INDIA’S 70th INDEPENDENCE DAY SPECIAL

Indian flag

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GUEST BLOGGER: NEENA VILAS TALPADE

On the eve of India’s 70th Independence Day – 15th August 2016

We wake up with a sense of pride and excitement, eager to see the ‘Independence Day Special’ live and we feel passionately proud of our Mother India. So, let us all reflect on what feelings and thoughts the word ‘independence’ evokes within all of us?

1.Swatantra:

A hundred years ago, Bharat craved, struggled and sacrificed scores of lives for Swatantra.

It may be meaningful if we introspect a little and recognize the ‘tantra’ of the ‘swa’- ourselves.

If each one of us looks within, we will realize that we require clearing out so many cobwebs; those of our prejudices, insecurities, fears, hatred, greed, temptation and pride, to name just a few.

Let us re-adopt and re-invent if required, those time-honored values that cemented us together – patriotism, commitment, sacrifice, brotherhood, integrity, honesty!

unity symbol

2.Independence versus Dependence:

There is a huge cultural chasm between India and other countries over this very issue.

In India, we are, even in these modern times, largely interdependent in our relationships between, say:

  • Parents/grandparents and children
  • Friends
  • Siblings (Raksha Bandhan celebrates this!)
  • Spouses
  • Work-relationships
  • Servant and master
  • Neighbours and community members

This dependence on each other is often a sweet bond of give and take, not necessarily and not always ‘business-like’;  in fact, sometimes it’s an exchange of only positive feelings!

(The risk: soppy sentimentality and impracticality)

In spite of this however, let us not summarily dismiss the value of dependence.

3.The other side:

In most other cultures, it is considered a sign of weakness to not be self-dependent. At home- the parents; at school-the teachers; at work places-the mentor; all work towards making the child or individual more and more independent.

(The risk: self-dependence leading to self-sufficiency leading to self-centeredness leading to selfishness! Phew!!)

Conclusion:

It’s hard to conclude which cultural norm is better. While one fosters self-confidence and individual thinking-even research; the other builds close relationships.

At a global level today, a sense of collectivity becomes an essential world-view! To wrap up, I can say that ‘Independence’ is more important if it signifies the independence of the ‘spirit’, an indomitable spirit that fears nothing, that can stand up to ‘truth’ with complete confidence and that can ‘love’ without holding back.

Royal Bengal Tiger – Our Tryst With His Highness

Tiger 1

The Royal Bengal Tiger is an elusive creature. Some return to their hometown with just a glimpse of his/her Highness or no sighting at all!

In 2006, like most tourists we visited the Kanha National Park with great hopes of a tiger sighting. And we were in luck! My teenage daughter shot these videos from a moving jeep while his Highness followed with his characteristic regal gait. We are not professional wildlife photographers, so this chance sighting was a real treat and an awesome experience!

BEAUTY THAT IS OVERSHADOWED BY THE TIGER

We saw plenty of other wild animals like Indian Chital (spotted deer), monkeys, peacocks, Gaur (Indian Bison), etc. They have their own beauty and attraction, but tend to get overshadowed by the tiger. Here are some glimpses of our memorable trip:

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KANHA NATIONAL PARK – LIVING IN HARMONY

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KANHA NATIONAL PARK – IT’S SHOWTIME FOLKS!

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KANHA NATIONAL PARK – SMALLEST JUNGLE WATERHOLE!! 
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KANHA NATIONAL PARK – ALWAYS ALERT
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KANHA NATIONAL PARK – PEACOCK

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KANHA NATIONAL PARK – GAUR

VITAMIN-IRON RICH STUFFED PLANTAIN FRITTERS

Banana fritters 2

GUEST BLOGGER: NEENA VILAS TALPADE

Plantains and bananas are tropical fruits that belong to the same family but are slightly different. Plantains are mainly grown in India. They need to be cooked while ripe bananas can be eaten right off the tree.

They are a rich source of potassium, vitamins A and C and carbohydrates. They give plenty of dietary fiber and are great energy boosters. They can be bought and cooked while green or yellow or even when the skin starts turning darker (almost blackish!). The taste and texture is quite different at each stage of its ripening and it is cooked differently.

Today, we look at a tasty recipe that is not too difficult, yet appetizingly yummy! It may be had as a snack or a dessert.

This is a traditional recipe with a few improvisations.

Ingredients:

1.Large Yellow ripe Plantains: 3

2.Fresh scraped coconut: 1 cup

3.Sugar: 3 tablespoons

4.Cardamom powder: 1/2 tsp

5.All-purpose wheat flour(maida): 1/2 cup

6.Cornflour: 1 tablespoon.

7.Water: to make a medium thin batter

8.Salt: a pinch

9. Oil for frying

10. Powdered sugar or honey for the drizzle

Banana fritters 1

Method:

  1. Peel the plantains and cut into 3 pieces each.
  2. In each piece, make a slash for the filling.
  3. Combine coconut, sugar and cardamom powder lightly with a fork.(1/4 teaspoon of saffron or nutmeg could be added if desired)
  4. Stuff about 1 teaspoonful of the above filling into each piece of plantain.
  5. In a bowl, make a medium-thin batter with the flour, cornflour, water and a pinch of salt.
  6. Heat oil in a frying pan or wok.
  7. When oil is hot, fry the plantains till golden brown on both sides.
  8. Drain on a tissue. (Dab with tissue to remove extra oil.)
  9. While serving, drizzle with powdered sugar or honey.

