Tag Archives: Bangalore

Bloody Northies!!!

By Joybrato Dutta

northies in bangalore

That’s what I heard most of the time in the span of 3 years that I stayed in Bangalore. A small-town guy by birth, I moved to Bangalore to pursue higher education. Well, I guess that’s what 90% of all small town aspirants do. So, is that a mistake? It turned out to be one. Since our (Northies) first day we were told that, this city is not our home and it can never be. We are not allowed to ‘disrespect’ any ‘Localite’, or date a local chick.

All that was taken into consideration, but there was one important thing we didn’t know. “We aren’t supposed to perform well”! In case you did, your teachers will make sure it doesn’t show in your results. Of course we all passed.

Coming back to the “Disrespecting a Localite” part. One of my Northie counterpart pushed a Khatta (that’s how we addressed them) while playing ‘pitto’. Inculcated with ethics my friend helped him get up. But, what does he get in return? A couple of abuses and a slight mishandling of the collar. Now, we small town guys can tolerate every bloody insult, but, someone holding our ‘Girebaan’ is something we can’t stand.

The result: A fight for dignity and self respect. Bruised faces, uprooted shrubs, torn T-shirts, a fractured thumb and a couple of half-murder cases followed. One of my friend got 17 fractures in his thumb and till today (incident happened 4 years back) struggles to bend his thumb.

We thought we won the fight, but we failed to realise the fight wasn’t over. 2 hours before his first semester exam my friend (with a fractured thumb) was denied a writer. All of us were denied a place in the hostel. Most importantly since then whenever anything went wrong we were called for interrogation, doesn’t matter if you weren’t in town. “Saaley humey talcum powder samajh ke rakhe the, jab khujli hui bula liya” (Courtesy – Sanjay Gupta’s Kaante).

I don’t really hate the city because it gave me fantastic friends and taught me many lessons. They have their reason for their actions. They are jealous of the fact that we achieve as much as they do in their hometown. They feel that because of us, many of their people are unemployed. Most importantly the population density has increased. May be they have a point, but don’t they do the same. I refuse to believe that none of them move out of their cities for a better future. How can we point at the western nations for being racially biased when the same shit happens in our country?

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What Do I Need to Be Happy?

By Sharon Andrew, Happiness Evangelist at Happiest Minds Technologies, Bangalore 

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What do we really need right now, to be happy?

A new car, a new house, a new friend…

What do we lack right now?

Does anything need to change in order for us to be happy?

What do we really need? Do we really need anything in order to be happy?

Powerful Questions. Food for thought.

Sharon Salzberg, the author of the book “The Kindness Handbook” (http://www.flipkart.com/kindness-handbook-practical-companion/p/itmdyjz4nhmhhgcq?pid=9781591796558&otracker=from-search&srno=t_1&query=The+kindness+handbook&ref=fed7a838-4f9a-4347-ad86-ce392709fb79) shares her experience while staying at a monastery in South East Asia. At the monastery, there was generally no charge for staying and the food was donated by “groups or families who come to the center to make the offerings”. Therefore, the food that was provided was varied depending on the circumstances of those donating. Sometimes, bountiful. Sometimes, meager.

Sharon recounts: “Time after time, I went into the dining room for a meal and looked at the faces of the people who had made the offering, since they commonly come to watch you receive it. They would look radiant, so happy that they’d had an opportunity to feed us, to offer something that would help sustain us. They seemed so happy that we were going to be meditating, exploring the truth, and purifying our minds and hearts on the strength of their offering. In that moment, when they were so genuinely grateful for the chance to give, I would ask myself, ‘What do I really need right now in order to be happy?” I realized that I was getting fed a lot more by their joy and delight than I was by the actual food”.

As we journey through our manifold experiences in life, we yearn for happiness and spend time and energy looking for it. I have come to believe that performing acts of kindnesses is what brings me true, genuine and abiding happiness.

I asked some of our colleagues about what truly makes them happy. This is what they had to say:

… spending time with my family especially with my daughter makes me feel happy; when I work hard and do things differently, a bit of appreciation makes me feel happy.

… being truthful and down to earth even in a critical situation & living a simple life makes me happy.

… I feel happy when I can help my fellow people… and see them happy.

