Hydration mantra

– By Angana Sengupta

Sun + heat= sweat

With the mercury level reaching new heights I am sure everyone is facing this problem. The increase in humidity is only helping in losing out on energy. Thus we need to keep a track of the nutrients that we losing and one of the most important nutrients is water. To stay hydrated and cool this summer all you have to do is take care of your diet and a little bit of exercise. Here are some tips as to what to eat and drink this summer.

  1. Iced coffee

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Rather than starting your day with a hot cup of tea or coffee, try a glass of cold coffee. It’s refreshing and helps to control the body heat. Even more, a cup of coffee also helps in reducing the risk of developing skin cancer.

  1. Watermelon

Watermelon

Summer does not mean that you only have to increase the amount of water you drink. You can also eat to stay hydrated. Watermelon is one of those fruits that have 92% of water content. Thus all you have to do is get a watermelon, store it in your fridge and then eat it up. It also consists of antioxidants that are good for your skin. So next time if you see that your skin is glowing, you know whom to thank.

  1. Curd/Yoghurt

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Curd is an exceptionally good coolant and helps in maintaining the body temperature in summers. You can make delicious butter milk or raita or chaach out of it, or you can simply eat it the way it is.

  1. Cucumber

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Want a solution for constipation this summer? Try out cucumber for a change. This veggie is high on fiber which helps to reduce the problem of constipation. It also helps in keeping the body hydrated.

  1. Corn

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A natural sunglass-sweet corn consists of lutein and zeaxanthin- the two antioxidants which help in forming a pigment that protects the eyes from the harmful rays. The corn also helps in maintaining eyesight in the long run.

  1. Fat free or skimmed milk

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As everyone knows that milk is an excellent source of calcium, it’s a must have during summer. Have cold milk or make a milkshake out of it, but have milk on a regular basis. Research shows that milk is even better than water to rehydrate after exercise. So, after some hardcore workout you know what to look for!

  1. Green Veggies

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I know green veggies are such a turn off for us but then we fail to realize the benefits they have. Though it’s good to have veggies throughout the year, but one should take an extra helping of them during the summers. They are high on water content and thus overcooking of the veggies should be avoided.

  1. Iced tea

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Want something refreshing after a long days work? Then why wait? A glass full of iced tea is your next destination. Add lemon to it and yes you are surely on a trip to heaven. Other than the refreshing effect, tea also helps in reducing the chances of Alzheimer’s and diabetes gives us healthier teeth and strong bones.

  1. Coconut water

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To look young this summer drink a lot of coconut water. Research has proved that coconut water has anti-ageing properties. Plus it helps to keep your body cool. It has simple sugars, electrolytes and essential minerals which help to keep the body well hydrated. so now you know what not to ignore if you want to look young in summer?

  1. Lime water

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For people who do not want to increase their caffeine intake, a glass of chilled lime water is all they need. It’s not only refreshing but also helps in reducing fats. Add mint to it and you will have an instant cooling effect which surely will last long.  Have it chilled and beat the heat.

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Shahi Tukra by Promita Baul

As the name suggests, Shahi Tukra is a royal dessert, made up of bread, dry fruits and cardamom. I can assure you, that not only the name, but the recipe is also quite interesting. It is very tasty and easy to make. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s start with the ingredients.

Ingredients:

4 pieces of bread

1 1/2 cups milk

4 tbsp condensed milk

1/2 slice fresh bread crumbs

1/4 tsp cardamom (elaichi) powder

½ cup raisins

A pinch of nutmeg (jaiphal) powder

1 tbsp slivered almonds (badam) and pistachios

1 to 2 edible silver leaf (vark)

Method:

Combine the milk, bread crumbs, cardamom and nutmeg in a broad bottomed non-stick pan and boil it till the mixture becomes thick. Then once it is done, remove the pan and keep it aside and give it a standing time. Next cut the crusts off from the slices of bread/raisin toast and quarter the slices. Then heat oil in a pan at medium flame and deep fry the pieces of bread in it till they are crisp and golden. Drain on paper towels.

In the same oil, sauté the raisins till they puff up and then remove from the oil and drain well on paper towels. Put the bread pieces on a flat serving dish and add the thickened milk mixture on top of it ensuring that all the bread pieces are covered. Refrigerate till it is chilled.

Your Shahi Tukra is ready. You can garnish with the silver vark, raisins, almonds and pistachios.

Note: Calorie conscious people may use simple toast bread instead of fried bread.

Asche Bochor Abar Hobe: The culture of Durga Puja in Kolkata

– Written by Joyona Medhi

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Source: Samhati Bhattacharjya

Come the first few weeks of August, and one can actually hear the heart of a bong thumping faster and sometimes even skipping a beat or two in anticipation of the coming of his Maa- the coming of Pujo!

