Thursday, February 12, 2015

I am in dire need of a technology detox!, And you??

Shut in my home, lying on my bed (thanks to the damn back pain, i took a sick leave from work!), i was trying to kill my time. I considered all the options available for the same:
1) Watch TV
2) Browse something on the internet
3) Watch movies/videos on youtube
4) Message friends on WhatsApp
5) Check my smartphone every five minutes for potential updates
6) Window shopping on online shopping sites
Just as i was considering all these different options, i got a call from the Amazon delivery guy..." Mam, can you give me clear directions to find your home? I am stuck in one of the streets nearby". So, i gave him the instructions to find my place. Half an hour later, there he was, asking me to sign the delivery form. Guess what, I had one more option added to my timepass list. My new Amazon Kindle, which i had ordered few days back had arrived! Tadaa!!
I started exploring the gadget. Checking out what all books were available for free to download first..."Damn, I cant download 'The girl on the train' novel for free! What a waste!", i kicked myself...and continued exploring it....

This is how a typical day of my sick leave passed on:
- I woke up in the morning at 6:00 am and had my cup of coffee. Browsed through my phone to check if i had got some messages on WhatsApp.
- I checked the Facebook homepage to see if there has been any interesting posts which were posted while i was sleeping in the night.
- Then i opened my IBNLive app to check for the news. Then i realised that i could use my laptop instead (bigger screen).
- I opened my laptop and checked my emails. Browsed different sites.
- Then my dad came to the living room and switched on the TV for news. There was news updates on the 2015 Delhi elections..." Don't these channels have nothing else to report about. There has been non-stop Delhi Election news for the past three weeks!", i told him...Nevertheless, i decided to check out the latest updates on the 'name-calling' game.
- I turned to see that my father too was multi-tasking with the newspaper in one hand, his smartphone on the other hand and TV running in front of him. 
- The breakfast time passed this way. And suddenly i felt a swing of boredome. I was wondering what to do next...'ok..maybe watch a movie on Youtube'....So i  opened the site and checked if the movie i wanted to watch for a long time was available on it....So 2.5 hrs passed this way.
- It was lunch time...I came to the living room...I saw my father checking out something on his ipad. Mom was engrossed in her relatively new smartphone ( She had refused to use one for a long time. But after we forced one onto her, she was totally into WhatsApp groups and forwarded videos and jokes, Well what i can say!).
- Had lunch..and then wondered again what to do..' no more movies, i have to read more books! Let me put this leave to proper use!'. So i started reading a novel on my new toy, the Kindle.
- It was a book by Oscar Wilde called 'The picture of Dorian Grey', which i had downloaded for free on my Kindle. I knew that a movie based on the book had come out few years back. As i was reading it, i was curious to read the review about the book.
- I opened my laptop to google it. Read the synopsis and the book plot online. I realised the content might be slightly disturbing for my liking. I wanted to switch to another book.
- I browsed through to check for more books which i could read...Then suddenly my phone pinged.
-Someone had sent me a message on WhatsApp. I replied back to them. Then went back to my laptop to continue browsing. Then suddenly another thought crossed my mind. I immediately googled that topic..and started reading about it.. While all this happened, it was already evening.
- I decided to go for a short walk ' At least for 20 min, i am sick of lying down the whole day'. I did that one sensible thing.
- Back from the short walk, i decided to switch on the TV. Meanwhile, i checked my emails (Btw, just that you are rest assured, i checked my emails atleast 20 times over the day).
- I downloaded a new app called 'Gaana' on my mobile phone. 'Damn, i am so out of touch with all the latest music. This is a great way to catch up'.
- This was followed by few more hours of juggling between watching some shows on TV, checking my phone, trying to read a novel on my Kindle...and switch between my smartphone/ipad/laptop browsing the internet and exploring new apps.
- Finally i fell asleep reading something....the day came to an end.....

Then i just reflected on how the entire day had passed....'Horrendous', i thought. If boredom was not bad enough...Technology just made my brain scatter all over the place. Not only could i not concentrate on any one thing properly, my eyes were soar by the end of the day. I started wondering what these gadgets have done to the already restless human mind. Is it a really a help or an assault on our senses. I realised i had developed an obsessive compulsive disorder to browse the internet, facebook, and my emails. So much that i get restless if i go to a place where is no WiFi or where my 3G network does not function.....In the end I somehow felt.......ABUSED....
So what did i do about it???.....I decided to take inspiration from the thoughts running through my head and decided to use this technology to write a blog about it.... 'What a hypocrite you are', i thought to i finished writing up this piece........

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The story of shedding those extra pounds-Part-II

Those frustrating days!

After the sweetness of my initial success, my weight not budging for the next two months really frustrated me. I didn't understand why i was not losing more weight. What was i possibly doing wrong?? 
Courtesy: letsgettoned
I thought i needed to step up my workout strategy. Walking alone did not suffice i assumed. I decided to join the gym. I tried to workout in the gym atleast for 1 hour, 4-5 days a week. Mostly concentrated on cardio exercises. Did the group activities like Zumba which were fun for me. One month down the lane, i still had not lost weight. I could not digest that fact. I was sweating it out and feeling fit, but why didn't it really reflect on the weighing scale?! 

