Shutterbug's Blog

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


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Learning the lessons of Life while Gardening

Thanks to the Lockdown , I was able to spend some time everyday for almost 45 days with my plants. I dont have a lot of space for gardening , but whatever little space I had , I used it to the maximum.

Unlike other hobbies , I think gardening is one hobby that makes you fall in love with Life , all over again πŸ™‚ .

And that is because a lot of lessons in life are learnt while pursuing gardening.

We learn to appreciate nature and creation. When you sow seeds and see them sprout , when you see the first leaves appear, when you see the flowers bloom and when you see the fruits , at every stage the happiness increases manifold.

There are times when the plant struggles to live and it collapses one day. During these times , we learn to accept failures in life. That whatever we do need not always result in success.

We learn to be patient. We wait for the plant to grow at its owns pace. We learn to see how life unfolds and accept the pace at which events happens around us. A lot of factors affect how well a plant grows. Similarly , a persons growth also depends on various environmental factors.

We provide additional support to plants , and give sufficient resources like water, fertilizers , sunlight etc. Similar support is to be given to our near and dear ones to help them grow. We usually dont blame the plant for not growing well. We only try to give it more support.

We see the interconnectedness of all things on Earth. Not just the relationship between living beings , but also the interdependency between all living and non living entities like the sunlight , the water , fire , earth and space. We learn to see that even these so called non living entities are as lively as the ‘living’ beings. Without these 5 elements , ‘Life’ isnt possible.

All the hard work that goes into growing plants yields a lot of ‘fruits’ …. and vegetables πŸ™‚ . The same applies to hard work in real life too. More often than not , success follows hard work.

We learn to see not just the life which lives over the soil , but a lot of other creatures which live under the soil.

The plants do their best to thrive in all kinds of extreme climatic conditions. They are very strong and patiently wait for the right conditions and bounce back soon. When there is no water , their roots grow further down to reach places with water. They grow towards the Sun if planted in a shady place. They are intelligent creatures too.

If required they do take support of nearby objects to grow. This is an important quality to be learnt by humans too which is to take help from others if required. There are many plants which are creepers , which grow only if they have good support. So, it is important to take the required help whenever necessary and not hesitate.

While a plant is growing , if the main stem is cut , the plant grows several other side branches. It doesn’t give up and die , it grows more vigorously and bears more branches , flowers and fruits. We need to learn this trait from plants. A never give up attitude.

Creepers are very flexible , they grow any which way that is comfortable. They can bypass any obstacles on their path and continue to grow.

I strongly feel that everyone has to spend time in Nature to understand and appreciate all life on Earth and to learn from each other and to coexist with each other.

Nature needs more and more gardeners πŸ™‚

~ Love you Life ! ~


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B-Roll , Inaugurated my first Lodge Cast iron pan and Electric grill , Extension to our tiny garden

B-Roll :

Heard about B-roll from my brother recently and since then I have been checking out Youtube videos on what a B-Roll is and how to shoot B-Roll videos. What I understood so far is that a B-Roll is a little diversion during the regular A-Roll which is the main theme of a video. There are several ways to plan , create and incorporate a B-Roll footage into your videos. The B-Roll will reduce the monotony in a video and will help in retaining the interest of the audience.

I have been uploading a few videos on my youtube channel but these videos have only the A-Roll πŸ™‚ . Creating a B-Roll does require creativity and more time to edit a video. As of now i am just learning the ABCs of making videos.

Lodge Cast iron Pan :

My obsession with traditional cookware started a couple of years ago and during this process I also came across Cast iron pans made by Lodge. Wanted to own one since then . However, I actually placed an order only now after getting the confidence that I can maintain these cookware. I have been using a few locally made cast iron cookware which do not have a good finish. My first Lodge pan finally arrived and I inaugurated it by making Aloo egg masala curry.

Loved the piece. It is pre-seasoned and quite heavy. The best way to maintain this cookware is to clean it immediately after cooking , dry it well and season it with a little oil, warm it up for a few minutes and then put it away so it doesn’t rust and is ready for your next use.

Electric Grill :

I also wanted to do some grilling for a long time. Didn’t know what is the best type of grill for my requirement. Did a lot of research and found pros and cons for each type of grill. There are gas fired, charcoal based and Electric grills .Finally zeroed in on an Electric grill and ordered on Amazon. Inaugurated it by making Paneer tikka with capsicum and onions.

The result was beyond my expectation and we enjoyed the process and the final result too. Quite easy to assemble and use.

