On Making Pragmatic Promises


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There is a sea of difference between bravado and an earnest promise meant to be kept. People make tall promises in a moment of generosity or false pride.

When they do keep their word, they end up compromising on their well being or losing their possessions and peace of mind. If we are afraid of going back on our promises, we must give considerable thought to the commitments that we make, lest we end up feeling frustrated or shortchanged for lack of pragmatism.

A story from the Vishnu and Vamana Purana, deals with this aspect of promises in a telling manner. Once Mahabali, an Asura king, wanted to gain power over the three worlds performed a related Yajna. He gave away rich gifts of the receivers’ choice when they came to attend the rites. Then, Mahavishnu manifested himself in front of the king as a dwarfed Brahmana.The Asura king welcomed him with due respect and rituals and requested the lustrous young man to seek gifts from him. When Vamana sought land measuring three times his feet, Mahabali could not help feel amused.

He urged the recipient to ask for more. After all, he was a mighty sovereign, hoping to have the whole universe under his custody. He could certainly afford to give more than three feet of land measured by the tiny feet of the celibate who stood in front of him. The young man refused to alter his stance.The king set out to fulfill his promise in a ceremonial way, much against the counsel of his Guru Shukracharya who thought something was fishy. Mahabali was also intelligent enough to understand that the young midget who stood in front of him was no ordinary boy. Yet, he did not want to retract his vow. When the time came for the mysterious midget, to measure out his land, he grew magically. His giant feet measured the earth in one pace, the heavens in the other. When there was no other place to gain his third measure, Mahabali kneeled humbly before Mahavishnu, offering his head for the third pace.

Nevertheless what needs to be commended is that he made good of his promise even at the cost of his own life, which cannot be expected of mere mortals.

Save Yourself from Rainy Days


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Radha Prathi, March 24, 2017

problem It has been identified that water has a tendency to seep into adjoining walls that are at different levels. 

Come rainy season, and urban India is on tenterhooks, when it comes to their houses.

The reasons for these are many, ranging from poor construction to lack of a good rainwater draining system. Sometimes, a good many number of building parts, or even entire buildings have little or no exposure to sunlight. Correcting these anomalies is beyond the realms of practicality. Such being the case, it will be only wise to take the next best recourse.

Architects, builders, consumers and the waterproofing industry have identified the problems associated with moisture in buildings and have come up with solutions that can keep the building dry for the most part of the year. When the rainy season sets in, they have come up with techniques that will get the water off the building fast, so that pooling and leaking of water into the structure can be contained. Adding slopes in the roofing area wherever possible and rainwater harvesting project incorporated into buildings can stem this problem to a large extent.

It has been identified that water has a tendency to seep into the adjoining walls that are at different levels. Extra care during construction and plastering of these areas can control the damage caused due to dampness. Sometimes, water seepage can happen when there is error in the installation of the plumbing system. Then there are those instances when there can be inadequate surface preparation, improper use of primers, failure to take into account the thermal and wind movements of the structure etc which can undermine the strength of the construction over a period of time.

No matter what the problem, there are mostly ready-to-use products available that can repair possible damages to the buildings. If you are constructing a new facility, you can use them in the first instance, but if you are trying to protect an old home, you might have to walk that extra mile. Nevertheless, you can be sure that it is worth the effort.

Structural waterproofing

Open areas like balconies, porches and terrace slabs, which tend to be exposed to rainwater directly and for a longer time, will do well to mix admixes which will plasticise the walls and plug in the pores so that they do not retain water and absorb it later. As always, the market offers a range of these admixes with various grades of plasticising agents both in the paste and powder form. People looking at longevity of their constructions even have the options to fill hollow cement bricks with this mixture to make it waterproof from within.

Roof & terrace

It is universal knowledge that the roof and the terrace of any building are always exposed to the natural elements. This, coupled with bad upkeep can make the area develop cracks. Hence, waterproofing the terrace can protect it. You really do not need professionals to do this job, for the method is very simple. Sweep the terrace clean, wash it with clear water. Leak-guard pastes available off the shelf can be used to plug in cracks, dents and chipped area of the terrace.

Similarly, waterproof powder and chemical can also be bought in any hardware shop. Mix the powder as instructed in a bucket of clear water and apply the liquid to the surface with a wide paint brush. Apply a second coat after three hours and be rest assured that your terrace is safe for the next three to four years. As of now, there are no permanent waterproofing techniques for the roof; hence the need to repeat the exercise time and again.

