Monday, 28 November 2016

A Sea Of Experience...A Weekend special!

With demanding schedules of children and husband, off late, finding quality time had become so very difficult.  I was longing for a short break from my 24*7 duty. Somehow it was not working out...but the last Sunday turned out be excuse-free ...children were all hale and hearty, there were no impending exams or projects to be worked on...and most important, my ever so busy husband had a whole day free and reserved only for us!! What to do with it now? As the migrants in the dream city Mumbai, we were scouting for the places to visit for an entire day. A gud friend from town suggested a cruise...

One day cruise??? I wondered...but then it really turned out to be a perfect sail. Soon we were about to venture on to Mumbai - Alibaug exploration via sea!
As nothing was planned, we announced to the children that its going to be a Vikings day out! They were thrilled at the idea of packing their bags for a day. Thus we set out for Gateway Of India in late hours of morning on Sunday from where our Viking exploration was to begin. As we were nearing the Gateway Of India, we whizzed past many famous, old, Victorian styled buildings. We were instantly transported to the regal era! When we stepped out on to the foot path, we were welcomed by an olden day letter box!! It was standing stout with all its yesteryear's glory! As we bowed to the oldie, we were brought back to modern day India by the whistles of traffic policeman!!! 
Our first challenge was to book the tickets for the cruise ride by the catamaran. We were pleasantly surprised to get them quickly and easily. (For more details on the options to travel by a catamaran from Gateway Of India to Alibaug, please visit http://www.alibaug.ind.in/mumbai-alibaug-ferry-timings.html )Its actually a Mumbai - Mandwa - Alibaug tour. Catamaran cruise starts at Gateway Of India, Mumbai and ends at Mandwa jetty. One has to hop down at Mandwa and take a bus to Alibaug. All the cruise operators offer a combo service, i.e. cruise ticket from Mumbai to Mandwa and bus / coach/ sitara (6 seater rickshaw) from Mandawa to Alibaug. 
The cruise was to start at 12:15pm and we had almost 45 mins at our disposal. So the vikings went on exploration drive! The Taj Hotel stands with all its pristine glory watching over the seas just to the right of the Gateway Of India. We stood in silence for a while to offer prayers to all the victims of the 26/11 terror attack. As I could not see any sign of attack there on the building...I realized the spirit of Mumbai...come what may...the show and life must go on! What an indomitable spirit!!!
Soon it was time to embark on our cat (catamarans are popularly called so!) and we did it with an AHOY!!! We waved bye bye to the Gateway Of India. The sea front was dotted with small ferry boats and private yachts. The big cargo ships, as tall as 8-10 story building caught our attention too. They looked mammoth even at a distance! 
As we marched past them, we were followed by birdies...the seagulls. Here was a flock of the seagulls trying to find a catch from the sea. As our cat was sailing ahead, it was creating ripples in the sea and was thus exposing the easy prey for hungry seagulls. They had a scrumptious lunch!!! 
All the while when were watching the birds show, we could now see the shore line ahead...it was almost 30 odd minutes that we were sailing and we hardly had realised it! Like a perfect host, the Mandwa jetty was awaiting the next lot of visitors, travelers and regular commuters. Mandwa beach looked serene and clean. Behind it stood the guarding figure of the western ghats.
We then walked for almost half a kilometer to catch the bus for Alibaug. Thanks to the pleasant weather and our viking spirit, there was no scope to grudge! We were lucky to board the bus that was just about to leave. Mandwa to Alibaug is about 19Kms. The road is quite bumpy. But then who on earth had time to think about it when the path is dotted with a thick of coconut and mango trees, houses and bungalows with slanting roofs??? The Vikings were singing their hearts out all the while! AHOY!!! It only stopped with the screeching of the brakes. The bus conductor announced that it was the last stop. 
The vikings suddenly learnt that they were hungry. As the bus had the last stop near the Alibaug bus depot, finding the decent restaurant was not such a big deal. Pet puja ke baad....destination Alibaug beach!!! 
A brief ride by rickshaw took us to the seas. The sound of the waves got stronger and stronger as we neared the beach. It was the time of the receding high tides. The eager vikings then had no moment to spare and brace the beach! The beach has an impressive welcome gate. The moment one climbs the steps of the entrance, one gets the panoramic view of enormous Arabian sea with a majestic Colaba fort on to its right! To our surprise, the beach was not at all crowded by the revelers. There were groups of families, friends and lot of fun ride operators. The younger viking could not resist the charm of the camel ride and the elder one fancied riding the quad bike.  After these initial thrills, now was the time to indulge with the tides. Vikings had their best time of the day in the waters! 
The time was flying by and Vikings were in no mood to pull themselves back. After bargaining for 5 mins and then 2 mins and then for 1 min...finally Vikings were packing their bags. Soon it was the same journey in the reverse order. The vikings were too tired to listen to the calls of the returning birds. However the setting sun at the Mandwa jetty was the perfect Sayonara to our exploration! With heavy hearts and tired selves, the vikings boarded the cat. The late evening breeze played the softest music to put all of us to sleep! And before we could transport us back from our own fairy lands, the hustle and bustle of the fellow travelers brought us back to the earthly time. The same Gateway of India, this time, clad in the yellow lighting, welcomed us back. And it was just 8pm at night. The vikings truly had a sea of experience!!!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Winter Skin Care...Let Home Remedies Have A Fair Share!!!

