HONEY! I LOVE YOU…

Honey Glazed Walnuts ?? Yes, yes. Heard you. They are delicious and healthy. But so are honey glazed chicken, honey glazed carrots, sriracha and honey glazed broccoli. Browsing these recipes is like food porn, watching the ingredients bring the dish to life while salivating almost makes me full sometimes. If one has to ask me what is that one versatile ingredient that you would want to experiment with while cooking, my answer without a doubt would be honey. It can be added to any vegetable or meat to bring that twist. Have you tried honey with a bitter gourd? If you love bitter gourd, you should try this. 

My morning routine starts with a glass of warm water with honey and lemon.

honey2
(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

It gives the required kick to the morning. Lemon is refreshing, and the honey helps boost energy.  For many years of my life, my morning beverage was coffee, but once I replaced it with lemon and honey water, I saw dramatic improvements in my health.

Honey acquires its characteristic taste depending on where the bees collect the nectar from. If the honeycomb is an area where Neem plants are more, one could easily taste the bitterness in the honey. 

Honey improves our immunity, which helps us fight a lot of diseases. Are you anemic? Have a tablespoon of honey a day, and you would see improvement in your hemoglobin levels. Honey also is an excellent remedy for cough. Honey was considered a medicine in ancient times, and in India, it is still part of many home remedies. A mixture of honey and ginger juice helps heal sour throat. Honey has antioxidants that can prevent cancer, heart diseases, and in some cases, can heal wounds. 

I was watching a food show a couple of days ago where they said that honey is not recommended for infants less than a year old. I was curious to know if this is true because, in our households, we do give honey to newborn babies. After some reading on different websites, and this is what they say, “Honey can contain spores of a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, which can germinate in a baby’s immature digestive system and cause infant botulism, a rare but potentially fatal illness.” So, let your kid be of a year old before you start giving honey to them. 

little kid looking at homemade pancakes with berries and honey on table
(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

Do you know how to check if the honey you are using is authentic and not adulterated with sugar? Take a bowl, add a tablespoon of honey into the bowl. Add a quarter cup of water to the bowl and gently swirl the bowl. After a few rounds of water on the honey, the honey would look something like a honeycomb. If the honeycomb shape is not formed, you can be sure that the honey is not pure. This amazed me when I tried it. Honey is so versatile, can get along with any food item, helps us stay healthy and all of this while maintaining its own authenticity. This is so important for us humans to understand from honey, honey bees, honeycomb or I must say, the honey-making process all in all teach us to be selfless, have a meaning for life, help others and be kind without losing our own self-identity. 

The glob of precious honey that I had poured into my mouth at Ace’s was the life’s work of hundreds of bees, a unique floral ode collected from thousands of blossoms in a poetic foraging ritual – Holley Bishop

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A MENU OF UNCERTAINTY, CHANGE AND GROWTH: ARE WE READY FOR IT!

Hello stranger!  I am not You! You are Not Me! A normal thing to follow a certain lifestyle pattern decked in one’s comfort zone when you walk right into my close guarded space. It’s another tale that I let you in, and oblivious about drastic changes to take place. I am a happy go lucky guy. I not only resist but loathe changes happening in my life. Wanna bet! Ask me to be your 4 a.m soul friend and every chance I will gun you down. Chill! I am kidding.

We live in the age of social media where we have countless strangers on our Friend list which we add and remove as fast as changing partners. It’s our sexless and multiple hookups permeating every single breathe taken. One stranger among many will sashay into our lives like a sprinkle of sweet and sour, chosen by the universe and the divine.  Resistance doesn’t really work and we need to trust that person as a critic who wouldn’t think twice in pushing us beyond limits to heal and offer a perspective that we often blithely ignore.

I call it baby steps where we need to swim against the person tide to remove the stiffness and see things with an open eye. Are we willing to make changes?

A soulmate, a friend or a partner often step in to push us beyond our acceptable limits. In the start, it may hurt and a tough call to walk on a tight rope. It can be any small thing, be it de-cluttering the personal space or making a personal change to a varied lifestyle, from eating healthy to devoting daily 5 minutes meditation and slowly kicking the butt.

There is never a Right time for a change and will probably Never be. We just need to trust this Stranger Friend with whom we connect on a deeper level and small adjustments can trigger a meaningful overhaul.  For a someone getting hitched or getting in a relationship, raw nerves may tick for he or she has to share the personal bed with someone new for the days of splaying all over is no longer a luxury. Next, in line, arrange the wardrobe and don’t just throw the towel on the floor or washroom.  The question is, how many among us are well adjusted psychologically for the life-altering changes? The truth is we are never ready and keep resisting means we will remain stuck in a rut. 

