Thursday, January 31, 2019

Indian Habits That One Can Be Proud Of

Ben A. Wise
Ben A. Wise, lived in India

Here are twelve habits I picked up while living in India:
  1. I take my shoes off whenever I enter my house or someone else’s home. I find this to be a wonderful habit. Not only because of cleanliness—who knows what I might have stepped on in the street—but also because it feels right. Some people find this curious, “You don’t have to take your shoes off!” but I do it anyway.
  2. I do this almost exclusively with my significant other and kids, but I say things like appadiya? or acchaa? when they say something interesting to me. Or sari or thiik hai. Or I say aiaiyooo! when something unfortunate happens.
  3. I wobble my head sometimes while listening to others. Some people find this strange. It took me years to be able to do this. Indians do it so naturally and gracefully—I love the movement and I suppose I adopted it along the way.
  4. I might drink water from a bottle by raising it above my lips and letting the liquid arc down into my mouth.
  5. I eat with my hands. I do this almost only at home (unless I’m in an Indian restaurant, even if it’s in Europe or the US). There’s a certain communion with the food, a feeling of its warmth and texture the makes it more enjoyable, that makes the partaking of sustenance more intimate.
  6. Okay. Speaking of intimate. Given the chance, I prefer sitting in the “Indian” fashion. I also secretly wish that the whole world adopted the “hygiene faucet,” but alas, they are not ready yet… Toilet paper has everyone in its soft, papery grip…
  7. I try to have things fixed. Jugaad, anybody? India has taught me that many times when we believe something must be replaced, it can be repaired.
  8. I can adjust. It’s okay if the subway is packed. It’s alright if there’s an unusual power cut. It’s fine if I have to wait for something that should work. India has taught me to adapt. I don’t always remember, and I do find myself complaining at times, but, after years of living there, the ability is inside of me.
  9. I learned Hindi and Tamil when I was in India. I use them when I can, although this doesn’t happen often. The other day I was at the cinema, and there was a Tamil family there. My kid walked over to them, and after a while, I said, Niinga Tamizhaa? and they looked at me like… like a non-Indian just spoke to them in Tamil in a cinema outside of India… Yenna uru? I continued, and we had a short conversation. They were from Coimbatore. Several days later I was chatting with a Pakistani waiter in Hindi. He had the hugest smile, and I made sure to use more Urdu-derived vocabulary, rather than Sanskrit-derived words (waqt instead of samay, etc). I don’t get many opportunities to do this, but when I do, I relish the opportunity.
  10. Spirituality. The Bhagavad Gita. The Vedas. The Upanishads. There is a special spiritual current that flows through them, and it accompanies me wherever I go. I don’t consider myself religious in the traditional sense, but I recognize timeless wisdom when I see it, and I reread these ancient texts—these unfathomable pearls—every once in a while, learning more every time. Those sages, seers, and saints were in touch with something. Something that, in my opinion, transcends both organized religion and atheism. I’m grateful to have discovered their timeless truths, and they have helped me in the course of my life.
  11. I know what heat is. I’ve spent several summers in Tamil Nadu, some of them without air-conditioning. When people in Europe or other places complain about the heat, I laugh inside. “This is not heat,” I think. Instead, I smile, and say, “Yeah, pretty hot,” in a sympathetic tone of voice, while thinking about a sun blazing so hot that it can melt sidewalks and cause maddeningly itchy prickly heat.
  12. My son was born in India. His name is Soham, i.e. Sanskrit, from the Isha Upanishad, meaning, “I am that.” I’d say we’re stuck together… ;)
India is a part of me. I love India, and sometimes I ask myself why I’m not there. I will be back though, and when I do, I know I’ll feel at home right away…

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ways to Lose Weight Without Dieting

Time Your Meals

Set a timer for 20 minutes and reinvent yourself as a slow eater. This is one of the top habits for slimming down without a complicated diet plan. Savor each bite and make it last until the bell chimes. Paced meals offer great pleasure from smaller portions and trigger the body's fullness hormones. Wolfing your food down in a hurry blocks those signals and causes overeating.

Sleep More, Weigh Less

Sleeping an extra hour a night could help a person drop 14 pounds in a year, according to a University of Michigan researcher who ran the numbers for a 2,500 calorie per day intake. His scenario shows that when sleep replaces idle activities -- and the usual mindless snacking -- you can effortlessly cut calories by 6%. Results would vary for each person, but sleep may help in another way, too. There's evidence that getting too little sleep revs up your appetite, making you uncommonly hungry.

