Shutterbug's Blog

Living with Multiple Myeloma in Hyderabad , India . Random musings .


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Bestest News Ever !! :)

A Bi-Annual checkup is a routine event for diseases like Diabetes , Cardio issues and Cancers.
The last time I got my checkup was in June 2018 . A Bone Marrow Biopsy was done and the Results were great. My Oncologist had said that I need not do the Biopsy on my next visit. He recommended Serum Electrophoresis and Beta 2 Microglobulin tests, which are Blood tests, after 6 months.

This time I delayed the tests for various reasons and gave my blood samples for Serum Electreophoresis and Beta 2 Microglobulin in Jan 2019. As expected ‘, M-Band was not seen !! 🙂
Met my Oncologist with the Reports. He saw the results and said we can stop doing the blood tests too from now onwards :). I had a ? on my face and then he said I can meet him after a year 🙂
Yayyyy , isn’t this the bestest news anyone can ever hear. A Doctor is the only person in this world that we wouldn’t like to meet 🙂 . Everyone wants to stay away from Hospitals and Doctors isn’t it ?!!

I am now in the 8th year after my Stem Cell Transplant for Multiple Myeloma.
Not taking any Allopathic drugs since last 3 years. Taking curcumin and few other herbal supplements since last few years and doing great.
Extremely grateful to the Almighty and my Ayurvedic Doctor who is always there for me. God bless him.
So glad to have an Oncologist who has been supporting and encouraging me all the while.

I have an excellent Support System and I am highly grateful for all the support by the beautiful people I am surrounded with.

So happy and in love with LIFE !!

Happy Valentine’s Day !! 🙂

God Bless everyone with Good Health and lots of Love . Everything else is a Bonus :))

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My Journey through 2018

As I successfully complete 7yrs after my Stem Cell Transplant (In December 2011) for Multiple Myeloma , I feel blessed and would like to summarize my journey through 2018.

One of the best things to happen this year is that I just had one bout of severe cough and cold and that was the only time I took Antibiotics during the whole year. There were a few times when a cough had just begun and thanks to my Ayurvedic Doctor who gave me a powder which instantly controlled the cough. He advised me to never ever take Antibiotics for a cough. Hitherto I was meeting the ENT Specialist once every few months and I was popping Antibiotics each time. Am sure my ENT Doctor is missing me and wondering what happened to me :)). I have also begun using a mask when I venture out , especially Malls, Supermarkets etc . These masks are a boon. I have also written a post about my adventures with the Mask in this Blog :)

A few months ago I had severe pain and swelling in my right knee . I was advised to take pain killers and antibiotics by an orthopedic. When I discussed with my Ayurvedic Doctor , he gave me Wokvel and said this will prevent any further issue in my knees. My knees are doing great now. I do a few exercises and also give a little oil massage to my knees before sleeping. So far so good.

Visited my Grannys Village near Nellore twice this year. I always look forward to visiting this tiny village.

A wish to visit Pondicherry and Kanchipuram was fulfilled. Didn’t expect to visit Chidambaram and also go on a boat ride among the Mangroves in Pichavaram .

My Uric acid levels have been within the limits but are on the higher side. Currently drinking lots of water, eating cucumbers and gave up meat and eggs.

A Biannual visit to my Oncologist is pending . Did a few blood tests recently and my Globulin Serum levels are well within the normal range.

On the advise of some beautiful people I have incorporated a few activities in my daily routine. I now recite the ‘Vishnu Sahasranamam’ every morning . Takes 25 minutes each morning. The vibrations generated by chanting are supposed to help the body and mind.

I also started doing a ‘Colour Meditation’ advised by my Mentor in my MM journey . This 15 minute guided Meditation by Brahma Kumaris (Youtube) has become an important part of my daily routine in the Morning and Evening. Meditation helps in healing .

Pranayama twice a day is a must. Takes 20 minutes each time. I walk for 10 minutes a few times a week. Some popular Yoga Masters claim that a few hours of Bhastrika and Anulom Vilom Pranayama twice a day can stop Cancer as Cancer cells cannot survive in an Oxygen rich environment. I strongly advise all Survivors to do anything and everything to put a check on the cells.

