A hot drink on a hot day can cool you down-Is it a myth or a reality?

Today is one of the steaming days of summer in Bangalore .Bangalore sun was never this fierce .The Thalasseri cafe in kammanahalli is jam-packed .Most of the crowd dripping with sweat; half are irritated with the heat; blaming the government for the scorching sun. Still everyone wants tea and fritters.

A malayali guy was giving his food order :
‘’Chetta,Oru Chaya, oru mulakubaji.
Such a scorching sun, I think Kerala is better than Bangalore now.’’

If it’s too hot, why can’t he order an ice cream from a cool joint, why tea and fritters this summer?? I was thinking aloud.

Then he was like – ” it’s too hot bro,uff uff” blowing if from the surface ,then asking for a saucer and slurping from it .His friend was drinking a piping hot glass of tea with extra strong decoction.

I like hanging around in Malayali tea shop just to see the acrobatic tea mixing technique which is so unique that it should have been Kerala’s Geographical Indicator along with Malabar Pepper .However I prefer the Bangalore style tea where the milk is nicely simmered and get thickened for a long time with less of water in it.

While my friends cherish the tea, I was enjoying the jack-fruit flavor of my ice cream in every lick freezing my mouth and cooling off my tired self .The feeling was like someone who got trapped in a desert storm seeing ice cream for the first time in life.

On a hot summer day,it may sound like an oxymoron but the typical Indian idea of chilling out is to sip a cup of hot tea and munch some fritters .

Indians share the same habit with our counterparts of Malaysia, Egypt, UAE,Saudi Arabia ,South Africa and China . Chinese take super-hot and spicy soups during summer.

There is a popular saying in sanskrit “Ushnam Ushnena Shanti” (Heat is cured by heat).
As the human body is a mini universe, the digestive fire inside us cool down the body to the equilibrium state through the intake of warm food. That increases lung capacity, blood circulation also helps reduce weight gain. During summer, we shed weight.

A hot drink on a hot day can actually cool you down. Is it a myth or a reality?
Well, the thermal ergonomics lab of school of human kinetics at the University of Ottawa has tested this idea on cyclists in a lab and confirmed this astonishingly.
Since the hot drink is hotter than the body temperature, the extra heat comes out as sweat .The more you sweat, more cooling effect.

The abundance of green spaces with intermittent lakes, ponds and streams with lotus that once defined the city has gone forever .This city of awesome lakes has become a concrete jungle with every builder still advertising for lake view and garden view villas . Bangalore (as perceived by majority of bangaloreans) is a city that has dangerous bumpy rides , potholes, traffic snarls, reeling under severe water crisis, intermittent power cuts and decision makers with least citizen engagement and love for environment.

Still this is a paradise for migrants as the city has a cosmopolitan inclusive culture where everyone chase a wild goose dream .The city has enormous temptations to put you in a perennial trap of EMI’s.

I was still peeping into the conversation of the Malayali friends.
‘’Sambalam vannoda? Illada’’. (Salary came? No )
‘’There is this lightning deal game I put on the cart .Sale ends in 30 hours. I need to buy it before that. ‘’
Consumerism sometimes even mindless one, is another face of this city that loves every gadgets and apps and prefer to buy it on eCommerce flash sales.

Image Courtesy : fortnitewallpaperseason.blogspot.com

”Dude ,do you really need that lightning deal stuff?” -again my soliloquy.That’s something you should never ask a bangalorean including myself. Peer-pressure drives are so hardwired in the subconscious mind that it is really difficult to unplug.

Summer showers generally start with March 15.This time we are waiting for April showers. When the sun is at its fierce best, I take solace in the age old treasured summer traditions of Kerala, taking butter milk spiced with slit green chillis and the traditional, Narunandi drink top it up with / sabja seeds / falooda seeds also known as root beer.

It pains to know that hereafter all summers in this garden city will be fierier than the previous ones. Still the summer in bangalore is vibrant with the flamboyant display of alluring flowers of bright red,yellow,orange gulmohar trees, eternal looking cherry blossoms and occasional appearance of Golden Sunshine. Today all I crave for is a splash of rainbow colors from heaven in the rain -starved Bangalore sky.

Tale told by a Lizard.

