Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Can Water Wash Away The Guilt of Blood? ( Bhopal Gas Tragedy )

I read an article a few days back about how Dow Chemicals Corporation, in association with a Non-Profit Foundation, has provided safe drinking water to a village as part of its Corporate Social responsibility initiative. That spurred me on to blog this article.

Circa 1970:
Foreign Direct Investment in India was literally non-existent. License Raj was prevailing. However, with the ease of a knife plunging into a mound of butter, the Multi-National Giant , Union Carbide Inc, USA, obtains license to set up a pesticides factory in India.

Circa 1971: . The Madhya Pradesh Government welcomes Union Carbide to set up its factory in the state. UC chooses Bhopal due to its nature of being a junction point with train links to all over India. The Management declared that its avowed goal was to make available latest pesticides to Indian farmers to boost their agricultural production.

Circa 1980: Indian farmers could not afford the prohibitively priced pesticides. As sales slumped, production was suspended. But the deadly raw materials were retained in the factory. However, on specific orders from top, all safety measures were turned off, one after the other to save operational costs. The last safety system to go was the refrigeration system- to save $ 37 a day on the coolant fluid. A ghost factory it was, to make its host city a ghost city.

Act-III Scene-I

1984, December, 2nd-3rd . The clock struck 12, heralding another calendar day. Mothers nuzzled the babies closer to give them more warmth as the night had biting chill. The babies smiled in their sleep, not knowing a ghost was rising from its slumber. The ghost opened its eyes and began to spew out its deadliest gas, methyl isocyanate, ( MIC ) from its belly. A white ghost cloud formed slowly from the factory over Bhopal and descended on the sleeping homes, choking the lungs, wrenching the guts out and made men and women, Infant and animal collapse with crumbling nerves.
And the most primeval instinct of human beings - to run in danger - took over. The million strong populace of Bhopal ran for their lives. Crying and shouting, half- dressed men and women stumbled carrying the infants and dragging along children. Those who fell were not picked up by anybody, they just kept falling, and were trampled on by other people. People climbed and scrambled over each other to save their lives – even cattle were running and crushing people as they ran. In those apocalyptic moments no one knew what was happening. People simply started dying in the most hideous ways. Some vomited uncontrollably, went into convulsions and fell dead. Others choked to death, drowning in their own body fluids. Many died in the stampedes through narrow lanes, where street lamps burned a dim brown through the white ghost clouds of gas. The force of the human torrent wrenched children's hands from their parents' grasp. Families were whirled apart.
The ghost cloud was so dense and searing that people were reduced to near blindness. As they gasped for breath, its effects grew ever more suffocating. The gases burned the tissues of their eyes and lungs and attacked their nervous systems. People lost control of their organs. Urine and feces ran down their legs. Women lost their unborn children as they ran, their wombs spontaneously opening in bloody abortion.

Lucifer would have cringed in horror .

Act-III Scene-II
The dawn came slowly, painfully. For the near and dear of the 20,000 dead, lying stiff on the streets, another 150,000, sick to the last bone, just slumped where they were. For another half-a-million, terrified now, in the knowledge of what would be their future as they were exposed to the gas. The dead were disposed off in mass cremations and graves.

The dawn also came swiftly and eagerly. For the vultures and hyenas. The hyenas came in chartered aircraft, military jets, from all parts of the World . Some were scientists , some were experts in unconventional warfare, descended on the city to observe passively, with clinical detachment, the effects of the deadly gas on the living. They would not get a similar opportunity in their life time. After all, Holocausts do not happen often.

The vultures were the products of Yale and Harvard, sniffers of death from distance, the slick talking lawyers, descended to devour the living in the name of suing the company for compensation and taking a cut. The Chairman and the CEO of Union Carbide, Warren Anderson also came. He was detained by the police but let off by the Indian Government, unable to withstand the pressure exerted by the US Government. Anderson declared that the disaster at the factory was a result of sabotage by an Indian employee.


Circa 1990: Union Carbide, in a partial settlement with the Indian government, agreed to pay out $470 million in compensation for the survivors. The victims weren’t consulted in the settlement discussions. Each survivor got -$300-$500. The dead were forgotten as in most of the families, everyone perished.


Circa 1991: The local government in Bhopal charged Warren Anderson with manslaughter. However, Anderson has never stood trial before an Indian court. In addition, he has also evaded an international arrest warrant and a summons to appear before a US court. For a decade, Anderson’s whereabouts were unknown, until August, 2002 when the Greenpeace found him, living a life of luxury in a resort off Bahamas. The Union Carbide Corporation itself was charged with culpable homicide, a criminal charge whose penalty has no upper limit. These charges have never been resolved, as Union Carbide, like its former CEO, has refused to appear before an Indian court.


Circa 2001: Union Carbide’s world wide assets were bought by Dow Chemicals Corporation. The deal was completed much to the chagrin of a number of Dow stockholders, who filed suit in a desperate attempt to stop it. These stockholders were surely aware that a corporation assumes both the assets and the liabilities of any company it purchases, according to established corporate law. Indeed, Dow was quick to pay off an outstanding claim against Union Carbide soon after it acquired the company, setting aside $2.2 billion to pay off a few hundred former Union Carbide asbestos workers in Texas. However, Dow has consistently and stringently maintained that it isn’t liable for the Bhopal accident.

