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


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Nature Therapy : Random road trip around Himayatsagar lake , Hyderabad

I love looking at various places all over the world on Google Maps. I enjoy going through the photographs that people post there. Gives a vicarious pleasure 🙂

Each time I look at Hyderabad , my home town , on Google Maps , the two prominent lakes namely Osmansagar and Himayatsagar always attract me.

Very often I zoom into the areas around these lakes and imagine driving around these places. Thankfully , construction activities are not permitted in the catchment areas of these two lakes . I see lots of Farms/Resorts around the lakes and the place looks beautiful from up above :)) . I always wanted to go there some day. That someday finally arrived . Went on Sunday .Mom too wanted to go for a long drive with the kids just before she gets her eye operated for cataract . Mom and I have this craze for exploring/visiting open farms and fields . Went there yesterday along with my Mom, niece and nephew . The area adjacent to the lake obviously has sufficient ground water and the whole area is cool , nice and green even during peak Summer which we are now experiencing.

Here are a few pics from the drive.

Spotted an Ibis, a black bird with a long curved beak.

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These women were cutting Spinach and tying them into bunches which will be sold in the markets.

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Got freshly picked Bhendi’s and Bottle Gourds from one of the owners.

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Car Dikki 🙂

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The kids had fun playing with the cool water flowing from a Borewell pipe.

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Another farm had Chukka koora, also called Khatta Palak in Hindi.

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The owner gave us some Chukka koora.

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My Nephew was excited to see Chicken and Eggs in this Poultry farm. He came back screaming “I saw eggs !! ” 🙂

We should have picked up a few dozens of Eggs too 😉

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We saw a few buffaloes which were being milked . Wanted to ask if they would sell some milk but we didn’t have any container either. Our Driver suggested we use the water bottles. We were on the fag end of our trip so we quickly gulped the leftover water and filled two bottles with fresh milk 🙂 .

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We took the road less traveled. Lots of Narrow paths leading to these fields. Would have been risky if it was  the rainy season. We did see a lot of fruit bearing trees Came across lots of farms with Mango, Lemon , Jack-fruit and Sapota/Cheeku trees.

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Thanks to Google Maps and GPS , I was able to easily guide our driver around these narrow paths . Came back home with some fresh goodies and a great experience.

Lot more areas to be explored around these lakes. Will go back for more :).

 


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Recalling Memories of Dec 2011

memories

It has been 6 years since I underwent Stem Cell Transplant for Multiple Myeloma. It was in Dec 2011 when I was ushered into an isolated , sterilised , spic and span room where I would spend 15 days all alone.

A room where I would be reborn 🙂 , where my healthy Stem cells would be put back into my bloodstream which in turn would produce fresh and pure blood cells.

I spent Christmas (2011) and the New year(2012) in this room . I had the company of Doctors , Nurses and housekeeping staff who were like family and I would look forward to meet them and chat with them.

Felt too weak to sit by the huge glass window which overlooked the front porch of the building . I had to take the help of a nurse to take a short walk around the room.

Spent my waking hours watching my favorite shows on TV. I kept switching between Cooking , Travel and Religious channels .

Each morning my blood samples were taken and I eagerly looked forward to the reports which would arrive in a couple of hours . The counts of various blood cells would reveal how well my Stem cells were functioning.

A lot of yummy food would be served but it was difficult for me to swallow as my digestive system went on a strike 🙂

I patiently waited for each day to pass. My doctor promised me that he will send me home for Sankranti (a Hindu harvest festival which is celebrated around Mid of January every year ).

Since then , each year around December/Jan , I become nostalgic .

I made a lot of resolutions during those days 🙂 , all that I would do and not do. I have been quite successful with most of the do’s and don’ts 🙂

Feeling very blessed and grateful as another memorable year is passing.

 

 

 


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Road trip from Hyderabad to Kavali

Time for my yearly sojourn to Granny’s village near Kavali. From 23 Dec 2017 to 27 Dec 2017.

Drove from Hyderabad to Kavali via Nalgonda-Narsaraopet-Chilakaluripet-Ongole.

 

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Started at 7am and planned to have breakfast at Village Aharam , an organic restaurant which is around 20km after exiting the ORR. We saw huge crowds  and so decided to go to NGrill resto which is 50km from the ORR. This was equally crowded and had to wait for a table.

This stretch is a busy one , with lots of people driving between Hyderabad and Vijayawada and prefer to have breakfast in one of these places.

