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Pizza Pakistania

Pizza is Italian and everyone knows it. However, as remarked by a cousin from Italy, what Pizza Hut and other pizza brands make are delicious foods, but they are not Pizzas. A typical Italian Pizza is extremely thin crust with a crispy base.

What is interesting are the legends associated with its origins. Not sure how authentic or true are they, because one does not find them documented in books.

One is that Pizza used to be a poor man’s food in Ancient Greeks, who made a flat loaf of bread and spread it with onions, garlic and herbs.

In the 1st century BCE, the Latin poet Virgil refers to the ancient idea of bread as an edible plate from his Latin epic poem, the Aeneid (trans. A. S. Kline ):
When the poor fare drove them to set their teeth
into the thin discs, the rest being eaten, and to break
the fateful circles of bread boldly with hands and jaws,
not sparing the quartered cakes, Iulus, jokingly,
said no more than: ‘Ha! Are we eating the tables too?’

Another is that in 1800s Italian Royality commissioned a cook to make Pizza, in honor of Queen Margherita. Out of the three, the Queen picked up the one made with tomatoes, olives and mozzarella cheese, because it had the three colors of Italian flag–red green and white. And so this is how it came to be known as Pizza Margherita. Not sure if Italy had the same flag then too.

Interestingly,  when you ask some friends who make pizza at home,  they share that they add many ingredients into the base including eggs, powder milk, baking powder, baking soda, butter etc. Yet many of them fail to make the necessary sponge, or the crisp the base made from shops get.

However, the recipe that a cousin shared from Italy was surprisingly simple, yet fail-proof. Never ever has my pizza base, after following her instructions,  failed to rise.

The ingredients are simple– flour, yeast, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon sugar, some lukewarm water and Olive oil. It is the method of making the dough that makes the real difference.

Fond of homemade Pizza, as it comes steaming hot from the oven with its appetizing aroma, the grown up kids,  take active part in custom designing the toppings. Having tried almost all the renowned and strange combinations, they are now fond of green and white topping which includes– pesto sauce at the base, baby spinach leaves, fresh basil leaves, green olives, feta & mozzarella cheeses.

Nostalgic with the green and white colors of the Pakistani flag, they call this (originally a Greek recipe) Pizza Pakistania.

Following is the making of the Pizza Pakistania from the scratch:

First and the most important step: To let yeast ( I teaspoon), a fist of flour( half a cup), and  sugar ( 1 teaspoon)  froth with lukewarm water ( 2 cups) for 15-30 minutes
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The kneading of dough. Add gradually the remaining  flour ( total 3 cups) , olive oil( half a cup) and pinch of salt. Knead it well and leave it to rise for half an hour in a warm place.

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Rolling out a leavened dough. The more leavened it is, the more it gets tough to roll out as  it keeps recoiling back:

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Base spread with Pesto paste, which if homemade needs basil leaves, pine nuts, fresh garlic made into a paste with  olive oil:
{Homemade Pesto sauce: Take a cup of fresh basil leaves(tulsi leaves), half a cup of pine nuts( chilghoza), half cup extravirgin olive oil, 4 cloves of garlic and salt to taste. Grind them coarsely in a chopper or a mortar}.

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Our fresh supply of basil leaves, which adds aroma to the pizza:

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Assembling together baby spinach leaves(2 cups), basil leaves( half a cup), feta cheese( 1 cup) and mozzarella cheese(1 cup):

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Bake it in a preheated oven at 225 degrees C, for 15-20 minutes, until cheese and the crust is golden brown.

Hot and crispy pizza, just out of the oven:

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And it took just a quarter of an hour for two pizzas to vanish from the dining table:

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Moral of the story: Its simple to make ( with less cumbersome toppings), loads of green healthy stuff, and a pleasant change of taste from the usual pizzas.

Don’t miss the close look at the fine sponge and the crisp of the base bread. 😀

How I wish, these Christmas vacations are forced upon us, every few months !!!

How to avoid Cancer !

