Augmenting our knowledge in various fields is arguably one of the major benefits of travelling, near or far. However it is also true, during our trips to different parts of the world we limit ourselves to more passive forms of learnings. For example, we trust mainly on our power of observation to gain vital information about the culture, tradition, habits of people etc. The benefits of this form of learning cannot or should not be dismissed. It is a lifelong process that aids in developing the person we wish to become. But there could be another form of learning, a more active education, that we can indulge in during our journeys across the globe. Today I intend to discuss about the opportunities of learning that present itself in sphere of music and dance. For this article, I will focus more on India and opportunities available there, for it is a country which boasts of formulating the most ancient form of treatise in dramatic arts (natya shastra) and music. There are many forms and expressions of this beautiful art practiced all over the country even today. But before we delve into this, let me share with you a story from my own experience.

LordKrishnawithFlute2

Lord Krishna Playing Flute

About a year and a half ago, I met Thibault E at a small restaurant in a very busy city. He came to enjoy a cosy dinner with his wife. A light drizzle that started since late afternoon turned into a heavy and incessant downpour. As we were all stuck inside we thought it better to strike up a conversation rather staring at each other from the corner of our eyes. He narrated his tale over a cup of simmering hot coffee. Thibault always found himself mesmerised by the tune of flute. Since his early childhood, he yearned to have a flute for himself and learn it to play. But his parents did share his fancy and thought this to be a rather idle dream. In the face of their overwhelming practical concerns for him, he was forced to put his dream somewhere in the deep recess of his mind.

Thibault was a good student and did not find it difficult to secure a place in one of the country’s premier technological universities. He similarly excelled in his career too. To cut a long story short, he, by the age of 42, was already in a possession of so much money that he could have afforded to retire then and there if he wanted to. His private life was equally fulfilling with a lovely wife, who was and still is a renowned name in her own sphere, and two healthy children. He had nothing to complain about, or so it seemed, because the inner dissatisfaction that was gnawing at his heart was not apparent to anyone but himself.

sarod

Sarod, Musical Instrument

Increasingly, Thibault found himself lonely at his own home. He simply did not know how to fill his “free” hours meaningfully. But there was no one else to blame for this than himself. He never cultivated a serious hobby to fill his empty hours. He was only allowed an hour’s play every day. His parents were strict disciplinarians and he did not wish to mess with them. If there was nothing else to do, he simply locked himself at his study room and dozed away the time. In later years too, he hardly made an attempt to acquire some skills beyond his regular studies.

Thibault frequently needed to stay away from home for short periods of time on business trips. One such occasion landed him on a distant coast to India, in Cochin (Kochi) to be specific. Since the business engagement got delayed for some unforeseen reason, he got some time to experience an exotic place and its culture. While aimlessly travelling here and there he landed himself in a small village named Cheruthuruthi, by the river Nila. In the afternoon when he was enjoying a walk a soulful tune of flute caught his attention. After some search he found the player, a boy in his early teens. Seated on the sandy river bank he was completely engrossed in his practice.

Kerala Backwater

Flowing Water, Kerala

For sure, the tune was not familiar to Thibault, but that did not matter. He leaned against a coconut tree a little distance away and closed his eyes. He felt a deep sense of peace. He could have stood there that way for hours. But the performance was interrupted all of a sudden. A man’s voice was heard from behind. It seemed an elderly gentleman came calling for the boy and the two were preparing to leave the place. Seeing Thibault in the audience the man turned towards him smiling. In a very sweet voice he enquired about his whereabouts. Thibault briefly described his purpose. The conversation was helped by the boy who was clearly knew better English. After a brief discussion about the place and its history, the kind hearted gentleman asked Thibault to come to a local school dedicated to performance art and music. It transpired that some kind of celebration was to take place there later in the evening. With child’s glee in the heart, Thibault promptly accepted the invitation. For Thibault, the evening and the rest of the days in Cheruthuruthi were spent as if in a dream.

