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Top 10 PART Articles of DoILookStupid 3


ABOUT US Most of us are smart and savvy. However, despite all the knowledge and experiences acquired over the years, we all find that we could, at times, do with some advice, some guidance. Sometimes, these insights could turn out to be invaluable. Do I Look Stupid? is a site dedicated to providing insights that could prove helpful to many of us - today or in the future. Use the insights that you like. If you agree (or disagree) with anything that we have written, comment. If you have some stories and insights that you would like to share with others, write. Share your posts and this website with your friends. Hopefully, all of us will become that much smarter, that much savvier by exchanging interesting and relevant information.


WRITE UP Most of us are smart and savvy. Yet, there are times and situations when we could do with some advice, some guidance. The advice may turn out to be of little use or it could provide us with insights that could prove invaluable. Do I Look Stupid? is a site dedicated to providing insights and information that some of us could find immensely useful. Use the insights as you feel fit. If you disagree with anything that we have written, comment. If you have some tales and insights that you would like to share with others, write. Share the posts and the website – www.doilookstupid.in – with your friends. Hopefully, all of us will become that much smarter, that much savvier by exchanging interesting and relevant insights and facts.


How to Read Faster

March 3 2014

The tragedy of the times is that many of the young people that I come in contact with show absolutely no interest in reading. It was Charles William Eliot who wrote -“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers” – and I can only advise people to read as much as they can. It could be anything – a classic, a contemporary novel, or a book on a specific subject; reading will improve you immeasurably as a person. The late Dr. Sarup Singh, a former Chancellor of Delhi University, former Governor of Gujarat and a delightfully witty man, used to read and finish a book every night! Now for the folks who actually do read - have you ever wanted to read faster but always found it difficult? Well, the good news is that there are ways to improve your reading speed that will allow you to read more in less time. There are techniques that one should adopt in order to increase his or her reading capacity. In fact, it is proven that if adopted, these techniques will help individuals increase their reading capacity to over 70 books per year in addition to making them much smarter readers. However, learning to read faster in not a magic trick but a finely honed skill that one will need to master. The obvious outcome of speed reading is that you will increase the number of words that you read per minute. More importantly, speed reading will definitely increase your passion for reading. When you gain more power over the amount you read per minute, your appetite for reading will expand, hopefully exponentially. Practice makes perfect. Therefore, do not give up if the results you desire do not materialize almost


immediately. Keep at it and you will be surprised by the constant progress you are making. In time, you will be able to read close to 800 words per minute, giving you the opportunity to read more. I am outlining below some of the better tips you should follow in order to read faster: The point of a pointer! When reading, our eyes usually do not remain at one spot as they constantly twitch and move from the main centre of focus to collect information from sources around them. These movements are commonly referred to as „saccadesâ€&#x;. When your eyes do twitch, they must come back to their normal position. Saccades make readers slow down even as they search for their present reading position. Therefore, one of the best solutions to counter the small, rapid, jerky movement of the eyes is to use the help of a pointer. One of the best used pointers is the index finger. Simply place your finder under the text you are reading, moving it along even as you complete each line. Initially, using your finger as a pointer may be slower than your regular reading habit. However, once you are accustomed to the motion, you will be adept at reading faster and more efficiently. Speed reading: control or speed? It is a common belief that speed reading is all about control and not speed; it is all about controlling the reading rate and not necessarily about reading faster. The ability to control the way you read will allow you to read faster and more efficiently. Even here, using a pointer will help control the speed at which you read. If you move the pointer faster, your reading will also progress rapidly. On the other hand, if you move the pointer slowly, your ability to read faster would be hampered. So, the pointer can be used as a means to control the speed at which you read. Reading sans sub-vocalising It is a common phenomenon that when people learn to read initially, they often speak aloud the words they are reading (vocalisation). As we grow older, vocalisation gradually shifts to sub-vocalisation (mentally hearing the sounds of the words as we read). However, the need to sub-vocalise diminishes over time in many people because it hampers the speed at which one reads; however, there are people who still sub-vocalise as they read. It should be noted that sub-vocalising is not necessarily a bad thing as it helps us gain a better understanding of the written text. However, we do not really need to grasp each word in a sentence in order to better understand the text. If an individual does manage to read without sub-vocalising, it will help that person increase his or her reading speed; this, in turn, will give the person the ability to read more efficiently by discarding all the excess fluff in a book. Therefore, try and move your fingers faster than the words you read in your head. This practice will enable you to break the pattern of sub-vocalising and, in turn, will help you to read faster.


Read actively Most people read something hoping that the information will speak to them eventually. However, what if the material you are reading serves a specific function and requires you to read with intent and purpose? Therefore, it should be noted that speed reading is all about active reading. Instead of waiting for the information to jump out at you, take the initiative to read with better intent, seeking the relevance of the material you are in the process of reading. Before beginning any reading session, prepare your mind to figure out the purpose of reading that particular book. In that way, even if you are not sure about what you will be able to gauge from the material, your mind will be placed to make that discovery. Active reading also involves taking the time out to try and understand what you are reading. This tactic may not necessarily form a part of the notion of speed reading but it makes for a good reading practice overall. During the reading process, make note or stop to contemplate a sentence or paragraph that may seem to be significant or of interest to you. We would all be enriched if we stopped to truly appreciate what we have actually read as opposed to just reading for the sake of reading. Learn when to slow down Sometimes, as readers, we are required to just slow down a bit to truly understand the complex and confusing bits in the written word. As mentioned earlier, speed reading is all about control. Therefore, make it a point to actually master the art of slowing down when necessary to either appreciate something in the material or just to mull over something that may be confusing and requires another read through. This helps you read faster without skipping past the important information as well. Make the reading matter more interesting How do you possibly make a book on mathematics interesting to read? Well, if you put in the required effort into reading a book, you will automatically be able to at least appreciate the content in it. For this exercise, attitude matters. Therefore, consider a book on statistics to be an interesting spy novel; once you approach the matter with a positive attitude, you will automatically enjoy it. These are just a few of the possible tips to improve your reading. Do follow these diligently and you will find that you are able to read much faster and absorb the content better. Most importantly, you will find that reading is, after all, a pleasurable and worthwhile pursuit.


Jukebox Heroes!

August 13 2012

This one is for the young ones who, possibly, haven’t heard too much of the great rock music of the


1960s, 1970s and even the 1980s. So here’s my compilation of the top 10 rock bands that created, well, magic.

