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.

It is Good to Feel Bad


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Sanjay, all of 17, was severely reprimanded by his lecturer for not submitting his record notebook on the due date.

The lanky boy hung his head in shame and looked sideways at his friends who were standing by the door. Reassured, he mumbled a cursory apology and exited the staff room. Before long, his pals cheered him up and soon, the gang was off to watch a movie.

When Sheila, 12, was scolded by her mother for not keeping her room clean, her teenaged cousin Leila consoled her saying, “Moms are like that only. Even mine never misses an opportunity to pick on me. So don’t worry, chill!”

Evan, 22, a waiter at a high-end restaurant, was clumsy while serving tea to a regular customer and was taken to task by his manager. When he returned to the kitchen, his colleagues told him that there was no point in moping because the manager was incapable of digesting his meals if he did not chew up one of his underlings every day.

These are but random instances. Yet there is a line of commonality that strings them together. In every cited case, the person who was pulled up for his or her mistake felt victimised. Not for long did the person pause to reflect on what they did wrong.

The already dormant conscience was further assuaged by an empathetic consoler who made a villain out of the conscientious disciplinarian.

How many times have we not been party to or at least witnessed scenes where the pointlessness of feeling bad is underscored? Then comes the scolding of the ‘scolder’ for finding faults unnecessarily and making proverbial mountains out of molehills. Eloquent empathisers will go a step further and cite a track record of similar situations and ridicule the stickler in good measure.

Usually, martinets are nicknamed and made laughing stocks of their immediate society, fodder for the gossip gristmill. True, none of us like to be criticised. Often harsh words can make our hearts bleed much more than prickly thorns. It is during these times that we look up to our friends and well-wishers for emotional support. We feel lighter and better when we are comforted.

There is nothing wrong in craving for some reprieve when we are submerged by our blues, especially if we have been walked all over for no fault of ours. At such times, we will do well to follow the advice of our supporters and treat these instances as passing clouds. We must get on with our lives without attaching too much importance to the slights meted out to us.

Nevertheless, if we happen to be at fault, the best course of action would be to reflect and introspect on the subject. Then it will not be very difficult for us to see that we have erred and therefore have been admonished, albeit harshly. It is time for us to realise that it is alright to feel bad or guilty. It just shows that our conscience is functioning well.

The best step forward in such circumstances would be to apologise sincerely and correct the error and make a mental note of the new lesson that has been learnt. On the other hand, if we happen to be in the shoes of the sympathiser, we can lend a patient ear to those who are hurt, but must not fail to point out the need to apologise gracefully and set things right. If we get used to the ‘don’t care’ attitude, we will remain mediocre all our lives.

Eco friendly is the Way Forward -Ganesha Chathurthi


3rd September 2016

One cannot simply miss the terracotta images of gigantic Ganeshas peering through transparent polythene sheets serving as rain protection, lining the highways leading to the city and the main market places. Smaller versions of the lord and his mother goddess Gowri flank the bigger images. It is interesting to note that quite a lot of them are in earthy colours, with a glint of gold in places. They have been made by conscientious artists and will be bought by likeminded devotees whose hearts beat to the rhythm of nature. The online portals and niche studios that make and sell eco friendly Ganeshas had their order books completed several weeks ago. More and more people celebrating the festival publicly and privately are clearly responding to the cause of mother earth. It is heartening to note that little communities and social groups are coming together and working on sustainable solutions that can take care of the disposal of festive waste and the customary immersion of the idol post festival without wreaking havoc on our already overburdened lakes and ponds.

Well begun is half done! Looks like years of green campaign by the earnest are beginning to bear fruit albeit sporadically. The recent rains which flooded our cities over have also given a very clear signal that if we fail to take cognizance of violating the basic rules of nature, we must also be ready to face nasty surprises.

For those of us who are still not very convinced about all the furor over using idols that have been fired and painted gaily in toxic colours, we must realize that these idols run colour for a long time. The chemical nature of the dyes used may dissolve in water but not before first polluting it and taking a toll on the life of the fish and other creatures in the tank. Then the idol will take an extremely long time to disintegrate and disperse in water. Even the idols which use coir or hay as skeletal system to give it shape take quite as long too. The residual clay will enhance the silt layer of the water body. It will in turn enhance the height of the lakebed and become instrumental in rising water levels and consequent overflow of water during rains. Then there will be really no point in wondering how, the very Ganesha whom we worshipped reverently made life miserable for us.