Circa 2006: The gas-affected people of Bhopal continue to succumb to injuries sustained during the disaster, dying at the rate of one each day. Treatment protocols are hampered by Union Carbide as well as Dow Chemicals continuing refusal to share information they hold on the toxic effects of MIC claiming the data is a "trade secret," frustrating the efforts of doctors to treat gas-affected victims. The site itself has never been cleaned up, and a new generation is being poisoned by the chemicals that Union Carbide left behind and Dow Chemicals refuses to clear. In the neighborhoods near the abandoned factory, people suffer from cancers, gynecological problems, tuberculosis, vision problems, intestinal difficulties, joint pains, chronic headaches, psychiatric problems. These illnesses are a direct result of the left over chemicals polluting the ground water, a thousand times beyond any acceptable limits. Thus the victims in Bhopal have been left in the lurch, told to fend for themselves as corporate executives elude justice and big corporations elude the responsibility. Dow’s unwillingness to fulfill its legal and moral obligations in Bhopal represents only the latest chapter in this horrifying humanitarian disaster. For more than two decades, the victims of Bhopal have continued to demand justice; the only question is: Is there any one to listen?


Circa 2006: Dow Chemicals is active in India, in business as well as in Corporate Social Responsibility activities. It has teamed up with NGOs and Foundations to provide purified drinking water to a village here and there. And now and then, a local daily splashes the story with color pictures of the villagers potting the water, waxing lyrics of the giant MNC for helping the amenities challenged population.

Circa Future:
Dow Chemicals Corporation is the recipient of the top CSR award for its contribution to providing safe drinking water to a few thousand people.

Can Water wash away the Guilt of Blood ???

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Review of eimona, a novel by GB Prabhat

eimona- a novel by GB Prabhat

Review by Ramana Dukkipati

Religions have doctrinized it. Philosophers have theorized it. Physicists have formulized it.
It is “ Every thought and every action, however minor it may be, will have a bearing in the future somewhere, someplace.” And mathematicians have proved it. ( Norma McCorvey, a woman from Dallas won a case on her right to abortion resulting in a sharp decline of crime in New York 20 years later. Source-Freakonomics)

GB Prabhat through his latest novel eimona has changed the future. Irrevocably. By making his readers pause and ponder.

What is eimona? I scurried to look up in a dictionary but couldn’t find it. Puzzled I was that an author gave a title that has no meaning. I started reading the book sometime around 9 in the night and when I leaned back closing the book, it was 2 am. It was a gripping tale told in a racy style with pungent satiric humour. It is a tale about all around us, about all of us- the new age kids in the new age economy who are the new age economy multi-millionaires in young urbane India, whose fortunes and personal wealth obscenely rises and falls everyday inexorably linked to the stock market ticker tape.

So what is eimona? It is a world that is topsy-turvey, where the normally abnormal is normal and the normally normal is abnormal. When marriages are solemnized with lawyers drawing up contract papers on property, when husband and wife need to have separate bed rooms with a connecting door because each needs his or her own space, when men and women who would have been called debauchers and sluts for frequently changing sex partners are now called liberated single men and women, when visiting a shrink becomes common as visiting a dentist, when a child wanting to watch nature, play snakes&ladders or chess and not showing interest in online chats or computer games is considered a problem child and is diagnosed as suffering from anomie, well… that is the world of eimona- the reverse of anomie, an affliction where the social interaction is markedly different from the normal social norms. So when the normal social norms are abnormal, that is the world of eimona. It is not somewhere-over-the-horizon-future menacingly racing towards us. It is the present – pervasive all around us.

The Protagonist of the novel Subbu, an 80 year old, watches with amusement and dismay this present day world of eimona. He lives in Chennai with his grandson Bharat and his beautiful wife Indu, both young and working in Multi-national companies and their 8-year-old daughter Maya. Bharat is always indecisive like a Buridan’s ass which died of starvation because it couldn’t decide which bale of hay it wants to eat. Indu is strong willed and a winner always. Both Bharat and Indu have stock options, earn more than 150000 dollars each in salary. They watch everyday their stock price and calculate the wealth , not the combined wealth of both but each individual’s wealth. Maya is full of childhood innocence and is attracted to nature, loves to play chess and snakes and ladders and dislikes chatting online or playing games on computers. So she is diagnosed by a shrink as suffering from anomie. Subbu fiercely tries to protect her. The author ends the book with a brilliant twist.

The author’s views on free markets, the poor , capitalism are aired through Subbu. The principle pillar of capitalists’ and free economy protagonists’ theory and practice that rewards will be proportionate to the value people create and inequality is the natural result, Subbu asks, “ so what happens to people who begin in capitalism with nothing in their pockets?”

The author warns of the chilling effects of inequality if not addressed urgently. The oft repeated remark of the new age economy millionaires is that we earned our wealth lawfully. We pay taxes on every rupee we earned. We have a right to possess it. We are responsible citizens. The police must protect us. To this a police man asks Indu how many are rich and how many are poor in this country. Will all the policemen and soldiers be enough to protect the rich from the poor. How about people who created free market? Are they responsible? How about availability of quality education only to the rich? Is that very responsible.?

The book makes the readers reflect about themselves and an urge to slow down in this maddening race to success and prosperity overwhelms.

