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Monday, March 30, 2015

Hidden Dimensions to Cleanliness

A Window near the South East corner of the author's home

In one of the earlier posts it was mentioned that the life of ancient Himalayan sages living in lush green surroundings was so disciplined and regulated and they were so aware of their own bodies that they could discern the effect of any new food or herb on their bodies readily. From this was born the ancient Ayurveda science of Herbal medicines.

My own life though far removed from that of ancient sages has been fairly well disciplined over the last several years and I too can sense the effect of new foods or changes on my body. Therefore when I noticed that I am sleeping right through the night rather than waking up in the middle of it once every night recently, I wondered what new food or change had taken place in my routine, thoughts or environment. There was nothing new in food etc. but one change had taken place.

My home is around a quarter century old. It was self designed and self built on a plot acquired more than thirty years ago. It has lots of windows all around. With age the putty holding glass planes in place had begin to crack and bits had begun to fall off several years ago. A few days ago, Hari the boy mentioned in an earlier post volunteered to replace it. I showed him how it is done and he went around the home and replacing it all within a day. But then it had to be painted over and we got some white enamel paint. The earlier white paint had gone gray and dirty with age. It was painted over again so that the windows looked like new.  One thing leads to another and the moment windows were painted, it became apparent that curtains were dirty and needed a wash. They were taken down, washed and put up again. The process encouraged a through spring cleaning of the living room and bedroom right down to hidden corners and deep under the double bed. Lo and behold, sleep has become much deeper and it does seem that a clean bed room contributes to it.

When months ago the new Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi launched a clean India campaign, many said that it would contribute to good health. But it seems that cleanliness contributes in more ways than one. It is not surprising then that it is the clean countries that progress most and dirty ones sink. No wonder, Patanjali the father of yoga, in his treatise on yoga had mentioned that cleanliness is an essential step towards human evolution

Friday, March 27, 2015

Health Byte- A season for almonds and a season for copra

An earlier post in this blog has a delicious recipe called Mother’s Bounty Chutney made with copra (dried coconut) and almonds. It was pointed out that it has three health benefits, first it makes up for weakness that vegetarians or vegans may suffer from not eating meat while protecting them and the planet from harm caused by it (lovegans on the other hand do not suffer any deficiency because they consume eggs and milk products too); for students, it sharpens memory and for older people it discourages forgetfulness and Alzheimer.

Both coconut and almonds provide such benefit but there is a season in which coconut is more beneficial and another when almonds are better. To determine which is which, keep a bottle of coconut oil at home. When the coconut oil is solid it is  a season for almonds and when the coconut oil melts it is a season for coconut, for as King Solomon the wise put it, there is a season to everything under the sun,
A season to sow and a season to reap, a season to laugh and a season to weep.
A gift form the Almond Growers Association and the Coconut Marketing Federation shall be gratefully accepted for increasing their sales :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A day around the Garden

The new rockery

To begin with here is a quick gardening tip  - attempt to include the five plant types and five basic garden components, howsoever small or large the garden. Large gardens may include additional stuff like garden ornaments, drift wood streams and groves of trees, but whatever the components, let them be nature like rather than geometric style e.g. an  irregular flower bed rather than a rectangular patch, a mixed flower bed rather than one filled with just a single variety etc for maximum effect.. The five plant types are ground hugging plants and flowers that may be perennial or seasonal but less than six inches tall; other plants some flowering and seasonal that are taller; bushes; climbing creepers against walls and finally trees Patches of the sixth- moss are also great if one can manage to grow some in a blank patch.. Even in nature, forests that include plants from all the five plant families mentioned here besides moss are the most beautiful of forests whereas some forests that lack an undergrowth of the other four plant types aside from trees look somewhat bleak. The trees may be small or large depending on the size of the garden. Even tiny gardens can have near bonsai trees if necessary. The five components of the garden are a lawn or grassy area, flower beds, a water body, rockery and paths to walk that are best as gravel paths rather then concrete that permit rain to soak in. Adding hanging bird baths and bird feed trays from trees shall fill the garden with day long music from the birds. If you have squirrels in the area, then they shall share the feed with the birds but if there is a cat around then there shall be no squirrels.

A water body in a garden could be a fountain, waterfall or a pond. In small home gardens, the tiniest of water bodies may be constructed by digging in a clay or plastic vessel with just the mouth showing on top. In fact, there was a spare clay pitcher lying in the garden and we buried that in the rockery we were making similarly. The birds will discover it soon for sure and drop in for a drink every now and then.

