Living in the country side

In India (and most of Asia), country side has 2 meanings – 1. Rural villages, 2. Lonely farmlands. Villages offer a close knit community where every knows and watches you. Lonely farmlands offer ample of solitude and nature.

We relocated to a lonely country side a few years back. Till then, I have lived in many cities across countries. I had always dreamed of living in the country side. Yet, nothing had prepared me for the real country side. Life in the country side is completely different from city life. From small aspects like cleaning and shopping, to financial and economic aspects, my entire view of life has undergone a drastic change.

Farmland 2

At first, beautiful scenery and wide open spaces were mesmerizing. Once I got used to the landscape, the next thing that caught my attention was the variety of life around – lush farmlands, cattle, goats, hens, dogs, and a wide array of birds.

Then we updated our modest little home into a spacious cottage. I spent a wonderful time exploring the world of Eco-friendly materials and design of open spaces.

Living in wide open spaces gives one the opportunity to read nature. Passage of seasons is beautiful and rhythmic. Everything in Nature, from soil to animals and birds are aware of the change in seasons. They change beautifully and adapt graciously to nature’s ways.

It is only us humans who find it difficult to adapt. Living far away from civilization presents a whole host of difficulties. Adapting graciously to this place has been a constant challenge.

The nearest grocery store is at least 6 km away. If I run out of sugar or salt mid way during cooking, I cannot buy supplies immediately. So, I have to keep tabs on my grocery usage and buy well in advance.

On the other side, the generosity of open spaces is over whelming. If I take a walk, I mostly return home with something to cook. In the rainy season, we get a never ending supply of wild mushrooms. In addition, there are plenty of beans, greens, curry leaves, coriander, yam, sweet potato etc growing around. Farmers around are generous and share their harvest easily.

It is easier to stay fit and active in the countryside. Reason being, you end up doing all the work around the house! Garbage disposal is a multi step process. You segregate your wastes, bury kitchen wastes, pack all plastic wastes and take them out to the trash can in the nearest town, burn dry leaves, paper wastes etc. We do minor plumbing, wiring and repair works, modifications around the house. It does sound like a lot of work.. Is this not enough to keep one fit and active?

The best advantage of living in the country side is about cutting down on unwanted spending. We do not get lured by window shopping. Clothes are brought when they are needed, not when the store has a sale. We rarely eat fast food, instead cook up snacks more often at home. We buy furniture after months of searching for the design and price we have in mind. Online shopping is difficult as home delivery is not available to remote farmlands.

Farmland 1

When spending decreases, savings increase. So we could afford frequent trips and explore places. No impulsive purchases during our trips.. except when the travel destination offers something that we need.., at a better price or quality.

Every minute is quality time spent with family. Views and scenery are beautiful. Life is slow and peaceful. I have become a different person since I started living in the wide open country side.

I am at peace now.

 

 

 

 

 

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Practical guide to losing weight

What does the word weight loss bring to your mind? Crash diets, Gym and personal trainers, Machines for home exercise, etc. The list is endless.

On deeper thought, weight loss is not a quick one month activity. It is a 3 step activity –  start losing weight,  tune the body to retain correct weight and adopt a healthy lifestyle throughout life.  In other words, weight and health go hand in hand. If a person is active, healthy and balanced, she is bound to have the correct weight.

In today’s world, a hectic life style is the main reason behind weight increase.  Women’s lifestyle involves running around taking care of several things together.  It leaves little time and energy to care for one’s body and mind. This hectic life style leads to insufficient or unbalanced food resulting in general weakness. Or it leads to mindless snacking and eating, resulting in obesity or high fat intake. But how then do we take care of responsibilities without compromising on weight & health.

Take things one at a time.Concentrate on the current work, without thoughts of rushing off to the next work. This comes in useful while handling busy morning hours. Boring household work like bending down to tidy the house, reaching high up the kitchen shelves, climbing stairs, heaving your laundry are all not just house hold chores. They are active exercises to keep you fit. Indulge in these activities eagerly.  
 
Spend time outdoors. Play with your kids. A game of run and catch or hide and seek will keep your body and mind young and fresh. If at work, use the stairs several times a day. It works your muscles and improves your stamina. Going to the neighbour hood shop or park is a good opportunity for a family walk. Rather than taking your car or two-wheeler, have a fun filled walk with your kids or a quite walk with your spouse.