An episode from Nilakanta Vijayam underlines the importance and divinity of eco friendly worship. Indra the lord of gods never failed to venerate the deities at the dawn of each day. He would complete his ablutions and then collect a handful of fresh flowers before making a beeline to the banks of the celestial river Ganga in the heavens. Then he would carefully select a couple of rounded pebbles for worship, clean them thoroughly and place them on the sands along the rippling waterline. Then he would offer his prayers and floral tribute reverentially to those little stones (saligrama). Once done, he would return the pebbles to the water, (quite on the lines of how we immerse Ganeshas today) and go his way only to repeat the process the following day.

Now Indra the lord of Gods as we all know had everyone and everything at his beck and call. If he wanted to, he could have availed the most precious of resources to conduct his daily worship. Nevertheless he chose to pick pebbles from the river and return the same to its source the very same day. By doing so, he ensured that he did not disturb the natural order of things to display his devotion or faith. When the lord of gods can abstain from exploiting nature to express his faith, can we not?

This year around, let us ensure a pollution free Ganesha Chathurthi, filled with faith and lots of fun and the one that we will remember to be a model worth emulating in the years to come!

The Need To Overcome Rivalry


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Rat race is the order of the day. Everyone is rushing headlong to achieve the best in life in terms of money, power and materialistic assets. 

It is interesting to note that there is a certain pattern in which people compete with one another. People invariably tend to compare and contend with those close to them in terms of age, abilities and achievements. This syndrome of rivalry seems to be rampant in just about every conceivable field under the sun across time and space. People are always very conscious about someone who is a few notches higher them in their range of ability. In fact, this universal negative quality is what keeps the world going the way it is.

When one contemplates on this inevitable curse on human society, it is not difficult to see that nature has ordained it so in the scheme of things. Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest revolves around this concept. A trip down our mythology reveals that the personality of the lord of gods, Indra, is no different. Devendra had it all. He was the king of very heavens and had power, wealth and influence over the cosmos. Yet, Indra never stopped feeling insecure about his position.

He always found ways and means to abort the penances and efforts of Rishis and mortal kings to excel themselves. A Vedic dictum says that any person who completed 100 Ashwamedha Yagnas successfully could claim the status of Indra.  The Yagna demanded discipline, consistent effort, military prowess and an undiluted sense of purpose in order to qualify for the highest post in creation. Apparently, Indra must have completed the arduous criteria to gain this coveted throne. Yet, these factors do not deter him from resorting to cheap tactics and guile to upset the endeavours of his potential adversary to safeguard his post.

If one hopes to rise above these petty feelings and stop feeling short-changed and jealous, he or she must adopt the attitude of working sincerely towards the goal from respective stations in life without fear or favour as suggested by lord Krishna. If each of us does our bit, the big picture will materialise magnificently.

Finding Order Amid The English Chaos


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S Radha Prathi, April 18. 2015. DHNS

Even as our country is still weighing the pros and cons on the status of the English language in the department of education, it is time to have a subjective look at the topic. It is a known fact that an undergraduate aspirant has to pass all the subjects of all the academic years before obtaining the degree certificate. More often than not, the English language paper proves to be a stumbling block in the path of achieving their goals. Professors of English at the undergraduate level are finding it increasingly difficult to handle their students.

One set of teachers have to deal with students who profess to know everything on the subject because they have been educated in private English medium schools. Twelve to fourteen years of continuous exposure to the language makes them take on the undergraduate course with a confidence hitherto, unknown to themselves.

Another set of teachers feel that they are saddled with students who qualify for the very same course after clearing all the previous examinations in the vernacular medium. Both the sets of teachers and students have to deal with the same material, prepare towards a common question paper and clear the examination scoring the minimum marks prescribed.

Since the prescribed syllabus serves a common purpose across the science, commerce and arts streams, the text book committees carefully choose pieces of literature which can cater to all pupils belonging to all strata. Question banks are prepared and circulated amongst students. Question papers are set with several choices and in such a way to help examinees who know little to scrape through.

