Eating raw leaves in the name of nutrition

Eating raw leaves - Reboot Social

Which One Would You Order?

When the report from the medical clinic referred to me as “obese,” I took a double take.

The reference was in the Body Mass Index (BMI) section of the report. My family doctor had suggested a series of preemptive risk avoidance tests at a facility specializing in stress tests and the like. The report included a few brochures on nutrition, diet, and general well-being.

My bruised ego aside, I was concerned.

I made a mental note to go easy on the beers.

I have never been on a diet, nor cared about nutrition. I just assumed that whatever I ate had enough nutrients in it to keep me going until I got to a reasonable vintage.

Time to rethink that. Or, not.

If dieting simply meant that you could eat everything in moderation, I can work with that.

Some of my friends seem to have adopted more regimented versions of it. They count the number of nuts they eat, measure the amount of rice they consume, and eat raw leaves.

Growing up in India, eating raw leaves was never considered a food option. Cows ate leaves. Keeping that background in mind, you can understand why I am not a big fan of kale juice which is apparently good for you.

I remember the bewildered look on my mother-in-law’s face when the server put a large bowl of garden salad in front of her. It was her first visit to Canada.

As I knew it, a salad meant, cut up vegetables – mostly cucumber, tomatoes and onions. While things have changed, rice (or wheat) remains the staple for humans, and at home, seafood was the main side.

From a body weight perspective, I had always considered myself as being sort of middle of the pack. Sure, I won’t win any bodybuilding competitions; but, I can still fit into a pair of 32-inch-waist jeans.

I had my logic. I try to stay active. I play squash and tennis a couple of times a week.

Then there is the Fitbit, which I don’t use any more. I had figured out ways to get my step count in. Of late, my health concerns have generally been focused around my knees and elbow which take a pounding on the courts.

So, if you lead an active lifestyle, do you still need to worry about nutrition?

Harvard Food Pyramid Reboot SocialGoing by this recent post titled Healthy Eating, looks like you do. Looking at the top of the Harvard Health Pyramid shown here, I can tell where my BMI score needs work.

When you start paying attention, you hear a lot about nutrition and dieting. It’s like man buns, suddenly, you see them everywhere.

However, there appear to be many schools of thought on diet and nutrition, often contradicting each other. For instance, when did coconut oil become the next best thing to sliced bread? Wait, sliced bread is not such a good thing anymore, unless it is whole wheat. This post in the Irish Examiner sums up a few contradictory nutritional recommendations that exist out there.

Does food have to be just fuel for your body? I know a few people who think that way.

In these days of meal replacement shakes and energy bars, I feel that there is room for tasty food that is also healthy. You don’t have to be a foodie to enjoy good food.

Planning to order the 4 oz. steak with a side of broccoli this evening…

Five traits to yearn, earn, and reset life….

At an early stage of life, if you could choose five traits that could shape your destiny, what would they be? Five Traits to yearn - Reboot Social

Have you ever thought about it?

Choices are a way of life. We develop our instincts and start making choices based on circumstances and needs.

When I aired this thought with my wife, I got a ‘Don’t-waste-my-time’ glare. She suggested that ‘How best to annoy your partner’ may make a better subject.

I had better success with my teenage daughter.

Her immediate response was “What are your picks?”

Not wanting to influence her, I asked her to think it over and let me know. I was impressed when she came back with her choices. One stood out, “eliminate procrastination.”

I could use that!

That got me thinking.

What are the five traits that I believe are worthy of yearning and earning?

So, here they are:

  1. Courage

Perhaps the most important quality for me.

Courage makes us take that leap of faith, helps us bounce back, make us realise our shortcomings, enable us to form opinions and speak up during difficult times. Courage just cuts through the fear of the unknown and makes it an exciting path to explore.

Funnily enough, courage is not always born with you. A combination of life experiences, and most importantly the support of friends and family (in my case) play vital roles in developing that courage and ingraining it as a part of one’s character.