A must read book.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Black Chilly Powder / Nalla Karam (Telugu)

Rural folk take this with the first meal after a bout of fever. It improves appetite. It goes well with hot steamed rice, and snacks. Ghee/ butter needs to be added lest tongue should be on fire.
1 kg dry red chillies
1 kg crystal salt
250 gms Tamarind
250 gms coriander seeds ( Dhania)
500 gms garlic
250 gms polished black gram
5 tsp Jeera
2 tsp fenugreek seeds ( Menthulu)
5 tsp turmeric powder

Dry the dried red chillies for a day ( 5 to 6 hours) in the Sun. Drying in the Sun is essential as it takes out the moisture and grinding to powder becomes easy.
Fry the dried chillies in 7 to 10 tsp oil till they turn slightly blackish. While the chillies are being fired, tamarind too can be peeled to small thin pieces and fried lightly along with chillies. Powder the chillies.
Fry three handfuls of curry leaves. Powder them.
Fry the coriander seeds on a low heat with in a dry pan for a few minutes. Add jeera a minute before you switch off the heat. After they cool, powder them.
Fry the polished black gram in a dry pan till the aroma reaches your nose. Powder them.
Fry the fenugreek seeds in a dry pan lightly and powder them.
Powder the crystal salt.
Grind the garlic to paste.
Grind the tamarind to powder.

Mix all the pastes and powders well adding the turmeric powder.
A La, you have on hand mouth-watering powder. Transfer the powder to glass / plastic jar.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Birth of a Nation- A Review of Condemnation

The film Birth of a Nation is acclaimed as one of the 100 best Hollywood films ever produced. It was produced by D W Griffith in 1915. With great difficulty and months of search, I finally got hold of a DVD of the film. As I watched the film, I felt revulsion and anguish at the unadulterated racism, portraying the Afro-Americans as lustful rapists and looters and glorifying the Ku Klux Clan.

Birth of a Nation is an adaption of Thomas Dixon’s novel, The Clansman. Technically, the film is a masterpiece considering it was produced in 1915. Griffith’s editing is flawless and his use of camera was very novel. He has alternated close-ups and long-shots from varying camera angles and use of frames gives the film a classic touch. It is a silent film. The film is a testimony to Griffith’s genius, but alas a diabolical genius. Like Nazis, who have used films to raise the anti-semitic feelings of dominant population resulting ultimately in genocide, Griffith too tries to raise the passions of Southerners against the Blacks.

The film begins with the tale of Phil and Tod Stoneman of Pennsylvania who are visiting their school friends, the Camerons of Piedmont, South Carolina. A love affair develops between the Stonemans and the Cameron’s sisters. These love affairs are interrupted by the Civil War. The Camerons boys join the Confederate army while the Stoneman boys join the Union army. It is during the war that the younger Camerons and Tod Stoneman are killed. After the war, the father of the Stoneman’s is elected to Congress and “agitates for the punishment of the South.”
The Reconstruction period starts. From here on Griffith portrays the Negro characters as hooligans, looters and rapists. He tries to convince his audience that the blacks who outnumber the whites in Carolina prevent whites from voting and capture the legislature. The entire portrayal of the Reconstruction days showed the Negro when freed from white domination, as arrogant, lustful, and villainous. Negro Congressmen were pictured drinking heavily, sleeping in Congress with bare feet upon the desks, or lustfully ogling white women. But, in addition to this general attack on the recently freed Negro, The Birth of a Nation depicts in the most graphic terms the individual threat that freed Negro men posed to the South--white women! Griffith’s creation of the character of Gus, the freed Negro servant of the Camerons as a black skinned renegade who pursues Southern women for sexual purposes, represents the arch stereotype of the Negro man as “sexual monster.” These scenes were constructed to justify the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. Through many twists and turns, the film finally reaches its climax when the Klan metes out justice to the Negro militia.
Griffith will be remembered for long as a person who took his Southern Prejudices to a film and tried to instigate the Whites against Blacks.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Best ways to teach housebreaking to Dogs

Ramesh got a cute German Shepherd pup. His entire family was joyous for the first few days. But as days passed, the joy turned out to be frustration as the pup began to pee in every corner of the house. It has also excreted on his beautiful carpet. Ramesh is not alone in facing this frustrating situation. Here are some tips on how to house train a dog:

Right from day one, observe the puppy during times when he is relieving. This will tell a lot about the warning signals and the different signs that dogs are making when they are about to unload it. Make it a point to make the dog feel comfortable outside the house. Let him explore your garden for him to find a comfortable spot to relieve himself. Do this everyday and the dog will eventually be more comfortable in doing this outside the house. The good news is that dogs are quite predictable in their potty habits. Primarily, you will need to keep an eye on your puppy if he is excited, about 15 to 30 minutes after he has eaten or drank water, and after he wakes up. If he is Moving around in circles, Getting into a crouch position, Sniffing the ground, then pick up him up quickly and move him to the potty area that you have set up for him.

When house training your dog, always make sure that you stay with him until he finishes. If you leave him by himself, he will have the tendency to do other things such as explore the garden or chase other animals. Praise him in a cheerful voice when it is relieving ( not after ).
Don't give your dog treats before bedtime or times when he will be left alone for long periods. Many doggy treats cause the dog to emit high levels of waste, and at irregular times.

Never use ammonia-based cleaners
During house training, dog owners should never use ammonia-based cleaners to clean their houses. These substances smell a lot like urine. Dogs will have the tendency of peeing on corners which smell like urine, so avoid using these substances.
There will be times that the dog or puppy will make a mess inside the house and there are cruel dog owners who would punish their dogs too much. Some slap their dogs with newspapers or other things. The most common myth is that if one sticks the dog's nose into his mess, he will not do it again. This is not only false, but it will make your dog confused and fearful of you. Remember that it is not the dog which should automatically know where to relieve, but remember that it is your responsibility to teach the dog where it should relieve.
Do not get frustrated in the first few weeks if accidents happen. They are bound to happen not because the dog has not understood where to relieve but you have failed to understand the signals given by the dog and has not provided the means to the dog to relieve outside. When the dog or pup relieves himself in the house, clean it with water mixed with a few drops of white Vinegar. The Vinegar will take away the smell of urine.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Mixed Lemon Pickle ( oil free)

I like my pickles hot. So when the lemon pickle that my mom gave got exhausted, I wanted to try out something different. I added whole green chillies and slices of bitter gourd. The combination turned out to be excellent with the pickle getting altogether a new and wonderful hot tangy taste. The beauty of this pickle is it is completely oil free.


