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Greater Austin Malayalee Association

Message from President

Dear GAMA Members, Greeting to all you. I hope all of you are enjoying the nice spring weather in Central Texas. GAMA is entering its 10th year of conceptualization and this non profit organization has grown in stature and made a difference to the Malayalee community in Central Austin over the years. We have an excellent team of Directors that have joined the GAMA board this year and are very enthusiastic and committed to serving the community. I am honored to be the president of GAMA in 2014 to work with this vibrant community. Many of you have been able to participate and enjoy the events organized so far this year. Your continued participation is what makes each event a success. Give us constructive INSIDE THIS ISSUE:


Saregama 2014

The new editorial board has been established and the team consist of 3 members,

Poem By Sreevidhya




An Article about mouth care

5/1 ARM Musings of a karimeen lover Saregama winning artifacts

criticism, help us as a volunteer and make your community better. We all know that the Central Austin Malayalee community is growing rapidly. I have a request to existing members since membership strength does matter - Please reach out to the new comers and encourage them to be part of GAMA. Looking forward to seeing many of you in person during GAMA Spring fest on May 24th 2014.


SAREGAMA 2014 Saregama 2014, our annual Talent Festival proved this adage with all the creativity & innovativeness that came out during the evening of April 12th.The talents on display ranged from classical & modern dance forms , instrumental music , songs and skits to whimsical and fascinating fancy dress ideas. It was an evening filled with much joy and enthusiasm as the participants and audience both came together to make the evening a great success.The platform provided a much needed avenue for new talent to emerge and our established performers to prove once again why they love the performing arts so much. For the audience it was a perfect opportunity to sit back and enjoy the multi-faceted talents we have in our community. Our little and big performers were the clear winners of the evening with their enthusiasm to perform and enthrall us with their superb performances. They won the hearts of the

dia to our evening with big thanks to our judges, sponsors and volunteers Kappa & meen curry , rein helping GAMA mak- freshing lassi’s and tea in ing this program a suc- addition to all the other tasty treats. Talented folks, cess- without their engreat music, amazing dancgagement and support we would not have had es and good food and an such lovely evening! Al- ppreciative audience all make for a successful so would like to thank SAREGAMA 2014. our Food vendor in bringing the taste of In- GAMA hopes all of our A

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community by keeping the audience glued to their seats! The amazing music, costumes, dialogues and songs kept the audience in an upbeat mood throughout the program duration. We also had some very interesting door prizes from our valued sponsors that kept everybody crossing their fingers to have their number called out during the lucky draws! community members who had the opportunity to be with us on April 12th it & to those who could not join us, we hope to put on similar events in the future and see you all there! Enjoyed it & to those who could not join us, we hope to put on similar events in the future and see you all there!


ഒരു കിനാവിന്റെ മർമ്മരം ————————————————————————— എന്നുമെന്നിൽ മെയ്തിറങ്ുും നറുനിലാവിൽ ഒരു ഹിെബിന്ദുവിൻ മെറു തലലാടലായി നിൻ െന്ദഹാസും എമന്നയുണർത്തീടുന്നുലവാ? ഇനിയുമെലതാ കിനാവിന്മറ അരുെയാും സാന്ത്വനങ്ൾ

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െതിവരാമത എന്നിൽ നർത്തനൊടുലപാൾ ആ കിനാക്കൾമക്കമന്ത്ാരു അവർണനീയ ൊധുരയും െുലർകാല സവപ്നങ്ളിമലലങ്ാനിൻ െദെലനങ്ൾ അനുവാദെിലലാമത കയറി വരുലപാൾ ഒരു ലവള എലന്ത് ഞാൻ മെൌനും ഭഞിച്ചൂ


ഇളുംെഞ്ഞിൻ അവയക്തയിൽ െൂകരായി നടക്കുലപാൾ മെൌനും ൊത്തും ഇടലവളയിലലാമത സുംസാരിച്ചുലവാ? എന്നിട്ടുമെലന്ത് ഏകാന്ത്തയിൽ െീവീടുകൾ തൻ

എമന്നയുണർത്തുും നിൻ െധുലരാർെെകൾമക്കലന്നാ മകാഴിഞ്ഞ കകതപ്പൂവിൻ സുഗന്ധും ....

