” A Journey of thousand miles begins with a single step” – Chinese Proverb.
Our first trip to the United States was in April 2017 to see our daughter in New York and travel around. My first visit to the 9/11 site reminded me of the destruction and demolition happening around the world. Loss of valuable innocent victims, loss of a large number of fire servicemen in the neighbouring fire service station and the destruction of twin towers -the land mark of New York City, are signs of evil forcesin existence in the world. With a heavy heart, we went to a nearby cafe. I could see beautiful red tulips in full bloom at a distance, which I caught in my cell phone. Nature brings out her best in creating beautiful flowers and creatures. Plants, animals, and birds blend well with nature and are at home in their environment. Humans are disoriented and do not blend with nature, but are endowed with creative powers to create their own environment. It’s sad to note that this creative power is used ruthlessly to destroy the beauty of mother nature.
Food allergy is a significant health problem that affects many people, from infants to adults. Many infants are allergic to nuts and dairy products from the time they arrive on this planet. The Research in this field is still at an infant stage. Adults who did not have any allergic symptoms before show signs of allergic reactions later in adulthood, which is sometimes fatal.
I am allergic to wheat flour and cannot eat bread and other food products made from wheat flour. There are plenty of branded gluten-free items available in the Supermarkets now, but gluten-free bread is dearer than regular bread. The process for making gluten-free bread is slightly different from traditional bread. Regular bread would have only one flour type, whereas gluten-free consists of many varieties of the flour mix.
This recipe is vegan-free, oil-free, and yeast-free. I have tried this with a twist to her recipe by adding yeast.
Buckwheat flour -100 gm
White rice flour – 100 gm
Besan flour – 100 gm (chickpea flour)
Tapioca flour – 40 gm
Baking powder – 1tsp
Yeast – 1 tsp
Salt- 1 tsp
Water – 450 ml
Psyllium husk powder – 3 tbsp
Sesame seed – 1tsp
Place the psyllium husk powder in a bowl, and gradually add water, stirring the mixture to prevent any lumps. Set aside thick gel mixture for about 20 -30 minutes.
Weigh Buckwheat flour, white rice flour, corn starch, and tapioca flour. Add baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the flour mixture.
Ferment the yeast in sugar in 1 tsp lukewarm water.
Pour the flour mixture, yeast, and psyllium husk into a bowl and mix with a hand mixer or kneader. Take the flour mixture and knead it by hand. If it is wet, add some flour ( tapioca flour) or little dry water. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
Preheat oven to 180 Centigrade or 350 F.
Place a parchment paper into a bread loaf tin. Shape the mixture into an oval shape, place it in the loaf tin, and bake it for 55-60 minutes.
Notes: A few days ago, I replaced Rice flour with Teff flour and added 1 tbsp olive oil to the flour mixture before kneading, and it turned out alright.
Many years ago, after we arrived in Australia, my husband’s close friend said that his family planned to visit Three Sisters in Blue Mountain. First, I thought his friend’s three sisters were living in Blue Mountain. As he continued with his conversation, I realised he was not talking about his sisters but about three rocks.
The formation of three giant stones may have resulted from land erosion; the legend is that three beautiful sisters of a particular tribe fell in love with three brothers of a neighbouring tribe, but the marriage was forbidden by tribal law. Tribal war broke as the brothers were warriors. A clever man from the Girls’ tribe turned the sisters into stones to avoid bloodshed between the two tribes. He intended to restore them to their former selves after the war ended. Sadly he was killed in the battle, and nobody could break the spell to restore the three sisters to their former selves
There is a parallel to Three Sisters in the Epic Ramayana. Sage Gautama cursed his wife Ahalya and turned her into a rock, outraged by her infidelity. Ahalya begged for his forgiveness, and he said that she would regain human form by Lord Rama’s touch. Centuries later, Lord Rama touched the stone and broke the spell.
Blue mountain is about 2.5 hours drive by car from Sydney on the motorway. It’s a popular place and a most visited tourist site. Echo Point, a key observation area on the mountain, provides a breathtaking view of the mountain and surrounding area.
We parked the car in a shop nearby, which had limited parking. It is better to check the weather before travelling, sometimes the mist/fog covers the whole landscape blocking the view of the valleys.