Just three points: 1. Listing a top 10 is a pretty hazardous exercise since I am bound to infuriate a number of people whose favourite bands haven’t featured. To them, my apologies; there is a bit of subjectivity in my list (but only a wee bit as there is enough evidence to support my shortlist).

2. I have excluded individual artists like Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Eric Clapton and the like; after all, this is about BANDS!

3. The bands that I have selected – barring U2 – were formed in the 1960s. Younger fans may be outraged that their favourite bands of the 1980s, 1990s and Noughties have not been included in the list. Well, the bands listed below were the progenitors of rock; others have built on them. And none of the newer bands have yet stood the test of time as these bands have.

The Ten Greatest Rock Bands

1. The Beatles Very few people (and do they know their rock music?) will argue that the Beatles were the greatest rock band in history – by a distance. I got into them AFTER they had split; I was too young and not into Western popular music when Beatlemania hit the world; yet, when I did start listening to them, their music had an immediate impact and pretty soon I was a Beatle junkie. They had everything – great singing, great song writing and an amazing passion for innovation and doing things differently. It is rare to have a genius in a band; the Beatles had two in John Lennon and Paul McCartney. And George Harrison wasn’t too far behind.

Almost all their albums are gems; ideally, you should listen to their entire repertoire. The albums definitely worth OWNING are Revolver, St. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Rubber Soul and Abbey Road. However, if you are the impatient type but still want a feel of their evolution from 1962 – 1970 (yes, they were pretty short-lived), pick up their red (1962 - 1966) and blue (1967 – 1970) double albums.


2. The Rolling Stones The influence of the Stones is not evident to many Indians but, in my opinion, is second only to that of the Beatles. While they were formed in 1962 (around the same time as the Beatles), they took time to hit their stride. Thus, their greatest albums – Beggars Banquet (1968), Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971) and Exile on Main St. (1972) – were released AFTER the Beatles had seen it all and done it all. Of course, some of their earlier albums – for example, 12*5 (1964) and Aftermath (1966) – were pretty good and they soon established themselves as the anti-Beatles (that’s clever positioning).

I always like listening to complete albums – and I have listed the great ones above – but in these days of compilations, I would recommend Hot Rocks; it contains some of their gems from 1964 to 1971. Forty Licks is another compilation that is very good; it scores over Hot Rocks in having later Rolling Stones songs but I would still opt for Hot Rocks any day.

3. The Who I may be mistaken but I feel that The Who, in India, have largely been forgotten. Sacrilegious because they were one of the most influential bands ever; many future rock stars like Bono of U2 and Brian May of Queen cite the band as their inspiration as have Led Zeppelin and The Clash. In 1979, Time magazine wrote that “no other group has ever pushed rock so far, or asked so much from it.” According to Rolling Stone magazine, “along with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, The Who complete the holy trinity of British rock.”

The individual band members were all extremely talented; Pete Townshend, in particular, was a visionary writer and composer and Roger Daltrey was a charismatic vocalist.

The progenitor of the concept album and the rock opera, the Who have a number of great albums that one could choose to hear. My favourites – Who’s Next, Quadrophenia, Tommy and The Who Sell Out.

One hears little of The Who in India nowadays. But one must never forget the incredible influence that the band had on their fans and a number of future rock bands.

4. The Beach Boys


Three brothers, a cousin and a friend formed what, in my opinion, was the greatest American rock band. Brian Wilson was the genius (on par with Lennon and McCartney) who got them going, writing most of their brilliant original material. However, Brian’s mental health and substance abuse led to his losing control of the band and their output in the 1970s was uneven. But their 1960s music, up to Pet Sounds, is pretty amazing. Their vocal harmonies are, possibly, even better than those of the Beatles.

Pet Sounds, released in 1966, is universally acknowledged as the best album of the Beach Boys and you just cannot go wrong with it. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it at no.2 (after the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band) in their compilation of the top 500 rock albums of all time. Other great albums include Sunflower (1970), Today (1965) and Surf’s Up (1971). If you are looking for a compilation album, go for the five-CD boxed set - Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of The Beach Boys; expensive, but worth it!

5. Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin were, undoubtedly, the pioneers of heavy metal and hard rock. However, they were not just a heavy metal band; some of their acoustic pieces are just divine. If you don’t believe me, just listen to Bron – Y- Aur Stomp, That’s the Way, Tangerine and Going to California.

A friend came over to my home in the early-1970s and the first songs of theirs that I heard – How Many More Times and Whole Lotta Love – knocked the socks off me! All four band members were consummate artists – Jimmy Page is acknowledged as one of the greatest guitarists (after Jimmy Hendrix and Eric Clapton), John Paul Jones was an amazing multi-instrumentalist, John Bonham was a gifted and manic drummer and Robert Plant has been voted as the best vocalist in the history of rock by many.

I have their entire repertoire and it is difficult to choose the albums one should recommend. Many Led Zep fans may differ but my favourites are Led Zeppelin IV, Physical Graffiti, Houses of the Holy and Led Zeppelin II.

6. U2 All the bands that feature in my list were formed in the 1960s; the one exception is U2, founded only in 1976. Yet, it took them eleven more years to achieve superstardom when they released their path breaking album The Joshua Tree. This amazing album was followed by an equally brilliant Achtung Baby. If you wanted to own just two of their albums, these two are head and shoulders above the others (which, in their own right, are excellent).


Like other earlier great bands, U2 have created a sound uniquely theirs, based on melodic instrumentals and Bono’s distinctive singing. Lyrically, they have never shied away for social and political issues. If I had to recommend another album to add to the two masterpieces that I have named earlier, it would be All That You Can’t Leave Behind.

7. Pink Floyd Pink Floyd were the kings of progressive and psychedelic music. Although they started off largely to showcase Syd Barrett’s creativity, they came to the fore when Roger Waters took over as the primary songwriter and lyricist.

Pink Floyd’s first album – Piper at the Gates of Dawn – was essentially a Syd Barrett –led album. However, his alarmingly declining mental health led to his departure from the band and the formation of the classic four-man (Dave Gilmour, essentially inducted as an addition for the increasingly erratic Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters and Rick Wright) Pink Floyd.

While Pink Floyd fanatics go into ecstasy over Piper at the Gates of Dawn and their second album – A Saucerful of Secrets – I think they are just about okay. I remember that the first Pink Floyd album that I heard was their third – Ummagumma, not counting their soundtrack for the film More – and was pretty disappointed.

They really hit their stride with the 1973 The Dark Side of the Moon and followed it up with three great albums – Wish You Were Here (a tribute to Syd Barrett), Animals and their magnum opus The Wall. All four are pretty amazing.