The Weight Watchers era

Courtesy: Amazon
Then once, i came across a program called Weight Watchers. It is an online program in which one has to record the food consumed everyday in the weight watchers online diary. Every food item has points, except for fruits and veggies which has zero points. You would be given a budget within which you can use up the points per day. However, since fruits and veggies have zero points, you could consume them at any point of time during the day leaving your budget unaffected. Every time you ate something, you had to record it in the online diary and it calculated the number of points you have consumed and how much you have left for the day. It was an interesting concept. Seemed more like a game to me. And being a scientist myself, i am one of those persons who loves to experiment. So i decided to use the trial version of the weight watchers diary for a month. 

So the following month involved eating within the budget of points and my regular workout 4-5 times a week. Since fruits and veggies had zero points, i realized i was eating more of them during my hunger pangs and feeling victorious that i still have my points safe to be consumed for dinner! It didn't mean that i did not eat any sweet stuff. But limited quantity of it. For instance, a piece of milk chocolate accounted for 3 points. If i had 2 pieces, then i used up 6 points, subtracting it from the points i had left for the remaining meals. So it was up to me to decide if i wanted that two minute pleasure of eating that chocolate, or a larger meal! It was a mind game. But i followed it sincerely to obtain genuine data for my new "experiment". I could also enter my own recipe, like rajma masala or dhal or sambhar and it would calculated the points it accounts to. 
And yes, one month down the lane i was 4.5 kilos lesser!! My joy knew no bounds. After some months of frustration, it was finally a feeling of fulfillment. 

Those internal system changes!

Hence, one more month of the same routine and gymming followed and another 4 kilos were lost! So 6-8 month down the lane i was almost 19 kilos lesser!!! It was indeed a great sense of accomplishment.
- I stopped using weight watchers as by that time my appetite had reduced on its own, i was satisfied with small portions of food.
- Fatty food made me feel heavy and didn't give me so much satisfaction or joy. 
- I felt great craving when i saw fresh fruits instead. 
- I got addicted to working out. three days continuously not working out would make me feel somewhat dull and depressed.
-So many sustainable changes took place internally. 
- My skin was more radiant and looked younger.
- My hair-fall was under control.
- I rarely got sick
- I could fit into dresses which i only dreamt of wearing earlier
- Even during stressful times, i got into a good mood post- working out
- I felt fitter, healthier and just very very content!
Courtesy:Gold's gym facebook page
Courtesy: FB page Gold's gym Adyar


So now, here i am,  one year down that lane since i started this challenging task.....So is that it? Have i reached my destination? Nope. My weight got stuck after losing 20 kilos. I am maintaining the same weight for the past four months without following any particular kind of a diet. Just eating what satisfies me. And I of course have my "Cheat days" eating out. It is again frustrating not being able to lose weight easily again. But this time i know that i can go on and break this point too. It is only matter of my mind how much i want to push it. I am also concentrating a lot on toning my body and getting rid of the loose skin. I Started doing and enjoying weight training at the gym which i hated before. My new love, is....Pilates! What an amazing workout. I think it has helped me sculpt my body better. I really am able to visualize the difference.
But....Nevertheless, i am still some kilos away from my target and hence plan to start my Weight Watcher's type diet again come this new year!! 
Looking forward to the challenge!

Then & Now! The difference!!
Readers Take home message

A. There are no short-cuts to losing weight. A regular workout and a proper diet is the key to success.
B. It takes time to lose weight. Hang-on there. Trust me, you are not alone in that situation.
C. Don't give up mid-way...cause you may never get to experience the contentment you would get when you reach your target! It is the sweetest feeling.
D. Get addicted to the feeling of happiness post-workout (Find that pleasure in the pain)!
E. Yeah, right it is because of the release of the happy hormones. So who needs any other substance to get you high?!
F. A healthy lifestyle makes differences inside and outside...and Yes, you deserve to experience that!


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Have a holiday Wishlist...and live life bountifully!

I am incredibly excited to write this blog. Cause the topic is something which lights up a 100 Watt bulb in my mind and soul. Imaginations go racing in my head as i sit and dream about travelling. Yes, that's it, that's the topic.... My holiday wishlist!
I have a good old connection with a website called AIRBNB ( The first time i used it was back in Spring of 2012, when some of my colleagues and i had planned a trip to Edinburgh, in Scotland.A friend of mine introduced me to this website. We were initially skeptical when we had arranged for an apartment which claimed to have enough beds to accommodate the six of us who were travelling together by car from Cambridge to Edinburgh. But to our great relief and surprise, it was indeed an excellent apartment, just as described in the website. It was neat and clean, had a huge furnished kitchen and three double beds which accommodated all of us comfortably. The heating worked perfectly in the cold and there were sufficient bed linen to cuddle into. There was also the parking space which we required. The best of all was the price we had to share was very very reasonable for all this comfort. I fell in love with the place for sure, but more so, i fell in love with this website. And i recommend it to all those who wish to travel around the world. Do check this link......(AIRBNB-REFERRAL).
As they say, the rest was history. I used this website many many times more after my first wonderful experience. I explored some of the lovely cities in Europe like Como, Heidelberg, Mannheim, London, Cambridge etc and used this website to book excellent accommodations. Needless to say, i also recommended it to many of my friends. They have an interesting tool called the "Wishlist", in which you can explore the website for the places you would like to visit and save them to your wishlist. I love this tool, as it lets me open up my imagination about the cities i wish to visit and help me visualize the places i would like to stay in those cities. I made my own wishlist of five places and would like to share it with my readers! Check out this link (MY DREAM HOLIDAYS- AIRBNB).