Having a comfortable time at work which keeps me busy for 9 hours everyday. Thanks to my wonderful colleagues.

Met a lot of friends from school and college all through the year. Attended several events hosted by family and friends like Weddings, house warming , Baby Showers etc.

My spiritual journey continues and I am glad to have come across Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, thanks to our recent trip to Pondicherry. I had bought a few books from the library in Aurobindo Ashram on Healing.
Started reading these books and found great insights into how the Mind/Thoughts can heal a person. Very minute details are discussed which are very practical and can be implemented easily so as to get healed. Through these books am able to appreciate the Spiritual teachings  of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.
‘Intergrated Healing’ is one book which I will review once I am done reading.

Nice to see that the hits on my Blog are increasing. I get visitors from small unknown countries too. This motivates me to post more and hopefully the posts motivate more people.

Wishing all the readers of my Blog a Healthy and Peaceful 2019 !!


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Hyderabad to Pondicherry- Dec 2018

The plan was to visit Kanchipuram and Chidambaram while staying at Pondicherry. There is a direct flight to Pondicherry from Hyderabad. A one and half hour journey which is the best way to reach Pondy quickly. The other option is to go via Chennai and then drive to Pondy by road. One can also spend a few hours at Mahabalipuram which is on the way. We took the flight.

Here is a Summary of our stay in Puducherry.


What to see –

Beaches

View of Promenade Beach and the walking path from the Terrace of Le Cafe
Le Cafe and the Walking Path along the beach.
The Rocky , noisy Promenade Beach
Serenity Beach

There are four well known beaches namely the Promenade beach , Serenity beach, Paradise beach and Auro beach. We were able to spend an evening at the Promenade and Serenity beaches. Promenade is good for a nice long walk along the road at Sunset. Lots of rocks placed on the shore to prevent erosion. Serenity beach is good for spending some time in the water. Lots of fishing boats parked here. If you are adventurous try some surfing here. The sand is nice and white and the place is quite clean too.

Whitetown This is a part of the town which was colonized by the French and has several buildings (Official and Residential) built in European Architecture style . This area is adjacent to Promenade beach. One can take a stroll around the area to appreciate the architecture , visit the numerous restaurants, cafes , art museums dotted all over the place. Several villas have been converted into Heritage accommodations and have a colonial ambiance. The restaurants serve excellent French Cuisine.

Aurobindo Ashram

The building is quite big when seen from the outside , but once you go in your movements are restricted. Lots of containers with flowering plants greet you as soon as you enter the path leading to the Samadhis. Haven’t been to a place which is as calm as this place though there were a lot of people paying their homage at the Samadhi , which is made in marble and beautifully decorated with a lot of fragrant flowers . Several foreigners paying their respect and several others sitting nearby in quiet complemplation only to be disturbed by the shrieks of parrots. They have a bookstore with books translated from French into several Indian and Foreign languages. Books compiled by disciples from the various speeches given by Shri Aurobindo and the Mother. I bought books that were related to Healing and found that the gist of the writings are very useful for those who want to help / heal themselves in a Spiritual way.

Churches

There are several churches in Whitetown. We stopped at the Lady of Angels Church while going on a tour of Whitetown in a Rick.

Temples

Among the several Temples in Pondicherry we visited the Manakula Vinayagar temple in Whitetown. This is a popular ancient temple which a few centuries old and was revived in spite of several attempts by the french to demolish.

Street Shopping Every town has a few streets that are popular for cheap goodies. Nehru Market is supposed to be very popular and is crowded on Sundays. Our Cab driver told us that Vehicles are not allowed in these streets on Sundays. One can also do some shopping just outside the Vinayagar Temple.

