A Ramble…


The evening sun burns with a sudden fervour,

A last burst before it glides away for the day.

The hustle and bustle of a weekend are all around me,

As I go plod, plod, plod on the winding way.

Sweat rivulets flow down my face and neck,

The gentle breeze brings some joyous respite.

The city’s drone slowly dies away,

As I go plod, plod, plod seeking some quiet.

The blue flash of a focussed kingfisher,

And the contortionist routines of the squirrel.

The crisp chatter of two raucous mynas follow,

As I go thud, thud, thud on my ramble.

The rich dark brown soil,

Receiving dried leaves worn and frail.

Ready to absorb and recreate life,

As I go huff, puff, huff up the trail.

The wind swishing through the branches,

A golden apricot poodle bounding up the hill.

A pause, a break to replenish with water,

As I go glug, glug, glug and have my fill.

A bunch of bright red flowers on a branch,

Drooping down as if the tree has overflowed.

A pitstop that brings a smile and some joy,

As I go jog, jog, jog down the winding road.

Today’s workout goals have been met,

But a walk is more than burning a calorie.

There are simple joys to be had at every step,

As I stamp, stamp them into my memory.

Carpet of flowers


This afternoon, as I rushed to complete a few errands, my eyes saw that the road was filled with beautiful pink flowers that had fallen from a nearby tree. And, as I watched, the flowers continued to fall, swaying gently in the wind and gliding to the road. There were many.

They had served their purpose, giving generously of their beauty, expecting nothing in return. A few of these flowers had also fallen on some green bushes that lined the road. And even after they had served their purpose, these flowers still decorated the bushes and brought them to life!

My attention then shifted to the tree. It was in full bloom, wrapped in pretty flowers, gently swaying in the breeze.

I paused to take pictures. This got me thinking.

Life goes on. Days fly past. Morning quickly becomes night. ‘Things to do’ lists grow, shrink and expand at an alarming pace. Life’s pauses are few and far between. Technology rules. Necks are bent forward in a permanent posture of seeing and experiencing the world through one’s smartphone. Fingers are so used to touchscreen technology that we even try to zoom into physical copies of photographs.

Mother Nature is busy too! But where is the time to notice her beauty or her generosity? The miracle of sunrise and sunset are only used to pace our day, time our workouts or fix our various appointments. There is no time to enjoy the appearance of stars on the dark, velvety sky every night or appreciate a glorious sunny day! Weather reports are again to plan one’s schedule rather than to appreciate the lashing tropical rain or a grey, cloudy day!

We need to take small breaks – to stop, to appreciate, to rejuvenate and to be grateful!

Life’s little breaks


I have been staring at my computer screen for the last two hours. I need a break; I stretch my arms and lean back on my swivel chair, which extends with me to accommodate the stretch. Wow…that really feels good. Ten seconds was all it took, a stretch, a break…and back to work again.

Courtesy – http://www.shutterstock.com

An intense cardio workout, and you finally get a water break, heart pounding, sweat pouring…no water tasted this sweet, ever!

You are busy cooking for guests, and when all the dishes are simmering, you go out on the balcony and take in a few deep breaths!

When you know you have worked-out hard during the week, and Sunday is your cheat day, and when you know you don’t have to count the steps or the calories…!

And just last night, we were at a friend’s place for dinner, and the conversation meandered to our childhood, and exams, and how after 2 to 3 hours of intensive study, we would treat ourselves to a few chapters of a new book that we were reading then!

Coming home after a holiday, and stretching out in the comfort of one’s own home -a known and loving space – and catching some shut eye!

While there are the big holidays and travelling, and long vacation breaks….it is these small, everyday breaks that keep us enthused, keep us going.

These breaks are the punctuation marks in our lives, where we pause, but briefly, and then get going again.

My grandmother’s gym


I grew up in a joint family, and all of us at home have great memories of the fun times we had with our grand mom. She usually sat up late with us, when we tried to conquer our books, and crammed for tests.  She was very active right into her eighties.

The concept of working out and exercising were alien to her.  For their generation, there was enough equipment in the kitchen to help burn those extra calories.

Indian women in those times did all their dry and wet grinding, pounding and crushing of grains and other food items and masalas at home, using a few devices – in our language these are called ‘Aatukkal‘ (grinding stone), Ammikkal (loosely means rolling/crushing stone), ‘Ural & Ulakai‘ (pounding stone and rod) and ‘Sevai Naazhi‘ (rice vermicelli maker).

Indian cooking involves a lot of blending, and grinding of spices and ingredients for nearly every dish, so my grand mom’s and to a certain extent, my mom’s generation, used these devices.  I still remember the ones we had at home.

The Aatukkal and Ammikkal were made of solid granite stone, polished and carved to the shape required.  The pestles weighed around 2 or 3 kg each.  So, working these for an hour for wet grinding and 20 minutes for the blending of spices, took care of their daily strength training requirements.

Image courtesy - www.indianfoodguides.com

The Aattukal or Grinding Stone used for preparing wet rice batter for salted pancakes

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    The Ammikkal used for crushing and blending. Picture courtesy – http://www.dsource.in

The Naazhi (rice vermicelli maker), required a twisting movement and force to turn the handle, to squeeze the steamed rice dough into beautiful vermicelli string hoppers.  They did this multiple times to make enough for all of us at home.

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          The Sevai Naazhi or the rice vermicelli maker – picture courtesy http://www.subbuskitchen.com

The Ural and Ulakai (the pounding rod and vessel) were usually used to pound wheat and other grains to prepare whole-grain flour.  Two women stood at opposite ends and pounded in a rhythmic manner, passing the rod to the other in turns, chit chatting and singing at times.

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       The Ural and Ulakai – the pounding rod and the vessel – image courtesy – http://www.olx.in

Now we have mixer-grinders, wet grinders, ready-made vermicelli and flour.  And then, we go work out in the gym.

Our ancestors were wiser, they got their work and workout done in one shot.  After all, they had the luxury of a home-gym.