Thundi hawa, Ye chandani suhani. Aye Mere dil suna koi kahani... went Kishore Da on one of the radio stations as we were travelling from Mumbai to Pune. Suddenly, from the back seat, came a shrike, "What "Suhani thundi hawa"? This dry winter is a real monster... a culprit...its playing all, not so suhani tricks on my skin". That was my niece, who else, a youngistan brigade member! But in the minds of mind, I agreed with her outburst. Chills of demonetization and chills of the season are playing naughty tricks on one and all. Chills of demonetization are good for the country in general and we the common citizens in particular; But the dry, dull, flaky and irritated skin is a genuine NO NO!!! 

Every other shop in the neighborhood is stocked with winter lotions and creams, to the brim. The TV and radio commercials are bombarding us with a lot of options to pamper our skin. But with all these options one gets more confused and indecisive. And look at the price tags..they make me tizzy!!! 

Voila... there are many age old, tried and tested, economic solutions from our own kitchen itself. As most of the ingredients are fresh, pure and handy, nothing can beat them. So here are some of the homemade remedies for the dry skin for this winter. Now presenting before you a few ways to keep your skin soft, supple and strong...all season along!

1. Cleansing
Cleansing is an important routine to be followed in winter season. Cleanse your face with cold milk and cotton ball before going to bed. It will cut down heavily on the excessive dryness. 




2. Scrubbing
Though exfoliating is an important routine of the skin care regime, in winter months it needs some changes. Avoid daily scrubbing. Follow the routine only once or twice a week. Use only a mild exfoliating scrub. You can make a home made almond scrub. 
Almond Facial Scrub For Velvety Smooth and Soft Skin...
Blend 4-5 almonds to a fine powder. Mix 8 to 9 drops of almond oil, 2 table spoons of honey. If almond oil is not readily available, you can use coconut oil in its place. 
Combine the ingredients well and gently exfoliate your face for 2 mins. Rinse with normal water. Vitamin E from the almonds aid in gently polishing the skin and in refining the skin texture. It also imparts natural sheen and softness. 

Dry skin is dry skin is dry skin... No not really! You may wonder why? Everyone's complexion, skin type  is little bit different.  Hence the defense against the dry skin depends on skin type, lifestyle, habits, and even your skin tone. Here are some homemade masks and packs to suit different skin types.

Banana & Fresh Cream Mask 

This suits all skin types and can be used for general maintenance of the facial skin in winter. 
Take a fresh banana and mash it. Add almost same amount of fresh cream. Mix well. Now apply it all over the face. Wash with lukewarm water after 10 to 15 mins. The fresh cream is natural moisturizer. It will prevent the dry skin. Banana acts like a pack to keep the moisture in the skin, intact. 
Note: In case your skin type is dry then you can substitute fresh cream with home made fresh butter.

Carrot & Honey Winter Pack

Due the prolonged dryness, skin tends to darken. To take care of this extra dryness and darkened, dull complexion. 

Take 2 tbsp of blended carrot. Add 2 tbsp of honey and 1 tbsp of curd. Mix well. Apply it all over the face and neck. Leave it for 10 to 15 mins and then rinse it off with lukewarm water. 
Beta-carotene, biotin and vitamin K of the the carrots helps fight with the darkness caused by dryness. Lactic acid in the curd lightens the skin and honey imparts softness and glow.
Note: You can apply this on arms and hands if they have also darkened due to wintry dryness.

Potato & Curd Mask

Cold of the season coupled with dry winds and winter sun can result into tan and sometimes in extreme cases the sunburn. Potato and curd mask is one stop solution as it relieves the skin from tan / sunburn and also hydrates the skin.Lactic acid in curd lightens the tan. Starch powerhouse potatoes are also rich source of vitamin B & C.This goodness of potatoes help in tightening and toning the skin. 