Where to Stay –

Hotels / Villas / Homestays etc are available and one can choose as per their convenience. Several French Villas are converted into Boutique Hotels and do have a restaurant. There are several options closer to the beach too. We stayed in a Hotel as we preferred an elaborate Buffet Breakfast 🙂 coz we would be travelling the whole day and were not sure when/where the next food stop would be.

Where to eat –

Lots of South Indian Restaurants if you wish to try the traditional Tamil/Chettinad food. We went to Karai Chettinad and the Shrimp curry there was awesome. One must try French Cuisine at the several restaurants in Whitetown. Had Dinner at the open air restaurant in Le Dupleix. The food was too good with Live music.

Vegetable Ratatouille. A yummy dish with lots of veggies in a silken gravy and rice.

Auroville

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The Golden Globe . Matrimandir .
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One of the huge Banyan trees near Matrimandir.
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The Boutiques near Visitors Center
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One of the placards displayed in the campus.

A major attraction in Puducherry after the beaches and Whitetown is Auroville. Its a half day trip 10km up north of Pondicherry. As we reached the visitors centre we learnt the tickets to enter Matrimandir were sold out. One has to buy tickets in person. It was a disappointment but it appears they want people to visit the place two times. We watched the Intro video at the visitors center and started walking towards Matrimandir which is 1km from the VC. I preferred taking the battery vehicle which caters to those with kids and elders. I requested to let me go in the vehicle though I didn’t belong to either of the groups and they obliged 🙂 . On our way back I preferred to walk. The place is a young artificial forest , 20 sqkm ,with a variety of trees. The path is beautiful and shady. Only Bicycles and Bikes are allowed inside the campus. Highly advisable to rent a Bike/Bicycle to go around the campus. The Boutiques near the VC, which have a beautiful display of handicrafts and hand made items. Clothes, Crockery , Lamps , processed foods made with Organic produce like jams , snacks etc. We also visited the famous Auroville Bakery . One should stay and spend a few days at Auroville to get a feel of the place and for the mystery of Auroville to be revealed.

How to travel within Puducherry –

Several modes of transport are available. Most youngsters rent a Bike/Bicycle which is actually very comfortable as the traffic is quite less compared to other big cities in India. Several Online Bike Rentals are available and there are a lot of choices. Ola cabs service is good. At the end of a trip , Ola drivers will invariably ask you if you have other plans to travel around Puducherry. When we told them about our plans to Kanchipuram and Chidambaram ,they quickly arranged a cab for a reasonable price compared to the prices quoted by a travel agency. There are autos too plying around but I haven’t seen too many.

I will definitely want to visit Pondicherry again to spend time on the beaches , walking along the streets in Whitetown , eating Chettinad food and French cuisine and also spend more time in Auroville .


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Picture Story Sept- Oct – Nov 2018

Here is a picture story of my activities during the past few months. I clicked these pics using my phone camera. I know the pics are not very good but am sure they give a peek into my life 🙂

Love watching birds on the Neem and Mango trees adjacent to my house and listening to the sound of  wind chimes  . I have hung a few birds (store bought) and wind chimes in my balcony. For Diwali I also hung an Oil Lamp (On the Right in the picture in Red) . Hung a few string lights too.

It is customary to decorate the Main Door of the house with Flower garlands and leaves of Mango tree during all festivals. Placing of lamps adjacent to the Door is also a custom. All the Decor is  to motivate and woo  Goddess Laksmi into our homes 🙂 . 
We light up the house with as many Diyas and Candles as possible. Another beautiful way is to add floating Diyas in Bowls filled with Water and flowers.