One of the boldest decisions we made in our life was to move countries with a 90-day-old infant. Being first-time parents with little knowledge of parenting, it was daunting. We set off to Botswana in Southern Africa, and to date remember with gratitude all the help we received from the people there. We settled so quickly that we ended up owning a house in a span of two years.

But, sometimes life needs a hard reset.

It was time for us to make another one. A major one.

Leaving aside an established way of life, we migrated to Australia, lock, stock and barrel. No friends, no relatives, no job, and a two-year-old girl who did not understand or speak English, in tow.

In hindsight, one of the best moves in our life!

Check out my previous blog post ‘A True Blue Aussie.’

  1. Clear Thinking

Undoubtedly one of the best facets of the human mind – to create thoughts.

Often, we are presented with things and situations that are ambiguous and complex. The ability to think clearly in such times stands us apart.

Again, I draw from personal experience.

My wife, a Chartered Accountant, was into her sixth year of employment at a small company. She was well settled and had grown with the company. The crazy hours were tolerable, but the boss who would call at 6.30 am on a Sunday morning asking her to book flight tickets was not.

Life, once again, needed a reset.

The next offer was a step-down both in terms of career and earnings. She set her priorities, conceptualised the next couple of years until she caught up with the earnings and did not turn back. She now works for a former Australian Olympian athlete, enjoys her role and the non-existence of bullshit and earns heaps more than what she used to.

  1. Artistic Mind

As kids, colours attracted us. Sound, smell, and taste followed. It is safe to say that everybody is born with an artistic bent of mind. How well do we nurture it? Each to their own.

I have never ring-fenced artistic virtues into music, photography, painting etc. There is a broader horizon – ‘appreciation’. This triggers us to step out of the box, perceptualize, and weigh in.

Did you know that Jeffery Katzenberg of Walt Disney came up with the idea of Lion King based on happenings in his life? An artistic mind to an epic musical! ‘Lion King’ and ‘Simba’ the lion connect with us instantly for the morals.

Imagine Charlie Chaplin’s ability to make people laugh in the era of silent movies!

  1. Charm

I believe this is an acquired personality trait and one that evolves continuously. It is unique, easily identified, appreciated, highly inspirational, and influential.

Each one of us would have had role models at different stages. I have had my fair share. In my early years, I was fascinated by the soft-spoken, diplomatic types. Then came the suave and the smooth talkers, followed by the assertive, and commanding personalities.

My ‘chain of charms’ is a combination of reality, facts, empathy and genuineness. Identifying interesting traits and their impact on others has always been intriguing for me. Using your charms can be likened to playing poker. Only the beholder knows their possession and when to flash the right charm at the right time.

Something we all practise day in day out – Right?

  1. Sense of Humour

Don’t we all know that one person who thinks he/she has the best sense of humour, but is truly a pain for others?  Multiplier effect, if it’s your boss at work.

Sense of humour is pretty similar to comebacks. Not everyone has that timing and if we let the moment go, it’s hard to recreate one. The best sense of humour emanates when you are being true to yourself. Our ability to empathise, self-deprecate, and intelligently conceptualise, intertwined with natural instinct and delivery can leave a mark.

With a comeback queen in my wife, and a daughter with a sense of humour, most disagreements at home seem to finally end up in a big hearty laugh.

The list above is not a stocktake of my haves or have nots. They are rather qualities that could have made me a better-rounded person at a very early stage of my life.

Remember the quote “Sow as you Reap?” Exactly!

So, what is that one trait that you wish you had?

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Ajith Kalliat Thazhath - Reboot SocialAUTHOR: AJITH KALLIAT THAZHATH

Ajith Kalliat Thazhath is a simple bloke with interest in husbanding, parenting, sports, fitness, music, books, beer, wine, spirits, and movies. A qualified Chartered Accountant, he works as a Banker and lives in Sydney with his wife Radhika Rajan and daughter Durga.

Are mothers of children with life-threatening illnesses “chosen”?

Mothers of children with life-threatening illnesses

The epidural was a game changer.

