Ask Amma

Archive for the ‘What’ Category

Saves water, saves money, is comfortable: The Menstrual Cup

In What on 22 March 2017 at 8:00 pm

A couple of years ago, my friend Nirmala, who lives in a village in Srikakulam district decided to try the menstrual cup.  Recently I got a chance to chat with her about it.  She was quite happy with it – one of her first comments was that it really saved water.  They get their water from a pump – fortunately the pump is in their own front yard, but still, every bucket saved helps.  All the more so for women who collect water from a distance, especially in times of drought.

Today being World Water Day, here is a short excerpt from our conversation about the menstrual cup.  Stay tuned for the longer clip.

Advertisements

Korra or Quinoa? Eat local and ensure food for all

In What on 4 August 2015 at 12:58 pm
Millet or Quinoa?

Millet or Quinoa?

Quinoa is a wonderful grain but does it make sense to grow and eat it far away from the Andes Mountains where it traditionally grows and where it has been a staple grain for the common people before the worldwide boom raised the price?  Rather than chasing after grains from around the world, we would do better for our own health, for the right to food for all, and for the earth if we explored the diversity of grains that grow well in the climate and soil wherever we live.  Readers in the United States and in India can find easy ways to get started using a variety of local millets in lieu of rice and wheat in standard preparations such as idli, dosa, pulao and pulihara, and from there get more adventurous with millets.

And now a word from our friends at the Millet Network of India. Read the rest of this entry »

What can we make with Millet in the United States?

In What on 4 July 2015 at 3:29 am

For amber waves of grain …

So I have waxed enthusiastically about sama, korra, kodoragi, and other millets grown in India.  Readers in the US have asked, how can we use local grains?  What can I do with the millet available in the grocery stores?  And:  what kind is the millet available in the grocery stores in the US?  And is it as wonderful for our people and planet as all the millets we hear about in India? Read the rest of this entry »

What to say instead of “Don’t Cry”

In What on 18 June 2015 at 8:00 pm

Continued from Part 1:  “Don’t Cry: What does it mean?”

I remember once many years ago when I was holding my crying daughter a friend of mine came and told her, “don’t cry.”  I said, “It’s okay, crying is allowed.  You don’t have to tell her not to cry.”  She looked surprised.  “What should I say then?  Cry?” That conversation revealed to me that people may simply believe that the way to console or show concern for someone who is crying is to say “don’t cry.”   It is as if not to say that means that you want them to cry, to be unhappy.

Scene from Ezra Jack Keats, Maggie and the Pirate

Scene from Ezra Jack Keats, Maggie and the Pirate

I might have fallen into the same groove had it not been for two teachers who came into my life as soon as I became an Amma.  The first was Vimala McClure whom I have never met.   Read the rest of this entry »

Reusable menstrual hygiene products: pros and cons

In What on 13 May 2015 at 12:46 pm

It was just after noon in Mumbai.  Our book club was just winding up and people were chatting in the cafe.  A woman called me aside and said, “is it really such a drawback to forget the date of your periods?”  She was referring to an article that appeared in the newspaper, where I called the “worst thing about the menstrual cup” the fact that wearing it made the days of one’s period feel so normal, that one could forget about it altogether.   “I meant it ironically,” I explained.  It’s like saying, “my worst fault is that I am too generous.”  “Oh!”  she smiled.

So when Bindu Mohanty of the #PeriodofChange Campaign asked me for a frank opinion on the pros and cons of reusable menstrual hygiene products, I almost began to reply in the same tenor.  Because, after all, are there in fact any cons?

Silhouette-of-ten-women Read the rest of this entry »

Disposable Pads: The Medium and the Message

In What on 11 May 2015 at 8:00 pm

What, in your opinion, are the pros and cons of disposable pads?  (If there are no pros you can list only cons.) 

 –   A blogger in Chandigarh

women talking shadowWhen asked to write about the pros and cons of disposable menstrual products, I remembered what a friend told me when she decided to give cloth pads a try.  Her mother was aghast.  Why do you want to do all that washing every month? she asked.  I was so glad when disposable sanitary napkins appeared in the market, I thought at last my daughter won’t go through all the same toil I went through during those bloody periods.

Why indeed?  Her daughter, my friend, proceeded to list the various negative health and environmental impacts of disposable pads and said that she didn’t want them next to her skin, she didn’t want to generate so much trash, and she wanted to practice a solution that would be affordable on a modest income.  That it would provide livelihood locally pleased her as well.

Her mother relented.  If disposable pads had so many cons maybe the time spent washing cloth was not wasted after all.

But was that, in fact, the only pro? Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Watermelon Birthday!

In Field Notes, What on 17 March 2015 at 4:43 pm

We had the pleasure of Disha’s company just as she was approaching the big 5.   She was traveling with her parents to the heart of the country and lucky for us they had a break journey in Mumbai.  We thrust a candle into a plump watermelon and burst into an enthusiastic chorus of “Happy Birthday” which delighted Disha to no end.  The Birthday Watermelon was sweet and juicy and we ate the whole thing!  Cheers to Disha as she sails through the final days of being 4 and three cheers for watermelon birthdays!

Disha enjoys a little watermelon birthday party :-)

Disha enjoys a little watermelon birthday party 🙂

Tip of the Day:   Yes, you can celebrate your birthday with watermelon!

Read the rest of this entry »

The Worst Thing About the Menstrual Cup

In What on 15 March 2015 at 12:00 am

This article appears in The Hindu as “A life-changing cup” on 15 March 2015.

Menstrual cup

Menstrual cup

The Worst thing about the Menstrual Cup

Is it the cost? The weirdness? Is it the difficulty of inserting it? The messy removal? Or the cumbersome cleaning?

No, none of these is the worst thing about the menstrual cup. Women who have these problems generally get over them after a few cycles. And the cost, while high, is recovered. But there is one problem that just doesn’t go away.

What you will often hear from women who use the cup is that it is life-changing. This cannot be reduced to the sum of saved money, saved time, saved environment or any such mundane savings. What is saved is at another level altogether. Read the rest of this entry »

Cooking Vessels – Steel, Iron and More

In What on 26 August 2014 at 3:40 pm

My pots are starting to scratch and I am afraid to use steel utensils with them.  I have some plastic utensils but I am worried about using them on hot food.  What cooking vessels should I use?

Please, please do not use that scratched up pot.  And please banish the plastic from the kitchen.  At least the cooking part of the kitchen. Why not use a pot that doesn’t  scratch – such as one made of cast iron or stainless steel? I will let you do your own reading on the hazards of cooking with aluminium, or using plastic for stirring or storing hot foods.  I will just briefly comment below.

A steel spatula on non-stick cookware will eventually scratch the surface.

A steel spatula on non-stick cookware will eventually scratch the surface.

Why you should not cook in the following materials (and what you should use instead): Read the rest of this entry »

Sprouts Unlock Nutrients

In What on 15 July 2014 at 11:25 pm

Are sprouts a good source of probiotics?   How can we increase probiotics in our diet?

Amma of a 4-year old in Bangalore

Well, Chetana, thanks for asking.  Many of us know generally that soaking, sprouting and fermenting all have an important role to play in making nutrients more available.  Considering that the grains themselves do most of the work, it’s a wonder that in spite of knowing this we don’t always do it.  There could hardly be an easier way to multiply nutrients while doing nothing.  Now let us look at how and what.

mung2

Mung Beans Sprouting in a Colander

Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: