Young at Heart

First published on 19 October 2007 in The Times of India – Pune West Side Plus.
This is the unedited version….
It is practically impossible to meet Vijayanti Joshi or Sheelatai Bapat in the mornings. Both are also very reluctant to leave Pune on a holiday. Reason: they do not wish to leave their morning yoga group. Their feelings are rooted way beyond just exercising for good health.

Over 35 ladies meet at the residence of Mrs Asha Limaye off Prabhat Road for Yoga as she leads the group in performing a range of asanas. Everyone joins in as per their capabilities. Ashatai’s standing advice for anyone with complains is to proceed only after specialist opinion. At 80 years Sheela Bapat is an enthusiastic member along with youngsters like Priya Pathar and Sharda Maharao. Age barriers melt as the seniors motivate and guide the 25 year olds into being as flexible and proficient as them.

Ashatai had opened the doors of her home for yoga 25 years ago. Manjiri Satpute and Suhas Danait have been regulars for over 15 years now and hold almost maternal bonds with the group! Pushpa Tharkude misses the laughter and chatter when in the US and makes it a point to enquire about members and their activities from there via e-mails.

Over the years the group has matured into a vibrant support system for each other. Ladies freely share their experiences, fears, doubts, joys and sorrows. This secure platform allows them to express thoughts that may otherwise remain suppressed leading to frustration. Shivangi Girme and Roopa Lokhande have developed a strong friendship after meeting at this class. The warmth found here helped Roopa overcome sudden loneliness when her children left home for higher studies. Positive vibes have given Titiksha Kelkar total relief from her knee pain and high blood pressure.

Queries of all kinds always find a solution here ranging from PAN card issuance to products available in Bohri ali. Many a domestic crisis relating to sons/ daughter in laws/ maids have found a solution here.

The group makes it a point to celebrate each other’s birthdays and special occasions. The fourth Friday of every month is reserved for a breakfast together. Movies, picnics ensure the bonhomie continues outside the four walls as well. Ashatai has organised talks by guest speakers on topics besides health. Sudhatai Pendse one of the members has taught the ladies to read the ‘Geeta’ and they currently meet to read the ‘Dasbodha’. New or younger members are warmly taken aboard.

There’s lot to be learnt from these young ladies for all those making excuses for avoiding a workout. Go ahead and team up with a couple of friends for your indoor or outdoor exercises. There are tremendous benefits waiting to be gained from group work. Don’t take my word for it- discover for yourself! Stay fit together! Stay young!

What was that?

This is the view from the eye piece of a microscope of a slide prepared from the supernatant water of dosa batter. The picture on the right shows the bacteria that actually cause fermentation of cereals.

Dosa, idli or dhokla batter ferments due bacteria, yeast or fungi present in the air. They convert carbon elements in the batter to alcohol, lactic acid and carbon dioxide. This fermentation is healthy and does not cause poisoning when the product is consumed. The bacteria etc are killed when we cook the dosa, idli etc. Vitamins of the B group in the batter increase as a result of fermentation.

Fermented Indian cereals are a good source of easy to digest proteins are are low in calories. Hence ideal for weight conscious or those who may be sick and need to eat light food.

Jalebi, anarase, khaman dhokla, kurdaya, idli, bhatura dough, bread are all examples of fermented cereal products.

These microorganisms are present everywhere and begin their action when conditions are right (soaking, grinding, temperature etc).
The bacteria are usually of the lactobacillus variety.
Now u have a glimpse of what made your idlis soft and fluffy and tasty!


Have any of you ever worried how waiters can carry so many dishes effortless around highly polished but slippery hotel floors? Many carry liquids, gravies and bowls all in one tray as they zip around catering to hungry customers. I was once at the receiving end when such an overzealous waiter tipped the contents of 5 finger bowls on to my lovely new dress!

Lets not go into what happened next, but I have come across this piece which will hopefully prevent such instances!

The Outlook Traveller October 2007 issue describes a hotel in Nuremberg that has developed a system of rails that automatically bring the dishes gently down to the table from the kitchen at a higher level. The orders too are to be placed via a touchscreen thus reducing staff to the minimum.
How do they manage liquids I wonder! Check out the magazine for more details but methinks this place must certainly be worth a visit!

If you can’t get hold of a copy click here

That’s double thumbs up for innovation!


Millingtonia hortensis

A walk down roads in Pune these days brings wafts of a heavenly perfume. A strong breeze and the fortunate standing below a particular roadside tree are showered with rain of white long flowers! From a distance the falling flowers form a net curtain beyond which one can see the sun struggling to come out behind the clouds!

The tree locally known as ‘buccha’ that bears the botanical name ‘Millingtonia hortensis’ is in full bloom right now. Morning walkers can walk over a carpet of blooms that have fallen at night. The old trees stand majestically tall even towering over newer taller buildings. I am told the tree can grow up to 80 feet tall!

Just look up a tree squinting your eyes against the sunlight and you can see the upright open clusters with drooping blooms looking rather like stars. Each trumpet shaped flower has a waxy texture. Collect some and keep on your study table and bring some nature indoors.

This tree belongs to the Bignoniaceae family. Yet another tree that blooms at night and whose blooms carpet the roads at sunrise is ‘Prajakta’ or Nyctanthes arbor-tristis. That is also in bloom right now and the exquisite tiny star shaped flowers with orange stems do not take kindly to human handling!
So go out and enjoy nature’s treats. I only wish I could link up some of the divine fragrance for you! Till then lets make do with these pictures! (you can click on the picture to get full screen view)


Touch the Sky with Glory !