It was the first time in 25 years that I did not feel the throbbing unrelenting pain of arthritis in my lower back.

wept with joy.

It was the sweetest experience of my life, prior to my daughter Anakha’s birth. The fact that it got rid of those pesky labour pangs, was secondary.

Having had a chronic childhood illness myself has made me unusually prepared to be Anakha’s mother. The routines and rhythms of disability, such as timing daily medications, planning and managing energy outputs, modifying her diet, daily exercises just to be able to move, pain management, the social stigma of using adaptive equipment, and long-term hospital stays, are not foreign to me.

Before she was stricken with this terrible life-limiting illness, I was already worried that she may inherit my form of childhood arthritis.  I constantly watched her for signs of joint and muscle pain.  I even used to joke that if anyone was prepared to deal with a childhood illness, it was me.

Ah, the irony!

Anakha’s path is so much harder than mine, but I have walked a similar path.

At the age of 10, my back started to hurt.  Much as Anakha’s physical regression was at first dismissed, my back pain was chalked up to growing pains.

It was not until I was 22 that a rheumatologist recognized the signs of Juvenile Ankylosing Spondylitis, a form of childhood arthritis that affects all joints, and a few organs.

It can be tiring and painful. Flare-ups come and go. Medication and exercise regimes must be strictly followed to attempt to stave off permanent damage. I spent 2006 walking with a cane, cursing those cold Ottawa winters and slippery sidewalks.

People have made comments at how slowly I may walk at times, especially on the busy streets of Toronto, or wonder why a youngish woman is waiting for the elevator, or wearing ugly orthotic shoes with a beautiful dress.

I know that Anakha and I together will inevitably face similar situations.

Mitochondrial disease exhausts her. A day trip to Niagara Falls can deplete her energy reserves for a week. She has minor and major regressions of skills, or flare-ups, from time to time. Her leg muscles are trapped in spasticity and painful cramping.  Her medications and therapy regimes must be strictly followed to give her the best chance at survival and quality of life. She uses several types of specialized equipment for mobility.

People are already commenting at her eye crossing, her limited speech, asking why a 2.5-year-old cannot yet walk. And as she gets older, and spends more time around her peers, the questions, stares, and social stigmatization and isolation of disability will only get worse.

But I persevered. And I am confident that Anakha will do the same. Because no matter what we may face, we will just keep going. Walking and rolling, inch by inch, and with a smile.

Mama can show her how.

The mothers of children with life-threatening diseases or special needs are inundated with well-meaning parables and poetry, telling us that we are somehow chosen by God (whatever God you may believe in) to walk down this difficult path.

Maybe we are, or maybe it is random chance, I cannot presume to know.

But I am so glad that she chose me.

Savitha Thampi - Reboot SocialAUTHOR: SAVITHA THAMPI

Savitha is a corporate/commercial lawyer, with a specialty in intellectual property and media law. She is proud to advocate for the rights of children with special needs. Her current focus is finding education opportunities for medically fragile children. Savitha can be reached at

Globalization, through a wedding

Globalization through a wedding

Photo Credit: Daring Wanderer

Technically, there is no such thing as a simple Indian wedding.

You take the complexity to another level when you do an Indian wedding in Canada, and the groom is American. Throw in remote management by my daughter who was living and working in New York City, the picture is complete.

Globalization, through a wedding!

For instance, my daughter and son-in-law wanted forty guests at the wedding, my wife wanted four hundred.

We settled for two hundred. And that was just the beginning.

I remembered Rudyard Kipling “Never the twain shall meet!”

Managing the guest list was a challenge. How do you tell your friends that your daughter is getting married, and they are not invited? Fortunately, the venue had capacity restrictions, which gave us a genuine and logical excuse.

I tried to stay on the sidelines.

My wife reminded me that I only have one child and had to be more involved. So I tried to get involved.

I quickly realized that the wedding industry is big business, irrespective of your culture or background. You can be sensible and get married at the Toronto City Hall. You can have fifteen of your friends and family in tow and it’ll cost you around $250.

