Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Home with the old world charm?


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Home with the old world charm?

You must have experienced it. When you enter a expensive, well designed home with everything perfect but still doesn’t appeal to you, but when you enter a simple home with a touch of old world charm with its imperfections, catches your eyes and makes you feel homely and comfortable. You immediately connect with that home...

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Can I design my own home? Is a designer must for designing your home? Many a times, people are in a fix whether to hire an expert to do their house or do it themselves. If you believe in your personal touch, opt for the latter. Be it an apartment, a villa, cottage or a bungalow. I am sure it will cost you less and give you a satisfaction of doing your own home as you dreamt of doing it. I can tell you from experience, the thrill, the challenges and the final satisfaction are worth feeling.

You must have experienced it. When you enter a expensive, well designed home with everything perfect but still doesn’t appeal to you, but when you enter a simple home with a touch of old world charm with its imperfections, catches your eyes and makes you feel homely and comfortable. You immediately connect with that home.

I appreciate the expert's work and feel interior decorators are expensive. They are fine for offices, hotels, restaurants and other public places, where one expects a creative layout, colourful, good design and perfection. I believe if you have a little creative bent of mind, a good sensibility and know what you want, it’s nicer to do the home yourself because you know your needs best. Where to put which furniture and what design, texture and colour of furnishing, curtains to go for or even which shade to paint the walls of different rooms. And what lamps you need and where the lighting, fans and air-conditioners are to be fixed. You have the freedom for your personal choice in all the items and décor.

Have you ever walked into a beautiful home and were struck by the traditional look. I am referring to the décor which makes an impact by its simplicity and brings the living area alive and vibrant. You feel refreshed and feel to be there longer. The vintage look attracts your attention and pleases your eyes.

The look comes as authentic and not-so-perfect or professional, but is eye-catching. An interior designer tends to make it perfect, stylish, but lifeless, rather than a cosy home with a personal touch, where imperfections become perfections! I think such a home helps one to lead a natural and beautiful life, carefree and comfortable ambiance, sitting in your own home sweet home.

As you know best all your needs and requirements of each room, may it be your living room, dining room, bedroom or kitchen; with a little bit of creativity, design the home of your dreams! It may not be fully perfect but the imperfection starts to look the highlight of the home. From contemporary charm, bohemian spirit to rustic feels, give your house the desired look by customizing your interiors and furniture, with a help of a skilled carpenter. And a beautiful mix of themes if the layout and décor demands so. Keep it sleek, simple and stylish with a touch of old. If space permits, a small garden will be an added attraction.

Ethnic interiors with a dash of pastel colours which look neat, subtle and sophisticated are needed. With a touch of vintage, with artifacts, indoor plants, wall hangings, photo frames or antique show pieces and a hint of contemporary fashion if you need. The décor tells about your individual taste and lifestyle. It reflects your thinking and outlook to life.

A word of caution for senior citizens; many of them after retirement, tend to retire from cities to towns to lead a peaceful and quiet retired life. Some of them, out of excitement go for big houses, spending a big chunk of their savings. Big houses need décor accordingly. Remember most of the time, only you and your spouse will be living in it. Occasionally your children or relatives or close friends may come to visit you. Huge houses are difficult to maintain in terms of money and area to clean regularly. 

Since it’s difficult to get house help, most of the time you will have to do the cleaning and housekeeping. Keep this in mind when planning to relocate after retirement. Remember your loved ones or children will not be shifting with you. So have a decent, spacious and a comfortable house with the modern amenities and a spare guest room for your loved ones, friends and relatives who can come over to spend a few days with you. This will serve you well, easy to manage and maintain.

A decent home needs a lot of planning in terms of layout, space, location of different rooms, proper positioning of amenities and utilities. You don't make a home often, so care should be taken to cover all aspects that will take care of your comforts, the sitting area, maybe even a cosy corner where you can relax or work at leisure. Make your house into a beautiful dream home with a natural, simple, vintage, a bit imperfect and sophisticated at the same time. Be it young or old or retired folks, it makes a personal, cosy and comfortable home for all. The old world charm makes for a happy and peaceful living. Truly a beautiful and protected nest!

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Thursday, 16 September 2021

Retire happily. Enjoy the second innings!


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Retire happily. Enjoy the second innings!