1) Shanghai
Shanghai Skyline (Source: Travelerarea)
I fell in love with New York city during my visit to the USA in 2012. I loved the big city atmosphere, the hustle, the bustle, the choice of restaurants and most of all the incredible skyline...When i thought, this was it, my favorite big city...Someone just told me," Hang on, not so soon. Wait till you see Shanghai. New York would seem so old!"....Really?  Shanghai is better than NEW YORK??.....I couldn't believe what i had just heard. I knew it that moment. I had to visit Shanghai, China's biggest city!!
Hence i added it to my wishlist on AIRBNB. I picked up a compact, neat and clean apartment close to the city center and public transport lines, with excellent reviews.  It also has a kitchen which is convenient for a vegetarian like me, as China is not too veggie friendly. More so, the reviews said that the hosts were very helpful and friendly. What better way to start to explore Shanghai, than to get some tips from the locals!

2) The Grand Canyon

The Colorado river flowing beneath the Grand Canyon
Yeah, strangely enough i am leaving glitz and glamour of China's biggest city and going as close as possible to mother Nature, in all her natural marvel and splendor. Grand Canyon is a place which captured my heart at first sight. I once drove with my cousin from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon and hiked down to the camping site along the bright angel trail. I was totally unprepared for what came upon me. The whole two night-two day trek, which we took down to the Colorado river and back was closest to the nature i have ever been! As painful and sore as  my muscles were, i, for the first time in my life had the sense of great accomplishment when i completed the trail successfully.! Meeting several fellow trekkers and sharing experiences with them was an experience of a lifetime. And suddenly, when we were driving back to Las Vegas, it left me craving for more. I wanted to go back to the Grand Canyon and feel that peace i felt  in the middle of the humongous work of nature, despite all the body pain!
Hence, i picked that as the second place on the AIRBNB wishlist. I picked up a lovely place close to the Grand canyon south rim. The room looked very cozy and entire place was very well lit. The reviews suggested that the place was also very close to nature and the host was excellent. More so, it looks like an comfortable place to come and tuck-in after a exhausting trek down the Grand Canyon!

3) The Italian Alps

Italian town around Italian Alps (Source:italy_travel_guide)
Italy is a country which is very versatile, with its world-renowned cuisine, breath-taking cultural hubs, its seas and its mountains. According to me, its a must-visit country. The Alps is spread across many countries. Picture perfect sights, turquoise lakes, lush greenery, medieval castles and the snow-capped mountains. But i chose the Italian alps for the very reason that it carries with it that unique Italian flavor, say for eg. the smell of the classic italian espresso! 
I added an bread & breakfast place in a small italian village called Veneto to my wishlist. The place had that coziness to it, to take a break away from the stressful work life. For me, it seems like that perfect place to unwind, explore the breathtaking alps and take a short skiing break!

4) A Grecian island

An island town in Greece (Source:Greece wall papers)
I fell in love with Greece, when i watched the 2008 movie 'Mamma Mia'! The traditional Greek buildings along the crystal clear deep blue seas. The history, the geography, the traditions and the nature..everything about the Grecian islands captured my imagination. I knew at that moment i watched that movie, that i had to go to this gorgeous country!
Hence, i picked up a nice bread & breakfast place in the pretty island called Amorgos in Greece. This accommodation is as close as possible to the mountains, seas and has gardens surrounding it. Needless to say, the reviews suggest that the hosts are helpful and friendly people! (Not that i expected anything else from the Greeks...

5) Barcelona

City of Barcelona (Source:worldlunghealth)
Barcelona O Barcelona...What a rich and vibrant city. It has takers having varied interests. Art, history, architecture, football clubs, beaches, parties, the young and the old. It is the city which makes the Catalonian's proud! I personally love the Spanish culture and the Spanish language (Well i am aware that they speak Catalonian in this region..but nevertheless!). It is a city i have decided that i must visit in my lifetime. And i picked up a nice accommodation to stay on AIRBNB,when i indeed do visit the city! I picked a place with a balcony, close to all the major sight-seeing places in Barcelona. It is a city to be explored by foot and the city center is the place to live in! All i need is a little cozy room to come and crash at night and i think i found my perfect match!