Serve More, Eat More Veggies

Serve three vegetables with dinner tonight, instead of just one, and you'll eat more without really trying. Greater variety tricks people into eating more food -- and eating more fruits and vegetables is a great way to lose weight. The high fiber and water content fills you up with fewer calories. Cook them without added fat. And season with lemon juice and herbs rather than drowning their goodness in high-fat sauces or dressings.

Sip Smart: Go for Green Tea

Drinking green tea may also be a good weight loss strategy. Some studies suggest that it can rev up the body's calorie-burning engine temporarily, possibly through the action of phytochemicals called catechins. At the very least, you'll get a refreshing drink without tons of calories.

Slip Into a Yoga State of Mind

Women who do yoga tend to weigh less than others, according to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. What's the connection? The yoga regulars reported a more "mindful" approach to eating. For example, they tend to notice the large portions in restaurants but eat only enough to feel full. Researchers think the calm self-awareness developed through yoga may help people resist overeating.

Eat at Home

Eat home-cooked meals at least five days a week. A Consumer Reports survey found this was a top habit of "successful losers." Sound daunting? Cooking may be easier than you think. Shortcut foods can make for quick meals, such as pre-chopped lean beef for fajitas, washed lettuce, pre-cut veggies, canned beans, cooked chicken strips, or grilled deli salmon.

Chew Strong Mint Gum

Chew sugarless gum with a strong flavor when you're at risk for a snack attack. Making dinner after work, socializing at a party, watching TV, or surfing the Internet are a few dangerous scenarios for mindless snacking. Gum with a big flavor punch overpowers other foods so they don't taste good.

Try the 80-20 Rule

Americans are conditioned to keep eating until they're stuffed, but residents of Okinawa eat until they're 80% full. They even have a name for this naturally slimming habit: hara hachi bu. We can adopt this healthy habit by dishing out 20% less food, according to researcher Brian Wansink, PhD. His studies show most people don't miss it.

Get Food Portions Right

The top habit of slim people is to stick with modest food portions at every meal, five days a week or more. "Always slim" people do it and successful losers do it, too, according to a Consumer Reports survey. After measuring portions a few times, it can become automatic. Make it easier with small "snack" packs and by keeping serving dishes off the table at meal time.

When Soup's On, Weight Comes Off

Add a broth-based soup to your day and you'll fill up on fewer calories. Think minestrone, tortilla soup, or Chinese won-ton. Soup's especially handy at the beginning of a meal because it slows your eating and curbs your appetite. Start with a low-sodium broth or canned soup, add fresh or frozen vegetables and simmer. Beware of creamy soups, which can be high in fat and calories.

Go for Whole Grains

Whole grains such as brown rice, barley, oats, buckwheat, and whole wheat also belong in your stealthy weight loss strategy. They help fill you up with fewer calories and may improve your cholesterol profile, too. Whole grains are now in many products including waffles, pizza crust, English muffins, pasta, and soft "white" whole-wheat bread.

Shrink Your Dishes

Choose a 10-inch lunch plate instead of a 12-inch dinner plate to automatically eat less. Cornell's Brian Wansink, PhD, found in test after test that people serve more and eat more food with larger dishes. Shrink your plate or bowl to cut out 100-200 calories a day -- and 10-20 pounds in a year. In Wansink's tests, no one felt hungry or even noticed when tricks of the eye shaved 200 calories off their daily intake.

Go Meatless More Often

Eating vegetarian meals more often is a slimming habit. Vegetarians tend to weigh less than meat eaters. While there are several reasons for this, legumes may play an important role. Bean burgers, lentil soup, and other tasty legume-based foods are simply packed with fiber. Most Americans get only half of this important nutrient, which fills you up with fewer calories.

Burn 100 Calories More

Lose 10 pounds in a year without dieting by burning an extra 100 calories every day. Try one of these activities:
  • Walk 1 mile, about 20 minutes.
  • Pull weeds or plant flowers for 20 minutes.
  • Mow the lawn for 20 minutes.
  • Clean house for 30 minutes.
  • Jog for 10 minutes.


Reach for the Red Sauce

Choose marinara sauce for pasta instead of Alfredo sauce. The tomato-based sauces tend to have fewer calories and much less fat than cream-based sauces. But remember, portion size still counts. A serving of pasta is one cup or roughly the size of a tennis ball.

Eat Out Your Way

Restaurant meals are notoriously fattening, so consider these special orders that keep portions under control:
  • Split an entrée with a friend.
  • Order an appetizer as a meal.
  • Choose the child's plate.
  • Get half the meal in a doggie bag before it's brought to the table.
Complement a smaller entrée with extra salad for the right balance: half the plate filled with veggies.

