Friday, July 23, 2010

Smelly stuff

Those of you who know me are probably aware of my penchant for online shopping. Mind you, it's mostly window shopping (or screen shopping if you must) but I do get loads of fun out of it. Ebay, Amazon are pretty good and the sheer quantity and variety of the stuff on offer takes my breath away!

One of my favourite haunts is - the sarees there are pweety and look so good on the models, I just have a lot of fun browsing through their huge collection. Oh yes, and I've bought 2 sarees from them.. one was my homecoming saree, which was a cream chiffon with a bright blue border, worked with cream flowers and sequins. The other one is leaf green with a red and gold border. They are both now out of stock so I can't link to the pics. Anywez, I wasn't too thrilled with one because it had a quality defect, but when I complained they apologised profusely and gave a $25 discount for my next purchase. The green one is absolutely gorgeous, and both are very unusual.

My bonanza find so far has been the Victoria's Secret summer sale, which I discovered in 2007. Actually, it's darling who pointed me in that direction, and I am eternally grateful. Yes I agree, the clothes are horrendously priced, but I zoomed in on the cream-lotion-potion section.... specifically the "Secret Garden Collection". So yeah... this is how I pamper myself.

For a very limited time, they have a "8 items for $35" or "6 items for $20" offer, and this is what I watch out for. I've managed to hook my friends and relatives too, so a sizable order is placed. With the shipping charges, US tax and SL tax all factored in, it worked out to about Rs. 800/- or Rs. 600/- per item, which is great value for money.

My favourites so far are Lovespell (shower gel, scrub, bodybutter), Secret Charm (bodywash, lotion) and the Cocoa butter lotion. A friend ordered Endless Love, and I was madly jealous because that was so intoxicating, and I wanted it! The nice thing about these scents is that they are subtle, not overtly floral and certainly not the in-your-face-and-up-your-nose type.

Well, this is just a glimpse of the "My World" tag I'm yet to respond to (thanks Lo$t)... have fun y'all, I'm going to enjoy my Saturday pampering session!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hawkers' street and spicy foods

So yes, I regret to announce that there has been a relapse, triggered by 5 star hotels masquerading as street food sellers and the 50% discount afforded by access to a HSBC credit card.

I must say I had no idea there were so many frikkin' cars in Colombo... even though Darling and I meandered towards Greenpath fairly early, finding a spot to park required near superhuman effort. I also underestimated the interest shown by the Colombo crowd, who were there in full force... and it was a little annoying as well - for every person to go "hi meya" at me, there were a dozen going "ma-chaaang!!" or "hi...iiii (simper giggle giggle)" at Darling. Chaarmax was also there, Cindy on tow, heading determinedly towards the food - but didn't see any other bloggers. There was also an over-representation of skinny girls with sunglasses carefully holding hair in place (honestly, dudettes, it's night time), slathered on makeup, sky high skirts and jingly jangly earrings.

Don't mind me, I'm just jealous.

The food... hmmmm... I won't say I was overwhelmed since most stalls were going in for rice with a variation of curries and slapping on the label "South African" (yellow rice, chicken curry, beans and potato curry), "Indonesian" (nasi goreng), "Phillipino" (yellow rice, kebabs), "Malaysian" (nasi goreng).

My favourite was the stall by Mount Lavinia Hotel that was hawking Italian food - the indomitable Chef Lal was having everyone in stitches while yelling "enna enna apeng kema ganna" in a thick Italian accent. The ricotta cheese ravioli with potato wedges was simply to die for, and I'm seriously considering going there again today, simply to have another go at it. They very kindly allowed me to go round the back and take pics, amidst furious whispers from the other people standing around "Who is she ah?" "Why is she allowed to go there?" Darling reports that one long suffering dude kept insisting "no no, she's from Hi magazine men, don't fuss".

