Monday, December 03, 2012

Women and their weight loss tamasha by Rujuta Diwekar

When I was little my father told me your stomach can digest only small quantity of food at a time (quantity as big as your fist). So eat less but frequently. I did exactly that. Now that I am in the US and cook my own food I understand the kind of hassle my mother went through to make those many snack items for me. I eat after every 2 to 3 hours and never follow any other dieting fads at all (like cabbage soup diet, not eating sugar or certain type of foods etc). When I look at other people getting thinner and so called fitter with these type of diets I get confused, am I eating too often? Am I silly to not follow something that I see is working for others?

Fresh home cooked food every day is always very high in my priority list. It takes a lot of planning and organization skills to do that. People who do that are 'undercover cooks' as this does not go anywhere on their performance reviews or seen as an achievement at the end of the year. This is the age of instant/ ready to cook/ fast food. I am muddled at times thinking why should I spend so much time on planning and cooking my meals and not opt for the ready made option? I must be stupid to do that....

I try to exercise everyday for 30 to 45 minutes never more than that. When I see people working out for 2 hours a day I feel how is my 45 minutes going to help me in losing weight?

For all my confusions the only answer is Rujuta Diwekar. Her books give me the confidence that I am on a track that can actually work. There is no point in eating sugar free ice creams if you end up eating 3 at a time. Eat the non sugar free ice cream, just turn off all the surrounding sounds while you eat and listen to your stomach because it might be screaming after the 10th byte that I am full. Her books motivate me, give me tips on improvement, reassure my faith in not having faith on the crash diet plans, encourage me to spend time in making meals and not going overboard with the exercise regime.

This book is specially meant for women and their weight issues at different phases of their lives. Teen/ single/ married/ pregnant/ post delivery/ with kids/ thyroid/ fibroids/ menopause - solution on weight gain in every phase and every problem is covered in the book. I am no exception to being a tamasha queen when it comes to the matters of weight and weight loss. So I could relate to the tamasha examples she writes about and found it super funny. I loved the book.

(Rujuta Diwekar is the dietician/ nutrition instructor of many film personalities)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sea of poppies - Amitav Ghosh

Sea of poppies - Amitav Ghosh
Book Review

I read this book because Aamir Khan said it's a good book (on twitter). So I stopped reading 'Wings of Fire' and started with this book. I read/ watch whatever Aamir Khan recommends, not that I like all of it. Art/ beauty is subjective. A book which was nominated for the Booker prize award can be tedious and boring for some readers like me.

The premise of the book is awesome and unique. The story revolves around a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean shortly before the outbreak of the Opium Wars in China. I thought the book is very long and gives tedious (and non engrossing) details like how the room looked how was the lighting; furniture etc. Many dialogues are in a language that I didn't understand (Bhojpuri?).

This book had a lullaby effect on me. I would read 20 pages each night and then sleep like a baby.
But of course, give it a try, you might happen to like it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A girl with a straight nose

Breathing right is so important  to sleep well at night, to feel productive and fresh during the day, to exercise and basically to live.

Ever since I remember I had a breathing problem. I started taking Ayurvedic/ Homepathic medicines. I tried various things over the years Neti, steam, herbal oils, vicks and breathe right strips. Afrin / Otrivin nose drops were my constant companion. My situation kept getting worse. Since last 2 years I wasn't able to breathe at all through my left nostril, right side was functioning may be 40%. I had severe sleep apnea and snored a lot. I had to take lot of breaks when hiking/ biking or doing any sort of cardio activity. I caught either rhinitis or sinusitis at least once a month which almost always ended up in an antibiotic treatment. A simple cold would leave me in tears as it would make me feel suffocated.

I remember my father calling me 'सरळ नाकाची मुलगी' all my life (a girl with straight nose). It is ironical that I had breathing problems even with a straight nose. That proves internal beauty (pun intended) is important :-). The condition I had is called deviated septum.

They say around 70 to 80% people have deviated septum which is a birth defect (or is caused by an accident). My case was severe. I had to get Septoplasty surgery done in order to fix the issue. I am absolutely satisfied with the surgery and regret why I didn't get it done earlier.

