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Graduate in Maths, Postgraduate in English literature. Worked as a medical transcriptionist, also as a teacher.

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar- Did she miss the medal or the medal refused to go near her?

              I don't know how many of you follow the Olympic games of 2016 going on at Rio in Brazil. But when I talked to some of my friends, they do ardently and passionately follow some events in Olympics and also sports where Indians are involved. This time, largest ever Indian contingent (about 120 people) went to Rio to represent the greatest sporting event on earth. So naturally, some more medals were expected this time. I wanted to write this article after I, rather the whole of India, witnessed Dipa Karmakar's stupendous performance in gymnastics.  But it got postponed to another 2 days, and now I am sitting and writing after Sakshi Malik became the first woman wrestler to win a medal in the Olympics and which came as a huge relief for the medal starved country.
                 I am sure my fellow Indians would not have heard of 'produnova' vault in gymnastics which is life threatening and the one executed by Dipa Karmakar to near perfection. Produnova is considered to be the toughest in women's artistic gymnastics and not even a handful had attempted for the fear of life. Dipa Karmakar may have lost a medal by a whisker, but succeeded in winning 1 billion Indian hearts. Everybody sat wide awake to watch her final performance. I thought she might crush under pressure. But she didn't. She could have as well won a bronze medal if it had been more straightforward events like swimming, track and field events like running, jumping, pole vault, marathon etc. But in gymnastics it is more arbitrary, as 5 to 6 judges write the scores which will be slightly variable. Though the Olympic games is supposed to be free and fair for all, the human mind is not all the time balanced and impartial. We are all predisposed or inclined to some attributes more than others. The skin color, height, ability, disability, slow, fast, rich and poor, preference to English language over our languages and like that towards certain countries like western countries which occupy predominantly white people. Also, they are more advanced in many fields especially sports compared to rest of the world due to better infrastructure, training, commitment. Gymnastics and Nadia Comaneci of ex-USSR was synonymous. Russia and other countries of ex-USSR, some western countries like France, Switzerland, and of course the sports giant USA have hogged the limelight in the gymnastics for a long time. India was never in the picture. Dipa Karmakar is the first ever Indian gymnast, not just to qualify, but also to be in the top 4. To miss a medal by a whisker might seem a bit unfair not just to me, but also for my fellow Indians. While we are not familiar with the scoring system and technicalities, by instinct, we can say that she/he performed well and deserved a better score. Were the women from Switzerland and Russia awarded more score than they deserved? Some of us including myself feel so. Had she belonged to USA or Switzerland or Russia, would she have been awarded more than 15 in the 1st round? These will remain unanswerable forever. She has shown that Indians also can enter gymnastics but the prevailing biases cannot be removed. Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award has been announced for her, but to hunt for a medal in Olympics, she has to struggle for the next four years and age will not be on her side. But for us Indians, she 'HAS WON THE GOLD'. Hope this golden girl is never forgotten even after the medals won by Sakshi Malik, PV Sindhu etc.

                                          As I finish writing this, the whole of India is in sense of euphoria celebrating the entry of badminton player PV Sindhu into finals which means an assured silver and a possible gold. The 1st bronze medal came from the most unexpected quarters. ie. from Sakshi Malik in wrestling. So far, in this Olympics, girls are carrying our country forward!!! Of course, not to forget the coaches and the families behind these girls!!