Eyeball Your Skinny Clothes

Hang an old favorite dress, skirt, or a smokin' pair of jeans where you'll see them every day. This keeps your eyes on the prize. Choose an item that's just a little too snug, so you reach this reward in a relatively short time. Then pull out last year's cocktail dress for your next small, attainable goal.

Build a Better Slice of Pizza

Choose vegetable toppings for pizza instead of meat and you may be able to shave 100 calories from your meal. Other skinny pizza tricks: Go light on the cheese or use reduced-fat cheese and choose a thin, bread-like crust made with just a touch of olive oil.

Sip Smart: Cut Back on Sugar

Replace one sugary drink like regular soda with water or a zero-calorie seltzer and you'll avoid about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Add lemon, mint or frozen strawberries for flavor and fun.
The liquid sugar in soda appears to bypass the body's normal fullness cues. One study compared an extra 450 calories per day from jelly beans vs. soda. The candy eaters unconsciously ate fewer calories overall, but not so the soda drinkers. They gained 2.5 pounds in four weeks.

Sip Smart: Use a Tall, Thin Glass

Use a tall, skinny glass instead of a short, wide tumbler to cut liquid calories -- and your weight -- without dieting. You'll drink 25%-30% less juice, soda, wine, or any other beverage.
How can this work? Brian Wansink, PhD, says visual cues can trick us into consuming more or less. His tests at Cornell University found all kinds of people poured more into a short, wide glass -- even experienced bartenders.

Sip Smart: Limit Alcohol

When an occasion includes alcohol, follow the first drink with a nonalcoholic, low-calorie beverage like sparkling water instead of moving directly to another cocktail, beer, or glass of wine. Alcohol has more calories per gram (7) than carbohydrates (4) or protein (4). It can also loosen your resolve, leading you to mindlessly inhale chips, nuts, and other foods you'd normally limit.

Catch the 'Eating Pause'

Most people have a natural "eating pause," when they drop the fork for a couple of minutes. Watch for this moment and don't take another bite. Clear your plate and enjoy the conversation. This is the quiet signal that you're full, but not stuffed. Most people miss it.

Copy pasted from

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

When Germany is Christian, is India Hindu?

 I came across this and couldn't help but share it on my blog :

When Germany is Christian, is India Hindu?
May 4, 2013 · 
by mariawirthblog ·

Though I live in India since long, there are still some points that I find hard to understand – for example why many so called educated Indians on TV discussion forums become agitated whenever ‘Hindutva’ is mentioned. The majority of Indians are Hindus. India is special because of its ancient Hindu tradition. Westerners are drawn to India because of it. Why then is there this resistance by many Indians to acknowledge the Hindu roots of their country? Why do some people even give the impression as if an India that values those Hindu roots was dangerous? Don’t they know better?

Their attitude is strange for two reasons. First, those people have a problem only with ‘Hindu’ India, but not with ‘Muslim’ or ‘Christian’ countries. Germany for example, is a secular country and only 59 percent of the population are registered with the two big Christian Churches (Protestant and Catholic). Nevertheless, the country is bracketed under ‘Christian countries’. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, stressed recently the Christian roots of Germany and urged the population ‘to go back to Christian values’. In 2012, she postponed her trip to the G-8 summit for a day to address the German Catholic Day. In September 2011, the Pope was invited to address the German Parliament. Two major political parties carry ‘Christian’ in their name, including Angela Merkel’s ruling party. Government agencies even collect the Church tax (8 percent of the income tax) and pass it on to the Churches.

Germans are not agitated that Germany is called a Christian country, though I actually would understand if they were. After all, the history of the Church is appalling. The so called success story of Christianity depended greatly on tyranny.  “Convert or die”, were the options given not only to the indigenous population in America some five hundred years ago. In Germany, too, 1200 years ago, the emperor Karl the Great ordered the death sentence for refusal of baptism in his newly conquered realms. It provoked his advisor Alkuin to comment: ‘One can force them to baptism, but how to force them to believe?’’ Heresy was put down with an iron hand. I still remember a visit to the Nuremberg castle prison as a school kid. There, we were shown the torture chamber and the torture instruments that were used during inquisition. Unbelievable cruelty!

