Thursday, November 15, 2018

Start healthy with morning detox




In the wake of rising pollution and health hazards, we all are trying to protect ourselves from the drastic effects.  My focus has always been on healthy living and changing lifestyle. Post festivals and with the onset of winters, when our immunity is worst effected, here are easy ways to detox and build immunity against diseases. Read through my 7-day infused water consumption that I do each morning-   

Day 1- Zesty Mint and Lemon Water





Make three-four thin slices of a lemon and soak in a jug of water with 9-10 mint leaves. Let it sit overnight. Strain and drink the infused water in morning. Make sure you de-seed the lemon slices lest the water should turn bitter.

Known as the ultimate summer refresher, mint and lemon together are a great detox. Rich in antioxidants, lemon helps to cleanse and alkalize body and mint stimulates digestion. Use the lemon slices in your dishes later. Chew mint leaves to kill bad breath or improve digestion. The same mint leaves can be used for second infusion the following night. Too much of this water might lead to frequent urination, headache and fatigue. Also overuse of mint is harmful for gastro-esophageal patients.


Day 2- Calming Tulsi Infusion


Pic credit:Fit Quint


Pluck a handful of tulsi or holy basil. Wash them thoroughly and soak in water. Strain and consume  early morning on empty stomach. You can use the leaves later in brewing tea or simply chew them.

Tusli is extremely beneficial in relieving cough and cold, inflammation, bronchitis, anxiety, upset stomach and insomnia, besides many other benefits.  Do check for allergies or medical conditions like diabetes, pregnancy or thyroid before intake of tulsi leaves.


Day 3- Make it work with Methi

Soak a table spoon of methi or fenugreek seeds in a glass of water. Strain and consume on empty stomach every morning. Use the soaked seeds in your salad, poha, upma or vegetable tadka (tempering). You can also consume a spoonful with some honey. The greenish-yellow infused water tastes slightly bitter.

Methi promotes good kidney function, weight loos, shiny hair, digestion, aids in controlling insulin and regulates menstrual problems However excess of everything is bad. Do not over-consume. Doing so may have side effects.


Day 4- A Punch with Ginger




Wash, peel and slice few pieces of ginger and put in a water jug. Put the jug in fridge letting it sit overnight. Strain the water, heat it till lukewarm (not hot), squeeze half a lemon in it and consume empty stomach in morning. You can use the ginger pieces in tea or tempering dishes.The color of the infused water would look a little dirty/light brown and the taste has a tinge of spice. Rest, it would feel like consuming plain water.

Laden with anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants, ginger balances blood sugar, cholesterol, weight and hydrates body. Ginger also cures cough and sore throat. However, since ginger causes burning sensation in mouth, gas and heartburn, do not over consume ginger.

Day 5- Win it with Ajwain Infusion 



Just soak two spoons pf carom seeds in a cup of water. Stir and strain to have it on empty stomach. Alternatively you can also boil, strain and cool the water pre-consumption. The taste would be little pungent and the color orangish-yellow.

Ajwain or carom seeds are storehouse of benefits from digestion to relieving tooth ache. They also relieve acidity, cold and cough, treat pain due to kidney disorders and promote weight loss. Over-consumption may cause heartburn, dizziness, stomach ulcer and nausea. Hence do not over consume ajwain.

Day 6- The Under-Rated Fennel Seeds Water



Soak fennel seeds (saunf) in water overnight. Heat the water with seeds for a minute or two. (Do not boil). Strain and consume it on empty stomach. You can also have this twice a day. The light yellow  infused water cools your stomach and tastes refreshing.

Fennel seeds are known for improving digestion, irregular periods, boosts immunity, improves digestion and flushes out toxins from body. The time especially post festivals is when your digestion goes for a toss. Fennel seeds water combats acidity, bloating, stomach cramps and improves kidney function. Avoid excess of it as it may lead to allergic reactions and may not suit those prone to blood clotting.