… talking to Dad makes me happy – his composed and relaxed voice reflecting patience & satisfaction with his accomplishments  gives me energy and motivation to keep trying until I succeed.

What makes you happy? What do you need to be happy?

Simple Home-Cooked Garlic Chicken

By Tahira

garlic chicken

I love garlic. I love Chicken. So, this time I thought why not make a delectable delicacy out of the two.

A friend of mine had just shifted base to NCR after spending a decade in the Silicon Valley of India (Bangalore). Somewhat morose and trying to adjust to the idiosyncrasies of the Jat Land (Gurgaon), Amrita would often call me up. So, one fine day I just dropped in at her place impromptu to give her a surprise.

Well, indeed she was. We both ended up chatting for long when suddenly she came up with the idea, “ lets concoct up something in my kitchen.” So instead of placing an order for lunch, we immediately donned the chef’s hat. Amrita’s kitchen had almost everything. So, we dint have to worry much to make Garlic Chicken along with soy bean rice.

I must say that we enjoyed the sumptuous lunch of Garlic Chicken and Soybean Rice accompanied by some red wine. Yes, though the latter part may sound a little westernized for Indian homes, nonetheless, since we both are gourmets, it goes without saying that the wine goblets exuded the essence of the entire activity – the grand lunch that we had. Here’s the recipe.

garlic 1Ingredients

  • ŸChicken 500 grams
  • ŸGarlic  15-17 cloves
  • ŸGinger  grated, 1 tea spoon
  • ŸGreen Chillies 2-3 (you can add more if you want)
  • ŸJulienned Onion 1 large
  • ŸYogurt ¼ cup
  • ŸLemon Juice 1 teaspoon
  • ŸWhole cloves 6-8
  • ŸWhole Cardamoms 5-7
  • ŸPinch of turmeric (optional)
  • ŸOlive Oil 3 tablespoons
  • ŸSalt to Taste

Method

Make a paste with ginger, 10 cloves of garlic, lemon juice, yogurt and a pinch of salt. Marinate the chicken in this paste for at least four hours. Now take a heavy-bottomed pan and heat olive oil in it. Keep the flame low. Smash the remaining garlic pods and throw in the oil along with cloves and cardamoms. Sauté for a few minutes. Believe me the aroma released from the spices were absolutely to die for.

Now add the onions and fry till they become translucent. Add the marinated chicken along with cloves and cardamoms and turmeric. Sprinkle some salt according to your taste. Add a little water and cover with a lid. Cook slowly on a low flame while stirring constantly for around 20 minutes. Remove from stove, garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice.

Akshaya Patra Foundation: A Case Study For All Mid-Day Meal Schemes: MSK Exclusive

It’s been a month since 23 children died in the Bihar mid-day meal tragedy. However, the village has not been able to get over the trauma. The Bihar Government has promised a compensation of Rs. two lakh per child. Were those children worth just a couple of lakhs for their parents? The only way such fatalities can be averted in the future is by keeping corruption out of the system. Akshaya Patra Foundation gives us a good insight into the same. Here is Akshaya Patra, probably world’s most successful mid-day meal scheme running organization, telling us how they manage such grand scales daily, how is supply chain taken care of and most importantly how they keep corruption out of bay. An exclusive must read. 

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Mission Sharing Knowledge (MSK): Feeding 1.3 million mouths every day surely must be a challenging task. How and where are tonnes of vegetable and rice cooked? How do you ensure hygiene levels?

AkshayaPatra_9Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF): It is an incredibly challenging task because quality levels need to be maintained from preparation till the delivery of meals to the children. Each Akshaya Patra centralized kitchen has the capacity to cook between 50,000 to 150,000 meals every day, without compromising on hygiene.

Our industrial-sized kitchens are equipped with custom-built machines to suit our need for quality and quantity. Chopping machines can cut 40 kg of vegetables in 60 seconds. Our roti-making machine churns out 60,000 rotis per hour. The food is cooked in mechanized, steam-heated cauldrons that reduce preparation time.

Akshaya-Patra-Foundation-Mid-Day-MealA mechanized process minimizes human handling of food, ensuring high levels of sanitation. All kitchen workers wear uniforms, gloves, caps and face masks. To protect it from microbes, the food is prepared at a temperature of 93°C and kept heated in insulated trucks till its delivery to schools.