Stopped for lunch after crossing Narasaraopet . Found a kachcha road on the left and parked under a tree.

A pleasant drive with all the greenery and great weather. This time of the year is beautiful for travelling by road. Excellent roads especially the stretch from Chilakaluripet to Kavali which is part of the National Quadrilateral. It is an 8 lane express highway  , maintained beautifully and is as good as any interstate highway in the USA and other developed countries. Thanks to our erstwhile Prime Minister Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee , we are able to drive on such roads in India.

We drove through a variety of fields . It is the season for various crops like Chilli , Cotton , Tobacco and Paddy during this time of the year.

Reached Kavali by 4pm. A non-stop drive would take 7 hours.

Life in a village is like life on another planet . They have their own set of joys and challenges.

Here are a few sights along the drive :

A Marigold field.

The Krishna river near Miryalaguda. The left bank of the river is in Telangana and the right bank is in Andhra Pradesh.

There is a Restaurant above this Toll gate.

Following pics are from our village :

 

Paddy fields.

Spent a few days in our village which is 5km from the Bay of Bengal. The population in the village is around 500 . Each time I visit , I  see a few developments in the village . One of the road leading to the village is being widened as a small harbour is being developed around this part of the ocean . Lots of Autos in the village now . The erstwhile Bus has been stopped due to increase in the number of Autos. A water tanker supplies water to every house in the village for washing/cleaning  purposes. There are no water supply yet, though pipelines have been laid. Filtered drinking water is also supplied in 20 liter plastic drums from a water treatment plant for a decent price. The underground water in this area is salty and not fit for drinking. There is just one well on the outskirts of the village which has sweet water. One of them in the village has bought a Car and an Air Conditioner. The first signs of urbanisation in the village 🙂 Sign of prosperity .

Recently TTD has started construction of a Rama temple in the village.

IMG-20171004-WA0015Smartphones are being used to check weather conditions , levels of water in the surrounding lakes as the irrigiation is through canals . They also check information about government schemes.

Enjoyed fresh unpolluted air and fresh food. Started back on the 5th day at 9am and reached Hyderabad at 5pm. Had our packed lunch under a huge tamarind tree . Had Tea at Vivera restaurant near Narketpally. One can buy some fresh veggies too at this place.

Back to the hustle bustle of the city…as we enter the Financial district in Hyderabad …

Till my next visit…..

 


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Drive from Hyderabad to Annavaram

A wish of mine, which is about travelling to the ‘Kerala of the East’ materialized quite soon. My cousin planned his Son’s wedding in Annavaram. This little town close to the West coast is popular for its Satyanarayana Swamy temple. The temple is on a little hill which is part of the Eastern ghats in South India.

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We drove from Hyderabad to Annavaram , via Vijayawada and Rajahmundry. Started at 7am and had breakfast at N Grill Resto on NH65 .  This place is 50km after you exit the Outer Ring Road . It is a new restaurant, spic and span with good food and well maintained rest rooms.

We didn’t stop anywhere else till we reached Vijayawada. Had lunch at my Cousin’s place in Vijayawada where the ‘Pellikoduku’ event took place. After lunch we started off to Annavaram via Rajahmundry at around 4pm. The road from Vijayawada up to Eluru was very bad ,in-spite of toll being collected on this stretch. Supposed to be one of the busiest stretches in the country.

Took almost 5 hours to reach Annavaram , checked into Hotel Abhay . Not up to my expectations, but we were too tired to crib about the upkeep of the place and crashed for the day. Woke up to a beautiful view of the Pampa Reservoir and the Eastern Ghats , adjacent to the hotel . The reservoir was full owing to the recent bountiful rains.

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This was the best part of our journey.

Went for the early morning darshan. Annavaram Temple is very popular for performing mass ‘Satyanarayana Swamy Vratam’ by couples and also for performing Mass weddings. Saw lots of newly weds all over the place. There are small temporary Mandaps in a few places where the wedding vows are made. Reminded me of an Assembly line production factory where married couples are churned out 🙂 .

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Got back to our room after darshan of Sri Satyanarayana Swamy and got dressed for the wedding , to be held at one of the A/C halls adjacent to the temple.

Met lots of Cousins and their families. Started back to Hyderabad immediately after the wedding via Rajamundry and Vijayawada.

On my way back I noticed stubble burning in the recently harvested fields. All the while I assumed that stubble burning is restricted to Punjab and other states around Delhi , but to my surprise I saw lots of fields being burnt in Andhra Pradesh too.