performanceatkalamandalam

Performance in Kalamandalam, Cheruthuruthy

When Thibault narrated the story about his boyhood childhood wish, senior members of the school encouraged him to pick up at least the basics of playing flute. Someone also handed his flute over to him to let Thibault have a feel of it. Touching it with his fingers, for the first time in his life, he felt an immediate sense of bonding. After some pondering and lenghty discussion with his wife, Thibault took a sabbatical from his work. Following the advice of the gurus of Chethuruthy, he enrolled himself to a school some distance away from this village. His teacher there also helped him to find a mentor in his home country. With much enthusiasm, he devoted himself to his learning. He segregated his time between his actual and adopted home. With hard work he rapidly advanced.

Modest as he is, when I met him at the restaurant, he could not be drawn into describing his achievements even after 15 years of continuous practice. The best compliment, perhaps, came from his wife. “Thibault is a different man,” said Erika his wife, “he is more relaxed, more engaged with life than ever before.” Like a magic wand, the charm of flute transformed Thibault and Erika’s lives.

Pose in Poise, Bharatnatyam

Time has changed. You do not need to come all the way to India to learn music and dance native to this country. You may enrol yourself to an institution nearby. Online learning opportunities are all available. But if you are musically inclined and journeying across India you may consider taking up courses in any of the reputed institutions of Chennai, Bangalore, Mysore, Coimbatore, Tanjore and beyond. All these places are also replete with schools teaching various dance disciplines including bharatnatyam, kuchipudi, kathak and so on.

It is also highly recommended that you set some time aside to visit Brihadeeswarar Temple of Tanjore. The outer wall of the temple bears all the elegant poses of bharatnatyam, a dance form that is no less than 2500 years old. The temple is a part of UNESCO World Heritage. Many of these places also turn themselves into virtual auditoriums and relive the past glory by organising annual dance festivals. Khajuraho, Modhera, Mukteswar and Mahabalipuram are some of the most prominent ones. Besides, major auditoriums across the country organise dance and music recitals for the benefits of art connoisseurs year long.

danceposes_Chidambaramtemple

Temple Sculptures Depicting Dance Poses, Chidambaram

I sincerely hope that in your next journey you will get ample opportunities of exploring your talent in these fields and beyond. Moreover, these activities will also help you to get a closer view of the cultural treasures of any place that you choose to visit on your next trip.

A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened. ~ Albert Camus

 

Image Courtesy

Jean-Pierre DalbéraAshley Van Haeften, P Das Arayil

Parallelly published in the Ipseand.

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storm

But the worst enemy you can meet will always be yourself; you lie in wait for yourself in caverns and forests. Lonely one, you are going the way to yourself! And your way goes past yourself and past your seven devils! You will be a heretic to yourself and witch and soothsayer and fool and doubter and unholy one and villain. You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame: how could you become new, if you had not first become ashes?

Friedrich Nietzsche

 

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Zooey

Keukenhof

There is a world that is lying just outside your window. Pull up the blinds of your inner being and experience it. Let the sunshine plant a kiss on your forehead, allow the gentle breeze to caress your face, permit the butterflies to play with your hands. If you are cursing the cacophony of your urban existence, then don’t be disheartened. We are taking a trip around the world to visit some of the most surreal landscapes and experience nature in its purest form. Join us on this journey.

Read the Full Article

 

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Börkur Sigurbjörnsson

Have you ever been to a country which is not in love with its noodles? Call them vermicelli, spaghetti or soba, everywhere, a variety of noodles is produced and diverse dishes are prepared using them. So why not get on board for a gastronomic trip across the globe in search of delicious noodles?