What is cancer?
Cancer is not just one disease, but many diseases. There are more than 100 different types of cancer.
Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.
Cancer is a leading cause of disease worldwide (GLOBOCAN estimates that 12.7 million new cancer cases occurred worldwide in 2008).

The top 4 causes being:
• Lung (12.7%)
• Female breast (10.9%)
• Colorectal (9.7%)
• Stomach cancer (7.8%)
In all these four cancers account for 40% of deaths from cancer.

Although the incidence rate in developed countries is twice as high as the developing countries like ours, but the outcome ( in terms of death and disease) is much worse in the developing countries, owing to poor detection at early stage, and poor case management. However, the incidence of cancers related to infections like stomach, liver or cervix ( which can be prevented) are more common in developing countries.

GOOD NEWS is that about half of all cancer cases are preventable. Prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer.
And even Cancer diagnosis is still not a death statement. If detected early can be cured.

Many reasons within our genes, our lifestyle, and the environment around us may increase or decrease our risk of getting cancer.

There are simple measures that we as ordinary human beings can take to prevent cancers to some extent.

Here are they :

Part 1


TOBACCO in smoke or chewable form TOPS the list.
Tobacco use is the single greatest avoidable risk factor for cancer mortality worldwide, causing an estimated 22% of all cancer deaths per year.
Cancer that tobacco can cause are of lung, esophagus, larynx (voice box), mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, cervix and female breast.
About 70% of the lung cancer burden can be attributed to smoking alone.
Second-hand smoke (SHS), also known as environmental tobacco smoke, has been proven to cause lung cancer in non-smoking adults.
Avoiding tobacco is best, however cessation of the use of tobacco, gradually reduces the risk, and in 15 yrs is as good as for non smokers.

Alcohol is a risk factor for many cancer types including cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colorectum and breast. Risk of cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. The risk from heavy drinking for several cancer types (e.g. oral cavity, pharynx, larynx and esophagus) substantially increases if the person is also a heavy smoker.
Obesity is a cause for most chronic diseases and cancers, including breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney and endometrium.
A general goal of 30 minutes exercise every day and keeping the body weight in the normal range can avoid from a lot of cancer risks.

-Practice safe sex & do not share needles, sharps like nail cutters and razors. There may cause Hepatitis B, C or HIV infections which can then lead to Liver or other cancers. Cancers caused by infectious agents(viruses etc) are more common in developing nations e.g. Cervical Cancer, Liver Cancer and Stomach Cancer.

Light skinned especially should protection from sun by use sunscreen with SPF >30 between 10 AM and 4 PM. Skin cancers like Basal Cell Carcinoma(BCC) or Melanomas. BCC are less aggressive but Melanomas are very aggressive and fast growing cancers & kill 75% of those who have them.


What makes some foods cancerous?
Refined sugars: They act as fuels for the growing cancer cells, as ready energy. Terms suggestive of refined sugars on food labels are: high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, sucrose, enriched bleached flour, white rice, white pastas, white breads and other “white” foods. Refined flour are also lacking in fibres which cause cancer.
Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils: Besides being a cancer factor, trans fats promote heart disease, interrupt metabolic processes, and cause belly fat(obesity) that in turn are again another cause of cancer.
Sodium nitrite (and nitrates): Added to give pink color to the meat. During the digestion process, however, sodium nitrite is converted to nitrosamine, and that’s where the cancer problems begin. Nitrosamine is a carcinogen. Nitrosamines are also found in food items that are pickled, fried, or smoked; in things such as beer, cheese, and fish by products, and tobacco smoke.
Saturated fats: Usually of animal origin which may cause obesity which is indirectly or directly related to certain cancers.
• Some chemical additives like coloring agents and flavouring agents have also been known to be cancerous.

