Eating is Fun / Eating is Yuck! – A variety food column

THAC Kitchen in Mumbai in action…. teaching people how to eat right to stay healthy and happy for the last 32 years. That is Vijaya Venkat in green saree and her daughter Anju in white behind her, with THAC community members.

THIS is about remembering my friend Dr Vijaya Venkat with warmth and affection. She was a fund of cheerfulness and never say die woman. She started one of the most educative and useful movements called The Health Awareness Centre in Mumbai some 32 years ago, a brave venture like no other. It is the pioneering health movement teaching people how to improve their health and be fighting fit by learning how to eat and how not to eat. Dear Vijaya is gone with the wind but I remember her, unforgettable human being (she passed away in 2016).
Thirty-two years later THAC has grown in leaps and bounds and yet retained it’s basic priorities of teaching and offering a truly useful service like a tiffin to folk who need to go on a health-conscious eating plan to detox, heal and recover joi de vivre or so to speak. For years I used to love the THAC calendars and now I find her daughter Anju Venkat and her team who run the centre, have come out with these revealing Covid-19 stories – so heart-warming to read, how in the last one and half years people from all walks of life have struggled to cope and survive the coronavirus pandemic by simply disciplining themselves into a healthier, immune-boosting eating regime (regimes can be imbibed till they become second-nature and the rewards lie in reaping better and super health) – but this is to say the stories from various individuals who have taken the trouble to document their feelings and experiences vis-à-vis Covid-19 in the family. THAC played a catalyst’s role in helping its members to cope and recover with the help of mainstream medicine but also backed by alternate systems of wellbeing. It paid off tremendous dividends from the sound of it!
Here are some of the selected accounts out of about 25 in all. I hope many of you will take an interest in eating to be happy and healthy anew, come what may. The accounts are courtesy THAC of course, one of these days do check them out.

Abhishek Maniktala (39), Delhi

I would like to write about my tryst with COVID for the benefit of others who might gain some insight.
It started with fever, and never having had fever in the past 2 decades, I knew it had to be COVID.
Only to curb my curiosity we got the tests done, and it came out positive for me, my wife, Vinita (38) and others at home.
After consulting with THAC, I went totally raw, and my fever went away in a day, although moderate coughing continued. I was on total raw for the first 3 days, with increased sunning, deep breathing and total rest.
Thereafter I started having vegetable soups, in addition to a total raw diet otherwise. All this went quite easy as I never had to curb my hunger and my appetite was lost, which I now understand was a deliberate action of the body. Also, I almost slept throughout the day for the first 2 days, and this was just in response to what my body asked me to do.
My coughing reduced in about 7 days, and is almost non existent on the 15th day.
Never once did I have the inclination to take any medicine. My wife mirrored my journey, except that she also had intermittent fever on 2-3 days, which we managed with placing tap water soaked cloth on head, neck and stomach.
I am myself a witness to the difficulties faced by others in the family who chose to curb fever and went on the standard Medical treatment for COVID.

Mahalakshmi Giri (49), Mumbai

I have two brothers who live in Delhi. One is married (43), the other single (47). One lives in Dwarka and one lives in Noida, so Delhi is in between.
On April 4th, both travelled from Chennai to Delhi.
On 6th April, the elder one started having a cold and a headache. The next day brought a fever with it so strong that it prevented him from making food for himself. He called me, and I advised him to be on a raw diet and give rest to the body, but he was dependent on his neighbours for food.
At some point he was unable to even stand, so they hospitalized him in the Covid ward when he tested positive. After being discharged from the hospital, once he was strong enough to cook for himself, I told him not to strain too much and start the day with fruit. When he could cook again, I told him to make sure he had plenty of salad and to include lemon shots with every meal.
Since he lives on the 10th floor facing East, I asked him to do sunbathing along with breathing exercises. In a few days, he was feeling much better.
Popping pills is an easy solution but brings with it tons of side effects, which the doctor does not account for. After being hospitalized and eating medicines for a prolonged time period, he wanted to cleanse his body from within, and achieve fitness and strength.
The fact that it was watermelon/mango season helped, too. It’s been two months now. He says that when he was praying in the ICU for strength to keep away negative thoughts, he also found the strength to clean up the whole house once he returned from the hospital.
My other brother’s whole family tested positive. Fruits, salad, breathing exercises and sunbathing all contributed to their speedy recovery.
I did the 9 week course with THAC in 2019 which helped me guide my brothers from illness to wellness. This Covid infection pulled down their physical and mental health so much that only THAC helped them find betterment in their body and mind.
Now, they don’t laugh when I say “I didn’t cook breakfast but I had a full breakfast.” During this period, we were all connected and provided support to each other, which is also a strong component for good health.
I would like to thank THAC for building courage in my mind and steering my family to wellness.

