Warm Winter Woolies


Before putting away your sweaters, mufflers and tube socks, make sure they are washed the right way.

CLOTHES CARE Before putting away your sweaters, mufflers and tube socks, make sure they are washed the right way. It keeps them snug and makes them last longer, says Radha Prathi

Winter is almost drawing to a close. It is time to pack and stack up all those warm clothes and rugs until this time next year. Dry cleaning them is certainly an easy option. Even though it comes with a hefty bill, more often than not, it is not even cleaned well. Faded portions, partial stains and sometimes even damages are noticed only when you’re wearing the clothing item the next time around.

But, if you follow certain ground rules while taking care of your woollen clothes, you can be sure that they will last you for a lifetime. Never store your woolies without washing them. No matter how expensive or of what superior quality, knitwear can lose its shape and elongate in an ugly manner during the process of washing and drying if not handled properly. If your woollen wear and rugs are branded, you should follow the instructions on the label. If not, try sticking to these little notes on caring for your woollens:

Extra fibres

First check the garments, quilts and rugs for snags or unraveled stitches and set them right.

Some woolies have a tendency for pilling and have tiny blobs of yarn emerging from the fabric. You could lay them out flat on a mat and pick them out gently with your fingers.

If there are way too many. you could brush them gently and quickly, lengthways. Do it with a stiff sponge initially and proceed to remove the woollen balls with your fingers.

Check for stains. Lay the garment flat on an acrylic mat, wet that specific area and apply a gentle detergent on the reverse side of the stain. Take care not to rub or squeeze that portion.

Colour fastness

Usually dark colours have a tendency to run. Check whether the colours run, by soaking one edge of the garment in water and pressing an old white cloth on it. Such clothes should be washed separately.

Work a rich lather with a gentle detergent or a mild shampoo in lukewarm water and soak the reversed woollens for an hour or two.

Lay out the garment flatly on the washing stone and gently tease out the dirt by pressing the knitwear. Never rub or wring them.

If you happen to use the washing machine, place the garment in a loosely-tied cloth bag or pillow case to prevent the garment from getting out of shape. Wash it on a short fast cycle.

Rinse them thoroughly so that they are free of the detergent with several changes of water.

Cleaning & drying

Leave the rinsed wet woollens for fifteen minutes in the empty bucket or on the washing stone till the excess water drains away.
If you want to hasten the process of drying, spread a clean, dry and large towel on the garment and roll them together to soak up the moisture. You could repeat the process with another towel if necessary.

Choose a spot away from direct sunlight and spread the woollens on a plastic mat or a clean flat surface without wringing or squeezing the material.

When it is semi-dry, pat the garment back to its original shape and leave it alone till it dries up completely.

Once the major task of washing is over, it is time to store them safely. Never hang your knitwear in the wardrobe as their weight will cause them to stretch out of shape. Moreover, dust can damage woollens. Fold them minimally, roll them up and store them in a closed drawer, container or closet with a packet of flower dust or some camphor to keep them fragrant until you want to use them again.

Given that they keep you warm during those chilly mornings and nippy nights, the effort is well worth it

Let Us Play It Cool This Summer


NOT SO HOT Keep the windows open, facilitate cross ventilation, and you can have a cooler home.

The temperatures have started soaring. It’s time to make some cool changes in order to transform your humble home into a refreshing and invigorating living space, writes Radha Prathi

Deforestation, urbanisation and erratic town planning have gotten together to make matters ‘hotter’ for us every passing year. Given that we are already sweating it out, summers ain’t going to be fun this time. But if we approach the problem methodically, it can be set right. Just like all seasons, summer can be a boon, if we choose to make hay while the sun shines and give our home its much-needed facelift. Here are some ideas to help you give a new look to your home this summer:

Time to repair

Summer is the best time to repair or renovate your home. Make a list of the little and large malfunctions around your home, which had been bothering you over the year. Fix leaky taps, cracks in the walls,  unstable switches, creaky or stuck-up doors, rusty hinges, broken latches or wobbly handles. If you are planning to add another room or extend your premises or add receptacles like drawers, cupboards and wardrobes, go ahead. This is the right season for that. Plans to replace electrical wires, installing solar heaters and rainwater harvesting systems can be ideally done during this time as there are no possibilities of untimely showers or cold drafts. Also, summer is the best season for a fresh coat of paint for your home.