More Diyas are place around colourful Rangoli too. The Diyas make the Rangoli even more pretty.
Most women perform Lakshmi Puja on the evening of Deepavali. 
As I  laze in my Balcony on a  Sunday morning , this I what I see and I capture the rays.
Another Sunday morning. First view of the Sun from behind a building . Difficult to catch a glimpse of the early morning Sun in the cities . Love the play of light through the trees and the translucent leaves of the potted plants on my balcony.
The morning Sun peeping through the tree branches . My phone Camera can never capture the translucent flowers (leaves actually) of the Bougainvillea plant. Clicked this just as I was leaving home to work. 
The last time I grew Fenugreek , the leaves were infested . This time I am lucky 🙂
Here is the harvest of Fenugreek Leaves. These leaves ended up as Aloo Methi (Potato and Fenugreek leaves) Curry.
Visited my Granny’s Village. Didn’t click pics.  On this visit ,I decided not to click any and enjoyed the sights and sounds directly rather than through a Camera.
The first IKEA store opened in Hyderabad a couple of months ago but I didn’t dare go there due to the crowds. Finally landed there one day. This is the Veggie Balls that they have on the Menu. Mashed potatoes with Jam and boiled carrots, peas and corn along with veggie balls and some strange gravy. Very few items on the Menu and I was disappointed. 
Visited the Farmers Organic Market in Saptaparni , Banjara Hills. Love this place. This market is held on the first Sunday every month. They have lots of handmade items (soaps, jewellery , baskets , handbags etc) , Clothes made with Organic dyes , Organic Veggies , Snacks made with Millets  , a potter is available which  kids and adults can try , lots of organic produce like Cow Ghee, Honey , millets etc


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Stir-Fry Vegetables with Chickpeas

There are times when I crave for a lot of veggies. I quickly stir fry whatever veggies I have , sprinkle salt, pepper, lime juice , Olive oil and enjoy a hot bowl of veggies. This is one such day and here is what I dished out. Luckily I had soaked Chickpeas in the refrigerator too which I added to the veggies.

Here is the recipe for Stir-Fry Veggies with Chickpeas –

Ingredients :

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Boiled Chickpeas – 1 Cup (soak dry chickpeas overnight and add a little salt while boiling)
Assorted Vegetables – 2 cups of Veggies (3 to 4 colourful varieties)
Salt – As per your taste
Pepper powder – As per your taste
Garlic pods – 3 chopped pods
Extra Virgin Olive Oil : 1 tablespoon
Any other cooking oil : 1 to 2 teaspoons
Lemon juice : 1 spoon

Method :
1. Add oil to the pan .
2. Add the chopped garlic before oil gets very hot. Stir fry for 30 seconds.
3. Add all the chopped veggies and stir till the veggies are partially cooked.

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4. Add the boiled chickpeas and salt . Stir till the veggies are cooked but not soft. The chickpeas too will get slightly roasted and that makes them yummier.

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5. Remove from the stove.

6. Add pepper powder, drizzle lemon juice and Extra virgin Olive oil . Stir all the ingredients well.

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A nice hot bowl of Stir Fry Vegetables with Chickpeas is ready to be served.
A very filling, nutritious and yummy dish which can be had as dinner too.

Choose vegetables that are colorful. Red / Yellow/ Green bell peppers, Purple cabbage , Green Broccoli or Asparagus, White Baby corn / Cabbage , Carrots  etc. Select a few that are in season and to make the dish colorful and appetizing.

Include roasted or Boiled peanuts, roasted sesame seeds if you wish.


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The Mask

mask cartoon

Nothing shady about the title 🙂 . Nothing to hide 🙂

Am sure I reminded you of ‘The Mask’ and Jim Carrey 🙂

This post is all about how the ‘Mask’ has become one of the most important accessories  during the last 9 months.

My ‘Mask’ is now a constant companion from the moment I step out of the house.

Having struggled with frequent Sore throat problems and dust allergies followed by Antibiotics all these years, I wanted to check if  a Mask would help me stay away from these issues. I invariably end up with a Sore throat if I inhale any kind of dust .

Before I went ahead and bought a mask, I did some research on the internet on the varieties of masks that are available.

Long ago I had read about how an N95 mask can protect the wearer from viruses .

I also learnt the difference between a Respirator and a Surgical Mask.

A Respirator protects the wearer from the environment. Learnt that the N95 Mask is a Respirator.

A Surgical Mask protects the Environment from the wearer of the Mask, so that the wearer of the mask doesn’t transfer any unwanted viruses/bacteria to others.