MSK: What motivated you to start a programme such as midday meal for children?

sree-prabhuAPF: When His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada saw a group of children fighting with street dogs over scraps of food, he came to a determination that:  No one within a ten mile radius of our center should go hungry. It was this compassion that birthed Akshaya Patra.

Trustees T.V. Mohandas Pai and Abhay Jain along with Madhu Pandit Dasa, chairman of Akshaya Patra sowed the seeds of thought of starting a kitchen at ISKCON, Bangalore where meals would be cooked for underprivileged children in government schools.

The promise of meals in schools would ensure that children will seek and continue an education, instead of turning to labor.

In June, 2000 our midday meal scheme was launched in Bangalore, feeding 1,500 children in five schools. An overwhelming response from schools encouraged us to reach out to many more government schools in other states. Today we feed over 1.3 million school children across India.

MSK: People must be a very important component of the entire process. Who are the people Akshaya Patra credits it to?

APF: We are thankful to the central and state governments from whom we get around 65 per cent of our funds. The generosity of our donors is crucial for carrying out daily activities for providing midday meals to schoolchildren. We value the constant support of our volunteers, teachers and parents of the children.

An initiative of this magnitude and extent cannot be undertaken and managed without the involvement of many, and so Akshaya Patra is a team that comprises not only its employees, but also its supporters.

MSK: Is there a larger goal you are trying to achieve by feeding children and motivating them to study?

APF: According to World Bank and UNICEF statistics, over 8 million underprivileged children in India are out of school and have to resort to child labor to earn enough for a single meal in a day.

A midday meal is more than just an incentive for children to attain an education. It is a promise of progress, one that has the potential to rid India of malnourishment, illiteracy and poverty. India’s children are the future and education will empower them to be self-sufficient, successful and contribute to society.

By feeding our future we ensure a brighter tomorrow not just for them, but also for the country at large.

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MSK: What is the core feature of your mid-day meal programme?

APF: A combination of quality and adaptability to manage constantly growing needs is the core feature of our programme.

Our large-scale operations that owe its success to constant technological innovation, allow us to function efficiently as the world’s largest school-lunch programme.

Kitchen processes begin at about 2 a.m. and continue throughout the night till the food is ready to be dispatched in custom-made delivery vans at 8 a.m. Meals are promptly delivered to each school by lunchtime. It takes a whole lot of determination and dedication to carry out this glitch-free process every day.

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MSK: How easy or difficult is it for you to raise money such a grand endeavor?

APF: We rely on the support of not only the government, but also our donors. We use the resources available to us in the most efficient ways possible, yet an ambitious mission to feed five million children by 2020 will always require more assistance.

Effective results and absolute transparency of the Foundation makes donors feels secure about their contribution and encourages more support. We hope that our work will always be appreciated and we can continue raising funds to help more children.

MSK: How do you manage such a huge scale supply chain and also keep corruption out of the entire system?

APF: Technology is our greatest resource. Without our state of the art kitchen facilities, efficient management of our extensive operations is impossible. Customization and innovation continuously improves our process to cater to the growing need of nourishment.

Akshaya Patra’s 4000 employees have chosen a way of life to provide care for underprivileged children. The Foundation holds absolute transparency as one of its most important principles, complying with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and the Indian Accounting Standards issued by the Institute of Chartered accountants of India.

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MSK: How do you think the recent Bihar mishap came to happen? And what can be done to avoid such disasters in the future? If you can share a few tips.

APF: To run a successful midday meal programme it is vital to realize the complexity of it. It is different from cooking meals for a family; it’s not a job for a single individual. The workforce employed to prepare meals must be competent and trained to maintain sanitation. Teachers have to attend to their pupils and manage their academic duties; they must not be overburdened with the task of cooking meals as well. The funds allocated to the midday meal programme need to be used judiciously for employment of suitable workers, training, infrastructure and so on.

Preparing food for so many children requires attention and precaution. Hygienic conditions for storage and preparation, sanitary area for operation, monitoring and quality checks are mandatory factors that guarantee an effective programme. Food safety trainers, auditors and supervisors need to play an active role in the process.

Food safety cannot be taken lightly, especially when meals are prepared for children.

