Friday, May 12, 2017

Memories of the Mango

As the rainy season approached a very old man was digging holes in the ground.

What are you doing? asked the neighbor.

Planting the seeds of mango trees, the old man said.

Think you can eat the fruit? the neighbor uttered contemptuously.

No, I will not live long enough to be able to eat its fruits, but the others would. The other day I thought, all my life, I have enjoyed mangoes planted by others. This is my way of showing them my gratitude. The old man said with a heart of joy.

It is an Indonesian fairy tale that I read by chance that opens the post this week.

It's such a disarming beauty that resides in the simplicity of the phrase "The other day I thought, all my life, I have enjoyed mangoes planted by others." It is a love affair long before I knew what love was. Known for its sweet smell, and even sweeter taste, mangoes are a perfect fruit for a romantic interlude. And there have been few other fruits that have captivated the hearts, minds and tongues of the majority of the world’s population.

The mango, dates back to about 4000 BC that spread from India to Africa, where it made the jump in the tenth century and then to America, in the seventeenth century by the Portuguese, who took it to Brazil.

The fruits bear sin and temptation, from the Apples in the Western world to the Grapes in the Arab World to the Mango in the Indian Subcontinent. But these delicacies also evoke things that are not gastronomic. The apple symbolizes original sin and purity and is both known for its sensuality and innocence. Arabia cannot celebrate wine, woman and song without a few bunches of grapes and mango permeates the art, emotions and culture of India.

Folk songs celebrate all the phases of the life of a mango from the tree in bloom to the first fruits to the green mango to the ripe fruit, full of sweetness. You can make juice, marinate it, dry it, eat it as it is, with the juice that runs down your fingers, or very delicately, diced and covered with milk.

The Tamils ​​call it 'mangay', the Chinese call it 'mangguo', the people of Bengal call it 'aam', those of Karnataka call it 'mavu' and those of Kerala as 'amra'. Summer in Bengal represents the freedom and kites flying in the wind, the buckets of delicious mangoes, the swings on the mango trees and the festival of Jamai Sasthi, the day when the mother-in-law pampers their son-in-laws with loads of mangoes and is also a time that brings the married women back to their parents' house.

In India, it is said, there are only two seasons the rainy season, which quenches the land, and the mango season, which satisfies the palate and the heart of men, where a beautiful gesture of friendship is considered to give a mango basket to who you love. There must be as many types of mangoes in India as there are languages from the perfumed Alphonso to the green Dashehari to the parrot beaked Totapuri to the orange beauty Banaganapalli to the succulent Chausa to the golden skinned Langada, gleaming in their jewel red, yellow and dark green tones with their own distinct aromas.

In India, it is not only a fruit but a symbol of fertility and abundance, love and devotion and some believe that the mango tree can even grant wishes. The tree is believed to be the abode of Kama, the god of love, and the leaves and flowers of the mango are also considered sacred. A string of mango leaves are tied across doorways, as an auspicious symbol on religious occasions, and are included into many of the associated rituals.

The warm color of the flesh becomes the ideal color for elegant silk saris, and the theme of fruit and flower are the recurring motifs in textiles and jewelry, in particular during a wedding feast. Jewelers design intricate ornaments and earrings or necklaces with mango designs. This fruit is very much a part of our festivals and the songs we sing.

During this same time, while cutting some sliced ​​mangoes, I think of how my life is marked by memories associated with their smell and their taste. It's nostalgic reminiscing the good old days when as kids I tried to sneak in and steal the fruit trying to bring them down by throwing stones and climbing on the trunks to shake.

A visit to an orchard was a magical sight as after some time the trees laden with the fruit in vibrant shades of green and yellow was a sight to behold. As strong winds would start blowing we would run from one mango tree to the other collecting fresh mangoes that would keep falling all day. It was just like a mango shower.

Those were moments of priceless ecstasy when over those small and sweet green mangoes, I put a pinch of black salt and chilli powder and ate during my school vacations after stealing some from gardens. After taking a bite of the fruit I had left between the teeth, a few drops of juice would run down the chin and while the clothes would be soiled, I would suck the seeds to make them stay white and I threw the seed on my own garden as I loved to see the purple leaves coming out of the newborn mango tree. And finally, during the months long after the good season, I would taste it as pickles carefully prepared by mom.

Mangoes remind me every step of my life, but also any period that has recently gone through this land. As in a cycle of life that transcends the crisis, hardships, unfinished agendas, mangoes come again from the long and sharp ones to the large and fleshy ones. Despite all the stubbornness, mango is still here that marks our lives with her ​​great taste and makes every garden into a corner of prosperity, at least until the end of summer.