Top cancerous Foods:
1. Soda pops, sweetened drinks: >2 servings per week increases Pancreatic cancer by 87%. Glucose and Fructose both feed cancer cells. Women who ate the most high-glycaemic-load foods were close to three times more likely to develop colorectal cancer.
2. Fried foods: French fries, hash browns, potato chips, samosas, pooris. – Apart from calories, they contain saturated fat and trans fat, they also contain acryl amides. They should be called “cancer fries,”
3. Processed meats and bacons: burgers, sausages, bacons. Nitrosamines are produced from fat at high temperature cooking, as in tobacco smoking. People who eat a lot of processed meat may be 50 percent more likely to develop colorectal cancer, stomach cancer or pancreatic cancer.
4. Red meats: Beef. Researches show even eating twice a week, they raise a risk by 20% of cancers of breast, colon and prostate cancers.
5. Donuts, Cookies, chips and crackers: Refined sugars, refined flour and trans fats. They scream for themselves that they are cancerous foods.
6. Charred meats, smoked meats: Many studies including one from Harvard have shown a high link between charred meats and cancer of colon, stomach. Even delicious smoked meats are high in nitrosamines due to the nature of their cooking. Trick is eat them sparingly, if cannot avoid.

How can healthy eating prevent cancer?
The main principle is eat simple:
Eat unprocessed foods and base your diet largely on plants. Consume foods that have omega-3 fats and other essential fatty acids.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables; many common ones have known cancer-fighting properties.
Get regular vigorous exercise, since tumors cannot thrive in highly oxygenated environments.
Keep your blood sugar stable to avoid being an all-you-can-eat buffet for cancer cells.

Top cancer preventing foods:
Green leafy vegetables: These cute little green trees help to fight off stomach, liver, skin, lung, bladder, prostate, and breast cancers. Broccoli contains sulforaphane, an antioxidant that rids the body of cancer-causing toxins.
Hint: Cooked Brocolli tastes mushy, so avoid over cooking, leave it crunchy, or make stir-fry, or eat raw in salads.

Berries: The darker the berry the better still. Blackberry, blue berry, strawberry, raspberry. They contain anthocyanins, antioxidants that slow the growth of premalignant cells.

Garlic: Fights the nitrosamines in the red meat.
Clue: Add garlic to your tomato puree, sauce.

Tomatoes: contain lycopene, which has been shown to stop cancer cell growth according to research. The sure fire way to increase lycopene is by cooking tomatoes.

Walnuts; are the best among nuts for fighting both breast and prostate cancers. Adding just an ounce of walnuts a day will help to keep the cancer away. Vitamin E (gamma-tocopherol) found in nuts and plant seeds may slow the growth of cancer cells.

Beans: Navy and black beans help delay cancer growth of breast and colon cancers. Add a half a cup to your diet a week, at least!

Coffee: Research shows that coffee may contain healing antioxidants as well, preventing colon cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. An alkaloid in coffee may even prevent cavities!
Studies also show that drinking coffee helps reduce muscle soreness and improves stamina
Harvard researchers are finding an intriguing link between coffee and the prevention of an aggressive type of prostate cancer. However, it’s too early to recommend boosting coffee drinking to men, although one cup of coffee might be helpful.

Green Tea: Antioxidants of green tea are also known to be cancer preventive.

Many environmental toxins are blamed to be carcinogenic.

The topic of environmental carcinogens is vast and controversial. For details on each aspect and toxins see the link: Here

Part- 3

Keep a regular check on your body- any moles on the skin, or your breasts ( in women) or testicles (in men), especially while taking shower, or changing clothes. If you feel any change in the shape size, or feel any lump, or feel any change in your body or symptoms which appear unusual to yourself, you must take doctor’s opinion. Please do not panic. This does not mean you necessarily have cancer or a serious problem. But even if it is, it will be detected early.

Cancer Prevention and Early Detection strategies:
Certain cancers are known to be caused by viruses, and being infectious spread easily in developing countries. They can be avoided by using their vaccines:
Hepatitis B Virus: A set three vaccines given will prevent Hepatitis B which is a common cause of Liver Cancer
Human Papilloma Virus: A sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer. A new vaccine against HPV protects 99% against Cervical Cancer.
Helicobacter pylori: For stomach cancer. Hence when detected, must be treated promptly by consulting a Gastroenterologist.

ALSO BE INFORMED THAT: There are certain cancers which can be screened and detected early and prevent complications and premature death.