50 ripe yellow lemons
250 gms green chillies
250 gms bitter gourd
200 gms crystal salt ( non-iodised)
250 gms chilly powder
250 gms garlic bulbs
3 tsp fenugreek powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder


Take 50 ripe yellow lemons ( Indian lemons are smaller in size compared to US / Europe/ Australia ) If the lemons are big in size take 15 to 20. Soak them in water for 10 minutes to get rid of dust / chemicals and wipe them completely dry with a dry cloth.

Squeeze 30 lemons of juice into a plastic container.. Cut the remaining 20 lemons into 4 pieces each.( If the lemons are big cut them to 8 or 16 pieces depending on how big the lemons are)

Add 200 gms of crystal salt after grinding it into powder to the lemon juice. Add a dash of turmeric powder ( ¼ spoon) to the juice.

Toss in the cut lemon pieces in the juice and marinate for a day and night. Squeeze the juice of each piece in the container and place them in the Sun on a polythene sheet. Expose the lemon rind to the Sun. At ~35 degrees centigrade and bright sunlight 5 to 6 hours of drying will do.

After removing the lemon pieces for drying, strain the juice to remove lemon seeds.

Take 250 gms of green chilles . Remove the broken / wilted and those turning to red colour. Wash the rest of the chilles with cold water and dry them completely. Remove the stalks. Pierce the chillies with a fork. Just a gentle nudge with the fork will do. Marinate the chillies in the juice container.

Take 250 gms of bitter gourd. Wash and dry them. Cut the bitter gourds into thin round slices. Remove the seeds. Marinate along with chillies.

Grind 250 gms garlic flakes to paste by adding a little of the juice in the mixie jar.
Add the paste to the juice.

Toss in 250 gms of red chilly powder to the container.

Add 3 tea spoons fenugreek powder and mix well.

Add the dried lemon pieces and mix well.

Marinate for a week. Taste the pickle and adjust salt.Transfer to jars.

Depending on your mood, you can choose to have a lemon piece, chilly or bitter gourd.

The shelf life of the pickle is one year. Towards the end of shelf life, chillies tend to get completely soft.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Ginger Pickle

This is one of the tastiest pickles. It goes well with rice, roti and with snacks.

Ingredients are Ginger, garlic, tamarind, jaggery, salt, chilly powder, Fenugreek seed powder( Menthulu in Telugu)

Take 250 gms of ginger, wash well in cold water, peel the outer layer, chop into fine pieces and grind to paste.

Take 100 gms of garlic bulbs- grind to paste

Take 200 gms of seedless tamarind- Soak in boiling water,( do not cook tamarind by allowing it to be on the stove for long ) let it remain in the water for a few hours till it cools to room temperature and grind to paste

Take 250 gms of Jaggery- grind to pulp/ powder. You can also beat it to fine powder. In place of jaggery, sugar ( one cup- about 100 gms) can be used but jagery has a better taste and the pickle shelf life will be long.

Take 250 gms of crystal salt and grind to powder ( do not use powder salt as it is usually idionised which will spoil the pickle )

Take 3 tea spoons of fenugreek seeds- fry them for a couple of minutes in a dry pan till they turn dark brownish. Powder the seeds.

Take 250 gms of Red chilly powder. If the chilly powder is not very hot, add another 50 gms

Mix all pastes in a container and grind once for a minute to get mixed well.

Take 100 gms gingelly / groundnut oil, heat it in a pan, and toss in 5 to 8 dry red chillies, 5 to 8 garlic bulbs, 2 tea spoons polished black gram, 1 tea spoon mustard seeds. Toss in a few curry leaves a second before the heat is turned off. After the oil cools, mix well with the pickle.

Transfer the pickle to a plastic or glass bottle.