In fact, you have only retired from your job or profession, rest everything is the same. Hence no need to change your lifestyle. Continue to live your life as before with a benefit of more time at your disposal. Continue with your usual daily routine. Some seniors after retirement try to change their eating habits. They try diet control, live on juices, traditional snacks and reduce intake of food as compared to earlier days and live on frugal meals. On the contrary eat as before, enjoy your meals. Avoid rigorous exercise; take up walking and loosening exercises........

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Many seniors who retire from their job or profession think they have retired in all spheres of life. Actually it's a new innings rich with experience and understanding of life. Once at a political meeting, a politician warned his colleagues and officials – Don’t mess with senior citizens. They have the time, experience and the purpose to pursue the matter!

The big mistake retired people do is trying to change their lifestyle, eating habits, feel they have done all in life. And tend to relax and take a back seat. Keep yourself occupied in something you love to do - reading, writing, painting, traveling or devoting your free time constructively in some NGO. With modern technology and internet, one has many options. Make a choice and pursue it. Actually age is in the mind. If you think young, you will feel and behave young. 

In fact, you have only retired from your job or profession, rest everything is the same. Hence no need to change your lifestyle. Continue to live your life as before with a benefit of more time at your disposal. Continue with your usual daily routine. Some seniors after retirement try to change their eating habits. They try diet control, live on juices, traditional snacks and reduce intake of food as compared to earlier days and live on frugal meals. On the contrary eat as before, enjoy your meals. Avoid rigorous exercise; take up walking and loosening exercises. They are ideal for your legs and fitness. Unless you have any health issues, there's no reason to restrain yourself.

The mantra is, keeps your legs strong as it is said, aging starts from the feet upward. Hence when you are old, the feet must always remain strong. Don’t be afraid of thinning hair or it turning grey or skin sagging or wrinkles or going out of shape in some areas. As summarized by the US Magazine ‘Prevention’, strong leg muscles are listed on the top, as the most important and essential one. If you do not move your legs for two weeks, your leg strength will decrease by 10 years.

A study by the University of Copenhagen in Denmark found that both old and young, during the two weeks of inactivity, the legs muscle strength can be weakened by a third which is equivalent to 20-30 years of ageing. As our leg muscles weaken, it will take a long time to recover, even if we do rehabilitation and exercises. Therefore, regular exercise like walking with proper footwear is very important. The whole body weight/load remains and rest on the legs. The foot is a kind of pillars, bearing the weight of the human body. Interestingly, 50% of a person's bones and 50% of the muscles are in the two legs. The largest and strongest joints and bones of the human body are also in the legs. Strong bones, strong muscles, and flexible joints form the Iron Triangle that carries the most important load on the human body. 70% of human activity and burning of energy in one's life is done by the two feet. When young you take it for granted, but once old you realize the true meaning.

The foot is the center of body locomotion. Both the legs together have fifty percent of the nerves of the human body, fifty percent of the blood vessels and fifty percent of the blood flowing through them. It is the large circulatory network that connects the body. Only when the feet are healthy then the convention current of blood flows, smoothly, so people who have strong leg muscles will definitely have a strong heart. And live a healthy and happy life.

Aging starts from the feet upwards. As a person gets older, the accuracy and speed of transmission of instructions between the brain and the legs decreases, unlike when a person is young. In addition, the so-called Bone Fertilizer Calcium will sooner or later be lost with the passage of time, making the elderly more prone to bone fractures. Bone fractures in the elderly can easily trigger a series of complications, especially fatal diseases such as brain thrombosis. So take care not to slip or fall.

Exercising the legs is never too late, even after the age of 60 years. The feet/legs will gradually age with time, exercising our feet/legs is a life-long task. Only by strengthening the legs, one can prevent further aging. Please walk for at least 30-40 minutes daily to ensure that your legs receive sufficient exercise and to ensure that your leg muscles remain healthy. Hence it is said – Legs for life.

Senior citizens should bear this in mind - never teach anyone anything, unless requested, even if you are sure you are right. Do not try to help unless asked for. Just be ready and available for it if possible. Do not give unsolicited opinion all the time. Do not expect everyone to follow your opinion, even though you feel your opinion was the best. Don't impose yourself on anyone on any subject. Don't try to protect your loved ones from all the misfortunes of the world. Just love them and pray for them. Don't complain about your health, your neighbors, your retirement or your woes all the time. Don't expect gratitude from children. There are no ungrateful children; there are only stupid parents, who expect gratitude from their children.

