The Olfactory Factor : insight on Arabic perfumes #Gulf Times

When Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, looked at her bloodied hands and cried that all the perfumes of Arabia could not sweeten them, perhaps she too knew that the scent of rose, jasmine and amber have the mystical power to wash away almost anything.

Perfumery, or the art of making perfumes, began in ancient Egypt but was developed and further refined by the Romans, the Persians and the Arabs.

It’s an Arab tradition to use aromatic oils as a base for perfumes, called attar. The word ‘attar’, ‘ittar’ or ‘othr’ is basically an Arabic word which means ‘scent’, derived from the Persian word ‘Atr’, meaning ‘fragrance’.

A 9th century Abbasid scientist, Abu Yusuf Yaqub bin Ishaaq al-Kindi, is considered the founder of the Arabic perfume industry.

Ittars, long been considered one of the most treasured of material possessions, are popular not only in Qatar, but throughout the Middle East. These natural perfumes are affordable because they are so concentrated that a small bottle will last for several weeks, if not months.

For the same reason, they are usually offered for sale in small quantities, traditionally in decorated crystal cut type bottles or small jewelled decanters. Due to the purity and the nature of oils, there is very little chance of spoilage.

Additionally, since these perfumes are highly concentrated, a small drop makes the aroma last the whole day. It is also amazing how the aroma’s intensity changes with the changes of body temperature. Their peculiarity is that they are made only from natural ingredients and doesn’t contain any alcohol.

Perfumes are very powerful agent in our social life.

Read more here :

http://www.gulf-times.com/fashion%20and%20style/237/details/351204/on-the-perfume-trail

at-hamil-al-mesk-center A classic collection - Opulent Shaik  oudh-woodsugar spice collectionmisk-al-oudh. jo-malone-villagio-mall.natural oilstasting barOpulent-shaik Juliette has a Gun Faces - Opulent Shaik for men Oud floral-and-light-floral perfume fruity spicy woody ouds in supermarketsperfumes in marketperfume-imported-from-dubai perfumes-made-in-franceVillagio Malljo malone perfumesOud shharqia oudh wood

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Article in Gulf Times : All that blings is Gold

Gold never goes out of style. It can be worked into nearly any shape, from tiny strands that do not break easily to thin sheets, nearly anyway a jewellery artisan desires.

Gold is bought for a variety of reasons such as for auspicious sentiment, as an investment, hedge against inflation, asset allocation etc. It also carries a high perceived value and an emotional quotient. It reinforces closeness of relationships. Gold coins in smaller denominations are also considered apt for corporate gifting and rewards for contests or for commemorative giveaways.

In betrothal, an important part of the Chinese wedding tradition, four pieces of jewellery including a gold necklace, a pendant, a pair of earrings and a bangle are selected by groom’s mother and presented to the bride. The golden colour symbolises wealth and happiness.

One of the ancient traditions of Western Europe which is still going strong today in the Christian community is the idea of the engagement ring. It was way back in 860 AD that Pope Nicholas I proclaimed that not only was an engagement ring required to seal the agreement to be married, but that the engagement ring must be made of gold.

The making of the ring out of gold signified that the groom was willing to make a financial sacrifice for his new bride-to-be. Since then engagement and marriage ceremonies in the West include a small piece of gold jewellery.

Italian gold jewellery, on the other hand, is synonymous with style and Italy is well known for its yellow gold jewellery and classical designs. Italy is known as the world leader in gold jewellery production for its outstanding technical skills. Gold charm bracelets have a strong presence in Italian gold jewellery.

Everyone likes to make a statement and wear jewellery with a meaning behind it. It is an intelligent way to show one’s history or beliefs. A good example of this is the symbol of an inverted hand, where the hand extended forward is a symbol of divine force. Another example is Celtic jewellery where the Celtic knots can symbolise the eternity of life.

Read more here :

http://www.gulf-times.com/culture/238/details/350374/gold-is-never-out-of-fashion

gold coin

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a design by Shaily Bracelet - Italian Style Whirlwind - a design by Shaily Agarwal

Did you do your homework?

Most of us relate to homework with school.

Door Bell.
Mom opens the door to a bunch of kids who ask if their friend can play with them.