Image Courtesy :Quora.com

I’ve grown up seeing lizards all around me; hiding in the walls, under the floor, in the attic, sometimes engrossed in a capture and I am very fond of them. These cute little miniature dinosaurs are omnipresent in every family conversations of my growing up days in Kerala. Sometimes it pops its head out, wide open those small little eyes and respond to us with different chirps and clicking sounds. When they respond, my mother reacts with a look that transfers a part of her fear to me. Then we all start worrying what does that mean? Lucky charm or disastrous spell?

In Kerala, there is an area of specialization that revolve around lizards known as ‘’ Gauli Shasta ‘’ (Science of Lizards) a prominent Sakuna (omen) system with a chapter published in the Yearly Panchangam (Almanac) which almost every elderly person in the family use it for ready reference to fix dates and times for various events though it traditionally applies for Hindu Households. Now a day’s very few elderly people know how to read panchangam (Almanac), and I regret not learning the science from my great grandmother when I had that opportunity.

There are complex  astrological predictions about our future  based on the  sound and touch of this little geeko guy responding to you from different directions(East,West,North,South and its multiple combinations like NE,NW )  on different days(all seven days of the week) giving different predictions for men and women .If it fell on a particular part of the body on a particular day from a particular direction, again there are gender specific predictions. Well, universities can actually run a 3 credit course on lizard behavior influencing business outcomes. The chirping of a lizard can sprinkle good luck dust with bundles of joy or bad luck with years of grief. I strongly sense that my little dinosaur has no idea about this Gauli Sastra.

Image Courtesy: Astro Ulagam.

My dad, a very kind-hearted person taught me to treat every animal with love and affection and not to hurt the fragile ones like grasshoppers, lizards, and cockroaches. Because of him, our house in Kerala is still a paradise for rodents, rats, lizards and even cockroaches that crounch inside my travel bags from Bangalore to Kerala.

One day I have seen a lizard slammed in between a door in my house and mom said that the little one has offered its life in exchange for the death of one of the family members abiding by a popular superstition.
Yesterday I’ve seen a forwarded post of the story of a lizard in Japan. This post is around for quite some time however it still carries a magic wand .so I thought of reproducing it.

Reproduced from: Hoaxes and Urban Legends: A tale of Japanese Lizards and Love.

 ‘’This is a true story that happened in Japan.
In order to renovate the house, someone in Japan breaks open the wall. Japanese houses normally have a hollow space between the wooden walls. When tearing down the walls, he found that there was a lizard stuck there because a nail from outside hammered into one of its feet. He sees this, feels pity, and at the same time curious, as when he checked the nail, it was nailed 10 years ago when the house was first built.

What happened?
The lizard has survived in such position for 10 years! In a dark wall partition for 10 years without moving, it is impossible and mind-boggling. Then he wondered how this lizard survived for 10 years! without moving a single step–since its foot was nailed!

So he stopped his work and observed the lizard, what it has been doing, and what and how it has been eating.

Later, not knowing from where it came, appears another lizard, with food in its mouth. Ah! He was stunned and touched deeply. For the lizard that was stuck by nail, another lizard has been feeding it for the past 10 years…

Image Courtesy: Quora.com

Imagine? it has been doing that untiringly for 10 long years, without giving up hope on its partner.’’  End of Reproduction.

It’s a very touching story. Isn’t it? Though our cognition says the story can’t be true and the house lizard may not live for 10 years, it hit the nail right on its emotional appeal.

The companion lizard who fed the lizard for 10 years had sourced the food daily, carried it from wherever it got it; paid whatever price it took to get it; carried it without spilling; fed it to the one who can’t move and provided hope to the stuck one that one day the nail might be off its back. Our hearts bleed for the one who was taking care of the trapped lizard.

I can see vividly as if in a mirror the sacrifices of many of my acquaintances here.

My friend’s father, taken up farming which was their ancestral job to make sure that all his brothers and sisters get a decent education and all settled well in life and one became a medical doctor. My friend says with regret that if her dad had an opportunity to study, he would have become a doctor too. But he chose to stay back and still toil for long hours in the field.

Another friend of mine, gopika, she lost her mother at a very young age. Everyone concerned in the family was consistently asking her father to remarry considering his age. He never succumbed to pressure. He decided to raise his 2  little children on his own without a domestic help managing work and house together. When we sit for combined study at her home during our board exams, I had the good fortune of being served with delicious dosa and chutney prepared by her father.