The scent of the mango flowers on the branches, the heightened humidity in the air, along with the sweltering summer heat unite in a symphony of flavours as myths, legends, fragrance and gratitude, is what we taste when we taste a mango.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Top Amazing Health Benefits of Cumin

Cumin seeds images

It is the fact that cumin is the spice that is mostly made from the seeds of Cuminum cyminum plant. Many people are making of this properties in their dishes, especially foods that are originated from regions such as Mediterranean as well as Southeast Asia.

Regarding to the scientists, cumin is classified as the earthy, nutty spicy and warm ingredient that can offer people with lots of health benefits. Due to this reason, along with being a part of dishes in main course, cumin is also made use of as the traditional medicine.

There are lots of facts you need to know about cumin in order to make use of it right. They are controlling weight loss, improving blood sugar as well as to control cholesterol.

Following are some facts about benefits of cumin:

1. Digestion

As mentioned above, cumin is very useful in boosting your digestion. It would help to enhance the work of normal digestion system as well as to increase the protein within the digestive parts so up it can work more efficiently.

This is not to mention that cumin is also very helpful if you use it to release the bile from the liver. This step is very important if you want to digest fats and nutrients within your gut.

The advice is to consume cumin every day on regular basis to have sufficient amount of properties that you need to maintain healthy digestive system. You can make it extra ingredient in every dishes.

Alternatively, if you want to have quicker result, it is also beneficial if you drink the juice of cumin twice a day, in the morning as you wake up and at night before going to bed.

2. Insomnia

For those who are in troubles of falling asleep, it is better that you go for cumin, which is a very beneficial getting you back to your sleep. It is the richly aromatic and in cumin that make it the ideal anticongestive combination. Therefore, it can both make the stimulant and relaxant at the same time. If you can make it to take it the rightful amount of vitamins (B-complex) it would help you to sleep much more easier.

The key for this is that it helps in reduce stress level and calm your nerves. These are normally regarded as factors triggering insomnia, therefore, if you could deal with those factors, you have gone almost the path of treating sleeping issues.

The recommendation is to drink cumin tea every night before you go to bed. If possible, you can make it the tea to drink instead of pure water.

3. Common Cold

When it comes to sudden changes of weather, our body is more likely to deal with lots of issues and the most common one is probably common cold. This health issue is more likely to happen when our respiratory system break down and struggle with the sudden changes from outside. In such cases, you would need cumin in order to help to calm the nerve and soothe any pottens triggering the diseases.

In such case, cumin would make a perfect match for it can help adding lots amount of vitamin C, which help to boost the immune system. Also, it acts as the natural antioxidants helping you staying away those infectious and toxins. The advice for you is to drink the tea from cumin every day, especially when you find your respiratory systems has symptoms of common cold.

4. Skin Disorders

Our skin has to struggle with lots of problems both from inside and outside. The key here to treat them is to fix them all if you want to smooth and smooth skin, especially when you are facing the problems of premature aging problems. You need to stay put if you want to keep your skin young and glowing. The answer for problems of skin is using cumin.

It would help a lot as a tool to deal with problems of antifungal and anti-inflammatory. Also, it is the high amount of vitamin E found in cumin that helps to combat all free radicals so that you do not at all have to worry about the problems of wrinkles, age, read spot or blemishes removal on your skin. This would help you to have smooth skin as you ever expect.

Similar to the above, you can totally make use of cumin as the fluid to drink on regular basis. Alternatively, it is also helpful if you use cumin to make as a mask, applying on your face three times a day.

5. Cancer

One of the most deciding factors leading to cancer is the activities of free radicals on your body. Therefore, one of the most effective ways that helps you fixing cancer is to refrain free radicals from your body. The key of this action is to provide your body more with vitamin A and vitamin C, which are all available within cumin. Due to this reason, one of the best ways to stay away from cancer is to take in more cumin into the body.

You can make cumin as the fluid to drink every day. Maybe twice a day, the morning when you wake up or the night before going to bed is also a good idea.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Durga Puja: An Artistic Carnival to Worship, Admire and Enjoy

Calcutta has an ancient history, a city that boasts of an unparalleled gastronomy, complex arts, dances and much more. Let us know, then, one of the most marked and unknown festivities for the traveler, that begins to develop up to 10 months before its celebration. The Durga Puja festival is an explosion of colour, joy and gratitude, surrounding the worship of Durga and her victory over Mahishasura.

