues or just that you need some you-time.

Mess-free activities

Provide them with any non-hazardous objects/waste materials that you have at home and ask them to create anything that their mind says to.

There are many mess-free ideas, simple creative activities/games all over the internet which needs minimal products and also less supervision. You would be surprised to see that some of these activities will have a striking resemblance to what you would have also done as a kid in your childhood. There are many Art and Science based activities that are deeply connected to what the preschool focuses on and promotes learning through it.

Colourful wooden toys, Magnatiles or just everyday items around the home can be used for these activities. Magnatiles serve as a great learning tool for children, as they engage children in creative play and helps them learn and practice  a variety of skills and concepts.

These kind of activities /games has proved to be having fun and a great stress buster even for the adults as well.

Remember, this lockdown is a luxury period and can be considered a boon wherein you get to spend quality time with your little ones, which is otherwise out of the question especially as working parents. Let us make the best use of it.

ALONE we can do so little, TOGETHER we can do so much” — Helen Keller.

About The Author

Sanitha Jubin is a Keralite nurtured in Middle East, settled in Cochin, presently residing in Hyderabad. Human Resource Professional with over a decade of experience in the IT Domain. Now pursuing her passion as a lifestyle consultant. The interest areas include but not limited to culinary, costume designing and conducting grooming sessions for   aspiring managers.  Check out her culinary skills and Artwork on  instagram.com/sans_platter

Picture Courtesy: instagram.com/ediblegarden & Sanitha Jubin.

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.

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. 

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

Meet Sophia Banks who styled Priyanka’s most googled 2016 Oscar Outfit

Priyanka Chopra’s Oscar outfit, styled by Sophia Banks, was the most Googled Oscar Dress of 2016. Choosing the right kind of dress and accessories takes months of preparation and hard work. Sophia Banks has worked with Celebrities like Amber Heard, Sharon Stone and John Travolta. Here is an interview with Sophia Banks, where she talks about her work with Priyanka Chopra; her professional life and her future projects:

Tell us something about yourself?

I moved to the USA, Launching a fashion boutique was the next step for me, it was called ‘Satine’ and quickly became award-winning Hollywood hotspot. Satine was written up in all the fashion magazines, shopped by celebrities  and because of its fashion forwardness, step me up as a ‘Trend Forecaster’ from which started my career as a fashion consultant. I began to consult to top fashion lines and design for them. One of my favourite projects was for fashion house Rodo where I was flown to Italy to design shows.

As well as styling I have been recently working as a director on fashion Commercials.

Which all celebrities have you worked with?

Of course Priyanka Chopra.

Amber Heard, Sharon Stone, John Travolta, Leighton Meister, Shay Mitchell, Erika Christensen and many more..

Sophia Banks the stylist of Priyanka Chopra
Checking out an Outfit with Priyanka Chopra

As a celebrity stylist, what are your responsibilities?

When I first start working with someone I create a style guide for them which we follow for them as a guide. I also create a trend book for them for the season.

Then I help shop and buy their entire wardrobe. I also search the world for the best dress for ever red carpet event so they make it in press all over the world.

For a lot of my clients, I do all the costume for films, TV and commercials as well.

It is my job to set a goal with them such as be a style icon or get most googled fashion dress of the year and then reach that goal.

How did you choose the famous Oscar dress of Priyanka Chopra that was the most googled outfit of 2016?

It was so amazing working with her, she is such a wonderful, kind, beautiful person who works so incredibly hard. We always had such fun choosing dresses.

For the Oscar look as it was a big deal we were very involved in the selection of the dress. We of course requested many gowns and flew to Montreal where Priyanka was filming to do a fitting with about 40 gowns in tow.

We then did the fitting and the white was a top option along with many others but it needs alterations.

What is your opinion about Priyanka Chopra?

I think she is an amazing, beautiful and incredible woman. She is also such a hard worker, she is always flying somewhere to shoot something between the USA and India. Her success is an example of what happens when you give everything it takes towards your goal.

I also love her attitude to life, she is super fun loving and easy going. We always had fun together.

Sophia Banks who Styled Priyanka Chopra
Sophia Banks in a television interview

Have you been to Priyanka Chopra’s home Country, India?

Yes I have, I am originally Australian, and so I have travelled to India and all over. It is one of my favourite countries, I love it there. It is a spiritual place for me, there is something special once you land.

Do you have future plans to work with in Bollywood or with Bollywood Celebrities?

Yes I am in talks with new clients right now and am excited to work with some amazing Bollywood talent. I am also working on my first script and am possibly looking at filming in India, so I think I have a lot of future there.

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 a 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 is 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.

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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.

8 Home Remedies for Fever and Cold

home remedies for fever and cold

Every working parent lives with the nightmare of children falling sick. When the dreaded thing happens, parents, have to ensure that the fever doesn’t go high resulting in pneumonia, fit or other complications. Before consulting a doctor, there are many preventive measures that can be taken using ingredients in the kitchen to ensure that the cold and fever doesn’t escalate. Home remedies for fever and cold are risk-free and without side effects.

Children are prone to cold and fever mostly during climate changes or when they are exposed to a new climatic condition. Home remedies for fever and cold will keep them immune to viral attacks. Give them a balanced nutritional diet and let them play outside the closed air-conditioned accommodations at least for an hour every day.Whatever steps you take there will be an occasional attack of fever and cold; Parents have to keep aside some day-off for such emergencies. No escape from that!

Always keep handy a few easily available ingredients, that are useful for home remedies for fever and cold. Whereby you can start natural, no side effect, remedies as soon as you see the first indication of cold or fever. Even when there is no sign of fever give a spoon of honey and inhale vapour steam after playing in the water, having a lot of ice creams or when someone else having fever or cold,…….

Also Read:5 summer drink recipes to beat the heat

Products mentioned below are always available at home. As the products are all natural, you can administer preventive dosage even at the slightest doubt of fever or cold attack. Home remedies for fever and cold are natural products from the kitchen, so they produce no side effect when used as a precaution against the onset of fever and cough.

Tulsi (Holy Basil)

Take a few leaves of Tulsi, wash it thoroughly and press the leaves to extract the juice. Add a tablespoon full of honey to the Tulsi extract.

Shallots

Sometimes referred to as small onions, shallots extracts are an elixir for fever and cold. Peel off the skin, crush, and then extract the juice from the shallots. Give the shallot extract in combination with honey and Tulsi juice.

Pepper

Crushed pepper with honey gives immunity against a cough and cold.

Honey

In the winter season if you take a spoonful of honey every day you can prevent a cough and nasal blocks.

Inhaler

Whenever there is a stuffy nose or a cough, use an inhaler added with some inhalation medicine. Close the room and leave the inhaler switched on for some time (Make sure to maintain the water level in the inhaler).

Crystal Sugar

There is a variety of crystal sugars with medicinal value. Crystal sugar can have every day. Babies can be given the sugar either as a powder or mixed with water.

Liquid Diet

Children refuse to take food when they have cold or fever. It is said that consuming less food is a natural process of the body to fight the fever and cold; there is no need to forcefully give food. Always give water as the body should not be dehydrated.

Rest

The best remedy for fever is to take complete rest. Most children recover after getting one day of complete rest – No games, only sleeping and drinking a lot of water. Parents should take a day off to give the child complete care & Love.
In addition, also keep some medicines handy at home as a cough syrup, a paracetamol syrup, capsules for inhalation, ……..