Today, when relations hit rock bottom at the drop of a hat in families and organizations, does the story of the feeding lizard inspire us?

We must have come across similar narratives of extraordinary courage displayed by people around us who value relations over material success. Let’s not shrug it off and glorify it as ’’ one among hundreds’’. There are so many people who cannot move around for some reason; in and around us. They might be badly stuck physically, financially, cognitively and emotionally and in deep pain under some dark partition walls undetected by the world.
If you detect a similar one, hope this story inspires us at least not to make a mockery of their battles.

Sweet Treats from Heaven

Image Courtesy : INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images.
Walking back from school

 ‘’The smell of freshly baked hot cross buns, soft croissants, small samosas(a fried dish with a savory filling) and bheja fries(mutton brain fries) were the only excitement of the 5 kilometers of a long winding walk back from the Frazer town school to home at kammanahalli those days. Do you remember me coming first for exams and sports just to get some pocket money to dig into a heavenly splash of those melting khova naans(oven baked pie with condensed milk) and sizzling bheja fries’’?

I overheard the conversation of 2 passer-byes who are in their late 80’s taking a walk down the memory lane about a bakery they were frequenting as school kids. It’s a place that withstood the test of time from British days; in the legendary food streets of mosque road, Frazer town, Bangalore called as Albert Bakery.

The food streets of mosque road in Frazer town were a favorite sanctuary for foodies of old Bangalore. It is still the best place for the most sinful indulgences of the Iftar delicacies of the Arabian, Persian and Mughlai Cuisine at its best. I love Frazer town during Ramzan as the entire street sizzles and fumes with its all season’s best food catering to the hungry palate of non-vegetarians.

For those who still possess the sweet tooth and want to cheat on your diet, you can indulge in a deep dive into the crispy khova naan, a signature Bangalore delicacy that melts down with every bite triggering the taste buds and memory buds. It was made in batches to serve it fresh and hot and just sufficient enough for a day.

Slices of Heaven from Albert Bakery,Frazer Town,Bangalore.

My personal favorite is the yummy pumpkin pastry which is such a divine slice of heaven in your mouth. This is an indulgence I never say No. Life is too short to say no to a lovely pumpkin pastry.

The bakery is a small place; very easy to miss for the first timers, with no fancy name board to attract customers and the pricing is moderate and won’t drain your wallet. It looks like a normal Iyengar bakery where the localities flock into for a sizzling tea with mouthwatering samosas.

My most favorite pumpkin pastries get mercilessly hunted fast and finished just minutes after it gets unwrapped. There are many days I walked out teary-eyed as I couldn’t reach earlier for my fresh pumpkin dose of endorphins. It opens late around 4.00 pm in the evening and shuts down at 9.00 pm. That’s the downside. But it is still a must haunt when you are in Frazer Town. They do not add any preservatives and bakes fresh ever since 1902 when Mohammad Yacoob started the bakery and supply it to the Britishers who populate the cantonment area of Bangalore. It was his idea to give a British name to his bakery and the name stuck like magic. (What a marketing maverick!)

Today is one of the coldest days in Bangalore where the morning temperature drops down to 12 degrees at 7.30 am and I am traveling to work. The fog filled mornings makes me crave for a steaming cup of south Indian tea with some fritters from Albert Bakery.

The world as an Inverted Tree

The Analogy of the Upside down Tree that grew down from the sky.

The analogy of the world as an inverted tree emerged from the discourse of Krishna to Arjun in the 15th Chapter of Bhagavad Gita while explaining the origin of the universe is more than a figure of speech.There was this intellectual curiosity and fascination to unbox this enigmatic tree puzzle when I was child and forgotten during growing up years.Now the urge perched back on me.

Urdhva-mulam adhah-sakham asvattam prahur avyayam (15.1)
Chhandamsi yasya parnani Yastam veda sa vedavit.

This is in Sanskrit and this just says that there is a Peepal tree which has its roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas.

Let’s make the analogy more visual and brain friendly. Do I complicate it by explaining?Let’s see.

First,Let’s break down the semantics to know what the epistemology here.

