Thursday, 31 December 2015

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Self defense strategies


For a long time, I have been reading a lot about self-defense strategies and related products. Many such products were available abroad but in India, these were not at all popular, needless to say, they were not available to the needy.

Things have changed in the past years with many shocking incidents taking place that prompted terrible hue and cries nationally and internationally. People have become much more vigilant nowadays. Even in small villages in Kerala, you might see CCTV cameras installed in homes! It is common knowledge that miscreants and thieves tend to avoid or will be reluctant to commit crimes in such places; these gadgets will play the role of the deterrents as well. A skilled thief can easily disable such devices but they always target places less guarded. Moreover, the time factor also is important for a thief. Rob, avoid getting caught, get away asap, leaving no traces of identification are the key components of a successful robbery. So even if the area is crime free it is always to have such gadgets; prevention is always better, you know!

Likewise, personal security is of paramount importance. Things like pepper sprays may come in handy if a situation arises, at least, it may act as a deterrent. From the body language itself, one can easily come to the assumption if the individual is security conscious or not. If you project such a strong picture that you are well aware of the surroundings and is confident, no anti-social persons will try to attack you. It also includes avoiding such situations as much as possible. Walking all alone in a crime-prone area especially during night time, wearing expensive jewelry particularly in tourist spots etc. are some of the situations that make us prone to attacks. It is always better to sign up for some classes where they teach how to tackle such situations.

Unfortunately, most places teach martial arts as the sole solution for all these problems. Counter-attack is not an easy defense strategy; it has to be perfected over a long time with continuous practice. But if you get the courage to take the spray out of your handbag and use it effectively you are ok :) and that is what you must have! On an average, about 70 % just freeze on the spot! So find a place where they teach simple things like the assessment of problem situations, creating a spatial orientation while in public, identifying people who are likely to invade personal space, critically evaluate people, anticipating troublesome behavior, simple tricks to defuse the situation etc. No harm in getting some training in martial arts and some physical self-defense techniques also, it instills courage. In short, try to learn mental self-defense strategies as well! 

There are many websites that deal with security products. Personal alarms, luggage alarms, travel security items, home security etc. are interesting. There is no need to install elaborate, expensive and technically complex gadgets. I have heard a story that the inmates forgot to push the button on of such a comprehensive installation one night when a thief coolly entered the mansion :) So what is the use if people are not security oriented. Just a door latch is enough but you must put it securely before opening the door! 

  • Safety is of paramount importance. Safety and security can only be successfully guaranteed by the co-operation of everyone concerned. The best security system is a vigilant human being.
Note: Please read the DISCLAIMER attacched to this blog.

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Friday, 25 December 2015

An elephant in a mall...! and, Merry Christmas...


Surprised to see an elephant like this in a mall...!
It looked so real, indeed! This picture was taken some time ago.

Lulu mall at Kochi always will have surprises like this in their stores! It is Christmas time and the mall is glittering with decorations!





Merry Christmas...all of you...:)
  • Creativity at it's best is something great to experience
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Sunday, 21 June 2015

International day of yoga, June 21

Today is Sunday, the day we normally get up late, spend it lying on the couch lazily watching telly and enjoy the delicacies that are served on the dining table if not visiting some weekend spots. The routine was more or less the same today too initially until the TV was switched on. Live telecast was going on from the Rajpath in New Delhi, the capital of India where Mr. Narendra Modi, our Honourable Prime Minister was leading the yoga session conducted as part of the celebration on this auspicious day where more than 35,000 people participated. Similar events took place almost all over India with remote snow-covered regions like Siachen and Kargil included where defense personnel performed yoga.

Busy with work and the inevitable pressures associated with it, I was totally detached with the buzz about it around these days, so much so, I almost missed this historic celebration. I felt guilty for not performing yoga for a long time, even though I have learned it perfectly well. Promptly got down from the couch, dusted the yoga mat and while watching the mega event performed the postures (asanas).