Bought one N95 Mask that appeared simple , lightweight and comfortable to wear and not too expensive , on Amazon. There are several varieties that one can easily buy online.

Unfortunately I was unable to wear this beyond 5 minutes. Felt suffocated and it was too tight on my face.

simple respirator

The above image is a simple N95 Respirator that I tried.

With the bad experience of wearing an N95 mask , I wanted to try the surgical Mask . If a Surgical Mask can stop letting viruses go out while we breathe/talk then obviously it can stop viruses from getting in too 🙂 . With this conclusion I bought a few normal surgical masks. These are very light and so comfortable to wear. Hardly any suffocation. I liked wearing these even if it meant that I appeared like hospital staff who forgot to remove the mask after leaving the Hospital 🙂

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I now keep a bunch of these in the car seat back pocket.

I began using these when visiting public places like Supermarkets, farmers markets, Malls and Movie theatres . Initially I did feel a little awkward and tried covering my Masked face with my Dupatta/chunni.

A Dupatta/Chunni is like a long scarf worn over the shoulders.

Very soon I felt the Dupatta was restricting my head/facial movements. Stopped using the Dupatta and felt relieved and free. It is not my problem if people are uncomfortable looking at my masked face 🙂 🙂

There are times when I travel through dusty roads and in spite of sitting in a car I felt I should be using a Mask . All the vehicular pollution was making me depressed. I was sure that some of the polluted air was entering the car too. I didn’t want to take any risk of being exposed to any kind of dust.

Very soon I was wearing the Mask everyday on my way to work and back home even while seated in the car :).

I soon started noticing the benefits of wearing a Mask. I haven’t experienced a Sore Throat and Bronchitis issues ever since. It’s been 8 months since I started using a Mask.

I always carry a few Masks in my handbag too. These are disposable Masks which I discard every 2-3 days. Initially I was buying Masks in 10s from the local Pharmacy. Very soon I bought a big box of Disposable ones online and now I don’t have to worry about running out of them. They are very affordable and effective.

I wish more and more people begin using these Masks thereby protecting themselves and also  not transmitting viruses to the environment and those around us.

A lot of men and women in all the cities in India are using Handkerchiefs , Dupattas/ Chunnis to protect themselves from pollution. I sincerely wish that those to see me will be inspired to use these disposable masks  🙂


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Feeling as Cool as a Cucumber !

Most are aware of the benefits of eating Cucumber. Knowing is one part of the story , whereas actually consuming them is the important part. A lot of Indians especially in the North of India , include cucumber , carrot , beets , radish , onions etc in their daily diet , as a salad.

I was eating one chopped cucumber everyday as a snack . My intention was to reduce body heat due to consumption of Curcumin. I would eat at random times during the day and was not very regular too.

I have begun drinking Cucumber juice since one month. On the advice of my Ayurvedic Doctor , I now juice two cucumbers first thing in the morning . Takes just a few minutes to prepare a nice big glass of frothy cucumber juice. I peel the cucumbers as I am not sure that they are organic. I do not add any other ingredients and drink the lovely pale green liquid in one go 🙂 . It is neither tasty nor does it have any flavour.

Supposed to do a whole lot of good to the body. It alkalizes the body , reduces cholesterol, reduces Blood pressure, reduces Uric acid levels in the blood, keeps the kidneys healthy, reduces water retention in the body , good for the skin, reduces inflammation, prevents arthritis, has several Vitamins, is very low in calories, keeps the body hydrated etc.

Basically a great detox for the body.

I always had this warm feeling in my body . Since I started drinking this juice , my body feels cooler and my mind seems to be at peace and much calmer.

My ESR levels have always been on the higher side and I hope and wish that the cucumber detox will help in reducing this level.

Higher level of ESR is an indicator of inflammation in the body. Will get a test done after a week.

Inflammation is the leading cause of numerous diseases in the body.

Try this simple detox and see how it helps you. Cucumbers can be eaten throughout the year and are available throughout the year.

Take care !