This dish may be served piping hot or cold, both taste awesome!

WHACKY FRIENDSHIP DAY GIFT IDEAS

Friendship Day 1

Happy Friendship Day, readers. Your constant participation on my blog has really spurred me to write more. So here’s something to keep the virtual friendship going. Let’s get a little daring this year and gift each other some quirky stuff. And believe me, there’s no shortage of that!

FRIENDSHIP DAY GIFTS IN DESCENDING ORDER OF WHACKINESS

DARING CROCKERY

Friendship Day gift 1

Glasses, now what’s so daring about that? Here’s a set that will have your friend ROFL! Gift your friend these torso shaped glasses and you will have the most memorable Friendship Day of your lives. Click on the link for more details.

COOL HIP FLASK

Friendship Day gift 2

A hip flask is a very common gift article, but when it is looks like this then it’s bold and beautiful.

PERSONLISED FITNESS PROGRAM

Fitness trainer

Gift your friend a body-beautiful or body-building program with the hottest coach at your local gym. These programs usually involve customised training and diet regimes. You can add a Fitness Tracker too. Fantastic ones are available that are compatible with Android and iOS mobile phones.

PERSONALISED COFFEE MUG

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Pick the craziest selfie of the two of you and have the image printed on a pair of coffee mugs. Gift one to your friend and keep one for you; and you can relive that mad moment whenever you see the mug.

ETHNIC HOT PANTS

Friendship Day gift 3

Get denim hot pants with bold and brightly coloured ethnic patterns on it. They look real cool and summery.  These are featured on this link, where you can get all the relevant information on. Great idea, don’t you think so?

SAD PUPPY (MELT YOUR HEART GIFT)

Friendship Day gift 4

Pick up the saddest looking puppy from your local dog breeder and give your friend the most adorable and loyal companion.

Enjoy your day and celebrate your Friendship.

SOLO TRAVEL AND HOW I MANAGE IT

 

woman tourist 1

Solo travel can be one of the most exhilarating experiences in life. So I decided to plan my vacation systematically and enjoy safe vacations. With every holiday I return with a rich treasure of memories and pictures.

I travel sometimes to explore and at times to just be in a different place and relax. All holidays are not necessarily meant for combing the geography of a place. So here’s how I manage…

HOW I PLAN MY SOLO TRAVEL

RESEARCHED: I Google searched the safest places for solo women travellers and found many blogs giving the necessary information.

DOWNLOADED THESE APPS:

  • Google Maps: Gives me directions and information on tourist attractions, food malls, shopping areas, etc.
  • World Tourism app: This app is available in Google Play for Android mobile devices . It helps me to search for cities and towns, gives information on the local currency, time zone and the local language.
  • GateGuru app: Available both in Goggle Play and App Store, this app is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. I can search for the best hotels, the best amenities at every airport terminal on my journey, flight status, etc. And most importantly it gives information about the expected waiting time during security checks.

ASK ABOUT DRESS CODE: Why enjoy at the expense of someone else’s displeasure? That’s my motto. I usually enquire with the agent while booking my fare (or research on Google) about the dress code in the destination country.

WHAT I DO AT THE DESTINATION

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Chat with the hotel staff: Not just managers or those at the Reception; but even waiters and concierge can give you an insight into the safe places to explore. I asked at the Reception for all the local emergency phones numbers. God forbid that I ever need them, but even so it’s best to have the numbers with you.

Keep family in the loop: Facebook and Whatsapp are my constant companions on my every trip. I use the CheckIn on Facebook to let my family and friends know where I am at a given time. Whatsapp chatting and calls assure them that I am safe at all times.

Always use hotel transport: If I am not using the taxi service through the hotel, but are using a local taxi, I always click a picture of the registration number and the driver before I get into the vehicle. I send it to friends via Whatsapp so that it is on record.

In fact, this habit turned out to be very useful. Once I left one of my bags in a cab in Barcelona. The hotel staff helped me to find the whereabouts of the driver and retrieve my bag with its contents. But I have always taken the cab through the hotel service ever since.

By following these simple rules I have comfortably managed my solo travel to many different parts of the world.

TOURISM IN INDIA – EXPLORING THE JEWEL OF THE EAST

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GUEST BLOGGER: NEENA VILAS TALPADE

From ‘Golden Sparrow’ to ‘Incredible India’, India has traversed a long journey, always attracting the attention of the outside world. Of course, tourism in India is not restricted to foreigners. Indians too love the excitement of exploring the myriad choices that the country offers.