8. The Doors Despite a short recording career that lasted just five years and six studio albums (although after Morrison’s death the other band members continued for a couple of more years), the Doors managed to create a major impact in the rock world. Jim Morrison was a good looking, charismatic singer and his wild, live performances added to his iconic status. He was also a pretty talented lyricist and poet. To me, what made the Doors so distinctive were Morrison’s deep voice and Ray Manzarek’s distinctive keyboards play.


When I was younger and in college, the Doors were a rage amongst the rock aficionado and I can fully understand why. All six of The Doors’ studio albums are worth a listen but my favourites are their debut album, The Doors, Strange Days, Morrison Hotel and their last (with Jim Morrison), L. A. Woman.

Morrison, given to excessive drinking and drugs, died at 27. What a waste of a prodigal talent.

9. Velvet Underground Of all the bands featured here, I can bet my last penny that Velvet Underground is the least familiar to Indians. Even during the time when they were active in their best known avatar (1965 – 1968; Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Maureen Tucker), they were not particularly popular; it was only later that the influence of their path breaking music was acknowledged. It was, possibly, Brian Eno who said that “their first album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.”

I got into Velvet Underground pretty late in life – in the 1990s – when I bought their 1967 debut album, Velvet Underground and Nico, on a trip to Japan. I was amazed at their range and versatility – from the energetic ‘I’m Waiting for the Man’ to the surreal ‘Venus in Furs’ and ‘Heroin’ to the quieter ‘Sunday Morning’ and ‘Femme Fatale’. This album is a masterpiece and a must own.

The Velvet Underground, their third album, and White Light/White Heat, their second, are also worth a listen. The Velvet Underground doesn’t feature John Cale – he was eased out due to his differences with Lou Reed – and is folksier. White Light/White Heat is a bit uneven but has a few gems like ‘The Gift’ and ‘Here She Comes Now’.

10. Queen I heard Queen pretty early in their career when I purchased the band’s third album – Sheer Heart Attack – in 1974. As a faithful of the band I was always intrigued and frankly, pissed off, by the almost unanimous negative reviews that the band received from music critics, especially American ones. It is only now that Queen get spoken of with more reverence than in the 1970s and 1980s, although I expect a backlash from some who read this piece for including them in my top 10.

Here’s why: the Queen had a pretty diverse style and borrowed from various genres. In Freddie Mercury, the band had a performer with a powerful voice over a four-octave range and a flamboyant stage persona. To understand how good Freddie was as a performer, you just need to see Queen’s


performance in Live Aid, 1985. Queen was a bit of a forgotten band at the time; however, the twenty minutes that the band was on stage was sheer magic and the entire Wembley Stadium sang, swayed and danced in unison to Freddie.

Queen was pretty prolific and diverse; the band also delivered hits right till the time of Freddie death in 1991. However, if I had to choose the albums that just have to be heard, I would recommend A Night at the Opera (1975), Sheer Heart Attack (1994) and A Day at the Races (1976). Since the band came out with a number of albums subsequently, you could even go for the Greatest Hits I and II.

So that’s my top 10. Obviously, I have had to leave out a number of bands, even legendary ones like The Grateful Dead. Also missing are the Ramones, Byrds, Clash, Genesis, Jethro Tull (one of my favourites), Allman Brothers, Sly and the Family Stone, Nirvana and many more. However, while some folks may differ on a couple of bands in my list, they really won’t be able to argue on the rest.

If you like music and have somehow not heard the bands above, you are doing yourself a great disservice!


The Chardonnay for me, please!

April 28 2012

I love wine but have always been confused by the enormous variety that is available. A few years ago, I always felt sheepish when a headwaiter at a restaurant (or an airhostess on an international flight) asked me to choose a wine. Having acquired some knowledge of wine over the years, I thought I would try and demystify it for those a bit unfamiliar. Hopefully, once you have gone through this article, you would be far more assured when someone asks you to choose a wine from a huge wine list. 1. Types of Wine Wines can broadly be divided into the following types: white, red, rosĂŠ, sparkling (including Champagne) and fortified. Of these, the white and the red are the more popular and I will spend most of my time on these two. White wine is a wine that is yellowish in colour. White wine is produced using the juice and skin of green, golden or yellowish grapes or using the juice (but not the skin) of red-skinned grapes.


White wines are generally lighter and more refreshing than a majority of red wines. That is why they are more popular during spring or summer. They are often consumed with lighter meals or as an aperitif. A simple guideline is that white wines go well with white meat. White wines are also served in a different type of glass than red wines – ideally, the glasses should be narrower to allow for better aroma concentration. White wines should be served slightly chilled, at around 7°C – 10°C. Red wine is made from dark-coloured grape varieties. The juice from most black grapes is greenish-white; the red colour comes from anthocyan pigments naturally present in the skin of the grape. Red wines are best served in wine glasses with room. A distinctly oval or egg-shaped bowl that narrows slightly at the top is necessary to enjoy a red wine to the fullest. A red wine should be around half-filled in a glass to allow more room to swirl it and better surface area for allowing it to breathe a bit. Most red wines are at their best when the serving temperature is between 16°C - 18°C. Red wines generally go well with red meats. Rosé is a type of wine that has a bit of colour but just enough to turn it pink. The pink color can range from a pale orange to a near-purple, depending on the grapes and wine making techniques. Rosés are not particularly popular in India. Sparkling wine is wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide in it. This is what adds the fizziness in sparkling wines. The carbon dioxide may result from natural fermentation, either in a bottle, as with the méthode champenoise, in a large tank designed to withstand the pressures involved (as in the Charmat process), or as a result of carbon dioxide injection. While sparkling wine is produced in various parts of the world, only those that are produced in the Champagne region in France can be called champagne (just as only whiskey produced in Scotland can be called Scotch). Fortified wine is wine to which a spirit (usually brandy) has been added. The popular fortified wines include port, sherry, Madeira, marsala, Commandaria wine and vermouth. 2. Dry versus Sweet Obviously, a wine that has a sweet taste is a sweet wine; one that is not sugary is described as a dry wine. 3. Types of Popular White Wines A. Riesling (Pronounced Rees-ling) Riesling is a white grape variety that originated in the Rhine region in Germany. While Riesling is now grown in various parts of the world, the best ones are still from Germany. Riesling wines, especially the dry versions, go well with fish, chicken and pork. Amongst Indian wines, the Sula Riesling is worth trying. B. Gewürztraminer (Gah-vurtz-tra-meener) A very aromatic variety of grapes, delicious and fruity. Because Gewürztraminer