From Echo Point, a short walk trail leads to Three Sisters, which is pleasant. There are few lookout points on the track towards Three Sisters. The iconic view is stunning, which reflects Australia’s beautiful landscape. Nature has endowed Australia with magnificent trees, unique birds, and animals. At the end of the track, a steep Giant Stairway descends 998 steps and takes you to Honeymoon bridge-which connects to the first sister. The stairway is narrow and steep; anyone going down the steps needs to exercise great care and caution. Once you reach the end of the walk, you have to return the same way to the top by climbing the narrow, steep steps.
The Scenic railway is another way to enjoy the splendid view of nature. It is the world’s steepest railway and tilts at 52 degrees. It was so scary that I had to clasp my husband’s hands tight to overcome the fear of falling. This train was built in 1878 for mining purposes and converted to recreational use in 1945. You can get a glimpse of Three Sisters from here.
You can enjoy the scenic view from above, in the nearby cable car, which floats above the evergreen mountain and rainforest.
The Jenolan caves are about 20 kilometres away from Blue Mountain, Katoomba. These are the most famous and spectacular limestone caves in Australia. James and Charles Whalan discovered these caves in 1840 and were named Jenolan, Aboriginal meaning for high mountain.
There are other spectacular viewing sites, Katoomba Falls, Scenic World, Wentworth Falls, The Kings Tablelands Walk, Govetts Leap, etc.
The Blue Mountain is a unique place that offers many different tourist attractions. The air around this part is clean and refreshing. One day is not enough to enjoy the serenity and beauty of this place. You may want to spend a few days exploring the majestic views of many scenic places, waterfalls, and bushwalks in this area.
Since the COVID outbreak last year, Australia was alert with lockdown for a few months. Afterward, with many preventive measures such as facemask, hand sanitising, and safe distancing, the Health Authorities curtailed the spread of COVID for a short period. In the Year 2021, a new delta strain variant is spreading like wildfire in the community. It is very contagious and Authorities are doing their best to minimise its transmission. It has resulted in an extended lockdown in NSW.
Gyms are closed and the only exercise available to the Public is walking. My husband and I decided to go for a walk in the neighbourhood. We walked up and down and along winding footpaths in many streets. We came across the Lakes of Cherrybrook loop. This particular loop is near a retirement village and is in a peaceful area. Ducks in the lake swim gracefully on the lookout for food. You may see a mother duck paddling along with her ducklings in water or the surrounding area if you are lucky. It is a small lake surrounded by tall trees, and the reflection on the water projects a different picture in the camera. It looks as though you have taken the picture upside down. The viewing platform extended to the lake provides a lovely view across the lake. The nearby shopping centre has good cafes and eateries.
It is a fantastic place to sit, relax and watch the ducks in the lake; You can observe nature at her best; imagine what she would have been millions of years ago. Geologists say that Australia was a canopy of countless tropical rainforests millions of years ago. Over time with arid weather conditions, most of the rainforests disappeared, except for the Daintree Rainforest.
The belief is that the Daintree Rainforest is 135 million years old. This forest covers a total of 1200 square kilometers – the size of 25,000 football fields. The rainforest extends out to the coast, where it meets the Great Barrier Reef. This forest is home to many unique plants and animals, one of Sir David Attenborough’s favourite destinations on earth.
Ten years ago, we flew to Cairns with my sister, who came for a holiday from the UK. We rented a service apartment for a few days in Cairns. The unforgettable and captivating experience was the travel by train and Skyrail in the Daintree Rainforest. The first leg of our journey through the rain forest was by the Kuranda Scenic Railway train. It started from Freshwater station, going uphill in a winding railway track. The view of the Australian natural landscape was breathtaking. You can see the front and rear of the train at the same time at certain bends. It was an exciting and unforgettable journey. The building of the railway track is an engineering marvel. A tour guide gave a superb narration of the trip and the railway. Quite a few workers died building the railway and of diseases afterward. The final destination was Kuranda village. We roamed about the village and, after a meal, rested for a while, enjoying a peaceful environment.