Day 7- Detox tea from Organic India





I have been a regular consumer of Organic India Green Tea. During festival shopping, I came across their store at one of the malls in NCR and thought of trying something new. Tusli Ginger Turmeric Tea instantly got my attention. Ginger and turmeric are good to cure throat infection, cold, improve immunity and allergies. Similarly Tulsi Cleanse Tea is a great detox, immunity booster and supports liver & kidney function. Warm Tulsi Ginger Turmeric and Tulsi Cleanse tea are my go-to detox infusions these days.
Dip the tea bags in warm water for about a minute  or two and sip while its warm.

These stress relieving, caffeine free tea can be consumed any time of the day. P.S- These are not green tea.

P.S- This post made it to the top on Indiblogger home page.

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Adrenaline Rush - Zero Point, Sikkim




Sikkim is an incredibly beautiful state and every place in this state exudes an enigmatic grandeur. One among them is Zero Point. Husband and I were fascinated to visit this place as we were intrigued to know how it feels at the last outpost of civilization in knee deep snow.  My late father-in-law had served in NEFA valley. Hence husband wanted to see a similar place where his dad was posted. Zero Point undoubtedly topped the list. A big salute to Indian Army which operates in harsh conditions, guarding the Indo-China border 24*7.




A day before your visit to Zero Point or Yumesamdong, your driver/travel agent would have submitted your documents in advance, which are checked on the day of visit. Zero Point is usually not included in North Sikkim itinerary and travel agents charge Rs 3000 extra for this trip, clubbing Yumthang Valley with it. Your homestay would provide you with packed breakfast (usually bread butter/jam) since you would have to leave early morning.

The distance from Lachung to Zero Point is 51 km and roughly 30 km from Yumthang Valley.
(We first went to Zero Point and stopped at Yumthang Valley on returning from Zero.)



Hilly topography, harsh weather and proximity to China perhaps made it impossible to build roads. You would experience sharp turns and jerks throughout the road journey. Nonetheless the beautiful untouched nature around makes up for painful ride. The breath-taking sight leaves you mesmerized. After all its the journey that matters.




As you ascend higher, vegetation starts diminishing and rocky terrain becomes more prominent. The roads tend to get very slippery and extremely dangerous during snowfall. Ask your driver to drive slowly and very carefully on this route even when not snowing. Rash driving is not an option here. Give way to Army trucks whenever you see. Army personnel wave at passing vehicles as a gesture of wishing happy journey and making you feel good. Waving back to them is a nice gesture.

On the way, don’t forget to stop at ‘Jalebi Point’ for yummy snacks which are made by Indian Army personnel. Their motto is to bring a smile to faces and not let anyone go hungry.
P.S- Food items at Zero Point are expensive and the hygiene is not really trustworthy.  Advisable to refuel yourself at this stop. Hot samosas and jalebis felt absolutely amazing as we famished. (Remember our breakfast was just bread butter?)  

The super bouncy ride comes to an end at the Zero Point Parking. At 15000 feet above sea level, the place is covered in snow most of the year. When it hasn’t snowed, it would be biting cold.


We were at loss of words with the exhilarating beauty of the place. The Sun hid behind the greyish clouds and the chilled winds kissed our skin. Wood-fire at a nearby tea stall made us feel colder and we pulled our jackets tighter. The white blanket of snow seemed to beckon us as our body tried to adjust in the sub-zero temperature. Thankfully we did not feel uneasy because oxygen level isn’t low here unlike Gurudongmar Lake. While we felt ecstatic being surrounded by snow wondering what was China doing behind those gigantic mountains, our heart went out to Indian Army that braves these challenges everyday just to keep us safe. A heart-felt thanks and grand salute to them.


Enjoy hot snacks at the little shacks here, play with snow, enjoy nature at its "whitest most" and take home good memories. A usual protocol is to leave within an hour lest the parking should be full or  weather conditions worsen. Avoid Zero Point during rainy season.