Mom calls out his son. Asks if he finished homework and makes a decision of letting him play based on that crucial answer.

Indeed. Like many kids, even I have made excuses like, yea mom I finished – even though it wasn’t. Or told her I’ll come back and do it, even though I know I’ll be too tired and eventually I’ll be rushing through it in the morning before school bus arrives.

As a pre-teen I dint know how long this habit or culture of homework will last.

I know now.

I never stops.

It keeps coming and keeps coming.

And if you feel you got no homework, think again.

Homework

Homework culture was inculcated in school life, according to my understanding, so that students can revise what they studied in school that day, and maybe use it to think further i.e. extending the boundaries of logic/reasoning/thinking.

Though most students argue, this is unnecessary, and many countries even execute such rules of “no-homework”.

But don’t the elders or policy makers of such states realize what inactivity they are pushing the younger ones into? With a habit of no homework, how will one to learn the art of retaining information and reproducing it whenever necessary? How will one learn that a basic equation or logic can fit into more than one things? How will the younger generation be pushed to think out of the box?

To give an example, will an entrepreneur have no homework? Will he not come back home and think/note his daily learning? Will he not make a mental account of the data he processed the entire day?

Or will a manager not recall after going home, about the deals he signed or the papers he filed or the people he dealt with?

The thinking process after coming home initiates a lot of healthy thought process. Some conscious and some sub-conscious. If I can go back home today and recall the mistakes I made, most likely, I will not repeat those mistakes.

See how it works –

  • I think of my mistake.
  • I track back my path, what led to what. (which will require remembering past events too)
  • I make a mental note that there issues led to a bad decision.
  • Then think why did those things happen? What led to them?
  • Reach the major root causes.

The next time any of those causes or any scenarios which can lead to those come up, I will be mentally prepared with an algorithm. That now this can happen and then this can happen – which happened last time too – which eventually led to that loss or wrong decision.

So this time, I will take an alternate path to do my work. I will ensure the same mistake is not repeated because I remember where it led to last time. And because I did not cease to do my homework.

Take another example, imagine if doctors don’t do their homework. If they don’t recognize us the next time we meet them. Or worst case – they are not able to cure us because they cant remember what our symptoms mean! Probably if a doctor sees a peculiar case or a new symptom, he would go read/research about it or consult fellow doctors. But if he doesn’t do his homework – doesn’t consult nor any research, imagine the risk on patient’s health.

So not only doing homework, doing it timely is also important. And that is a habit developed in us during our tender years in school. Maybe we shrug at helping the kids around us to do their homework, or let them go easy if they don’t, but it the long run it will leave a negative impact on their personality.

Additionally, it is important matured people do their homework too. Maybe its just a lazy office job, maybe its just a cooking lesson, maybe its just a walk or a chat with a neighbor which happened that day, revise it in your head before sleeping. Take a small note of something you casually noticed but dint feel important that time. Think about your right and wrong decisions.

Most likely, it will help you sometime somewhere someday.

P.S :

In near future (April end) I am writing a series of “un-posted letters” on my blog and inviting guest posts for the same.

The compilation of this would have letters you never posted…the ones you wrote/wanted to write to your mother/teacher/neighbor/boss/husband/friend/ex but did not.. There is no need for names, you can address them to “an inspiring soul” or “a long lost friend” or “love of my life”..

Leave a comment in case you’re interested to be a part of this.

Month of March : “In Print”

Month of March

Week 1

Cover Page :

Sakshi Vashist, Gulf Times

Cover Story :

Sakshi Vashist, Gulf Times

Week 2

Cover Page :

Sakshi Vashist, Gulf Times

Cover Story :

Sakshi Vashist, Gulf Times

Week 3

Cover Page :

Sakshi Vashist, Gulf Times

Cover Story :

Sakshi Vashist, Gulf Times

Week 4

Cover Page :

Sakshi Vashist, Gulf Times

Cover Story :

Sakshi Vashist, Gulf Times

Overwhelming joy of seeing my name IN PRINT.

Thank you MONTH OF MARCH.