It has always been a tough call on a personal level to make changes. I prefer resisting in most of the case.  But, the honest truth is clinging on to the old means an unwillingness to grow and discarding old things to embrace the new means we are stuck in an immovable past that can often carry the perfect recipe for disaster or a huge burden to carry.

Do we eat Right or indulge in the frills of monotonous sex? Think over it! Add some zing and color to our personal canvas to remove the drab hinging into our existence. Changes need not be drastic. Every single time, add something new to the routine. For instance, sprinkling less salt in the food to cut the body fat.

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WHEN MY HEALTH SIGNALLED ME TO CHANGE LIFESTYLE

Few months after the birth of my first child,  I started having mild pain in the lower back. Thinking that the pain was one of the features of the post-pregnancy and post-delivery life of a mom,  I ignored it initially. “Of course”, I thought, “it’s due to the humongous changes that took place in my body”.

The pain worsened and before could schedule a visit to the doctor,  my back muscles were locked into the ‘catch’ position. Besides not being able to bend,  I wasn’t even able to walk, sit straight or turn on my side while in bed. When I was taken to the physiotherapist,  she immediately said, “It’s because of your sedentary lifestyle. Now, after childbirth, you must be doing so much work than you did earlier,  and since your body isn’t accustomed to take so much pressure, your back is locked.”

I was shocked and afraid at the same time. She said if 3 – 4 times more I face a similar situation,  then I might develop a slip disc. 

I did exercises session with my physiotherapist for a month who helped to strengthen my back. Meanwhile,  my husband got a project in Shanghai and we had to move. I was kind of reluctant to go because of the fear of getting into the similar situation in a foreign country,  where our moms couldn’t visit us easily. My physiotherapist, however, assured me that if I continued with my exercise regimen, nothing will happen. Feeling assured, I moved to Shanghai and yes,  my back did suffer from spasm, as I stopped months after I got better, but then resumed my exercise routine. If I used to get bored with the exercises, I took to dancing with my little one and also taking him in stroller for long walks. 

A couple of years later, when we returned,  my son started his preschool and so my physical activities also increased as I used to play with him. Sometimes I used to take him for nature walks in the morning or race with him in climbing up the stairs, which was great fun.

My job as a homemaker became more demanding after the birth of my second son. With the support of my in-laws, who took care of the children at home, I started working a pre-primary teacher, which in itself requires a lot of physical activities. However,  I had to quit as my husband got a job in a different city. 

Currently, I am back to my full-time job as a homemaker as my younger one has started his preschool. Until I resume my teaching job,  I am keeping myself physically active by doing all the chores myself. I didn’t hire any maid for cleaning the house or washing dishes because I feel that’s the best way I can keep myself healthy and the house immaculate!

CHOOSE A LIFESTYLE YOU WANT – NOT OTHERS

Lifestyle and I had conflicts ever since I was born.

Ever since my childhood being little introspective and determined in a variable way, I ensured to be little more intentional in my every step ahead. My lifestyle choices have always amused me, surprised me, shocked me, bored me as well as condemned me as well as other people in my life in many ways.

Being brought up in a typical Keralite family, I was kind of bound to be more like a Keralite had followed most of the things from my mothers’ footsteps. I had to be invariably the same after a couple of mistakes and challenges I took up to blend in various other lifestyles.

My Conflicts with the Girl inside me

I always wanted to be boyish, but again my features never did justice to my thoughts. My thoughts just remained in my deeds but not in my appearance. To some extent, I believed that being a boy was far better because they had the best reward in life – FREEDOM. I used to hate wearing typical girl shoes and pink dresses. It did not give me the comfort to be more girlish in some way.

Again in the coming years, I realised being a girl was a blessing indeed. It is not about the Freedom, but being a Girl mattered me. (I kind of turned semi-Feminist).

My Conflicts in adapting to dressing style

Any time of the day, all I wanted to wear is a Tshirt and pants, but again here my consciousness being little heavy built failed me here. My dressing style was never acceptable to anyone in the family. When they want me to be a typical Kerala style -Salwar-Clad girl, I wanted to escape from all these barriers.

My Conflicts with my routines

Like every other youngster, I too had a lousy lifestyle- sometimes oversleeping, sometimes overworking and much more. And after numerous trials and errors, the curtain fell over it, when motherhood took over my life. I changed myself to craft a beautiful and convenient lifestyle for my children. Something to blend in the lives around me. It actually worked out giving me sufficient time to manage my own things too, which I felt was a better way to live happily.