Monday, May 29, 2006

What to feed the Dog

For thousands of years dogs survived as human companions with only left over food. Till a few decades back dogs were eating only table scraps. With the explosion in the growth of pet food industry, today pet dog owners face a puzzling array of colorful bags of dry premium foods, convenient semi-moist packets, and gourmet diets for puppies, adult dogs, hunting dogs, show dogs, lactating dogs, old dogs, skinny dogs and fat dogs. Compounding the confusion is the barrage of advertising touting the benefits of this or that food: It’s all natural, it’s real meat, it’s non-allergenic, it’s high protein, it’s low protein, it’s low-fat, it doesn’t have by-products, your dog will love it . . . Add to these claims the crying of the nay-sayers: It’s cooked, it contains chemicals, it causes allergies, they use meat wastes and animals not fit for human consumption, soybeans cause bloat . . . and it’s not a wonder that when two pet owners meet they invariably discuss what they feed their dogs.
Like all living creatures, dogs need a combination of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water in a balanced diet that provides sufficient calories to meet their daily needs for growth, activity, and repair.
As people have become more conscious of the amount of meat in their own diets, they have also begun to wonder about meat in the dog’s dinner. Some folks have switched from beef and are looking for a dog food with little or no beef, so companies have responded with chicken, lamb, turkey, or venison-based foods. Some owners want a vegetarian diet for their dogs, and companies provide such a diet. The fat and proteins in the dry dog foods mostly come from by-products of poultry and meat. By-products fall into several categories: parts of the animal that people prefer not to eat, such as intestines, feathers, feet, beaks, lungs; tongue, or tail meat.
The average house pet will do well on any of several dry dog foods or home made food, depending on his level of activity, his metabolism, and his individual body chemistry. If jasper is doing well on the food you are feeding and it falls within your budget and is easily obtainable, don’t switch. If Jasper has skin problems that cannot be traced to an obvious cause such as fleas, consider a switch of food
Feeding the family pet, like feeding the family, involves psychological as well as practical decisions. Somehow, the choice of food gets wrapped up in how much dog owners care about their pets. Commercial companies bombard owners with advertising in every media. The over-riding message is that if pet owners don’t choose this or that brand, they don’t care about their dog’s health and well-being. Companies have made it look like home made food for dogs has become out of date and pet unfriendly.
If a dog has a healthy skin and coat, is energetic, and gets good marks from the veterinarian on the annual checkup, pet owners can continue to feed the same diet no matter which they have chosen. If the dog is having problems, they can find out if the food might be a contributing factor and take steps to fix things by adding a supplement, switching to another food, or asking the vet to run some diagnostic tests.

What I feed my dog:

My dog Scooby is a medium sized Himalayan terrier with a long coat. After experimenting with dry dog foods of several companies and also feeding it with complete home made food, I find not much of a nutritional difference between the two. Home made food has not made Scooby’ lazy or his coat dull. Nor the company’s dry food made it hyper active and the coat shiny. Dry food has a tremendous convenience, when you don’t have anyone at home to prepare the food exclusively for the dog. But mind you, dry food of some companies is prohibitively expensive, especially if you have a large breed dog. The only caution to home made food users is to not limit the food to leftovers alone. This will cause nutritional deficiencies.
Home made food: Allocate an old pressure cooker in good condition exclusively for preparing dog food . Keep stock of broken rice( cheaper than rice but same nutritional value ). Shop on Sunday for a week’s supply of boneless meat / chicken / beef. Wash well and pressure cook it for 10 minutes ( two whistles of the cooker ). After it cools, divide the same equally in seven plastic boxes and store in the freezer compartment. Thirty minutes before the dinner time for the dog, cook the broken rice in the cooker. Transfer the steaming rice to a bowl and mix it with the meat. The heat of the rice will defrost the meat. After it cools, add a tea spoon of sun flower cooking oil, a cup of milk / butter milk and feed. For a medium sized dog, 150 gms of meat and 100 – 150 gms of rice a day will do.
If you want your dog to be vegetarian, then the left-over vegetables of the day can be added to the rice and cooked.
10- 20 ml of Ostocalcium mixed with Vimral can be given twice a week. Pregnant and lactating bitches need more food enriched with Calcium and Vitamins. So accordingly the quantity and quality needs to be increased.

What I feed Now: To avoid wasting the leftover rice of the previous night, I add whatever rice is left to the boneless chicken ( cooked and frozen) and depending on the quantity of rice I reduce or increase the dry food. A glass of Butter milk is added.
Scooby is hale and hearty and jumping with joy for the last 3 years.

Tomato Pickle

Making tomato pickle is very easy. I am listing down the ingredients
and the process below.
1 kg tomatoes ( unripe green hard ones)
200 gms tamarind seedless
200 gms Garlic bulbs ( optional)
300 gms crystal salt
300 gms chilly powder
2 tea spoons fenugreek seeds powder( Fry the seeds in a dry pan for 2- 3 minutes and powder)
2 tea spoons turmeric powder
750 gms ground nut oil ( more oil if you want the pickle oily but not
more than 1 kg )
Select the tomatoes carefully. They have to be unripe green and
hard.Wash them in cold water thoroughly and dry them in the shade. An
hour's drying under the fan will do. If still not properly dry, use a
clean dry cloth to wipe off the wetness.Cut each tomato into four
Transfer the pieces to a container ( non-metal), add the turmeric
powder and salt. Mix well, preferably with your own hand. using a spoon
might crush some of the tomato pieces. Please note that hands or spoons
have to be thoroughly dried before dipping them into pickle. Place a
lid firmly on the container and let it marinate overnight.
By morning,juice out of tomatoes would come out. Take the tomato pieces
out and spread them thinly on a polythene sheet. Dry the pieces in the
Sun for a day. At ~ 35 degrees C and bright sunlight, 4 to 5 hours of
drying will do. Remember that the pieces will not be completely dry or
whittle down.
In the morning, after the tomato pieces are taken out of the container
for drying, add the tamarind to the juice in the container and let it
soak in for a few hours. Add garlic paste. Add chilly powder and fenugreek seeds powder
and mix well till it turns into a thick paste. Grinding in a mixie for a couple of minutes is recommended.
In the evening add the dried tomato pieces to the paste and mix well.
Pour the cooking oil in the heated pan. After oil is heated put 20 dry
chillies,20 garlic bulbs,4 tea spoons of Bengal gram, 4 tea spoons of
polished black gram, 2 tea spoons of Mustard seeds, one after the other
in quick succession. Flame should be as low as possible. After a minute
add a handful of curry leaves. Put off the flame and let the oil cool
to room temperature. Pour the seasoning in the container and mix well.
Let the pickle remain in the container for at least a day. Two days
would be better. Taste the pickle and add salt if necessary. (
Adjustment of salt quantity is necessary, since the saltiness of
crystal salt differs to a small extent from one packet to another. Also
the soarness of tomatoes differ.)
The pickle is ready. Transfer the pickle to glass / plastic / porcelien
The pickle goes well with rotis, rice.
Shelf life without refrigeration is 10 to 12 months. As long as tomato
peices remain green, you can assume the pickle is fresh. Towards the
end of the shelf life, slight colour change might happen to the pickle
paste. It is normal.
For the pickle to remain fresh, do not use wet spoons and do not leave
metal spoons in the pickle for long periods.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Green Chilly Pickle

