Mango- It’s great for you

(Disclaimer: If you think this is a fashion related post, my apologies. We are talking about the fruit not the fashion label)

For the last month or so, people around me just won’t stop cribbing about the summer.  ‘It’s mangowala season. The heat is worth it,’ I try to see the glass half full.

But recently, be it twitter, gym or even random dinner parties, everyone I meet seems to be appalled that I eat alphonso mangoes almost every day. I have been on a diet ever since I can remember. I am always about eating healthy and dissing junk food and I do count calories every step of the way. Apparently eating a mango every day is inconsistent with the above statements.

Bullshit. Mangoes are health food. I’d be a fool to deprive myself of the joys and goodness that a mango has to offer, based on half-baked information.  This is what the real deal is. Here is what mangoes are all about. Read!

  1. Mango = Lot of sugar: 1 mango has approximately 6 teaspoons of sugar, according to a few well-experienced nutritionists. However, this is sugar is fructose. It is a natural form of sugar devoid of any chemicals. Two nutritionists who are highly qualified and well-informed tell me that this sugar has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar. In simple words, this sugar is easy to digest and fairly acceptable when you’re controlling your calorie or sugar intake.
  2. King of nutrition: Mangoes come packed with Vitamin A, B, C, E and K and what’s more they are a rich source of minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc. Also, mangoes have a decent amount of dietary fiber that not only improves the digestive system but also aids weight-loss by making one feel satisfied.

Even though they contain a lot of sugar, Mangoes give your body a wealth of vitamins, minerals, fibers and anti-oxidants. With its nutritional content, mangoes are a great snack/meal option.

Why do most trainers and dieticians assume mangoes are a threat to fitness?

Like most foods, Mango is not bad for you but the way you eat it makes it bad for you. Most households serve a mango as dessert right after a meal or serve mango pulp (aamras) with a full meal. Also, we are in the habit of eating 2-3 (sometimes 7, yours truly holds that record) at a go. If eaten in either of the above manner, mango ends up being a fattening food. Let me explain.

Mango is best eaten as a meal by itself. According to Dr. Davare, a renowned Ayurvedic nutritionist, a mango is best eaten as breakfast or a pre-breakfast (before you head out for a workout) meal, every alternate day. If you eat a mango along with a full meal, the excess sugar gets converted to fat. In fact when I weighed 73 kilos and had an impossible target of 20 kilos to shed, I was allowed to eat a mango twice a week.

One is a powerful number: Don’t eat more than one mango. More than one mango means a lot of sugar which, if not utilized for energy, will lead to fat storage. You might think that one mango isn’t enough for a meal. You’d be surprised. It takes twenty minutes for your stomach to convey satiety to your brain. One mango can satisfy your hunger, just be patient.

Eat it raw: Yes, aam ras tastes awesome, so does mango milkshake and there’s nothing is wrong with enjoying these once in a while. However, juicing a fruit up leads to lesser satiety and you end up consuming more calories. On an average, one big bowl of aam ras is made from the pulp of 1.5 mangoes and of course we can’t forget the calories added by the jaggery or sugar. One rarely stops at one bowl of aam ras and there’s always a second helping involved. You do the math.  Also, when you blend or pulp a fruit, the fruit begins to oxidize which brings down its nutritional value (vit C is instantly lost). Blending usually destroys the fiber contained in a fruit. Therefore, any fruit is best eaten fresh and in its original form.

Next time you see a mango, don’t deprive yourself. Go ahead, bite into the aromatic, juicy fruit. Let the experience of eating a mango leave pale yellow stains on your t-shirt. As you bite into the pulpy Alphonso, let the juice drip into your palm. Extract every bit of juice, pulp from the ‘guthlee’ or ‘koy’ using your teeth until the fibers on the guthlees start looking whiter and whiter.  Enjoy the experience of eating a mango the way you did as a kid. Leave the guilt at home! If anyone tries to induce guilt, tell them to get in touch with me.