Some basic grammar and a comprehension piece of a medium level of difficulty are thrown in favour of students who fail to grapple the contents of their course books. Most universities make it mandatory for the colleges under them to allot internal assessment marks ranging from ten to thirty per cent. In other words, universities do the square thing by bolstering the psyche of students from non-English background to face the English examination confidently.

Universities invariably do not want to withhold the degree of a candidate because they realise that one cannot miss the woods for the trees. And there lies the problem. It is this very same spirit of generosity and understanding which is creating chaos at another level.

It is strange but true that students educated in the English medium through school and pre university who take the study of the English language seriously, prefer to put it on the back burner when they commence their under graduate studies. Perhaps, a grounding in the language and its literature since childhood makes them confident enough to tackle the prescribed text books on the way to graduation.

Complacent students

Students who have been tutored under the CBSE, ICSE or IGCSE, have often been known to cock a snook at the prescribed material because they have been trained at a higher level. Besides, the pattern of the question paper coupled with the system of internal assessment marking seems to guarantee the passing marks almost effortlessly. This system inadvertently encourages a sense of complacence among such students.

Any amount of energetic enthusiasm injected into the subject by a passionate professor has few takers. Indiscipline and distraction largely rule classrooms during these sessions. All the same, most of the students do attend these classes with a supercilious air because it is mandatory to have at least 75 per cent attendance to classes in order to obtain the hall ticket to take the examination.

The fairly simple content coupled with guide books readily available in the market and on the internet add to the woes of the teaching staff. It can be a little unsettling to acknowledge the harsh truth which showcases the negligent attitude of students towards the study of language. The same can be put down to lack of enough challenge and also possibly the insignificant weightage of the subject in the entire course.

Since language is the vehicle of communication and literature holds a mirror to life, universities should seriously think of introducing English in all the semesters gradually stepping up the level which will definitely go a long way in stepping up the skills of both sets of students. If that happens to be a tall order, they should certainly think of taking the trouble to make different sets of textbooks or at least question papers and remove the subject from the back burner.

It Is A Fair Argument


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Reflections

When I was seven, one of my pet peeves happened to be the colour of my skin. No one in the family loved me less or nurtured me less because I did not have a cream-and-peaches complexion. On the other hand, they always told me how some of our gods and goddesses who were represented in blue or green were actually the colour of dark rain-laden clouds. I was taught a song in which all things that were black were envied by objects that were of different colours because they could not match with Krishna. When I defiantly showed them a painting of Krishna as a large white baby done in Thanjavur style, I was hushed up with the theory of artistic liberty. When cajoling and coaxing me out of my fixation failed, I was firmly told that I should be working on my abilities and character instead of ruing about a natural trait which is only skin deep.

Yet, it bothered me all the time because my new classmate who went on to be my best friend had the skin tone I could die for. I observed her and zeroed in on what I thought was a major discovery. She had plain curds for lunch while I had it with rice. I promptly told my mother to alter my menu. It just left me hungrier with no impact on my skin. I moped for a while, deciding to give the experiment some more time. My family was amused. So was my friend’s family. One day, my friend saw me scooping a spoon of curds into my mouth and laughingly remarked how fair I had become. There was a ripple of laughter. That very moment, I decided to drop the idea of working on my colour and pay more attention to my studies. After that, there was no looking back at all. I am glad I went through this phase when I was just seven, and got out of it almost immediately. I have often recollected this anecdote with others who felt bothered by their swarthy looks and have sent across the message subtly and effectively.

Recently, I found that a young lady in my radar was in similar doldrums. I shared my experience with her. She promptly pointed out that our pantheon had become fair. She switched various channels which aired fairness creams and showed me how gods and mythological characters had blanched. It was interesting to note that characters whose names suggested the colour of their skin were represented by actors with a European skin tone. She even activated her smart phone and showed me several contemporary pictures of our gods. I remembered how these very characters, played by actors of yesteryears, would paint their bodies in blue to be in tune with the characters they played. I reasoned that artists must have given up this trend in order to protect their skin from harmful chemicals. Yet the trend did worry me.