As I went abroad too, my customized style never left me. It had become a kind of sheath I used to cover my insecurities. My Lifestyle became a burden to my mind gradually.

My Conflicts led me to be a target at every instance, as it had become a vulnerability in me. The more I had disputes in me the challenges just doubled.

It wasn’t easy to fix a lifestyle that suited me. Off and on  I get so motivated and carried away – and all I do is try to blend in. It never worked in my favour.

Until when I realised. It was better to be Just ME.

The Road to No Regrets

Living by persuasion, without being approved is quite hard. It came in as a late realisation that it is easy to choose what actually suits me and which actually befits me. When I realised, it all came perfectly well to me.

I realised that whatever outside influence comes to my mind, it should never bother me. All I have to do is just be who I am, rather than stop becoming what others want me to be.

ACCEPT YOUR INDIVIDUALITY

I grew up watching my cousins wearing beautiful dresses and spending lavishly. I couldn’t do so as my parents didn’t have enough to allow me to spend beyond the genuine needs. All I could do was look at my cousins and take a sigh. I knew the financial condition of my parents and, therefore, I didn’t ask for more. But I always wanted to have what my cousins and my friends owned. I wanted those pretty sandals, dresses, and what not! 

As an ordinary girl, I too used to get fascinated by the lifestyle of the celebrities. I followed some of them to an extent my pocket could allow. I used to see how those celebrities followed a lifestyle to look elegant and presentable and it did influence me. I used to follow their eating and speaking style so that I too could look elegant. Gradually, I felt like being choked up. The influence of someone’s lifestyle was choking me. Maybe because for me, their lifestyle was hard to accept. For a moment, it did feel like fascinating but eventually, I decided to give up and follow my own lifestyle.

Leave about celebrities, even when I went to my village I saw girls of my age and younger to me wearing salwar-kameez. Honestly, I consider this to be one of the most-beautiful attire a girl can ever have. Influenced by those girls, I decided to quit my trousers and tees. Trust me, I couldn’t take the salwar-kameez for a long time. It was all about a week or two. I guess this happened because I personally never felt the urge to wear salwar-kameez all the time. I started to feel as if I am locked up in a dark room. I guess this happened because I was never used to living like them.

It is not only about clothes. When you follow a lifestyle, many things count in it. The food you eat, your sleeping schedule, your way of speaking, weekend plans, and much more. And it is completely okay if you are having a different lifestyle. Most of my friends go on a trip or go to some pubs on weekends. I, on the other end, love spending time with my books, answering Quora questions, and reading blogs. For me, going to parties and shopping seems way too boring and time-consuming. This amazes my friends and they wonder if I ever enjoy? Trust me, I enjoy a lot because I have my own life and a way of living. And I love it. It is not necessary that everyone will have a similar lifestyle.

Unless our soul is not convinced to follow a lifestyle, not just for the sake of following but because we love it, we can’t go a long way with that lifestyle. Lifestyle is not just a matter of a day or two. It is all about our comfort, upbringing, and the environment we live in. Today, I earn on my own but not as much as my friends do. With the money I get, I can buy whatever clothes I want or eat whatever I want but I can’t. I am more influenced by my lifestyle I have been following so far. But if you think the other person is having a better lifestyle then you must know it is not easy to step into one’s shoes. The best thing is to accept your individuality and live accordingly. 

LIFESTYLE: A CONTINUOUS PROCESS OF ADAPTATION AND ADJUSTMENTS

Geographic location, family background, socioeconomic status, culture, people and individual personality patterns give shape to our lifestyles. There are certain commonalities in the lifestyle of the human race. But, the ways of living out those lifestyles often varies. For example, all humans eat to live and all wear clothes to be socially presentable. However, who eats what and who wears which type of clothes may differ even between houses on the same lane.

And so, we all have our lifestyles. As adults, we either choose to maintain the lifestyle that we are brought up in or we opt to change that lifestyle radically because of certain thought processes or influences in our lives. Many of us decide to tinker with our foundational lifestyle and imbibe a few features of a new lifestyle and find a middle path to retain the old and imbibe the new. Whatever said and done, we all have certain unique lifestyles.

For a little more than twenty years of my life, I grew up in a city that defined my lifestyle with its mannerisms. Later as I moved to the national capital, I found myself blending in with the capital city’s lifestyle all the while holding on to the mannerisms I grew up with. Close to nine years of my stay in the national capital helped me discover myself and be me. That was something I didn’t get to do in the initial years of my life. Presently, my job has brought me to a semi-rural place with its share of challenges. The transition needed a huge lifestyle shift because since the last four generations no one in my family has lived anywhere close to a rural habitation. To live and work in such a set up requires lifestyle changes.