Shilpy Agarwal (42), Mumbai

On the morning of Holi, our parents’ report came as positive. My mother (68 yrs) had a fever for 2 days and by the day they got tested, it was gone. For my father (70 yrs), fever had started the day their test was done. By the time the report came, with a medium-grade infection, hoping against hope, we knew they could have been tested as positive. They both stay alone in a small town in UP and have no full time help. The day their report came, I am glad and grateful that I could fly from Mumbai to be with them.
The next 17 days (and for over a month) has been an amazing journey, getting to understand how our body works beautifully, by simply staying calm and just responding to its symptoms, and supporting it optimally. We had emailed THAC before their reports came, about their symptoms and were told to “up” their raw nutrition and many other things. The test coming up as ‘Positive’, didn’t change anything. The moment their fever had started, fruits and salads were the majority of their meals, hydration, along with more sleep, rest, deep breathing and everything else as guided by THAC. With absolute support from the THAC team, there were days, we wrote emails with thorough details of their symptoms including any breathlessness, quality of their sleep, bowel movement, aches and pains & were guided beautifully with reasons and all the things we need to do to manage and support the body through each symptom.
We feel amazing grace that our parents came to trust the process and stayed calm through the symptoms. They were supporting by following everything that was required to aid the body to self heal. Throughout the process, they did not need to take a single medicine. It was completely “nature at play”, with them getting better every single day. Yes, there were symptoms for over a week, but we knew what they indicated and with optimal support, they passed by peacefully.
There were even episodes of lower oxygen levels but with calm optimal support, they came back to normal, in very little time.
What also helped was us laughing, easing out through the process. We joked about our present state, about food, our past family jokes and lots more, to keep it light. My parents would chant and read religious scriptures whenever they would have the energy to. We did not watch any news, did not be in touch with anyone except our immediate family, lest that caused anxiety among others as a rub-off. There was enough rest, stretching, deep breathing, cold towels throughout the period, besides the best nutrition that our body needs. I was making the simplest and nice-st dressings and nut-based curds for their salads (for those were their meals largely), and wanted them to feel happy about this…
At the end of this healing period, besides recovering from Covid, my mother’s diabetes is almost gone, asthma bouts are non-existent and my fathers Hydrocele is much better. Even more so, they have started enjoying eating healthy and have very little appetite for any heavy cooked food.
Most importantly, we as a family have gained confidence in understanding and trusting our bodies and to connect more and more with this innate intelligence.