Overall the place has nothing except for being an important landmark before China. However the exotic beauty of this place keeps you charmed.

Travelling to such places often changes your perspective about life and lot of things. The distance between life and death could be a thing as small as a wrong step on the hills or slipping on the rocks. We could somehow re-live the conditions what dad had endured during his service in NEFA. Our trip to Zero Point was also in his commemoration.  

P.S- This trip of mine was in Oct 2018. In case you have queries on planning your trip to North Sikkim or Zero point, feel free to reach out at shilp3005@gmail.com or leave your query in comments below. 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Himalayas Calling - Here's the perfect itinerary for North Sikkim




A small state yet so much to explore. That’s Sikkim. This post is all about North Sikkim and the best plan for a North Sikkim Trip. 

Things you need to know before planning North Sikkim trip- 

-A non resident of the state cannot travel to the northern part of Sikkim. To enter the borders of North Sikkim, you need a permit, which would be obtained by your travel agent or driver.
-In case you are a biker, you have to arrange for your permits through an authorized travel agency.
-Carrying plastic water bottles in North Sikkim is not allowed. Hence carry your own sipper or water bottles. A surprise check may lead to a penalty of Rs. 5000. 
-Being close to China, security threats are high and being in a rough terrain, chances of mis-happenings too are high.
(See the rough broken roads that look scary)



Cost of travelling to North Sikkim:
-In case you are traveling solo in a group package, the cost would be between 3-4k. (May go higher in peak season.) This cost includes food, accommodation and site seeing for 3 days, 2 nights.
-In case you are travelling as a group/couple, the package cost would range from 19-25k for 3days 2 nights (May vary depending on the number of days and season).
-Travelling solo booking a full car to yourself would be a costly affair. (Might cost 20-25k)


 Places that are usually included in North Sikkim itinerary-

Lachen- Gurodongmar Lake- Chopta Valley- Thangu- Kaala Pathhar
Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Hot Water Springs- Zero Point

For your convenience, have a look at the map of Sikkim to understand the location and Geography.



The itinerary for North Sikkim 

Usually visitors are picked from Gangtok. However if you have booked your stay in some other place, do let your travel agent know about it (the cost of package may vary thereafter) 

Day 1- Gangtok to Lachen (Overnight stay in Lachen)

This is a 7-8 hours of journey by road. Narrow curvy roads with potholes and landslides in between may slow you down at times. Nevertheless the journey to a green paradise is absolutely sunning.

On the way you would get to see Seven Sisters Waterfall (The waterfall that falls through seven steps), Singhik Village for the view of enormous Kanchendzonga range and the gorgeous Chungthang confluence.



Seven Sisters Waterfall



Lachen Accomodation- Lachen speaks of many homes stays and small budget hotels. Your travel agent would have made your booking in advance. My stay was a nightmare, so I would skip talking about it. Ask your agent the name of your accommodation and search for reviews online.   If you find your stay to be pathetic, call your agent and protest.  

Day 2- Lachen to Gurudongmar, Chopta, Thangu Kala Pathhar, back to Lachen (Stay overnight)



An early morning drive from Lachen will take you to Gurudongmar Lake, a breathtaking fresh-water lake at an altitude of 17375Ft / 5225M.

Your hotel/home stay will provide you with packed breakfast (usually bread butter jam) or make a pit stop at check post in the village where you can enjoy maggi, thupka and tea.

The first check post opens at 7:00 am where your documents would be checked and approved for entry. The next stop is fifteen kilometers further where the final checking is done. Since washroom facilities are limited, advisable to get relieved wherever you stop. Same goes for eating joints.
Pit stop for breakfast in Lachen


The entire journey from Lachen to Gurodongmar is bumpy and quite rugged. Only the last few kilometers before Gurodongmar is smooth. Nevertheless all the pains taken would seem worth when you look at the sparkling blue water of the beautiful lake. As the legend goes, the lake in the 15th century was blessed by the Sikh leader Guru Nanak and stopped a part of the lake from freezing in order to provide drinking water to villagers in Winters.