Extension of our tiny garden :

One hobby I developed during the Lockdown is gardening. Hubby and I have found a common passion in gardening πŸ™‚ . We have been experimenting with different veggies and have been quite successful in growing a few veggies. We didnt have much space to grow more veggies and so decided to create more space by removing the cemented path along the compound wall. We dug out the existing soil which was rocky and filled it with red soil and manure.

We got an additional ten square meters of area now for our vegetable garden and we are happy :). Plan to grow more veggies during the monsoons. This space should be sufficient to grow a lot of veggies. We look forward to spend half an hour each day in the evening as both of us have to go to work and this is the best part of the day πŸ™‚


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Lock-Down Dairies – 7 June 20 : Rural India turning into hotspots for COVID, sowing seeds for the first time using cocopeat , Plastic shield in our car.

Migration and Reverse Migration of Migrants :

As the migrant workers move back to their villages from the cities, they are carrying the virus along with them. Having lost their jobs and clueless as to the future, they have begun going back to their roots.Hopefully they have the immunity to fight the virus and dont infect the locals there.

Almost 23 million migrants have left the cities. There is now a shortage of skilled workers in the construction businesses and the builders are flying back the migrants to the cities.Cost of labour and construction material has already gone up.

My First Date with Cocopeat :

For the first time I used cocopeat for preparing seedlings. Was nice to see the block of cocopeat that I bought online , soaking up all the water and turning into a soil like mixture. I added some sand and red soil and mixed everything well. I then sowed Brinjal and Tomato seeds. Looking forward to the seedlings πŸ™‚

Installation of Plastic Shield inside the Car :

I had ordered a plastic curtain online which I wanted to use as a plastic shield in our car. As I have a Driver to drive me to office , I wanted to be safe by fixing a Plastic sheet between the front seats and the passenger seats at the back. This was one important suggestion given by my Ayurveda Doctor when I asked for his advise whether I can go to Office once the lockdown was removed.

I have uploaded a very small video clip of the final installation. Here is the link :

~Sarve Janaaha Sukhino Bhavanthu~


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Lock-Down Dairies – 4 June 20 : Random musings

Feeling very happy today.

My first Bhendi’s are here. Several buds were drying up and falling off and I didn’t know what to do.

Finally these have stayed on. Feeling very happy seeing these  πŸ™‚ . This plant is growing in a container.

Another reason for being happy is because my son has made scrambled egg on his own , without any help from me.

Every mom is very happy whenever the child does anything on their own for the first time and this too is a memorable event.

My son loves to make omlettes and was using a non-stick pan all these days. I ordered a steel pan online today for making omlettes only and will gift this to my son :). Am sure he will love the gift.


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Lock-Down Dairies 30 May 20 : Restaurants , Religious places , hotels and shopping malls to be open, my first Bhendi / Ladies finger ,Β  organic seeds online, unboxing a Jet water spray gun

New Lockdown guidelines in India:

All Restaurants ,Religious places, hotels and shopping malls to be open from 8 June onwards.

Opening of Schools, colleges, congregations ,intra state and interstate movement , international travel, cinema halls will be decided in the next phase.

Got to wait and watch whatΒ  is in store for the population in India ,now that the monsoons are also arriving.

My first Bhendi :

After several buds drying and falling off ,my first Bhendi successfully survived :).

It is very exciting to see the life cycle of a growing plant, especially something that we have personally tended to.

Organic seeds online :

I had a few vegetable seeds at home but they were not sprouting . I didn’t know where to get good ones and googled. Decided to buy online. I ordered a packet with 15 varieties of seeds and received them today. These are the seeds that I received.

Will be sowing a few of these soon.

Jet water spray gun :

A few weeks ago , we had a lockdown party with my brother’s and sisters families in our cellar/stilt floor. Since it is open and dirty ,we decided to wash the whole place. It took almost one hour for the three of us to wash the whole place . It was then that I decided to buy a jet spray gun . Received the package today and unboxed it.

However, we found that the hose pipe we had at home didn’t fit into the gun. A clamp is required to fit the pipe to the gun. We are hunting for a clamp. I am looking forward to do some good cleaning of the windows on the first floor too, which has been difficult.

Will review once I start using it.

~ Swasthirasthu~


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Lock-Down Dairies – 22 May 2020 : Update on my Multiple Myeloma, my Curry leaves harvest

Been a while since I updated on my Multiple Myeloma.

This is the 9th year after my Stem Cell Transplant. I have been taking only Ayurvedic Medication for the last 4 years.