She refused to buy my idea of self upgradation. Studying was out of question for her as she had graduated out of sheer obligation to her family. Little else seemed to interest her. She was ready to tie the knot, but all eligible bachelors wanted only gori brides. She looked genuinely disturbed.

Now I understood all the brouhaha about the obsession of the Indian subcontinent with fair skin. The passport which could land you in a great job, find you Mr Right, and generally win all the struggles of life hands down, especially if you belong to the fairer sex(!). If we, as a traditional god-fearing country, cannot allow our gods out of our deep-seated complexes, where does that leave us, mere mortals?

I now believe the quip of a feminist whose name I forget, who said, how if all the articles written on the subject are written on one long sheet, it will be possible to lay a biodegradable road for pixies and fairies to go to the moon and back. Let the tribe of people who condemn the fascination over fair complexion thrive.

Reading Makes The Mind Blossom


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It has been proved beyond doubt that timeless pieces of prose, poetry, stories, novels and drama can educate a person in more ways than one.

The discussion and analysis of situations and characters can sensitise a person to different outlooks of life and eventually lend a rounded personality to one’s character. It is no wonder that the prestigious IITs and IIMs have allotted several academic hours to introduce their students to relevant facets of literature.

Journalism, visual media, advertising, copywriting, technical writing, teaching and clearing civil service examinations have been the conventional end of these degrees. They continue to be so, but the sky is the limit if one takes up the course with right earnest.

Students who have chosen to dabble with the study of literature will do well to follow a strict regimen of reading variously and widely. Booklists suggested by the teaching faculty can prove to be launch pads which can reveal new paths as one travels through the world of books.  It is true that we live in times when any information under the sun is available to us at the click of a button. It is also true that many of it may not be authenticated, catalogued or verified by authorities in the field.

It will be a safe bet to resort to hard copies when reading literature because it facilitates the thought process. Earmarking pages, underlining sentences, writing out meanings and references can prove to be a fruitful exercise.

Fledgling phase

Usually students are introduced to the history of English literature in the fledgling phase.

Reading at this stage should be steadily punctuated by study of the history and geography of the time. Learning about the wars, socio economic standards, religious beliefs, scientific progress and philosophical insights can make a piece of literature come alive. Understanding the flavour of an age can facilitate comparing and classifying the general thinking of the period. Later on, students will find it easy to answer multiple choice questions when taking up competitive examinations like NET, SLET, preliminary rounds of civil service examinations.

In the long run, it will also help them to understand the social psychology of specific societies across the globe, which can prove to be invaluable in an increasingly close knit world.

Once the history of the subject sinks in, students will be introduced to selected pieces of literature which will usually be followed by suggested reading. Most professors will make passing reference of them during their lectures, but a good student will benefit greatly if the suggested reading list is “really read”. It will lend greater depth to the perception of the theme and also give a glimpse of how creative thinking can revolve around a certain theme at different places and time periods.

Most prescribed textbooks give limited and selective biographical information of the authors, poets, dramatists, novelists et al. A lot of academic importance is placed on these given details. A student has to realise that there is more than that meets the eye.

The person may be very different from the persona. Hence it will be in the best interests of the literary works not to judge them at the elementary stage of reading. One would do well to read all the possible works of the given writer and then read about the person. This measure will help students to draw a holistic and mature opinion of the litterateur instead of being led by the nose.

Prolific reading will certainly help the mind to blossom. Reams of reading will automatically improve vocabulary, syntax and spellings. However a student is expected to have writing skills. Taking down lecture notes, noting down impressions and looking up the dictionary from time to time can help a lot. Yet if a student makes a conscious effort to write out summaries, elucidations and essays without availing any help it will not only hone writing skills but will promote clear thinking and trigger latent creativity over a period of time. Discussion of themes, concepts and ideas in right earnest with learned professors and fellow students can raise the level of confidence to recognize influences, adaptations and improvisations of classical literature.

Once a firm foundation is laid, the scholar will be able to handle all the material on the website with discernment.

A passionate student of literature who develops a voracious appetite for reading will find that he or she has actually signed up for a lifelong rendezvous with the subject. Unlike study of other subjects which promise expertise in the field if approached in the right way, zealous students of literature will reap additional benefits for they will turn out to be sensible and sensitive individuals who can make a difference to the world they live in!