Coffee-Just Brew It


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It is hard to believe that the comforting aroma of coffee which rejuvenates nearly half the population of our globe was not even known to our country half a millennium ago. When Baba Budan brought a handful of coffee seeds to India on his way back from Mecca in 1670 AD, little did he realise that he would be altering the lifestyle of Indians, the southerners, in particular, in more ways than one. The aromatic beans that were first grown in the hills of Chikkamagaluru district grew ever so well as if it were their native land.

The Arabica and Robusta beans were roasted and enterprising connoisseurs of this exotic aromatic seeds experimented enthusiastically with the ratio of the beans with or without the catalyst chicory, temperature of water, various varieties of filter etc, to arrive at the perfect cuppa. Huge companies and multinational franchisees of coffee houses stand testimony to the wonderfully adaptable form of this wonder drink. Drinking coffee in the perfect ambience has taken unbelievable dimensions quite on the lines of Japanese tea ceremonies. This global drink can be consumed in a plethora of forms with or without milk in increasing and decreasing quotients of the strength of the brew.

The discerning taste buds can be suitably satiated in more areas if the aroma, flavour and the natural rich brown colour is put to good use. Coffee can be best used in the decoction form while using it to flavour. The secret of getting the perfect decoction not only lies in the ratio of coffee powder and the temperature of the boiling water but also the temperature of the coffee filter. If you are in a hurry, you cannot go wrong if you add a couple of spoonfuls of instant coffee powder to piping hot water. The decoction thus prepared can be used to flavour cakes, ice creams, chocolates, burfis, cold coffee shakes, etc.

Nourishing Neem


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It is impossible to pass an unworshipped neem tree, especially in rural India. Neem tree, also famously known as sarva roga nivarini, has proven to be a sure panacea for many physical problems. Here are the many benefits of neem:

Chewing a couple of tender neem leaves can deworm your stomach, help you recuperate from jaundice, and also help in regulating blood sugar. It can also treat mouth ulcers, bleeding sore gums, and can prevent tooth decay.

Regular intake of neem leaves after meals regulates your digestive system, and can also get rid of psoriasis.

Consuming tender neem sprouts or capsules for a fortnight to a month can detoxify the body and strengthen the immune system. A healthier immune system helps your body in fighting off many illness and diseases.

When a paste made of neem leaves mixed with coconut oil and turmeric powder is applied to the face and washed off after an hour, it can leave it glowing.

Regular consumption of tender neem leaves can help you deal with fever, cough, aches and pains, sore throat, fatigue and nasal congestion.

Make your own insecticide by making little cloth bags of dried neem leaves and leave it in your provisions, clothes cupboards and bookshelves.

Bacterial infections in the nasal passages and respiratory system can be decreased by inhaling steam from boiling the leaves with a drop of eucalyptus oil.

This neem tree was outside our home.

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Test of Truth


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Sometimes, the truths that we know or believe in can be pretty hard to establish for want of witnesses or proof. The societal values, the situation, place and time eventually end up delivering a verdict which may or may not measure up to universal justice. Different places in the world have diverse religions, belief sets and values framed on the basis of the native environment. The person at the receiving end of the situation ends up with a raw deal because his contemporaries cannot see beyond their nose. The victims and martyrs of such situations have always had unique ways of ascertaining their stand.

Panditha Jagannatha, a Sanskrit court poet of Mughal emperor Jahangir, fell in love with a Muslim maiden who he called Lavangika. The Brahmin community was aghast by the affair. They could not dissuade the already married poet from having a relationship with the Muslim woman. Eventually, Jagannatha was excommunicated and exiled. The sad poet went to Kashi. He realised that he would not be able to make his contemporaries realise the genuineness of his feelings. Hence, he decided to launch his test of truth. He sat on the fifty-third step of Panchaganga Ghat and started singing the paeans to river Ganga. He emphasised on the power of the mighty river which could liberate the worst among sinners. It is said that with the composition of each stanza, the waters rose by one step and touched his feet. The poet felt vindicated by the divine touch. The people around him realised that he was earnest about his feelings though they did not acknowledge the same.

Even now, people swear by the truth by taking the names of those they truly love. When we wonder about it and question ourselves what makes us do what we do, we are likely to realise that we are trying to connect what we believe as truth in what we believe in as truth. Most of the times, we resort to this method to reiterate our beliefs. If we, who live in this technologically advanced world, adopt this method, imagine what it must have been like for the people who did not have the privilege.

Facing Board Examinations?


Published in the Student Edition of Deccan Herald

Board examinations are round the corner. Each academic year is designed in such a way that each student is expected to gear up for the Annual examination right from his first day of each academic year .The teachers, parents and the students prepare for this mega event collectively throughout the year.

Teachers of the respective subjects take enough number of revision lessons in each subject to ensure the success of students in the final examination. The teacher has the constraint of catering to the entire class which will consist of students of every genre hence cannot pay attention to the trivialities that contribute to perfection. Hence there are variations in student performances. Though every student puts in his or her best they make lapses which affect their percentage. These lapses can be overcome by following a few tips which can surely pave the way for the student to reach the top.