is so aromatic, it

tends to go well with Asian and Mexican food. It is also recommended to be sipped with sauerkraut, sausages and cheese. Gewürztraminer is now grown in many parts of the world but the best still


come from Alsace from where it originated. Other places include Germany, US West Coast, New Zealand and the southern part of Chile. C. Chardonnay (Shar-doe-nay) Chardonnay is, possibly, the most popular dry white wine varietal. It originated in the Burgundy region in France and, given its low maintenance, is now grown in almost all parts of the world where wine is produced. Chardonnays go well with chicken and other white meats and seafood and dishes that use cream and butter. Amongst Indian brands, the Reveilo Chardonnay Reserve is a wine to try. D. Sauvignon Blanc (So-vee-nyon Blah) Sauvignon Blanc originated in the Bordeaux district of France. Today, it is grown in many parts of the world and produces a crisp, dry and refreshing white wine varietal. It is a great wine to go along with seafood, poultry, and salads. Indian wineries market a number of Sauvignon Blancs and you can take your pick from the Indus Sauvignon Blanc, the Grover Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc „Art Collection‟, the Four Seasons Sauvignon Blanc and VINDIVA Sauvignon Blanc Classic. Types of Popular Red Wines A. Syrah (Sah-ra or Shi-raz) Shiraz or Syrah are two names for the same variety of grapes and is grown throughout the world. Winemakers in Europe and other parts of the world only use the name Syrah; Shiraz really became popular due to its use in Australia and New Zealand. The major region for Syrah is the Rhône region of France although some excellent wines emanate from California and Australia. Syrah wines are generally full bodied and powerful and go with a wide variety of meats. India produces a large variety; you could try Grover‟s La Reserve (actually a blended Cabernet – Shiraz and a favourite of mine), York Reserve Shiraz, Dindori Reserve Shiraz and Sula Rasa. B. Merlot (Mer-lo) Merlot is another grape that has its origins in the Bordeaux region of France. It produces a soft, medium bodied wine and is easy to drink. That is why it is a good wine for the beginner. It is a versatile wine and can be paired with a wide range of food. The Four Seasons Merlot is a good Indian brand to lay your hands on. C. Cabernet Sauvignon (Ka-ber-nay So-vee-nyon) Cabernet Sauvignon is very highly regarded and, although originating from Bordeaux in France, is now produced in every part of the world. In France, Cabernet Sauvignon was blended with Cabernet Franc and Merlot to create the famous „Bordeaux blend‟. Cabernet Sauvignon has also been blended with Shiraz, especially in Australia and India today has a number of Cabernet-Shiraz blended wines. Cabernet Sauvignons can range from medium bodied to full-bodied and go well with red meat, flavoured pasta and cheese and dark chocolate. Big Banyan Cabernet Sauvignon, Indus Cabernet Sauvignon, York Cabernet Sauvignon and Seagram‟s Nine Hills Cabernet Sauvignon are some of the Indian brands worth trying from a fairly wide array.


D. Pinot Noir (Pee-no Nwar) Pinot Noir is a „noble‟ grape, originating in Burgundy in France. It is difficult to grow and requires constant care but the wine from it is worth the effort. Today, apart from France, this elegant wine is produced in many parts of the world including the US, Italy, Austria, Germany and New Zealand. It is a versatile wine and can be sipped with a wide range of food. I don‟t think India has any Pinot Noirs; I have really had to buy the imported brands. I believe Pinot Noirs from New Zealand are readily available in India at pretty reasonable prices. Of course, there are other varietals (apart from the eight above) that are popular; for example, Chenin Blanc, Muscat and Viognier in whites and Barbera and Zinfandel in reds. However, remember the ones above and you are on pretty solid ground. 4. Classification by Region While I have covered the more popular varieties of grapes in the earlier section, most European wines are classified by region. And this can be pretty daunting for the uninitiated. I am, outlining, just as a rough and ready guide, some of the more famous European wines by region:

Subregion Beaujolais Bordeaux Chablis Medoc

Burgundy Bordeaux Burgundy Bordeaux

France France France France

Chianti

Tuscany

Italy

Region Country

Grapes Gamay Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot etc. Chardonnay Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot etc. Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Trebbiano, Malvasia

In contrast to Europe, non-European wines are generally classified by grape (as I have described in the previous section). However, many of the non-European wines have also started classifying by region; for example, Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley in California, Willamette Valley in Oregon, Columbia Valley in Washington, Barossa Valley and Hunter Valley in Australia, Central Valley in Chile, Vale dos Vinhedos in Brazil, Hawke's Bay and Marlborough in New Zealand and Okanagan Valley and Niagara Peninsula in Canada. 5. Vintage As a beginner, one can avoid worrying about the vintage of wines – it will only complicate matters. However, wines are generally classified by the year in which the grapes are harvested, known as the "vintage". "Vintage wines" are made from grapes of a single year's harvest, and are accordingly dated. These wines often improve in flavor as they age, and wine enthusiasts will occasionally save bottles of a favorite vintage wine for future consumption. Some vintage wines can fetch astronomical prices.


I do hope that this article has been a good initiator into the world of wines. Of course, there is a lot more to know and appreciate about wine and as you get deeper into the wonderful world of wines, your knowledge and appreciation would develop further.

February 25 2014

How to Become More Healthy

Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live. - Jim Rohn. “Health” has become the new buzzword amongst the more intelligent lot of Indians. Anybody and everybody is talking about it. Pilates, Kick-boxing, Power yoga, latest diet fads, organic food – these and more have become the focal conversation at parties and luncheons. In fact, organic vegetables and fruits are become hot selling items. Most bakery items have become eggless, whole wheat and brown bread. However, this interest in one‟s health is still very limited – a majority of Indians, including educated ones, are woefully out of shape. What is inexplicable is that the older one gets, the less the inclination to get that body in order. And that is why the ungainly sight of a lot of Indian men


