It is the season for sickness… beware covid and covid-related colds and coughs and allergies due to deteriorating environment and breathing in polluted air!

By Tara Narayan

DON’T know whether you have noticed it or not but almost every other person I come across these days is sneezing, coughing or burying their nose in wads of tissue paper (nobody uses good old-fashioned hankies anymore). Are you down with cough, cold, which may or may not be triggered/aggravated by some mysterious corona virus prowling around in the air? After consulting doctors and Rs10,000 down I discovered two weeks down the line that I’m actually down with bronchitis for the first time in my life. I’m shocked.
Usually, I try to stay out of doctor’s clinics and five-star hospitals although the doctor you want to meet may be consulting there and doesn’t have his own private clinic. This time second week running I was coughing at night so productively and then unproductively, that I was wondering if I had finally met my nemesis, and if my kidneys or lungs were infected, or is it my heart packing up after ten years of a bypass (massive T-section block in 2013)?
The mind affects body beautiful, there’s no doubt about it. All my thoughts made me feel even more ill like I better start writing my will although I have little to give away at life’s end except my nice crockery! Also, when one is doctoring oneself it’s hard to tell when an illness is viral or bacterial or when it turns bacterial (as apparently it does in the case of covid if you neglect it). Most of us talk in fear of viruses and bacteria but know that there’re trillion of them living off our body beautiful! Most physicians put you on aggressive antibiotics straight away (antibiotics can be very expensive).
Mine told me to take T Augmentin 625 three times per day for five days, along with ViBact (that’s a probiotic, should take every time you are on antibiotics) twice per day for five days and T Sinarest three times a day for the cold, also there’s the cough syrup which tastes vile. He ignored my usual protests about drugs suppressing symptoms only to make one feel better temporarily and work on a diminishing returns basis. He said, “If you want to get better do what I tell you!” I was feeling bad enough to do whatever he told me!

NEVER mind that the first time I got the cold and cough I took a few Sinarest and was fine, then when I stopped the tabs… the infection boomeranged more virulently than ever. I was zapped and unable to explain it. Anyway, the long and short of it is I’m back on medications anew with stern warnings to complete my antibiotic course for five days and no cheating…the one thing doctors don’t like is non-compliant patients, who think they know better about all the pharma drugs than they do.
Of course we know drugs suppress symptoms but don’t cure any of the ground realities plaguing body beautiful as it wears out — largely courtesy the input and output of synergies…er…by that I mean the quality of food we put in our mouth, the water we drink, the air we breathe indoors and outdoors, the amount of exercise we put into our life which may be zilch if one’s sitting on the computer more or less half the day and half the night to earn a living.
In a nutshell, good health or bad health is dependent on the kind of balance we bring into our lifestyle. Tell me you have heard this before! Call it the season of ill health when one’s own immune system is down having got tired of all the bad water, industrial junk food we put in our mouth morning, noon, and night and in between. Plus, breathing polluted traffic exhaust pollution out on the streets! Why can’t we help it?
Every now and again I put on mask, take off mask and wonder how others keep it firmly festooned on their faces all day long. If there is pollution out on the streets we must wear face-friendly masks for protection against street pollution. Life gets more complicated in the poorly maintained urban towns and cities falling apart vis-à-vis civic maintenance and dismal governance. The rhetoric these days is of less government and more governance but it is more like more government and less governance…if I may say so here.