P.S- Do not run or do strenuous activity since lack of oxygen would make you feel breathless, nausea,  tired, weak.

While returning from the Lake, visit Chopta Valley or Kala Pathhar for the beautiful mountains. In Feb-March Chopta Valley blooms with colorful flowers and feels like paradise. Thangu Village is the name of the settlement across the Chopta Valley. Further Kala Pathhar (the black mountain) awaits you with lush green landscape and snow in season. An early morning departure and a super-bumpy ride would leave you exhausted as you return to your hotel in Lachen for Lunch. Get some rest and depart for Lachung. (2-3 hours journey). Spend the day at leisure exploring the local culture or just letting the wind caress your face.

Day 3- Lachen to Zero point, Yumthang Valley, Hot Spring and back to Gangtok. 

Wake up early to catch the morning beauty. Leave from your hotel with your packed breakfast around 6:30 am and head to Yumthang Valley. (A 25 km stretch). The serene river flowing through the green pasture land with the snow capped mountains in the background is a view to die for. No kidding!  Further, the drive through Yumthang Valley seems straight out of a postcard.
Yumthang Valley
The Himalayan lifeline through Yumthang

Throughout the beautiful journey on the curvy roads dotted with vibrant tree tops, do wave back to the army personnel and make a pit stop at the Army canteen named "Jalebi Point", for hot jalebis and samosas. Zero Point, the last outpost before China Border offers you an out-of-the-world feeling and if lucky you might experience snowfall. It just feels amazing how you made it to the last border post of India with China on the other side. 


Zero Point

Return to Lachung for lunch. Soon after drive to Gangtok and end your memorable road trip as you check in to your hotel in Gangtok. 
Lachung Accommodation- There are several homstays in Lachung. Dont expect royal hotels in this remote part of Sikkim. Homestays are cosy, neat and beautiful. We recommend Kalden Residency, run by two friendly sisters. They rooms are bright and pretty, the view from the tiny balcony opens to infinite lines of sky touching the touching the  mountains and rivers. Its one amazing place to stay in.
https://www.makemytrip.com/hotels/kalden_residency_i-details-lachung.html

While booking your trip, do keep in mind- 
-Your package cost must include food, lodging and permissions. At any point in time should the driver ask you to pay for anything, deny.
-Usually Zero Point and Kaala Pathar are not included in the itinerary and they charge Rs 3000 extra for each point.
-Negotiate well and they might include it in your travel plan. It is advisable to skip Chopta Valley and Thangu. (They are just view points and included in the itinerary for the sake of it)
-Your package cost will not include anything extra. Not even a bottle of water. Carry your own sipper.

Be prepared for the following in North Sikkim- 
-Shops sell products at high price (as they have to get things from Gangtok). Stock up with popcorn, dark chocolates and light snacks to beat nausea and hunger pangs.
-Even in the month of May or June, the weather remains cold.
-Always carry your original documents and a copy with you all the time. You might be asked to prove your identity by Army. 
-Do not take pictures of Army cantonments or artillery. Failing to adhere to these might get your phone/camera confiscated. 

Feel free to get in touch in case you have queries for North Sikkim. Would be more than happy to help. 

P.S- This trip of mine was in October 2018 . Also, the post made it to the top post of the day on Indiblogger homepage. 

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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Biotique Bio Wheat Germ Youthful Nourishing Night Cream





Hello beautiful people. I am back with another product review, of another night cream from Biotique. So far its products have never disappointed me. Having tried the Biotique Neem Purifying Face Wash and Spot Correcting Anti Acne Pack, I randomly picked up the Bio Wheat Germ Youthful Nourishing Night Cream since I was hunting for one.