ആരവും ഒരു വന്മതിലായി നെുക്കിടയിൽ? അകലക്കാണിമലലങ്ാ െറഞ്ഞിരുന്ന ത്െണയും നിന്നിലർപ്പിച്ചിട്ടുും ഒരു വിരഹിണിതൻ ഹൃദയത്തുടിപ്പുകൾ എമന്ന വലയും മെയ്തുലവാ? ഇടലവളകമള െുല്കി കടന്നുലൊും വാക്കുകൾമക്കലന്ത് ഒരു സു:സൊഗെ ൊരുത കിട്ടീല. ഇനിയുമൊരുൊട് നാഴികകൾ െിന്നിടുലപാഴുും , ഇന്നമലകളിമല കിനാക്കൾ ഒരുെമെ ശിശിരും െുല്കുൊയിരിക്കാും അവയുമട യൌവനത്തികവിന്മറ ൊയാലശാഭയിൽ


ഇനിയുും ഋതുലഭതങ്ൾ അണയുലപാൾ

Sreevidhya Ajayan


THE MOUTH The Mouth-Body Connection You may have heard of the mind-body connection, but what about the mouth – body connection? To many people, a dental visit is about getting their teeth cleaned, having a tooth pulled, or getting a filling.

However, a dental visit is not just about teeth. It is also about your overall health. What goes on in your mouth can affect the rest of your body. What goes on in your body also can have an effect on your mouth. The body in connected like a pipe line system and we don’t want bacteria which can affect the teeth and gums enter the blood stream and in turn affect the heart or other organs. The body in connected like a pipe line system and we don’t want bacteria which can affect the teeth and gums enter the blood stream and in turn affect the heart or other organs

Many diseases and conditions can affect your oral health. For example, people may get more infections in the mouth if their immune system is weak. The immune system protects your body from illness and infection. It can be weakened by disease, by drugs taken to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs, or as a side effect of cancer chemotherapy drugs.

Medicine for other conditions also can affect the health of your mouth. For example, many drugs cause dry mouth. This can increase your risk of dental decay and yeast infections. It also can affect taste.


While examining your mouth, your dentist might see a sign or symptom of an illness or disease that you might not even know you have. The dentist may perform tests and/or refer you to a specialist for treatment.If you have certain medical conditions, you may need specialized oral and dental care. If necessary, your dentist can refer you to an expert in oral medicine.Your oral health also can affect other medical conditions. For ex-

ample, if you are diabetic, a mouth infection can disrupt your blood-sugar levels and make your diabetes harder to control. Researchers also are exploring whether periodontal (gum) disease may increase the risk of various medical problems. These may include heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and premature births.

public health. Can Medication Have an Effect on My Oral Health? About 35% of U.S. adults have some form of periodontitis. Another 50% have gingivitis. The mildest form of gum disease. Because gum disease is so common, its treatment and management can have important implications for overall

The answer is: Yes, medications can have oral side effects of dry mouth being the most common. Be sure to tell your dentist about any medications that you're taking, even medicines that you purchase without a prescription.

About 35% of U.S. adults have some form of periodontitis

These are the types of medications that will often produce dry mouth:      

Antihistamines Decongestants Pain Killers Diuretics High Blood Pressure Medications Antidepressants Other medications may cause abnormal bleeding while brushing or flossing, inflamed or ulcerated tissues, Dr. Satish Thirumalai, D.M.D. La Frontera Dental, mouth burning, numbness or tingling, movement dis- PLLC orders and taste alteration. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your dentist or physician.


A case of 5/1 Adjustable Rate Biggest debt one will own in a life time - mortage

Mortgage debt is probably the largest debt you would ever hold in your life time. How you manage this can be critical to your financial well being all throughout your life. When it comes to getting a mortgage loan for a new home or refinancing an existing loan, 99% of the people settle with a 30 year of 15 year mortgage. This is unfortunate because there are better programs which will help you pay less in interest in the life of the loan. Since this industry has become so commoditized there is no personal service in this industry to

educate the consumer about strategizing on their loans.