The five places i added to my wishlist got my imagination running. The world is huge and yet somehow small. Life is short! So make your own wishlist and live life bountifully. I wish you all the best for your good wishes to come true! 
Godspeed and adios! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Global Hindustanization

It was night around 10 pm in the city of Dusseldorf in Germany in early November 2008. I asked the car pooling guy to stop the car as i thought i had reached the metro station which my friend had asked me to get down at. As i got down from the car and pulled along my rug sack bag, the cold breeze from the river Rhine chilled my spine. My cheeks turned pink and my hair was flying. "Vielen Dank für die fahrt!", i thanked the person for the ride from the city of Hamburg to Dusseldorf, as i closed the door behind me. As i walked towards the place i realized that i had got down at the wrong stop, misreading the sign board. I immediately went into a panic mode. I tried to reach my friend on the phone. But her number was not reachable. I had no clue where i had got down and how to get to my destination (the metro station). I put on my rug sack and started walking down. I asked some people passing by for the nearest metro station and went into it. I looked at the metro map at the station, trying to figure out what to do now. I suddenly heard a voice behind me, "Moechten Sie Hilfe?" ("Do you need some help?"). There was a cheerful, blond lady standing behind me. "Ja, mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut. Sprechen Sie villeicht English?", (" my german is not so good. Do you perhaps speak english?").
"Yes, i speak English. Where do you want to go?", she asked me. "I am visiting a friend who lives here. I am supposed to meet her at the Königsallee S bahn station. I got down at the wrong place and i dont know how to get there. I am unable to reach her on phone!", I said all flustered. "Calm down. Don't worry. You have to take the metro line from this side of the platform. I will take you. I also go there", she said smiling. "Thanks a lot for the help!", I smiled back.

As we were walking to the platform she asked me, " Which country you belong, you are Arabic?". "No no, not arabic, I am an Indian", i said. " What! you are from India??! You know SHAH RUKH KHAN??", she literally yelped out a scream. " Yes of course, i know Shah Rukh Khan!", i said. " Oh my God!! I love Shah rukh Khan.I love Bollywood movies. Even my daughter. We are craazy about the songs and dance. Very nice!", she said literally jumping out in excitement. "Wow, thats nice to hear!", i said surprised. " Do you know he is married to his wife Gauri for sooo many years. He has two children, one sohn and one tochter. He is so romantik. Ich liebe ihn. I love him!", she continued. " I love this song Mahive Mahive, u know from his film, Kal honaho....What is meaning of Mahive?". " Err, Mahive. I dont really know what is the meaning of it. But i know the song from Kal ho Na ho. Very nice song indeed", i said. I was slightly embarrassed that i had never thought about the meaning of the word Mahive, which is commonly used in several Indian movie songs. " India is so colourful. Movies full of songs and dance. It is sooo nice. I am happy to meet someone from the country of Shah rukh Khan!", she said cheerfully.She sat and spoke to me for 20 minutes until my train arrived. I told her thanks for her help and boarded the train. "Thank God for Shah Rukh Khan i wasn't stuck helplessly all by myself!"

This was one of my first experiences living abroad where i encountered the phenomenon of 'Hindustanization' of the world! Who knew that our movies were so popular around the world and that Shah rukh Khan was a rage among European women, especially the Germans. Did you know that there was a International conference on Shah rukh Khan and global bollywood which was held in Vienna in 2010? I had watched a documentary on the same on German television.
I was also surprised to know that Yoga was mighty popular in all the countries. Every gym and every University had yoga classes regularly taking place in Germany. I did not know that there was something called Bollywood dance, which was so popular among the Germans. Not to mention that bhangra songs which have become an integral part of the German night clubs. I still remember the first time we had our university freshers party in a night club in Hamburg. I and some of the other Indian students roared in excitement when they played 'mundiya tu bachke rahi' and started dancing like mad. We created an infectious atmosphere and the rest of the crowd decided to join our dancing, asking us to teach them 'bollywood dance moves'. The Indian students association also organized a 'Bollywood party' to raise charity money in Hamburg in 2009.

Do i need to mention about the popularity of Indian cuisine? It is incredibly popular all over the globe. What about the samosa's and chicken tikka masala's, Mango lassi's and mango chutney's. Once a European colleague of mine asked me for a special bring him back an exclusive box of Shri Krishna Mysurpa while i returned from my annual trip to my hometown, Chennai! I found that Masala dosas's were a rage among the German folks during my visit to the pretty city of Heidelberg in a small Cafe called MASALA!..Exclusive vegetarian and vegan restaurants have become extremely popular in Germany these days and most of them serve a wide variety of Indian dishes. Needless to say the enormous choice Indian cuisine offers to vegetarians. 

What about the Indian people? The Indian community have for instance, become an integral part of American television. Right from the series 'The Big bang theory' to 'House'. From 'Homeland' to 'Harry Potter. Indian faces have become prominent. I met some Italian students in the students home where i was living in. They once told me, " Indians, They espeak good Inglis. So good Muah!, Italians cannotu espeak so good." I was quite surprised they noticed that. Once a Russian girl was telling me that she was very anxious about a certain situation. I gave her some advise. She then told me, " Thanks. Indians, they are so wise. So much wisdom you guys have". Wow, that was an unexpected observation!

The Indian culture and the Indian people are so popular all over the world. Be it Shah Rukh Khan, Bollywood, yoga, ayurvedic massage or mango lassi. Afterall, we are the great Land which Christopher Columbus wanted to reach when he accidentally discovered the America's! Let us be mighty proud of our nation. We have every reason to glorify our culture! 
Be an active part of the phenomenon of Hindustanization and embrace it with open hands.....Jai Hind! (

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The story of shedding those extra pounds

After a super sweaty Zumba workout, I got back home and had my chilled whey protein shake. I then made some hot green tea (with ginger, lemon and mint)  and started sipping on it.  I think that a sweaty work-out followed by a fresh beverage is one of the most powerful secrets for feeling happy.  And out of nowhere  I had my moment of inspiration to write a new blog ( Yeah these sudden moments are very strange. I never understood how they come and how they go!). 