Clean up

Spring cleaning the home can be therapeutic. Dispose off the clutter and make more space for yourself. A little water and soap can wash away the dust and grime collected over the last season. Put away washed or dry-cleaned winter clothing and bedding after sunning and airing them. Also, shampoo your expensive carpets and foot rugs now.

It is time to open those windows. If you have put up meshes to keep out mosquitoes, make sure that you wash them,  repair the holes or replace them if necessary
before putting them up. Also, clean up your water tank and sumps.

Apart from the logistics of maintaining the space, we can also work on cooling down our quarters. Air coolers and air conditioners can do the job for us. Yet it comes with a price, for research has shown that indoor air quality can deteriorate steadily when they are constantly used, thus affecting our wellbeing in the long run. Besides, they are heavily dependent on electricity, which happens to be scarce during this season. Here go a few practical tips to make summer cooler or, at least, more bearable.

Dash of greenery

If you have garden space, it is time to take out the hibernating furniture and the swing or that giant parasol and install them in your garden. If you happen to live in  a high-rise building, ensure that your  balcony and service verandas are well-populated with greenery. A visit to a plant nursery in your vicinity will take care of all your green needs. Watering the plants  regularly will not only help them thrive, but also bring down the temperature of the place to some extent.

If you have terracotta idols or wall-plate artefacts, they can be placed in strategic corners and walls on the exteriors of your home. You can trail creepers on them, or grow plants of the succulent variety or very simply, fill them with water. This measure will not only bring down the temperature by a notch or two, but will also prove to be a gift to your olfactory senses as they emanate an earthy odour.

Window dressing

Bring down your regular curtains and replace them with organic blinds created out of slender bamboo shoots, sarkanda grass or fragrant khus mats. Feel free to sprinkle plain or fragrant water on them when it’s hot. This option will cool down the area and will let in lots of natural light and ventilation. Post summer, they can be brought down and rolled up and wrapped in old cotton saris or dhotis and put away until the next season. Toss in a few pieces of camphor as you pack these curtains to protect them from mites. You can fix canopies on the exteriors of your windows, which will not only act as a shield from the glaring sun and dust, but will also help the potted plants placed on your window sill to survive.

For breezy indoors

Facilitate cross ventilation by keeping windows open. You could light an incense stick or two and stick them in the soil of your indoor plants. This measure will discourage insects from settling indoors, while helping a pleasant scent linger in your rooms. Fill terracotta urns and pots with fresh water or ice cubes every day and toss colourful flower petals and some basil leaves and place them around your home. They will permeate a cool, fragrant breeze. Give your cosy carpets and fancy foot rugs a much-needed rest and roll out the traditional coir, grass or bamboo mats, which will act as gentle acupressure entities, when you walk barefoot over them.

Shackled Capabilities


These days, I cannot resist chuckling to myself when I pass a police station in Namma Bengaluru. The billboard in the premises triggers me into a muted convulsion. The writing in Kannada says, “There are chain thieves around. Beware of them.”

When I saw the impressive board for the first time, I read it aloud to my curious friend who could not read the lingo. Almost immediately, the driver of the auto in which we were travelling chimed in and said that truer words could not have been spoken. He added that the board spoke of the thieves ‘within’ the premises, including the catchers and the caught. His unexpected sarcastic wisecrack had us in splits.

Soon he turned serious and reeled out a dozen instances of chain snatching incidents which met their Waterloo in the area earmarked for public security. Although we were amused, we could not discount the earnestness that we detected in his voice.

We realised that the men in khaki largely fail to inspire respect in the general public. We were reminded of a family anecdote. When one of my uncles was selected by the police department to join as a sub-inspector, my straightforward grandfather categorically threatened to disown him, if he did take up the job.

We in the sub-continent seem to have little or no faith in our law and order system. That explains the reams of jokes on pot bellied policemen and their wayward ways. Our movies invariably picturise them rushing in the last leg of the climax and nabbing the culprits after the hero has bashed them up.