The return to the city by Skyrail was spectacular. The Skyrail glided through and over the densely grown trees. Some species grow up to 50 meters in height and 2.7 meters in diameter. Trees of all shapes and sizes stretch throughout the forest. I read an article in a Readers Digest where a caretaker of a European forest said that the trees in his forest survived many thousand years due to the community spirit of the roots. The roots intertwined beneath the earth in bizarre knots and supported each other for sturdy growth. The Skyrail Gondola cabin, safely closed and secured, moved along smoothly. The floor appeared to be glass, and when you look underneath, you feel that you are almost falling into the dense forest. This mode of travel is not for Acrophobic people. It was like travelling through Jurassic Park.
We spent some time at the Great Barrier Reef. I took plenty of photos of the coral reef system at different locations, but I lost the pictures with the phone upgrade.
The doctor in the video, Dr.Ellsworth Wareham, maintained an active lifestyle up to the ripe age of 104 years.
This video was taken when he was 103 years. He cuts his lawn, drives his car, goes walking, and even climbs stairs with little help. The secret to his vibrant health is a plant-based diet and exercise. He performed heart surgery until he was 95 years old. He is talking to people about preventive medicine for a healthy lifestyle.
He says that his memory is as good as he was when he was twenty. We hear from many centenarians that what they eat and what they actively do have contributed to their longevity.
People who are active in their chosen field of work, passionate about what they do, keep their minds and bodies busy- indirectly flex their minds, muscles, and bodies. However, following a regular exercise routine strengthens muscles, maintains bone density, improves body mobility, and regulates blood circulation. Learning a new hobby that stimulates our brain is as important as learning to drive or swim.
Statistics show that people living in countries like Japan, certain parts of Greece, Italy, and South American countries live longer.
In Japan, people who live over 100 years maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eat a low-fat, low-carb diet with fish and vegetables. They consume food in moderation, i.e., eat until they are about 70-80 % full.
When we buy new cars, the car dealer gives a log book with dates for the service maintenance. On average, they expect the owner to travel a specific distance within a certain period. The car dealer also states that if the car reaches the meter reading before the particular time limit for service, it is advisable to service it when it runs the distance. For example, he may say the car is due for service within in next six months, or the vehicle reaches 50 thousand kilometers. If that car gets 50 thousand kilometers in the next three months, the owner will not wait until six months for service; he would take the vehicle for service after three months.
Our body is a vehicle that we use to gear through our life-cycle. Human beings have an average life expectancy between 80 to 100 years, depending on their lifestyle. We think that our heart is the engine of our body and the air, the fuel. The liver is the gateway to the body and if the gateway is blocked everything, fails. The creator has created Live-r for a person to live a healthy life. We ignore the liver as we are ignorant of the vital function of the liver.
In her book “The Liver Cleansing Diet,” Dr. Sandra Cabot says that she has discovered from various patient testimonials that many diseases can be cured by simply cleansing the liver. It is like servicing your body. One cannot be healthy without a healthy liver, and most people never give their liver a second thought. Readings of Triglyceride is the indicator of the health of the liver.
The lifestyle in modern society is a rat race. People consume highly processed and saturated fats from fast-food chains, fish & chips shops, and unhealthy eateries. We need to stop and think; Are we going to clog our vehicle body with unhealthy eating habits and stop the engine?
Arriving at the Chennai airport, Leela scanned far and wide, searching for her sister, Veena, amid the crowd outside the airport. Veena said she would pick up Leela from the airport. Leela picked up her bags from the baggage carousel with help from a fellow passenger.
Leela waited patiently near the exit gate, glancing at her watch, which showed time nearing midnight. The plane landed at the Chennai airport, two hours past the scheduled arrival time of 10 p.m. The mechanical problem at Sydney airport at departure, coupled with the stormy weather conditions, caused the delay. Leela looked around and noticed that almost everyone had left the airport. A middle-aged woman who travelled from Sydney stopped at the gate with a friendly gesture. Leela smiled at the stranger who offered her a lift to her hotel. The middle-aged woman also came from Sydney after a short stay with her son in Australia. Leela declined her offer politely, indicating that her sister Veena would pick her up.