Hence, i am going to blog about something  which would strike a cord with many a soul. I am pretty sure that many have experienced those agonizing thoughts about all those extra pounds they carry under their skin. Staring at the mirror and thinking how lovely it would be to shed those layers of fat on their waist,  their thighs, their ass...Those dreadful love handles, those heavy arms, thunder thighs and whale-like belly. When they met skinny people, they have this wishful thought, " I wish I could do some fat transplant to them!!" . The agony especially increases  when they go shopping for cloths, "Oh my God, awesome dress-I only wish my tummy was not so visible", "Oh these sleeveless top- Agrhh, it shows my fat arms", "Oh these gorgeous printed pants, I wish my size was available", " Oh my God, these leggings don’t get into my thighs"…... The concern escalates when some function or event is coming up.  They get themselves new dresses and want to look good in them. They make a quick-fix resolution mainly during the week preceding the event (like GM diet!). And once the event is over, they bounce back to their old ways.  The work stress, tension, lack of free time and more often than not, long travel times to work are to blame. They have an immense craving to lead a healthier life. It crosses their mind every time they see a super fit person or when they see people eating loads of fresh fruits and veggies instead of the heavy meal they are gulping down. They get all excited when they see someone who has lost weight and ask them for their secret formula.  They hope that they would give them some amazingly easy miracle tip, which would help them too reach their goals.  I... have definitely been there and done all of that……. 

Finally one day  I decided to take a break and resolved to make serious changes to my lifestyle. This lingering craving  (to lead a healthier life) which was going on within me for quite a while, finally started taking shape.  It is most certainly not easy to keep it. There have been many times when I resolved to change my lifestyle, but I used to give up after a while. I thought that this time I needed to do something different. I needed to be more organised and have immense will power to lose those extra pounds off my body. 

The torchlight in my hands
To start off with, I decided to take some professional guidance. I went to a naturopathy centre (Ayushmaan*) and stayed  for 3 days. There we practiced yoga and aquatic yoga and ate the food prepared by them. I got my colon cleansed to have a fresh start. We also had several sittings in the infra-red sauna to get rid of the toxins in our body along with the sweat. Most importantly, the doctor there gave us some vital information and educated us about living a healthier lifestyle. I came to know that since most of the vital organs are in the abdomen region, the extra fat in the abdomen causes most dangers (hormonal imbalances) as it compresses the organs and restricts their functioning. I got some excellent guidance.  During my consultation time,  I told the doctor, " I had the slipped-disc condition few years back. I had to stop my dance classes and  aerobics classes for several months in order for the pain to subside.  And since I didn’t control my diet, I added several kilos!  but I do exercise regularly nowadays. I really don’t understand why, but it never helps me lose any weight. I am frustrated!".  He asked me one question, " Do you eat your food very fast?". I said, "Yes, that’s true. But why do you ask that?". He said, " Well, that is the main reason why you are not losing weight easily. You need to chew your food and break down most of the carbohydrates with the saliva in your mouth. This makes sure that your intestine has lesser stress on it. It will make a lot of difference".  It was as though someone had handed me a torchlight on the dark path of my newly made resolution! After three days I came out of there, rejuvenated and enlightened. (P.S. I know that many people visit these centres just for rejuvenation. But once they come out, they fall back into their old ways. For this guidance to help one meet their goals, one has to have immense determination within their minds to succeed !)

The next couple of months
Once I came out of the naturopathy centre, I followed many of the things I learnt over there.
  • I started my day with just fruits. (I tried to skip morning coffee, but that was impossible...hence I kept the habit!). Apples, pomegranates, pineapples, kiwis,  watermelon, cherries, pears….i bought more fruits and picked any 2-3 of them for breakfast. Did not eat anything else at least for the next 2 hours.
  • I had some nit bits every 2 hours. My lunch was not heavy. Instead I ate/drank at least 6 to 8 times a day.
  • I started eating my food slowly. Chewed every portion of it until I could feel it breaking down in my mouth.  My meals took longer to finish and invariably as I noticed, the portions also became smaller gradually.
  • I switched to whole foods, brown rice instead of white, whole flour instead of refined flour, red rice idlis instead of white rice ones etc. 
  • I went for brisk walks regularly (5-6 times a week). Started off with 2 km and gradually increased it to 6 km per day.
  • I reduced the number of times I ate junk food and reduced the quantity too.
  • Instead of gulping down a whole pizza, i restricted myself to 2-3 slices, once a month, just to satisfy my occasional craving.

I continued like this for the next two months. When  I went for a regular check-up with my doctor, she asked me to get on the weighing scale. What I saw took me completely took me by surprise. I had lost 10 kilos in 2 months! And I had no clue it was happening. My doctor congratulated me on my weight loss and asked me to keep up the good work. It was a great boost to my motivation.  I thought I had found the secret formula to getting a sexy figure! All the excess baggage would melt away in a jiffy.

But just when I thought that I was in a rapid weight losing spree, I realised that two months down the lane, my weight had not budged even a bit! Such a disappointment.
Is it not possible for me to shed the rest of those extra pounds? Why is my secret formula not working anymore??..............Continued to...The-story-of-shedding-those-extra-Part-II

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

In the Journey called Life: Finale- The Rao Upadesh!