Here is some information on the surgery:

A. Appointment with ENT:
  • You need to visit ENT specialist if you have symptoms like sleep apnea, recurring sinusitis, breathing problems. A small test would determine the severity of the deviation and what kind of surgery you need to get done (There are various types like septoplasty/ rhinoplasty/ turbine reduction etc.)
  • I went through an allergy test too as just getting the surgery done might not fix the problem if you happen to have allergies. I didn't have any allergies.
B. Before the surgery:
  • First of all you will need someone to drop you/ pick you up from the hospital and be with you on the day of the surgery for the first 24 to 48 hours.
  • You will need to eat soft foods after the surgery preferably liquids.
  •  You can not lift heavy objects, travel via plane or exercise for the first 3 weeks.  So plan accordingly.
  • You will need around 7 days off from work if you have a job which requires physical presence.
  • I took 3 days off and worked from home after that for around 7 days. Work kept me busy and made me forget the discomfort.
  • Q-tips would be a great buy at this time as you will need to use at least 10 every day after the surgery.
  • You can not eat or drink anything for 8 hours before the surgery.
  • It is an outpatient surgery meaning you get to go home on the same day of the surgery. It is covered by insurance (do check it with your insurance before you make the surgery appointment)
  • Total surgery time is 45 minutes. You will be given general anesthesia.
  • If this is the first time you are getting general anesthesia then check with your immediate family members if they ever experienced any reactions with general anesthesia.
  • Septoplasty does not result in any cosmetic alteration or external scars.
  • You need to use mineral water in NetiMed Sinus rinse bottle so have one big mineral water can ready at home.
  • Buy hydrogen peroxide bottle as you will need it along with Q-tips to clean the blood crusts formed after the surgery.
C. On the day of surgery:
  • Reach the hospital 1 hour before the surgery time. Arrangement for giving you saline and anesthesia will be done.
  • As I lied on the surgery table I was given anesthesia. Before I could feel anything I was knocked out. 
  • People who have motion sickness always have a problem with coming out of anesthesia and so did I. It took me 3 hours to come out of it and I vomited a lot after that. Eating/ drinking made it worse.
  • Opening the mouth can be painful on the first day of the surgery.
  • The most difficult part of the surgery is that the nose will be stuffed with two big splints. That means you can not breathe at all through the nose until they are removed (the splints have 2 small holes for you to breathe but that hardly helps).
  • One may get panic attacks (as I did) because the nose is completely blocked. Of course there is medication prescribed by the doctor to help you in this situation. I was given painkillers and anti anxiety medicines. Anti anxiety medicines make you a little numb to the situation, drowsy and also help you not go through panic attacks. 
 D. After the surgery
  • I could sleep for the first 2 days after the surgery but then was awake for 48 hours straight because of the discomfort. I went through buyer's remorse and thought it was a mistake that I got it done. Those 4 days felt like hell. 
  • On the second day of the surgery blood crusts will form only to make the situation more difficult. Showers with hot water, applying vicks, steam, cleaning the blood crust from the tip of the nose (without touching the stitches and splints inside) with Q-tips and hydrogen peroxide gave me a temporary relief.
  • During these 4 days I called my ENT specialist everyday and requested her to take the splints off. But they can not do that as they want the stitches to heal a bit.
  • Finally when the splints were taken out on the 4th day I could not believe my eyes. They were huge and I wondered how and where did they fit it in the nose. Of course I slept a lot after they were taken out and also didn't need the anti anxiety medicine after that.
  • It took time for my body to get over with the effects of all the medicines and anesthesia. 
  • I had a weekly nose cleaning appointment with my ENT. 
  • I cleaned my nose everyday thrice a day with Q-tips and hydrogen peroxide. I also used NetiMed Sinus rinse bottle. I blew my nose very lightly after the rinse. Sticky blood clots would come out everyday for the first 2-3 weeks after the rinsing.
  • I was on antibiotics for 10 days. There is inflammation in the nose and they don't want you to catch bacterial infection during this time. I started having severe side effects of the antibiotics so I had to stop taking them within 7 days (after checking with my ENT). 
  • I caught a bacterial infection at the tip of my nose in the third week so an ointment was prescribed by my ENT.
  • For the first 8 days I had no energy to do any sort of activity. Walking even 10 feet of distance made me feel tired. 
  • I started getting severe headaches/ migraine starting second week of the surgery. Tylenol did not make me feel better. Ibuprofen relieved the pain immediately but do not take it until your ENT tells you if it is okay to take it. 
  • I got migraines once a week for the first 2 months. It was intense pain between my eyebrows. The frequency and severity of the headaches went down after the first 6 weeks. Its been 3 months for my surgery and I haven't had any headaches in last 3 weeks.
  • I still catch sinusitis once a month and have to get an antibiotic treatment for it but as they say it takes around 1 year to actually experience the benefits of the surgery.
  • Even though I still catch sinusitis it is so much bearable as in spite of the sinus pressure I am able to breathe. Before surgery sinusitis made me feel miserable.
  • I started taking walks after 4 weeks of the surgery and started with my regular cardio/ yoga/ pilates routine 8 weeks after the surgery.
Its been just 3 months for my surgery but still I can comfortably say that even if the first 2 two months after the surgery were very tough I am glad I got it done. It changed my life for better. It fixed all my sleep issues. I haven't used nasal drops like afrin at all after the surgery. I do not feel suffocated when I catch cold. I notice a lot of improvement in my stamina during exercising. I had to take frequent breaks to breathe while hiking/ biking before the surgery. Now I hike/ bike the same distance without taking breaks and faster than before. Two months of tough time was totally worth to spend the rest of the my life breathing better. If deviated septum had to happen again then would I go through this all over again?
Hell yeah!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book Review: The Krishna Key - Ashwin Sanghi