The green chilly pickle goes well with all types of food. It is a gourmet's delight when taken with snacks.
I am giving below the ingredients and the process to make the pickle. Follow them diligently and have a feast.
1 kg green chillies ( lean, long ones)
300 gms seedless tamarind
250 gms crystal salt
50 gms Fenugreek seeds
250 gms garlic bulbs
2 nos. coconuts
Wash the green chillies with cold water and dry them by placing them on a dry towel or newspapers.You can also dry them by wiping the wetness of each chilly with a dry clean cloth. Remove the stalks. Heat the pan, pour 2-3 tea spoons cooking oil. After the oil is heated, put the green chillies in the pan. Stir well while frying till some discolouration happens to most chillies. Do not overfry or roast. Keep them aside.

Boil 2 cups of water ( about ~150 ml ). When the water begins to simmer, put the tamarind in the boiling water. Ensure tamarind is submerged. Do not cook the tamarind.Keep it aside to let it cool to room temperature. Mash it to paste with a spoon.

Grate the 2 coconuts. Keep it aside.

Fry the Fenugreek seeds in a dry pan on simmer heat till they turn deep brownish. 3-5 minutes of heating will do. Powder the seeds in a mixie. Keep it aside.

Powder the crystal salt in a mixie.

Remove the wafer thin outer layer on the garlic bulbs by putting them all in a cloth and rubbing vigorously. Do not waste your time by trying to remove the outer layer for all the bulbs. Make it into a paste in a mixie.

Now put proportionate portions of each of the ingredients ( chillies, tamarind paste, grated coconut, fenugreek seed powder, garlic paste, salt ) in the mixie jar depending on the size of the jar and make complete paste of it. You may have to do it in 5 to 6 portions for a medium sized jar. Mix all the portions of the paste well.

Taste it and add salt if necessary.

Season the pickle paste as follows:
Pour ~50 ml ( 100 ml if you like your pickle oily) of cooking oil in the heated pan. After oil is heated put 10 dry chillies, 10 garlic bulbs, 2 tea spoons of Bengal gram, 2 tea spoons of polished black gram, 2 tea spoons of Urad dal, 1 tea spoon of Jeera, 1 tea spoon of Mustard seeds, one after the other in quick succession. Flame should be as low as possible. Aftera minute add a handful of curry leaves, stir and add the seasoning to the pickle paste. Mix thoroughly with a spoon.

Let the paste cool. Transfer the pickle to glass/ plastic / porcelin jars/ bottles.

Bingo! you have the pickle ready for polishing off. The pickle remains fresh for 8 to 10 months without refrigeration. Do not leave metal spoons in any pickle jar for longer periods.

For a family of 4, the pickle will be sufficient for 6 months assuming all the members consume once a day with snacks.

For snacks:- Take a small portion of the pickle to a bowl, add curds / water / buttermilk at 1:1 ratio. If you want the serving to be less hot increase the portion of the curd. Serve with snacks.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Responsible Dog Ownership

Most times decision to bring in a pet dog is taken on the spur of the moment. You meet a friend who has a litter and offers a pup free. Or your kid has been pleading with you to get him or her a pup. And you just pick up whatever is available that doesn't cost much or because you read somewhere that a particular breed is very friendly etc.. For a lifetime's happiness of owning a dog, the first and perhaps the most important decision is to carefully select a breed or mix of dog that is most likely to fit into the family temperament and lifestyle. Fortunately, there are many breeds to choose from, and there is at least one to fit every situation. There are breeds that are predisposed to retrieve, to guard, to pull sleds or carts, to snuggle, and to lie by the hearth. There are active breeds and calm breeds. There are breeds to satisfy the desire to comb long strands of silky hair and breeds that require only an occasional rubdown to keep coats healthy. There are breeds that can withstand cold climates and breeds that can cope with hot, muggy temperatures. There are breeds that love children and can put up with a toddler's teasing, poking, and pulling and a 10-year-old's rough-housing. Do not make your decision basing on popular beliefs that small dogs need little attention or can fit into an apartment and big dogs need lot of excercise. There are variety of small dog breeds that are hyper active and need lot of excercise and play and there are huge dog breeds that simply want to rest 24x7. Keep in mind that big dogs need lot of food and prepare yourself for a hefty monthly budget.

Before you make a decision on the breed you would want, check out the breed origin, for knowing where and why a breed was developed helps to understand its character and physical attributes.