Udon – Japan

It is astounding to think how a simple noodle made of wheat flour can have so many flavors indigenous to Japan’s many regions. Though replaced by instant varieties, it is still possible to taste handmade udon in few places of Japan. Authentic udon is cooked with soy sauce and dashi (a type of stock) after being boiled in water flavored with mirin (rice wine). It is topped with various fruits, vegetables and scallions according to taste and availability. Its origin remains shrouded in mystery. Many believe it was introduced by Buddhist monk named Kukai who came here to study theology.
Kagawa Perfecture is renowned for its variety of udon, named sanuki udon. Specialist udon restaurants of (udon-ya) of Takamatsu can be visited for a memorable udon tasting trip. For international tourists, Shinjuku area of Tokyo is good for having a taste of udon. Japan’s rail stations sell another well known variety of noodles, called soba, that is cheap but very tasty.
There are hundreds of ways of cooking udon. Following is a quick and easy one:

Ingredients:
Frozen udon (150 g or per necessity)
Dashi (a Japanese noodle broth) (about 4 cups)
Soy sauce (2 tbsp)
Mirin (a kind of food wine) (3 tbsp)
Sake (another type of food wine) (2 tbsp)
Chicken thighs cut into bite-size portions
Green onions thinly cut (4 nos)
Shichimi (flavoured pepper) or chili flakes and salt as per requirements
You will find dashi, mirin, sake etc in any Asian food store. In case you prefer to prepare your own then follow the directions mentioned here.

Recipe:
I. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan bring dashi to boil. Add soy sauce, mirin, sake, salt and chicken nuggets. Remove fat and other unwanted items with your ladle.
2. When chicken is tender add udon and wait for couple of minutes.
3. Add chopped green onion keeping a handful aside. Turn off the heat.
4. Garnish soup with pepper and rest of the chopped onion and before serving.
You will find more variations of udon and soba from this place.

udon

Spaghetti – Italy

Spaghetti is certainly one of the most loved varieties of noodles. It is made of macaroni wheat semolina. Spaghetti seems to have entered Italy’s through Sicily around 12th century. It reached the other side of Atlantic about 200 years ago and instantly won the hearts of people there. So, it is not surprising to learn that the record of preparing the largest bowl of spaghetti does not belong to Italy but a restaurant named Buca di Beppo in California. Authentic Italian spaghetti is cooked with generous amount of fresh tomato sauce, oregano and other fresh vegetables drenched in olive oil.
Sicily and Naples continue to serve delicious spaghetti to its residents and guests. But perhaps it would be better to visit Bologna for that exclusive taste of spaghetti.
Here is a recipe for cooking fast and delicious spaghetti Bolognese.

Ingredients
Carrot (One julienned)
Plum Tomatoes (300 g)
Basil (a bunch)
Spaghetti (300 g)
Multi mince (as per requirement)
Breadcrumbs (25 g)
Olive oil, Salt

Recipe:
1. Heat oil and stir in the julienned carrot. Scoop out the tomatoes and add basil (leave few leaves aside for garnishing). Let it simmer for about 12 minutes.
2. Using a blender create a puree of this mixture.
3. Heat through Multi mince.
4. Cook spaghetti following packet instructions. Keep the water aside.
5. Toss together with Multi mince and sauce thinning down a bit using the pasta water if necessary.
6. Sprinkle bread crumbs and shredded basil leaves before serving.
For more recipes of Bolognese sauce and pasta visit Delallo.

spaghetti

Mee Sua – China

In 2005, scientists uncovered the earliest evidence of noodles in China. A sealed bowl of golden yellow noodle was found buried deep into the ground of Lajia archaeological site. The bowlful of noodles survived 4000 years under the earth’s crust. Like many other noodles of Asia, mee sua originated from Fujian, China. Made of wheat, this type of noodles found fond eaters not only among the native Chinese, but also those belonging to Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam. Mee sua is often topped with mushrooms, boiled eggs, oysters and roasted nuts. Taiwan is a good place to taste authentic mee sua.
Homemade mee sua can be equally tasteful. Here is a recipe that could be tried in kitchen.