Yoga needs no introduction. When I was in my twenties, being a voracious reader, I happened to read many things about yoga that made me interested in it and the only option available to learn it then was to buy a book and do it by myself. Remember this was the time when yoga was not at all popular and its benefits were largely unknown. The popular belief was that yoga could do harm to the body. There were a few practitioners and teachers, but no one was sure who or what was right. I bought a book written by a journalist and started doing some of the asanas that invited considerable ridicule by parents, friends, and relatives. To be honest, I felt bored after some time and stopped doing it. Slowly yoga became popular in India mainly with the inflow of westerners who thronged the ashrams and other spiritual places in India seeking gurus and nirvana. I restarted the training soon after my graduation, this time attending classes conducted by a qualified yoga master. It was an awesome experience and I am thankful to him for guiding me through the wonderful world of yogic bliss and joy! It was simply amazing! After almost two months into practice, I began experiencing a 'never felt before' well-being that I find it difficult to express in words. A friend of mine commented about the 'glow' that I have had, probably indicating the positive aura induced by the regular practice of this great philosophy gifted to us by our ancestors. Thereafter, I can only say that I remained as an on and off practitioner of yoga. But on this auspicious day of summer solstice, the International day of yoga, I made a resolution inspired by the spirit of millions from all over the world, that I will practice it daily from now on, no matter what. Witnessing the enthusiasm shown by the people from different walks of life, from each and every nook and corner of the world made me motivated once again and at the same time making me ashamed for ignoring such an awesome thing for a very long time even though I was fortunate to get to know and experience the magnificent world of yoga a long time ago!

Mr. Narendra Modi, our Honourable Prime Minister appealed to the UN last year to mark June 21st as the International day of yoga. This was agreed upon immediately by the Assembly and the rest is history. Today we all witnessed the sheer enthusiasm with which world celebrated the yogic way of life that is based on peace, inner joy, and bliss. Yoga is not a set of postures or exercises, but a way of life, a philosophy based on living in tune with the self, others around us and Nature. Yoga shows the way to live in harmony with the vibes of the Universe. The speech by the Honourable Prime Minister at a yoga conference in New Delhi was brilliant that made me wonder what more the delegates could discuss other than what he had said. A great orator and visionary!

Dear friends, please share your experiences with yoga. How did the celebrations go in your country?
  • Yoga is a gift to mankind by God. Of the many things showered upon us by Him, this one needs special mention. It is something that one needs to experience because it shows the way to a beautiful and happy life.
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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Laughter is the best medicine๐Ÿ˜Š - join an online laughter club..๐Ÿ˜Š

Laughter is the best medicine ๐Ÿ˜Š
I am totally convinced about this saying; there is no doubt about it!

I recently joined online 'Skype laughter club'. Wow, what an experience... cool!

I was contemplating joining a laughter club ever since I began researching the amazing beneficial effects of laughter. There is a wonderful laughter club in my city but they meet early in the mornings and to reach there through heavy traffic will take almost an hour, so I found it difficult to join them. Moreover, it will take much more time after returning home to get prepared to go for work. I then googled about online laughter clubs that took me to the well known 'laughter yoga website' and also to the 'skype laughter club'. Every day at a scheduled time, a coordinator will come online via Skype, start laughing along with whoever interested in laughing out loud. They will add you too if you follow the instructions on their website about how to join, all for free! It is so easy and convenient :)

I am completely satisfied with skype laughter club. Here we are laughing, sitting at home, with other cool people from different parts of the world and enjoying the amazing health benefits of laughing out loud, all free of cost! The only investment probably would be our laptop and the internet charges. Lie on a couch, sit relaxed in a chair or do whatever you want and LOL.

Select the timings convenient for us. Time conversion is made easy by a link provided over there. You will find detailed instructions on how to join the club on the website. Download the latest Skype, check the headset speakers, microphone and test it all with the tool Skype has provided. Follow the instructions that you see on the 'Skypelaughteryoga' site and start LOL. You can type text, send emoticons and crack jokes with the group while lol. If you are interested send and watch the video too.

