Talk by international author Bea Johnson on Zero Waste Lifestyle

Chennai: A tiny glass jar containing a retainer, bristles from a bamboo toothbrush, laminated trip itineraries, kitchen cabinet bumpers, bits of photo paper and a few other things – this is all the waste that is produced at the house of California-based Bea Johnson. It amounts to a ‘mere pint of trash per year’ (roughly 473 grams). Johnson and her family adopted the Zero Waste lifestyle a decade ago.

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Before I go on to writing my travelogue, I think this post had to be written. Do read it and please comment and respond if you want to join in or have recipes to share. It will be absolutely lovely to hear from you. Moreover, I will be giving a day-to-day update on my experiences which I hope will be useful for others trying to go Vegan 🙂


Day 70: A fresh start for all of us, perhaps?

So here’s something I want to share with all of you. #January, world-over, is also celebrated as #Veganuary. It’s that time of the year when we a take a pledge to go on a vegan diet for a month. For some, this one month journey has led to them becoming vegan for  life!

Since many find it difficult to undergo a sudden change in diet for a month, they try it once or twice a week, for one whole week or alternate weeks or even a month and then try ways of adopting a vegan diet slowly in their lifestyle, making the shift gradual 🙂 This could involve consciously cutting down on milk products, honey and so on. 

I wrote about it in the newspaper last year and tried it for a week. It was difficult. But definitely, an eye-opening experience. 

This year, I’m doing it again. And my mother and sister are joining me. 🙂 Here’s a shout out to everyone else who wanted to try it or doesn’t mind trying it after reading this post. Doing it in a community always builds morale. And even if you’re doing it for a day, it’s a start. And it counts. 🙂 To all the vegans out there, help us out! Share some amazing recipes. And let’s give our two and four-legged friends a happy new year too! 

The doodle shows 2017 with happy faces of cows, pigs, chickens, bees and so on. :

Please tag your friends if you know they’d be interested 🙂 
The illustration is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. 


CHENNAI: Have you ever wanted an exercise routine that is healthy and fun? Have you ever wanted to learn Merengue, Cumbia, Salsa, Latin-pop, Reggaetton, Bachhata, Calypsio and Samba all at once? If your answer is yes, then Zumba is exactly what you are looking for!

Inspired by Latin American dance styles, Zumba is an aerobic fitness programme that involves movements of various styles performed to the beats of Latin American music.

A typical Zumba session involves muscle strengthening, stretching and cardio exercises deftly incorporated with dance moves. Viewed as a high energy workout, it is seen as an effective way to lose weight.

“You burn about 800 calories in an hour. It is a workout where you exercise all your muscles at a time,” says Sagarika Ganeshyam, Zumba Fitness Instructor at the Russian Cultural Centre.

A research carried out by John Porcari and Mary Luettgen of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science found that participants in a single Zumba fitness class lasting for 32 to 52 minutes burned an average of 369 calories or about 9.5 kcal per minute.

Luettgen says that the reason a person burns a lot of extra calories in Zumba compared to a steady-state exercise like jogging is because Zumba is an interval workout that alternates between high intensity and low intensity movements causing the heart rate to move up and down.

They also found that Zumba burns more calories than cardio kickboxing, step aerobics, hooping and power yoga.

“I lost 13 kgs in just 3 months with Zumba and a healthy diet. It was good fun!” says famous independent singer, Shilpa Natarajan. She says that Zumba helped build her stamina. But more importantly, it helped her find her core. She adds that she enjoyed the catchy music which made her come back to each class.

That’s what makes Zumba stand out. Consistency is the key to any workout. The dynamism and energy associated with Zumba make you want to come back for more!

Apart from weight loss, Zumba has become the perfect solution to a number of health problems. Sagarika explains that Zumba reduces cholesterol, lowers the risk of heart attacks and effectively increases good cholesterol in the body.

Adding to this, Ridhima Suri (32), Official Zumba Instructor and Marathon runner says, “It brings people with low-self-esteem out of their shell and helps them discover themselves. It also helps people get out of depression.”

The advantage with Zumba is that you do not need any experience in dance. As everyone is focussed on mastering the step, no one is judging your clumsy moves.

Old or young, fat or thin – there are different Zumba formats to meet your body type like Zumba toning, Zumba Gold, Aqua Zumba, Zumba Kids and Zumba Kids junior.

Performed in water, Aqua Zumba is a tougher workout recommended for those suffering from arthritis, knee and back problems and injuries. This is because the pressure is not felt in the water, says Ridhima.

“I realised that I had exercised more in water than what I usually did on land,” says Shilpa.

But like any other workout, Zumba needs to be supplemented with a balanced diet. While it is easy to regain weight after leaving Zumba, Ridhima explains that the lung power and capacity developed during the session remain for a longer time.

A certified instructor is an essential ingredient in the Zumba package. They must provide individual attention and find out the health history of each participant to style the workout as per their needs. Zumba classes are less expensive than gym routines. A personal trainer in gyms can easily cost your pocket anywhere between Rs. 1000 and Rs. 10,000 whereas there is no additional expense for a trainer in a Zumba class which ranges from Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 5000 per month.

Slowly becoming the talk of the town, this Latin American workout is being increasingly localised. Grooving to Bollywood songs with Salsa steps has become a common sight. But is that a good thing? Apparently, not this time.

“Around 70% of the music must be Latin as per the Zumba Fitness rules. The class must not turn into a session of Bollywood dancing,” says Ridhima who is working towards standardising the classes with a group of other trainers.

With dance groups and gyms warming up to Zumba, it is important to remember that research studies on the effectiveness of Zumba are limited although there are many positive testimonials claiming its effectiveness. It is advised that you consult your doctor before undertaking any workout session.

As Chennai buckles up to embrace this new form of exercise, are you ready to join the Zumba bandwagon? With classes mushrooming in every neighbourhood, all you need to do is put on your shoes and sign up for this addictive, healthy workout!


Did you ever think that slapping yourself could actually keep you healthy? Well, some say that it works! Read on to find out!

CHENNAI, March 26: The five-day workshop on a Chinese self-healing technique called Paida Lajin,held at the TAG VHS Diabetes Research Centre, has shown positive results in the participants, according to doctors, staff nurses and participants.

Derived from classical Chinese medicine, Paida Lajin is a self-healing method promoted by E-Tao founder Hongchi Xiao.  Referring to it as an effective, simple, safe and universally applicable method in his book, Paida and Lajin Self-Healing, Xiao describes the technique as, “(…) the “simplest healing method”- Paida (patting and slapping the skin to draw out toxic waste in the body) and Lajin (stretching to make the body flexible, to cure diseases and to enhance overall health.)”. Lajin is practiced on a wooden bench called the Lajin bench. Continue reading


When you do a report concerning new self-healing techniques, there is a lot of skepticism that surrounds it. But my story was a bit different. I attended the valedictory function of a Paida Lajin workshop and heard participants of the workshop give very positive reviews. I wondered if they were exaggerating or not. So I decided to do a report on it as part of my reporting modules in my college. Continue reading