( Part-III of  In the Journey called Life)

A picture from the seminar in Delhi: The Rao Upadesh!

I would like to quote some of the general things which Mr. Rao and some of the other faculty members emphasized on in the seminar.  I will not describe any details of the techniques taught in the seminar. I will stick to the information which would be interesting for a wider readership. I have divided them into subtopics just to give it a structure. These are based on what was told in the class, which i took down in the form of notes or recordings. I hope I can do justice to his words. Wish me luck!

The importance of Birth Horoscope and manual calculations
  • ' The birth chart is the planetary alignment in the sky when the baby came out of the womb of the mother and started its life in this mortal world. Astrology and astronomy are intertwined. The birth chart represents the promises present in your  life. The most important thing in Hindu Astrology which makes it far superior to other astrological forms are the planetary time periods or the Dashas. If the appropriate dasha does not show up in your lifetime, the promise in the chart remains an empty promise.'
  • ' It is highly important especially in this computer age, to learn to compute the birth chart and the corresponding divisional charts manually. There are several softwares which are available these days to do the computing. I have found no two softwares to give the same dasha balance (planetary time periods). Calculating manually will increase your concentration, the chart will remain in your head for the rest of your life. This, I have noticed improves your predicting capability.'

Why twins can have very different lives
  • 'Birth chart is the primary chart.  You can get the overall picture of your life  from that. But Hindu Astrology has  even better ways of microscopically looking at your life by computation of divisional charts.  Make generous use of the divisional charts for your prediction which are computed from the birth chart based on the degrees of the planets . These represent specific parts of life and will give specific details which cannot be clearly seen in a birth chart. For instance for knowing about your spouse and marriage, you need to check the navamsa chart in addition to the birth chart and so on.
  • The time of birth can be very critical for this computation. Difference of few minutes will also change  the lagna (ascendant) * of the divisional chart. This has been the cause for different life patterns of twins who in most cases have highly similar birth charts.'

A Scientific research approach
  • ' It is absolutely important to adopt an scientific research approach to astrology and promote it as Science. There are many rules and scriptures available. But it is very important to validate them. Test them on atleast 100-200 horoscopes, if not more  and give the % success rate before you conclude whether it is indeed a working principle which can be used for prediction. If this is done who can deny that Astrology is not a science?! This is what I wanted to do and this is what we have done in the past in Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and what we continue to do!'
  • ' Try and collect as many horoscopes as possible and develop a database for yourself. Start off with horoscopes of people whom you know intimately. Check if the described principles fit with their life events. Do not trust the horoscopes of celebrities and politicians which are given on online sources. There are high chances that they are not right unless you get it directly from them or from a trusted source.'

Think liberally not literally
  • ' Remember Desh-Kaal-Paatra (Country-the generation- culture) when you are trying to make a prediction. Live-in relationships or having children out of a wedlock are very common in many western countries, but that is not the case for instance in India. You need to know the backround of the  person and the generation they belong to you are dealing with before you try to make a prediction for them'.
  • ' When you read the Hindu astrology scriptures (Brihat Parashara Hora Shatra, Jaimini Sutras etc), apply them liberally not literally. They are ingenious works which indeed represent the great knowledge in Ancient India. But they were written thousands of years ago, when things were very different. It is absolutely essential to adapt them to be relevant to the current age and generation. Apply the rules liberally and don’t take the meanings of the scriptures literally.'

Fraud Astrologers and prescribed remedies
  • 'There are many astrologers out there who refuse to share their knowledge which was passed on to them from their family. There are many astrologers out there who are not willing to do research in astrology. Open source knowledge in astrology will help eradicate the number of fake astrologers  who scare people and prescribe remedies just to make money. They try to get famous by going on TV, quite often giving wrong information. I have also noticed that families of such cheating astrologers suffer in later years. I would request everyone out here not to cheat people. In this materialistic age it is hard to survive without money. But whenever possible do free consultation for someone who is in desperate need for guidance.'
  • ' I DO NOT prescribe any remedies such as wearing gem stones or puja for pacifying the planets. The only thing I recommend people is to chant the Vishnusahasranamam, be regular with their prayers to God, Do good to people and help the needy. If you want the benefits, you need to pray yourself and not expect some gemstone to do the job for you. If you want a consultation from me and you don’t believe in God, then please don’t waste your time and mine and come to me. It doesn’t matter if you follow Krishna, Jesus or Allah, But if you don’t believe in the supreme being, don’t come to me.'

Astrologers V Psychiatric councillors
  • ' Why do people come to astrologers? There are times in everyones life when they are unsure of certain things. They need someone to guide them. Sometimes they want to get answers about why it is happening. They come for reassurance that they are on a right track. Astrologers are similar to psychological councillors, only that I can confidently say that astrologers are far superior. Why? Because a GOOD astrologer has the knowledge to actually reason out the Psychological condition of the person who has come to them. The horoscope gives a lot of information about the events of their life which the astrologer can read. But a Psychological councillor has to rely only on what the patients actually tell them!'

I here also quote from the book written by K.N. Rao which is  titled Astrology, Destiny and the wheel of time. Many of the things he mentioned in class are also present in the book.