(Source: Common sense, Science textbook standard IV, my own pursuit of healthiness and Rujuta Divekar’s Lose Your Weight, Don’t Lose Your Mind)

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Move over Lucy, LSD has been hijacked by Indians

First with Khosla Ka Ghosla, Dibakar Banerjee introduced us to a typical middle-class Delhi family and their dreams, then he gave us Lucky, the Punjabi con artist who takes us through the different strata of Delhi society and now, he brings out three different stories about love, sex and dhoka (betrayal) that use the backdrop of varied Delhi cultures as a canvas on which this vivid picture is painted.
Dibakar Banerjee’s film links the movie camera to a CCTV and the CCTV to a spy camera via three different stories to tell us, we are being watched. He interlinks the stories wonderfully, without being too obvious or too intelligent. The stories are nothing different from what we once read in the papers, but it’s the way that they are told that captivates us. The characters, treatment and most importantly the background score and the music make this film awesome. Love, Sex aur Dhoka has a hidden agenda to shock you with this reality. Honestly, I wasn’t shocked at all.
‘The relevance would have been awesome four years ago,’ says the sister.
True that. Four years ago rich fathers had their daughters’ poor lover boys murdered, four years ago boyfriends were taking the country by the storm with recorded clips of private moments with their girlfriends and sting operations were oh-so-hot…
Today, sting operations happen, but they don’t really rock our world (they trend on twitter, I’ll give them that). MMS, CCTV footage scandals do happen, but they don’t shock us like they did back in the day and  four years ago, a father having his daughter and her lover killed was unthinkable or rather shocking to read in black and white.
In the last four years, media has desensitized us. We don’t dwell on these incidents, we see them, discuss them over coffee or in the train and we move on. We read about a businessman who had his Muslim son-in-law murdered, we discuss it for a few days and then the same businessman goes on to sponsor an IPL team owned by a Muslim. We read about a girl being attacked by a random man at Gateway of India, we read about a couple chopping up a man’s dead body into pieces and then we pick up our cup of tea and go about our business.
This film would have rocked the nation if it came out four years ago, but who would have put their money on a film that doesn’t have a definitive love story? Who would put money on a film that has ‘camera’ as a central theme? Dibakar Banerjee could get the funding for this film because of the success of his previous films. And the censor board passed this film, because we are an audience that won’t get disturbed by such stories.
I love the film for the way it tells its story, for the music and for the sheer joy of seeing Dibakar Banerjee’s ability to use the right aspects of different societies existing in Delhi to tell a story. It deserves its credit for being a good film for that reason. There’s no social change or awareness that it will bring about. Don’t dream honey, worse has already happened.
And for a change it’s good when real life seems an exaggerated version of reel life, and not vice versa.

And he made it happen!

‘What is it about cinema that makes you Indians go mad?’ my British friend once asked me. ‘What makes it such a religion?’

I honestly didn’t have an answer, but I felt it too. I still feel it when I buy tickets to an SRK movie or when I watch Dev D, but I can’t explain it. Maybe the answer lies in the way this industry originated, probably the madness, the passion was well sowed into it back in the days where it began.

Where did it all begin? Everybody knows Dadasaheb Phalke was the pioneer of Indian cinema. But you have to watch this story- the story of how the idea of making a moving picture (which we merrily have abbreviated to movie) completely possessed him, the story of how his vision helped establish what we today know as the largest film industry in the world. This story will make you understand and appreciate the madness of being ‘filmy’.

Harishchandrachi Factory, is a simple Marathi film that tells you the story of how Indian cinema was born. It begins in Girgaum, Mumbai on the 14th April 1911 when Dadasaheb Phalke chances upon a moving picture exhibit while running away from a keen investor. He gets so excited by the concept that he decides to go against all odds, sell his furniture, belongings etc. to explore and study this new form of art. He travels to London, acquires the equipment, learns the horrors of casting, discovers ‘method acting’, gets his wife to take on the role of developing the film, manages to release the film and when the theater is empty, the man discovers film promotions and marketing gimmicks to get the box office ringing. It’s such a thrill to see these things that we crack our heads over today, being effortlessly thought out by this one man, just out of passion and a vision.