Those times, when one’s life was in danger if one dissented with the dogmas of the Church, are thankfully over. And nowadays many in the west do dissent and leave the Church in a steady stream – in Germany alone over 2 million officially signed out in the last ten years and during a survey in 2011, 5,5 million Germans ‘considered’ leaving the Church – partly because they are disgusted with the less than holy behavior of Church officials and partly because they can’t believe in the dogmas, for example that ‘Jesus is the only way’ and that God sends all those who don’t accept this to hell.
And here comes the second reason why the resistance to associate India with Hindutva by Indians is difficult to understand. Hinduism is in a different category from the Abrahamic religions. Its history, compared to Christianity and Islam was undoubtedly the least violent as it spread in ancient times by convincing arguments and not by force. It is not a belief system that demands blind belief in dogmas and the suspension of one’s intelligence. On the contrary, Hinduism encourages using one’s intelligence to the hilt. The rishis enquired into truth, discovered universal laws and showed how to live life in an ideal way. Hinduism (please don’t get irritated by this ’modern’ word. In today’s world it is in use for the many streams of Sanatana Dharma) comprises a huge body of ancient literature, not only regarding Dharma and philosophy, but also regarding music, architecture, dance, science, astronomy, economics, politics, etc. If Germany or any other western country had this kind of literary treasure, it would be so proud and highlight its greatness on every occasion.Yet we Germans have to be content with only one ‘ancient’ epic which was written around 800 years ago and probably refers to incidents around 400 AD. That is how far back ‘antiquity’ reaches in Europe, and of course children in Germany hear of this epic, called ‘Nibelungenlied’, in school. Naturally westerners consider the existence of Sri Krishna and Sri Rama as myths. How could they acknowledge a civilization much more ancient and much more refined than their own?

Inexplicably, Indians cater to western arrogance and ignorance by downplaying and even denying their tradition. There is a “Copernicus Marg’ in New Delhi and Indian children do not get to hear in school that the rishis of the Rg Veda knew already that the earth is round and goes around the sun – thousands of years before westerners ‘discovered’ it. (Rg 10’22’14)

When I read some Upanishads, I was stunned at the profundity. Here was expressed in clear terms what I intuitively had felt to be true, but could not have expressed clearly. Brahman is not partial; it is the invisible, indivisible essence in everything. Everyone gets again and again a chance to discover the ultimate truth and is free to choose his way back to it. Helpful hints are given but not imposed.
In my early days in India, I thought that every Indian knew and valued his tradition. Slowly I realized that I was wrong. The British colonial masters had been successful in not only weaning away many of the elite from their ancient tradition but even making them despise it. It helped that the ‘educated’ class could no longer read the original Sanskrit texts and believed what the British told them. This lack of knowledge and the brainwashing by the British education may be the reason why many ‘modern’ Indians are against anything ‘Hindu’. They don’t realize the difference between western religions that have to be believed (or at least professed) blindly, and which discourage if not forbid their adherents to think on their own and the multi-layered Hindu Dharma which gives freedom and encourages using one’s intelligence.

Many of the educated class do not realize that on one hand, westerners, especially those who dream to impose their own religion on this vast country, will applaud them for denigrating Hindu Dharma, because this helps western universalism to spread in India. On the other hand, many westerners, including Church people, very well know the value and surreptitiously appropriate insights from the vast Indian knowledge system, drop the original source and present it either as their own or make it look as if these insights had been known in the west.

Rajiv Malhotra of Infinity Foundation has done painstaking research in this field and has documented many cases of “digestion” of Dharma civilization into western universalism. Hindu civilization is gradually being depleted of its valuable, exclusive assets and what is left is dismissed as inferior.

If only missionaries denigrated Hindu Dharma, it would not be so bad, as they clearly have an agenda which discerning Indians would detect. But sadly, Indians with Hindu names assist them because they wrongly believe that Hinduism is inferior to western religions. They belittle everything Hindu instead of getting thorough knowledge. As a rule, they know little about their tradition except what the British told them, i.e. that the major features are caste system and idol worship. They don’t realize that India would gain, not lose, if it solidly backed its profound and all inclusive Hindu tradition. The Dalai Lama said some time ago that already as a youth in Lhasa, he had been deeply impressed by the richness of Indian thought. “India has great potential to help the world,” he added. When will the westernized Indian elite realize it?
by Maria Wirth
You may visit her blog  k for knowing Hinduism more

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Being Lazy is sometimes good

Water Melon is one of my favourite fruits and I can eat it all day long. My husband likes it but won't eat it  cos he does not want to go through removing those numerous seeds.I devised a unique way of removing them -  the natural way all waste is thrown out from our body. Yes I swallow the seeds.It was such a relief not having to pick out those innumerable tiny seeds.

Today while eating this wonderful fruit I suddenly felt the urge to "google" for the nutrition facts about these tiny black irritants.I am sure most of you would think I was crazy for the seeds found in any fruit is considered an unnecessary part of it and which most of us spit out.I was surprised at the fact that it was very very nutritious.Here are a few excerpts from the articles I found.

