Beyond Comprehension

The COVID situation in New South Wales is an important topic discussed on every TV network, Newspaper, and Social Media. Not a single day is gone by without reports on fatalities caused by COVID. Since Friday, 3 September 21, the headlines were on an autistic and non-verbal boy aged three years who had gone missing in his Hunter Valley property. A task force consisting of NSW Police, Rural Fire Service, State Emergency Service, other Volunteer Service Organisations, and volunteers were on a hot trail for the missing boy for almost four days. His parents suspected that evil people abducted the toddler, but on Monday, 6 September 21, the Police rescue helicopter spotted the boy alive near a creek on their property. He was drinking contaminated water with both hands. His relieved family shouted, sang, and danced with joy.

https://apple.news/ANzYHXv5QRnS_1S5qdIV9Bw

It is a miracle that the little boy survived four days by drinking only contaminated water. Ant bites bruised his body, and he stayed without food, which was remarkable for a toddler. After an examination at the hospital, the doctors sent him home. As onlookers, we were happy to see the “Little Australian Survivor’s” smiling face on TV.

Miracles are God’s way of communicating with us of his presence. That reminds me of the Christian shrine in Mulgoa close to Penrith, an hour’s drive from Sydney. It is a replica of the original Church Schoenstatt founded by Joseph Kentenich in Germany. Mother Mary adorns the centre with Jesus Christ; the title “ Mother Thrice Admirable” had been given to the Blessed Mother- Mother of God, Mother of Redeemer, and Mother of the redeemed. This shrine dedicated to Mother Mary was opened on 19 May 1968 by Cardinal Gilroy.

People of various religious faith visit this church regularly to get the blessings of Mother Mary. It is the second home for many who are looking for peace and harmony. The tranquility and serenity of the place, coupled with the surrounding area’s natural beauty, make this place a heaven. Compared to other traditional Churches, it is a tiny chapel and can accommodate a maximum of 15-20 people inside. However, once you are inside the church, you feel the divinity, the human minds praising the Universal mother’s glory in unison.

I visited this church once a few years ago with my sister’s family. The belief is that if you go to this church every week for nine weeks and continually pray to Mary for her blessings, your prayer is answered. It is an oasis of bliss and serenity for those in the desert of despair and frustration.

Your burdens are lifted, and your inner-self strengthened. We met a guy who said that he had a health problem cured without surgery after visiting this church continually every Sunday for a few months. To show his gratitude to Mother Mary, he had not missed a single Sunday ever since.

Mulgoa Road leading to the church is a long and wide two-way track. Cars travel at deafening speed, and you have to maintain the momentum to travel smoothly. From Mulgoa Road, you turn right into Fairlight Road to reach the church. There are a few orchards on either side of Fairlight. You could see the native Kangaroos in their natural habitat, moving freely and looking at you enquiringly; why are you stepping into our territory? There are many other native animals and birds which we didn’t see that day.

The grounds are green, air fresh, and the walk in the gardens and bushland is thoroughly enjoyable. It is ideal for families to enjoy a picnic in this quiet, tranquil environment overlooking the woods.

Chapel circled in orange colour

Coriander plants in your backyard

Coriander seeds provide many health benefits to humanity. Ayurvedic practitioners use these incredible, seeds when they prepare their medicines. They don’t need multinational Pharmaceutical companies to prepare the formula for a simple, effective, and natural medicine. I remember my father used to say that the President of our country always took coriander water for his cold and flu and that he used to go to the doctor only as a last resort.

 As a little girl,  whenever I had a cold or mild fever, the homemade remedy was coriander water made from coriander seeds, black pepper, and ginger. You take these magic potions three times a day, and after a few days, you can run a marathon.

Almost for all our cooking, my mother used curry leaves for garnishing and tempering. I came to know the value of coriander leaves when I lived in England. The nearby shops in Wembley had plenty of Indian grocery stores, which sold heaps of coriander leaves. It was impossible to buy curry leaves, as curry leaf plants were nonexistent in England’s winter. Once I got the right flavour in my dishes with the coriander leaves, I enjoyed the taste.

After I emigrated to Australia, I planted a few curry plants without much success;  Eventually, I have two beautiful lush curry plants in my garden. I was very keen to grow the coriander leaves in my backyard. Sometimes bought coriander bunches with roots from shops and planted them in pots. Other times bought small coriander pots with plants. Nothing seemed to work; after a week, the coriander plants died.

I had been surfing the net and YouTube videos for ways to grow coriander plants. A couple of months ago, I came across a You Tube video on how to grow coriander plants by an Agricultural Researcher in India. I don’t remember his name, but he said the seeds had to be broken into halves to speed up germination and soaked for 24 hours before being planted in soil.

