ON IN THE US AN INDIAN STORY Even in tough times life goes on. By A. K. Shyamala Shenoy

It was the time just before the US recession and the economy seemed to be booming. Many of my husband’s friends had started their own start-up operations and were doing very well. Our Saturday-night get-together discussions were centred on success stories starting from Sabir Bhatia’s Hotmail. We had enough savings and my husband decided to start a new software firm. We also decided to shift to a more spacious villa in the suburbs from the apartment we had in the city. From
the contacts he developed in his earlier employment, my husband got a few contracts and we seemed to be on the right track.

Then the downturn happened. First the real-estate prices nosedived. The property we purchased was worth only half the value we paid for it just six months earlier. We had taken a loan to purchase the property and we had to pay the installments at the original value of the property.
Our software firm was based in India and we had remitted most of the revenues to India. The dollar rate was hovering at Rs 38 and most of




the conversion took place at th a” We watched helplessly as recession deepened and sp-aa: Asian countries and the dol a- steadily climbed and even Rs 50.

Emotionally, we were ill-ec_ : to take on the vagaries o‘ business after being use: cushioned, well-paying jobs »- risk-taking is minimal. We middle-aged when our childre- born and it was difficult get: rc to looking after two kids in s. short span of time. Did we nee: more misfortune? My hus: = grandfather who was the pil =’ : strength passed away in Inc a a grand old age of 95.

How are we coping? Life is a teacher. Our dreams are sha- but we have learnt to take r -: our stride. We have enough -: by, a supporting family in \-z a friends here in the US who a i by us through thick at Recently, I was invited to ao: a: prestigious international con.a- on humanity in Europe. My and I are looking forward :: have decided to take a smal while attending the conve” :_ they say, life goes on


How is it that tea is healthy for the Chinese and they can drink enormous quantities while when we drink a lot of tea, we get acidity and heartburn?

It is true that tea is rich in anti­oxidants, helps fight cardiovascular diseases, reduces bad cholesterol, and keeps us young.

Overall, tea is good for our health, but the way we drink it in India – i.e. when it is processed too much, or has milk added to it – it loses its benefits. So, to get the best from tea, we should drink it the way the Chinese do.

What is vegetable stock and how can we make it at home?

In one litre of water, add a small quantity of all the vegetables avail­able at home together with an onion, 3-4 cloves of garlic, a small piece of ginger, a bay leaf and a few pepper­corns. Allow to boil in a heavy- bottomed pan till the water reduces to half the quantity. Cool and strain through a muslin cloth or a very fine sieve. This vegetable stock can be used in various gravies.

It is a most common question from all the health-conscious people these days: which is the healthiest fat?

The most important thing to remember is that we need a variety

of oils in our diet. Therefore, we must consider a rotation of oil types. This is because each oil/fat has some unique essential fatty acids. When we include a variety of oils in our diet we have a better chance of incorpor­ating the health benefits of a range of fatty acids.

We have heard that soya bean is very good for us. Kindly let us know the advantages and disadvantages if taken in excess.

It is true that soya is a very good source of proteins for us, especially for vegetarians. It is good for the heart and also brings relief to post­menopausal women.

But people will have a problem if they have soya in excess. Too much can cause hormonal imbalance which can even result in reduced hair growth. It can also lead to digestion problems. Soya beans have a high level of phytic acid more than any other legume.

Phytic acid may block the absorption of certain minerals, including magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. So anything taken in moderation, however beneficial, is good and even a little in excess can cause problems for us.

What do the following terms related to ‘chocolates’ mean? Conching, chocolate liquor, cacao, cocoa butter and confectionery coating.

Conching means rolling or stirring chocolate to smooth out the particles during manufacture. Chocolate liquor is the thick, non-alcoholic liquid made

from grinding the nibs inside cacao beans.

Cacao is the tropical tree a*: bean it produces. Cocoa burre- = fat extracted when cacao bee: processed into chocolate tionery coating is made • vegetable fat, sugar, milk so c: flavourings. It’s used as a substitute, but isn’t chocolate

Chocolate burns easily, so wh® be the best procedure to me* t* Yes, chocolate burns eas must be melted with care chocolate is melted in a douc a over hot or barely simmering Nowadays, it can also be me ‘a: microwave.

Do let us know a few dos and 3 while baking a cake.