The highest the rate can go every year is the rate what you got plus five points. Before one get a mortgage one should have a good understanding of all the loan options. With the new rising interest rates of the popular 30 year loans,

What is a 5/1 ARM Most people tend to be alarmed about the adjustable nature of ARM rate. They mistakenly tie the ARM rate dynamics with the daily fluctuating interest rates of a 30 year mortgage and believe that they could skyrocket to what ever

one should seriously consider other cheaper alternatives. The 30 year mortgage was exceptional in 2012 and beginning of 2013, but started to climb from March due to the uncertainty in

the market due to the Fed’s plan to cease purchase of mortgage notes by the end of the year.

rate they can imagine.

A 5/1 ARM has a rate of 2.98% as of April 2014. This rate is based on the 1 year LIBOR (London Interbank Overnight Rates) of the dollar, which is the the sum of 2.25% margin added to the rate of 0.630% which has been dropping since 2008 and expected to remain steady in the years to come.



The rate is fixed for the first five years. After that, every year, the rate can adjust up (or down) to a maximum of two percentage points. The highest the rate can go every year is the rate what you got plus five points. For example, the worst case scenario of a 3% ARM is 8% after the 8th year of the

Still not convinced? If it ever happens you . can switch the remaining of your mortgage to a fixed loan. But the reality is, most borrowers do not stick with that loan beyond 5-7 years and refinance the loan dur-

loan (this is not as scary as you think, by the time you have substantially reduced your principal on your loan that the change in rate will have a lower impact on the interest you pay). If everything goes wrong with the ARM, for the 6th year, it can go to 5%, 7th year to 7%

ing that time due to drop in rates, or purchase of another property, selling of the existing home etc. So when it comes to the usability of a loan, it doesn’t have 30 year life with a borrower, mostly due to life changes. Analysis for the math curious Let us do the math on a $200,000 loan. The current 30 year mort-

year fixed mortgage is 182,315 vs for 177,812 on an ARM. That is an additional $4,500 savings for a total of $19,500 savings in interest! Savings doesn’t end there, in an ARM after 5 years, the payment is calculated based on the remaining principal amortized over 25 year where you will see less payments per month. With every reset of the rate, if the rate remains same, you will see reduction in payment every year. While your payment is the same for the fixed rate. If at all the rate fluctuates, for eg. 1/4th of a point, the interest paid is not significant. These exceptional savings are lost by the borrower, due to the perceived peace of mind

and 8th year to 8% and it stops there, it can’t go higher any further. But this is the WORST case scenario. Mind you for this to happen, six years from now, the banks have to lend to each other banks at 2.5% per year, and on 7th year they should lend at 4.5% a year and the year after 5.5% a year or more. Based on how the economy is moving and how strict the regulations are in place after the mortgage crisis, the probably of such an occurance is extremely low.

gage is 4.5% and 5/1 ARM i s around 3 %. This would be a savings of approximately $15,000 (or 14715.77 to be exact) on a $200,000 loan for the first five years if you chose the ARM. Not just that, the loan is paid off accelerated on an lower priced ARM than a higher priced 30 year loan. In our case, at the end of five years the remaining principal of an 30

on a 30 year mortgage. So here is a strategy for you. Find out what your 30 year mortgage rate will be, and get an ARM and pay to the principal the difference in the rate saved due to the ARM, to reduce your loan amount. This will make the ARM payment and the 30 year mortgage payment the same. Once you do that for 5 years, you get a substantial amount of principal reduction. Even if the rate readjusts to a higher amount (most unlikely), the total interest you pay could be lower than getting a fixed rate mortgage.

Why ARM is better

Do you invest in the stock market? How confident are you about the stock market to do well in the future? If you have an appetite for stock market, you should have for the ARM too, it is a lot less riskier. The key to the ARM is the index which it is based on. It is based on 1 year LIBOR, which is a dropping index for the past 8 years. This index is based on the rate US banks charge each other for borrowing money from each other. Stability has returned to the banking sector now, which indicates the trust which each bank lend money to. Also remember, banks have insurances and backed by the government and highly regulated after the mortgage meltdown. So whichever way you slice it, trusting in an ARM is less risky than trusting in the stock market. Strategy Combined with a 5/1 ARM and biweekly payment system for your mortgage payment, and shifting the extra payment from a fixed payment into principal

every year the loan resets, one can substantially accelerate the payoff of your mortgage and be debt free. Hem Ramachandran is educated in engineering, and currently owner of Indus Realty & Lending, a company specializing in helping local area Austinites with their home asset management and financials.