A window with a flowering creeper
There was a small rockery set against the front porch built by Shyamu several years ago below the window shown above but when a wood and concrete seating structure in the garden was demolished a few days ago because the wooden log from which it was built disintegrated with time we ended up with a large piece of concrete on our hands and decided to push that against the rockery and make it bigger. I and Hari that I shall tell more about presently then spent the last two mornings rebuilding the rockery using waste, stones and plants from around the home. The result is in the photo. In time, it will fill up with more green and flowers as the newly planted stuff takes firm roots. I am looking forward to my grandson Golu visiting in his summer vacations to stick in more flowers.


All the persons, Hari, Shyamu and Golu mentioned in the last paragraph have been mentioned in some earlier posts too. Hari, quite proud of his help in the garden is shown in the photo. Hari is from a village nearby. He is a farmer by profession but farmers from nearby villages drop into the city often for seasonal work to augment their earnings. Wages and opportunities to earn are low in most Indian villages and farm holdings small but in recent years daily work wages have sky rocketed in cities so that it is an attractive proposition for any village lad to do stints in the city especially if they can arrange accommodation for stay that is otherwise expensive to rent.. I have a spare independent room at home that I let some of them use in return for help around the home and garden. Hari has been coming for the last fifteen years so that he is almost a member of the household now.

Hari Ram Mali, 2015
A stay at my home entails more than free accommodation, dinner and some help around the home. Being a quintessential teacher, it involves me in education and some similar to that in school at a level suitable for the person concerned. I would love to supervise someone for a doctorate but most often I end up teaching the alphabet at home instead.. Hari can read Hindi quite well but not English that he is being taught nowadays. It is a bit late in the day for him to read the newspaper in English but the idea is that he can then read labels and signs etc. in English and sign his name. The wisdom about life too is not as esoteric as it has been in some of this blog but the sort of stuff one would find in Proverbs of the Old Testament, thanks to King Solomon the wise, things like warning about the strange woman whose gates lead to hell. A portrait style photo of Hari snapped indoors is included last so that he can show it to his friends on the net back home in his village. Mobile phones and internet have spread into much of India including villages so all one needs is a URL for that.. Praise the Lord.!.

UPDATE March 30, 2015

Just now, a few days after building the rockery some flowers have begun to bloom in it,

Flowers in a Rockery

Friday, March 20, 2015

Life is Beautiful if You so Choose

My last post about the apocalypse would have been ignored by some whereas it would have got some concerned. However my own attitude to the issue is that there is nothing to worry. Life is limited for all and far more important than the number of its days are how they are spent and with a hope of continued better days ahead even in new lives if one accepts the fact of an after life in new bodies and situations. To a large extent life can be beautiful if we so choose.

The first step to making one's life beautiful is to give up the pursuit of wealth and success as a major priority of life that many have done in this apocalyptic age. I myself prefer to try for happiness instead. When one aims for happiness which includes adding happiness in the lives of others in any reasonable way, whatever wealth or success is necessary in keeping with one's personality and needs tags along i.e. is granted by the universe without stress or turmoil. However, when one aims for success and wealth as the first priority then happiness is often the first casualty. Moreover one cannot eat and enjoy success and dollars far in excess of those required for grocery shopping, a pretty abode and decent clothing as one can enjoy peace and happiness.

Making a plain abode pretty does not cost more than a bit of paint, cleaning as well as growing flowers, pretty trees and flowering creepers that many, including this blogger, do for free around their homes; all followed by a song, and sharing a glass of wine accompanied with tasty bits with a friend or a beloved with a loving and cheerful heart. It merely requires a loving heart that too comes for free just as sunshine does. Funny, that the most precious things in life are free and clean air that many modern humans miss comes easily the moment one sheds off greed and moves out of a city  into the countryside.

There is an older post on nine worthy aspirations for life here and another one on sun inspired yoga here that anyone aiming for a beautiful life may wish to check out. With love, blessing and best wishes for every reader of this blog who aspires for beauty and happiness in life besides love and heartfelt wish for those who are trying for wealth and success instead that the Universe may protect them from stress, harm and agony that comes the moment one sheds compassion, ethics and morality in whatever may be the pursuits, worthy or unworthy, because:
"In all things, means are far important than the results. Worthy means to whatever end lead to happiness and light but unworthy ones lead to an intensely dark bottomless pit, how so ever laudable the goal."
Quote is due to this blogger

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