Ashwin Sanghi writes thrillers based on Hindu mythology. He is called the Dan Brown of India. One of his book Chanakya's Chant won the most popular award 2010.

'The Krishna Key' has over-stretched explanations that drown you in religious jargon.

Ashwin goes on and on about the mystical Philosopher’s Stone. Is it here or may be there? leaving the reader feeling like a ball – bouncing around aimlessly. Drop it! Harry Potter found it already — it’s safe at Hogwarts! It is based on a vague and far fetched concept.

The book would have been much better if it was edited well.

I always felt like reading something Dan Brown style which is based on Hindu mythology. I must say I like Ashwin's style and I am going to read all his books!

Saturday, October 06, 2012

English Vinglish Movie Review

I went to Europe trip alone at a time in my life when I couldn't speak even one sentence of English properly.

Later on I understood that not being able to speak in English was a bigger problem for me in India than anywhere in Europe. Be it Germany, Switzerland or France people take pride in speaking their native languages unlike in India.

I always suffered from inferiority complex in big cities like Pune/Mumbai where people are taking pride speaking in English than speaking their mother tongue. After my Europe trip I stayed in London for a month to explore. Even though I was in birth place of English I did not feel intimidated and I felt accepted in my every interaction.

Of course later on I learnt English (it took me more time to learn than like Sridevi in the movie ;-)). I would have missed on so many good things in life otherwise; I live in the US, get to live this lifestyle, experience the amazing work culture here, enjoy Hollywood and International cinema (as the subtitles are in English) and last but not the least reading English Books which I enjoy immensely!

Well the movie English Vinglish touches the fact that living in India one may feel intimidated if
they don’t speak English. But it is not just about learning a language there is a lot more to the movie. This movie is absolutely beautiful, I cried in a movie after a long time but at the same time it made me feel really good, may be because I could totally relate to it. Sridevi is a natural! I loved the story, direction and acting. I give it 4/5 stars.

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Secret Life of Bees

Lovable, Well written characters, Story full of mystery, easy read not too long.

