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How It All Began!

Written By Medha Rijal

Where It All Began!
Mama, Medha & Oma

Introduction

I remember while I waited in Daddy’s office as a ten year old, I wrote a short story on the autobiography of a puppy. I was bored and needed to do something to while away time. Later in the week when I showed a print out of that story to Oma, she was beaming with joy and being the talkative person that she is, quickly told me that she would speak to a local publisher and get my article published.

It was then that Oma realised that I loved to write and somewhere at the back of her mind, she had decided she would help me hone my skills.

The Writing Saga

How It All Began!

A year later, my mother had to relocate to New Delhi to complete her post graduation in Dermatology. Since it was a rigorous course, she had little time to herself which called for Oma to accompany me to Delhi, where during the day Oma and I would spend time together, while Mama would go to the hospital.

Every morning Oma would ask me as to what homework would I be doing today. I was on a three month winter break so I had to do something productive to start the day with. It was either going through my history encyclopaedia, painting, reading a book or writing an essay. This was what I enjoyed doing in my free time.

However, on most days I always ended up writing. It was as if Oma wanted to turn me into a writer overnight. I wrote on topics as mundane as my family, a Saturday in Appu ghar, my friends in school, Lasagne or even the latest movie I had watched. She knitted while I wrote stories.

There were times when I would run out of ideas to write on and then Oma would suggest something as innovative, which I actually found quite improbable then, as , “A Day in the Beach with Mickey Mouse” . Oma was never short of ideas.

I remember on one occasion that Oma and I had gone for a Saraswati puja in the morning and were back home around noon. I quickly took the opportunity and told my grandmother that today was Saraswati puja so I thought that I didn’t really need to write as it was god’s day today. It was then to my dismay that Oma with a wide smile on her face told me that since it was the day for Saraswati, known to be the goddess of wisdom, I would have to write even more today.

Such was her dedication towards my writing. She was not very proficient in English herself but I remember her sitting with a Thesaurus helping me look for synonyms.

Writing Over The Years

Years passed and as I grew older, I remember coming back from college and she would ask me if I still wrote. It was in my under graduation and during the MBA program that I pursued, where I had completely lost touch with writing and had not written a single piece for years.

It was only lately in the last few years, did I realise how much I missed to write. Writing had at one point of time been integral to me yet I had somehow forgotten writing for quite sometime.

I recently joined Fintox, which focuses on finance so I have been writing on topics related to wealth management, cryptocurrencies and various other topics in Finance.

After I published an article I had written on cryptocurrencies, I received a phone call from Oma where she started asking me questions on cryptocurrencies.

She always liked to read every article written by me but this was something she just could not get head and tail of. No matter how much she googled, cryptos just went over her head.

It was then I thought of writing about something she would love and what better way to start than by narrating how my love for writing began. There is no better way of explaining how it all began!

This article is written by Medha Rijal. The author writes articles and stories on topics as diverse as finance, wealth & investments, humour, travel, culture and food.

To keep reading, you can go through – Toast To Good Health & Happiness.





Toast to Good Health & Happiness!

Moong Dal Salad

After six months of the lockdown, I realised how much of my health had I been neglecting.

It was then that I started religiously following a disciplined regime to eat right. Eating right is often confused with being perpetually hungry. Well, that is one of the most unhealthy ways to loose weight. Food should act as a catalyst to boost your metabolism and keep you mentally fit.

I tried these innovative and healthy food combinations. If you are a foodie and want to loose weight, you should definitely try a hand at these.

Toast To Good Health & Happiness !

Apple & Oats Smoothie – It can get mundane to have just an apple everyday. Well, this drink is actually a whole meal. You just need an apple, two tablespoons oats, one glass double toned milk, one teaspoon of cinnamon powder and voila, you have it ready. You can add honey to it for extra sweetness. I usually have this for breakfast or for a light dinner.

Cucumber Mint Smoothie – If you want to loose weight then cucumbers are the way to go. 95% of a cucumber consists of water and you consume a meagre portion of eight calories with every portion. To prepare this drink, you just need one cucumber, some mint leaves and a few teaspoons of lemon juice. I add some black salt and pepper for taste. This can be a mid morning snack or an afternoon snack.