So I have gone on a mission to grow coriander plants in this lockdown period.

  • I took a handful of dry coriander seeds and placed them on a hand towel on Thursday, 5 August 21.
  • After folding the hand towel, used a stone pestle to gently pound the coriander into halves. You can use rolling pin instead of pestle.
  • Soaked the broken coriander seeds in cold water for 24 hours
  • On Friday, 6 August 21, planted the seeds in a pot with fertile potting mix.
  • On Wednesday, 11 August 21, a few seeds germinated.
  • I had been sprinkling water daily in the seeds, and the pot is sitting in an area where it gets plenty of sunlight.
  • The picture I took today, 23 August 21, has plenty of germinated coriander seeds with juvenile leaves after 17 days.
  • The harvesting of coriander leaves may take a few more weeks.
  • Best time to grow coriander is Autumn and Spring. You can grow throughout the year if you keep the plant frost-free, having it in a Greenhouse or indoor.
Dry coriander seeds
Seeds in folded paper
Coriander seeds halved
Seeds soaked in water
Germinated coriander seeds
Juvenile coriander leaves

Healthy diet and lifestyle

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?

My beautiful curry leaf plant

                              

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 .”

Pelican Feed – Central Coast, NSW Dated 19 June 2020

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.

Train Journey

Shankar could hear his mother calling his name loud and clear. It was about eight in the morning, and he could see the beautiful reflection of sunlight on his glass window. He had to catch the 8.30 train to be on time for school at 9.00 am.

As he jumped out of his bed in a hurry, Lucky leaped with a shriek when Shankar stepped on his tail.

He patted the dog tenderly and said,” Sorry, Lucky, I’d forgotten that you were sleeping under my bed last night.”

Shankar brushed his teeth, showered and after eating his breakfast, left home by 8.15 to reach the railway station. His mother had given him the exact train fare to school. On his way to the station, he met two other friends, Gopal and Raju. Gopal stopped at a sweet shop, and Shankar couldn’t take his eyes off the colourful bottles full of multicoloured sweets. He took the train fare from his pocket and bought sweets to his heart content.

Once they reached the station, Shankar realised that he didn’t have enough money for the train fare, neither did his two friends. All three decided that they were going to travel without the train ticket. The train was going at high speed, and all you could hear were passengers talking, people listening to music and a baby crying at the far end of that carriage.

Suddenly there was an uproar at the far end. You could hear people ruffling their pockets, looking in their wallets and handbags for their tickets. Ticket checkers have boarded the train. The three boys didn’t know what to do. In a flash, they hid under the seats at three different places.

Shankar hid under the seats completely. Suddenly Shankar felt a soft fur close to his body. To his astonishment, Lucky was also travelling on the same train. Lucky was licking Shankar’s face and wagging his tail.

Now the ticket checker Ram has reached where Shankar was hiding. He was checking the tickets of every single passenger. Ram was a dedicated, honest man. As he came near Shankar, he saw the dog’s tail. Shankar was dragged out and as he didn’t have the ticket nor the money he was escorted out from the train.

Shankar was handed over to the Station Master by Ram. The Station Master was shocked to see Ram with the little boy Shankar.

“You have been very harsh to this little boy,” said the Station Master. “How can you treat your son like this?

“Duty comes first, Sir” Ram replied. “As an employee of this Railways, I have to do what I am expected to do. Even if it’s my own son if he has done something wrong, he needs to be punished.”

The Station Master paid the fine for Shankar and let him go. That night when Ram reached home, Shankar was fast asleep. His wife said that Shankar was weeping the whole time after he returned from school and had gone to sleep. Ram gently woke his son up and cradling him in his hands, took him to the dinner table. He taught his son the importance of honesty and that it’s a lifelong lesson that he should follow throughout his life. Ram said that he cared for his son very much and wanted his son to learn good habits at a young age.

Baked Salmon

Fish cooked with spices and made into a spicy curry makes all the difference; King Fish, Spanish Mackerel, and Snapper are to name a few.

Some fish taste best when they are deep fried in oil at high temperature at first and gradually lowering the temperature. Salmon, king of all fish rich in Omega, doesn’t taste good when it’s deep fried. However, when it’s is baked in the oven, the taste and aroma that comes off are beautiful.

In the sub-continent and Sri Lanka, fried fish is something people relish daily with rice and curry. As for vegetarians, pappadam is a must with the daily intake of food, and for non-vegetarians, fried fish is a necessary accompaniment to go with the rice. In the past, I cooked spicy Salmon curry with evaporated milk, curry powder, and spices. Recently I decided to bake the Salmon fish. To my surprise, everyone who tasted the Salmon enjoyed it.

