21 December 2011

Nature’s perfect drink

One of my favourite drinks is tender coconut water. Tender coconuts are young, green coconuts and are on sale on almost every street corner in every city in South India. The coconut water is slightly sweet and a refreshing drink on a hot day.

I often see heaps of green coconuts piled up on the sidewalk or on a cart by the roadside. The seller uses a small machete to hack away the husk and then uses the tip to make a small hole in the top where he inserts a straw.

Once you’ve finished drinking the water (I’ve discovered that even small coconuts can contain a lot of water!) the seller will chop the coconut in half so that the flesh can be eaten. He cuts away a piece of the husk which is used as a type of spoon to scoop up the flesh. The flesh is soft and jelly-like and delicious. (Above image: Wikimedia Commons)

You can also ask for a ‘parcel’ and take tender coconuts home with you. In this case, a hole won’t be made in the husk after it’s hacked away. With the tip of the machete, a thin strip of the husk is cut on each coconut and then they’re tied together so that you can easily carry them home! Once home, I use a knife to cut a hole and then empty the liquid into a pitcher. If I don’t do this right away, the exposed husk gets tougher and afterwards it’s too difficult to cut a hole! Then I put the pitcher in the fridge because I think tender coconut water tastes best cold.

Coconut water is also the ideal drink because it’s good for you. It contains sugars, fibre and protein and provides vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. It’s also an isotonic drink, similar to a sports drink, because it contains electrolytes. (Above image: Wikimedia Commons)

No wonder I feel instantly refreshed after having some tender coconut water. This is nature’s perfect drink!

13 December 2011

Beware of chain snatchers!

I saw this poster in Indiranagar metro station. It features the mug shots of chain snatchers caught in my area.

Chain snatching is very common in India. Why? Because married women wear a traditional necklace called a mangalasutra, which is a sign of their married status. These necklaces are made of pure gold and are very expensive, often costing at least 100,000 (1 lakh) rupees (1435 EUR / 1933 CAD / 1878 USD). This also makes them an easy target for thieves.

Reports of chain snatching in the newspaper are common. Here are a few examples:

Chain snatched

A gold necklace reportedly worth around Rs. 1.25 lakh was snatched away from a woman in Akkipete here on Sunday morning. Around 5.30 a.m., Rathnamma (62) was drawing rangoli in front of her house when a stranger distracted her by calling out, said Cottonpet police. When she turned her head, the man, who appeared to be around 20, snatched the chain and fled.

Chain snatchers at it again

Two women lost their gold chains to snatchers here Wednesday morning.

The first victim, Kumuda S. Udaykumarshankar, was accosted by two men near Ambarish Park when she was returning from her morning walk, J.P. Nagar police said.

The duo grabbed her chain worth Rs. 1.12 lakh and fled.

The second victim, Puttamma Nanjappa, was waylaid at 6.20 a.m. in Jayanagar 9th Block by three men in an autorickshaw, who snatched her chain worth Rs. 50,000, Tilaknagar police said.

Chain-snatchers tear woman's ear lobe

Two motorcycle-borne men allegedly on a gold-robbing mission in Rajarajeshwarinagar on Friday night ended up tearing one victim's ear lobe.

Their first victim was Shambhavi (42), walking around 8 p.m. in BHEL Layout II Stage. The police said she was wearing two necklaces — one of gold that was left untouched while the other, a gold-plated one, was stolen.

Later, around 9.30 p.m. in the nearby BEML Layout, Vijaylakshmi was returning home from temple when one of the two riders got off, lunged at her and pulled her gold earring. The two hastily sped away when Ms. Vijaylakshmi, whose ear lobe split open, screamed for help. The two got away with one earring, worth around Rs. 10,000.

The police suspect that the two robberies, with similar modus operandi, may involve the same culprits.

Chain snatched

Police are on the lookout for those who snatched Rs. 2 lakh worth chain from a lady on Monday morning.