Following two blogs shall explain in detail how to prevent or detect cancer early. There are specific screening tests and issues in men and women which shall be discussed in next two blogs: Early Cancer Detection in Women & Early Cancer Detection in  Men, respectively.

There’s a famous saying: An apple a day keeps the doctor away. The ( not so secret) apple for cancer prevention is:

Take home apple, oops message is: “Half of the cancers are preventable and can be avoided through healthy living and better awareness.”

Bread pakorey ki kasam

If seeing this ^^^ picture, your eyes twinkled, lips curved into a wide grin, your mouth began to water and it flashed back the awesome memories of your alma mater, please stand up !

And to those who find the above sentence a gross exaggeration, and cynical, I don’t blame you. For you are an alien to this experience.

To the first group, know you are a Delhiite and more specifically went to DU as a student. And you don’t even need to be explained what DU stands for. But for the latter, btw, it stands for Delhi University .

What fish n chips is to London, or hamburger is to Mc Donalds, this luscious snack is to Delhi. This is the  finger food we all relished ( I wonder if they still do) in cramped Delhi University cafetarias, without realising its awesomeness.

Being away from Delhi now for over two decades, the gold test for me to check whoever claims “I am from Delhi.” is the mention of the clue word “Bread Pakora”. If instead of a wide eyed expression screaming ‘wierdo’, the return expression is an instant wholesome grin, you know the claim is authentic. You don’t even need to double check them.

To give you another evidence of my cynical attachment to a bread pakora, it was only for the ‘Bread pakore ki kasam’ tag line, that got me watch, Band Baja Baraat twice.

In the good old simple days of limited pocket money, and even more limited options in the DU cafes, this large sized, yummy snack with a hot cup of chai came in handy and filling in the lunch hour, for an affordable Rs 5/-

Just as in some other part of the world, mustard compliments hotdogs, our austere bread pakora came proudly partnered to even more austere yet yummy Kaddu Ketchup (Pumpkin ketchup).  And the two stayed married to each other, no matter how much the arrogant branded ketchups belittled it , on TV ads of our days:
“Thora ketcup try karo?”
“Ketchup hota kaddoo bhara”
“Is mein kaddoo nahin zara,
Raseele tamataron se tayyar,
Volfarm .”
( If I still remember it correctly) .

Whenever I get into my “Ayy mere pyaare watan, tujh pe dil qurban” mode, all I do is take two slices of bread, spread one with hot chilli sauce, other with green mint coriander chutney, sandwich them with mashed potatoes, or even cottage cheese, cut them in two triangles,  coat each of them in a chick pea batter, and fry them. And with a steaming cup of tea, I transport myself back to the DU student days.

Find it weird? No worries, most of my family too, quietly radiates that subtle expression of Whats so great about bread pakora?”.

But I have learnt to not take notice of them, and not even take any offense.
They  know not what they are missing !

Believe it or not, I find it the awesomest finger food, for it carries with it a flavour of my past memories too.

Bread pakorey ki kasam !

King of fruits~ a twist with the taste !

Hindu Gods claimed it to be the Food of Gods, the emperors and nawabs called it the King of fruits, poets like Ghalib called it pots with honeyed juice , scientist call it Magnifera indica, with all the special names given by special beings.

To the ordinary, however,  it remains a simple ‘Aam’ ( which itself means ‘ordinary’).

What generous qualities is this wonder fruit not bestowed with—soft silky texture, gorgeously golden color, a mesmeric aroma for the olfaction, and a heavenly sweet delight to the taste buds. And not just the quality, in the peak of its season, it comes in abundance, making Aam ( mango), yet another symbol of generosity. And as if these qualities weren’t enough, it comes in hundreds of varieties.

I love the way, when in abundance, mango sells at a reasonable price making it affordable to many if not all the poor.
“Till last week, in Delhi, some variety of mangoes were being sold at as low as Rs 30 per kg,”, tells my Mom. Still in this world of commerce and trade, India though  the greatest producer and remains the largest consumer of mangoes too, with 99% being consumed locally and only 1% is exported.