Leela started to walk to the taxi stand. It was a hot day, and the temperature reached around 40 degrees. Smoke, fumes, and dust from the old taxis made Leela sick. Few porters who followed her to the taxi stand were hassling her to hand over her luggage for them to carry. Leela sent a message to Veena that she would hire a taxi to the hotel as she didn’t want to stand alone at the airport. She hailed an old cab and gave the hotel address to the driver.
While she was in the taxi, she reflected on her last visit to India. A few years ago, Leela visited a temple in Madras, India, as part of a travel itinerary. While walking along the winding footpath, she noticed a group of little monkeys roaming around the temple. In a split second, these monkeys jumped on the temple boundary wall and hung upside down on tree-tops. They were not at all bothered by the people walking to the temple. At times stealing looks at passers-by and occasionally snatching food and other items from them.
The driver and tour guide related a story to her. During one of his guided tours, the tour guide had taken few visitors to another temple on a hilltop.
It was mid-day, the visitors to the temple had finished their lunch and had thrown the food on the side road. A large group of monkeys from a nearby hill came over to complete the leftovers and tidbits. The monkeys descended the hill one by one, taking the food, and climbed hastily to the hilltop to enjoy the feast. One monkey left behind limped to reach the road for the food. With great difficulty, he picked up the food and crossed the road. Alas! Within a few seconds, a motor car with high speed ran over the limping monkey.
Other monkeys saw the fate of their friend. They threw the food on the ground and immediately ran in unison to help the monkey lying in a blood pool. They formed a circle around the dead monkey, lifted it gently, and slowly ascended the mountain. None of the monkeys went over to the food they had taken—the food left for stray dogs and birds.
The driver said he saw the grief-stricken faces of the monkeys, the genuine sadness and disbelief on their faces as they slowly took away their dead friend. He told Leela that he could never forget this scene – we, as human beings with so much wisdom and knowledge, are nowhere near the unity, harmony, and friendship these monkeys displayed.
If only we had the compassion and unity these animals exhibited, we as human beings could combat war and terror that is destroying the human race.
When my father was alive, he brought me a beautiful lush green curry plant. One of his friends in Queensland had sent this beauty to him. My father was living with my sister, and as she already had two curry leaf plants at her place, he brought this plant to me. He asked me to water this plant regularly and take care of it gently like a baby.
“Deepa, are you watering the curry plant regularly? It was the first question my father would ask as he visited me on weekends.
I felt guilty that I didn’t tender the plant with care. The lush green leaves were slowly withering and turning brown. With my work schedule, I completely forgot to water this plant. One month, two months passed, and the plant eventually died with the start of winter. Luckily, some seeds from this plant buried in the soil during winter began to sprout in spring.
After a few months with the fall of spring, two small green plants grew from the seeds. My father was pleased to see two beautiful saplings growing in my garden. I decided to look after these two plants with great care.
“How are the curry plants? My father would ask this question every time he steps into my house. I have heard people bond with cats and dogs, but I have never heard anyone bonding with a plant as my father did.
After my father passed away, I looked after my two curry plants with love and care, and I was curious to know why he was so passionate about the curry leaf plant.
One day when I stood near the plants, I could hear them whispering to each other.
“You know Deepa’s father was a wonderful man and was passionate about the environment. He took good care of our grandmother, Jessica,” the first plant said. “Our great-grandmother Monica hails from Jaffna, Sri Lanka. She grew up into a majestic curry-leaf tree in Deepa’s father’s house. Curry leaves from her branches threw so much fragrance that every passer-by would take a bunch of curry leaves home. The taste and aroma from curries cooked with her leaves would stay in your taste bud until the next meal.
Few years after our grandmother Jessica was born, Deepa’s father migrated to Australia and got his passport and visa for the migration. He wanted to take our grandmother Jessica with him. But the immigration department quarantined her. She was in isolation for a month and was finally sent to Queensland to avoid Sydney’s winter. The weather in Queensland is similar to Jaffna. She grew up into a beautiful young tree, and our mother, Brenda, was born. Deepa’s father’s friend in Queensland said it was not advisable to uproot our grandmother Jessica; instead, he sent our mother, Brenda, to Sydney.