Laugh out really loud, let it become contagious, enjoy, stimulate others too to lol, and make the session lively and wonderful. If other family members are interested let them also join you.

Laughter has gained a lot of attention recently especially in the medical community. A lot of research is going on about it. Online you will find so many studies made by reputed centers agreeing to the age-old saying ' laughter is the best medicine '. Some of the beneficial effects are:
  • It relaxes our body. Work pressures, emotions, stressful thoughts, the list is endless, that make muscles in our body to go into a state of tightness. The moment we start to laugh cool waves begin to sweep away all those aches and pains. It is said that this relaxation effect will last about 45 minutes or so. So laughter is a cool stress buster.
  • It boosts body immunity. With laughter, our body will start releasing endorphins that help in reducing levels of cortisol and adrenaline, the chemical substances that get accumulated with stress. Thus laughter indirectly strengthens the immune system.
  • Pain is an unpleasant sensation. Physical therapy modalities actually operate upon stimulating the release of endorphins for the relief of pain. Endorphins along with the betterment of mood play a great role in alleviating pain when we laugh.
Now, what actually are endorphins?
They are a group of chemical substances released in the body in response to stimuli like laughter, TENS application, soft tissue techniques like massage etc. Relaxing, pleasant thoughts in the brain trigger release of them, while toxic thoughts produce bad substances damaging our system.

You are what you think of; not what you eat...๐Ÿ˜Š

It doesn't matter if the laughter is fake; fake laughter turns into real laughter eventually. This is very infectious making everyone in the group also laugh. Try LOL all alone and you will start LOL with a real feel in no time.

Laughter helps to improve social relationships by better bonding. It is quite natural we get attracted to people that make us LOL. With such people, conflicts will be rare. You will never feel isolated when you join laughter clubs. It is the best solution for lonely people. The sole business there is to LOL and nothing else. They take the business of laughing out loud seriously.

Laughter is a cool remedy for anxiety and fear. It improves mood. Lol brings a lot of joy to us, it improves optimism and self-confidence.

I need not elaborate on how to bring more humor, laughter, joy, and happiness in life. Comedy shows, funny clips, 'impractical jokers', jokes, laughter yoga classes, joke apps, online resources, a cute pet etc. etc., the list is endless!

Remember, happiness is your right; LOL is your duty.

Let us thank Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician from India who almost single-handedly popularized the power of laughter. He started the movement called Laughter yoga years ago in India. He incorporated some body movements also while laughing and named it laughter yoga. Now as you all may be knowing, there are thousands of laughter clubs all over the world.

World laughter day is celebrated on the first Sunday of May every year.

Why do we become so tense and sensitive?

Before allowing ourselves to succumb to worry, fear and stress...ask ourselves these questions...!
  • Is the problem really serious?
  • Do I have to worry a lot about it?
  • Is it very important?
  • Are there no solutions or remedies? 
  • Can it be solved? 
  • Has it happened because of my fault?
  • From my experiences in the past does this problem at hand demand a lot of strenuous mental activity from my side?
  • Do I have to involve my friends and well-wishers to solve this problem?
Always remember, there are solutions to each and every problem in life; never, ever lose hope!

My skype id    hello005577

Finally who actually said first that 'laughter is the best medicine'? King Solomon? If so, how did he find out this secret?

www.skypelaughterclub.org
www.laughteryoga.org
http://www.cancercenter.com/treatments/laughter-therapy
http://umm.edu/news-and-events/news-releases/2009/laughter-is-the-best-medicine-for-your-heart

LOL...
  • Accept the fact that there is nothing to lose by laughing for some time every day but there are many positive effects to better our mental and physical health attached with laughter. Laugh out loud; stimulate others also to laugh out louder.
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Saturday, 28 March 2015

Banishing the blues - will sweets help?