Thinking of mangoes, mind goes instantly to a few cues—of mango orchards in Rataul,  where one went to eat just mangoes, or of childhood visits to grandparents where buckets of mangoes soaked in cool water waited for our arrival, and of mangoes being brought home by parents in pettis( wooden boxes) and tokras (baskets) not polybags.  Abundance was common to all.

Beyond eating them as it is, mango shake or mango lassi are universal favorites too.

Right from unripe green to a pulpous ripe fruit, mangoes are worthy of being used in a variety of recipes. The strong mango flavour that obstinately stays even after cooking or mixing with other ingredients, makes it stand out and still remain the main ‘hero’ of any recipe.

The itch to break the monotony and use them in different recipes had always been quite intriguing. Having experimented with various recipes, there are some which have hit really well with my folks at home. And now each mango season, their demand is refreshed.

I share here those  household favorites

Aam Panna:  An age-old traditional drink, that elderly claim beats the heat stroke or LOO (in the desi jargon. Made from unripe or semi ripe mangoes, boiled and pulp sieved, which can be used as either sweet (with sugar) or sour ( without sugar). Adding a dash of chunky chaat masala( desi spices), and a twig of mint leaves makes it a great delight. The resultant sweet n sour drink is a great thirst quencher.

Mango-Avocado-Crab Salad: Layered as avocado cubes with crushed garlic at the bottom, mango cubes with ginger juice in the middle, and crab meat sitting on top. The outcome is pretty cool, with much economy of labor and time.

Mango Salsa &  mango chutney with barbecued chicken:
Mango salsa includes tomato and mango cubes, red onion and jalepino pepper with lemon juice and mint or cilantro garnished. The resultant is a colorful, crunchy mix that is hot, sweet and sour.
Mango chutney is made from green mango pulped, and cooked with sugar and achar masala (pickle spices). Vinegar is added as preservative, after it cools.

Mango Crepes &  Waffles: Hot Crepes or waffles with mango cubes and whipped cream or custard.  Kids love it for a weekend breakfast.

Mango Rose: This is almost a decade long favorite dessert  in the house, a must inclusion in the parties arranged in  mango season. The recipe is an in-house creation and hence kept secret :). Got to eat before ask for the recipe.

Happy mango season !

Mango tree, a symbol of love

“A beautiful, golden radiant princess, the daughter of Sun God landed on Earth. The King of the land instantly fell in love with her, and desired to marry her. However, a sorceress fell jealous of how King was enamoured by her, and turned her into ashes. From these ashes a huge tree with dark green leaves grew, which bore golden fruits taking to the radiance of the princess. As one of the fruits ripened and fell on Earth, it instantly turned back into the same Princess Surya Bai. The King recognised her, and they got married.”

This is how the legend of the origin of a mango tree, symbolizing  eternal love, is mentioned in ancient Sanskrit literature.

The tree is known to date back to 4000BC in India and the fruit it bore, has been known as the ‘fruit of Gods’.

There is another legend which says that :

Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati were gifted with a golden fruit by Narada, the son of Lord Brahma and with an instruction to be eaten by only one person. So they chose to give to one of their two sons, with a condition that whoever will take 3 rounds of the universe first will be rewarded with this fruit. Ganesh being a smart child took three rounds around his parents and reached back earlier than the other brother, Karthik, saying,  “My parents are my universe”.

Hence Ganesha got the fruit, owing to his unequivocal love for his parents.

Not just the fruit, the whole mango tree is revered in Hindu mythology.

Considered auspicious, its dark, big leaves are  used to adorn the house in festivals like Diwali and Pongal.

In the weddings too, as a symbol of love and fertility, the leaves are held in a row by a string and hung at the door to welcome the new bride into the house.

uspicious mango leaves adorning the door.

As an evergreen mango tree starts to blossom with buds, it heralds the onset of spring, and hence called madhu duta( the messenger of spring) that invites love.

A sanksrit couplet says:
aṅkurite pallavite korakite vikasite ca sahakāre |
aṅkuritaḥ pallavitaḥ korakito vikasitaś ca madano ‘sau ||

As the mango flowers begin to swell, to put forth sprouts, to bud and finally to blossom,
Love too swelled, sprouted, budded and blossomed.