Apple & Oats Smoothie

Egg white Omelette with Oats – This is the most simple dish to eat. It is the same as having an egg white omelette but instead of having it with a slice of toast you add two tablespoons of oats to it while whisking the egg. This is best eaten with a side of avocado. This is one of my favourites and I usually have it for dinner.

Pomegranate and Cucumber – A combination of one pomegranate with a side of cucumber is an excellent snack as it is packed with nutrition and keeps you full.

Grilled Chicken breast & stir fried vegetables – This is a dish I have been eating since I was a child. Nonetheless, this has the right amount of fibre and protein. You can try variations of the chicken by using different marination sauces.

Apart from these, I make sure I have at least four portions of fruit in a day. It could be a quarter plate of papaya, melon, apple, pear or a kiwi. Fruits make lovely snacks.

Grilled Chicken Vegetables

Another significant health tip would be to hydrate yourself throughout the day. Drinking water not only releases the toxins in your body but also hydrates your skin and gives it a glow while keeping you full.

Concluding Remarks

A healthy body shapes a healthy mind. It keeps you motivated and helps you feel positive about yourself even in difficult times like these. The least we could do during the pandemic would be to look after ourselves to stay healthy and happy. Let us all take a toast to good health & happiness and stay healthy.

Living in the year 2020!

The year 2020 has brought in so many surprises. Covid 19 has literally turned my whole world upside down. If I had to fathom working from home a few months back, I would have enjoyed it but all I feel now is when is this all going to end?

When do I get to go out for a movie? How long would it take for things to stabilise? The only thing that pulls me through this fiasco is knowing that there are so many others sailing on the same boat waiting for this storm to atleast subside and come nearer to the shore.

It would be wrong to say that the situation has not taught me anything. The patience of working everyday followed by a whole bunch of cooking, cleaning and looking after the house. For all those of you wondering, yes I have a very fulfilling job which requires me to completely commit myself to learners from all over the world waiting to make their very next step into education.

There are days where I don’t even have time to just sit peacefully and enjoy my own company. At first I enjoyed the idea of learning to cook. Believe me, I had to even google how to boil potatoes in a pressure cooker once I took over the kitchen. It took me a while but I  then gradually moved on to learning basic items like rotis, paranthas, dal and different kinds of vegetables.

The only silver lining I see is Bhuvan, who is always there to brighten up these gloomy days. There are days when we are the best of friends and there are times when I just wish I did not have someone hovering around. Such is life!

I sit and wonder on this perfect Sunday evening just praying that we all are able to pull through this phase. The economy has taken a toll and there are so many people for whom it has become difficult to even make the minimum wages that they were previously living on.

Even though my problems seem so huge there are people who have lost their near and dear ones because of the virus. Covid has brought with it the unexpected and it looks like it is here to stay. However, I know that this too shall pass and we will all come out stronger and more united.

Kathmandu – Where Culture Meets History

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A Pagoda Styled Temple

If you love to travel as much as I do, then a visit to the city of Kathmandu will introduce you to Nepalese culture and heritage. What intrigued me were the intricate carvings on the pagoda styled wooden temples, the narrow winding roads, the culture and religiousness of the country and the generosity of its people.

 

For pleasant weather, the best time to plan a holiday would be anywhere between the summer months of April and June.

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View From A Height

With the advent of commercialization, you might at times, feel stranded on a concrete jungle, but the experience of the entire city as a whole, is enthralling. A three day itinerary would be perfect for you to go about the city and start your journey of exploration.

Your First Day Around The City

Nepal boasts of 10 UNESCO world heritage sites of which seven are located in the valley of Kathmandu. A visit to the Pashupatinath temple would be interesting to start with. Would you believe me if I told you that this UNESCO world heritage site dates as old as 400 AD?

Situated on both sides of the river Bagmati, Pashupatinath is home to more than a million devotees and one of the most religious sites for worshippers of the Lord Shiva. Being the largest temple complex in Nepal, it consists of 492 temples, 15 Shivalayas (shrines of Lord Shiva) and 12 Jyotirlinga ( Phallic shrines). The main temple has a pagoda styled roof, is covered with silver on its sides and has exquisite wood carvings. Make it a point to also visit the Guheshwori temple, which is dedicated to the Sati Devi.