MSK: What kind of an impact do you think your meal programme has on the society at large?

APF: A satisfied appetite provides an ability to focus on academics and take a keen interest in learning. Our programme has increased school enrollment, especially female enrollment, and encourages children to continue their education. Combating illiteracy, poverty and child labor can be achieved with midday meals.

The success of the programme and other efforts like it will help reach out to those underprivileged children who continue to miss out on a healthy and happy childhood.

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Make Others HAPPY :-)

By Sharon Andrew, Happiness Evangelist at Happiest Minds Technologies, Bangalore

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Anne Frank wanted to be a writer.

She became one, but only after her death in a Nazi concentration camp at the young age of 15.

While in hiding from the Nazis for 2 long years, she could say with confidence that she “wanted to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those” she had “never met”.

She believed that whoever is happy will make others happy as well.

Happiness and wanting to make others happy even when in hiding and in pain…

How do we compare?

Do we want to make others happy?

Are we attentive, polite and courteous?

Do we display kindness and concern?

The time to be MINDFUL is now. And the place to be MINDFUL is here.

Kindness Recycled

By Sharon Andrew, Happiness Evangelist at Happiest Minds Technologies, Bangalore

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“There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.” Dalai Lama

There are everyday stories of kindness, compassion, warmth and love that fill our hearts with inspiration and hope. We are an amazing community of Happiest Minds where we can be kind to one another, grow together and spread ripples of kindness throughout the world. Genuine kindness is no ordinary act, but a gift of rare beauty.

I learnt lessons on kindness from my father…in his carrying goodies in the car to give to people at traffic lights, in giving blankets to the homeless who live on the streets, in providing the means for education to many, many financially challenged children, in giving an unused pair of spectacles to an old lady at a traffic signal after she bumped into the car because she could not see and also taking her to the optician…there are many such instances….the list continues to grow.

I learnt to be kind and gracious by just looking at his life…I am still learning…

No act of kindness, no matter how small…is ever wasted (Aesop)…they always return to you…

One Woman…

By Sharon Andrew, Happiness Evangelist at Happiest Minds Technologies, Bangalore

To All the Wonderful Women!!

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Thank you for enriching lives, for making them better, fuller, more meaningful, bringing joy and love, care and concern, expanding thinking, bringing freshness, cooking fabulous meals, gossiping, laughing, caring, tending, listening, goading, rapping on knuckles from time to time and loving unconditionally.

We bow our heads in deep respect and gratitude, lift our hearts in love and raise our hands in salute!

“One Woman” is a musical celebration of women worldwide, featuring 25 artists from 20 countries across the globe. The song calls for change and celebrates acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who daily make extraordinary contributions to their countries and communities. The lyrics are inspired by stories of women whom UN Women, the UN organization charged with advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality worldwide, has supported. “One Woman” is the first theme song for a UN organization. www.song.unwomen.org

One Woman – Lyrics by Beth Blatt

In Kigali, she wakes up,
She makes a choice,
In Hanoi, Natal, Ramallah.
In Tangier, she takes a breath,
Lifts up her voice,
In Lahore, La Paz, Kampala.
Though she’s half a world away
Something in me wants to say …

We are One Woman,
You cry and I hear you.
We are One Woman,
You hurt, and I hurt, too.
We are One Woman,
Your hopes are mine.
We shall shine.

In Juarez she speaks the truth,
She reaches out,
Then teaches others how to.
In Jaipur, she gives her name,
She lives without shame
In Manila, Salta, Embu.
Though we’re different as can be,
We’re connected, she with me

We are One Woman,
Your courage keeps me strong.
We are One Woman,
You sing, I sing along.
We are One Woman,
Your dreams are mine.
And we shall shine.
We shall shine.

And one man, he hears her voice.
And one man, he fights her fight.
Day by day, he lets go the old ways,
One Woman at a time.
Though she’s half a world away,
Something in me wants to say.

We are One Woman,
Your victories lift us all.
We are One Woman,
You rise and I stand tall.
We are One Woman,
Your world is mine
And we shall shine.
Shine, shine, shine.
We shall shine
Shine, shine, shine.
We shall shine.
Shine, shine, shine.

You can download the song at: http://bit.ly/UN_Theme_Song_OneWoman