Basement

Basement areas tend to become swimming pools during monsoons. The slope and the rainwater drains don’t help much, unless planned and executed well. You can prevent your basement from becoming redundant if you use appropriate waterproofing. While new basements can use structural procedure, old buildings have to first release the surface of the mould. Fumigation and subjecting the area to hot air blasts can clean it to a large extent. If the walls of the basement have started chipping or flaking, it will be worth the investment to get them plastered again before working on the floor.

Then, use non-metallic heavy duty floor hardener to reinforce the floor. Though this measure is costly, it has a long life and can be easy to clean and maintain. Waterproofing buildings has come of age. There are plenty of options in terms of both price and quality. The best time to waterproof buildings will be summer. Make sure that your homes and offices wear their rainproof cover before the first drizzle.

Home Remedies For Menstrual Blues


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The monthly cycle can be a cumbersome affair to many menstruating women of all age groups. While seeking medical help seems to be the most apparent option, niggling problems can be effectively ironed out by taking a leaf out of natural home remedies used by our grandmothers and their grandmothers. It will surprise us to know that they managed to find hands on solutions to most hassles sourcing readily available ingredients off their larders. Here are a few tips that were largely used by them rather successfully without any side effects. It will be a good idea to know them just in case we want to ease ourselves or our kind as and when we need them.

Women who have painful periods can overcome cramps forever if they consume a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds soaked overnight in curd with a pinch of salt for forty five days  continuously on an empty stomach.

Consuming the plantain flower can do a world of good to the female of the human species. The flower contains the much needed home remedy for most problems related to the menstrual tribulations of women. These florets when cooked with dhal supplement the protein requirement quite adequately. There are certain ground rules for using the plantain flower as they can be a very sticky and tiresome process. For those of you, who are not familiar with the plantain flower, please note that each petal of the flower conceals more than a dozen florets. The first few petals which are a deep crimson could be discarded and only the florets are to be used in the given method. Once the petals appear to be cream in colour, the flower can be cut up as you would use any other vegetable.

If you happen to experience intermittent cramps or a dull continuous ache in the underbelly region rub a few drops castor oil in the area, the pain will subside. Repeat the process before your daily bath during the period to avoid more bouts of pain.

It is normal to have slightly bloated tummy before the period, if the condition continues post period add a little salt to a teaspoon of coconut oil and rub it on to your belly before your daily bath and leave it for ten minutes before washing it off.

Weakness, dizziness and low blood pressure syndromes during the period can be wiped away with a glass of pomegranate juice with a dash of lime in it.

Inability to eat on time or loss of appetite during the periods is usually a temporary phase. Consuming a couple of bananas and a glass of milk will supplement a nutritious meal and help us overcome acidity.

A full body oil massage followed by a hot water bath post the cycle can rejuvenate the body and mind by making it moisturized and supple.

Places of worship, Indian festivals, fasts and functions normally do not encourage the active participation of menstruating women for religious reasons. At such times ladies might like to advance or put off the cycle by a couple of days. Though one can use over the counter medication for the purpose, relying on natural home remedies will prove to be the best for one can be assured of zero side effects.

If you want to advance your period for some reason by four to five days start taking a spoonful of fried sesame seeds (til) along with a pinch of jaggery, til chikkis will also do the trick after the fifteenth day of the previous cycle.

If you are due for your period in a day or two and you are impatient to finish it off without it being an impediment to your schedule, two servings of papaya or pineapple will do the trick.

There may be times when you would want to defer the period by a couple of days. If there is time to plan it in advance, ensure that you have an oil bath at least three times a week. Refrain from the aforementioned foods which stimulate the menstrual cycle.

To Cook Or Not To Cook Is Her Choice


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NEWER ALTERNATIVES

Hectic lifestyles are the order of the day. Caught up in the day-to-day activities, many women find cooking cumbersome. The stress of work and managing the household doesn’t leave much time to dish out meals three times a day, everyday.

It’s a fact that we are living in an age when women who want to wean away from the kitchen chores, can feel free to do so because the market caters to all their needs, albeit for a price. One only has to step out of their home to relish global cuisines. Or even better, just log on to the Internet and you will have the world at your fingertips.

For working professionals, eating out is a very common scenario. What started as a means of satisfying one’s cravings once in a while slowly metamorphosed into a habit of convenience. Small bistros, mess and shacks sprouted alongside big restaurants to cater to the urgent or specific needs of people. Many families are reliant on their neighbourhood kitchens in times of emergencies. Why slog for hours to prepare sweets and treats for festivals when you can easily order them from outside?   Parties and get-togethers can be enjoyed without the stress of cooking for everybody.

Apart from changing food habits, there is an apparent change in the concept of cooking itself. People who cook from scratch are hard to find these days. Change in lifestyle, time constraints and the strain of multitasking are taking a toll on people who have little or no time to go through the elaborate aspects of cooking. The fact that we have readymade masalas and ready- to-cook foods is well-known.

