Shutterbug's Blog

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


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Lock-Down Dairies – 25 May 2020 : My video on Seasoning Soapstone Cookware on Youtube.

Spent the whole day editing a video that I made on how to season a Soapstone Utensil.

Here is the link to the video –

This is a very ancient cookware that was used by several civilisations all over the world since thousands of years.

It is carved out of Soapstone by hand, Supposed to be soft and porous.

Cooking in this cookware has several benefits –

  • The material is mostly inert and hence does not impart any flavour to the recipe.
  • Food cooked in this Utensil stays hot for almost 3-4 hours.
  • Contains essential nutrients like magnesium and calcium which leaches into the food.
  • It is long lasting if handled well and can be passed on to several generations.
  • Any type of food can be cooked in this utensil. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes can be cooked. Deep frying is not advised.
  • Food cooks evenly in the container.
  • Does not react with acidic foods.

I enjoyed the whole process of seasoning this Utensil which took 13 days to complete. This process hardens the stone and makes it long lasting.

I also prepared my first dish in this utensil yesterday , called ‘Mukkala Pulusu’ which is a famous recipe in Andhra Pradesh. It was definitely tastier than the dish that i used to cook in a steel utensil 🙂

However, the one I bought was of medium size which is small when I want to cook for more than 4 persons. I will be buying a bigger one soon.

Love this creation.

These can be bought online from various online stores.

You can find dosa pans, paniyaram pans, kadai , lamps , mortar and pestle (small) etc. The most popular model in which any kind of gravy recipe can be cooked is called ‘Kalchatti in Tamil or Rathi Chippa / Rachippa in Telugu).

Usually found in the southern states in India.

It is surely making a comeback .

Can be used on Gas stove , Oven and wood fire too.


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Lock-Down Dairies – 24 May 20 : Farewell to ex-boss via WebEx , editing a video using filmora9 , my first dish using a Rachippa or Kalchatti

Farewell to ex-boss –

Due to social distancing being implemented at work , and also on the insistence of our ex-boss not to plan any Farewell celebrations at work, we planned a farewell via WebEx this afternoon.

This is the first time we are having this kind of farewell ,thanks to COVID-19. The whole event took 2 and half hours, much more than the time it usually takes at the workplace.

The event went very well. Just that the bouquets, garlands, shawls and snacks were Missing.

Video editing software –

I downloaded a video editing software called Filmora9 and started editing a video that I recorded on the ‘seasoning of Kalchatti or Rachippa’ .

A lot of patience is required to edit and make a good video. Earlier I was using KineMaster on Android and uploading videos. Filmora is very similar to KineMaster. Yet to explore all the features. Once I am done with the editing and uploading on youtube I will post a link in a future blog.

My first dish in a Kalchatti or Rachippa –

I have successfully completed seasoning of my Kalchatti or ‘Rachippa couple of days ago. I decided prepare my first dish today. Made ‘Mukkala pulusu’.

‘Mukkala pulusu’ in a Rachippa or Kalchatti

I was very excited and it turned out well. This is a Soapstone dish which takes a little more time to heat up initially but once heated it cools very fast and cooks evenly. The utensil and the food remains hot for a few hours


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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 🙂

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 🙂

~ Stay safe ~


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Lock-Down Dairies – 21 May 20 : Missing Mom n Dad , ripening raw Mangoes naturally using a jute bag

Missing my parents :

For the first time in my life ,I haven’t seen my parents for four months. Missing them a lot. They were supposed to come back to the city just before the lockdown but were unable to. Listening to the news on the Television about how bad the virus is affecting senior citizens in the cities , Dad decided to stay back.

They seem to be doing well , and assure us that everything is going well at their end and that they are happy in the village.

We do a whatsapp video call whenever they go to the outskirts of the village where the mobile signal is good.

In fact, folks in the villages are extra careful and watchful when such situations occur. Many villages barricade their main roads. They keep a watch on who is coming back to the village from other towns or cities and inform the police.

So far so good. The villages are safe as on date and that is a good sign.

However, the same is not happening in the cities. C19 +veCases are rising day by day while the lockdown is more like an eyewash.

Mangoes ripening under the jute bag :

There are several ways to naturally ripening raw Mangoes. Dry hay from paddy is one of the most prevalent method to ripen a lot of mangoes.

Here are my mangoes

At home people usually place the mangoes inside rice bags full of rice or inside an empty jute bag. The mangoes should not be completed closed and suffocated but there should be some air circulation otherwise they would rot.