8th October is the Air Force Day. As the Indian Air Force celebrates its Platinum Jubilee, we congratulate the men in blue and offer our best wishes for them to touch greater heights!

Let’s pause for a moment and remember the contributions of all our brave soldiers especially those who are no longer amongst us. Every one of them has put nation before self to protect the nation.

Their families too happily and selflessly make several sacrifices.

Take a few minutes of your time and learn more about this service at :

Jai Hind!

India’s BPO industry in the eye of a storm

Hi all,
Yesterday brought the startling news that India is outsourcing BPO tasks to Philippines.
The industry has graduated into many forms after beginning as mere voice processes a few years back. We now have KPOs that deal with a huge range of knowledge outsourcing jobs.

As our economy evolves, new opportunities are bound to come up. As individuals we need to assess our needs and wants, our skill sets and where we see ourselves 10 years down the line and then make a correct career choice.

My take on the current debate has been published at the following link. Do right click and open in a new tab so you can continue to browse this page…


Travel rite!

The month of Ashwin (as per our Hindu calender) begins next week and we will soon begin preparations for Divali. Some of us may have holiday plans.

Just a few reminders as you prepare for your journey…

– Take a break every hour in a road journey and make sure to walk around for 10 minutes at that time. Do some side bends, twists and backward bends (provided there is no contraindication)
– Use “U” shaped inflatable devices available at luggage stores serve to protect the neck in road travel. Especially useful when we doze off!
– If the pillow at your hotel is too high (head remains well above level of the body) then you can simply replace with a large bath towel folded into four (it should be about 3” thick)
– If the mattress is too soft (body sinks in) then ask housekeeping for a replacement. Too soft and yielding mattresses do not support the spine and lead to backache.
– Wear your lumbar belt or neck collar if advised especially on bumpy roads.
– Wear comfortable flat shoes on your holiday. Ladies reserve high heels for dinner times.
– Do not over stuff your bags with unnecessary items. Try to carry two lighter bags instead of one heavy one- its easier on the back to carry!
– For those suffering from diabetes or other disorders which have diet restrictions, do call ahead at your hotel and check what is available and give any specific requirements. Holiday does not mean no exercise. Do stick to some basic routine.
– Make sure to carry all required medicines and first aid.

Considering the amount we spend on the holiday, some prior planning is necessary so as to come back refreshed and recharged.
If you have any more queries, do ask. I shall be happy to answer.


Preparing your Poinsettias for Christmas!

Come the month of December, we find flaming red plants make a dramatic appearance everywhere even in India. The Poinsettias are typically associated with Christmas and retain their beauty for many weeks. However to ensure beautiful red flowers, its necessary to take some actions now itself.

This is a long night plant, which means it needs prolonged darkness to develop the flamboyant blooms. From now on (end September) ensure the plant gets about 14 hours of darkness everyday. If your plant is in a pot then you can even take it indoors at night as any additional light from street or yard lights will inhibit blooming.Make sure that the poinsettia receives only natural sunlight. Do not pinch or prune the plant after now.

Coloured bracts generally begin appear by early November and fully expand by end November.
The actual flower is yellow and is located at the base of the bracts. Plants with tightly-closed flowers that have not yet shed pollen will last the longest in your home.

Poinsettias belong to the Euphorbiaceae family. They ooze a milky sap which may cause skin irritation. Leaves and plants are not poisonous but not edible either!

Lovely red and white Poinsettias can be cultivated in a tropical country like India also. It only needs some care and nurturing. Begin today itself!


SMS wise!

Being of the 60s vintage I along with many others like me have the unique privilege of exposure to relatively uncomplicated simple communications methods and modern state of the art means. I am referring to ‘snail mail’ with blue inlands, telegrams, money orders and long distance phone calls made from post offices all courtesy good old Post and Telegraph department. Many today’s youth will probably not know what the last two even mean!

I was introduced to a unique feature ‘SMS’ with my first cell phone. It seemed rather like an instantaneous wireless letter. But I soon realized the catch. Every message had an upper limit on the number of characters (150 by my service provider). Exceed it and I was charged for 2 or 3 or more depending on how eloquent I was! Before I realized it I was paying exorbitant mobile bills without talking much.

That’s when I further explored this wonder world. With plenty of help from my younger friends, I soon got the hang of SMS lingo. By simply removing all vowels from my text, I could enter more words and send more information (that should be info)! One can also maximize characters by just removing spaces between words. English teachers must shudder at this language, which bears a pale resemblance to our British legacy. All unnecessary alphabets were simply done away with. Forget long words, even short ones were further shortened as in you became u and ok became k. Then there were these emoticons, which so beautifully conveyed all I felt.

Today my inbox is full of web links, ring tones, picture messages, jokes, news alerts, cricket score and stock updates, advertisements etc, some by choice but mostly unwanted. TV channels and newspaers often conduct polls and audience opinion through SMS. The tool is so powerful that it can have political and criminal implications.

I am told that the first ‘text message only’ book about a business executive who travels throughout Europe and India has been published by a Finnish author this year. My search revealed the existance of the world’s ‘first transl8it! dxNRE & glosRE’ (dictionary & glossary) , a comprehensive SMS and text lingo book. There is also a website dedicated to this new language!

This has spawned a specialised message writing career for those not wanting the well beaten track.. There are speed typing contests for SMS and but getting maximum info into 150 characters can also be a great challenge. Relevant organisers must think about this one!

Need I + NEtng? wot r u w8tng 4? git out yor fone & stA n tuch w yor fRnds & foes. snd DIS msg 2 10 prsnz 2 brng gud luk 2 U & me. 🙂 msgN.CU L8R.

Phew! And that’s less than 150 characters!

My essay on this new communication technique first appeared at :