Or, at the other end of the spectrum, you can book the Art Gallery of Ontario for approximately $400 per person.

Once we got realistic about the budget, we needed to bring a number of logistical components together. At a high level, the type of ceremony, the venue, the décor, the food, the entertainment, the officiating, the photographer etc. are normal components of a wedding.

It is when you bring in the cultural twist that it starts getting complicated.

Multicultural weddings are the embodiment of globalization at the people level. Every component of the wedding can be handled two different ways.

It can get taxing on the guests who have to potentially be prepared to attend two ceremonies spread over a long day. Fortunately, in our case, the two families were not overly religious. The decision to keep it as a social event rather than a religious one was welcome to both parties. A single event with a few Indian rituals and some American officiating seemed like a perfect middle ground.

As venues go, the old bank building, converted to a modern hotel, was great.

But, we were unsure if it could handle all the traditional lamps that were going to be lit. What if the fire alarm gets triggered halfway through the ceremony? Rain is considered a good omen, but the sprinkler system drenching the guests would not be. The Venue Manager reassured us that she had seen her share of “fire pits” at Indian weddings. She was right.

The décor guy we contracted was not of Indian origin but seemed to understand the general requirements of an Indian wedding. He waxed eloquent about his experience with “mandaps” and “havans,” until my wife asked him,

“Can you get coconut tree flowers?”

For a minute he appeared stumped, but quickly recovered and promised to look into it and get back to us. And sure enough, he did. He had found a supplier – a Sri Lankan grocery store that imported and sold exotic flowers on the side.


The food was next. What do you cater to an eclectic group of people with diverse tastes and preferences? How far will the caterer be willing to stray from traditional fare?

Once again, it was evident – culinary globalization. The caterer could provide traditional steaks, spicy Indian curry, or a vegetarian dish as part of the main options. And for the folks experimenting with the curry, there was the sorbet to cleanse their palates.

The choice of music played at the reception can have an impact on how involved guests get. A mix of traditional wedding songs and dance hits, mixed with some Bollywood favourites seemed like a good idea. The band was comfortable playing all the current hits but safely deferred to taped music for the Bollywood pieces.

Globalization in music is obvious when the opening credits of a Denzel Washington movie plays “Chaiyya Chaiyya,” a Bollywood hit.

Photography in a multi-cultural wedding can be tricky.

As the photographer focused on candid moments, we had to explain the significance of certain wedding rituals to ensure that she captured them as they happened. The images from the wedding party depicted snapshots of sartorial globalization with the guests wearing a colourful mix of sarees, dresses, sherwanis, and even a kilt.

As the pundits debate the merits and demerits of globalization of world economies, globalization at the people level seems inevitable.

All I have to do is look at my own extended family…

The failure of a small business

I feel kind of sad as I write this post. If you ever ran a small business that failed, you would know the feeling. Failure of a small business

It was not my business.

But, you still feel for the people who tried really hard and still failed.

The neighbourhood restaurant and bar had opened about a year and a half ago, just around the corner from where I live. I could see their decorative lights from the kitchen window of my apartment. In the spirit of supporting a local business establishment, my wife and I would drop by often for a quick drink, or bite.

Last Friday as we decided to walk over, I noticed that the lights were off. Not thinking much of it, I checked their website to see if they were closed for a private event.

I got this message.

Failure of a small business






When you run a small business, there are only three outcomes that you can expect – you continue to run it; you sell it; or, you take the least preferred option and shut it down.

The controversial Forbes article that said “8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months” seemed to apply to this restaurant.

It was a business that I thought would succeed.

The owners were not novices. They had run a few other successful restaurants. A fair amount of money had been spent on the décor and layout, giving it an upscale feel. The location could have been better but was certainly OK. You could argue that it was a little far from the real action of the city centre core. The abundant free parking made up for that. It was probably one of the better non-chain bars in town.

Over the past few months, I had gotten to know the folks who ran it – Brian, Faz, Andrea, Ryan, and Terry. A bunch of good people who worked hard to make their business work.