Stores today also stock and sell idli-dosa batter and semi-cooked foods because they are sure of takers for these products. Many grocery portals and shops are also offering to clean and cut vegetables, grate coconuts, peel onions and garlic for a nominal service charge.

These and other such facilities have made life a lot easier for women. The ones who have the flair for cooking elaborate and exotic dishes no longer have to dread the drudgery in the kitchen. They can get the right ingredients, processed in the manner they like. And for those who don’t have the time or inclination for cooking, there are many avenues today that offer the exotic stuff they want, without them having to worry about soiling their hands. As ordering food online has become a quite a phenomena, it has obliterated the bleakness and blandness of the appetite even when the lady of the house is not up for some cooking.

We can have the best of both worlds, where women can take a call to cook or not to cook without an iota of guilt or self reprisal because we have created a parallel world that can fulfill our needs quite competently. Today, there is a plate to cater to every palate and that too, at very reasonable prices. The boom in the food business is, perhaps, a pointer to the fact that there is a growing demand and hence, the undisturbed, variegated supply. So, when a woman chooses not to cook today, it doesn’t have to mean a hungry household.

Let There Be Light


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If you spend a considerable amount of quality time working on the plan of your home, you will realise that you can have a say in the position of the windows of your home, even if you are getting a flat built, says Radha Prathi.

If you are building a new home or renovating an old one, you will certainly be looking out for areas where you can cut the costs without really hampering the aesthetics or the security factors around your home. While your architect or contractor can advise you on the costs involved in terms of the present market rate, there are a few aspects on which you can work on by yourselves.

Plan

For instance, if you spend a considerable amount of quality time working on the plan of your home, you will realise that you can have a say in the position of the windows of your home, even if you are getting a flat built. Thereby you can cut out on the electricity costs on lights, fans and air conditioners in the long run.

Doors and windows are actually wall area with an open and shut facility, to let in the natural air and light into your premises without compromising on the security.

Try to have as many windows as possible with a distance of about three to four feet between each of them on each of your exterior walls so that they reinforce the strength of the building.

Once you have decided the spots that have been chosen for fixing windows, make sure that you keep practical realities like day- to-day maintenance and security in mind besides the cost factor.

You can avoid the use of conventional wooden frames and opt for corrugated or steel frames for your windows. Sliding doors can also be avoided as far as possible as it can be very cumbersome to clean up the metal tracks thoroughly. Though French windows compliment large houses, people going in for more modest homes can go for regular windows.

Choose well

While choosing a metal grill for your windows make sure that they are strong and have a heavy gauge. The design of the grill should not consist of very huge motifs or very small ones either as the former facilitates strangers or thieves to put their hand in to fish out the things that you may have left on your window sill, while the latter option can result in the collection of dust at the crevices which will eventually pose to be a challenge whenever you clean them up or repaint them.

When fixing the doors for your windows, sliding or the opening variety, frosted glass with a thick gauge will prove to be the best for windows on the ground floors and plain glass for higher floors. Instead of going in for long windows it is advisable to go for windows with a divide in the central region. Then you can keep just the top halves open to let in the light and air while the lower half lets in only the light.

It will be a matter of convenience when you place windows along the main door to help you see your visitors before you open your doors for them.

Mosquito nets

Even as you fix the windows make provisions so that you can use mosquito nets or meshed windows either on the exterior or the interior depending on your convenience. While fixing pelmets over the windows fix two sets of rods. This will accommodate the curtain and also a transparent sheer that you can draw according to your whim.

Though all of us would like to have a small window garden, the truth is most of us do not maintain them in the long run, moreover these cement holders weaken the walls. Yet if you have green fingers, fix a plastic or wrought iron rod around the window on the external wall and trail a creeper that either grows off the ground or on a pot placed on the ground. The creeper will not only give an exotic look to your window but will also add beauty to your home.

Though window shades have been relinquished to a bygone era, a bright roll on polyvinyl canopy over your windows will not only brighten the place but will also act as a sunshade and prevent rain from slashing right on to your precious carpet.

The window sills on either side of the walls tend to get dirtier than any other portion of the house because we tend to place knick knacks indiscriminately on them. This problem can be overcome by fixing a thin stone top on the sills in a matching or contrasting shade of marble or Cuddapah stone, which can be wiped or washed clean from time to time.

As you can see, a little homework in this aspect can not only help you to have a well lit and well ventilated home but will also reduce your costs to a considerable extent. Even the people who are very particular about the Vaastu of their homes can experiment with this idea keeping the parameters of their belief in mind.