Mechanical Harvesters are being used all over the country . This is clearly a side effect of using Mechanical Harvesters which leave a stubble one feet in height while harvesting.

The farmers have no time to let the stubble rot in the soil as they have to immediately sow the next crop. Hence burning is the easiest way out  with no cost involved. High time to solve this menace and stop all the pollution.

As we got closer to Rajahmundry , we came across lots of plant nurseries stretching for several kilometers on either side of the road . Did not have the time to stop by as we would get late. All the plant nurseries in Hyderbad are maintained by folks coming from this place.

Had dinner at Hotel Vivera near Narketpally , which is around 55km from Outer Ring Road. One of the best places , closer to Hyderabad , where once can stop for a quick snack or even have lunch/dinner.

This trip almost fulfilled another wish of mine where I wanted to stay by a riverside  for a few days. However, I got the opportunity to spend a beautiful morning by a reservoir flanked by hills and sipping coffee 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 


Summer , Ice Apple / Thaati Munjalu / Palmyra fruit

Summer brings its own set of woes and sweet pleasures each year.

Rather than crib about the heat , one should enjoy the yummy stuff that nature provides during this season . Yes , its the fruits 🙂 .

Mangoes and Watermelons make a grand entry during the month of February and exit in June. These are the Summer months.

During Summer , in Hyderabad, Jackfruit , Seema Chintakaaya / Jungle Jilebi , Figs and Palmyra fruit also make an entry. Unlike Mangoes and watermelons which are sold in almost every street corner , these are usually spotted only at the bigger farmer’s markets.

I make it a point to regularly visit the farmers markets , locally known as ‘Rythu bazaar’ , to get my fix 🙂

There was a time when the city dwellers could lay their hands on the Palmyra fruit only if they visited their parents / grandparents who lived in villages and towns , far from the city. That’s where the Palmyra trees grow. These trees almost grow wild. They are hardy and don’t require any special care. I too would get to eat this Palmyra fruit when I visited my Grandparents village during peak summer.

There were times when I used to spot a hawker selling these in the city, but they would be the more mature ones which are hard ,rubbery and bland instead of the tender , sweet and juicy ones. The hard ones can upset the tummy.

This tender ,jelly like fruit has a cooling effect on the body , does some good for the digestive system and has several vitamins and minerals.

Since past few years I have been coming across vendors selling whole bunches of the fruit in the city. We can pick the fruit of our choice and they would cut it for us. One can buy the whole fruit or get the pods removed.

These are whole bunches of the fruits.

This is how the fruit appears when the top part is carefully removed using a sharp sickle.

Each fruit has three pods.

The pods have a creamy brownish layer.

Remove the outer creamy brownish layer to reveal the translucent fleshy fruit.

Trying to remove the pods out of the fruit is tricky and not advisable as the fruit is easily bruised and the sweet juice is lost.

Hence it is preferable to eat these directly from the whole fruit by using the thumb and digging into the tender juicy fruit .This is an art :))

This method ensures that the juice is intact.

I have fond memories of eating these sitting under the Palmyra trees in Granny’s village . We would reach the fields by 5pm, a guy nimbly glides up the tree along with a sickle and cuts off a few Bunches. They fall from a height of 15-20m with a thud.

He then expertly cuts them open revealing the white translucent fleshy pods.

Time to hold the fruit in the left hand and dig into the pulp using the thumb of the right hand and squeeze out the jelly along with the juice and quickly suck up the juicy pulp with the mouth :)) . I know , it does sound gross :))

There is an easier method to dig into the tender fruit. Using a spoon to scoop out the pulp and the juice is quite simple and requires no mastery 🙂

Grab these if and when you come across them and enjoy the delicious fruit !!


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My latest Obsession : Organic food

Reading and discussing about Organic food is the first half of a story whereas actually buying , tasting , appreciating and getting addicted to Organic food is the second and most exciting part of the story.

I came across Organic food some 7 years ago and accidentally came across a store selling Organic food  in Hyderabad about 4 yrs ago, for the first time in the form of ‘Natures  Basket’.

Having read about the benefits of  Organic food , I walk into the store and find that all the veggies and fruits were shrivelled and the quantity was very less. I was excited about buying a lot of stuff  but was disappointed . Bought some other groceries like dals .The store was far from home and hence was conveniently forgotten .