Ingredients:

  • 500 gm – Salmon Cutlets
  • 1 Tsp – Ginger powder
  • 1 Tsp – Garlic powder
  • 1 Tsp – Onion powder
  • 2 Tsp – Curry powder
  • ½ Tsp – Turmeric powder
  • 2 Sprig – Rosemary
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ – Red Capsicum
  • ¼ – Green Capsicum
  • ¼ – Yellow Capsicum
  • ¼ – Onion

Method:

Wash Salmon and pat dry in a paper towel. Rub with garlic powder, ginger powder, and onion powder all over. Add turmeric powder, curry powder and salt and coat the fish. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.

Cut ¼ of red capsicum, yellow capsicum and green capsicum into long strips. Slice ¼ of red onion; Cover roasting tin (or baking tray) with baking paper. Arrange the fish, capsicum, onion, and rosemary and place the tin in a preheated oven,180° C. Cover the top with another baking paper and bake for 35 minutes. At the end leave the fish for a few minutes in the oven and remove it.

Helpful Hints:

  1. Use baking paper instead of aluminium foil for crispy skin.
  2. Capsicum and onion get cooked in the oil generated from the fish. You can add the capsicum and onion after 20 minutes for tender vegetables.
  3. Adding garlic, ginger and onion powder first to the fish before turmeric and curry powder ensures that the fish is coated well with these spices.
  4. I use King’s Curry powder, which is available in Sri Lankan spice shops. You can use any other mild to hot curry powder.
Baked Salmon

Sydney Metro Opened on 26 May 2019

The Sydney Metro is the brainchild of then Transport Minister (current Premier) Gladys Berejiklian and former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell. There were no rail services to the burgeoning suburbs, Cherrybrook, Kellyville, Castle Hill, Norwest, and Rouse Hill. In the last ten years, Hills area has become a lucrative business hub attracting many private entrepreneurs. Many new homes were built around this area with a booming population, but the only thing that lacked was a railway line.

The long-awaited Sydney Metro train which opened for the public on Sunday 26 May, covers a 36 KM line from Tallawong to Chatswood. It’s a significant milestone for commuters, especially for those in the Hills area.

As much as the fauna and flora add beauty to nature, bridges, roads, and railway lines showcase the human potential and glorify the surroundings. The infrastructures benefit communities, and give a sense of belonging, that the public is the joint owners of the public property. Yesterday, this milestone was celebrated in high spirit. In the first six hours after the gates opened, 90,000 people rode on the new Sydney Metro Line.

It’s a hi-tech fully automated system. The heart of the entire Metro System is the Operational Control Centre in Tallawong. One room is filled with powerful computers which monitor the movement of trains along the railway, the location, and direction of each train. These trains are some of the most advanced on the planet.

Some commuters have reservation about the driverless trains. One spokesperson said that people have to imagine that they are travelling in a horizontal lift. My husband and I, travelled on this historic day 26 May 2019, from one end to the other end of the entire 36KM line. The train was packed to its maximum and a few platforms were a sea of colours.

There was an unexpected delay on one train when a door failed to align properly, which was immediately removed from service. Overall, it’s a great achievement which will benefit present and future generations. Many years ago, when my daughter attended the University, she had to catch 2 buses and a train to reach her destination, which took about one and a half hours. The Metro train would take only 15 minutes to cover the same distance.

People queue outside

Awaiting the train

Car park and commuters queue

Steps to the platform

Inside view of the station

Top view of the station

Train Underground

Train Above ground

Natural Bridge, Springbrook National Park, Queensland

The Natural Bridge is one kilometre circuit walk, which takes you through an enchanting rainforest and a waterfall. The waterfall from above plunges into a circular hole and into the dark arched cave below. As you walk along the circuit path , you can witness the waterfall from top to bottom of the cave below . We couldn’t see glow worms in the dark-cave below, as we toured on a sunny day. Glow worms light up the cave at night time. Continuous sound of waterfall and the noise of birds in the surrounding take you to another place in the planet.

Water Is Life
“There can be water without life, but there is no life without water. No known living thing can function without water”. Slogan found in a dam we visited in Brisbane.

Cooking Implements

“A bad workman blames his tool” may be true at times. But when it comes to cooking its important that proper knives,gadgets,utensils etc. are well equipped in a kitchen.
Cutting vegetables with Global Knife set is an absolute joy. These knives are sharp, light and easy to handle.
For cutting meat I prefer Mundial knife. The wooden handle and heavy metal makes cutting and chopping of meat effortless .