Musings of a karimeen Most of the seafood-loving malayalees who were brought up in Kerala have grown up eating yummy fish fries and tasty fish curries. After savoring the tasty karimeen fries and neimeen fish mollies, we are on the look out for similar fishes in Austin Market. A "newbie" (person who arrived in US recently), will be often searching the markets for familiar fishes like karimeen (Pearlspot), sardine(Chala/Mathi), neimeen (Seer fish), aavoli (Pomfret) etc. But you can rarely find these fishes in fresh condition, as you

would see in a fish market in Kerala. These fishes belong to marine tropical waters whereas in most of the US, the fishes are from temperate weather. Cold-water fishes like Salmon, Trout etc. are rarely encountered in tropical regions, which is why we have never heard of these fishes in India. Most of the tropical fishes arrive in US from abroad in frozen condition, which is subsequently thawed and displayed along with ice, which makes us think that their freshness is similar to the ones from Kerala. Once we take a bite of

Neelima those fish curries, we realize how badly we miss Kerala!We frequently hear the warnings about

poisoning from Tuna (Choora) and King mackerel, which makes you wonder what makes these fishes selected targets. These highly predative fishes are at the top of the food web and consume other mercurycontaining fishes and shellfishes leading to bioaccumulation of mercury. Hence Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises the consumption of low mercury fishes and shellfishes to 2 average meals a week and avoid high mercury fishes like Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel and Tile fish. Salmon is touted as a healthy alternative to red meat due to the abundance of Omega-3 fatty acids, with known cardiovascular benefits as well as bioactive proteins that may provide special support to joint cartilage, insulin effectiveness and control of inflammation in digestive tract. Some of you might be familiar with the controversy about the safety and health benefits of farm-raised salmons versus wild caught ones. Wild-caught salmon has lesser contaminants than farm -raised salmon, but the nutritional benefits are comparable. Most of the fresh salmon we find in fish markets are the farmed variety, which outnumbers the wild caught ones by 85 to one. Hence if you buy fresh Salmon from local markets, it is most likely a farm raised one. Finally, back to karimeen, how can you forget the state fish of Kerala? Yes, it is true that karimeen (Pearlspot) was declared as the State Fish by the Government of Kerala in 2011, a fact unknown to most malayalees. This indigenous fish from Kerala can be found in a variety of water conditions ranging from fresh water to salty brackish waters, especially in the backwaters of Travancore-Cochin, Malabar and South Kanara along the west coast. Pearlspot delicacies are much sought after by locals and foreigners alike, so the next time you visit Kerala, make sure to try out at least one “Karimeen pollichathu�!!

Kids CornerSAREGAMA Winning Paintings


Sahana Iyer Edna Jaison Shreya Namboothiri Joel Jaison Elba Jaison Pranav Jose Anupriya Jose


Weird, but amazing Austin Winter is my favorite time of the year. My birthday, Christmas, and cold wintry weather all make the time very special. During winter everybody decorates Christmas trees in their houses with glamorous ornaments. But Austinites decorate the trees along the highways especially the Capital of Texas highway for the holiday season. Even the cold weather wouldn’t stop the people from decorating the trees. Dozens of trees are decorated with different themes like Barbie, Hello Kitty, emoticon, and paper plates. Some people put wrapped presents under the trees too. In fact the public is allowed to decorate the trees however they want to. Next year I am going to decorate a tree too.

yore’s birthday. Eeyore is a fictional character in a children’s book called Winnie the Pooh. He is a chronically depressed donkey. His birthday party is a daylong festival that includes live music, food, drinks, and colorful costumes. I always wanted to attend his birthday when I was little. All these little things amaze me about Austin. I feel happy to live in such a city which has so much s spirit and life.