Jelly candies...! 
This is yummy, my all time favorite :) As they say in the advert this is something that makes children, as well as adults, crave for every now and then.

Wiki says Haribo founder Hans Riegel Sr. introduced this attractive delicacy for the very first time in Germany in 1920. Now we have countless shapes and flavors that make us spoilt for choice all over the world. Gummi bears, Gummi worms, berries in all shapes and sizes, sour, sweet, fruity, mixed...it is mind-boggling, indeed!

Well, anything in excess is poison. It is a well-known fact that we all reach for ice creams and sweet dishes when stress kicks in. It is not only the sweetness of these wonderful foods but the beautiful looks as well that make us reach for such things almost always overpowering our willpower. Craving for such things is an unhealthy way to de-stress. If you have access to low-calorie sweeteners like Stevia or similar things like that it is acceptable to a certain level. But it is always better to deal with emotional issues through healthy, positive measures and there are numerous solutions available off / online nowadays. Sometimes a hug is enough to feel comfy :). So next time before opening the Refrigerator for ice cream or emptying a packet full of jellies, just try some vegetable salad or a piece of fruit!

Well, jelly candies...a cool treat๐Ÿ˜Š, whatever...lol.๐Ÿ˜Š
  • Beautiful things bring positive feelings. All sweet dishes look beautiful. No wonder these attractive cool delicacies help in banishing the blues. But there are much cooler, healthy choices available that bring positive vibes. 
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Sunday, 15 March 2015

Exploring Nature, get to know the unknown - African / Mexican coriander

This exotic herb is known in different parts of the world in different names. Here it is known as "African coriander" (African malli, in Malayalam, our mother tongue). The popular names include Mexican coriander, Farang coriander, culantro, spirit weed, fit weed, saw-tooth coriander, saw-leaf coriander, bandhani yah, long coriander etc.

From what I read from the web this herb is widely used for culinary purposes in South America, the Far East, and Africa. It is popular in Assam and Manipur in India; in South India, it is not very common. Hope my blogger friends will enlighten us about this beautiful herb's popularity in their countries.

This herb has a flavor similar to coriander/cilantro, the difference is this is stronger and intense. We may need only a small portion of its leaf to garnish our dishes compared to the more common coriander leaves.

This has two types of leaves. The leaves that are at the lower portion of the plant are long and are about an inch in breadth. They have saw-tooth like spines at their edges. Not at all thorny, they are smooth :). The rosette-like leaves are also present in my plant, they are also palatable. Hope it will flower soon.

The above plant was small when brought from my ancestral home with my mom's permission. She has one more there. They use it regularly in dishes. This is grown in a purely organic way. The potting mix is the same I used to grow ladies finger; details of which you can get from my post about growing ladies finger - the organic way.
http://magicalpresent.blogspot.in/2015/03/organic-okra-ladys-finger-cultivation.html

She has grown well in her new place here with me. I guess she is happy to meet you all, my blogger friends :) She is no fussy plant; requires only little Sun and water.

This exotic herb has been claimed to be having many health benefits besides the culinary uses like garnishing, marinating and seasoning.

The claims include properties like:
  • anti-diabetic
  • anticonvulsant
  • anti-cancerous
  • anti-bacterial
  • anti-inflammatory
  • analgesic
In traditional medicine, it is used for treating hypertension, fever, worm infestation, burns etc. Well, nothing has been proved by well-controlled double-blind studies nor there are uniform acceptance and agreement among the researchers, like in the case of many other herbs said to be having medicinal value. So always get the advice of a qualified doctor before use.

It is actually fun in having a leisure time activity like gardening. Growing herbs, spices, and medicinal plants, as well as flowering plants, are cool ways to bring positive energy. It has become a productive hobby as well in the present day world, considering the value of organically grown produce. Such cool stuff is always in demand all over the world. There are many more exotic herbs still not very well known to people, having unique medicinal values. Besides they improve health in natural ways. The end result is we all feel better!