In respect of the dead, bodies are cremated at the river Bagmati giving out an unusual mix of fragrances at Pashupatinath. If you wish to be a part of the Arti that takes place every evening, you should be there at six.

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View of Kathmandu Durbar Square

A twenty minute drive away from the holy abode, lies the historically renowned Kathmandu Durbar square. This cultural complex is an active street which consists of towers with intricate Newari architecture, temples, shrines and the old royal palace.  History reveals the construction of the oldest temples in the square took place as early as 15th and 16th centuries.The residence of the King of Nepal was at the Kathmandu Durbar square before the royal family moved into the Narayanhiti palace. Infact such was the importance of the place that all the former kings of Nepal were coronated at Kathmandu Durbar square.

Once you enter the square you would notice the Kumari Bahal and the Taleju temple which is attached to the Hanuman Dhoka. The earthquake in 2015, destroyed a great part of the square, but with government and international aid, restoration is going on.

The Taleju temple is of great significance in history. It was built in 1564 by King Mahendra Malla and is only open to worship on the day of Dashain.  It is one of the three Taleju temples in Nepal.

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A Statue of Goddess Kali at Kathmandu Durbar Square

The Kumari Bahal is unique to Nepal. It was built in 1757 by King Jaya Prakash Malla. The Bahal is home to the Kumari, who is a young girl aged between three to five. A Kumari can only be chosen from the Buddhist Shakya clan in Nepal. She is believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga. Tourists are strictly forbidden from taking pictures of the living goddess.

Once you’ve had a good look around, you should go and visit the Narayanhiti Palace Museum, which would not take you more than ten minutes by road. I’ve always loved visiting museums. Museums transform you into a place that no amount of travelling can compete with. The Narayanhiti Palace museum will take you through time and make you think of how ruling monarchs lived in Nepal. The massacre of 2001 changed the history of the country and converted this royal palace into a museum.

The Narayanhiti Palace museum has 52 rooms which are interestingly named after 75 districts in Nepal. I found it fascinating to know that in 1972 King Mahendra sold the palace to the government of Nepal for 70 million rupees.

One of my favourite places in Kathmandu would have to be Durbar Marg. Also known as the King’s way, this street leads to the gateway of the Narayanhiti Palace museum. The street is littered with cute cafes, eateries, casinos and shopping outlets. A quick stroll around the place would make a perfect end to your first day of the city.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..Day Two to be continued

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nepal – A Delight to the Palette

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“Aloo ko Achaar”

The topography of Nepal has an impacting influence on the contrasting potpourri of cuisines it offers. The cooking in the steep terrain of the Himalayas is full of Tibetan influences in contrast to the dishes prepared in the plains that have traces of influence from India.

If you were to visit Nepal what you would notice is how every person loves the so commonly eaten Dal Bhaat. This is lentil soup served with rice. It is consistent amongst all communities and has a special place in Nepali food. Dal Bhaat is usually eaten with seasonal vegetables, relishes and the popular “Aloo ko Achar”.

Aloo ko Achar is a potato salad made everywhere in Nepal. It’s fresh and is eaten on the same day as it is prepared. The combination of sesame and fenugreek seeds with a drizzle of mustard oil makes it a bomb of flavours.

Bhaat is replaced by Dhido in the western and eastern parts of Nepal. Dhido is buckwheat prepared with water. Buckwheat could also be replaced with millets or maize. Dhido is eaten with Gundruk which is a stew made out of fermented leafy green roots of cauliflower and radish.

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Avocado Relish

Nepalese relishes are unique and so different from the other. The avocado relish is a fine mashed avocado paste seasoned with sugar and served as an accompaniment. The tomato relish gets its flavour from its tempering with schzeuan pepper and the radish relish is prepared using fenugreek seeds.

Once you visit Nepal, you must look out for the wide spread of meat delicacies eaten. There are certain communities which only stick to mutton and chicken while some only eat pork and buff. Nepal has a variety of meat dishes catering to all types of communities.