The dark green leaves, with fragrant buds and blossoms attract the swarms of humming bees and singing cuckoo birds. The relationship of Mango tree laden with blossoms and Cuckoo bird is that of a lover and the beloved.

The secret of Cuckoo’s melodious voice is associated with the sweet fragrance of mango blossoms and honey laden mango fruits. Perhaps owing to this, mango buds were known to be eaten by singers in old days to make their voice melodious.

Cuckoo on a  mango tree.

Kalidas in his poetry Seasons( Ritusamharam) describes the Spring (Vasanta) as:

” Intoxicated by the nectar of mango blossoms ,
The cuckoo kisses his mate happily in love,….”
“The lovely mango shoot is his choicest arrow,
the swarm of bees is his bow string,
May the world-conquering Manmatha,
Accompanied by vasanta,
Grant you more and more joy.”

Amir Khusrau relates them as:

sakal ban phool rahi sarson
ambva phootey, tesu phule,
koel boley dar dar,
gori karat shingar

The mustard blooms in every field,
Mango buds snap open, the flower blooms,
The cuckoo sings from every branch,
The damsel adorns make-up.

Apart from Gods, even the Rajas, Maharajas, Mughal Emperors and Nawabs could not contain their love for Mangoes, and it is no secret. They were known to keep mango orchards, and took pride in showing off their orchards to the royal guests and spending time with their queens in the orchards when they trees were laden with fragrant blossoms.

Sending a baskets of select mangoes to friends and kins was considered a coveted gesture. Along with the sweetness and aroma, it carried the affection from its sender.

There are folk songs, passed on from generations, relating to Cuckoo bird as the beloved of mango tree:

A Hindi song from India:

Amuva ki dali bole: “Kaali koyaliya, aajaa balmuva hamaar, aja balamuva hamaar.
~The mango branch calls out: “Oh the black cuckoo, come my beloved, come my beloved.” 

Yet another one a Punjabi folk song from Pakistan:

Ambewaan de booteyan pe lag gaya bore nee, rut we milaapan waalin, chann mera door nee.
~There are blossoms on  mango tree, and the season of being together is there, but my friend is away. 


A  dussehri mango shaped like a heart, a gift of nature, grown on the mango tree in  Reena Satin`s garden.


P.S. A few more blogs to follow on mango and a some  interesting recipes using mango 🙂

Osteoporosis ~ a silent thief

Before reading the information on Osteoporosis below, please take this Pre-Test :

Osteoporosis literally means porous bones, or thinning of bones.

Calcium is laid down in the bones for strength. However, for various reasons, calcium deposition may becomes less, leading to thinning of bones.

Why a silent theif?

Bones are weight bearing organs.
The thinning of bones can go on for years quietly, without any apparent symptoms, and hence will not be known by the person.  However, the thin bone may suddenly create problem as it breaks. This beginning of  the complications will occur years or decades later. Therefore, it is important to know the thinning of bones well ahead of time, so that the risk of fracture can be prevented.

Gender difference? 

There is  a sudden decrease in bone density in women after menopause, while in men it is gradual with age and with slow fall in male hormone testosterone. Prevalence of Osteoporosis is 1 in 4 in women while 1 in 8 in men.
Especially men who have had certain medical conditions, on medications, chronic smokers and chronic drinkers may be specially vulnerable to Osteoporosis.

MYTH: It is just a myth  that osteoporosis  is a problem only in women. 

Which are the most common sites of fracture?

The three most common sites to fracture from tinning of bones are: are neck of femur( thigh bone), wrist and vertebrae ( back bone).

THE WRIST : Fracture of wrist is the commonest, but not life threatening, but can serve as a warning sign for those who are not aware of their bone density.

THE BACKBONE : The fracture of the vertebrae may give unsightly hump, may reduce the height or have back ache to begin with. And if progressive can make one unable to lead active life.