We, humans, are shaped with such personality traits that help us to adapt to our surroundings on most occasions (though the extent to which we adapt varies from person to person). That’s how we thrive. 

But, then some aren’t able to cope with lifestyle changes. There was this family I know who moved to New Zealand from India, on getting more promising work opportunities. Their children were quite small at that time. However, they had to return to India in a year’s time as their little daughter wasn’t able to acquaint herself with the new place and the lifestyle changes. 

Also, there are some who don’t wish to cope with lifestyle changes. There’s a friend’s vegetarian husband who was to travel to London for an official trip of a week. From the day he received the order, he fell sick with rising blood pressure (though he is an absolutely healthy man). His worry was how would he have his meals at a place that served non-vegetarian food! (He assumed there is no space for vegetarians in Western countries). Well, finally he ended up stuffing his suitcases with a lot of eatables so that he won’t have to eat a thing in London. Of course, he had a different story to tell on return!

The most demanding lifestyle change of all is brought about by marriage. No matter how well the couple know each other before marriage, staying under the same roof with a commitment for life is a different ball game altogether. It requires huge lifestyle adjustments. Sometime back I heard a person nearing sixty describe how his and his wife’s tastes are polar opposites in every matter. One needs the fan to run at full speed while the other barely needs the fan. One dislikes cold drinks while the other dislikes all hot drinks. He cited many other such instances. It was really amusing to hear him narrate. But, he concluded that in spite of all these differences they have loved each other all these years and have remained committed without any major argument between them. Well, I won’t call it ‘the perfect marriage’ as I have written in one of my previous articles that there aren’t any perfect couples and perfect marriages – only well-adjusted ones.

Lifestyles can be static – especially if people do not wish to let go of traditional generational mannerisms. But, lifestyles can be vibrantly dynamic as well, for people who are open to exploring and imbibing newness and variation.

It’s wise to be open to exploration, but instead of blindly aping on newness, it is prudent to adopt the lifestyle that is good and acceptable in the eyes of God.

RAISED FROM THE PIT – XIV

An infuriated Arunima hastily banged the door and went in search for Binoy. After sometime, Arnab rushed out for work. But he was in no mood for office. The fact that Binoy had left empty-handed urged him to get to the bottom of the entire matter. Arnab turned towards the traffic post where Binoy used to sell roses. However, except for an old man with few roses in his hand, there was no sight of Binoy! Arnab shoved his steering wheel in disappointment. He was about to turn and leave for office anyway but a café across the street caught his eye. “Great now I can sit there and keep a close watch on this traffic post. The moment I see Binoy, I’ll confront him”, Arnab thought aloud and entered the café.

After sometime, Arunima too arrived at the traffic post and was desperately looking for Binoy. But to her dismay, he was nowhere to be found. After waiting there for sometime, she left. “I think he must have returned there by now,” Arunima muttered. Straight from home Arunima had been to the place where Binoy resided earlier, and since she couldn’t find him, she headed towards the traffic post. Now again she turned towards that place. Arnab on the other hand had already notice Arunima. “Hmmm, so madam is on Mission Binoy, she may end up get a good shock in the end, serves her right,” Arnab chuckled.

Arunima again arrived at the same traffic post for the third time in two hours. This time she literally parked her car and was frantically on a hunting spree! Arnab saw her from the café window. He wanted to smile, but was disturbed seeing the pensive state of Arunima. “I think I should talk to her. Arunima is going crazy. I can’t see her like this. This is simply going nowhere.”  Arnab thought aloud and rushed towards Arunima.

Arunima was in a pathetic condition. It was first time in her life that she was not able to arrive at any decision.  As she turned to leave, she bumped into someone. “Oops I’m sorry,” murtured Arunima as she walked away. “Its okay,” replied Arnab politely. Arunima found the voice familiar and was shocked to see Arnab infront of her.

“Wh..what are you doing here?” Arunima asked in a sharp tone. “Aru please, don’t create a scene here, let’s go home and we can discuss,” Arnab said in a convincing tone. “There is nothing left to discuss,” Arunima replied angrily. She turned to leave but was startled to find an old man staring at her. Arunima turned her face, she was in no mood for charity.

Young lady are you searching for someone?” , the old man asked her politely. “Please mind your business,” Arunima replied rudely. Immediately Arnab interrupted, “Have you seen any 14-15 year old boy who used to sell roses here??”  With folded hands and trembling lips, that old man went near Arnab and asked , “so you are Arnab bhaiya and she is Aru Didi, and you are searching for Bi..Binoy???”  Arnab and Arunima froze in astonishment!! “Ye..yess, yess we are searching for Binoy,” Arunima suddenly felt energized.