PLUS, so many of us are increasingly unable to maintain around the clock working kitchens and dependent on tiffin services or takeaways from terribly suspicious kitchens (takeaway food good, bad and ugly is running all the way to the bank, contributing majorly towards all the single use plastics and now aluminium plastic foil packaging turning up here, there and everywhere). In on-the-run lifestyles one is forced to live at working class level be it white collar or khaki collar, and last fortnight while I was feeling more or loss off the rocker, I went looking for a place doing decent soups because that was all I wanted to live on…don’t laugh.
So instead of doing things at home I went out looking for places where I might find an agreeable soup…all the oriental soups, continental soups, the south Indian range of thin consomme soups are super delicious (featuring lemon/tomato/drumsticks/tomato/drumstick/gongura which are sour greens much loved in Karnataka); most popular menus feature sweet corn veg soup, mushroom soup, manchow soup with its pile of crispies on top, some other soups thin and savory or thick and filling enough to serve as a meal like a ministrone !
None of the places I called on offered the lovely soup of Goan-Portuguese origins called caldo verde — which is basically a potato soup vegetarian or non-vegetarian if it comes topped with thinly sliced chorizo like they do it in Portugal. Veggie caldo verde can be superlative with the use of greens like leeks or kale.
My hunt for soups in town ended in resisting an oil-laden lemon coriander soup, it was so yucky I won’t mention the place here. Then surprise, surprise, another evening wandering around Caranzalen in Panaji I discovered a small joint called Brewed Blak. Here I found a range of the most decent soups I’ve found around Caranzalen. My near perfect lemon coriander soup was here and the young guy here understood perfectly when I instructed, “No chillies, no oil, low salt!” He wondered about the oil bit and I told him it is possible to make soups without a drop of oil, so go do it. I was a heart patient and my heart is feeling worse now that I’m sick and am forbidden oil, butter, ghee, salt…and no chillies, not green, not red!
HEY, I got my near perfect lemon coriander soup and this is the only place I will drink it –lots of green coriander swirling in a helping of finely cut veggies, lemony enough to be heavenly. Of course I can make this very soup at home easily if only someone would cut the veggies for me. Green coriander in case you want to know makes for excellent detox-greens! Chop and use frequently wherever appropriate.
These Brewed Blak guys also do a good mushroom soup which they called cappucinno-styled, meaning it comes steaming and swirling with foamy milk. Nice, very nice. Check them out. They do quite a few soups, the non-vegetarian ones too featuring a lot of chicken. Most people want to drink chicken soup. These days quite a few young entrepreneurs are doing mostly takeaway kitchens, if you visit them they have small premises – this one has in minimal ways a downstairs and upstairs. No firm menus to hand you but everything is listed at various apps online, I still have to discover the world of apps.
Since the working class lifestyle I lead is more or less detrimental to the state of my mind and body, heart and soul, lately I have been really trying – and for some weeks now there’s been no toast, butter, jam in my life for breakfast! Instead I’ve learned that the easiest thing to do to fix hunger pangs is to scoop out some Kelloggs strawberry cornflakes with ordinary classic cornflakes in a bowl, top with dollop of curd and spoon full of pumpkin seeds (caju or cashews gives a nice sweetness)…eat.

INSTEAD of curd one may use dairy, almond , oatmeal,, rice milk, caju, soy or any other milk these days, but remember that the industrialised dairy milk in plastic pouches no longer comes only pasteurized but also toned, double toned, homogenized, etc. It makes for some of the slimiest dairy milk and in case humans are the only animals of the animal kingdom who think they will die if they don’t drink another animal’s milk meant for its babies!
It’s becoming harder and harder to draw the lines between what is cruel and what is not cruel. Think about it and don’t just think. In India of course for the majority population of vegetarians dairy milk and curd have always been a source of protein and fats in their humble diets. Which reminds me to add here that if you can’t the good old-fashioned doodh bhaiya’s cow’s dairy milk any more in your area, you may find fresh 100% organic A2 Gir cow’s dairy milk in bottles at Delfino’s Hymart in Taleigao !

I’m told Gir cow milk contains conjugated linoleic acid, an important acid lowering bad cholesterol and this improves heart health. You may lose weight eating healthy fat with nutritive values. I don’t what the price of As Gir cow milk is but ordinary milk prices have gone up and the one I usually buy for tea making is now Rs28 half a litre and even my Govind dahi pack has risen from Rs25 to Rs35 kg. I avoid the score of industrialised branded curd and flavoured yogurt packs on supermarket shelves. Most are made using toned milk for doing their curds before flavouring and injecting them with probiotic bacteria to call themselves healthy! If you’re asking me nothing in plastic tetrapacks can be healthy. They’re like political promises – jumla.
I would say return to making your own curd at home with a culture and natural curd sweetens beautifully with honey or pureed fruit be it strawberries, blue berries or whatever berry of the season is in town. Currently, it’s the tail end season of mangoes…Goan mangoes in the morning pavement market feature malgesh, culas, hilario, mussarat, fernandin and more. Goan country homes are busy making mango jam from mussarat mangoes. Live and enjoy the good life as long as you’ve got it.

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