THE THIGH BONE : As obvious from the picture below, the neck of femur acts like the steel bridge, bearing weiight of the body. If it gets weak, it can fracture easily. This is the most serious of all the three fractures. These fracture immediately make a person bedridden, and about 30% of then die in first year and another 25% remain bed ridden for rest of the life.

How do you assess your Osteoporosis risk ?

Check  if it applies:

• Am I 65 or older?
• Have I broken a bone from a simple fall or bump since age 40?
• Has either my mother or father had a hip fracture?
• Do I smoke?
• Do I regularly drink three or more alcoholic drinks per day?
• Do I have a condition that requires me to use a steroid medication for over 3 months duration?
• Did I have an early menopause, i.e. before age 45?
• Have my periods ever stopped for several months or more (other than for pregnancy or menopause)?
• Have I ever suffered from impotence, lack of sexual desire or other symptoms related to low levels of testosterone (male sex hormone)?
• Do I currently weigh less than 60 kg or 132 lbs?
• Have I lost more than 10% of my body weight since age 25?
• Have I recently had an X-ray that showed a spinal fracture?
• Have I had an X-ray that showed low bone mineral density?
• Do I take any medication that can cause osteoporosis such as an aromatase inhibitor for breast cancer or hormonal treatment (androgen deprivation therapy) for prostate cancer?
• Do I have a medical condition that can cause bone loss or fractures? Eg rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, gastric bypass surgery, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or chronic liver disease.

IMPORTANT ADVICE: If you are over 50 and have checked ONE or MORE of the above, most Osteoporosis guidelines recommend that you talk to your DOCTOR  to see if you need a bone mineral density test and about doing a comprehensive fracture risk assessment (with FRAX or CAROC).

REASSURANCE: And in case you are told to have osteoporosis ( significantly low bone density) or osteopenia ( slightly low bone density), it is not a matter to panic but to thank your stars that you have come to know this before any serious fractures or disabilities occurred.  Know that  the problem can  be controlled by advice and medications from a specialist Endocrinologist or Gynecologist.


How can you avoid Osteoporosis ?

• Adequate amounts of calcium
• Adequate amounts of vitamin D
• Regular exercise

Calcium Requirement:

Foods high in Calcium

Milk, cheese and other dairy products are good sources of calcium.

Other foods high in calcium include vegetables like broccoli, kale, chickpeas, French beans, baked beans and red kidney beans as well as dried fruits and nuts like almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and sesame seeds. Fruits like oranges, grapefruits, figs and apricots are also rich in calcium.

Fish like sardines in oil, fried whitebait and tinned salmons contain high amounts of calcium. You will get plenty of calcium from desserts like fruit cheesecake, ice cream, milk custard and canned rice pudding as well as breads and grains like pasta, wholemeal bread, white bread and white rice. Some other sources of calcium are eggs, soybean tofu, cheese macaroni, cheese omelet and lasagna.

If not completed through foods, Calcium requirement should be met with Calcium supplements like Calcium Carbonate or Calcium Phosphate.
You may use the chart below to calculate your calcium intake, roughly.

Vitamin D

 Vitamin D is necessary for your body to absorb calcium. Many people get adequate amounts of vitamin D from sunlight, but this may not be a good source if you live in high latitudes, if you’re housebound, or if you regularly use sunscreen or you avoid the sun entirely because of the risk of skin cancer. Scientists don’t yet know the optimal daily dose of vitamin D. A good starting point for adults is 600 to 800 international units (IU) a day.


Exercise can help you build strong bones and slow bone loss. Combine strength training exercises with weight-bearing exercises.

Strength training helps strengthen muscles and bones in your arms and upper spine, and weight-bearing exercises — such as walking, jogging, running, stair climbing, skipping rope, skiing and impact-producing sports — mainly affect the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine.

Swimming, cycling and exercising on machines such as elliptical trainers can provide a good cardiovascular workout, but because such exercises are low impact, they’re not as helpful for improving bone health as weight-bearing exercises are.

Traditional Chinese Wedding vs Desi

Befriending a Chinese colleague closely has busted a lot of myths with which I grew, primarily them being reserved or unfriendly. Going though her wedding pictures ( which took place 27 years ago in Shanghai), I could not with hold my surprise, of the similarity between their wedding and our desi one , in terms of similarity of rituals, elaborate celebrations and expenditure.