Enjoy exploring Nature...! Let this also be a cool method to reduce the skyrocketing stress levels. Help the needy, suffering fellow human beings. Identify such rare plants, spread awareness and push the scientific community to conduct research to validate medicinal value claims.

Such activities bring a lot of happiness to everyone. Remember, happiness is our birthright.

The botanical name of this herb is Eryngium foetidum.
  • There are many things still unknown to us in nature. Some things may seem so common, but they may be priceless. Nature still has many secrets and we have just begun unveiling those.
Note: Please read the DISCLAIMER attached to this blog.

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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Indoor gardening, a cool way to de-stress

Greenery indoors is something that makes us relaxed. It is refreshingly cool to see live plants inside our homes. Live plants are not at all difficult to grow indoors, give it some tender love and care, sure they will grow well.

Money plants are the easiest to grow, you may have to keep it once in a while in warm Sunlight. It will thrive well even if there is only limited Sunlight inside. I am growing money plants in water-filled containers. All others I am growing in soil, cocopeat or a mixture of both.

In my experience, we can depend on green lucky bamboo plants with full confidence. As you can see these two plants are placed where very little Sunlight falls. They are growing well, no problems whatsoever. They were never kept outside to in direct Sunlight! I am growing these in a potting mix of only cocopeat and not in water-filled containers or soil.

NASA has released a list of plants that purify indoor air. The emissions from TV, fluorescent lamps, refrigerator etc. pollute the indoor air and such plants help in improving the air quality.

Selection of plants, as I mentioned above, is very important. Even indirect Sunlight is enough for some plants to grow well. Self-watering containers limit the need for daily watering; it helps in keeping the plants hydrated when we go for vacation. I have already posted about making self-watering containers at home.
http://magnificentdewdrops.blogspot.in/2015/01/do-it-yourself-self-watering-plant-pot.html

Attractive containers, beautiful plants...well, let us make our interiors lively.

No doubt, greenery indoors bring positive energy. Such cool sights inside our houses send positive signals to the brain that eventually help in banishing the blues we may experience in life. A clean and lively environment is a sure way to better our mood level. Add some life to our environment inside buildings. Use this to become a better person; let it also be a personal development tool. Plants provide excellent positive vibes.

Let us make our indoor environment also a better place to live.
  • Environment plays a lot in giving us positive energy. Adding a touch of greenery to our interiors is something that makes us relaxed and happy. 
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Monday, 9 March 2015

Leisure time activity - Organic Okra (lady's finger) cultivation at home

This is my first attempt at growing Okra/Bhindi/lady's finger organically at home. Fortunately, it has become a success, Thank God๐Ÿ˜Š

Urban farming, as you all know, is challenging. With limited space, Sun and other constraints growing vegetables and fruits, that too organically, is very difficult and frustrating.

Armed with some farming experience in the past, preparing myself ready to accept setbacks, I took the first step in researching a lot, both online and offline, about organic farming at home. I learned that if we want better yield we must get top quality seeds. This has much better resistance to common diseases as well. So went to the Krishi Vigyan Kendra sales counter at CMFRI located on Goshree road near High Court Junction at Kochi and purchased Okra seeds (Arka - Anamika, an awesome variety of interspecific hybrid!).

I mixed organic soil with vermicompost bought from AVT gardenia at Panampilly Nagar, Kochi and cocopeat (a natural, organic soil conditioner made from coconut husks and fiber which has great water holding capacity) from Sterling, Poonithura. To this potting mixture, some cow dung powder and a handful of neem cake powder were also added. Neem seed cake, as you all know, is a good organic pest repellent. Two Okra seeds were soaked in water overnight and planted about two centimeters deep into this potting mix. Within a week seeds germinated. Watered it regularly and kept the pot in the narrow backyard at home where we get some amount of Sun...mind you, this is a metro city in a tropical country, lol, packed with concrete structures all around, not allowing full Sun to get through!