Zainab Tambawala, Mumbai

Every experience with the body whenever it goes through a phase of illness has always left me stumped, amazed and in awe of what happened. However, this time, this was not my body but someone else’s and the stakes were higher. Both mentally, physically and emotionally.
My parents who stay in Pune, first interacted with Anju after my dad (75) was asked to go on medication for his high sugar. His initial reluctance was met by my conviction, and he finally agreed. Anju answered every googly my dad threw at her with an absolute straight face leaving my parents with no choice but to follow her advice.
Since then, they’ve been doing as much as they can. I would not say everything to the tee, since they have their limitations, but overall, they have a good sense of balance. Not taking medication for a fever is something they have been doing quite comfortably for many years. So, when the fever hit my dad, they were chilled out. One day of raw and the fever subsided. My dad felt energetic and went back to work. Two days later he developed a mild fever and a bad cough. He called me to chat, but his voice didn’t sound okay. I guessed that the fever and the cough was back. I spoke to mom, and she said she was giving him everything he needed to have.
The next day the picture became clear when my cousin called to tell me how many people who he was meeting had covid and that he needed to get tested and to visit a doctor. That’s when I sort of started to panic. Not because he had Covid, but because I knew that they would not be able to take care of themselves like I would have liked them to. I threw a tantrum over the phone for them to come to Mumbai. That lasted an hour.
The argument from my dad was that if we are only to eat fruit and get better then why can’t he eat the fruit in his own house instead. After an hour they finally gave in, sat in a cab sulking, and were on their way.
My first question to Anju was will we all get it now? Do I have to lock him up in one room? And she laughed and said no! That’s how we build antibodies. Please don’t isolate him. That made things easier. The next day I was in warrior mode all set to make sure that he is up and about asap. I started giving him something every hour. He woke up cheerful everyday, sat out in the sun, read the paper, grumbled every time I gave him something to eat or drink.
Within two days he started feeling much better. Went for short walks in the compound, slept through most of the day, had barely any appetite or taste. I also knew that the virus needs to complete its 15-day cycle for him to feel better.
It was two and a half days of no fever and the third day a mild fever came back. He was behaving disoriented and spaced out. That’s when we sort of panicked. After I spoke to Anju, the picture was clear, and the problem identified. His body was going through a cleansing process and there was a Bp medication and a blood thinner that was prescribed to him many years ago, which was overtaxing the kidney. We stopped the blood thinner immediately against my dad’s will and instantly the body bounced back.
After that the recovery was smooth. Anju pointed out that when the fever came the second time it was to protect the body from the damage that the unnecessary medication was doing. My parents were grateful to Anju who had checked on him almost every day.
My 82-year-old mother-in-law who has her meals with us was in the same space the whole time.
For most, my dad and my mother-in-law would be in the high-risk category with high BP and sugar. It took him 15 days to feel better and another 7 days for the cough to subside completely.
What was important through the process was the support, the love and care that they received.
My mother slept for a straight two days once they were here. She was exhausted with having to look after him and deal with the fear alone.
Not once did anyone in my family waiver or panic with regards to our decision towards his care and recovery. His appetite and taste slowly returned once the body was ready, and then he was restless and eager to go back to his routine and his space.


Rhituparna Mitra (40), Mumbai

I resonate with most of you in our strong urge to help a close family member and the feeling of total helplessness. I have felt the pain and fought this out multiple times.
I will share my stories some other time as we are still reeling from the loss of my FIL, due to Covid (who was following the natural laws as much as he could and hated hospitalization).
Unfortunately, owing to his low oxygen levels, a doctor in the family hospitalized him. He fought for 26 days, of which 18 days were on the ventilator!
My regret – I couldn’t save him from the hospitalization and its torture. But the family is much at peace that they tried everything they could or that was possible.
I was just thinking to myself that if an adverse incident happened at home, the family might have regretted that they couldn’t do much.
Through my meditation journey, I learnt that we are no one to judge or decide or act on behalf of anyone’s journey. Each journey is divine in its own right. Death is pre-programmed and the timing and the method is not for us to decide.
We (here) have been fortunate to land up with THAC’s goodness / wellness, but we are not creators. We are simply nurturers. We can guide, inspire, act but never push our Wellness philosophy down someone else’s throat. It is as much disturbing for them as it is for us. Each one has the right to choose how they want to suffer or not suffer. Which pain they want to live or overcome.
Due to social conditioning, most people find it easier to visit the doctor, or hospital even though they might not like the pain associated with it. Like we, the THAC followers, prefer the fever over the paracetamol. It is a choice and it is completely okay.
Dr Vijaya Venkat said – Wellness is Oneness. We cannot perhaps achieve Wellness without finding a deep connection with our ailing family members. Only then can the collective consciousness thrive. It’s not just the RAW and REST, it is about how we train our nervous system to respond to a certain situation – in this case, illness.
Hope this gives some solace.

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