An active life style is about consciously working your body. Feeling hit, active and healthy physically is the best way to retain correct weight and prevent diseases throughout life.

kondapalli_toy_cooking

Is it only exercises that tone the body and keep us fit. Apart from this, What we eat adn how we eat is the key factor to keep us active and fit for many long years. Sad enough, most of us have let our hectic life styles ruin our eating habits. You may be a busy home maker, or a responsible mother, or an active career women. Inspite fo these roles, every woman needs a balanced nutritious diet to keep herself fit and healthy.

Set aside time for your breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and needs to be high in calories. If you are an early waker, who is busy in the mornings preparing breakfast for the family, this is for you. Ensure you have a quick cup of cereals or oats or atleast a cup of coffee or tea before you start preparing breakfast. Ensure meals in the family provide for variety and nutrition. Fiber & carbohydrate rich foods like rice, wheat, vegetables etc need to be balanced with nutrition rich foods like egg, pulses, nuts and meat.
 
If little bites of snacks give you the much needed energy in between meal times, opt for fresh fruits, salads, boiled eggs or sprouts. Make dinners a time for relaxed family discussions. A warm glass of milk and easy to digest foods are  the best dinner combos. 
Sprouts salad

Image courtesy: Madhus Indian Recipes

An active life style and good eating habits ensure a healthy mind. But staying active, and fit also needs a healthy mind. Stress or sedantry mindsets are the biggest enemies in fighting weight increase.

Breathe easy… Consciously check to see if your breathing is fast and irregular. Slow and deep breathing ensure rhythmic activity of the lungs and heart.. thus ensuring a longer disease free life. Rest well and sleep long. Sleep is the key to a healthy mind. Do not let late night TV shows come in the way of your peaceful sleep. 
Let things go.. leave the past behind you. Brush aside disturbing incidents. Focus only on the present moment. Be determined to lead a happy life.

An active body and a happy mind are the key to health and long life. Turn your life style into an effective weight loss mechanism. This is a time tested guide to weight loss and healthy living.

An eco-friendly home

A green yard, butterflies, the scent of blooming flowers, abundant water, natural ventilation, etc etc are fast disappearing. Urbanization has fast wiped out all this. But, there are many nature loving people interested in eco-friendly life style. The first step starts right at our homes. Here are some easy ways to a green and eco-friendly home:

1. While moving houses, give preference to houses that allow ample sunlight and air flow.

2. While building houses, plan your window placements as per wind flow. Ensure every window / door in the house has an opposite window or door to allow movement of air. For maximum air flow, it is always good to have windows facing East / West. Nothing can beat open courtyards and skylights to make your house bright and airy.

Kerala windows

Image source: http://www.BespokeIndiaHolidays.com

3. Grow your own vegetables. This is the best way to reduce carbon foot prints. Every imported fruit or off – season vegetable in the super market was grown in a far away place and has been transported to your location. It has used up fuel and resources in travelling all the way. Instead buy from local farmer market, or grow your own vegetables.

4. If your garden space is limited, incorporate vegetable plants into your existing garden in an aesthetic manner. For example, spinach makes an excellent ground cover, instead of the familiar lawn. Beetroots, carrots, cabbage, turmeric etc make good border plants. Pumpkin, bitter gourd, bottle gourd etc would make your fence or alcove a pleasant sight.

Urban Vegetable garden

Image source: http://VrikshaNurseries.blogspot.in

5. Terrace gardens act like centralised air condition systems in keeping out heat. If you live in an apartment, it is an excellent opportunity to plan a community garden involving all residents. It is fun, easy to share the work, and also gives a constant supply of fresh flowers and vegetables.

6. Do you have a balcony or patio? Convert it into an english garden or a zen garden or a green reading corner. All it needs is creativity, a few potted plants and a couple of chairs 🙂

balcony garden

Image source: http://www.IndiaMart.com/SmentPune

7. Re-direct your tap water / or washing machine outlet to water your garden. It helps recycle and save a great deal of water.

8. Have a terracota jug or pot for storing drinking water. This is the best and safest source of refreshing cold water.

A WOMAN POTTER

Image source: http://www.TheHindu.com

9. Use neem oil, with crushed garlic to keep away mosquitoes. They work wonders in keeping out bugs, flies and mosquitoes. Neem leaves can also be used to prevent stored rice, wheat and grains from rotting.

10. If you live in hot areas, traditional flooring like terracotta tiles, Athangudi tiles keep your house cool through out the year. They are also easy to maintain  and clean.

Terracota floor

Image source: www.DoItYourself.com

An eco-friendly home  is not about having a green lawn and bird bath. It is about small things that reduce our consumption and help recycle. Let us do our bit in conserving and preserving nature around our house.

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