“I knew, I knew you will definitely come looking for him. Binoy is such a gem of a person!”, that old man exclaimed! “Wait a sec! Who are you? How do you know us? And how are you related to Binoy?”, Arnab asked in one breath. “I’m his Kaka,”  Kaka replied delightedly wiping away his tears. “Binoy has told me everything that happened last night. So before you ask me anything further, I want to show you something. Please come, all your doubts will be cleared once you witness it. Please I request you to come and see,” Kaka requested Arnab and Arunima with folded hands.

Arnab and Arunima exchanged glances, not sure how to react. But they clearly couldn’t deny such a humble request. Kaka took him to the place where Binoy, Bablu and other boys resided. They parked their car at a distance as per Kaka’s request. Kaka pointed towards a water tank and signaled them to follow silently. As they neared the water tank, they could clearly hear a person screaming at the top of his voice, “That Binoy how dare he? What does he think of himself? We could have stolen so many articles from that house and he could have helped us, but no! He turned out to be a loyal dog.”  Arnab felt as if lightning struck him! Even Arunima was stunned to hear all that. Both of them stood there motionless.

Kaka smiled to himself on seeing their reaction. He knew that he had done his part. “Don’t worry Bablu, let’s go find Binoy and we will smack him good. Then, he only will take us to that place,” another voice buzzed in. “No, no first let that stupid kaka come, he will lead us to Binoy, no need to waste our energy, let’s have lunch, come on,” replied the dominating voice.

Arnab was about to confront Bablu and his group when Kaka grabbed him by his arm and stopped him. “No don’t go there, please come, I have something to tell you guys.”  Kaka, Arnab and Arunima tip – toed towards the car. “What you heard is the truth. Please don’t doubt Binoy. He can’t think of hurting his Aru Didi, even in his dream. These boys had left him with no option – either he allowed a robbery to take place or he had to leave that house forever and come back to his initial state. Binoy listened to his heart. He prevented the robbery at the cost of his dreams,” Kaka narrated with a heavy tone. “Don’t you think Binoy deserves a good future? He is innocent, please accept him again, take him and give him a better future that he deserves. I had asked your address, but he denied sharing it with me. He purposely didn’t go to the traffic post. He knew for sure that you both will come looking for him. He showed us what loyalty means. He…”  

“Where, is Binoy?”  asked Arnab. Arunima could sense the urgency in his tone. “I knew you will accept him, he..,he is on the other side of the street, the road which you never take”, replied Kaka, smiling amidst his tears.     

Arunima looked at Arnab questioningly. It was as if she was asking him “so, got your answer?”  Arnab didn’t stare back at Arunima. In fact he couldn’t. He felt guilty and ashamed too. He didn’t want to meet Binoy. “Arnab lets go, we can deal with these boys later,” chipped in Arunima. Arnab stood still, he didn’t utter a word. “Arnab please, before Binoy takes any drastic step, lets meet him,” Arunima urged Arnab. “I, I’m not sure if I can meet him. Here take the keys and you go meet him,” replied Arnab hesitantly. “Arnab please don’t create a scene here, we can discuss stuffs at home,” Arunima taunted sarcastically. They both thanked Kaka and reached the location.  They easily spotted Binoy. He was still wearing the blue striped shirt and was sitting with his face buried in his knees. A bunch of roses was lying next to him.

Arnab and Arunima went near him. “Hey, Binoy,” Arunima called out in a sweet tone. Instantly Binoy looked up and was surprised to see both of them. He got up and hugged both of them and wept bitterly. Arnab and Arunima exchanged glances. Suddenly Binoy recollected last night’s episode and immediately turned away from them wiping his eyes. “Aru Didi, bhaiya how can I help you?” asked Binoy politely.  “Come home, with us,” Arnab butted in. Which surprised Arunima and Binoy. “But bhaiya, I,..” “Ohh! common Binoy, now don’t create a scene here, we can discuss stuffs at home,”  replied Arnab in a hilarious tone. Arunima couldn’t control her laughter. Seeing Arunima smile, Binoy smiled, and seeing both of them smile, Arnab too smiled. He didn’t want a weeping fiasco, so he intentionally lightened the mood. “So Mission Binoy is finally accomplished,” he muttered to himself.  

Later that evening, Arnab met Bablu and the two other boys and talked them into starting a life of dignity. He promised them help from an NGO. They agreed after some initial hesitation.

Four precious lives were restored, all for the compassion of one woman who realised that she had been raised up from the pit and she needs to do that for someone as well!