Take one potato and mash it. Mix mashed potato with the curd in 2:1 proportion. Apply allover face and neck. After 10 to 12 mins, rinse off the face with normal water.
Note: You can add Gulab jal/ rose water to the mix as it has anti inflammatory properties. Thus it helps in soothing the stressed skin.

And apart from the these skin routine, one must maintain the healthy lifestyle for the glowing skin too. Here are some ways to keep your skin hydrated without making much efforts...
1. Drink plenty of water. At least 3 liters.
2. Wear a good moisturizer allover the body immediately after taking bath. It keeps the skin soft for long hours.
3. Invest in a sunscreen. Do apply it generously if you are planning a day out in wintry sun.
4. Eat seasonal fruits and nuts.
6. Exercise daily.
Last and most important...
7. Sleep well!!!

Say bye bye to dry skin and say hello to soft, radiant skin with a smile on your face, this winter! Happy winter to you all!!!

Monday, 14 November 2016

Share And Care...Lesson Learnt From Children!


CHILDREN,
Their Innocent Smile.....
Threw away my worries a mile.
Their Selfless Love.....
That is the most I wish to have.
Their Serious Talks.....
Which revolves only around their friends.
Their Childhood Games....
Free of all the Tensions and Blames.
And,
The Best is to.....find the Happiness in the Smallest Things they do.

While we teach our children all about life.....Our children teach us what life is all about!!!

One such experience I would like to share with you is where our kids came together to do one PROJECT......NOT A SCHOOL PROJECT... But, a live and life value project which taught them many values and gave them tremendous happiness.....This was a learning experience for us too!!!


The project was GIANT EFFORTS BY TINY HANDS, wherein kids came together and made some craft items. It included painting diyas, making lanterns, book marks, decorating envelops, lamp shades, greeting cards, decorating hair bands etc to name a few. All were priced in the range of Rs 20/- to Rs 40/-. The idea was to let the children be creative and no parent should help them. So our contribution was to buy the material required and hand it over to them. It took them almost 3-4 days to make their own stuff, as they were busy in their school as well. A stall was put up in our society during Navratri celebrations to sell the things that  they had made. Our generous society members equally came forward to encourage these tiny hands.......and help them to collect a handsome amount. Can u belive it turned out to be a whooping SIX THOUSAND RUPEES!!!!.......

Now the story starts...This amount they could have happily spent on their leisure. However the children shared it with THE VATSALYA TRUST, KANJURMARG......for the education of the underprivileged children.

Their efforts brought to shore one of our old values...which even our parents have taught us .....SHARING IS CARING.........Thank you kids for reminding us all over again!!!

And, I proudly would like to share the achievement of these kids who are young and small......but their intention was very very big and noble.....and wish that they take up such projects more often...again and again!!!

Here is a short vdo of this long story...
video
If you have difficulty in downloading on viewing the vdo, please check out the same at...
https://youtu.be/LkAsi_2N4KU

I take this opportunity to wish all the children, a Very Happy Children's Day!!! You are a source of inspiration for us. No wonder we say, "A child is a father of a man"....

PS: All images courtesy Google image search.

Monday, 7 November 2016

A Sweet Journey Of Weight Loss...

The season of festivities which had started from Ganesh Chaturthi had finally and as usual sadly, come to an end with BhaubeejAs we were busy putting away the lamps, lanterns and festoons, we heard a sudden shriek from one of our colleagues. It sounded as if she had sighted a ghost, although i would attribute it more to sighting of a cockroach. We all ran towards her, only to find her horrified and staring down at the weighing scale...."Oh my God!!! I have put on 7 kgs in the last 3 months!!!" she gasped. Who wouldn't, after all those sweets and savories that found their way into our tummies!!! 

There was an instant deja vu to my own reaction after last Diwali. Exactly a year back, I had mustered up the courage to step on to a weighing scale....and what saw, was a number that wouldn't let me sleep in peace. My husband had been selected for a Fellowship Training in BARIATRIC AND METABOLIC SURGERY(surgery to treat obesity and diabetes)  which led us to discuss at length about weight gain. It was then that I realized how I perfectly fitted into the definition of an obese person. Although I had been trying to avoid facing the fact for quite some time, there it stood...not just ringing my doorbell, but literally banging on my door!!!!
The few things that constantly told me that  Iwas piling on extra kilos were...
  • Constant tiredness, laziness and drowsiness
  • Feeling low leading to depression (This depression often lead to eating more to get over the feeling leading to a vicious cycle).
  • My clothes had gotten tighter (I didn't want to accept it)
  • I could not do as much work as I used to do earlier with ease 
  • Walking for long distances caused pain in my feet and joints
  • Breathlessness on climbing stairs (it was just 3 floors!!!!!)
  • I had gone from size L to XL (Again, I turned a blind eye!!!)