What does the brand claims 
This rich-feeling, firming cream is blended with pure Wheat Germ, Sunflower and Almond oils, vitamins A, B, C, D, E and extracts of Carrot and Galangal to moisturize and strengthen skin for a more vital, resilient, younger appearance.

Wheat Germ is one of the most sensitive oils in the botanical world, a natural antioxidant with vitamins A, D, more vitamin E than any other natural oil, plus lecithin. Its pampering properties also protect skin from dryness and environmental stress.



The magic of ingredients:

Having read a lot about the benefits of wheat germ, almond, and sunflower oil, I was inclined to try this nourishing cream. With its anti aging properties, wheatgerm also brightens complexion and reduces wrinkles. Almond oil helps to retain moisture and promotes flawless skin. Antioxidant rich sunflower oil effectively moisturizes, prevents skin damage and pre-mature aging.



My experience with the cream:
The cream with off white color has a smooth texture. The fragrance is soothing and does not irritate (Thank God!) It moisturizes and nourishes leaving skin soft and hydrated. You would actually feel your skin bouncing with good health after the first application. The cream comes in a plastic container with a green lid and label that claims Ayurvedic Recipe with 100% botanical extracts.  The 50 g cream is priced at Rs 230 (May be even lesser online).





Over a period of time, your skin would start feeling good and hydrated. This does not claim to remove scars or oily texture but nourishes skin well. Though it may not work on dark spots or fine lines, a daily massage can keep tour skin healthy. I mix a little cream on my palm with two drops of Avon Miracle Glow Facial Oil and massage at night. My skin feels soft and supple in the morning!

Read here about the best day cream experience of mine from Lotus.

What I liked
- Has a mild fragrance
-Skin feels nourished and healthy after first use
-Very little is required to apply on skin
-Gets absorbed onto skin when massaged gently
-The  plastic jar packaging is light weight, compact and easy to carry even in your travel kit.
-Reasonably priced
-Would work as magic in winters for dry/chapped skin as well as cracked heels.

What I did not like
-I did not like the plastic jar. Somehow I feel plastic does not keep the product fresh and it reacts with chemicals in some or the other way. Additionally, plastic is also not good for the environment either.
-The cream is not lightweight. Skin feels weighed down.
-This cream would not suit people with oily, combination or acne prone skin. This is meant for dry to normal skin only.
-Not recommended for humid weather

My overall rating - 3 on 5
A repeat purchase? I don't think so.

   

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

MeToo - Isnt the onus on us?



In the wake of the #metoo movement and the shocking incidents of digging out past sexual harassment cases, I felt the urge to share something. All ladies have had their "me too" incidents. The reason why girls don't speak about it is that they were never encouraged to, since childhood. Voicing their opinion or naming the culprit was never a part of the Indian culture. It might bring shame to the girl's family. Correct me if I am wrong?



A man who might have made sexual advancement towards you and did what he was not supposed to, got away with the crime because he knew about the loopholes of the "cultured" society we live in. Young girls are the easiest target for sexual predators. Reasons- One, the fear of not speaking up or the tender age when sexual abuse is beyond her understanding; and two, families/schools hush up the cases fearing defamation and three- law is a perhaps a joke. (Readhttps://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/startling-details-of-dehradun-school-covering-up-girls-rape/articleshow/65864937.cms )

The offender is not be blamed, but the crippled mindset of our very own society.

Our country has Khajuraho temple with statues of Kamasutra on display, but shies away from imparting sex education, at home or school alike. People use free internet to feed on porn, but wont use the same internet for sex education. (Workplaces are no different when a girl under pressure chooses to remain silent on such disturbing incidents. They choose to avoid such people, gatherings or switch jobs. And the cost of speaking up or resisting a sexual attack? Defamation of family, her job or even life.