By, Manu Perinchery.

Austin is the only place that celebrates EeAustin City Limits television series focused for many years on Texas singers and songwriters, country, folk, and pop performers, and instrument specialists. The The Live music Capital of the award-winning television show resembles the festival World lineup and spotlights artists of every musical genre from pop and Jazz to rock, and alternative. More than 75,000 Austin is a place where, many people includ- fans attend the festival each day and the festival contribing me call it Home. Austin has many character- utes to Austin’s status as the “Live Music Capital of the istics that attracts and amazes people about it. World.” One of the main things that amazes and attracts me to Austin is its vibrant live music. Austin is considered the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin residents simply love music whether it is in a and world famous Artists from all over the club or in the great outdoors. The Backyard at Bee Cave is an open air music venue, dedicated to the best practicworld come to Austin to perform. es to preserve the environment, while promoting music and fun. Notable artists such as Willie Nelson Austin hosts the Austin City Limits Music Fes- plays regularly play at The Backyard. tival. Each year, the Austin City Limits l brings Concert events in Austin offer music for every taste and together more than150 acts from all over the genre, ranging from Indie Rock to Country. The Hartworld to play rock, indie, country, folk, electron- man Foundation in offers classical music “Concerts in ic and more genres on eight stages. The historic the Park” each year in the Hartman Concert Park. Zilker Hillside Theater also offers concerts.


The Old Settler’s Music Festival is held each spring. It is dedicated to Americana and features bluegrass, acoustic jazz and blues, as well as arts and crafts. Camping is encouraged and there are events showcasing the musical talents of children and young people. The Austin Reggae Festival is also held each spring and features reggae artists from around the world. Visitors can shop the International Marketplace for unique items from around the world. Proceeds from the Reggae Fest go to help the local food bank feed the hungry. Out of all the good characteristic s in Austin, music has always been the one that amazes me about this great city. Anywhere you are in Austin, you can find one way or another, to enjoy music. Music has played a huge part in Austin’s history and it will continue to attract more people to Austin. By,

Ananya Thomas A Multifaceted City ———————— In today’s world, it seems like every city in the US has something they claim as their specialty- Los Angeles has the superstar quality, Orlando has the tropical climate and beaches. Even Dallas is known as the city with the famed football team. The thing that amazes me about Austin is how this city does not fit into any stereotype. Austin has a place for everyone, be it the music scene, the football fanatics, or even the amazing Tex-Mex food that is available all over. It embraces diversity and the uniqueness of the individual, making Austin one of the most culturally vibrant cities in the US.

With many famous music festivals, Austin has always been the center point for hot-and-happening bands. In fact, this year’s Austin City Limits music festival had over 200,000 people attending from all over the US. Through this festival, many different upcoming groups are able to perform in front of huge crowds, and able to add their voice to the world. The variety and creativity of these bands is what draws so many people to attend every year. Another tech and music festival called South by Southwest is very popular as well because of its mélange of activities. Be it the presentation of cutting-edge technology, new music, or even the presence of celebrities, everyone has a spot in SXSW, just like they do in Austin. If music or technology isn’t your thing, Austin doesn’t disappoint. Home of the UT Longhorns, this city is as sports crazy as they come. The Longhorns’ fans come in throngs to games, and the stands are always packed. The feeling of team unity and spirit can be felt from the players on the field to the fanatics in the stands. However, football is not the only sport Austin has to offer. Hockey, basketball, and even baseball are wildly popular here, and there are many fans of each sport. This assortment of teams and fans means that everyone has someone to cheer for and no one gets left out.

Although Austin is famed for its music, technology, and sports, that’s not all that it has to offer. The strong Hispanic heritage that Austin is so proud of paves the way for excellent Tex-Mex restaurants such as Chuy’s and Torchy’s. These restaurants are famed for their home-cooked food that is made with care and a love of culture. This love of culture can also be exhibited through different cuisines as well. Japanese sushi restaurants and even Indian joints call Austin their home because of the everpresent demand for variety here.