Once the breed is selected, the buyer should look for a breeder who produces puppies that fit the breed's physical and attitude description. Choosing a puppy that has the name of the breed but not the appearance and character negates the vast amount of work to get to this point. Why bother reading and studying about breeds just to buy a puppy that is a Labrador Retriever in name only?
To find a breeder, contact a local veterinarian, groomer, or kennel or obedience club for a referral, check ads in the Kennel Gazettes or surf the Internet for a breed club website. Do not buy from the puppy mills that seem to be sprouting everywhere. The breeders of puppy mills have only one thing in mind- making a fast buck. The dams are reared in inhuman conditions and bred indiscriminately. Puppies are not socialized causing psychological and behavioural problems as they grow.
Once the puppy comes home, there are many other decisions to be made, but they can all be approached with common sense and made to fit your personal biases, budget, and life circumstances. Take the pup without delay to the vet for vaccinations. Maintain a file recording the vaccinated dates and treatments to other ailments.
Do not pamper the pup as it grows to an extent where the pet dog becomes the master of the house. Obdience training is a must which can start as early as 3 months. You should be a responsible dog owner and an obedient dog is a pleasure to have. Dogs that jump on people, chase cars, or bite strangers are not only a nuisance but dangerous too. There are hundreds of books and material available to learn the basics of obedience training. After all you are not attempting to make your dog a movie star. Basic obedience training will do.
(If you are in or in the vicinity of Australia, you can go to Alpha Dog Training Institute headed by Greg Fontana. His Canine Lifestyle Communication system, the methodology of training dogs is unique and very effective. You can send the dog to Alpha Boarding kennels at 8 Kiernan Road, Macclesfield, Victoria 3782 Ph. no- 59688101 for boarding as well as training. Or best, you can take a short term course ( 1 week) in dog training and you will be amazed at the results. Just a few minutes drive from his kennels and training center are beautiful cukkatoo cottages that are rented out. )

As the dog matures the decision to spay or neuter is often at the top of the list. Sterilization surgery is often cited as the demarcation between “responsible” and “irresponsible” dog ownership, but that is a political and moral judgment, not a practical one. However,sterilization has many advantages: spayed bitches never drop estrus fluids on the carpet or unwanted litters in the closet, don't develop reproductive cancers or uterine infections, and don't require management skills to separate them from male dogs, and castrated male dogs don't get testicular cancer, macho attitudes, or stud dog wanderlust. However, if a family wants to keep a dog intact, exercises common sense precautions to prevent unwanted litters, and understands the risks of infection and cancer, they should not be considered “irresponsible.”

Close on the heels of the decision to spay or neuter is the decision to breed. This one requires at least as much care as the selection of a breed, for the determination to bring more puppies into the world should be based on more than wanting the kids to see the miracle of birth or aiming to make a few dollars for the vacation fund. Puppies are not cars or toasters; they should be thoughtfully produced, thoughtfully raised, and thoughtfully sold.

Responsible Breeders often study their breed for years before producing a litter. Dog breeding is animal husbandry every bit as much as the breeding of race horses . In dogs, the aim is to package the genes into a healthy animal that is representative of its breed, not merely to produce more Labradors or Rottweilers or Jack Russell Terriers to sell for a fast buck. The original developers of these breeds knew what characteristics they wanted and carefully mated dogs to get them; breeding today should be approached with the same care.

Breeding a healthy litter is expensive. Sire and dam in all medium-to-giant breeds and mixes should be checked for hip dysplasia even if they show no signs of problems, and they should be screened for other genetic diseases that are prevalent in their breeds and for which tests exist. Toy breeds should at least be checked for slipping patellas (kneecaps). These precautions do not eliminate the potential for inherited disease or abnormality, but they do improve the odds for a healthy litter.
Finally, the decision to breed a litter should include consideration of the puppies' need for socialization and careful screening of potential buyers. Since the puppies will be pets, they should be accustomed to living with people and their noises, smells, and activities from the beginning. Gentle handling is recommended from birth onward, handling that can be done during the three-times-daily cleaning of the whelping area. When puppies begin to move around freely, they should be given toys to play with and spend some time outside the whelping area each day. At five weeks, they can spend time outdoors every day, weather permitting.

Potential buyers can visit the puppies from six weeks on, but no puppy should go to a new home before seven weeks and preferably not before eight weeks. Breeders of toy dogs often keep the litter together for 10-12 weeks or more.
No dam should be bred before 18 months age and for large breeds >2 years. There should be a gap of 2 years between litters and not more than 3 litters in its life span.
Life span of a dog varies from 8 to 14 years depending on breed, the care taken and several other factors. When in old age, dogs develop joint problems, reduced vision, sores, tooth loss. This is the period when people simply drive the dog away from home for it to die on the streets. This is the most inhuman act. If the dog is suffering, consult your vet for mercy killing rather than drive away the dog that has given you happiness for years.
Be a responsible dog owner.

Dog Trivia

•Irish Wolfhounds are the largest dogs among all breeds (in height).

•Most dogs have pink tongues except for two...the Chow-chow and the Shar-pei. Both have black tongues.

•The only barkless dog in the world is the Basenji, an African wolf dog.

•Dalmatian puppies are pure white when they are born and develop their spots as they mature and grow older.

•The Pekingese was a favorite dog of ancient Chinese royalty. They carried these small dogs along in their sleeves of their royal robes.

•German Shepherds have 225 million cell receptors in their noses, making them ideal for police work and search and rescue activities.

•Humans have 5 million cell receptors for smelling while most dog breeds exceed 100 million cell receptors.

•Saint Bernard’s were originally trained to rescue lost travelers in the Swiss Alps.

•Dachshunds were bred to fight badgers in their dens.

•The original reason behind the Poodle's "haircut" was to improve their swimming abilities as a retriever. The pom-poms were left to keep their joints warm.

•A Greyhound can reach speeds up to 45 miles per hour for short periods of time.

•Large quantities of chocolate can be fatal to your dog, especially the type used in baking.