Paresh Mokashi tells us this story in the Phalke format- simple scenes, linear narrative, jarring harmonium in the background, focusing completely on the story.This style of filmmaking could also be credited to his theater background, but that’s digressing.  It isn’t a path breaking film in terms of how it’s made. One could almost call it a docu-drama, but at the end of the film, when Phalke rejects an offer to move to London to stay back and establish filmmaking as an industry in India, you realize that the fact that you sit in this multiplex, watching this film distributed over a satellite network (a technology pioneered by Sanjay Gaekwad, an Indian) because of that one decision. I think this feeling is the reason why this film is made, and that is exactly why you must watch it.

Watch this film, for cinema, for the love of cinema and to just feel glad that it all happened. Perosnally, I can’t imagine my life without Indian films and I feel grateful to the fact that a potential investor chased Dadasaheb on 14th April 1911 and to escape this investor Dadasaheb chanced upon the tent screening moving pictures and out of curiosity, he spent 2 annas on a ticket… 2 annas well invested…

Natarang: Must Watch!

‘Every man has a bit of a woman in him and every woman has a bit of a man in her…’ says Gunwantarao Kagalkar as he fights to prove to the world that his masculinity is intact but circumstances and his passion for his art have driven him to be the ‘Nachya’ the effeminate, graceful, half man half woman in a ‘Tamasha’

Story

Adapted from Dr.Anand Yadav’s novel by the same name, Natarang is the story of Gunwantrao aka Guna Kagalkar played by Atul Kulkarni. Guna is a helping hand on the farm and someone quite disinterested in anything but the art of Tamashaa. Tamashaa, is his creative outlet, but the world does not get it…

When the landlord fixes a pump to draw water out of the well, Guna and his friends are rendered jobless. To overcome their unemployment, Guna decides to set up his own Tamashaa crew. He works through the challenges of writing the songs and plays, getting the actors to learn their dialogue, but when their only hope, a young girl, who could be their heroine, demands a Nachya, he finds himself at a loss. No man would put his masculinity on the line for an art form but for Guna, this is his passion. Guna transforms himself from a hatta-katta pehelvan into an effeminate Nachya and their Tamashaa crew starts pulling in the bucks. However, Guna’s struggle doesn’t end here. He has to fight politicos, the society that questions his masculinity and to convince this very society that Tamashaa is a form of art and Tamashgirs, artistes.

I always enjoy films or books that give me something beyond the premise of the story, and Natarang goes to do that on many levels. Be it chronicling the folk art form, which by the way is almost never visible to us urban ‘Maharashtrians’ or be it talking about an artiste’s struggle in swimming against the tide, Natarang touches a chord and how…

Performance

Atul Kulkarni, yet again proves himself to be a brilliant performer as he switches from the ‘tagda’ Guna to the ever so graceful Nachya. When he moves, you cannot take your eyes off him, and when he burns to tell the world that labels him ‘Phalkya’ (Marathi slang for Gay), that he is nothing but a passionate ‘Kalakaar’, you burn with him. The grace he brings to the character is phenomenal… Right before the interval as he transforms into the ‘Nachya’ you can’t help but applaud. Sonali’s (not Sonali Kulkarni as buzz18 conveniently calls her) introduction in the film as the young, graceful Naina Kolhapurkarin, makes you want to get up and dance.

The Music

The soul of the film is the fabulous background score by Ajay-Atul. It captures emotions of every scene, every character and just creates magic. They are my favourite music directors and you will know why when you watch the film.
Biggest drawback, in my opinion is the lack of subtitles. A passionate film like this should not be limited to an audience of one language alone.

My take: 4.5/5

And yes, this is the second Marathi film I’ve seen in the past month, first being Gabhricha Paus, and I am proud to say that in quality of content and creating that magic of cinema, Marathi films are way ahead than the much larger Bollywood. I want to congratulate the entire unit of Natarang for creating this fabulous cinematic experience that captures entertains, emotes and enriches the mind of the Cinephile in me…

Judaai Is Not The End of Pyaar

My dad’s friends’ love stories always amuse me. Some of them started dating whilst in college and stuck to their relationship even as they travelled to different cities to pursue their careers, post grad degrees and all that. ‘They didn’t even have telephones back then, letters were their only hope,’ says Dad. ‘Besides, breaking up was not an option for them. They had decided already that this person was their life partner. They did what they had to and made it work!’ And mind you. There were no mobile phones, no pagers, and no email back in their day. ‘People didn’t even have telephones, you had to go to the neighbours’ if you wanted to make a call’ Dad tells me.