The cake batter shoulc r ‘sheet consistency’ – i.e. on into the cake tin a ribbon shea’ should form. Do not fill the ca more than half, as space is re for the cake to rise.

Do not open the door of tre in between as the tempera:. • fall and this will prevent the ca- a rising properly.

Do preheat the oven •: minutes before putting in the ca* –

Do not open the oven im as the cake will sink due : sudden change in temperature the draft of air enters.

Do not try to remove the when hot, otherwise the ca*e break.

– Savita Bha


Marrying for a (different) Cause!

Marry in a Puducherry, honeymoon for the rest of your life in Paris! But first, dish out. In this exotic former French colony, young men are making a beeline for French belles with starry eyes, pounding hearts – and bulging wallets. But marital bliss doesn’t come cheap. The brides, Indian- origin French citizens, demand and get dowries between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 50 lakh. This has been the trend in Puducherry for the last few decades. Families here want French daughters-in- law so that their sons can get French nationality and become rich. Newly-married men could earn a fortune in France and enjoy a slew of welfare measures extended by the Government there.

Kabootar-baazi has been the time-tested way of getting to Canada. Now , some hopefuls have discovered a cheaper, less risky option. Not Malta or Turkey, this route goes via the altar. A phony marriage to a Canadian has become the easiest way of acquiring a resident visa. In this rent-a-marriage route to immigration, the finery, garlands, guests and even the spouse are all conveniently arranged by an unscrupulous consultant who is hand in glove with a local temple.

And is your lovely daughter getting married soon? Forget about gifting a car or diamond jewellery. That’s passe. More and more parents are getting marriage websites designed for their children. What can be more unique than that? A website that’ll capture all the Kodak moments of th£ wedding. This concept has been quite popular in the West for the last 10 years and is catching on in India too. Says Pradip Thyagarajan, director,

weddingsutra.com, “People want to share the beauty of their relationships with others, particularly with those far away.” Weddingsutra.com started designing such websites four years ago and gets nearly 10 customers every month as against a few earlier.

All you have to do is approach a Web designer and give him details of the marriage – venue, timing, route and, at times, personal details such as where the couple works and how they met.

Designed usually weeks

and relatives informer the website, either by the parents or the designers thema Designers charge betwee- 10,000 and Rs 30,000 depe”: ‘ the memory load. The V*-. remains functional fc_ months and can be reir after a payment of Rs – X made.

Such websites mitiga s
workload of the hosts

from being a mec ._ flaunt, it makes simpler. You dc~: instance, have to a* calls from guests for routes, etc interesting comp: • a – the website is toe list which pm details of gt~a couple would •: have. Guests choose one of the and buy it online moment they bu.. : gift gets deleted ~ site so that the buyer doesn’t choree • same gift.
The length of a lehanga and a blouse is getting shorter and the silhouettes are getting fitter.

  • Apart from shades of red, magenta and pink, we’ll get to see a lot of out-of-the ordinary colours, like sea-green, turquoise-blue, lavender, mauve, strawberry, burgundy, gold, fuchsia, rust, copper and so on.
  • Heavily beaded bags, shoes with similar embroidery as your dress, and even waist belts are in great demand.

The mantra is, if you have the figure, flaunt it!

Rudolf Valentino – Jean Acker 6 hour:
Robin Givens – Syetozar Marinkovic 24 ho_’:-
Britney Spears – Jason Alexander 48 hoL—
Dennis Hopper – Michelle Phillips 8 da. a
Cher – Gregg Allman 9 da..:
Carmen Electra – Dennis Rodman 10 da., a
Robert Evans – Catherine Oxenberg 12 da. s
Drew Barrymore – Jeremy Thomas 29 da • 5
Ernest Borgnine – Ethel Merman 32 days
Jim Carrey – Lauren Holly 11 mor:-;
Sly Stallone – Brigitte Nelson 18 mor:-a
Julia Roberts – Lyle Lovett 2 yea-
Richard Gere – Cindy Crawford 3 yea-s
Madonna – Sean Penn 4 yea—
Kim Bassinger – Alec Baldwin 7 yea-s
Meg Ryan – Dennis Quid 9 yea-
Tom Cruise – Nicole Kidman 10 yea*s
Bruce Willis – Demi Moore 11 yea-