But it was high time and I decided to put my feet down.....This lead to my NEW YEAR RESOLUTION for 2016...."LOSE 10 KGS IN 10 MONTHS"
The journey wasnt going to be easy but "Where there is a will, there is a way!". After umpteen discussions with my husband, dietitians and innumerable internet searches about how to go ahead, I started off on the path to loose weight, which led to a happy feeling. I discovered a few un-debatable facts:-

DIET forms one of the most important pillars to good health....only a healthy, balanced diet will help you lead a fitter life.
EXERCISE is as important as diet. Even 30 minutes a day of exercise will help you go a long way, in maintaining fitness.
REST... without which your body cannot cope with the stress of daily life.
STATE OF MIND...Most important of all is to keep a positive state of mind and be regular and persevere in achieving your physical goals.

DIET
A few things that followed and that helped me discover the pleasure of healthy eating.
  • Breakfast has to be the largest meal of the day as it prevents hunger pangs later on. All meals have to be taken at regular intervals of 3-4 hours.
  • Dinner should be had, as far as possible, by 8 pm. If not, at least 3 hours before going to bed.
  • Count your calories and avoid overeating
  • It is best to have a balance of all nutrients (carbs, protein, fiber, minerals & vitamins)in every meal.Having a larger proportion of protein compared to carbs is recommended.
  • It is very beneficial to have a large portion of raw veggies & salads prior to every meal. This not only gives you a good source of dietary fiber, but also fills you up, limiting consumption of excess calories.
  • Sugar (refined, as well as that hidden in processed foods & beverages) should be struck off your list completely.It is this excess load which silently adds on calories( and you don't even realize it!!!). 
  • READ LABELS before buying processed foods & beverages. 
  • STAY OFF SWEETENED CARBONATED BEVERAGES.

Limit intake of carbs (esp. rice).A small bowl is acceptable, but not a large heap.
Although one is free to try slimming products like green tea, slimming tea, etc. I did not try any of these.(I did try having green tea, but could not be regular at it)
Celebrate a "BINGE DAY" every fortnight, when you can gorge on the stuff you stopped yourself from having during the week...Believe me, if you are dedicated, even on this day you end up eating healthy... hahahaha....
Most important of all, DRINK lots of WATER.....drinking 2 -3 liters of water daily at regular intervals, not only keeps you well hydrated, but also helps you lose weight. An added advantage is that your skin glows like that of a baby!!!!

EXERCISE
  • It is always best to choose a form of exercise that you are passionate about, whether it is yoga, running, cycling, dancing or swimming.Your passion for it helps you maintain regularity.
  • 30-45 minutes of exercise a day is more than enough to keep you going. 
  • It not only increases your basal metabolic rate(BMR), but also keeps your hormones in check.
  • Exercising helps you gain vigor and keeps you active throughout the day.
  • It releases ENDORPHINS, which are hormones that help us feel good & happy.
  • It will keep your joints and muscles from getting stiff & rigid with age.
  • It is best to enroll with a trainer or an exercising group who will keep you motivated to continue your routine.Consider it an investment which will give you good health in return.


REST
It is as important to give your body adequate rest, as it is to exercise. Sleep for at least 7 hours at night. This is imperative as this is the time when your body undergoes "Repairs". Without good maintenance, normal functioning is difficult.

Pamper yourself with a body massage or spa treatment once in a month to relieve you of all the aches and pains caused by exercising.

STATE OF MIND
Unless one has a positive state of mind, it is difficult to maintain physical fitness and at the same time fitness leads to positive attitude. You can choose to meditate for a few minutes or just unwind by listening to the music you love. It is helpful to be mentally peaceful and approach life with a positive attitude.
Finally, we only have to do our best and give our 100%. The key lies in being regular and consistent. I can say from my own experience, that it is this consistency and perseverance that took me from the weight of 77.5KGs in Jan'16 to 67.5 KGs in just 6 months.

"Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity". These are the words of the famous John F Kennedy.

SO,MY DEAR FRIENDS, EAT HEALTHY, STAY FIT, THINK POSITIVE AND LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST!!!!!!

PS: All images, courtesy Google image search!