Our mother came by train and landed in Sydney and was handed over to Deepa by her father. No wonder he was upset that Deepa had let our mother die. God only knows the trouble her father took to bring our grandmother, Jessica, to Australia. We should keep our heads high and be thankful that we are in Australia. I am always grateful to her father. “
“Yes, we are living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world,” the second plant nodded in agreement. “Australian Government is well known for protecting the fauna and flora of this country .”
Global warming has been a critical environmental issue discussed at every key summit by many world leaders in the last decade. We should not forget that waste generated and disposed of by humans also contribute to global warming. In 2002, a survey revealed that the greenhouse gas emissions from waste were highest in North America, second highest in Europe, followed by Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, totalling 350 million tonnes.
We blame Governments for not making the right decisions. As human beings, we have the habit of blaming others, nature, and everything else except ourselves for our failures. Interestingly if we are successful, we take credit and brag about our success.
If each one of us takes care of our household waste, plastic, and other materials, we may eliminate the war on waste to some extent. Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Until recently, our garbage bin was full almost every day, and we had to empty a minimum of six to seven garbage plastic bags a week. My husband gathered information on recycling, composting, and reusing. He visited a few dump yards and recycling sites to get more information on the war on waste.
We now have two large compost bins in the garden and a small container in the kitchen for vegetable peels and other food scraps. Every day the small container is emptied into the compost. By reducing the garbage waste to a minimum, we have reduced the number of weekly kitchen tidy bags (bin bags) from six to one. Our garbage bin is now only 10 percent full for the weekly collection by the Council, whereas it was packed to the rim before. We use the compost manure to fertilise our vegetable patch and flower beds.
Statistics show that food scraps and yard waste together make up more than 30 percent of what we throw away. People should compost them instead, as composting keeps these materials out of landfills.
We collect soft plastic bags -from loaves of bread, frozen food items, etc., wash them, and put them in the bins provided by Woolworth Supermarket. Our understanding is that these soft plastic items are recycled.
Every paper, glass, or plastic item with a “recycling” mark is in the recycling bin.
Global warming is making the planet earth a warmer place, bringing drastic weather changes unbearable to humans, animals, plants, and other species. Reducing the emissions of our greenhouse gases is an effective way to mitigate global warming
I hope more and more people are aware of their responsibility regarding global warming; to reduce plastic, waste, and harmful materials that affect carbon emissions and reduce waste reaching landfills.
The common belief in the South-Asia region is that a meal should have items with six different tastes that stimulate the digestive systems’ enzymes. The six different tastes are sweet, sour, bitter, salty, pungent and astringent. If we don’t use it, we lose it. We have developed the habit of eating sweets and savoury items and ignored the rest. Each taste possesses different properties, provides a distinct benefit to the body, and enhances the digestion process.
The vegetable bitter-gourd is a powerful and effective vegetable to fight diabetes. It is a natural way to reduce the glucose level with little effort on your part.
For example, in India and Sri Lanka, it is used widely in cooking. However, the traditional ways of cooking this vegetable are either deep frying or cooking in oil which we now know are very unhealthy.
I have tried bitter-gourd in salads, and when combined with other vegetables and dressing, you wouldn’t taste the bitterness in the salad.
Two medium carrots
One medium bitter gourd
One Granny Smith Apple
One Red Capsicum
One bag mixed salad leaves – 100 gm
One tbsp Apple cider vinegar
Two tbsps Extra Virgin Olive oil
1/2 Red onion
One Long green chilli
Cut the ends of Bittergourd and divide it into three cylinders. Scoop out the seeds with a knife and cut them into two half pieces.
Shred the carrots, zucchinis, bitter gourd, and apple in a shredder/food processor.
Slice red capsicum into thin slices or small pieces.
Add sliced onion, finely chopped green chilli, and salad leaves.
Finally, add olive oil and apple cider vinegar and mix it well.
Note: Avoid adding tomatoes as it will make the salad soggy.
Our daughter visited us from overseas for a few weeks in Mid-February in Year 2020. We decided to travel to Central Coast on a hot summer day. The temperature soared to 40 degrees unexpectedly. Travel by car from Hornsby to Central Coast along Pacific Highway took just over an hour. GPS guided us through various nooks and corners, and finally, we reached the Entrance Waterfront on Central Coast.