Courtesy- https://www.army.mil

I thank my stars for protecting me from such creeps atleast in my corporate journey. The owner of a company (my first job) was always full of encouragement for ladies. He was totally against sexual harassment and trained us to be vocal about it. I still remember his words asking the female sales staff to be bold enough to walk away or slap a client if he asks for sexual favors in return for business. For him a woman's safety and self respect were more important than client business. Bosses like these are hard to find, especially in field of sales.

Here is another incident that made an impact on me. I remember, it was one warm afternoon, before lunch. I was in a conversation with my reporting manager (female) with my back towards the door and he (a senior colleague ex Army personnel)  had just entered office after a meeting. While passing by, he tickled me on my waist. It was barely for few seconds but I turned numb. The sudden movement of his fingers pinching my waist was least expected. Perhaps it was a jovial, fun gesture I thought, because he was smiling and he went to his workstation like usual. It wan't sexual harassment but clearly unwelcome and shocking. In a state of shock, I sunk onto my chair, feeling disgusted and angry. Since this happened in front of my reporting manager, she immediately reported to boss (the owner). Boss summoned the gentleman and blasted at him to everyone's surprise. Later he individually counselled me and encouraged me to stand up for my own dignity. "If something feels wrong, fight back, because there wont be a good human being everywhere to protect me", he said. My respect grew for him by many folds that day and since then I have been bold enough to fight sexual harassment. I refused to be touched inappropriately and ended up kicking or hitting guys on several occasions. I refused to be ogled at and ended up looking straight into the eyes of the ogler and asking him to back off. I refused to be sexually exploited and ended up fighting men in crowded buses, public places or parties.


Narrating one of these incidents to my mom once, she got scared of me behaving “boldly” and advised me not to react or speak on such instances. It was not mom speaking, but a person brainwashed by the society who feared for her daughter’s safety. After all our culture does not allow women to speak up or report while guys get all the liberty. That is exactly why a sex criminal walks off fearlessly whereas the victim lives in constant fear with her self-respect, career and life at stake. 

The struggle continues for many till date. Why wait for another "MeToo" to start? Ladies, you need to be the change yourself. Unlearn what was taught to you, because its high time. Speak up, fight back, report but do not let men use you. 


P.S- This post was selected for IndiBlogger's Featured Posts (Special Independence Week Edition), and was displayed on the homepage of IndiBlogger.

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Inside Rangji Temple, Vrindavan






The holy town of Vrindavan, is home to ancient history dating centuries ago. The karamabhoomi of Lord Krishna, Vrindavan hustles with people all year, irrespective the weather. Among several temples dedicated to Lord Krishna, I found a temple from the South Indian origin, the Rangji Temple. Driven by curiosity, husband and I could not stop ourselves from visiting this beautiful temple, much different from others in Vrindavan. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Rangji Temple is a beautiful concoction of the north and south Indian architecture.






Rangji Temple History- Build in 1851, this is the largest temple of Vrindavan that houses Lord Vishnu, Lord Ram, Goddess Sita, Lord Lakshman, Lord Venugopala and Lord Ramanujacarya. The main priests are South Indian Brahmins. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple, and non-Indians are given access to the first two gateways only. With the outer walls towering at a height of 773 feet and width of 440 feet, you can imagine the vastness of the space enclosed within.

Here is my photo blog on the beautiful Rangji Temple- 


One of the gateways










Priests in the main prayer hall


Smaller temple inside the premises
 

Gold plated pillar towering at 50 feet, this is called the Dhwaja Stambha


 A kund in the temple premises




The dwelling spaces of the priests and elderly


Walkway of the ashram


How to reach- Vrindavan has a major monkey menace. Hence exploring the place on foot is not advisable. Hire a rickshaw or shared auto to reach Rangji Temple which is close to Gandhi Chowk.

Timings:
Summers- 5:30 to 10:30 am and 4 pm to 9 pm
Winters- 6-11 am, 3:30-8:30 pm


P.S: This trip of mine was in Jan 2018
Also this post made it as the top post on Indiblogger home page. 

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