with pot bellies and women with shapeless bodies. Everybody wants to look good and feel good. However the catch is that to be healthy, „looking good‟ is not enough, it‟s the „feel good‟ part that needs to be perfect for you to be absolutely „healthy‟. „Health‟ is also a state of mind. So apart from the right food intake, the time of intake, the perfect exercise etc., it is also important to have a clear and fresh mind to keep yourself healthy. It‟s impossible to chronicle all the ingredients for a sure shot recipe to perfect health, but the following recipe will definitely take you a long way in looking, feeling and keeping fit and healthy: 1. Eat a Fruit within 30 Minutes of Waking Up Foods high in bad fats, sugar and chemicals are directly linked to many negative emotions, whereas whole, natural foods rich in nutrients - foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes contribute to greater energy and positive emotions. - Marilu Henner. You may be eating healthy the entire day, but what you eat in the first half hour of your day determines how fit your body is. So remember to eat a fruit within the first half hour of waking up. Yes, that means even before your tea or coffee! 2. Dinner 2-3 hours Before Sleeping Dinner was made for eating, not for talking. - William Makepeace Thackeray. Dinner generally is the most laid-back and relaxing meal of the day where you want to sit down with the whole family after the day‟s chores and look forward to bedtime for a good night‟s sleep. Wake up! Keep dinner and bedtime far, far away. You need to eat light and eat early. Dinner should be eaten at least 2-3 hours before you hit the sack. Your metabolism begins to slow down in the afternoon, continues to decline through the evening and is at an absolute low at night, so it takes longer to digest food which is eaten very late at night. 3. Cardio-Vascular Exercise at least 30 minutes a Day 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. - John F. Kennedy. The cardiovascular system is the organ system in our body which consists of the heart and the circulatory system. The heart is the key organ in this system which acts like a pump with its main function to propel blood throughout the body. Cardiovascular exercise improves the heart health and makes the heart stronger for it to pump blood better. According to the guidelines published by the American College of Sports Medicine, 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 5 days a week or vigorous cardio 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week needs to done. So fasten your sneakers and hit the gym for your daily dose of health! Or just go for a brisk walk or


jog. 4. More of a Vegetarian Diet Animals are my friends...and I don't eat my friends. George Bernard Shaw. Many diets recommend a high intake of non-vegetarian food (the Atkins Diet, for example). However, increasingly, most doctors and researchers are veering to the view that a vegetarian diet is a much healthier option than a non-vegetarian one. Contrary to popular belief, a vegetarian gets all the nutrients in a well-balanced diet of grains and cereals, legumes, nuts and seeds, fruit and vegetables and dairy or soya products. A typical vegetarian diet being low in saturated fat and high in fibre, complex carbohydrates, and fresh fruit and vegetables is the ideal diet for healthy eating. 5. Quit Smoking Smoking is hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, and dangerous to the lungs. - King James I. This universal truth is conveniently ignored. Many smokers feel it‟s alright to have 1-2 cigarettes a day. If you want to live a healthy and fruitful life, the only way is to quit smoking completely. It‟s the worst destruction you can cause to yourself. As soon as you quit smoking, you begin to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, lung disease and stroke. Stopping smoking also lets you breathe easier and let‟s you have more energy during physical activity. Try and kick the habit and you‟ll see a definitely healthier you! 6. Limit Your Alcohol Intake There are six components of wellness: proper weight and diet, proper exercise, breaking the smoking habit, control of alcohol, stress management and periodic exams. - Kenneth H. Cooper. Apart from its oft spoken of ill effects, alcohol increases your appetite and makes you eat more then your body needs. Consequently, it makes you obese and gives you a belly. Apart from this rather soft ill-effect, drinking too much alcohol can take a serious toll on your health and affect all the organs of your body. 7. Avoid Processed Food and Drinks Research has shown that even small amounts of processed food alter the chemical balance in our brain and cause negative mood swings along with noticeable dips ill energy. - Marilu Henner. Nowadays, it's hard eating something that is real and not processed as the lives of people are getting busier. However, regarding real food, the question to ask yourself is „if it‟s really worth it‟. Is it worth shopping for fresh ingredients when you can conveniently replace them with processed substitutes which are more easily available and storable? The answer is definitely „YES‟. Processed foods contain preservatives and trans-fats. Trans-fats are used in processed food because it converts a liquid fat to a soft solid form and also because it increases the shelf-life for fats. These fats are extremely harmful


and have also been linked to several life-threatening diseases. 8. Consume Nuts Nuts are a good source of dietary fibre and provide a wide range of essential nutrients. Nuts contain polyunsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients, and should be eaten as part of a healthy diet. All nuts are healthy although some nuts have more heart-healthy nutrients and fats than others. They strengthen bones and prevent the body from contracting diseases. 9. Drink Lots of Water Drinking water is like washing out your insides. The water will cleanse the system, fill you up, decrease your caloric load and improve the function of all your tissues. - Kevin R. Stone. The advantages of drinking adequate water are many, more so in a country like India with its hot, tropical climate. While not a silver bullet, drinking water has many advantages - it keeps your skin and hair looking good, it boosts your metabolism, it helps you eat less, it keeps your muscles energized and it keeps your kidneys in good shape. Start your day with a glass or two of water and have it with every meal. 10. Avoid Useless Gossip Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt. We complicate our lives when we indulge in useless and mindless banter which gets us nowhere. If you surround yourself with unhealthy people, you will be unhealthy. For a fit and healthy body it is important for the mind to be free of dubious thoughts. 11. Compete with Yourself, Not Anybody Else I loved the feeling of freedom in running, the fresh air, the feeling that the only person I'm competing with is me. - Wilma Rudolph. Competition is good provided it is taken in the right spirit. For a stress-free lifestyle and peace of mind, compete only with yourself and endeavor to excel and surpass your own past record. Donâ€&#x;t get affected by others' performances as this takes a toll on our health and makes us unnecessarily anxious and distressed.


Overcoming Fear

January 31 2014

It is often said that the most negative quality in a person is lack of courage or simply put, fear. A fearless person is one who does not find it hard to overcome barriers and is known for having a strong mind. However, this quality is not something everyone is born with. One of the causes of fear is the environment that one has grown in since childhood. The habit of over thinking also lends to the level of fearfulness in a person. However, there are several ways to overcome fear, a few of which are listed below. 1. Acknowledgement The first step towards overcoming fear is to acknowledge it. Own your fear without being shameful. Identify your fear by looking for symptoms that may indicate the kind and level of fearfulness. For instance, if you have a fear of public speaking, look for signs like reluctance to attend parties or low self-confidence when speaking to a large group of people. Once you‟ve pin-pointed your fear, it is much easier to figure out what you need to work on. Identification of your fears also involves gaining an understanding of how the fear came to be. Usually, fears develop as a result of negative experiences in the past. Recognize the when, where, how and why to figure out exactly how your fear affects you and what you can do to prevent it from doing so. Once you‟ve acknowledged your fear, prepare yourself to conquer it. If you fight your fears and come out of it successfully, you‟ll have developed the qualities of courageousness and confidence that you