These mangoes are from my neighbours Mango tree, some of the branches have encroached into our area :). Organically grown and naturally ripened.

Continue to stay safe !


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Lock-Down Dairies – 18 May 20 : Back to Office !!

End of Lock-down for me and I am back to work today. Our HR circular has given instructions that 50% of the employees will work in each shift with two shifts per day.I am in the Second shift which is from 1.30pm to 6.30pm.

Gave sanitizer, liquid soap, mask and face shield to the driver too and we started.

Stepped out of our colony for the first time in almost two months. I saw lots of road side makeshift vendors selling vegetables and fruits. Traffic was very less compared to the normal times but expected much lesser traffic. No police verification , no barricades whatsoever all along the 13 km from home to work.

Restaurants, Retail stores, Malls, schools a not open whereas all others like Hospitals , diagnostics, clinics, pharmacies , opticians, all construction material selling stores , auto repair stores , few sweet shops (without seating) are open.

Had to observe the shap n size , the gait ,the hair to recognise my colleagues 🙂 on the way to my cabin.

My Office entrance

Came in much early and found our floor was dark. I was the first one to come in during the second shift. Had to search for my cabin keys and open the door myself , something that I never did before.

Very soon , other colleagues started pouring in . Everyone wore masks but it was not easy to maintain 6ft distance.

Within few minutes of being in office and the past two months felt like a dream.

On the way back I noticed that my car driver was speeding, I told him to go slow but he said ‘curfew madam’

We reached home on dot.


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Lock-Down Dairies – 17 May 20 : My Face Shield , Lock-Down lunch with extended family, games we played during our childhood.

I will be going to work from tomorrow..end of Lockdown for me.

One vendor of my company had sent pictures of PPEs a while ago. One of them was the Face shield. When I had enquired he said he was supplying to Hospitals. Since I am dependent on my driver to take me to work in my car ,I thought it would be good if I can get a few of them. Luckily he agreed to give me and he promptly delivered today.

Face shield

Very light and comfortable to wear.

My brother and sisters families had decided last week to have a potluck lunch in our stilt floor today.

I made ‘Mirchi ka salan’ and ‘raita’.

Rangoli Raita 🙂

I shared this photo with my classmates from college and everyone loved the design and the appearance :). One of them even named it ‘ Rangoli Raita ‘ … sounds apt isn’t it !?.

Other items in the Menu were Biryani, fruit salad and Double ka meeta.

Enjoyed teaching and demonstrating a lot of games that we played during our childhood ,to the kids.

Pittu / Seven stones / Langocha game

Pittu/Seven stones/Langocha , 4 pillars, chain, thokkudu billa, kaccha kaayalu (5 stones) , Veeri Veeri gummadi pandu etc were some of the games that were played without buying any stuff. All are team games which we played everyday for a couple of hours after school 🙂

Kids were interested in learning and playing these games.

We started of by maintaining some distance but very soon forgot all about it. A few neighbours too were curiously peeping on hearing the laughter and noises. I had to keep telling everyone to maintain silence which was very difficult.

We all had a video call too with our parents for a while.

~ Let go and be free ~


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Lock-Down Dairies – 16 May 20: Video editing softwares , photography skills using a Smartphone ,Gimbal ,

I have been creating , editing and uploading a few videos during the Lockdown. I have used free apps on Android and found them easy to work with for quickly editing a video. However, I feel that the presentation is an important aspect that helps to retain the audience attention. To achieve this it is very important to use a good video editing software. I was beginning to find it difficult to edit on the phone and so switched to my laptop. Another reason for doing this is that there is little storage space on my phone and am finding it difficult to shoot more videos :). I can now copy the videos to the laptop and do all my editing. I downloaded a freeware today and working on my next video.

I also strongly feel that a good video is shot differently and makes an impact on the audience to want to see more. Looked up a few other videos on youtube to help me learn a few new ways to record videos. I have to start practicing too.

I was talking to my brother this morning about a video he sent . It is about capturing the rotation of the Earth using a camera. Was curious to know how the position of the camera changes while the Earth rotates . During the conversation he mentioned a ‘Gimbal’ . Heard about it for the first time and I found it to be a very useful device to record videos without much vibration.

Not really sure if I will have sufficient time to record more videos once I go back to office and resume work.

Almost 84,000 C19 positive cases in India and death toll is close to 3000 , recovery rate is 32% and government thinks that the fatality rate is low and the economy is slowly opening up. Can’t really imagine what the future has in store for the country.