Astrology is a perfect Science, But astrologers are imperfect
  • ' Anyone who goes to consult an astrologer should approach him/her with respect but never in total belief in his ability to predict anything and everything correctly. Till we started our classes here under the Council of Astrological Sciences, there existed no popular, non-classical method, yet totally modern way of giving instructions in astrology. Most of the astrologers even in India, in the land of Astrology know only some rudiments of the subject .Most of our astrological scriptures were destroyed during the repeated colonization, especially during the Mughal and the British rule.  But in this era of high-tech publicity, anybody  can start an astrological journal  and begin to self-boost themselves. How should anyone who wants an astrological guidance approach an astrologer in our complex times? These are my tips:
  • (a) Tell him if your birth time is correct and whether the horoscope you have cast is accurate and according to his specifications
        (b)  Assure him that the horoscope is that of a living person, not that of a twin. Disclose the sex always
        (c) Then see how the astrologer works. It reveals good deal about him. Since most of the astrologers are fraudulent and greedy, one has to make sure not to reveal too much about themselves
       (d) Let the astrologer then trace out himself, without your helping, some past events by writing down on a paper and hand it over to you. Do not accept an astrologer unless he gives his readings In writing. If you are satisfied now with his ability, then pose him with a question or two.
    (e) Now ask the astrologer to give you in writing future predictions. Insist on it, if he is a professional astrologer charging fee.
    (f) Do not accept an astrologer who suggests remedial measures without first convincing you that his astrological ability is sound enough.

Astrology, Destiny and the wheel of time
  • ' The saints are world's finest reformers because they destroy the dogma of religion which can otherwise turn fundamentalist. Many of these great saints have been excellent astrologers before they developed spiritual powers which made astrology a redundant pursuit for them. But they always encouraged others doing astrology because they know that astrology provides insights into the total personality of a person, at a physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual substrata of his personality. Such total view together with their holistic view of the world we live in, alone is the true method of promoting harmony and peace. If you are doing astrology and not doing your prayer, you are wasting time. Astrology should take you closer to God!
  • The step an astrologer can follow step by step is…1) Prepare astrological data accurately and fully, 2) Note its positive and negative points, 3) Find out the planetary patterns which reveal many mysterious twists of life, 4) Then time the events on the basis of the Vimshottari dasha (planetary time periods).


A treasured picture! A keep for life!
Now comes the main question..If everything is predestined, then is there any use of self-efforts and righteousness?? 

 The paths of our lives is indeed predestined. I didn’t believe in it before. But more I learn astrology, more I understand my own personality better. Self-discovery has been the greatest prize of investing my time in learning this science. I could see why I had inclinations towards certain things, why I wanted to stay away from certain things. I could also point out time periods when I was in complete distress and when things were not working at one go. I could recognise time periods when I had the 'stroke of luck' as we call it. I could point out when I developed sudden interest in something, when I decided to change my field, when I had the inclination to go to foreign lands which indeed fructified at the right dasha. I was convinced even further during my trip to Delhi, where i saw live demonstration of how good astrologers can see you inside out just my analysing your horoscope.

But as much as the PATH  is carved out for us, and as much as we don’t have a control over it. What WE DO have control over is how we react to the scenarios we are pushed into! Whether we are resilient and fight out our tough times or crumble under the tough scenario is completely in our hands. Whether we let pride and arrogance take over us during our good times or decide to remain humble, we have the liberty to choose that.

It is believed in Hindu astrology that the path we are put under in this birth is the sum total of our karma (deeds) of the last birth.  Hence the path is pre-destined, but  right now as I write, our current karma is getting added on…... IN THE JOURNEY CALLED LIFE!

Tips for the curious, interested and motivated!
(Disclaimer:- The recommendations given below are based solely on my own experience. It is highly likely that I have missed out on some important references!)

Recommended reading: 

-Learn Hindu Astrology easily by K. N. Rao
-Astrology, Destiny and the wheel of time by K.N. Rao
-Elements of astronomy and astrological calculations by V. P. Jain
-Planets and education by Naval Singh ( How planets influence our education)
-Interpreting divisional charts by N.N. Sharma ( Why twins are different)
-Astrology of professions by Col. A.K. Gour
-Planets and Children by K. N. Rao
-Timing events through Vimshottari dasha
-Predicting through Jaimini Chara Dasha
The journal of Astrology is a bimonthly journal which has some excellent and ongoing research results published. Subscription is by post.

Recommended  youtube channels:
-KRS Channel
-Ernst Wilhelm

Recommended websites

* The birth chart is divided into 12 houses which stand for the 12 zodiac signs. The moment you were born there was a zodiac sign ascending from the horizon in the place you were born. This becomes your ascending sign or your ascendant a.k.a your Lagna.

Monday, November 18, 2013

In the journey called life- Part II

Delhi safari
My visit to New Delhi was quite eventful. I went there to attend the international seminar on Jaimini astrology. What is Jaimini? It is a technique used for prediction about which a lot a research is going on at the Institute of Astrology at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Very honestly, Jaimini was not the reason I travelled 1000 Kms. My main reason was to meet THE MAN, Shri. K.N. Rao. I had previously read his articles here and there and heard about him over and over again from various people who are familiar with the world of astrology. American, Russians, Ukrainians...he has followers from many countries. I was curious why  these people from all across the globe come to Delhi just to meet him. I watched his interviews and I was totally impressed by the way he communicated. But what better than to meet him in real flesh and blood.