lacked before. 2. Face your fears Possibly the only way to overcome your fears is to face them. Allow yourself to be afraid at first and take small steps to overcome it. Generate sufficient self confidence with the help of your physical, mental and spiritual powers. Do the thing you fear to do, meet the people you fear to meet and take unpopular decisions that you may fear to take just to see the outcome of taking the risk. Many times, you may be prepared to fight your fears and may not have realized it because you never took the risk. Don‟t shun situations in life and face them boldly, keeping in mind that the outcome may not always be desirable. Dealing with unfavourable situations will embolden and strengthen you. Celebrate your victories and failures. For many people, facing their fear once doesn‟t totally eradicate it. So commemorate every approach you take against fear by rewarding yourself, even if the victory is a small one. If you take the effort to fight your fears but don‟t manage to, celebrate with a small reward and envision yourself with a higher reward next time. 3. Fighting techniques It‟s quite easy to motivate yourself to fight your fears, but when actually faced with them, all your preparation may vanish. At times like these, simple techniques like breathing or counting will help. For instance, if you‟re afraid of lizards, start off by looking at pictures or drawings of lizards. If you have to face your fear of heights, count backwards from 50 to 1 or concentrate on breathing in and out slowly. Yoga, prayer and meditation can help ease your mind and release all the negative energy built up inside you. Follow by a step by step approach to overpower your nervousness. If you have a fear of public speaking, start by practicing in the bathroom, then move on to your room, then in front of your friends and family and then to a small group of strangers. Imagine the worst-case scenario and look at the positive learning you‟ll gain from the experience. 4. Be determined The battle to conquer fear will be long and hard, so you need to ensure that you stay determined all the way. Don‟t let people demoralize you and ignore criticism. Also, don‟t let failures take control of your decisions. You need to change the way you look at fear and for this, you need to take control of your thoughts. Talking about your fears can help alleviate them. You can confide in a family member, a close friend or even a therapist about your worries. Sharing your qualms with people can not only help lighten the burden but also lead to the generation of more solutions to your problem. 5. Be prepared and positive Creating an emergency plan will boost your confidence a little more. Knowing that you have some


back-up in case of a mistake will give you a small sense of relief. Prepare key notes before you go on stage, stay close to the elevator when you‟re in a tall building or hold someone‟s hand if you see a spider. Positive thinking is a tried and tested way to overcome fear and protects you from becoming a victim of imaginary consequences. Carry on with your routine activities as if nothing has changed. If you‟re just about to go on stage to give a speech, do the same things you would if you were a member of the audience. Don‟t trigger your brain to come up with negative thoughts by imagining the worst or worrying about the outcome. Overcoming your fears takes time, so be patient. Even the most courageous people are afraid of something. When the level of fear is so high that it hinders your day-to-day life, it‟s time to conquer it. Trust yourself enough to know that you‟ll be able to do it and have faith in the effort you put into it. Simply put, if you want to live a full life, there is no alternative but to fight your fears.


The Art of Getting What You Want

February 11 2014

Ever wondered why some people get all the things that they dream of? The right job, the right salary package, the right partner, the right life – you may think that some people are just made to be successful. But do you really know why these people are so successful and manage to get away with whatever they want? The secret behind their success is a combination of skills that are put to use smartly and effectively. If you wish to achieve all that you want, you too can acquire, cultivate and hone these skills. There are several factors that contribute to success. Hereâ€&#x;s a look at some of them: Determination Determination is the sure shot key to success. Your passion and conviction towards your goal is what provides you the drive to achieve what you aspire in life. If you wish to achieve all your dreams, it is important that you have your eyes firmly set on your goals and work towards achieving them. Hard work and dedication help you achieve what you have determined. The Indian freedom struggle is the greatest example that can illustrate the power of determination. If you feel your determination falter, remind yourself of your goals and why you need to achieve them. Confidence Unless you are confident in yourself, your beliefs and abilities, you cannot achieve what you dream of. Be sure of what you want and why you want it, know what you are talking about and no one can


ignore you. We all admire confident people and wish to be like them. Most successful people are known for their confidence and their strong beliefs. To be successful, you need to build your self esteem and self worth. Boost your confidence, believe in yourself and the world will be your oyster! Persuasion Persuasion is a skill that can get you whatever you want, if employed in the right manner. To persuade effectively, you need to know what you are talking about and also be confident at the same time. If it is a pay hike you are persuading your boss for, show him the logical reason why you should get a raise and how deserving you are of it. If you arguments show reason and make sense, no employer can deny you what is rightfully yours. While using persuasion, you need to stand your ground firmly without being arrogant or stubborn. Do not seem whiny either. Look for logical points and put your argument through in a clear and reasonable manner. Conviction Like determination, conviction is another emotion that provides you the drive to work harder and achieve success. Do not falter from your path. Work towards achieving your goals and believe in what you want. Remind yourself of what you want to be in the years to come or where you want to see yourself in the future. You can prepare a small chart of all the things that you wish to achieve in your life and keep it by your bedside. Remind yourself using the chart every morning and keep yourself driven towards your goal. Smartness In addition to all the points mentioned above, you need to be smart enough to recognise opportunities and seize them at the right moment. It requires smartness to form the right network and create the right image of yourself.


The Humble Checklist!

May 24 2012

Seriously, how many of us make checklists? How many of us even consider it necessary? Well, if you really want to know how critical checklists are in today‟s increasingly complex world, you MUST read „The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right‟ by Dr. Atul Gawande. Dr. Atul Gawande is an American physician and is a general and endocrine surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital and associate director of their Center for Surgery and Public Health. He is also an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and an associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School.

Gawande points out that there are two kinds of errors that we can make - errors of ignorance (mistakes that we make because we don‟t know enough) and errors of ineptitude (mistakes we made because we don‟t make proper use of what we know). Many of the failures in today‟s complex world are due to errors of ineptitude; that is, making mistakes because we didn‟t go through all the steps needed to get a job done right. In certain cases, like surgery and flying, this can prove fatal. His solution, as outlined in his book, is startlingly simple - experts need checklists that guide them, stepby-step, through the key steps in a complex procedure or situation. What stops us from making


thorough and foolproof checklists? Arrogance, perhaps? Gawande‟s book is replete with amazing examples where a proper follow up of steps have saved lives or effort and where they haven‟t. A quote in the book by Daniel Goodman, a Boeing aviation checklist expert, explains the importance of good checklists: “Good checklists are precise. They are efficient, to the point, and easy to use in the most difficult situations. They do not try to spell everything – a checklist cannot fly a plane. Instead they provide reminders of only the most critical and important steps – the ones that even highly skilled professionals could miss.” Prepare a checklist for every project and certainly for major ones. Following the steps in the checklist will ensure that you have covered all your bases and not left anything to chance. This could prove invaluable – in reducing risks and improving the chances of success.