Urdhva-mulam adhah-sakham: Roots up and Branches down

Asvattam prahur avyayam: They speak that the Peepal tree is eternal

Chhandamsi yasya parnani: Leaves are Vedic Mantras.

Yastam veda sa vedavit:   Whoever has an insight into the mystery
or meaning behind this analogy knows what the Veda really is.

The root contains everything that the tree has, but the tree’s branches may not understand it. Looks like the root is grounded in the air or based somewhere up or a higher dimension (a subtle dimension) and the leaves are under the gravitational pull of the constraints of space and time (a gross dimension).

This tree’s roots grow upward(aerial) because they emerge from the nothingness/subtleness/a quantum field where universe is its manifestation. Just because the branches cannot see the roots ,the whole lifetime of the branch goes in a soul searching mission of finding the roots without realizing that the branches are an expression of the aerial roots.This explains our obsession with this ephemeral world,the only fleeting universe visible to our eyes.

This is just my version of the analogy not the authoritative interpretations of Sri. Sankaracharya and other experts in this domain. This cosmic tree has been mentioned in Rigveda, Kathopanishad and Bhagavad Gita. This tree is also known as ‘ the of samsara ‘,painfully stands for the long cycle of entanglements of birth,death and rebirth due to our emotional attachments with the material world without realizing in spirit the perishable VUCA(volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous )nature of the universe.

450-year-old banyan tree in Adyar ,Chennai,India whose aerial roots cover 60,000 sq m .
Image Courtesy : Flickr

On further research, It’s been observed that there have been scattered literature on the mystic mystery tree in Indian Mythology,Biblical studies and Astrological observations.

To my big surprise, the magic root from which the tree grows really exist.

On a moonlit sky, if we can track the Scorpio constellation, at the tail side, there lies the root and its trunk growing through Scorpio, its limbs coming out in Vishakha(In Indian Constellation, Vishakha stands for forked branches) fruit budding on its outlets in Phalguni (the Indian constellation Phalguni means “fruit of the tree”). A young girl stands there (In Indian Constellation, Kanya means Virgin and western constellation, it’s Virgo ) with one hand (In Indian Constellation Hasta, means “hand” and western constellation Corvus) she’s trying to grab the fruit. And there entwined in the tree next to her is a long snake (the Indian constellation Ashlesha means “king of the serpents” and western constellation Hydra).

In Indian mythology, no one is allowed to eat the fruit of this tree except the yogis who can handle it without getting entangled.

An Inverted Tree with roots down and the soul spirit pervades down from the branch tops.
Image Courtesy : Avatar Movie,Facebook Page

Does it resemble the forbidden fruit from the biblical tree in the Garden of Eden?

The inverted tree is a gift from the forefathers of humanity to detach ourselves from the focus we give to the branches, the leaves and the fruits of our actions that wither away and make us bonded to a limited world of our likes and dislikes and belief systems.

There is a popular Tamil (one of the prominent Indian regional language) song saying”Kannodu Kaanmadhellaam Thalaivaa Kangalukku Chonthamillai”.

It means: All that is seen by the eyes, don’t belong to the eyes.This song beautifully simplifies the concept.Whatever we see in this fleeting universe,don’t belong to the universe.Our sense organs and its perceptions are much limited compared to many animals that can perceive the environment beyond human capacities.

If one can bring the awareness of the perishable tree of illusion in our daily activities than discussing philosophy as a past-time hobby, then one can slowly detach attention from entangling actions. The vision of a tree that grew from the complete stillness of the sky can spray some sky dust, stardust or even the root dust on us to have a craving for something beyond mundane to focus on.

An evening in a sleepy hamlet of fishermen’s folks

Sleeping Beauty

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

It was a lazy summer evening in a sleepy hamlet of fishermen’s folks. I found Ramu, a 5.10 feet tall, “all skin and grief sea man in his early 40’s sobbing his heart out inconsolably while digging the grave himself. ‘’Whole night she was looking at me as if she wants to say something, I should have kept her alive’’. His shovel slipped from his sweaty palms and his shrill laments must have opened the doors of heaven.

Such unconditional love, I felt sorry for Ramu more than the departed one.

‘’people are selfish even when someone is dead, bloody monsters’’, storming at the mischievous kids gathered around while placing the last stone on her grave.