Pakku is a favourite. If huge pieces of slow cooked mutton packed with flavour does not excite you then I don’t know what would! Pakku is mutton which is cooked especially doing Dasai. It is known as Kawaf in Kathmandu. Its preparation requires a lot of muscle as the meat has to be thoroughly massaged and marinated for a considerable period of time.

Sekuwa chura is one such common snack eaten in the evenings. If you stroll around Kathmandu you would be surprised with the number of eateries serving Sekuwa Chura. Sekuwa could be pork, chicken and mutton barbecued using Nepali spices such as Sichuan pepper and chura is flattened rice. The burnt charcoal flavour of the meat is the essence of the dish.

If you are feeling adventurous, delicacies prepared using the offal of goat should be in your to do list. Offal being a Nepalese delicacy is in such demand during the time of Dasai.  Jibro (tongue), Rakati (blood) , Aandra ( intestines), Phokso (lungs) and Kalejo (liver)  are popular dishes prepared using Nepali spices.  Offal is a favourite snack consumed while drinking.

For vegetarians Bhatmaas Sandheko is a snack eaten while drinking. Soybeans are called Bhatmaas in Nepali. The dish is prepared adding a mixture of spices such as garlic, red onions, ginger, coriander and chilies to the soybean seeds. What really adds to the taste is green garlic used in its preparation.

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Momos with tomato chutney

I don’t think I need to even talk about how much Nepalese love Momos. These steamed flour dumplings are prepared with fillings of chicken, buff, pork or mutton. The peanut sauce and tomato chutney served with it make the entire dish heavenly.

For all those having a sweet tooth, your visit to Nepal would be incomplete if you miss the famous Sel roti. Sel roti is a dessert prepared out of the paste of rice, sugar, soda powder and butter. It looks like a donut but is not as sweet as one. Sel roti is always associated with festivities and is prepared during weddings and pujas.

The simplicity and specialty of each dish makes Nepalese food distinct and unique. With over 125 ethnic groups, we have a wide range of dishes. The serenity of the mountains and the picturesque roads along with its rich culture and cuisine makes it a perfect holiday destination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nepal’s Affair with Gold

Although I might not have lived all my life in Nepal, my roots lie there. My great grandfathers had literally galloped from the mountains of Sibhua, which lie somewhere in the eastern region of Nepal.

Nepal has over 125 communities which speak more than 200 dialects. Every community has a standard set of ornaments which Nepali women adorn. It was only recently that I got to know of the different varieties of jewellery a Nepali woman wears during and after her marriage ceremony.

A lot of you would know that brides in Nepal have to wear very heavy jewellery on the day of their wedding. If you want to keep it very traditional, an “Asarphi ko mala” is ideal. Asharfis were initially gold coins issued by Muslim dynasties in the Middle East and Central and South Asia.

An Asarphi ko mala is a chain made in different designs focusing on these coins as a centerpiece. The amount of gold you put into the necklace solely depends on your level of comfort. The first time I saw this necklace, all I saw were coins.

Just as how you have the Mangalsutra in India, we wear the Tilhari. The Chadke Tilhari is adorned just like a side bag and is the most important ornament in a Nepali women’s life. If I were to give you a description of the necklace, it is a golden cylindrical ornament held together by many strings of Pote.

Pote is a necklace made of glass beads and can only be worn by women who are married. A pote can be of any colour but the Pote used for a Tilhari is usually green in colour.

Chadke Tilharis are usually worn on special occasions in the family. Women generally prefer the Maili Tilhari which is worn like any other necklace. The only difference between a Chadke Tilhari and a Maili Tilhari is the length. Both the necklaces serve the same purpose but only differ in length.

The Jantar is also very typically Nepali. It hails back to the 19th century. Women used to initially wear a Jantar to dodge evil eyes .It consists of a squared gold centerpiece with typical Nepali intricate carvings such as a Kalash. It can further be decorated with precious stones. The squared centre piece is held together by beads and worn as a necklace.