MLH display

Chef Lal

Chicken penne pasta on the make

We initially avoided the Mango Tree stall because of huge queues, but were tempted back by the sizzling chicken tikka kebabs on the coals, and the peni berena jalebi. The majority of the crowd was composed of a large Indian contingent, who were having a fantastic time bidding for the eats and treats. Darling very rudely told an Indian friend to go sample something from a different country, before jostling him out of the way and taking his place. Hmm... I might go back and check out the paneer puri today.

Handling the crowds

Chicken kebabs - yummeh!

Making jalebi

More jalebi


OMG, this was so delicious!

Ramada was doing the Mughlai Indian stall, with this dude seen madly swishing the roti around.

Roti dude

The Phillipino food stall by GOH looked good, sizzling chicken kebabs, grilled fish, and banana fritters with mango cream. I must say the fritters were an utter disappointment, since they were made of raw alu kesel and the batter was the same type usually found coating chinese rolls.


Taj Samura had gone all crazy with the "Madagascar" theme, and had genuine South African food, cunningly disguised as burgers, yellow rice and miscellaneous curries.

The display

Reaction by the clientele

Genuine South African cuisine

Raja Bojun had risen to the occasion and had a flavoursome stall replete with hoppers, kottu, crab curry, polos curry etc.


Curry world


The indomitable Tushar Amalean was there in person at the Sizzle stall, madly trying to direct a dozen operations at once. This was easily one of the most popular stalls... the sizzling smell kept leading me back by the nose!

Mr. Amalean



The Mediterranean stall looked lovely, but I couldn't shoulder past the crowds to get a good look at the food. It sold out pretty soon, and a manager dude in a black tie was seen later on, regretfully turning away the hopefuls.

All I tasted of the Mediterranean cuisine

Live entertainment

Dessert courtesy of Elephant House

Actually, almost every stall was running low on supplies by about 10pm... but the more enterprising had sent for top ups to satisfy the hungry crowds instead of saying "sowwy, we is closed". All in all, I give the whole thing a thumbs up and will be definitely heading thataway tonight as well. My advice to all you foodies, go check it out, take your HSBC CCs, go early, and take an umbrella, just in case!


Edit : so yes, we went the second time, just to see what we had missed. My fave was the butter chicken bunny chow (isn't it a lovely name?) which is a bread bun filled with succulent chicken chunks in gravy. A lovely South African sudda lady assured us that it was very popular and very South African, so it's got endorsement from the natives! Actually, she could have been from South London for all we know but still....

Butter chicken bunny chow

We couldn't resist going for the ravioli again, and the 2nd time was even better than the first.

Ricotta cheese ravioli

While Darling was fighting for life, limb and jalebi, I wandered over to the Arabian food stall, run by Galadari. This was extremely popular, possibly due to its halal status. (Even an aunt and cousin of mine were spotted vaguely hunting for halal food... I have no clue why). The chappie there asked me if I was from the media and when I went "mumble, mumble" in reply, told me that their Arabian cuisine promotion starts tomorrow, so I promised to give it some publicity. So people, check it out at the Sheherazade where as an added perk, the HSBC cardholder dines free.

Ahhh..... shawarmah....

I found the french fries a little incongruous

Chinese cuisine from the Emperor's Wok

Victim of the crab promo

All in all, I had a great time, ruined diet notwithstanding. And it didn't rain, so I was the only person carrying an umbrella. If you happened to notice a harassed looking someone clutching several bags of food while trying to swing a large umbrella in a nonchalant manner, that would have been me.

Well, tomorrow is another week. Have a happy Monday y'all!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Commentaries, calories and sex

Okie, this post is to the lovely commenters on this post, because I think it's fa...aarrr too long for a comment in itself.

Gehan, I hate to burst your bubble, but I'm so vertically challenged, I look as if I've been stepped on. :) Happily, this meant I never went through the phase that a guy trying to make eye contact would end up instead with an eyeful of my bust. So 50kg is an extremely reasonable target. PR you have a point as usual... us doctors are suckers when it comes to their own health and you're spot on with both the health risks and the genes.