The eternal silence of tombstones reminds us about the transience of life we are glued to against all odds. A gorgeous life is over. We don’t see it coming from anywhere. Is it not a well-kept secret of our selective memory? It’s so obvious; still we continue climbing up a descending escalator.

A night jasmine fell over the tombstone after its fleeting bloom leaving an enchanting memory that could last a life time. What makes the jasmine bloom so precious is its death.

It was just another evening on the beach. I could see the crimson sun, retreating. The kids were going up and down with the ebb and flow of the tides and thousands of tiny crabs were following the waves swimming, hopping and crawling around.

One of the troublesome kids was spotted with a fork and knife, another one was holding a scissor. Without any cast of guilt and with the precision of a surgeon, they were cutting and clearing the small swimming legs, claws and carapace of the baby crabs that would decorate the steps of the Mermaid Sandcastle they have marvelously engineered in sand. They have captured two gigantic mud crabs, wired their claws and placed them outside like guards to the castle.

Image Courtesy: Toronto Star.

‘’The magical mermaid castle’’- kids were screaming the name of the castle they proudly built on their own like a war whoop.

 Suddenly screams of excitement were thundering the beach boulevard. They went hysterical about something that held their breath.

Oh my god! My goodness! My heavens! Never seen such a striking beauty-exclamations of delight everywhere.

She  was an extra-large exquisite olive ridley sea turtle washed up on the varkala beach weighing around 100 pounds (45 kilograms) .Her green heart shaped shell was two feet long and too small to cover her naked  olive skin .She was lonely, tired, vulnerable and crawling too slow as if every step adds to her torment.

She could read the spell she had on the exhilarated crowd that was encircling her but was too fragile to reciprocate. Her big, colorful, mesmerizing eyes were shutting down .She has given a resigned look to ramu and leaned towards him and collapsed.

Suddenly she twitched herself in pain. The vexatious kids were slicing the turtle shell with a paring knife to make the gates for their castle. Ramu pushed them apart; sat near the damsel in distress gazing at her with eyes welled up with compassion. His long working hours in the sea made him a tough human being. His heart is as vast as the ocean; his eyes captured its depth; his body the smell and his ears the sound.

He instantly wrapped her in a cloth to give her maximum warmth and also cleaned away the shrimps stuck on her. He then galloped to Doctor’s, a clinic run by Dr.Stella White near to the promenade.

 ‘’Doctor, this time, a dying turtle. Though the doctor is not a vet, she never says no to save a life that is priceless. Finding herself in the evening twilight of life all alone, Dr.Stella White, a 60ish Canadian expat, who landed here co-incidentally to a place which was not on her itinerary ten years back has fallen in love deeply with the place and the people never to be returned. Her doors are like the doors of heaven and open to the villagers at any time of the day or night.

He rushed to the site clearing way for the doctor .Doctor felt the glassy eyes and fragile shell of her patient. The strangulation marks and the sharp abrasions on her body has spoken volumes about her solitary sojourns. She must have got knocked down by a trawling boat propeller.

She was looking for a muscle to inject the beauty, pricked the skin with the needle and injected a heavy dose of antibiotic with a desperate attempt to rescue her. While the doctor was giving the shots, ramu held her steady. Her eyes were swollen, her neck wobbling and shell bleeding.

‘’If she survive the night, she’ll be fine, let’s see’’.Ramu thanked the doctor and stayed up whole night diligently keeping her warm like a father guarding a child. He kept small portions of earthworms next to her just in case she opens her eyes and craves for food. He was praying to Janardana Swami, the protecting deity of the village to let her pull through the night.

He wasn’t sure when the dawn broke in; he slipped to deep sleep somewhere around
2 AM being cuddled by the sea breeze. What had woken him up was the soft whisper of the doctor, ‘’she is gone’’.

Ramu looked at her olive beauty in disbelief. Her body was stiff but serene. She found her quantum of tranquility in the sands of papanasham beach. Her buried secret remained hidden from the rest of the world if not for the fallen night jasmine on top of the mount. Hundreds of pelicans lined up the shore without fluttering wings to pay their last homage to this sleeping beauty. ‘’I should have kept her alive’’, ‘’I should have kept her alive’’- Ramu’s words were lingering in the breeze along with the mild fragrance of the night jasmine.

Image Courtesy : #Night-flowering #Jasmine ,Twitter.