The terrace of my house is already covered with a sturdy aluminum sheet truss work so no Sun :) there too, else I would have tried terrace gardening. There is a balcony, well...will try something out there as soon as possible๐Ÿ˜Š

However, my cute Okra plants grew happily. Now it is only a month and as you can see my beautiful plants have begun producing lovely fruits! These ladies are just a foot tall...! :), there are so many lovely fruits sprouting, as you can see!

I would like to share the joy with all my blogger friends worldwide and decided to post this :)
Buddies, aren't they cute?

In Kerala too, like many other countries worldwide, toxic pesticide and fertilizer usage has resulted in a very high incidence of cancer and other serious diseases forcing people to go organic in whatever way they can. The problems with organic are the genuineness of produce, certification, and exorbitant cost. Many are not at all aware of proper organic growing methods, availability of seeds and planting materials.

My advice to all who venture out into this wonderful task is to go for the easiest to grow plants like Okra, salad leaves like coriander and fenugreek. Remember, Sunlight is crucial. Start small and expand gradually. Watering can become difficult especially if you travel a lot, with no one to help in your absence.self-watering plastic bottle with a wick, I will post something about it asap. It will keep your beauties happy for a week if you use a big soft drinks bottle, no big deal!

Well, pests...if the plant is healthy you don't need to worry about them especially if you have used seeds bought from reputed sellers.

Neem seed oil, tobacco-water concoction and chilli garlic juice, all diluted, of course, are very effective natural, organic pest repellents. These are 'repellents', so use them before pests attack. Online you will find many resources on how to prepare these effective organic weapons against pests.

CMFRI outlet has many organic planting materials that growers would surely need, 'Panchagavya' included. It is a concoction of diluted cows urine, cow dung, milk, curd, and ghee. Organic foliar sprays like fish amino acid emulsion are also available which is a mixture of sardines and organic jaggery.

I didn't feed my beauties with any of the above, they were growing happily in the pot enjoying the potting mix :). Well, I gave both of them a little support with sticks, it is fair...we all need it, something to lean on, isn't it?

Online you will find so many tips about organic soil fertilizers, organic foliar fertilizer sprays, and repellents.

A word about foliar fertilizer sprays, they are the future...micro quantities are only needed to supply nutrition to the plants, they are sprayed, diluted as directed, directly onto the leaves preferably under them. Will explain in detail about its usage later.

Search online about Okra has made me aware of the many important facts about it that I would like to share with you. I am calling Okra, a fruit and not a vegetable. Well, does it matter?

Okra is nowadays recognized as a superfood. It is rich in calcium (82 mg % ), magnesium (57 mg %), (potassium 299 mg%), vitamin C (23 mg %) and fiber. A notable feature of Okra is it is rich in Vitamin K as well (31.3 microgram %). The fiber present in this juicy fruit can prevent constipation very effectively.

The oil extracted from Okra seeds is rich in Oleic and linolenic acid. It can be used as biofuel as well. Roasted and ground Okra seeds is a caffeine-free substitute for coffee. Any experience, anyone?

Okra is rich in antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals that cause serious diseases. The slime / mucilage is claimed to be medicinal; it boosts heart health. Okra reduces homocysteine levels thus reducing inflammation. Some eat Okra raw, no need to tell you, better to eat organic fruit raw, one advantage of having a plant at home :) A few plants are more than sufficient for regular supply for a small family. It is an all year produce. Okra leaves can be put in salads as well.


Okra's scientific name is Abelmoschus esculentus.

http://kvkernakulam.org.in
http://www.coirsubstrate.com
http://www.avtbiotech.com

Organic cultivation is a fun filled activity. Moreover, it has nowadays become a productive hobby as well considering the value of organic produce all over the world. This is a good thing to do with no pollution or environmental damage bringing positive health to mankind. Inspiring people to adopt healthy ways to grow foodstuffs is wonderful.

Another valuable activity that radiates positive vibrations. Moreover, go organic for better health!
  • If there is a will there is a way!
Note: Please read the DISCLAIMER attached to this blog.

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