First to the genetics. Obesity runs on both sides of my family. My mum's mum was significantly overweight, and my mum manages to keep to her ideal body weight because she's careful of what she eats. Four of my father's sisters are even more significantly overweight. Family gatherings often have a side conversation of "you're fatter than me" "no Akka, YOU'RE fatter than me". It gets tedious sometimes.

That said, I have been balancing nicely at my ideal body weight (50kg) since I was about 16. It fluctuated between 48 and 52, but was mostly stable. Internship played hell on my diet; because of all the rush I never ate on time and rarely ate healthy. During the latter months of slog, the three of us in the unit would collectively guzzle coke, minute maid and milo and munch on chocolate fingers or biscuits while writing BHTs or discharge tickets. There simply was no time. to eat healthy. At the end of that period of hell, I was so overjoyed with having reasonable hours that I went to town in the kitchen, but my culinary skills did tend towards pasta oozing with cheesy sauces.and salads dripping with mayo. My dear friend C nearly got me addicted to guava juice generously spiked with raspberry flavoured absolut. Two trips to Singapore and one to Malaysia (hey I deserved a break!) didn't help either, especially with me wanting to sample all the street food.

So I ended up gaining about 7 kilos over 2 months and a further 3-4 kilos over the next 3 months.

That said, my usual diet is very healthy. Green gram or chick peas (no coconut) for breakfast on weekdays, milk-rice and bread on weekends. Red rice and 3 vegetables for lunch, plus a green vegetable. Chicken during weekends, eggs once a week. I don't eat fish or more importantly, shrimp, prawns or cuttlefish that are chock full of calories. Rice flour hoppers/string hoppers or thosai for dinner, noodles /pasta once a week. The only fruit I like are bananas, so about 2 of them per day. Two cups of tea per day, one teaspoon of sugar. Coffee on weekends.

Like I said, that is my usual diet. But... I have a weakness for Fab pastries; I attend workshops frequently and eat at hotels (the food isn't always brilliant though); ditto for meetings, which also have generous refreshments. My worst tendency though is that I turn to food for comfort... when I'm sad or lonely or tired or bored or frustrated. The past few months have been particularly painful and angst filled. Misery, thy cure is food.

So I ate... burgers from Burgers King, whole portions of pasta as snacks, pastries and sandwiches galore, french fries, twix, dairy milk, pringle's potato chips, fruit yogurt - and more meat than was good for me or my conscience. My portion sizes grew bigger and bigger because my whole system had rewired itself to consuming more. I reached a point where I easily could (and often did) out eat my husband AND my brother.

My mood of tragedy and woe has lessened somewhat, not because things have improved, but because I've found ways to deal with them. Some ways aren't very wise, but we'll leave that murky kettle of fish for later.

So I have tailed off on the binging, and am back to my nice healthy diet. But I'm stuck with this stubborn weight and flab that is so horrific the mirror cracks every time I stand in front of it. It makes poor financial sense as NONE of the saree jackets that fit last year do so now and existing clothes show off rolls of fat. People think I'm pregnant and offer to send around more food.

CJ, thanks for the supportive comment, but this is just to shed the unnecessary, excess fat. Then I go back to my sensible, everyday diet, which gives plenty of lee way for the odd cafe mocha or pizza when I'm out with friends. if this fails (there is a good chance it might) I shall take you up on your offer.

Hisham, this one is for you.

Calories burned during sex*

* Disclaimer : none of the data in this site has been (ahem) independently verified...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mission Impossible

Image from here

Current weight - 62 kg
Target weight - 50 kg

So yeah, following the disaster of my previous weight loss plans, I've grit my teeth and made a firm commitment, yet again.

Problem is 1kg of body weight in fat = 7700 kcal. That then is the calorie restriction needed to lose 1 kg/week. Hmmm... that is cutting down 1100 kcal per day. My recomended daily calorie intake is 1650kcal. This leaves me with a paltry allowance of just 550 kcal per day.