When we reached the Waterfront, at 2.00 pm, there were hardly any birds on sight. We drove through the town in search of a gluten-free meal. After enjoying a refreshing and delicious meal at an Organic restaurant, we drove to the nearby beach. The bright blue sky, the tranquil nature, and the shallow waves had a soothing effect on us. After spending about fifteen minutes at the beach, we left for the Waterfront.
My husband and I visited this place a decade ago with some friends. However, we missed the Pelican Feed time and didn’t see many Pelicans near the Waterfront after the feed. The birds converge at the Entrance Waterfront daily sharp at 3.30 pm their feed-time. Initially, the Pelican feed was started by staff at a local fish shop many years ago. As the popularity of the pelican-feed grew, the local Council built a feeding platform, known as Pelican Plaza in 1996. Many sponsors and volunteers provide their continuous support for this bird- feed project.
Birds don’t need a compass or a GPS to reach their chosen destination; neither do they need a clock. The creator has provided these enormous birds with an internal GPS and a timer. Daily for 365 days, a colony of pelicans would congregate at this Waterfront without fail at 3.30 pm. The striking feature of a Pelican is its long beak and a large throat pouch to catch its prey. Even though they looked freaky, they appeared harmless.
I should remind the readers that we visited this site just before the COVID19 outbreak. Not many people were around. Slowly the Pelican colony made their way to the Waterfront. At 3.30 pm, a volunteer started to feed the fish to the hungry Pelicans from a bucket. The birds snatched the fish thrown at random with their long bills. If a Pelican missed its turn, it waited patiently for the next round of fish from the volunteer. The beauty of this colony was that they didn’t fight among themselves to snatch the fish. A calm order prevailed on the platform. At the end of the feed, the entire colony gradually disappeared into the water or air.
It was a memorable afternoon, which made me ponder that we can learn so much from these birds. The platform would have looked like a war-zone if a group of people similarly received food.
1.5 cups Gluten-free Self -raising flour ( Organ brand) -1
1 cup Besan flour (Lotus brand) -2
½ cup Tapioca flour (Lotus brand)-3
½ cup Potato starch (Bobs Red Mill brand)-4
½ cup Cornflour (P.A.N brand)-5
1 tsp Baking powder
250 ml warm water for the Pizza dough
1 tbsp Dry Yeast (Tandaco brand)
1 tsp Brown sugar
140 ml lukewarm water
Sauce and Toppings :
5 tbsp Tomato sauce
100 gm -Cheddar, Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese mixture
50 gm – Small cup Mushrooms, sliced into quarters
½ – Red Capsicum, sliced into small pieces
½ – Green Capsicum, sliced into small pieces
Handful – baby spinach leaves
Handful -Fresh basil leaves (or dry)
1 tsp -Dry Oregano leaves (or fresh)
Dissolve the sugar in warm water, sprinkle the yeast on top, and mix with a spoon and set aside for 10-15 minutes until frothy.
Put all 5 measured flour and baking powder in a bowl. Sieve the mixture 3 times, so the different flours and baking powder are combined together.
Preheat the oven to 180° C (fan-forced). Place the flour mix into a food processor, add the warm water and yeast and pulse until the mixture come together in a soft dough.
If the dough feels a little sticky, add more self-raising flour. If it is too dry, add a little water.
Scoop the mixture and knead it by hand on a board until it becomes a smooth oblong-shaped dough. Divide it into 3 equal portions and make 3 balls.
Transfer one ball on the baking sheet/paper on a board, sprinkle with flour and using your fingers, flatten it. Then place the cling film on top and roll it with a rolling pin until it turns into a pizza crust about 24 cm (or 20 cm) diameter. Place it on a Pizza baking tray, cover the top with another baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove the crust from the oven and spread with tomato sauce. Sprinkle a small quantity of cheese and arrange mushrooms and capsicum. Add the remaining cheese, put baby spinach leaves on top, sprinkle Basil and Oregano. Return to the oven for 10 minutes or until the crust is cooked through and the cheese has melted.
The dough will become soft once it’s kneaded by hand.
Baking sheet/paper is preferable to Aluminium foil.
No oil or milk has been added to the flour mixture. When 2 tbsp of olive oil is added to the flour-mix in the Food processor, the mixture will come together in a soft dough.