Loved this book. There is a movie made based on this book too.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Name to a face - Robert Goddard

A landscape gardener is asked by one of his clients to go to Cornwall and bid for a family heirloom which is up for auction following the death of his (the client's) uncle. From that point, mystery, intrigue and deception unravel. The historical backdrop adds a lot of color to the story, which never approaches believable. Uncharacteristically, many of the twists and turns are either too predictable or just too far-fetched.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Feb 2012 - Book Reviews

Rediscovering Dharavi by Kalpana Sharma
I wanted to read about the biggest slum in Asia - Dharavi, This book answered all my questions like:
how it was formed
what existed here before the slum development
what do the people in this slum do
what is the state of Maharashtra doing about it
Good book (but it gets a little repetitive at the end)

The housekeeper and the professor - Yoko Ogawa

Very sweet book, probably I could relate to it instantly as my father has the same condition as the professor in the book who doesn't remember anything after a certain year in life; not even if he had lunch a few minutes ago.
The author has beautifully handled the relationship between the professor and his housekeeper. A person who doesn't remember a thing can he be able to form relationships? Are relationships based on memories? on past? or what happens at this moment and is any sort of beautiful bond between two people beyond memory?
Nice read.

Review of some Marathi books at -

Monday, March 19, 2012


Finished watching a Danish TV series of 20 episodes (season 1). It is just mind blowing. Acting, script, plot, direction everything is just amazing.


The thunderstorms, the heavy rains, thudding of the rainwater on the rooftops, those puddles on the roads; colorful raincoats; the aroma, the entire atmosphere!
Eating hot Bhajiya; drinking hot tea, driving to University or Chandani Chawk to grab a bite of Bhutta. Exultant birds, contented rivers, idyllic trees and the land seem to be on cloud nine. Missing the monsoons in India…

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Book Reviews Jan 2012

Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom

What a disappointment this book was. There is very little substance in this book. Whatever lessons Morrie had to teach, could have been summed up in a short chapter. I feel like there was no book here. Mitch Albom reconnects with an old dying teacher while he is out of work and essentially capitalizes on his meetings with him to profit off of a book. There is no character development. The book is divided into small chapters on a specific "life" topic. In each chapter there is maybe one sentance of wisdom Morrie imparts, without real life experiences to support them.
Book is totally overrated, overpriced and undercooked!

Losing my Virginity - Richard Branson

Great life of a great guy... but somehow I didn't find any of it interesting from rock music cd business to his little stunts, from his space shuttle service to his views of war/ global warming. This book is an advertisement of Virgin products and the greatness of the author.

Immortals of Meluha - Amish Tripathi

This book is an exciting fictional take on Shiva and related mythological events and characters. Some parts of this book make you appreciate the richness and depth of the mythology one grows up with in India, but rarely ponders overs. Other parts challenge the conventional understanding of the myths and elements of ancient Indian culture.

I will caution that the quality of writing is not great. The writing style is shallow and lacks expression and illustrative power. The dialogue seems awkward, cliched and sometimes cheesy. However, what the author lacks in writing skills, he more than makes up with the breadth and ambition of the plot built around Shiva and his path to becoming a Mahadev.

Kudos to the author for what I hope will be a ground breaking book. A book that shows that Indian mythology is a woefully underutilized source of wit, wisdom, inspiration and philosophy. Of amazing characters and great drama. There isn't another culture that has been blessed with such riches. It is high time we took this heritage off the shelf; stopped blindly worshipping it and started exploring and understanding it.

The secret of Nagas - Amish Tripathi

Secret of the Nagas is as brilliantly written as the Immortals of Meluha. The reader would already be used to the language by now, so it ceases to be a hindrance in the enjoyment of the book and the story. The story is extremely fast paced and is a complete page turner.

आपुलकी - पु. ल. देशपांडे

मराठी भाषेच ज्ञान असलेल्यांनी पुल वाचल नसेल तर मराठी समजण्याच्या सर्वात मोठ्या फायद्यास ते मुकले आहेत.
पु. लंची ख्याती मी काय लिहावी. त्यांच्या प्रत्येक पुस्तकातून आणि प्रत्येक वाक्यातून ते पुन: पुन: प्रभावित करतात. हे पुस्तक त्यांच्या आयुष्यात आलेल्या निरनिराळ्या लोभस व्यक्तिमत्त्वांवर आहे. त्यातील एकाही व्यक्तीबद्दल मला अ का ब माहीत नसतांना त्या माझ्या मनात तरंग उठवून गेल्यात. आपुलकीने लिहिलेल हे पुस्तक त्यातील चरित्रांबद्दल आपुलकी निर्माण करुन जाते.