Next morning my phone goes frantic. SOS messages. ‘I think I am getting dumped,’ one message says.
‘She’s moving to UK, I am breaking up!’ another message says. Wow! Last night’s gyaan is totally out of date, I tell myself as I get out of bed. Most of my friends, me included, strongly believe that long distance relationships are just not worth the effort.

‘My girlfriend went to Singapore for her masters and within 3 months all I had left was astronomical phone bills, crazy amount of time wasted on the computer, cartloads of angst and a dysfunctional relationship,’ says Mr. J. Add to it, facebook made it prominent that his girl was busy but with parties and fun outings. ‘If a guy flirted with my girl when she was here in Mumbai, I wouldn’t give a damn but a picture with a guy randomly putting his arm around her on facebook pisses me off now that she’s so far away!’ he adds. They finally broke it off because their relationship started becoming a liability.

‘There’s no point of being in it if everything about your relationship bothers you. Not having your guy around to hug you, to tell you it’ll be alright is just not cool. I miss him, but I don’t miss the online fights. I’m glad it’s over,’ says Mr. J’s girlfriend.

Kinda paints a bleak picture about long distance, doesn’t it? As Ashish Chand accurately puts it, for many people a long distance relationship is the kiss of death. Ashish firmly believes that they can work, however, this is conditional. ‘If you’ve just met someone and the relationship goes long distance, it’s going to fail. At this stage you crave for each other. You want to be physically close. But if you’ve gotten over the clingy phase, there is hope in spite of the distance,’ he explains.

Poo, a self-confessed commitment phobic agrees with Ashish and thinks that long distance relationships just get a lot of bad PR, ‘Long distance isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be. If you are someone who values your space, it can be a boon.’

Of course, Poo firmly believes that in addition to constantly reassuring your partner of your love, you have to have mutual trust and the ability to be very open with your partner (which is where the Js failed) ‘With email, chat, skype and other such tech innovations, long distance is definitely possible!’

But what happens when you’ve had a bad day and all you want is a hug from your partner or when you miss them so bad, you can’t take it?

‘It takes a lot of time and patience,’ says RV who believes that one has to invest a lot of time and emotion to make up for time apart. Much like V had to.

‘Knowing that the long distance was only for a couple of months, made it easy. I missed him like crazy at times. Sometimes, it got so bad I almost thought of ending it, but then I’d remind myself of the big picture. You love this person enough to want to be with them? Then the long distance is just a hurdle you have to cross…’ says V. She is now married to the guy, so yeah, she crossed the hurdle.

If your partner is in the same country as you at least you are in the same time zone. Honey had to battle a transatlantic time-zone war to keep her relationship going. This essentially meant that when she slept, her guy was awake and vice-versa. ‘We both were sure we wanted it to work. Ending it was not an option.  We web-cammed, shared filmy music, shayari and photographs to reassure each other. If you want to make it work, you can,’ she explains. She also thinks that observing her parents, who shared a LDR for a while, has taught her that the distance can actually work in the favour of the relationship. It can make you independent, strong and it can teach you the value of the much spoken about ‘space’ between couples. ‘It is not for the weak hearted, though. You will spend a lot of time away from your partner and that takes strength,’ she warns.

In conclusion, if you really love this person and the idea of long distance is bogging you down, think again. Give it a shot, it’s worth it. And finally, based on the yapping I did on twitter, here are three things you should focus on.

1.    Be strong. Remind yourself of the big picture and be ready to do what it takes to make it work.

2.    Keep communication channels open. This will reduce misunderstandings and reassure your partner of your sincerity

3.    Use technology. Skype, email, IM etc are free. They will reduce your phone bills!
And yeah, good luck, I say!

PS: SMSers I hope you guys give it a shot. This one’s for you

Celebrating Love…

“Why are you going to the Queer Azaadi March?” asks a friend. After seeing me drool after SRK, Johnny Depp and Dempsey, she knows I am straight, so it beats her as to why I need to go participate in a cause that’s not mine. I did answer her, but not with something as lame as ‘I support it’. If you are human, have some common sense and sensitivity, you will support it.