The preparations begin months in advance when the artisans begin to draw inspiration for clay idols of Durga. By means of bamboo sticks cut in various shapes and sizes they manage to make the basic structure of the idols of the goddess and the platform in which the colossal figure will be displayed, but they also use everything they they find at hand from plastics to reconverted elements. This is a long and delicate process as there is always the risk that they will break and have to start over again.

In a diligent and methodical way, the craftsmen strive to create exquisite pieces of art. The most qualified perform, with great care with fine clay. The sculptures have a great aesthetic sense and their execution is organized according to the neighborhood associations, which will house the Durga, that is to be venerated by friends and neighbors. In short, every year the festival translates into hours and hours of endless preparations.

During the weeks of Durga Puja, life seems to stop completely for the entire state of West Bengal, as well as in large enclaves of Bengalis around the world. In Calcutta, this is a period of crowds, colours and music, where suddenly all flock to the streets.

It is a deeply felt and colourful celebration that blends craftsmanship, artistic flair and architectural knowledge. A set of terracotta images, statues and paintings of Durga, decorate the streets of the city, who is placed in special temporary structures in playgrounds, squares, plazas and anywhere there is a free space until the end of the puja.

The pandals made of bamboo and cloth, are exposed in open space for the visits of the faithful from morning until late at night. The pandals are the tangible form of worship of the goddess and with the participation of citizens become the true religious art and celebration of the life of this chaotic city.

While some pandals are simple structures, others are often designed as works of art with themes that rely heavily on history, current events and sometimes pure imagination. The shapes and dimensions of the pandal are at the generosity of its more or less well-off inhabitants, ranging from the most traditional, decorated with woven reeds and covered in straw mats, to those most pretentious, replicating the great architecture terracotta temples or white marble carvings exhibiting virtuously in polystyrene.

In fact, visiting the pandal in recent years, one could say that the Durga puja is the largest outdoor art show in the world. In the nineties a large number of architectural models grew on the outer parts of the pandal, but today the architectural motifs also extend to the elaborate interiors, executed by skilled artists, with consistent stylistic elements, carefully executed and signed by the artist himself.

From the folk to the most eccentric architectural experiments using throw-away, thatched huts to those pointed by the Thai flavor, to the Wizard of Oz, to that naive floors and bright colours, each isolated pandal reinterprets the arrival of Durga in a new context, to imply playfully to its permanent validity.

The themes that inspired pandal and idols are often the distinctive sign of the community, especially in Kolkata, starting from the 1990s. The Puja committees decide on a particular theme, the elements of which are incorporated in the pandal and the idols. Popular themes include ancient civilizations such as the Ancient Egypt or Inca. Contemporary Subjects like the Titanic and Harry Potter also have been the subject of some pandals.

The design and decoration are generally made by local students of art and architecture. The financial resources required for these themes are generally higher than those needed to make figures based on traditional themes. They attract the crowds and are well accepted by visitors. Following the example of Kolkata, the pandal theme have become popular even in neighboring states, particularly in Orissa.

For the most heartfelt celebrations of Bengal, Calcutta becomes the Eastern Rio De Janeiro as tens of millions of visitors immortalize the imaginative staging of typical pandals, from the traditional to the more eccentric, to celebrate the victory of the Goddess, loving mother and ruthless warrior at the same time.

Durga Puja makes me long for my childhood, when we were happy and we had no problems. For a few days the whole world seems to enter into another dimension where there is only love, peace, solidarity and of course, happy people, or at least, smiling ones. The whole society imposes on us to live these days as an idyllic time in which everything is positive. But above all, the atmosphere was what changed. Everything was more cheerful. The devotional chants sounded on the radio.

I remember more than once waking up in the middle of the night and finding myself in a bed full of family members, and hearing them still sing and talk and laugh. Thus we have all come out of singing, happy, with the same desire to live.

In the five-day celebration of Durga Puja, in Calcutta the atmosphere lights up somewhere between Christmas and the Carnival with amazing psychedelic neon lights, the race for shopping, the tub in the neighborhood streets to show off new clothes and the least simple as possible, the music at full blast, mass elation, and of course, the pandal-hopping.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

9 Ways to Connect with Nature

Man's impact on nature is universally recognized as alarming, that strongly threaten, if not our very survival, at least the quality of our lives. It is the first time in the history of life on earth, that a single species can affect radically the fate of all the others, animals and plants, disrupting and destroying ecosystems. But, it should be noted that ours is a unique species, for better or for worse.

To perceive what lies in the human individual and understanding the quality of the induced damage is therefore a prerequisite for any realistic attempt to change of course. I consider it useful for addressing the human impact on nature, we should pay close attention to ethology and the natural science of behavior. Ethology in fact is the discipline that for the attention to the environment, research the adaptive significance or rather diversity of human behavior.