The air is absolutely thick with the feeling one gets just before the starting, the unraveling of something extremely huge…, the feeling you get standing near the wings of the stage with just a few minutes left for your performance to begin.., the feeling you get just before reaching the peak of a much awaited climax.

 

If energy, passion, paranoia, madness, mania, hyperventilation, hysteria, red bull, glucon-d and chaos, could all be personified into one single being on this planet…-it would have to be the all grimy and sweaty bong, who under the concentrated two o’clock sun, sits in an auto patiently stuck in a huge jam in the heart of a buzz-filled gariahat , clutching onto innumerable bulging shopping bags of different shapes and sizes. After managing to strike up a heated argument with the autowalla over the fare, with eyebrows crinkled up in determination, he now contemplates about the ‘buy-2-get-1-free’ offer in the new mall and how to best avail of it!

 

Who cares whether it’s school time, college time, office time, and that people have their peaceful daily lives to carry on with? It’s Pujo, and everything must come to a standstill! Otherwise how can it even be called pujo or even feel like pujo? –That’s bong logic for u!! Pandals built right in the middle of roads. Traffic somehow haphazardly diverted. Red, green, yellow -who’s ever heard of them? We make our own traffic rules here! Epicenters of the city blocked, taxis refusing to go anywhere (if you get them empty i.e), people refusing to do any work (if you get them not pretending to be all busy i.e) –this is what the festive season entails. “Pujo ashche toh! apni pujo’r por’e ashben!”-goes the universally accepted excuse which almost seems to imply that putting the words “pujo” and “work” in the same sentence is nothing short of blasphemy! The snakelike auto lines extend till god knows where and one seems to wonder why ‘flyovers’ were even named such! You start having second quadruple thoughts about stepping out of your house…Capitalism, pouncing on this very opportunity of pujo, with its hidden handmaidens of price rise and inflation, seeking to lure the Bengali customer, greets you with a smile an advertisement at every shop you pass by.

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Source: Pixabay

The peaceful and quaint little footpaths, with a series of distractingly colorful junk jewellery shops running parallel to them, which used to be a stroller’s paradise before, now seem just the opposite. You have to take in a deep long breath, summon all the forces of the universe, put on the face of a sumo wrestler,(if possible even start believing that you’re one!),and scream out a war cry!! Only then can you…push, and pull, and kick, and bite, and hit, and tickle, and squeeeeeeze your way out of those very same but now claustrophobic footpaths, filled with, boudis enthralled by anything remotely sparkly in the smallest of shops, engrossed in bargaining, and absolutely refusing to budge an inch from rendering the ‘footpath’ completely unworthy of being called one! After accomplishing THAT, when you feel like you’ve created history, you definitely deserve a bournville – because now, you’ve actually EARNED it!

Pujo comes and it is as though a large maniacal ‘cut-loose’ monster, finds incarnation in the whole Bengali community! A monster which has an irrational undying thirst for visiting every single pandal in Kolkata starting right from the day of panchami only ,come rain come shine! A monster whose eyes become absolutely hypnotic throughout the entire pujo season! A monster who will, pull and tug and grope, (if need be even kill), to have a 5 second glimpse of the deity! A crazy, multiple armed (to do everything that can be possibly done during pujo) monster, who seems to have chugged down 5 to 6 red bulls at one go. A monster whose, sometimes impulsive, sometimes high-on-life, sometimes tipsy, and sometimes fierce i-can-kill-for-pujo mood swings, drive the entire community. I think it hides in the d.n.a of every Bengali -runs in their very veins. A little chromosomal monster that rears its head at the slightest mention of the word pujo!

Even though to an outsider, pujo seems to run on the policy of ‘live, (to the fullest) and don’t let anyone else live peacefully’, what is important is that it is the celebration of ‘life’ and the joy of ‘living’ more than anything else …and including every possible one in it (irrespective of whether he or she wants to be included)! It’s like all the joy of this ‘city of joy’ is out on its very streets during pujo. So much so that pujo becomes an expression of the city itself. It is almost as though the city bursts into laughter during those few days. If the true innate essence of the city were to be corked up inside a small bottle, labeling the bottle ‘pujo’ would be just apt.

So to truly understand pujo and what is it that people loose their sleep over, you’ve to understand the city, understand Kolkata first. By walking down its lanes and by-lanes, and its every nook and corner everyday, you slowly start feeling the pulse of the city. It is a reverberating rhythm which amplifies and resounds in the manic dhak-dhaking of the million hearts during pujo. You can not only hear it, but feel it …, when you get goose bumps when the dhakais first begin to play their beat, when your hair stands when you hear the dying echo of the shankh, or when you get creeped out by the unnatural eerie quite after dashami

Kolkata has a soul, a soul that died and became one, because its heart’s arteries became blocked with too much of mishti doi laden sweetness …but is a soul nonetheless.
And in being driven crazy by it, and hating it from the core of your heart, you know that somehow some part of you has already fallen in love with it.