Mr. Leotard, Captain Boycott and the Earl of Cardigan May 1 2013

There are many words in the English language that have been named after people, places, characters in books and mythological characters. Here are some pretty common words named after people:


1. Bloomers: Women’s loose-fitting knee-length knickers, considered old-fashioned. Named after Mrs. Amelia J. Bloomer, an American social reformer who advocated a similar garment

2. Bobby: Informally, a police officer in England. Named after Sir Robert Peel (Bobby is a pet form of Robert)

3. Boycott: Withdraw from commercial or social relations with (a country, organization, or person) as a punishment or protest. Named after Captain Charles C. Boycott, an Irish land agent so treated in 1880, in an attempt instigated by the Irish Land League to get rents reduced.

4. Cardigan: Knitted jumper fastening down the front. Named after James Thomas Brudenel, 7th Earl of Cardigan, leader of the Charge of the Light Brigade, whose troops first wore such garments.

5. Chauvinism: Exaggerated or aggressive patriotism. Named after Nicholas Chauvin, a Napoleonic veteran noted for his extreme patriotism.

6. Czar: An emperor of Russia before 1917. Named after Caesar.

7. Diesel: An internal combustion engine in which heat produced by the compression of air in the cylinder is used to ignite the fuel. Also diesel oil. Named after Rudolf Diesel, French-born German engineer, inventor of the diesel engine.

8. Dunce: A person who is slow at learning; a stupid person. Named after John Duns Scotus, whose followers were ridiculed by 16th century humanists and reformers as enemies of learning.

9. Guillotine: A machine with a heavy blade sliding vertically in grooves, used for beheading people. Named after Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, a French physician who recommended its use for executions in 1789.


10. Leotard: A close-fitting one-piece garment, made of a stretchy fabric, which covers a person’s body from the shoulders to the top of the thighs, worn by dancers or people exercising indoors. Named after Jules Léotard, French trapeze artist.

11. Lynch: Kill (someone) for an alleged offense without a legal trial, especially by hanging. Named after Captain William Lynch, head of a self-constituted judicial tribunal in Virginia.

12. Martinet: A person who demands complete obedience; a strict disciplinarian. Named after Jean Martinet, 17th century French drill master.

13. Masochism: The tendency to derive sexual gratification from one’s own pain and humiliation. Named after Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, an Austrian novelist who described it.

14. Maudlin: Self-pitying or tearfully sentimental. Named after Mary Magdalene – allusion to pictures of her weeping.

15. Maverick: An unorthodox or independent-minded person. Named after Samuel A. Maverick, a Texas rancher who did not brand his cattle.

16. Nicotine: A toxic colourless or yellowish oily liquid which is the chief active constituent of tobacco. Named after Jean Nicot, a French diplomat who introduced tobacco to France in 1560.

17. Quisling: A traitor who collaborates with an enemy force occupying his/her country. Named after Major Vidkun Quisling, a Norwegian army officer and diplomat. who ruled Norway on behalf of the German occupying forces (during WW II).

18. Sadism: The tendency to derive pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others. Named after the Marquis de Sade, a cruel cavalry officer who wrote sexually explicit works in prison.


19. Sandwich: An item of food consisting of two pieces of bread with a filling between them. Named after the 4th Earl of Sandwich, said to have eaten food in this form so as not to leave the gaming table.

20. Shrapnel: Fragments of a bomb, shell, or other object thrown out by an explosion. Named after General Henry Shrapnel, a British soldier who invented the shell.

Nursery Crymes!

May 31 2012

All of us have grown up on nursery rhymes. But have we ever tried to find out the history behind these innocuous little ditties? Many nursery rhymes have pretty strange (and in some cases, morbid) histories although there are skeptics! True or not, the historical explanation makes for very interesting


reading. Here are some examples: * Ring, a ring o' roses, A pocket full o‟posiesAtishoo! Atishoo! We all fall down. This nursery rhyme is associated with the Great Plague which happened in England in 1665. A rosy rash was a symptom of the plague, pockets were filled with sweet smelling herbs (posies) as protection to ward off the smell of the disease. Sneezing or coughing was a final fatal symptom, and we all can understand what 'all fall down' means. * Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, All the King's Horses and all the King's men Couldn't put Humpty together again. Humpty Dumpty is portrayed as a large egg, usually dressed like a little boy. However, the real story behind the rhyme dates back to the English Civil War (1642 – 1651) between the Parliamentarians (Roundheads) and the Royalists (Cavaliers). Humpty was a huge cannon mounted atop a high walllike church tower. During the Siege of Colchester (June 13, 1648 – August 27, 1648), the tower was hit by enemy cannon fire and Humpty suffered a great fall. There was no fixing the cannon or the tower, and the Humpty Dumpty rhyme was born. * Mary Mary quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells And pretty maids all in a row This rhyme is a reference to Bloody Mary. The garden refers to growing cemeteries, as Queen Mary, step sister of Elizabeth I and a devout Catholic, filled them with the bodies of Protestants. Silver bells and cockle shells were instruments of torture and the maiden was a guillotine to behead people. * Jack and Jill went up the hill, To fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down, And broke his crown; And Jill came tumbling after. This rhyme originated in France. The characters refer to King Louis XVI, Jack, and his Queen Marie Antoinette, Jill. Jack was beheaded (lost his crown) first, then Jill came tumbling after during the Reign of Terror in 1793. There are some writers who even claim that the nursery rhyme has sexual connotations (losing one‟s virginity).


Crime Writers Par Excellence

February 21 2013

There have been brilliant crime/mystery writers through the years. Here is my list of favourites; you JUST cannot go wrong reading their novels or short stories.

1. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle The man who invented Sherlock Holmes – need I say more. Take my advice - just buy the complete works of Sherlock Holmes and get ready to be enthralled.


2. Agatha Christie The master of ‘whodunits’. And the person who brought Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple to the world. Of course, one must go through all of her books but if I had to recommend four, they would be The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Peril at End House, Murder on the Orient Express and Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories (a collection of short stories).

3. Ed McBain The king of police procedurals, Ed McBain created the fictitious 87th Precinct where Steve Carella and his colleagues toil to solve crimes. Start with the first book - Cop Hater.

4. Dashiell Hammett New York Times called him “the dean of the …’hard boiled’ school of detective fiction.” A Hollywood favourite, many of his novels were made into movies. Created the endearing Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon) and Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man).