  • Students should frame a tentative time-table for themselves for studying in hours of the early morning which is most conducive for studying.
  • They can first prepare for a subject they are good at so that it gives them a feeling of satisfaction and confidence to proceed with the subjects which are not their hot favourites.
  • They should make it a point to concentrate on one subject at a time so that they get a complete picture of what they are doing.
  • Many students resort to classroom notes and worked out exercises which follow the lesson. This may not be adequate and they should be encouraged to read the lessons from the text book at least once after each revision.
  • Students should avoid memorizing answers for they could be let down badly if their memory fails. On the other hand, if they grapple the concept of the subject they can always put across the answer in their own words.
  • Students can take dictation tests from every subject and perfect their spellings.
  • Poems meant for memorization should be written out a couple of times looking into the text book to grapple the punctuations and spellings.
  • Map work, graph work and diagrams of science should be practised and not glanced through in the last minute for they can easily fetch a student anywhere between five and eight marks when answered accurately.
  • While preparing for mathematics students should be encouraged to work out the prescribed varieties of sums from different text books to help them gain expertise through experience.
  • Group study should be ideally avoided except in the case of mathematics where the students can compete with each other to arrive at the correct answer at the earliest.
  • Students can be encouraged to solve old question papers without omitting any questions by way of choice and get it evaluated by the respective teachers if possible. This exercise will help them revise concepts in different ways.
  • While preparing for the language papers, grammar exercises could be worked out from general grammar books or e-exercises for getting a better insight of the concept.
  • However much a student prepares for an examination certain features of language papers like letter-writing, essay writing, précis writing, paragraph writing, caption writing and comprehension passage are unpredictable. Hence they need to work out sufficiently so that the student does not get put off by the question paper.
  • While preparing at home, it is best that students should use a pencil to write, for it has the twin advantage of not only improving the handwriting but also imbibes a sense of neatness in the student. [The student erases the errors and gets out of the habit of scratching eventually because of getting used to see a scratch free paper].
  • Students should strictly avoid answering avoidable phone calls and entertaining themselves with music or watching television during the study hour for the distraction will adulterate their concentration.

A saying in Sanskrit goes thus, Sukharthinaha Kutho Vidhya, Vidhtarthinaha kutho sukham? when translated means that a pleasure seeking person cannot acquire knowledge and a person seeking education cannot even think about pleasure. The saying may sound very harsh but it is very true even in this day and age where the academic capabilities of students are measured by examinations.

Go ahead and set your score and reach your goal! Best of luck!

Board examinations are round the corner. Each academic year is designed in such a way that each student is expected to gear up for the Annual examination right from his first day of each academic year .The teachers, parents and the students prepare for this mega event collectively throughout the year.

Teachers of the respective subjects take enough number of revision lessons in each subject to ensure the success of students in the final examination. The teacher has the constraint of catering to the entire class which will consist of students of every genre hence cannot pay attention to the trivialities that contribute to perfection. Hence there are variations in student performances. Though every student puts in his or her best they make lapses which affect their percentage. These lapses can be overcome by following a few tips which can surely pave the way for the student to reach the top.

  • Students should frame a tentative time-table for themselves for studying in hours of the early morning which is most conducive for studying.
  • They can first prepare for a subject they are good at so that it gives them a feeling of satisfaction and confidence to proceed with the subjects which are not their hot favourites.
  • They should make it a point to concentrate on one subject at a time so that they get a complete picture of what they are doing.
  • Many students resort to classroom notes and worked out exercises which follow the lesson. This may not be adequate and they should be encouraged to read the lessons from the text book at least once after each revision.
  • Students should avoid memorizing answers for they could be let down badly if their memory fails. On the other hand, if they grapple the concept of the subject they can always put across the answer in their own words.
  • Students can take dictation tests from every subject and perfect their spellings.
  • Poems meant for memorization should be written out a couple of times looking into the text book to grapple the punctuations and spellings.
  • Map work, graph work and diagrams of science should be practised and not glanced through in the last minute for they can easily fetch a student anywhere between five and eight marks when answered accurately.
  • While preparing for mathematics students should be encouraged to work out the prescribed varieties of sums from different text books to help them gain expertise through experience.
  • Group study should be ideally avoided except in the case of mathematics where the students can compete with each other to arrive at the correct answer at the earliest.
  • Students can be encouraged to solve old question papers without omitting any questions by way of choice and get it evaluated by the respective teachers if possible. This exercise will help them revise concepts in different ways.
  • While preparing for the language papers, grammar exercises could be worked out from general grammar books or e-exercises for getting a better insight of the concept.
  • However much a student prepares for an examination certain features of language papers like letter-writing, essay writing, précis writing, paragraph writing, caption writing and comprehension passage are unpredictable. Hence they need to work out sufficiently so that the student does not get put off by the question paper.
  • While preparing at home, it is best that students should use a pencil to write, for it has the twin advantage of not only improving the handwriting but also imbibes a sense of neatness in the student. [The student erases the errors and gets out of the habit of scratching eventually because of getting used to see a scratch free paper].
  • Students should strictly avoid answering avoidable phone calls and entertaining themselves with music or watching television during the study hour for the distraction will adulterate their concentration.