Starvation, here I come...

Edit : Yes, I know this is unhealthy. It's not recomended for a woman to have less than 1200kcal per day unless in a medical supervised environment.

Hang on... I am a medically supervised environment of one! :)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Health for all?

I was pretty annoyed recently when I read of a statement by the Minister of Health that alcoholics should be denied treatment by the public health sector. That sanctimonious ... um... person...!!! Who is he to decide who gets treated and who gets denied? And then my second thoughts kicked in. I have been guilty of thinking the very same thing, not once but a hundred times, not just about alcoholics, but also of smokers and several others too.

It's hard to think charitable thoughts when an alcoholic is wheeled in as a "stat" admission, usually semi-conscious, vomiting blood, delirious and uncooperative. I confess I usually suppress a groan of despair at the sight of them... and with good reason. Almost invariably it results in a lot of running around, organising blood, plasma etc. etc. Especially at night where there is only one doctor and two nurses in a ward, this usually means that other patients might get neglected. Drugs and injections are not given on time, and other admissions are not seen to, because everyone is hovering around the alcoholic dude.

You see, the chronic alcoholics are LOUD. They are dramatic - swollen bellies, hallucinations, screams, blood and guts. They are critical - they may go into cardiac arrest at any time. And when (not if) they do, they are so obese, that it is near impossible for me to clamber on to their beds to deliver effective CPR. An additional thing I've noticed is that somehow, the relatives are the most demanding I've come across, the ones who are quick to make a fuss if things aren't done NOW.

And in the melee it is easy to miss the young dengue patient whose blood pressure has dropped, or the guy with the heart attack who has developed a rhythm disturbance of the heart, or the guy with leptospirosis whose urine output has dropped. When we do find out, it's because they too have progressed to a critical stage, when it could have been nipped in the bud. And that's not fair.

Then there is the expense. It's ironic that the patients with chronic lung disease due to smoking and chronic liver disease due to boozing cost the state more that the innocent johnny on the next bed who has done nothing to deserve his illness. Spiral CT scans, high resolution CT scans, ultra-sound scans, endoscopy, radiographically guided biopsies, inhalers, drugs, blood and blood products. Factor in the cost of hospital stay, meals, linen etc., which are also borne by the state. And then the health care sector runs through its allocated budget, and it is the other poor patients that bear the brunt of it. That's not fair.

You have to admit that the diseases are distressing, painful and associated with the hopelessness of knowing there is no cure. Yet because of the whole psychology behind short term rewards vs. long time penalties, very few cut down on their consumption, despite begging and pleading by the mothers, wives and children, and despite dark predictions by their doctors. I strongly believe that addicts must take responsibility for their actions, but there's always that niggling knowledge that for a person who is physically/psychologically addicted to something, the choice to stop is that much harder.

And this is where I blame the people in charge - officials who issue liquor licenses, politicians who extol the revenue brought in by taxing alcohol and tobacco but who are too short sighted to see the costs of a diseased society. I blame policemen who consort with brewers of moonshine in exchange for bribes, and officials who exploit legal loopholes. It has been scientifically proven that increase in taxation and ban of advertising and ban of public consumption are effective measures in controlling tobacco and alcohol. And yet we have this. No perfumes or jewelery; no watches, electronic gadgets or chocolates. Just tobacco and alcohol, sold duty free... thithata matha.

I am no saint. Even though I have never spoken it out for a patient or relative to hear, I have often thought viciously to myself "yes, go ahead, drink all you want, just die at home instead of landing in the small hours of the morning and ruining my sleep" (remember in SL, we don't get the following day off after a rough night on-call). To deny those thoughts is to be dishonest and blind to my own failings.

In spite of all that, we should never lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with human beings. That denying healthcare to anyone - whatever their failings may be - is unethical, unacceptable and a betrayal of the compassion we all need to cultivate within ourselves.