5. Raymond Chandler Inspired by Dashiell Hammett, Chandler created his hard-boiled detective in Philip Marlowe. He influenced a whole host of future crime writers. Do read The Big Sleep and Farewell, My Lovely.

6. Elmore Leonard Admired for his realism and strong dialogues, Leonard famously said: ‘If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.’ A number of his books and short stories have been made into movies (Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Hombre, Mr. Majestyck, 3.10 to Yuma and Rum Punch (Jackie Brown). The TV series – Justified – is based on his short stories.

7. James M. Cain Considered, along with Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, as the father of the hardboiled school of American crime fiction. Highly recommended - The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity.


8. P. D. James She is famous for her detective novels featuring Adam Dalgliesh. James is famous for her sophisticated prose style and realistic characters and settings. Try An Unsuitable Job for a Woman and Cover Her Face.

9. Ruth Rendell Most famous for her police procedurals featuring Chief Inspector Wexford. She has also written psychological crime novels. If I had to pick two, they would be Kissing the Gunner's Daughter and The New Girlfriend and Other Stories (a collection of short stories).

10. Steig Larsson His "Millennium series" of crime novels, which were published posthumously, took the world by storm. Read all three - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.


Where's the Anglo-Indian Cuisine?

September 5 2012

Taking into account both the British East India Company period and the British Raj, the British ruled India for around 200 years. In that period, the Angrez brought in their cuisine into India and would have adapted Indian cuisine to suit their more delicate palate. Yet, one rarely comes across genuine AngloIndian food in India. Even in England, where Indian food is pretty popular, it is difficult to find restaurants serving Anglo-Indian food. I believe that Veeraswamy and Chutney Mary in London started off as Anglo-Indian restaurants but have, over time, reverted to the more traditional Indian fare.

A lot of the Goan cuisine has been influenced by the Portuguese, xacuti and vindaloo being two examples. The Portuguese were also responsible for introducing potatoes, tomatoes, pineapples,


guavas, cashew and chillies (!) into Goan cuisine. Yet, one hits a bit of a block when it comes to AngloIndian cuisine.

So here are just a handful of dishes that are genuinely Anglo-Indian. I don’t know how many of you have tried them; I have, at the homes of friends and in some restaurants, and they are delicious!

* Mulligatawny is still available in a few Indian restaurants; it is a curry-flavoured soup and literally means "pepper water" (from Tamil ‘Milagu Tanni’). Of course, there are various versions of the soup; the most popular versions use chicken and lentils with Indian spices and pepper to create the soup. I have had the soup in different restaurants around India; rarely has the soup been the same in look and taste!

* Kedgeree, and I am sure that most of us have never had it, is a dish consisting of fish, boiled rice, hardboiled eggs, curry powder and butter. Kedgeree originated from the good old khichri and became a great breakfast dish in Victorian England. As with biryani and khichri, Kedgeree is served with yogurt or raita.

* Country Captain is a curried dish made with chicken pieces, onions and curry powder and served with rice. It became popular with the British officers serving in India. While it may now not be so popular in the U.K., it is still a very popular dish in the southern parts of the USA where it may have been introduced by the British. General Patton was very fond of the dish and that could be the reason why it was introduced as a part of the United States Army Meal.

* Railway Mutton Curry, as the name suggests, was pretty popular in railway station canteens and for eating during longer train journeys. The inclusion of tamarind juice or vinegar to the dish made it last longer in the Indian heat.

* Scotch Broth is a universal and pretty filling soup. I remember that Paradise restaurant in Colaba Causeway used to serve a tasty Scotch Broth with a slice of lemon and I would frequent the place just for the soup. Made of lamb/mutton, what makes the broth distinctive, I suppose, is the addition of barley to thicken it.


Of course, there are hundreds of authentic Anglo-Indian dishes and the more nostalgic amongst us may want to explore further. Bridget White-Kumar, among others, has written a number of books on AngloIndian recipes and you may want to pick up one of them.

How to Live to 100

March 25 2013

The life expectancy of humans has increased over the years, but it’s still a stretch to expect everyone to live till a 100, especially when poor lifestyle choices and bad habits are normal in this day and age.


Genetics and healthy living have a crucial role to play in the quest for longevity, but you can always make a few choices if you are really keen to hit the magic three-digit mark. Here’s how you can try and live to a 100:

1. Find something to do after retirement: If you are on the brink of retirement, looking forward to a work-free life, or are already retired, chew on this: stopping work abruptly can cut short your lifespan. In his research, director Luigi Ferrucci of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Ageing found that people who stop working the moment they retire are at an increased risk of suffering from chronic diseases and obesity. The trick to alleviating this problem is to find a sense of purpose even after retirement and keep yourself marginally busy by doing something you love.

2. Have more seafood: There’s a reason why the Japanese have the longest life expectancy in the world: their diet comprises mainly of fresh seafood and minimal saturated fats. Seafood is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, both of which are powerful anti-aging elements.

3. Don’t banish fat from your diet: An increasing number of studies are disproving the common belief that low fat diets are fundamental to living a happy, healthy and long life. If anything, the deficiency of healthy fat in a diet can cause joint problems, depression, cardiovascular problems, degenerative diseases, and even stroke. Instead of avoiding all types of fat, opt for the healthy ones like oily fish, avocados, olive oil, etc.

4. Exercise that brain: If you want to live to a 100, you need to exercise your brain too, not just your body. A healthy, active, and sharp mind lies at the center of a good quality of life. To ensure this, you need to challenge your brain in several ways by honing your problem-solving and analytical skills.

It is also equally important to give your brain the rest it needs. Get enough sleep and refrain from multitasking, as that only hampers mental output and leads to more stress. This in turn accelerates the aging process.

5. Have a good sex life: Sex releases the feel-good hormone oxytocin and relieves stress. It’s also a great physical exercise and the cornerstone of enjoying a stable, emotionally-fulfilling relationship with the one you love. People who are sexually active even in their ‘twilight years’ tend to live longer than those whose sex life is almost non-existent at this stage.


6. Get out more: By this, we mean get more sunlight. It is imperative that you spend at least 15 minutes in the sun every day to get the Vitamin D you need to ensure good skin and bone health. A Vitamin D deficiency can lead to autoimmune disorders, cancer, and heart ailments. So limit your use of sunscreen and enjoy the most of warm summer days when you can.

Apart from the above suggestions, also consider pursuing a hobby, going on vacations, taking up activities like Yoga and swimming, and expressing yourself to stay hale, hearty, and rearing to get to a 100.

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