Monday, 2 July 2018

When my favorite library closed...

I had been a member of Eloor lending library, Chennai for almost two decades, and have had the pleasure of borrowing diverse titles including fiction, biography, art, psychology, health, self help and non-fiction. Over the years, the library with its ever increasing collection of books fulfilled my thirst for reading. Hence, the closure of the library owing to poor patronage and mounting losses came as a rude shock to me.

Eloor library, first started in Ernakulam, Kerala in 1979, has subsequently opened branches in Trivandrum, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi. Falling number of visitors and cancellation of memberships have led to the closure of Delhi and Kokata outlets as well. This well stacked library had books of all genres and I do miss the joy of browsing through the books before selecting the titles I wanted to read. 

In 2017, five branches of Delhi public library were closed due to lack of membership.  Can digitalization be blamed for the dwindling interest in books? Is the Gen Next just not interested in reading anymore? Well, one cannot escape the fast changing environment steered by digitalization. Be it communication, healthcare, banking, media or retail, digitalization has its tentacles reaching every walk of life. Online shopping for books, both print and e-books, has adversely affected the traditional book stores. This is forcing the publishers to re-orient themselves to the changing markets. 


Tablets, e-readers, and now, the mobile phones are competing with humble books and news papers. Today’s reader does not have the patience to read through lengthy articles nor does he perceive the joy of reading. It is only the information that counts, that too provided succinctly in just a few words! With unlimited online sources easily available to the reader, it is inevitable that publications and libraries suffer. 

Of course, there are ample benefits in digitalization. However, it lacks the charm of some of the olden ways. Today’s digital natives miss out on human interaction, enjoying subtle pleasures of life, and meaningful communication, to name a few. The effect of rapid digitalization on the body and mind can only be assessed over time. It is difficult at this point of time to say whether its benefits outweigh the risks, which are not fully understood yet. However, one is forced to adapt to the changing times! Well, I had to settle for a kindle e-reader and a kindle unlimited subscription. Is it a “library in your hand”? Oh, I am not sure; I still miss the joy of reading a proper book.  

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This article was also published on LinkedIn on 2nd July 2018. 

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Progress!


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Monday, 21 May 2018

Ridge Gourd Chutney (பீர்க்கங்காய் துவையல்)

Traditionally ridge gourd or its skin alone (!) has been used to make thuvayal. This chutney or thuvayal (பீர்க்கங்காய் துவையல்) makes a good accompaniment to curd rice or even rasam rice! Let me share the authentic traditional recipe with you.

Ingredients:
Ridge gourd – small, cut into cubes (do not peel), 1 no
Toor dhal or split red gram – 1 tablespoon
Red chili – 2-3 no or as desired
Salt – to taste
Coconut – grated, 2 tablespoons (optional)
Tamarind – a small bit
Asafoetida – a generous pinch
Oil – 2 teaspoons

Method: Wash the ridge gourd well, cut off the ends and cut the vegetable into cubes. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a kadai, add red chilies and toor dhal. Fry till the dhal turns golden brown. Transfer to a bowl. Now heat the remaining oil and fry the ridge gourd pieces till the fleshy portion starts to become soft. Allow the vegetable to cool. Later grind the fried items, ridge gourd, coconut, tamarind, salt and asafoetida using a mixer-grinder into a smooth paste. Your chutney is ready! 

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Carrot Salad

Carrots are best suited for making salad either alone or in combination with other vegetables. Today I wish to share a special recipe combining carrots and mint leaves in honey-lemon dressing.

Ingredients:
Carrots – 3 no, sliced thinly
Fresh mint leaves – 15-20 no, chopped
Ginger – 1/4" piece, grated
Honey – 1 tablespoon
Salt – to taste
Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon
Pepper powder - a generous pinch (adjust to taste)

Method:  Scrape the skin and wash the carrots in running water. Cut them into fine slices using a vegetable slicer. Wash the mint leaves and chop them roughly. In a bowl, mix honey, lemon juice, salt, grated ginger and pepper powder. Mix very well. Add in the carrot slices and mint leaves. Refrigerate for 10 minutes and serve chilled.

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Saturday, 28 April 2018

Cauliflower-Green Peas Curry

Cauliflower is categorized as an “English” vegetable, and hence, not many preparations involving cauliflower are available in the traditional Tamil Brahmin cuisine. However, cauliflower can be used to make curries and gravies that taste great with both rice and chapatti. Today, I wish to share with you a simple recipe that combines cauliflower and green peas to make a yummy side dish for chapattis.

Ingredients:
Cauliflower – medium, 1 no
Green peas – shelled, ¼ teacup or 50 ml measure
Onion – large, 1 no, finely chopped
Tomatoes – 2 no, chopped
Ginger – 1” piece, grated
Salt – to taste
Oil – 1 tablespoon
Jeera or cumin seeds – ½ teaspoon
Coriander leaves or cilantro – chopped, 1 tablespoon

For the masala:
Fresh curds – ¾ teacup or 150ml measure
Garam masala – 1 teaspoon
Kashmiri chili powder – ½ teaspoon (adjust to taste)

Cauliflower-Green Peas Curry
Method: Separate the cauliflower florets. Heat 600ml of water in a vessel. When it boils, add 1 teaspoon salt and cauliflower florets. Cover the vessel and switch off the stove immediately. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Drain the water and wash the cauliflower in running water, drain fully and keep aside. Boil peas in sufficient water for 10 minutes, drain and keep aside.

Heat oil in a kadai, add cumin seeds and when they start to crackle, add onion pieces. Sauté for a while till the pieces start to brown. Now add cauliflower, green peas and required salt. Cover and cook on low flame till the vegetable is cooked. Beat the curds very well and blend it with garam masala and Kashmiri chili powder. Add in the masala mixture and mix well. Simmer for 5 minutes. Switch off the stove and garnish with chopped coriander. Serve hot with roti, chapatti or parathas.

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