Watermelon seeds are very high in protein, with 1 cup of dried seeds containing 30.6g, which is 61 percent of the daily recommended value. The protein in watermelon seeds consists of several amino acids, one of which is arginine. While the body produces some arginine, the Mayo Clinic states that there are times when people need to take in additional arginine. Some of the health benefits of arginine include regulating blood pressure and treating coronary heart disease. There are several other amino acids that make up the protein in watermelon seeds, including tryptophan, glutamic acid, and lysine.

Watermelon seeds are also loaded with several of the B vitamins. The American Cancer Society reports that B vitamins are necessary for converting food into energy and other important bodily functions. The most prevalent B vitamin in watermelon seeds is niacin, with 1 cup of dried watermelon seeds containing 3.8mg, which is 19 percent of the daily value. Niacin is important for maintaining the nervous system, digestive system and skin health. Other B vitamins in watermelon seeds include folate, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid.

Minerals abound in watermelon seeds. Magnesium is the most abundant mineral, weighing in with 556mg, or 139 percent of the recommended daily value, in 1 cup of dried seeds. According to the National Institutes of Health, magnesium helps regulate blood pressure and the metabolism of carbohydrates, which has a beneficial effect on blood sugar as well. Other important minerals in watermelon seeds are phosphorous, iron, potassium, sodium, copper, manganese and zinc.

The most surprising thing about watermelon seeds is the amount of fat they contain. In 1 cup of dried seeds, there are 51g of fat, with 11 of those being saturated fat. The other fats are monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-6 fatty acids. The American Heart Association reports that mono and polyunsaturated fats reduce blood cholesterol, and omega-6 fatty acids can help reduce high blood pressure.

I am still surprised about these facts but glad I started swallowing the seeds.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Champions of the Future

Putting up this article to divert attention from the bad bad world we see daily in the newspapers and electroninc media to the good good world of samaritans like U C Paulose. You can read more such  moral stories and inspiring thoughts from eminent scholars at  


Life's Lessons are exemplary life situations, where ideal solutions are properly fit into. Sri. Joseph Mattappally, Founder and Director of Indian Thoughts, is a yoga teacher and a trainer in individuality development workshops. He believes in the harmony of physical, mental and spiritual aspects of human existence.

Recently I came across the success story of a young man who belonged to a family that migrated from Kerala to Karnataka. He was neither well educated nor rich. In 1999, while he was waiting in the railway station for his passenger train to come, he happened to see a few bones-thin mentally challenged persons fighting with stray dogs, just for the leftovers of a railway station dustbin. He was moved beyond words. The man, U C Paulose, decided to raise these mentally handicapped and abandoned humans in an Ashram. He had almost nothing to begin with, except his trust in the divine magnificence. Paulose, his wife and children began caring the abandoned in the streets and gradually a thatched hut emerged; it grew longer and slowly multiplied into a village, where God could not resist visiting.
The Hebrew word Seon literally means ‘the realm of God’. Now, ‘Seon Ashram’, which Mr. Paulose founded, supports a multitude of impoverished & emotionally oppressed individuals, regardless of their belief, caste, economic conditions or age. Now, Seon Trust dreams include accommodating more than 500 psychiatric patients alone, developing their Little Flower English Medium School to a full-fledged college and finally, help all the orphans to settle down comfortably. Presently, Seon Ashram and its 440 occupants are assisted by volunteers hailing from distinct religions and various places. They are all united in the ‘love of God’. The ashram needs about 15 lakh rupees a month to function; God keeps helping them in the disguise of responsible donors and patrons. They all talk about a transformation from heroes of yesterday to Champions of tomorrow. We wish, Shri. Paulose and companions continue in the same enthusiasm and spirit, rather than falling preys to the State, Union Government and other public awards and honours that came along.
Just a few days back (3rd July 2011), I got a mail from a friend, who belongs to the regular line of Seon promoters. His mail says that as monsoon has stepped in, at Seon, they have great difficulty in cleaning and drying the cloths of the inmates. According to him, unless their cloths are properly washed and dried out, skin infections are possible. He says that thanks to a Bangalore based company Seon Ashram could pay an advance amount of Rs.50,000/- and bring to the Ashram, the proposed type of washing machine and dryer. It is clear that they are looking out for somebody to help them for the remaining amount.
God’s mercy is so programmed that it manifests on all who trust in Divine Providence; the one who knows it experiences it. Is there anyone who still is not sure of this divine rule? Contact them on (+91) 9448011928 or 9483907728 (URL: Email: within a few days from now and ask them how they could pay the dues. You will be surprised to learn about the unique divine technique that worked in Seon Ashram. Understanding is not enough; a cook who hesitates to eat remains hungry.