A saying in Sanskrit goes thus, Sukharthinaha Kutho Vidhya, Vidhtarthinaha kutho sukham? when translated means that a pleasure seeking person cannot acquire knowledge and a person seeking education cannot even think about pleasure. The saying may sound very harsh but it is very true even in this day and age where the academic capabilities of students are measured by examinations.

Go ahead and set your score and reach your goal! Best of luck!

Beating Retreat


Published in School Edition of Deccan herald on 29th January 2019

Most of us are very particular about beginnings. We take all the care to begin well because we know that “Well begun is Half Done”. The care and the interest we have at the commencement of a project somehow takes a back seat when we reach the end of the road. If you are still wondering what I am talking about, just have a look at the first pages of your notebooks and the page in which you are writing presently, you can see the setting in of carelessness. On the other hand, if you find that you have improved on yourself, you are on the right track. If you maintain the neatness and enthusiasm till the end, you can be sure that you have all the qualities that are the hall mark of successful people. Yes! Conclusions are as important beginnings.

All of you must have seen or at least heard about the elaborate celebrations of Republic Day in Delhi. The humungous amount of effort that has gone into organising an event of that scale goes without saying. However, how many of you are aware that our nation has the proud heritage of winding up this event with equal elan?

The conclusion of Republic Day festivities known as Beating Retreat  is conducted three days after the big day which falls on  29th of   January every year.  The Indian Army, Navy and Air Force are joined by the Central Armed Police Forces and the Delhi Police and they march in Vijay Chowk which is close to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The Chief Guest of the function is always the President of India. This year when our president Ram Nath Kovind arrives his bodyguards the trumpeters will herald his arrival. The function will commence with the hoisting of our tricoloured and the playing of our  National Anthem. Then a grand march will ensue and the ceremonies will be declared closed officially.

Did you know that the ceremonious conclusion of our Republic Day festivities happens to be a direct rip off of the British tradition? As usual we have given it our unique Indian touch and made it wholly ours.

The ceremony was designed by Major G.A.Roberts a British national in the year 1950. Jawaharlal Nehru the first prime minister of India was keen to impress our colonisers with the grandeur of our land and our prowess. He delegated Major Roberts to come up with a spectacular event for the Queens visit. That is when Beating Retreat came into being. It also became a showcase of our strengths making the leaders of other countries think twice before taking us for granted.  Thereafter it became an official ceremony year after year where our president and a special invitee usually the head of another country inspect the grand march.  Our guest list shows that we have honoured rich and poor, strong and weak, friendly and unfriendly countries alike. According to the records listed in Wikipedia, thus far we have missed out on having invited guests only three times 1952, 1953 and 1966.

Did you know that the average Indian citizen can buy tickets for this event which is priced from Rupees twenty to Rupees five hundred. In fact our government has made arrangements for people to pay and watch the rehearsals also just in case they are busy otherwise on the 29th of January. For those of us who do not live in the national capital we can watch the ceremony from the comfort of our homes either on television or the website.

To Wax Or Wane is the Question


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All of us know that the waxing and waning of the moon is a visual occurrence as the result of the satellite revolving around our planet.

It is interesting to note that the Skanda Purana has an interesting take on the subject which aims at educating its readers to show due respect to the modesty and independence of women. The handsome and accomplished moon personified as Somadeva had married the beautiful twenty seven stellar sisters of the cosmos.

He lived a happy and contented life till he coveted and abducted Tara, his guru Brishaspathi’s wife. The gods waged a war to redeem their preceptor’s spouse. Somadeva trounced them in a trice. The Devas approached Lord Shiva for help.

Brahma the creator who was witnessing this pantomime foresaw a great disaster. Hence, he advised Somadeva to surrender to Lord Shiva and apologise to Brihaspathi and send the pregnant Tara back to her husband. (The question mark over the patriarchy that dangled over the unborn child is another story.)

The war-weary Somadeva who was stricken with leprosy saw better sense now and did as he was bidden. The once haughty lunar deity became penitent and took up rigorous penance and appeased Lord Shiva. As a result he was cured of his deadly disease but was cursed for life to wax and wane every fortnight.

The Lord in his superior wisdom hoped to alert mankind that one can never get away from karma no matter what the status or penance quotient. Apparently the story is meant to be a subtle warning to all those people who lust for other people’s spouses, wealth and belongings, that they have to pay a price for it.

Apart from the punishment factor that awaits the wrongdoer, the tale also underlines the act that women are not commercial commodity who can be taken, used and rejected at the whims and fancies of the mindless and the powerful.

The Skanda Purana points out that our personalities will wane like the moon when we indulge in unethical debauchery and cause unwarranted pain to others. All the same, if we are suitably chastened and repent for our misdeeds, we can reinforce our intrinsic values. This, in turn, will help our personalities wax like the moon.