There are other detailed posts in the past where I wrote all about in detail.

I am continuing to take Circumin, Ashwagandha , Satavari , Tinaspora Cordifolia as per the advise of my Ayurveda Doctor.

I also take few Allopathy medications like Folvite ( for better absorption of Iron), Renerve (for peripheral Neuropathy), Antoxid HC (Multivitamins) and Feburic 20 (to regulate Uric acid) .

Apart from the above , I also have been following the lifestyle prescribed by ‘Natural Lifestyle’ , since 4 months. I have lost some weight due to the restricted diet. I do feel healthy otherwise. Just that I can’t physically exert myself a lot. Able to manage quite well even during the lock-down period doing all household chores with support from hubby and son πŸ™‚

I did the routine Blood tests 2 months ago (just before the lock-down) and the reports say that all is well.

However, it is 1 year 4 months since I did the Bone Marrow test. I feel it may not be necessary as I feel good and my routine tests including Serum Globulin levels were normal in the recent tests.

I am also back to work in spite of all the restrictions and risks.

I am dependent on my driver whenever . Doing my best to ensure that my Driver is also healthy. Provided Masks, Face Shield, Sanitizer , Liquid soap and gave him instructions on maintaining social distance and washing hands frequently.

Getting used to co-exist with the C-virus. With a little care and attention it should be possible to deal with it.

Harvesting curry leaves in my tiny garden :

I was all the while assuming that the curry leaf plant should be allowed to grow as much as possible before we start harvesting the leaves. I recently learnt that the branches should be cut frequently so as to encourage further growth of new stems.

So, I decided to cut off one of the biggest stems today. Here it is-

I then separated all the leaves, washed them well and dried them well.

This is usually how i prepare curry leaves before i pack them in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator.

These leaves are going to last me more than a week. Feels so good to be able to grow your own food ,that too organically grown πŸ™‚

~ Stay safe ~


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Lock-Down Dairies – 14 Mar 20 : Hubby is back to work , Vegetables to be sown in May, Plastic shields inside cabs

Hubby is back to work today after almost 50 days of social distancing. While getting ready to go to work and wearing socks and shoes he said , ‘I feel like a school kid going to school after Summer vacation’ πŸ™‚ .

I have a few emply containers now and ready to sow some seeds. I googled to find out which seeds are best sown in May and found that Parwal , colocasia, ginger, turmeric, onion, capsicum, okra, brinjal, chilli, coriander are to be sown now.

I had planted 4 colocasia roots in the beginning of May unknowingly and two of them are growing.

Colocasia

I sowed chilli seeds last month and transplanted them around the last week of April. They are growing too. I have capsicum seeds and sowed them today.

I too have to start going to work from 18 May onwards. I called my Ayurveda Doctor to ask him for his advise, as I depend on a Driver. He asked me questions like , where does he stay , whether he stays in a slum or a proper house, whether he has a separate bath/toilet . Said I should give him Tinaspora cordifolia and zincovit . That I should keep the car windows open , if possible use a full face cover , to use a plastic shield between the front and back seat of the car, to spray sanitizer on this cover frequently.

I know one vendor who is supplying Face shields and I am checking if he can give me a few. He is usually supplying to Hospitals and Health workers.

The plastic shield in the car is something that I was hearing for the first time.I assumed that a lot of people in Mumbai are already using these as the number of C19 cases in Mumbai is very high. Doctor lives in Mumbai. I looked up on the Internet to check for some pictures as to how these plastic shields are fixed and came across very few videos that too only from China. These are being widely used by Cab drivers.

A thick plastic sheet fixed between the front seats and back seats

Got an idea as to how to fix these shields . I now have to get hold of a two sided tape and a big thick plastic sheet. Seems like a big project. But I like the idea. Very useful for people like me who are dependant on a driver to move around. Surely the Drivers too would prefer to be safe and this is a great way.

Hopefully these plastic shields will soon be available in the market.

Anything and everything to be safe.

Take Care folks !!


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Lock-Down Dairies – 12 May 20 : Passenger trains restarted, Migrants moving from cities to their towns/villages during Lockdown , My mint harvest, Containers/pots made from empty plastic rice bags.

Several passenger trains started towards various cities from Delhi. Several citizens are stuck in other cities/towns during the lockdown and with this step they have some hope that they will finally reach their hometowns and meet their families. There are strict thermal screening tests at the Railway Station. Some of the destinations may insist on the passengers being quarantined but that would be next to impossible. Most like passengers will be told to self quarantine at their home for 14 days.