The world on my plate : My article in newspaper

People today can travel anywhere around the globe traversing geographical boundaries. And with them, travel their culture and food. The number of foreigners working in Qatar has led to the eating habits of people here being influenced by food from all around the world. Various cuisines and outlets now open in the country have been adapted to serve nationals as well as expatriates from Asia, Europe and America.

Without a question, a dish or a restaurant is selected primarily based on its taste, cost and convenience to eat.

Read more here :

http://www.gulf-times.com/food/235/details/345782/-the-world-on-my-plateoldest member of bombay chowpatty teamA side-bar which appeared in actual newspaper but not in E-version:

FAMOUS CUISINES

Falafel – traditional Arab food – deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, beans, or both; usually topped with salads, pickled vegetables and hot sauce

Samosa – fried or baked pastry with a savory filling, such as spiced potatoes, onions, peas, lentils, ground lamb, ground beef or ground chicken

Kebab – wide variety of skewered meals cooked over or next to flames

Indian chaat – a mixture of potato pieces, crispy fried bread, gram or chickpeas and tangy-salty spices with sour home-made Indian chili, fresh green coriander leaves and yogurt. Popular variants include Aloo tikkis (garnished with onion, coriander, hot spices and a dash of curd), bhel puri, dahi puri, panipuri, dahi vada, papri chaat, and sev puri.

Sandwich – consists of two or more slices of bread with one or more fillings between them

Spring roll – large variety of filled, rolled appetizers. Kind of wrapper, fillings, and cooking technique used vary considerably from place to place

Croissant – butter-layered yeast-leavened dough rolled and folded several times in succession to give a flaky texture, similar to a puff pastry

Donut – deep-fried from a flour dough and shaped in rings or flattened spheres that sometimes contain fillings

Fresh juice – prepared by mechanically squeezing or macerating fruit or vegetable flesh without the application of heat or solvents

Milkshake – sweet, cold beverage which is made from milk, ice cream or iced milk, and flavorings or sweeteners such as fruit syrup or chocolate sauce

Steamed corn – kernels taken off a sweet corn cob or cut off and boiled or steamed

Risottos – rice cooked in broth to a creamy consistency. The broth may be meat-, fish-, or vegetable-based

Pizza – oven-baked, flat, round bread typically topped with a tomato sauce, cheese and various toppings

Pasta – made from an unleavened dough of flour mixed with water and formed into sheets or various shapes, then cooked and served in any number of dishes

Pies – baked dish made of a dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients

Pancakes – thin, flat, round cake prepared from a batter and cooked on a hot griddle or frying pan

Scones – single-serving cake or quick bread made of wheat, barley or oatmeal, with baking powder as a leavening agent

Puddings – sweet milk-based dessert similar in consistency to egg-based custards, or a mousse, made of bread or rice

Muffins – semi-sweet cake or quick bread that is baked in portions appropriate for one person

Cakes – form of bread or bread-like food normally with a round shape

Schwarma – meats placed on a spit and may be grilled, eaten with bread, tomato, and cucumber with toppings like hummus and pickled vegetables

Barbecued chicken – chicken parts seasoned and coated in a barbecue sauce, then grilled or smoked

Slurpees – frozen flavored drink

Ras Malai – consists of sugary white, cream or yellow colored balls (or flattened balls) of fresh cheese soaked in clotted cream flavored with cardamom

Other Photographs which are not included in e-version of paper:

tandoor three peppers turkey-anadolu yummy snacks at Chilis a-family-at-bombay-chowpatty a happy customer bombay-chowpatty Caesar Chicken Salad - Just Burger - Tasy and Healthy Brunch at Bread and Bagels - beach tower - dafna Breakfast at The coffee bean & tea leaf bread-being-made-at-turkey-anadolu Bread and Bagel carrot cake at Bread and Bagels Chowking - al khor mall Famous small pastries at Turkey A. Egg Benedict at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf papa jones pizza Papa Jones ppl-at-turkey-anadolu food at chilis samosa - indian cuisine Shawarma with hommos at Turkey Anadolu Snacks on display - Java U special menu to cater kids spicy noodles stir fry with vegetables

Musings from Rajasthan – India

home

The largest state of India – Rajasthan accounts for more than 10% of India’s surface area on the globe. Rajasthan is the only Indian State that has captured the imagination of the people, rulers and invaders through the ages as well as tourists both national and international.