The reason I went for the march happens to be a little different. I have a problem with people limiting homosexuality to the sexual aspect and nothing beyond. I have a problem with people not understanding the trauma of breaking the moulds of the society that are designed for the heterosexual majority. I have a problem with the fact that loving someone has to have a conditional clause that they should be of the opposite sex for it to be accepted.

I went because I think love is a beautiful emotion and it can happen between a man and a woman or a man and a man or between a woman and a woman. No matter who it happens between, love is beautiful and there should be no reason for one to hide it in the closet, least of all, because of who they chose to love.

I went to the march to say that I’m sorry. We heterosexuals are a majority and we’ve imposed our choices, our stereotypes on you. I wanted to say that I understand how traumatic it is to come out of the closet and I hope in a few years it will be easier. I wanted to walk the walk and say, you and I can’t be different just because of our sexual orientation. We love and live with passion and hey, everyone chooses who they want to love. How can that make you different?

There’s no I, me, you and them. There’s just us and together we’ll try to make it a better world, a better country (okay okay, I’m still obsessed with MJ, but I mean it!)

By the way, it was awesome to see such a turnout. It has taken us years to come on the streets and celebrate. And I’m damn proud of everyone who showed up in support. Thank you Piu, thank you ever so much for taking us along 🙂

Hunt For The Perfect Gym

Gymming has begun again. I want to run the marathon you see. Before I gave my hard earned money and precious time, I wanted to see a few gyms. I have been to a lot of gyms and lots of weightloss strategies have been tried. It wasn’t successful until I found my zone. I enjoyed walking and hence ditched a gym to walk 25 kilos off. Read more about that here. Since I have the experience, I thought I should write about my hunt for the perfect gym, in case someone finds it useful.

1. Distance: I have been to gyms that are 15 minutes away, 20 minutes away and I have realized that what you really need is a gym that’s a hop skip and jump away. If you have to trek to the gym, it will give you more reasons to ditch the gym. I wanted a gym I could reach in 10 minutes tops. Luckily there were two gyms which were a 7 minute walk away. I chose one of them. This way even if I’m late, I still end up going for half an hour.

2. Friendly and understanding staff: My last gym was Talwalkar’s which is highly reputed. They have an awesome staff but, when I shared my walk and diet regime with them, they reacted weird. When my walk and diet regime showed results where they had failed (my body had water retention, I wasn’t sleeping, and other such lame excuses while the real problem was that my exercise regime was not suiting me at all), they asked me negative questions and kept saying I was going to bounce back to my earlier weight. I didn’t. I just quit the gym. If you’re not going to be nice to me, I won’t pay you. That’s my simple mantra.

3. Realistic goals: As I said earlier, I had two gyms close to me. One of those was Mickey Mehta’s 360. Here I was told I am ‘heavy weight’ when I am just 3 kilos away from my target weight. I was told I ‘NEED’ a diet, when I specifically said that I was looking to tone up and weight loss was not my agenda. I don’t want gyaan patti, I just want what I want. If your goal is to create Miss India type bodies, great. It’s not my aim and please respect that. I opted out. I anyway suffer from the ‘am I fat?’ syndrome. I don’t need a gym to reinforce that!

4. Solitude: Another reason why I wouldn’t go to Talwalkar’s is that it is maha crowded. During peak hours, it feels like a social club and you have to wait loads before your turn on the machines. I don’t like to be preoccupied with the thought of peckdeck getting free by the time I finish my benchpress. I want to have a good time exercising. Btw, why do men make weird sex sounds while pumping the iron? Weird, eh?

These things are, of course over and above the regular stuff like well trained staff, stat of the art facilities and hygiene. Too much to ask? I don’t think so! It’s our body, its our time and its our money, we might as well make sure we get the best there is!