•Dogs curl up with their tail covering their nose to keep it warm in the winter.

•Not all dogs' eyes reflect the color green in the dark; some reflect orange or red.

•The world's first ever space astronaut was a dog named Laika. The Russian Government sent Laika into space in an artificial earth satellite in 1957.

•Cerberus, a 3-headed dog of Greek mythology, was said to guard the gates to Hades (the Underworld). The only person to ever get past his guard was Heracles (or to use his Roman name, Hercules).
•The first dog show was held in England in 1859.

•Two dogs survived the sinking of the Titanic...a Pomeranian belonging to Miss Margaret Hays (in lifeboat 7) and a Pekingese belonging to Henry Sleeper Harper (in lifeboat 3).

•The Saluki breed is the oldest known breed of dogs. They were raised by ancient Egyptians as hunting dogs. Saluki is an Arabic word meaning noble one.

•1990 was the last year that a breed other than the Labrador Retriever finished 1st overall in American Kennel Club dog registrations for a single year. The Cocker Spaniel edged the Lab in 1990 by almost 10,000 dogs. Since then, the #1 spot has been all Labs.

•The term dog days of summer was coined because the hottest days of the summer in Rome coincided with the night sky when the Dog Star (Sirius) could be seen. The Romans believed the brightness of the star added to the heat of the sun.

•A dewlap is the pendulous fold of skin on the neck, like you would see on a Bloodhound.

•Did you know there is a dog museum? In St. Louis, Missouri, you will find The AKC Museum of the Dog, founded by the American Kennel Club. There are paintings, sculptures, and other works of art that are about dogs or have dogs in them. Dogs have been in artworks that date back thousands of years!

•The United States and France have the most pet dogs. Almost one in three families in these countries own a dog.

•What countries have the least amount of pet dogs? Germany and Switzerland only have one dog for every ten families. They need more dogs!

•A dog's temperature is between 100.2-102.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

•Contrary to popular belief, after the first year of life, a dog is equivalent to 16 human years. After two years, they are equivalent to a 24 year old, at 3 years a 30 year old, and each year after, add 5 human years to determine your dog's age.

•Dogs breathe 10-30 breaths per minute.

•It is illegal to crop your dog's ears and dock the tails in the UK & Australia.

•The English Romantic poet Lord Byron was so devastated upon the death of his beloved Newfoundland, whose name was Boatswain, that he had inscribed upon the dog's gravestone the following: "Beauty without vanity, strength without insolence, courage without ferocity, and all the virtues of man without his vices."

•Dogs and humans are the only animals with prostates.

•More than 40% of pet owners talk to their pets on the phone or through an answering machine.

•Twenty-five percent of pet owners blow-dry their pet's hair after a bath.

•More than 50 percent of dog and cat owners give their pets a human name, such as Molly, Sam or Max.

•Dogs have 42 teeth, cats about 30.

•The maximum speed of a Whippet is 35 miles per hour.

•The name of Superman's dog is Krypto.

• Three dogs -- an American Foxhound, a St. Bernard, and a Great Dane -- have each given birth to a litter of 23 puppies. The record remains unbeaten.

•Pollsters say that 40% of dog and cat owners carry pictures of the pets in their wallets & mobiles.

•In the original 101 Dalmatians movie, Pongo has 72 spots, Perdita has 68 and each of the puppies has 32.

Requiem for a Friend

Requiem for a Friend

It was a normal morning like any other summer morning. I was on my morning walk with my dog when the cell phone rang. The call was from my village and a hysterical voice told me Siva is no more. He met with an accident. I couldn’t believe it. The caller confirmed that the body was positively identified. It was like a bolt from the blue. I rushed to my village to have a last glimpse. Mercifully the face was intact and he appeared to be in deep sleep. He was cremated on the same day.
I was 10 when I first met him in my village during summer vacation. He was a month older to me. He came from a nearby town to visit his grand parents. He came in an amby and was a sport to accept my exciting suggestion to take a side seat while I test drive the car. He stole the car keys when everyone at home was taking the afternoon nap and gave them to me. Together we were off. Not far though! Before I could manage to start and roll the car for a few yards, both of us were dragged out and a sound thrashing given. That day a bond of friendship sprang between me and Siva and blossomed for 35 years till a few days back when he rammed his car into a stationary truck from the rear during the dead of the night on NH-5 and died on the spot.

A few years after our first meeting, his family permanently moved to my village after his father lost a fortune in business. We met during every holiday, started our jobs same time in Hyderabad, shared a room and shared everything. We had similarities as well as differences. He was a religious person and I was an atheist and later a convert to the concept of Almighty. He was a conformist, while I was a rebel. We both chucked our jobs and started our own businesses, tasted the headiness of success and the pain of failure. Finally he settled in Chennai 15 years back. We used to plan out trips to the village to ensure both were there at the same time.

During the last 5 years, the meetings became infrequent as I was not able to make it to my village when he visited. I traveled to Chennai scores of times but there too didn’t find time to stay back for a day to spend with him. I visited him only a couple of times for an hour or so. He used to say that work will always be there and heavens will not come crashing down if I take a day off to be with him. How I wish now that I had done it. How I wish now that I had met him every time I visited Chennai. How I wish now that he lived for some more years for me to make amends. Alas, if wishes were horses beggars like me would be riding them.

I am left with emptiness in my heart. I am left with a guilty consciousness. I am left with a deep sorrow for not being able to meet him more regularly when I could have done it easily.

Siva is survived by his wife and 13 year old son.

May his sole rest in peace.