Recently, a news report in Deccan Herald published a story about 10 boys from Bihar, who worked as shoeshine boys in Kolkata. The boys had inadvertently come across a treasure chest which fell off a van belonging to a bank. They divided the spoils amongst themselves and went back to their native places, only to be nabbed by the long arm of the police and that too within a matter of a few days.

This incident is proof of the fact that our police system is perfectly capable of doing its duty efficiently in double-quick time. Perhaps, they were empowered to do so because there was no interference from political or financially sound circles. May be they did it because the perpetrators would not grease their palms. No matter what the reason, the mission was accomplished, truly and well. The incident holds mirror to the general opinion of the common man about our police.

Conversely, we as a nation also look up to upright officers like Kiran Bedi or H T Sangliana as the totem pole of integrity and duty consciousness. May their tribe increase!

Curative Curses


Cursing somebody or something has become akin to breathing these days. People are forever expressing their displeasure using foul language propelled by destructive and deteriorating thoughts.

Then there is another category of people who swear rather out of context, more out of habit or to display a cool attitude rather than as a reaction.

Outbursts of disgust, depression, despair or anger is not new to mankind. So also, the need to keep our tempers in control is a well-known universal truth. Religion, medical science and psychology have time and again emphasised on the need to maintain mental equilibrium for remaining healthy.

Our epics and mythologies house a repertoire of stories which involve a lot of curses. Usually, spiritually potent sages are found cursing kings and lesser mortals when they are found shortchanged in established values and courtesies. People from all walks of life were aware of the spiritual strengths of these wise men. The words uttered by these men were powered by the strength of their truth, righteousness and disciplined life.

Hence these rishis were revered and feared by one and all. People took care not to ruffle the tranquility of these great men.

The rishis were also aware of their innate power to alter the course of events in the life of an individual while cursing them. They also knew that a sizeable amount of the merits derived from their severe penance would be expended when they exercised their powers.

Therefore, they always exercised utmost caution restraint when mouthing the negatively powered dictums. The words uttered by the sages always came true.There were times when the wrongdoer would immediately realise his or her fault and seek pardon from the affronted sage.

At such times, the offended party would realise the gravity of the situation. Yet, his commitment to truth would deter him from going back on his words. All the same, he would exhibit the generosity of his spirit by altering the curse or by prescribing a suitable panacea to overcome the crisis.

The curse would invariably materialise on the sheer strength of the integrity of the person who spelt it out. The person who cursed would take on further austerities to replenish his spiritual strength. The cursed would emerge stronger and chastened as the curse would prove to be a curative of sorts to their psyche.

The basic principle of using our energy for constructive or destructive purposes is pretty much the same as the sages of the yore, though we may not match their moral caliber. This knowledge should make us evaluate our emotions and measure our words before spewing them thoughtlessly.

The Art of Adjustment


“Please adjust a little bit”– is probably the most misinterpreted and quoted out of context policy in both conversations and life alike. The seemingly innocuous phrase is almost invariably the root cause to the mayhem we find ourselves in, during the course of day to day life.

Passive behaviour, compromising on values and promoting negative acts in the name of cooperation may ensure short term peace and profits but will reveal the foolhardiness of the act in the long run.

People tend to put up with undue delay, shoddy work, corruption, bureaucracy, manual goof ups, technical glitches, tyrannical hierarchy, obsolete practices, unwarranted ceremonies and protocol which deserve little or no respect.

Passive acceptance of sub standard practices can hardly be eulogized as a virtue. Usually most people refrain from questioning or complaining about such matters either out of fear or because they cannot care less.

A journey through the annals of time will reveal that gutsy people like royals, leaders, scientists, philosophers, social reformers et al, who wanted to make a palpable difference to the world they lived in, opted to face the challenges that riddled their paths. They realised that living in harmony with fellow living beings was as important as introducing recourse for a better quality of life as and when it was needed.

A committed approach towards their respective goals with this basic knowledge led them to chart out pioneering changes.

Purandaradasa, the saint poet said, “Manava janma doddadu” – the life of a human being is significant. He appealed to mankind to make the best possible use of lifetime not only to improve themselves but also contribute constructively to the society we live in and the world at large.

One can achieve this lofty goal by broadening the mental and spiritual horizon, juxtaposing creativity with wisdom and seasoning it with passion and the drive to overcome obstacles.