Don't waste your last money on anti-ageing treatments. It's useless like gone with the wind. Better spend it on a trip. It's always worth it. Take care of your spouse, even if he/she becomes a wrinkled, helpless and moody old person. Don't forget he/she was once young, good looking and cheerful, may be he/she is the only one who really needs you right now. Try to understand new technologies and keep up with time. Follow the latest news, constantly study something new, a new skill, a new dish, a new indoor game, do not fall behind, and change with time. Don't blame yourself for whatever happened to your life or to your children's lives, you did everything you could. Preserve your dignity and integrity in any situation, till the end. Keep your investments, properties and savings to yourself and your spouse. Anyway it will go to your children after you are gone.

Remember, you're still alive and kicking, someone needs you. Dress well, be presentable, your children and others will appreciate it. Be in touch with your loved ones and friends. Talking to them from time to time is like a gush of fresh air which recharges and freshens up the body, mind and soul. Lead a happy retired life. Remember you have not retired from life. Be as usual, enjoy life. You have time on your side for various activities. Celebrate life - eat, drink and have fun but with a small warning - do it within limit. Just as kids will be kids, oldies will be oldies!

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Sunday, 12 September 2021

Burma’s connection with Ratnagiri?


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Burma’s connection with Ratnagiri?

Many might wonder what Burma has to do with Ratnagiri. But you will be surprised to know there is a strong connection, a historic connection which can’t be forgotten. The Burmese king and the royal family lived here in a palace for many years, and still exist in Ratnagiri. It’s an imposing structure, with traditional design in red. A quiet reminder of the history of the days gone by which had seen better days and the glorious past during the British rule in India. Read on to know how did the Burma king, and his royal family arrive from faraway Burma to Ratnagiri, a little known remote town on the west coast of India in the state of Maharashtra.

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For many years on our journey from Mumbai to Goa, travelling by rail or road we passed Ratnagiri. We had heard of a few places of interest to be seen here. But never bothered to stop and explore the spots. Later we planned a specific trip to Ratnagiri to spend a few days and visit the places around. We went by road in two cars to enjoy the beautiful sights on the way. We booked accommodation in advance and stayed in a home stay; a well laid-out and furnished bungalow with modern amenities and parking. Through a contact, hired a vehicle from a local to visit and explore the tourist spots, beach, historical places and famous temples around Ratnagiri. It was worth a visit as we got a chance to see some interesting places, some historical sites and popular temples and monuments.

Ratnagiri is a port town in Maharashtra, western India and has a busy station on the route of Konkan Railway. And can be reached by road and rail. Overlooking the Arabian Sea, Ratnadurg Fort and the Bhagwati temple and a lighthouse are the main attractions. Northeast, a fish museum and aquarium that includes turtles and a whale skeleton draw crowds. North of the city, the popular Ganpatipule Temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesh. Northeast, visitors can visit Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary, a forest area sheltering tigers. Ratnagiri has a diverse range of tourist attractions in the form of monuments, temples, and beaches. The beaches of this region are the most popular ones and some of the famous sand trails are Pawas Beach, Ganeshghule Beach, Ganpatipule Beach, etc. Places to visit in Ratnagiri - Bhatye Beach, Mandavi Beach, Marine Aquarium & Museum, Thiba Palace/Thibaw Palace, Ratnadurg Fort, Ganeshgule Beach and temple are the main attractions.

Ratnagiri is the birthplace of Indian freedom fighter Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He was born here on 23 July 1856 after which he moved to Pune with his family when he was 10 years old. Ratnagiri was also is the place of confinement of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar from 1921 to 1935, initially in jail and subsequently under confinement.

The native and the most spoken language in Ratnagiri district is Maharashtra's state language Marathi along with a local dialet Malvani and other languages like English and Hindi are spoken in the urban areas like Ratnagiri and Chiplun. Mango, the king of fruits, is famous for its splendid taste all over India as well as the world over. The Ratnagiri district is famous for Alphonso mangoes. More than 65,000 acres of land is under mango cultivation, and the biggest production of Alphonso mangoes in India is in Ratnagiri.