P.S. An afterthought .......In the heart of our hearts, hope the biases will be reduced when more and more Indian sports persons prove their talent in future Olympics!! 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

My love for tea

              Now that summer months are over, and the rainy season is on in some parts of our country, it is the time of cold and other infections. As such our country lacks cleanliness and civic sense and it is not surprising that the infections and fever are common among children and also among poor. So it is again, as you sow, so you reap. The two incidents which recently happened in the North East are the death of the famous writer Mahasweta Devi and the ending of the 16-year-old fast by the Manipuri iron lady, Irom Sharmila. Smt Mahasweta Devi stood for the oppressed, mainly tribal population, and fought for that marginalized society against the powerful Government and corporates with pen as her weapon. She is the winner of many prestigious awards for her writing and social work. Irom Sharmila's fast was to protest the enforcement of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur, giving Army special privilege to detain people in the name of law and order. She became the iconic lady of not just Manipur, but the whole of North East and her struggle is comparable to Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar who was arrested for 15 years by the military power because she oppressed their rule. Hats off to both these ladies who are resilient in their spirit and toughness. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
                                      It's become a habit for me to write about some recent events before getting into the main topic. When it comes to tea, anything and everything can be written about it. I don't know when I developed fondness for this beverage, but I think it might be after my wedding when I started to make tea.
It's not that my mom makes bad tea, but I grew up drinking the so called energy drinks like Maltova, Cadbury's Drinking chocolate(which used to come in tins), Boost, Bournvita, Complan, another health drink which used to come and the name I am not getting now. Except for some 3 to 4 drinks, many of the brands are not seen in the shelves today. I don't know when I switched over to coffee, but I always enjoyed having these energy drinks and I still do! When we travel in trains, tea is always preferred over coffee because the former is more drinkable. We, tamil brahmins, are synonymous with filter coffee in which coffee is prepared everyday morning with fresh decoction. No instant coffee powder can match the taste of fresh decoction. But like others in our community, we are not addicted to having coffee everyday morning. My husband is fond of tea and so the fondness for tea permeated into me. Tea comparatively needs less milk. But for morning tea, I pour more milk which makes it heavy and wholesome. To add some spice, I sometimes put cardamom and ginger. A cup or tumbler of hot coffee or tea is synonymous with the fresh smell of newspaper. As the beverage gets cold, so does the news items in the newspapers. We do not feel like reading previous day's news which is same coffee/tea which has become cold. Only if I have morning tea, I can carry the rest of the work. Otherwise, my stomach starts grumbling. I look forward for weekends when I can read the news items and other articles in a more relaxed manner. Slowly sipping the hot tea and reading in a relaxed manner is a dream which women cannot afford to have all the time. I prepare tea by putting sugar and boil the water, then add tea powder and milk in the end. If any guest comes over and stays with us, we immediately switch over to filter coffee. So, adaptability is not a problem.
                                     As one travels north, the taste of tea gets better. The tea which I remember was served in a small disposable earthen pot in Kharagpur station while we were on our way to Kolkatta. It tasted heavenly. Roadside teas which are served in disposable cups and accompanied by some bites(vada, samosa, kachori etc) is heaven on earth. It will keep you filled for sometime. Over a period of time, with lots of travel, I got used to having black tea, black coffee, lemon tea, cold coffee with relative ease. I used to work in a school for learning disabilities which had few students and we used to make black tea/coffee/lemon tea ourselves during breaks. There are various kinds of tea like Darjeeling tea, Lhasa tea, Lamsa tea(this one I did not like much), Munnar tea, China tea and so on. I am familiar with limited varieties of tea, but I am ready to try new ones if the situation demands! Coffee/filter coffee is almost the monopoly of South India, especially Tamil Nadu, but tea belongs to whole of India. If we find tough to adapt to various kinds of food during travel, especially leisure travel, tea and some good snack will always come to our rescue. When one talks about tea, can he/she leave the tea bags? I am still not the fan of tea served by dipping tea bags in a cup of hot milk/water, but I still remember the song for the ad of Taj Tea bags which goes like this:
                                              "Dip, dip, dip
                                               and the sugar, and the milk, and its ready to sip!
                                                Do you want stronger,
                                                Dip a little longer,
                                                Dip, Dip, dip
                                                And its ready to sip!"
                        And the tagline , "Wah Ustaad wah"...."Arre Huzur Wah Taj boliye"!!

                                                             My tea mugs...
Enjoy the cold, windy weather and Happy tea-ing!!!