Overlooking and ignoring faults and problems certainly makes life easier for the inadvertent perpetrators and people at the receiving end of the fault.

A little adjustment definitely irons out misunderstandings, unpleasantness and possibilities of blowing matters out of proportion. It spells serenity and security and an amiable environment when used judiciously.

One must weigh the pros and cons of a situation ensure its worthiness before   arriving at the middle ground.

Adjustment is an art. It involves ethics of intrinsic discipline and discretion. Adjustment, compromise, conciliation and co-operation are most definitely virtues as long as it does not tamper Truth, encroach on integrity or cannibalise compassion.

DIY– Food Grain Jewelry


Have you ever thought of adorning your walls with your favourite collection of jewellery, simply to add bling to your bare walls? Mostly not! Ornaments invariably cost a pretty penny especially if they are set in precious metals, and besides it is not a sensible idea to exhibit it where everyone can see.

Yet if you want your decor to be different, you could put your artificial fare on show but they are likely to lose their sheen over a period of time.

Here is an idea you could use to make your own designer costume jewellery with cost effective-material and use it as wall decor?

All you need are food grains of different varieties, hard cardboard, purple or maroon coloured velvet paper, fabric glue, some gold and silver sparkle colours and a transparent nail polish.

Wash the chosen food grains and let them dry completely.

The most authentic looking gemstones will be found in the green gram which can pass off for jade, masoor dal for pink pearls, boiled rice for rice pearls, black gram for black pearls and cow peas for agate.

First cut out the cardboard in any other shape of your choice. Paste the velvet paper over the board without forming any crease.

Arrange food grains in patterns that your imagination fancies and paste them as necklace, a pair of ear-rings and a finger ring. In other words simulate a traditional jewel box that houses a set of jewellery.

Apply the nail polish carefully over the food grains. They not only will provide them the sheen but will protect them for a long time to come. You could intersperse the grains with dabs of gold or silver paint to give it the metallic touch.

Once the adhesive dries, punch a hole at the centre point towards the top and pass a piece of satin lace and knot it into a loop.

Then, place a thin film of transparent plastic sheet over the work and tape the same firmly at the back. This measure will protect your work from dust and the active fingers of curious admirers.

Select a spot on your wall to hang your work of art.

Work And Reward


Most of us are familiar with a verse from the Bhagvad Gita which urges people to do their duty without pinning their hopes and aspirations on the results.

Easily said than done! It certainly seems to be a tall order, especially in the present times where every thought, word and deed that is executed has an expectation attached to it.  People are forever hankering after fame, wealth and power which happen to be the motivation behind work of any sort.

Does the lofty advice handed out by Lord Krishna lack pragmatism? Should the yardstick used to identify successful people be altered? Do sense of duty and responsibility, passion towards one’s work and accountability have no value except when rewarded proportionately?

Is it alright if good work goes unacknowledged or unappreciated? These are but a few questions that weigh down a conscientious worker sometime or the other.

The answer to these questions lies in the actions of Sri Krishna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Krishna’s role as the charioteer, friend, philosopher and guide without actively participating in the war is the highlighted in the epic. These are well known facts to those who are even remotely familiar with the Mahabharata.

Yet there are several instances of total dedication and ultimate attention to details by the lord as Parthasarathi, which constitute to the big picture.

For instance, Gopala, the popular cowherd took care of his war horses ever so well. He fed, watered, bathed and medicated them without awaiting instructions. One day, Krishna noticed his famished and wounded steeds and asked Arjuna to invoke Varuna and spring a lake in the corner of the battle field and fence it with arrows so that he could refresh them to face the war energetically.

On the day when Arjuna swore to kill the Samasapthakas to avenge the death of Abhimanyu, Krishna foresaw a hard day and arranged for a set of fresh horses and a new chariot to be used midway through the battle, well in advance.

When the war culminated, he consigned the used chariot to flames to protect the world from the negative energy that it was likely to emanate. These are but a few instances which show the involvement that Krishna had towards his assignment as a charioteer. He may not be celebrated or even remembered for every little thing that he did, but each act certainly contributed to the final victory.

Sincere work seldom gives scope for ruminating on the outcome but never goes unrewarded!