“Our weddings are extremely elaborate and interesting.”  remarked my friend.

Exactly like us desis, Chinese believe that marriages are arranged in Heaven, and merely completed on Earth. They believe the predestined couple is tied with red string in the Heaven, long before the marriage occurs on Earth.

For them too, it is a union between two families, not just two individuals.

The traditional Chinese too have elaborate rituals of sending marriage proposals to the girls family. Once decided, it is a must for the two families to consult the fortune teller ( as a Jyotishi in Hindu wedding) about the auspicious date for the wedding.

The invitation cards are as elaborate and showy as ours.


Red color is overwhelmingly predominant in every Chinese wedding, as it represents luck and happiness.

The celebrations begin days before the actual ceremony.

Days before the wedding, the bride is expected to stay away from the eyes of the general public, in isolation.

The groom’s family brings gifts to the bride’s home days before the wedding,  while the bride’s family returns the gifts along with clothes and gifts to the groom, his parents and unmarried siblings.



Like us desis, the bride’s side is also expected to deliver dowry and money to the grooms home, the amount of which  states the dignity and position of the bride’s family.

On the day of the wedding day, as  she gets ready, the bride goes through a hair combing ceremony where a ‘lucky’ woman, mostly a married woman ( = our suhagan) combs her hair 4 times. Each stroke carries a special meaning. The first combing blessed the marriage to last a lifetime; the second, a harmonious marriage; the third, many children and grandchildren ; and the fourth, good health and fortune.

The bride adorns a red gown, red shoes and covers her face with a red veil.

However, the groom, unlike our groom, wears red robe, red sash. A capping ceremony like our ‘sehra bandi’ takes place where his head is covered with cypress leaves by the father.


Amidst the banging of gongs, drums and firecrackers, ( like an Indian baraat),  the groom leaves for the bride’s house in a procession.


As the groom steps in the brides house, the brides sisters & friends stop his way and bargain for entry towards the bride.

The bride leaves her home for the wedding arena under a red umbrella to ward off evil.

However the basic difference between the desi and Chinese wedding is the main ceremony.

They do not have any written contract or chanting of verses.
The couple goes on its knees and bows thrice- for the Heavens, the ancestors and their parents. They even bow to each other in a gesture of promising faithfulness to each other. There are no spoken vows.


Like us desis, the banquet is extremely elaborate, with 9 or 10 course meals.

However unlike us, each meals signifies something. First course is pig which signifies virginity, followed by others eg   fish & seafood for wealth and abundance,  pigeon for peaceful marriage, and whole chicken head for togetherness.

For details in the 10 courses:


The preferred presents like us desis are generally in  cash, which has to be placed  in red envelopes called Hongbao. The amount of money given varies upon the closeness of the giver to the bride-groom.



After the ceremony and the feast, the bride serves her  in laws  tea, holding with both hands, showing a gesture of her service and faithfulness to her new family.


What excited me most was to know that like our old tradition, the Chinese bride also leaves for her husbands home in a hand held  carriage quite like our doli.


Although now only a few girls like this tradition, and now this has largely been been replaced by more posh mode of transport i.e. a car which is mostly extensively decorated with fresh red roses.


Some of the rich who can afford prefer a red car itself.


The ‘bridal bed’ as it is called is arranged quite a few days in advance in an elaborate ceremony, taking care the direction of the bed. The details here too depend upon the affordability of the groom. However all have traditional red bedding and are spread with fruits on it, which signify fertility— red dates, litchis and longans.

In the next morning, the bride gets up early to prepare meals for the new family.

Three days later she visits her parents along with her husband, as a special guest.

The picture that inspired me to write this blog ( Courtesy Tahir Hashmi) was this, which reminded me of the Hindu wedding’s pheras:


“Many of the Chinese youngsters are now  getting more fond of  traditional wedding, after two decades of having had more modern weddings.” added my friend.

(Special thanks to my friend Jenny for the details & helping dish out pictures)

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