painting

Above is a painting by my super talented aunt. It truly depicts the exotic and vibrant nature of this state, a culture that has retained the very essence of the bygone royal era.

decoration, rajasthan

Rajasthan was dominantly ruled for over 1000 years by the Rajputs, a warrior clan who claim descent from the sun, the moon and the flames of a sacrificial fire. They have a strict sense of honor and chivalry similar to that of the medieval European Knights and preferred to die an honorable death rather than face defeat at the hands of the enemy.rajasthan

India’s oldest mountain range as the backdrop; feast your eyes on spectacular sand dunes, take the tiger trail, or just watch the birds in the wetlands. Rajasthan offers it all.

rajasthani painting

Rajasthan is culturally rich and has extensive tradition in art and culture, which reflects the Indian way of life. The dance, music and art forms have been consciously cultivated and patronized by the erstwhile royal courts. An equally rich and varied folk culture from villages is both fascinating and mesmerizing. The music is of uncomplicated innocence and songs depict day-to-day relationships and chores, more often about the bringing of water. Rajasthan’s cultural tapestry takes in simple folk to highly cultivated classical music and dance, in its own distinct style.

Ganesh JI

Rajasthan has a rich tradition of cuisines – for this land of princes had some of the finest cooks in the palaces. The common-folk also took epicurean delight in the culinary art. Aptly has it been said that the royal kitchens of Rajasthan raised the preparation of food to the level of a sublime art.

Generally, Rajasthani curries are brilliant red but not as spicy as they look. Most Rajasthani cuisine uses pure Ghee (clarified butter) as a means of cooking.

decoration at home

Rajasthan is often portrayed as one vast open-air museum, with its relics so well preserved that it delights even the most skeptical traveler.

Other Fun links :

travel to Rajasthan – why?

facts and figures

wiki page

myths from Rajasthan – movie

Rajasthan Tourism

Who made superstitions????

I am a Hindu. A Brahmin that too. I have equal belief in all the one thousand Gods we follow and worship. As i mentioned in my previous post, I pray to Christ, Allah and Gurunanak Sahib too.

I am not sure which one of the religions or cultures gave birth to superstitions. I ardently disbelieve any sort of superstitions.

The most recent one I heard and objected upon : Do not go to loo when temple bells are ringing.

So I asked, what if someone is already in the loo, does he/she have to hold it? Or come out running cuz the bells are ringing?

And what if someone is ill, say has loose motions or weak bladder, what does that person do?

And what about kids, obviously they cannot control the pressure for 15 minutes of aarti time.

And infants? They don’t even know what is God and aarti and excretion and bladder. They are exempted of this rule of not-going-to-loo-when-temple-bells-ring?

superstitions

That’s not it.

I was told another one- Do not sleep during aarti time.

So does that mean specifically evening or morning aarti time too?

But what about the person who is already asleep? Is he supposed to wake up in respect of some everyday prayers being offered to one of our million Gods?

Oh and what about people who work in shifts, who have to work in night time and sleep during day? God gets upset with them? Oh is that why they’re suffering in night shifts and have to work while the entire world sleeps. And here I thought it was their own career decision to work in such factories and plants and companies. 😐

Oh, and don’t get me started on kids and babies and infants and old and sick people or hospitalized people or people under medication or coma.

Really, not sleeping when temple bells ringing so important? My my.

superstitions1

But by far, the most ridiculous superstition is not to wash hair on Thursdays and not to cut nails on Saturdays. And I question – exactly WHY?

Do we have a scientific explanation as to why I should think about a super-power being angry over my personal hygiene? C’mon think about the people who bite and chew their nails everyday. They must be upsetting God. And priests who take a dip in rivers or lakes every morning, thus wetting themselves completely (including hair), must be not THAT faithful to Almighty. Otherwise why would they do such a thing.

Attention people. This is the 21st century. Agreed its good to keep faith in a certain super-power, to have belief in karma and doing the right thing. But doing things based on superstitions and hear-say things is foolishness.

Trust me, if you cross a road after a black cat crosses your way – you will not meet with an accident as long as you keep your eyes on the road.

superstitions2