I had read about the Burma connection some years ago. Thibaw Palace was the residence of the exiled king of Burma.  And it was during this trip, we found out about the Palace, the Burmese king, the Thibaw rulers and decided to visit the place. On the outskirts of Ratnagiri town we reached a large open area with a few vehicles parked on the road with tourists and people gathered at the huge gates leading to the palace grounds. Once inside, the pathway leading to the palace was bare with only plants and trees. And at the far end the palace, a massive red colour structure stood out. A mute spectator to the good and bad days of long gone by years.The palace was built in 1910 for the king, with a marble-floored dance hall and archaeological museum.

In 1886, King Thibaw of Burma was exiled to Ratnagiri after he was deposed and his country annexed by the British Empire. Along with his pregnant wife, his junior queen, and his two young daughters, he lived in Ratnagiri for many years, as a prisoner of the British Crown. Ratnagiri was chosen for its remote location, some 3,000 miles from Thibaw's former royal seat of Mandalay, accessible only by sea for parts of the year and far from any territory of any rival European power who could influence or try to rescue the king from here.

Burma (now Myanmar) was partitioned from India in 1935. Britishers took over the Burma kingdom and arrested King Thibaw last Burmese king. Thibaw, was interned under the British from 1886 until his death in 1916. The Thibaw Palace was built by the Britishers to keep King Thibaw under house arrest. Though the king was under British rule, he was given legal rights and was treated with state honour.

Thiba palace was built by British Government to keep the former king of Brahmadesh (now Myanmar) Thabba Min in house arrest. It was built in the year 1910. Until 1916, the king and queen of Myanmar lived in this palace. Now there is a museum in this palace. Some of the things used by King Thibaw are still preserved in this palace. The palace is a beautifully constructed three storied structure with sloping roofs. Semi-circular wooden windows with beautiful carvings are the main attraction of this structure. There is a dancing hall with marble floor on the first floor. One Buddha idol is installed at the back side of the palace. This idol was brought to India by King Thibaw. One can have a mesmerizing view of Someshwar creek, Bhatye Bridge and Arabian Sea from this point. This place is also famous for the beautiful Sunset.

British after defeating the local Rajas in battle did not kill or slay the rulers outright. The distant exiles were meant to assuage the feeling of the subjects. The King is housed at a distant place with no harm to them was the narrative. This policy allowed some time for the British to rebuild a semblance of the administrative machinery of the respective rulers and allow time for the subjects to accept British authority, rather than demanding abrupt overnight submission. A hefty financial package was allotted to each ruler so that they could live a comfortable life when in exile, also giving the rulers a stake in the arrangement and thus dissuading them from fomenting any trouble. It was astute thinking and smart policy of the British that helped them to control and rule vast territories. Bahadur Shah Zaffar, the last Moghul emperor was defeated and was exiled from Delhi to Burma where he died later.

The Burmese King and his royal family lived in comfort and a peaceful life away from his people and kingdom. The King was granted certain special favours to keep them happy and not create any problems for them in his land. They lived here till their end. Some of their descendants are still living a simple and an unknown life. Once the rulers now most of them live in abject poverty.

In 1995, Hindustan Times contacted the descendants of the Thibaw rulers in Ratnagiri. They even managed to locate the grand-daughter of King Thibaw, known as Tu Tu. As per the report -Tu Tu, was brought up in poverty and not being educated, forgot all about her royal heritage except having one sorry looking poster painting of her mother kept in her home as a faint memory among the many gods. Without money or education, Tu Tu married a local mechanic and had at least six or seven children, all of whom are more Indian in appearance, religion and culture. Tu Tu, for whom Burma is a forgotten past, still lives in Ratnagiri as an old woman and speaks fluent Marathi with a rural Maharashtrian accent.

This is the sad story of the Burmese King and his royal family, defeated by the British, exiled in a far away land and settled in a remote town so that nobody could reach him to plan or create any trouble for the British rulers in Burma. A sad end of the royal family compared to the glorious days in Burma.

The best way to reach Ratnagiri is to take a bus or a taxi from Mumbai if you plan a road trip. One can also reach by railway as almost all trains on the Konkan railway halt here. Ratnagiri station is about 7 km and Ratnagiri bus station is 1 km from the palace. Best time to visit Ratnagiri is from October to March. The summer here is pretty hot from March till May. Ratnagiri is famous for Haapus Aam (Alphonso Mango). Tourists can buy cashews, mangoes, aam panna, kokum sharbhat and other local delicacies.

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