9 October 2009

Project Why

I visited the project in August. The site visit report is underway, but today I chanced upon a blog post from Anou summarizing the various activities on any given day in project why. If you have ever donated at my behest to Asha for Education - here is what your money is accomplishing. Enjoy!


7 October 2009

Veggie Barley Stir Fry

Another vegan dish, by accident

Ingredients (serves 1 - 2)

1/2 cup barley

2 cups sliced mushrooms ( I used white)

2 cups sliced cabbage
1/2 small onion, sliced
2 tbsp finely chopped green onions/ scallions

2 medium cloves chopped garlic
1 green chilly (add this to taste)
2 tsp Olive oil
Freshly grounded pepper (essential)
salt to taste
1/ 4 cup roughly chopped Walnuts (optional)
1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro (optional)

  • Cook the barley your favourite way. Ensure that water is drained away completely. If, like me, you are doing this without planning, then fret not. You don't have to soak the barley in water to have it cooked fast. Just take out that pressure cooker mom packed for you when you were ready to set up your own kitchen. For 1/ 2 cup barley, I added 4 equal volumes of water. It was a bit much and I think 3 would have been fine. Let the cooker give you its sweet whistle six times. Allow the pressure to return to normal naturally and viola: cooked barley. If there is excess water, drain it away
  • While all the cooker action was underway I cleaned and chopped the veggies. I also took time out to read the Hindu.
  • When ready for stir fry action, take out your biggest size wok, add oil, let it heat up a little, throw in garlic, chilly and onions. With impressive wrist-work you can try to work the wok to stir things around; I used a wooden spoon.
  • When onions are translucent, add mushrooms. Just as they are about to loose their firmness, toss in the cabbage and green onions. Stir and allow to cook to your desired texture. Add barley, salt and freshly grounded pepper ( I can't emphasize what a big difference this made to the dish). Toss, toss, toss.
  • If you want, garnish with cilantro and walnuts. Chomp, chomp, chomp.

4 October 2009

Re-thinking Gandhi Jayanti

A non-Indian friend L asked me what we did on Gandhi Jayanti. Beyond singing along to raghupati raghav that would stream on the radio, I could think of nothing else that we as a country or as citizens do. We were discussing this over lunch and one of my colleagues recalled that in her village they would celebrate the entire week by working on projects - civic activities like cleaning the neighbourhood were undertaken and communal meals were cooked at school (this is pre mid-day) with ingredients supplied by the parents. I remember doing squat in school. Sure, we enjoyed the holiday and used the extra time to create mischief at home but in memory of the father of the nation we remembered nothing. Isn't it ironic?

This was enforced further by this lovely article by Madhu Kishwar in India Together.
She bluntly states what L, with her simple question, brought home: we celebrate Gandhi Jayanti in the worst possible way. We indulge in sloth, watch movies in Malls and let urban wonders sweep us away in activities that neither add value to our soul or enrich the lives of others. Surely, there must be a better way to remember Bapu? Ms Kishwar suggests that Govt officials should use this day to clean their offices and dust their files. She herself keeps her office open, in defiance of the enforced holiday; a rule she thinks would be something Gandhiji himself would have satyagraha-ed over.

The government seems to have celebrated by changing the name of NREGA to MGREGA. I wonder how much stationery we, the tax payer, are going to foot in this foolhardiness. I can almost see how this must have happened: a few old political strategists sitting around on white bedsheets, flaunting their Gandhi caps and rotund bellies, scratching theirs heads wondering what to do to commemorate his birthday. Getting the NREGA to work was obviously too long term and a publicity poor plan so instead a nice headline catching attempt to pay their respects to Gandhiji surfaced. The hypocrisy is nauseating.

And me: how did I celebrate? Not to well, I think. I woke up late, fixed my bicycle so I could run my errands faster than on foot and finished a long overdue Asha site visit report. Lame, I admit; but to be honest, I'm not sure how I could have celebrated better? Next year, if nothing else, I will follow Ms Kishwar's example and at least get some office work done!

3 October 2009

From Giraffes to Peacocks

I finally climbed out of the no-exercise rut. It's been 5 months since I ran last, on a slow muggy day in Regents Park; more of a goodbye, than a run really.

In the last three months I have managed to recreate my life in Hyderabad, to a very large extent exactly as I had been living in London: I can commute to work by foot, there is an excellent produce shop just near my apartment and almost everything is available to me by foot or easily accessible public transport or share auto. But the one exception was that there was no Regents' park equivalent within walking distance and I missed my giraffes, Annie and Frank. There was an option though - KBR park, which is about 3 km from my home. Although getting there is a pain since I would have to run/walk on Road no 12 which is neither safe nor exciting.

So, I had Father dearest ship Chameli over from Bangalore. Yesterday morning, I unwrapped and serviced her. After a short test ride, I was convinced that my plan was possible: I would bike up to the park, run the 5K being organized by the Hyderabad runners group and bike home. Ta da!

Today morning though, the first hill on Road no 12 left me winded. I had anticipated the hills but I didn't really know that my thighs would burn or I would be huffing and puffing the entire time. Although I'm glad I didn't have any expectations because the unexpected made the ride more enjoyable. The weather helped immensely as well. Its been raining heavily here for the past week and today morning too, it was overcast. There was no rain but a heavenly misty spray brushed my face as I rode up the road. KBR park was delightful; the running trail is all mud, with speed bumps for some strange reason (bikes are not allowed on the track) and with trees on either side. We saw a couple of peacocks; none with the open display of feathers however, something I hoped to see since its raining. I only did 3.9 Km which was the length of one loop, stretched and on my way home, stopped over at Sri Sai Ram Tiffin Centre to grab a pesarittu.

My bum is a bit sore from the riding and my hamstrings are tight; nothing beats these delights of successful exercise!