PLETHORA OF TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

We have hill stations, beaches, islands, adventure, deserts, religious places, historical places, wild-life sanctuaries.

beach

Sun, sand and sea: Stretching right from the west coast to the east coast, some of these are:

  • Agonda,
  • Ganpatipule,
  • Kovalam,
  • Cherai (better known as the Princess of the Arabian Sea).

hills

The cool slopes: The grandeur of the snow-clad Himalayas is so mesmerizing and awe inspiring, and challenge others in the South:

  • Dharamshala – North India
  • Darjeeling – North India
  • Coorg – South India
  • Munnar – South India

rhino

For adventure buffs:

  • Kaziranga wild-life sanctuary
  • Mountain-treks like Triund
  • Desert trips to Jaisalmer

A peep into the past:

  • Sinhagad fort
  • Pratapgad fort
  • Ajanta and Ellora Caves
  • Badami
  • Ayodhya

These delve into epochs of time gone by.

 

For the heart and soul:

There are pilgrimage tours to visit Ashtavinayak, Jyotirlingas, The Shakti Peethas of the Goddesses, Meenakshi Temple, Kamakoti, etc.

These are so ancient that at many places, the stone steps have eroded to a silky smoothness. The very names evoke faith and surrender and we bow our heads in silent prayer.

DRESS CODE AND LOOKING GOOD TOO!

Dress according to the weather. India is vast. Climate varies widely. Dress according to the place that you are visiting. Casuals are appropriate in most places. (However, revealing clothes would draw stares!) Enquire at the hotel reception about the dress code in religious places. Better still – research on Google and you can pack accordingly.

All the instructions and caution that brochures put forth regarding ‘Tourism in India’ are meant as guidelines only. Don’t lose momentum!

Your actual experience is sure to be mind-blowing!!

FRUSTRATION LEADS TO AGGRESSION – TEENAGE SPEAK

GUEST BLOGGER: NEENA VILAS TALPADE

‘Frustration leads to Aggression.’ I was perusing the Psychology course-book that I’d recently bought for my classes and came upon the frustration–aggression–displacement theory by *Dollard-Miller and Effects of Frustration by **Dill-Andarson.

.And I remembered the incident with the group of my friends, where I had suddenly erupted in a rage when one of them said something nasty about my girl-friend. I had punched him hard then; much to my chagrin later. Thank God I apologised to him and he graciously accepted my regrets about the whole incident.

Well, after’stewing’ in my thoughts all day, I came to certain conclusions about the main enemies within myself that cause frustration, especially during this transition from adolescence to adulthood:

Adolescent  angst

Teenage 1

  1. Licentious thoughts: The raging hormones are not just responsible for the change in my appearance and voice.They change the way I view the opposite sex and create those urges that nature has made essential for the future of the human race! But which, when thwarted, leads to lust-and unwholesome thoughts. Movies, serials, computer games aggravate this situation. Then follows guilt and fear of censure. So how does one handle that?
  2. Anger: Thwarted desires- knee jerk reaction-anger and rage. Anything that goes against the fledgling ‘ego’, anything that challenges the conditioning ‘learnt’ from parents,teachers and peers makes me so furious that I could burst! Over-reaction? Why-of course!
  3. Avarice: That new I pod, the fastest laptop, my friend’s dad’s new car, someone’s fashionable clothes are just few of the things that evoke greed, it’s not just about food!
  4. Temptation: The next level: Temptation! I have stolen that skull-ring that my friend left on the wash basin counter in the change room. And such other knickknacks that don’t cause concern. I know this is wrong. So then, what??
  5. Envy: I feel jealous of just about anyone who, according to me has got ‘a better deal’. Can’t get rid of these thoughts.
  6. Restlessness: I feel unable to ‘forgive and forget’ and as a result, I am often unable to think positively. There is a constant anxious feeling gnawing in my belly.
  7. Fear: Like most of my friends, I have made some plans for my future. But when I think of the unknown, uncharted future, my stomach ties itself up in knots.

The Key:

Teenage 2

There is no quick-fix solution for this adolescent angst, which of course is not peculiar to me alone. (It merely manifests as different behaviours in different teenagers.)

For regaining my equanimity, I turn to:

  1. My family who are more like my friends just seem to understand me at every moment.
  2. My friends, of whom I am lucky to have a decent lot.
  3. My teachers, who guide me for my career and my gym and sports coaches, who insist on daily exercise, proper food, rest and sleep.
  4. Good inspirational books, thanks to my mom’s library.
  5. Some excellent programs on TV and the internet.
  6. Above all, those few moments of daily bonding between my Creator and me. This reinforces the ‘feel good factor’ within me!

Conclusion:

My aim: To personally negate- ‘Frustration leads to Aggression.’ I am pretty sure that I’ll succeed!

References:

*Dollard, John; Doob, Leonard W; Miller, Neal E; Mowrer, Orval Hobart; Sears, Robert R (1939).Frustration and Aggression. New Haven, CT, US: Yale University Press.OCLC 256003.

**Dill, J. C.; Anderson, C. A. (1995). “Effects of Frustration-Justification on Hostile Aggression”. Aggressive Behavior 21 (5): 359–369. doi:10.1002/1098-2337(1995)21:5<359::aid-ab2480210505>3.0.co;2-6