Police said youths, who came in two bikes, snatched the chain, weighing about 10 sovereigns, from Sheela Selvaraj of Maharaja Nagar even as she was returning home after buying vegetables at ‘uzhavar sandhai' on Monday around 8.45 a.m. The Palayamkottai police have filed a case.

Miscreants reportedly duped two women in Namakkal town and fled with 15-and-a-half sovereigns of gold jewellery worth nearly Rs. 3.2 lakh on Thursday. Namakkal police who registered a case and are investigating, said they suspected the hand of the same duo in both the incidents. According to police, V. Pongodi of NGO colony was drying clothes in the portico when two men came near the gate and asked her something in Hindi. She came near the gate to send them away but the duo grabbed the five-and-a-half sovereign gold chain from her neck and escaped, police added. In another incident, during the late hours of the day, two youth grabbed a ten-sovereign gold chain from N. Tamilarasi of the same locality when she was returning home from a temple. Police said that she also claimed that two men spoke something in Hindi and came near her when she was walking with her neighbour, grabbed her chain and fled.

Two chains snatched in Hassan

In two similar incidents, two motorcycle-borne men snatched gold chains of two women in Hassan city on Tuesday evening.

In the first incident, Prema (35), who was walking with her daughter near her house at Pragathi Nagar, lost her gold chain worth Rs. 90,000, according to the police.

In the second incident, Nagamma of Vidyanagar lost her chain worth Rs. 1.1 lakh.

The Extension Police have registered the complaints.

Spate of chain snatching incidents

K. Vijayalakshmi (53) lost her two-sovereign chain to chain snatchers while she was walking on Second Avenue Road, Besant Nagar.

South zone Joint Commissioner K.P. Shanmuga Rajeswaran, who met media persons here on Thursday, said special police teams had been formed under the leadership of each Assistant Commissioner in south zone to deal with incidents of burglary, robbery and chain snatching reported in the area.

On the various incidents of chain snatching reported on Wednesday in some parts of south Chennai, he said the police had obtained the details of the registration number of the vehicle used in four incidents and were trying to identify the suspects. The police have also asked the victims to go through the database of photos of suspects, Mr. Shanmuga Rajeswaran said.

06 December 2011

Earmuff season is here

I bet whoever the person is who invented earmuffs never even considered for a second that India would be a good place to market them. I’m sure he (or she) never imagined that sultry South India would be the perfect place to make a killing with earmuffs.

Yes, it’s earmuff season in South India. Now that ‘winter’ is here, the earmuffs are out. Winter in Bangalore is ‘cold’ afterall. In the early mornings and at night, temperatures dip to a very cool 20 degrees Celsius – and sometimes even down to a ‘chilly’ 15! Warm sweaters, shawls, blankets, woollen caps and yes – earmuffs – are for sale everywhere. Winter is definitely here!

The earmuffs I see here are a bit different to the ones I knew while growing up in Canada (where your ears would get frostbitten if you didn’t cover them up!). Those earmuffs were connected with a flexible piece of plastic which was adjustable – and were placed on the top of the head. Indian earmuffs are somewhat different. They loop behind the neck. Top of head or back of neck, the result is the same. They cover your ears. But the really sexy thing about Indian earmuffs are the crazy patterns and colours. Camouflage. Ladybug. Tiger skin. Polka dots. Plaid. You can make a fashion statement with your earmuffs.

Only 25 rupees and many patterns and colours to choose from.

Picture the scene. I was at a wedding. Two aunties walked in and sat down just in front of me. They were dressed in resplendent silk saris and covered in gold jewellery. And they were wearing earmuffs. Camouflage pattern. How's that for a statement?

And Bangalore, where the weather is cooler and drier than most South Indian cities, is not the only place where earmuffs are all the rage. I’ve seen them in Chennai too, where they say there are three seasons: hot, hotter, and hottest! But the early winter mornings can have a slight nip in the air. And what better way to keep your ears warm then with some fuzzy camouflage-pattern earmuffs!