Come 2016 and I suddenly start searching the net for other Organic food stores in Hyderabad. Was glad to see that a lot of stores were open. Read about Organic Bazaars at Saptaparni , Lamakaan, Hyderabad Goes Green, Sristi Naturals, Sacred space  etc.

Visited the Monthly bazaar at Saptaparni, Banjara Hills and loved the atmosphere and variety of products. Veggies, fruits, Dals, cold pressed oils, mud vessels, honey, millets, handicrafts, hand made jewelry, jute bags, soaps (vegan), shampoos and many other items are available.They do appear fresh and look good too. I was happy but then the doubting mind starts questioning whether the products are genuine . They are expensive too, almost double the price of the regular stuff.

I did buy a few veggies hesitantly and found that they did taste good .

I continued reading about the other stores.

Landed at Lamakaan , Banjara Hills on anothet Sunday. They had similar stuff like in Saptaparni. Saw lots of people buying stuff and carrying big bags full of groceries. My confidence levels on the authenticity of the wares increased. I bought many more veggies during this visit. I also bought a few varieties of dals , tamarind and a hair shampoo bar.

I usually end up throwing away a few veggies in the refrigerator once in a while but this time I made sure not a single vegetable was wasted. I wouldn’t allow my cook to do the cooking and I would prepare the curries myself 🙂 . I wanted to wash , cut , smell and taste the expensive veggies myself .

I liked the taste and flavors.

Lamakaan and Saptaparni are far from home and I wanted to visit more often but was unable to.

I had joined a group ‘Organic Meetup’ on FB, sometime ago.

A few days back I saw a post with the address of an Organic food store closer to where i live. It is named ‘Goodseeds’ . I wanted to go there the next minute. Went there directly from work and entered this neat little store with several packets and veggies placed on the shelves on the walls.I spent some time looking at each one of them.Though the atmosphere is incomparable to the lively atmosphere at  Saptaparni and Lamakaan , I was pleased with the items that are available here.There were a few veggies and I was told that new stock will arrive the next day.
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I pick up a few veggies , virgin coconut oil , millet ravva , chia seeds and apples.

I am back the next day and pick up cinnamon and more veggies.

I no longer want to buy groceries at the regular supermarkets. I am thoroughly enjoying the taste and flavor of Organic food.

I am now addicted to Organic food!!

The lady managing this store added my phone number to her whatsapp group and sent a msg as soon as new stock arrived.

I was her first customer to buy from the new stock :)))

This was the grocery haul.
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My experience till now with Organic food :

For the first time in three decades I tasted original  Shimla apples which crispy and have a sweet fragrance unlike other imported ones that have flooded the market.

For the first time in decades I was able to taste authentic cinnamon that is sweet. Memories flashed from childhood days when I would love to chew a small piece of cinnamon while mom was cooking and had placed a few pieces on the kitchen counter. These were very neat and clean too.

My morning ginger + cinnamon tea now tastes very sweet and I need not add honey to it .

Been ages since I smelled the typical sour flavour of dosakaaya (cucumber) while it was being cooked.

I like the shampoo bar too. It is vegan and made of soap nuts and vegetable oils.

I finally started cooking with cold pressed coconut oil and the curries are yummy. I plan to prepare Avial one of these days 🙂 .

While I buy the groceries I have a nice chat with the lovely lady as to how and where they source the groceries, the quality checks , home delivery , organic manure etc


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Moringa Oleifera (Drumstick) Vs Cancer

My Ayurvedic doctor has now included another herb , Moringa Oleifera , popularly known as Drumstick.I will be using Moringa along with other natural herbs to help me combat Multiple Myeloma.

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Drumstick is one of the regular veggies used in South Indian cooking. Frequently used in Sambhar and avial 🙂 . Also made into pickle.Tastes yummy once cooked but has a repulsive odour when raw. The leaves too are used in several recipes.

But not many know the powerful medicinal values of this tree. All parts of the tree including leaves, flowers, fruits, bark, roots, gum have medicinal properties.

 

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There have been several studies to show the effectiveness of Moringa in killing cancer cells.

Here are a few interesting articles that I found

Want to Stay Cancer Free?
Let This Food do the fighting!

https://www.themoringa.com/articles/cancer-prevention-supporting-treatment

https://www.themoringa.com/articles/cancer-treatment

So , along with Curcumin , Ashwagandha and Neem I am now armed with Moringa to fight and kill the villains in my body 🙂

Do include more Moringa in your diet.

 

~Sarve Janaha Sukhino Bhavantu~