Our love for gold resonates from the The Jun (Moon) Clip. This is a clip made of gold and decorated with precious stones. The Clip is usually made in the shape of the moon with a star attached to it. The Clip can be made in the shape of flowers, birds or even an animal. The head ornament is quite affordable and is worn by Nepali women across all communities.

It is said that we often learn from our neighbors and this holds true for Jewellery too. Nepali women wear a lot of jewellery inspired by Indian designs. In short, we love our gold in every form.

Yours Religiously!

The power of faith has instigated tourists from across the globe to travel in search of exploring destinations and embark on a journey which most of us quote as “ Religious Tourism”.

With a population of 1.2 lakhs, Dharan is home to a diverse sect of groups comprising majorly of followers of Hinduism and Buddhism. This would come as a surprise but there are over 25 holy sites in and around the city of Dharan.

Each site brims with stories. The mythology and history that precedes each institution intrigues the traveller and brings you closer to the roots of the Nepali people.

Barah Chhetra holds significance for Hindus right from the ancient Vedic period. The figurines in this Shikhara styled temple belong to the fifth century. The temple is a forty-five minute drive from Dharan. As you reach the site,  a lovely walk through nature and shops selling an assortment of offerings for worship, await you.

The throng of pilgrims arriving at the temple from remote mountainous sites in western Nepal confirms the holiness of the site. The rush increases during the month of November when there is a religious fair.

It was at this site that Lord Vishnu took the incarnation of a wild boar by the name Lord Barah to kill the demon Hiranakshyipu. Legend has it that Hiranakashyipu had hidden the earth in hell which led to Lord Vishnu’s incarnation to a wild boar to rescue the earth

The temple lies at the confluence of the Kokaha and the Kaushiki river. There are a flight of stairs that lead to the river below. The water from the river is considered to be holy and pilgrims take a bath in these waters.

The Dantakali temple is another tourist spot to visit. The temple is situated at Bijaypur hill and is a 15 minute drive away from the city of Dharan.

Mythology has it that a forlorn Lord Shiva had wandered aimlessly around the world carrying the corpse of his late wife Sati. It was in these moments that her jaw fell off. The spot on which her jaw fell was considered holy and a temple was constructed in her honour. Her teeth are still preserved in a silver casket and you could request the local priest to give you a glimpse of it.

If you are in the heart of the city, you must make it a point to visit the ancient Kiranti shrine known as the Buddha Subba. It is a pilgrimage for devotees and lovers. The myths and history around the place never fail to fascinate me.

Historians state that the tomb was built-in the memory of the last Limbu King, Buddhi Karnaraya Khebang after he was defeated in 1775 by Prithvi Narayan Shah. The positive energy drawn by the spirit of the King drew locals to worship him, eventually leading to the Buddha Subba.

The other story which locals believe in is that of Buddha Subba and his sister, Subini. The duo used to often play and hunt with a slingshot at Bijaypur hill. On one such occasion instead of aiming at a crow, they accidentally hit the tip of a bamboo tree resulting in the tip never growing back.

This grieved Budha Subba making him give up hunting and turn to meditation. The site where the temple stands today is believed to be spot where Buddha Subba meditated.

Legend states that couples inscribing their names on the bamboo trees surrounding the shrine, are bound to be together till eternity. However, as an environment friendly initiative couples now tie thread on the fence surrounding the shrine. This is believed to help wishes come true and unite true lovers forever.

To conclude your visit, a visit to the Vishnu Padhuka temple would be a cherry on the cake. The temple is hidden in the serenity of the forests of north-western Nepal. The obscurity in its  location has preserved the aloofness of the temple. Vishnu Padhuka is a half an hour drive away from the city of Dharan.

It holds significance as the site where Lord Vishnu had carried out the death ritual of the demon, Hiranakashyipu. The death ritual as known as “Sharada” in Sanskrit is believed to free the soul to rest soundly in peace.

Dharan has a hoard of pilgrims coming from all parts of the world to embrace the scenic view of the mountains. For some the journey is a path to self-discovery and for others it is a way to unwind from the hustle of their daily lives and rejuvenate themselves. You don’t have to religious to enjoy your visit, even if you enjoy art and love embracing new cultures, you need to pay Dharan a visit.