Meanwhile the number of COVID positive cases are continuing to rise while the number of positive cases that are recovering are also rising.

Mr Modi has addressed the nation and encouraged all to go local and be vocal. He also stressed on being self reliant. There is no other option but to go local and all countries eventually will do the same. That we should go ahead with building the economy while taking all precautions.

A lot of Migrants also moving to their hometowns by whatever means they can. They are even walking hundreds of kilometers. Unfortunately some have even lost their lives on the way.

Decided to harvest Mint leaves from my tiny garden. The easiet greens to grow by a beginner who wants to grow food is Mint leaves. Can be grown in very small spaces and in containers too.

I also made a short video on my Mint harvest. Here is the link –

There was no more space in my tiny garden to sow any more seeds. There was no way to buy some containers/pots too as none of the plant nurseries or online sites were delivering these items. Looked around the home so I can reuse/recycle some stuff and convert into containers, and came across some plastic rice bags.

Containers made with empty rice bags

I had red soil , sand , some cocopeat and manure and quickly took help of hubby to fill these emptly rice bags with this stuff. Before putting the soil I made small holes at the bottom of the bags.

Very happy to see these Lockdown Container s :). Am yet to decide what I will be sowing in these.

I am continuing to work from home and experiencing the busiest days in my life πŸ™‚ .

~ Om Shanti Shanti Shanti ~


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Lock-down Dairies – 5 May 20 : Update on my garden , commencement of operations at work, my support system

I had sown Fenugreek seeds in a container. Today is the 5th day after sowing. This is how my Organic Methi looks today.

My baby Ridge gourd is also growing well and is now 4 inches in height πŸ™‚ . This one is Organic too.

I have also harvested some organic curry leaves today. Should be sufficient for a week and more πŸ™‚ . These leaves are a very healthy ingredient and are added in almost all South Indian recipes.

Yes, all my produce is Organic πŸ™‚

Work has commenced today and those living very close to the Office premises attended . Almost 1/3rd of the employees attended which is a good sign. Will know the next plan of action in a day or two . I too have been making plans to go to work .Those who have kids below 5 years , are more than 55 years of age and have any health issues, those with any disabilities Appears I have no valid reason for not going to work . Unfortunately I am dependant on my driver which is the major hurdle now. Called my Driver and told him that he has to do his best to come . He lives almost 50km away from the city and not sure how he will be able to get back into the city. Waiting for the cabinet meeting to come out with a decision today as to the current Lockdown which is upto 7 May 20.

I have been supported by two maids , one cook and a Driver during the last 8 years in carrying out my daily chores. Thanks to them , I am doing well and able to manage work and home. I informed all of them to take a break after the COVID was declared a Pandemic. It is now my responsibility to take care of them by doing my bit. I decided to pay 50% of the salary to them. Hopefully that should take care of their expenses to sail through these tough times. I wish them and their families good health. Will definitely help them as much as I can. Our salaries have been reduced too and no one is cribbing.

I am a bit apprehensive as to how i will manage home and go to work even with the help of hubby .Will be very strenuous preparing and packing breakfast and lunch everyday.

Hoping for some miracle to happen.

~ None of us is safe untill all of us are safe~


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Lock-Down Dairies – 2 May 20 : getting rid of Ants Ants , harvesting Ponnaganti koora – a leafy veggie

My ixora in full bloom.

After using several methods to get rid of ants in our garden , this plant is blooming well. I am feeling very happy today πŸ™‚

Here are the different ways we adopted :

Using Laxman Rekha – A chalk ,with which we draw lines whereever there are ants. Quite effective.

Using Neem oil – One spoon of Neem oil mixed with few drops of liquid soap is added to one litre of water and sprayed all over and around the plants.

Using Boric powder – one spoon of Boric powder and 4 spoons of sugar added to 2 spoons of water and made into a paste. This paste is poured into small containers and placed wherever there are ants.

Last but not the least , using Talcum powder. I sprinkled talcum powder on and around the plants.

Next weapon is to use camphor. As of now it appears there is no need for this.

Really tough to protect plants from these ants.

I harvested my leafy veggie called ‘Ponnaganti koora’ in The Telugu. Recorded a video and uploaded it. Very easy to grow these greens. Here is the link to the video-

My first Ridge gourd of his season seems to be growing, after I hand pollinated the female flower using the male flower. Another reason to be very happy today πŸ™‚

~Om Shanti~