Cosmologists and geologists describe the Earth from the beginning that is more than four billion years old, with the appearance of small sea creatures in early sediments, the evolution of plants and animals from the sea, the evolution of insects, flowering plants and mammals from which, in geologically recent times, the primates and then mankind came. We share a common origin and genetic material with all other beings that are part of Earth's ecosystems.

The experiment of humanity, which is now ten thousand years old and that has adopted a way of life at the expense of nature with its culmination in the economic globalization is failing. The primary reason for this failure is that we have put the importance of our species above all else. We have wrongly considered Earth, its ecosystems and the myriad organic and inorganic life only as our resources, which we value only when they serve our needs and our desires.

But now let's see how this proves essential for understanding in a naturalistic perspective the peculiar history of our species. For exceptionally long period of time, virtually the entire history of humanity up to roughly ten thousand years ago, humans lived as hunter-gatherers across a geographic distribution, where they were in balance with the nature. Primitive man was able to secure resources without depleting or dramatically altering the habitat.

The real revolution began with the domestication of animals and plants. With the subsequent advent of herding and agriculture it not only had the first strong negative impact on biodiversity, for example when a cultivated field with a single plant species replaced a forest. Then appeared the first villages and then the first cities, and it should be noted that it was because of cultural control of sociability that man has been able to completely change his lifestyle, to withstand the large metropolitan crowds.

As regards our species, we can still have a testimony to the existence of residual populations, scattered in various regions of the earth, who live with this style of subsistence. I cite, as an example, the Veddahs of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), the beaver hunters of Canada, the Bushmen of Kalahari, the Pygmies of the Congo Mbuti, the Waorani of Amazon.

The religious approach or superstitious humanity is guilty of having smeared the Eden, who are not much fearful of a nature that is ready to take revenge for suffered disfigurement. It might be helpful to begin to stop talking of nature, the planet and Mother Earth as if it were a deity or a sentient being. The planet Earth and nature knows to fend for themselves, that have existed from before it appeared the man, and in all likelihood will exist even after our extinction.

So the man, who would not survive all the disasters and cataclysms that nature has passed, should think about saving himself. And environmental protection should be only a consequence of this primary objective. The myths of different cultures and stories that shape our attitudes and values ​​want to tell us where we come from, who we are, and where we are going in the future.

Some of these stories are anthropocentric and/or otherworldly. Instead, the development of the natural history of mankind is not only believable but also more marvelous than a few myths centered only on the humans. At the base of the customs, behaviors and habits of the native peoples lies, therefore, in general the absolute importance of ensuring the natural order as possible. They perceived intimately that any alteration of the world was actually an alteration of themselves.

In more modern eras the Tao in China expresses very similar concepts. The Tao indicates what is right in the universe, including the relationships between men and animals, men and nature, etc. Similar philosophical views also belong to the Buddhist concept of Dharma and to that of the Vedic Rta. But these conceptualizations, however good, is already a product of civilization and thus remain, at least in part, conceptualizations.

The only way forward if we want to save the Earth and thus also ourselves, must therefore inevitably be towards a paradigm shift in our thinking, the first of which is regarded as worthy of valuing the lives of all sentient beings. In this action, perhaps we can do is to spread information and to question preconceived ideas that are commonly accepted uncritically. The changes brought about by a philosophical change are less obvious but much more effective.

From this different vision of life will then follow actions that tend to rebuild the natural environment rather than destroying it. Or, to be more precise, to let the natural environment simply rebuild itself. Some of the ways to go green through low-carbon lifestyle choices at home and while travelling include:

1. Jogging regularly on the open-air rather than using the treadmill.

2. During winter, using sweaters and jackets as much as possible rather than using room heaters.

3. Reading more books and newspapers rather than spending idle time on television or computer.

4. Drying clothes on open air rather than the washing machine dryer.

5. Trying to reuse waste water from the kitchen, for gardening and latrine uses.

6. Having a terrace garden with all kinds of vegetables for your daily needs and not using the packaged ones and instead going for the organic produce in the local markets.

7. Using the train or bus service as much as possible as also using bicycle wherever possible.

8. Using conventional heating sources rather than the oven. Putting the Air conditioner at room temperature to save energy.

9. Using CFL lamps in your house, shutting down the computer both during lunch break and after working hours as also unplugging appliances when you're out for longer periods.

A first step of awareness of drawing closer to nature is by returning to falling in love with Earth, not to feel so isolated and alone in this sometimes alienating society, to recover a sense of completeness and the desire to take care of a collective well-being that includes ourselves and beyond us.

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