Austin’s diversity is what makes it the ideal city for everyone. Anyone that comes here can find something that fits what they like perfectly. The medley of different cultures, people, and environment creates a culturally dynamic city that really lives up to its catchphrase- “Keep Austin Weird.”. By, Malavika Perichery

By, Advaith Binu


The one thing that amazes me about Austin There are so many things that I could say about Austin. But what is the one thing that amazes me about it? Other people might have their own opinions about it, but for me it is the diversity of things and people in Austin which keeps the city young and vibrant. It may not appear so weird and diverse on the outside, but it is on the inside. I’m going to start off by telling you a story about one of the many diverse aspects of Austin. Have you ever been to a place where you can settle down and just watch as nature flies right before your eyes? You can, at the Congress Avenue Bridge! Every evening, millions of bats fly out from the bottom of the bridge. Here is where my story starts. I reached the bridge and found a place to sit among hundreds of people who were already there. After waiting for many minutes the excitement built up. The excitement of waiting for the bats made it hard to blink. At first, only a few bats came out. But when the rest of them did the sight of millions of bats flying out from underneath the bridge was breathtaking! Now, let’s see what happens when most people are snoring in their beds. A whole other world awakens in Austin! Austin City Nightlife! The nightlife is also where Austin gets one of its most commonly known titles: “The Music Capital of the World”. Jazz, Rock, Pop, Hip Hop, Punk and many other styles bloom in the Austin nights. Musicians and Artists from different races and cultures show their talent every night when a whole new city emerges from the cloak of the night. Two of the most famous music festivals in Austin are South by SouthWest (also known as SXSW) and Austin City Limits (ACL). Now let us move on to the day, where more of

the excitement awaits. Let’s now explore some of the other diverse parts of Austin. Let’s go to the State Capitol Building where any kind of protest is possible. The State Capitol Building in Austin has been known for the weirdest protests in Texas, which makes people believe that anything is possible.

By, Pranav Jose

The one THING that amazes me about Austin What one THING that amazes me about Austin is that there is never a dull moment. Wherever you go, you can always find an event where you can have some fun. So to me, Austin is not just the capital of the state of Texas, but is also the capital of fun. I can name any number of fun activities such as the Zilker Kite Festival, South by Southwest, Formula 1 racing, Longhorn football, Austin Regional Science Festival and countless others. Then there is GAMA where I can learn a lot about Kerala and its culture. I believe that Austin is special, and I’m going to show you why. Fun Events in Austin Zilker Kite Festival - This kite festival is one of Austin’s best known events. Anyone is welcome to enjoy a wonderful spring day flying kites or relax watching thousands on them soar in the sky against the downtown skyline. Congress Avenue Bridge Bats - Did you know that Austin is also called the “Bat Capital”? While we can see hordes of them fly out in the evenings almost under every bridge, the one on Congress Avenue is more special. This feast for your eyes can be seen during a Live Love Paddle tour. South by Southwest - This is a fun set of film, interactive, and music festivals which take place only in Austin. These festivals are known as one of the best festivals in the country. Austin Regional Science Festival - This festival showcases the great science projects made by students all over greater Austin schools. Formula One racing – The Circuit of the Americas is the motor racing circuit that hosted the Formula One Grand Prix in 2012 and 2013 Longhorn football – The Texas Longhorns are the college football team of The University of Texas at Austin. GAMA programs – So many community programs year round promoting the culture of Kerala. What I have written down above are only a fraction of all the interesting things in Austin. Austin has a rich diversity of culture. Being close to Mexico and a techie town and affordable homes, it brings people from lots of different countries together. Austin is also a university town with many well-

known universities and colleges which attracts students from all around the world. The cultural diversity also brings in the diversity of the different countries’ food. Exotic family meals are only a few minutes of a drive away. Austin also has a few open air trailer parks where anybody can enjoy a nice breakfast, lunch, or dinner Austin is the best city (in my opinion) with many unique qualities where many good people live in. It has a very promising future and we all should keep it that way. For all of us and our uniqueness, we should keep “Austin weird!” which is the catchy slogan of our beloved city.

By, Siddharth Iyyer

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GAMA Newsletter April 2014  
GAMA Newsletter April 2014