There were at least 45 people from Russia alone (or Russian speaking countries) who attended this seminar. One of Russian ladies were kind enough to book a hotel room for me on the request of the organiser...the cheapest she could find ( with a Russian speaking receptionist!). But when I entered the area (Pahar Ganj) where the hotel was located..I had alarm bells ringing everywhere inside. If I have a choice..i will definitely not stay here for a week. I immediately executed my backup plan and was lucky to find an accommodation at the Working women's hostel, thanks to my cousin. Taking the Delhi Metro everyday was a unique experience . The mad mad rush at Rajiv Chowk station reminded me of my experience of taking the metro at Istanbul in Turkey, which has a population of 14 million against the 10 million in Delhi! But nevertheless it was fun.
Daily scene at Rajiv Chowk metro station in Delhi (The picture was taken from google search results)

The K. N. Rao phenomenon  
Shri. Kotamraju. Narayana Rao (Picture obtained from google search)
The first day of the seminar  actually fell on the 82nd birthday of Mr. Rao. I didn’t know this before. I went into the seminar room. There were barely 6-7 indians, the rest were from all other parts of the world..Well..of course it is an international seminar!Duh!..Then HE walked in, walking sticks in his hand and a long silver beard, with  two women on either sides escorting him. As he walked in people thronged towards him. Russians greeted him with their hands folded in a Namaste, gifted him with boxes of chocolates..There were Namaste s flying all over the place. Although there was too much fuss going around for my liking, I couldn’t help but stand and stare. He had this aura about him..Something enigmatic and charming, which somehow cannot be explained by mere words. Some Russian women who came there had tragic stories. They had travelled so many miles seeking some answers/some guidance. Some of them requested if they could get a private consultation from him. He agreed to do that later.

Finally the fuss calmed down and the inauguration began. I remember the organiser Mr. Deepak Bisaria saying to the audience that, all those who were sitting there in the seminar must be having a raj yoga* getting fructified, to be learning Jaimini from Mr. Rao himself!

Then it was time for him to start the course. The moment he started teaching, I realised why there was so much fuss before. What a teacher, what an orator. His way of teaching was so rational, so believable..most of all, so convincing. He always had incredibly interesting stories/real life incidences to narrate. It would keep the entire audience in rapt attention. When he taught, you were motivated to learn, you were inspired to pursue. The best part about him was how freely he spoke to all the people. For instance, in the first tea break I took a seat close by his circle, where he was narrating yet another story from his endless stock to the group sitting around him. I smiled at him as I took my seat. He looked at me and asked:

 ' I know you right? I think we have met somewhere'. I was taken aback by surprise.
 'No Sir. This is my first time here', I replied back ( But I was rejoicing inside!!).
'Ohh!?, Where are you from?', he asked.
 ' I am from Chennai', I replied smiling.
Later on after his session on the same day, I had to passed by him to get back to my seat and smiled as usual.
 ' You are from Chennai right? Was what I taught in the last session clear to you?', he asked
' Yes sir. It was clear.', I replied, still smiling and doing the 'Indian style'** nod of the head.
' What do you do?', he asked
' Sir, I just completed my PhD in biotechnology related field', I said.
' Oh..Are you familiar with the Jaimini technique?', he asked.
'  I have only been doing some self-learning for the past 6 months. I only know some basics. Not much otherwise', I replied. I was yet again rejoicing inside. With the kind of attention and open praise he got from all the people, he was still concerned  if the people in the class actually understood what he was teaching. The sign of a good guru!

But I went there hoping to find answers to my budding doubts, which I am sure would be many of your doubts are well. I am including some the questions which not just came to my mind, but also what many people repeatedly asked me.

  • I don’t understand..How can the planets in the sky control our lives? Are you meaning to say that the planetary alignment in the sky during the moment we were born control our entire destiny?
  • Why are there variations in predictions between different astrologers? That makes us think that they are bogus!
  • I have always wondered how it is possible that two people say for instance twins, who were born in the same place, in the same hospital with only little difference in time of birth, sometimes have completely different lives!?
  • If our life is predestined and is already written in the horoscope, then does it make sense at all to work hard and work towards our goals? What about determination and self-efforts, do they mean nothing if everything is pre-destined??
  • These astrologers prescribe so many remedies which many follow out of fear. We are forced to wear gemstones, do special puja etc, apparently to reduce the ill-effects of planets or to pacify them. Do these remedies actually work? Does it even make any sense following them?

I had a good feeling that I had come to right place at the right time to get answers to these questions bursting in my head. Did I get them?Was Mr. Rao the man who had answers to these questions??.....Click here for the continuation...(

* The astrological scriptures describes certain planetary combinations which during the planetary time periods will give some 'kingly' elevation in status. In simple words, fortune giving combination.
** We Indians just nod our heads in all the possible directions. Many European friends of mine have told me that they find this gesture of Indians hilarious. They don’t understand if it is a yes or a no. I personally think the Indian nod is a gesture of respect. We just don’t know where it originated!