Yet, it didn’t!

So what went wrong?

Perhaps it was the identity crisis.

Was it a bar or was it a club?

Were they trying to cater to the 25-35 crowd while the patrons appeared to be older and looking for good food and a relaxing environment.

Was it the food? Should they have gone less fancy? Did they fail to adapt?

Was the business case flawed?

In the scheme of things, the answers are less important than the fact that the folks who ran it now have to deal with the fall out. I am sure they will take this as a temporary setback and bounce back.

It’s time to hit reboot on their lives.

When your child’s student loan is bigger than your mortgage

Betting on Education

We did the math.

After us picking up half the tab, my daughter’s student loan was going to be larger than the mortgage on our house. It was not a comforting thought — letting your child rack up debt of that size even before she starts working. Student loan is big - Reboot Social

My daughter’s first career choice was to become a ventriloquist. She was ten.

My wife and I went along with her choice, on one condition – become a doctor, engineer, accountant, or a lawyer first, then a ventriloquist. She seemed okay with the idea. Clearly, at that time our take on career paths was rather narrow; it was the Indian in us.

If you want to be a millionaire, it’s better to be a software engineer than a pro athlete.”

Betting on education was the norm.

I should know, I didn’t.

I found out the hard way, an undergraduate degree will only take you so far.

Financially speaking, I have not made a lot of brilliant choices. I certainly made some really bad ones — I held on to Nortel stocks until they got delisted; sold my house just before the real estate boom; passed up on opportunities that have gone on to do really well; and opted out of a guaranteed retirement plan in favour of a contribution plan. You get the drift.

But, I did make a couple of investments that I consider more successful than all of my follies combined.

I bet on education, twice – once for ourselves and once for our daughter.

Going back to school, when you’re new in a country, living paycheck to paycheck, is not a decision that you make lightly. But after being underemployed for a couple of years, it was getting to a “now or never” point for us to make a move to get out of the rut.

Considering that my retail store gig paid more than my wife’s factory job, we decided that she should quit and go back to school to earn some Canadian qualification. The fact that she held a Master’s degree in Physics from a university in India had not garnered much interest among companies that were hiring. Telecom seemed to be a good area to pursue since there were concepts of physics and electronics at play. A full-time, one year course seemed like a lifetime. Then there was the fees: over a thousand dollars which seemed huge at the time.

But, choose education we did, albeit maxing out credit cards and paying off minimum balances. Before we knew it, the year was up and the Internet boom was on. Telecom companies were hiring and finally, my wife had found a job that matched her skills.

In a year’s time, it was my turn. The Information Superhighway was on everybody’s mind — whether they understood it or not. So it was back to school for me too, even though the fees had doubled. Plodding through technical concepts completely foreign to me was not something that I had planned doing at forty.

And finally, I landed a job in a hot industry!

When it came to our daughters’ ambitions to study at a law school in the U.S., we didn’t think twice. She had managed to get decent grades that got her accepted to a few good schools. The shock came when we received the tuition schedule. We knew it would be more expensive than Canadian universities, but five times more? And three years of that? Additionally, there were living expenses to consider.

The university counsellor that we talked to tried to calm our fears. Getting in is the hardest part, she said. She went on to reason that the money spent would be well worth it. After much soul-searching, we decided it was the right thing to do. The banks would provide the required student loans on a personal guarantee from the parents.

Once again, we went for it. We bet on education.

At the graduation ceremony, we felt a sense of relief. Campus interviews and subsequent offers from a couple of reputed law firms seemed to make it all worth it.

The counsellor was right; the outcome justified the expense.

The note from the bank informing me that I was off the hook for my daughter’s student loan came as a pleasant surprise.

Betting on education had paid off.

Before I sign off, I will leave you with one thought. Higher education is not for everyone. Many extremely successful businesspeople were college dropouts. Here’s a post titled “8 Hugely Successful People Who Didn’t Graduate College” for some perspective.

Nothing says that your child won’t make the next such list.