Ingredients:
Egg (3 nos)
Vegetable oil (1 tbsp)
Pacific clams (8)
Water
Soy sauce
Mee sua (2 packets)
Sesame oil (1 tbsp)
Coriander (chopped for garnishing)

Recipe
1. Beat the egg to light and fluffy with a tbsp of soy sauce.
2. Heat oil in a pan and prepare scrambled egg. Stop before it becomes too dry. It should be slightly moist.
3. Add water to the pan. Blend in soy sauce and put the clams in. Let it simmer for a brief while.
4. In a separate pot bring mee sua to boil in water. Separate the strands carefully with fork or chopsticks. Turn off the heat after 30 seconds.
4. Drain mee sua and transfer in bowls. Coat them with sesame oil and top with scrambled egg, clam soup.
5. Garnish with chopped coriander.

mee sua

Rice Vermicelli – India

Rice vermicelli, known as semiya, shemai or seviyan, is used in India to produce sumptuous side dishes like dumplings, main courses like biriyani and desserts like payasam. Idiappam is a staple breakfast dish for many residing in the southern part of the country. But of all the different varieties semiya kheer or payasam remains a winner. The vermicelli is boiled in milk and garnished with generous amounts of dates, apricot, roasted cashew nuts and pistachios before being served. Any quality Indian restaurant is capable of serving a delicious bowl of vermicelli kheer.
Vermicelli kheer is not at all a complicated dish.

Ingredients
Seviyan (1/2 packet or as per requirement)
Milk (2 ltr, preferably use whole-milk)
Jaggery or Sugar (as per requirement, may even use stevia or artificial sweetener if need be)
Ghee or clarified butter (3 tbsp)
Pistachhio, date, apricot, cashew (blanched and chopped, 40 g)

Recipe:
1. Heat milk to reduce it around 1.2 ltr.
2. Mean while crush seviyan by hand to roughly half inch pieces. Fry them in ghee or butter until light golden brown. Keep aside in a bowl.
3. Add three ladle full of warm milk into the bowl and let the fried seviyan soak in the milk for about 10 mins.
4. If you are using jaggery mix it with another ladle full of warm milk and few drops of ghee. Skim impurities out of the mixture if any. If you are using sugar instead you can add that directly in the next step.
5. Pour the bowl full of seviyan and jaggery mix into the boiled and reduced milk. Turn down the heat. Stir continuously for a while to ensure the whole mixture becomes thick and creamy.
6. Pour in separate bowls and add garnishing of date, pistachio, apricot and cashew. Serve warm or after refrigerating it for couple of hours.

Eriste – Turkey

In your journeys to Antalya you will find Turkey’s very own version of noodle, eriste is being served. It is a derivation from Persian kesme and is made from a mixture of flour, oil, eggs and water. Eriste is cooked like pasta, with soup. Potatoes, carrots and other vegetables as well as meatballs are added to enhance its taste.
Many food scientists often consider paludeh to be the earliest forms of noodles eaten uninterrupted for last 3000 years. Like payasam of India, paludeh is a dessert recipe and is sold in ice cream stores across. With a little effort, in Istanbul’s food marts too you will find taste of paludeh toppled with almond and pistachio.

Ingredients:
Flour (1 ¼ cup)
Arugula (1 bunch shredded)
Eggs (2 lightly beaten)
Walnuts (roasted and chopped, a handful)
Olive oil (2 tbsp)
Salt & Pepper

Process of Preparing the Noodles (Eriste)
Sift flour and make a hole. Pour in water, oil and beaten egg. Make dough and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Roll dough to a papery thin layer after sprinkling little bit of flour on the rolling surface.
Cut the dough to pieces about a centimeter wide.
Spread them on a paper towel / parchment till they are nice and dry.

Recipe:
Bring water to boil and add eriste. Wait for about 5 minutes. Taste eriste to check if it is nicely cooked and tender.
Add noodles, salt and pepper in few drops of olive oil. Add shredded arugula and stir for about 2 minutes.
Garnish with roasted walnuts.
For preparing the noodles you may watch the steps as shown here. Even if the language is unfamiliar it won’t be difficult to follow the steps.

kanafeh

Spätzle – Germany

The word noodle originated from the German word Nudel. So the land which gave noodle its name is expected to have its very own variety of the same. Spätzle is a unique variety of noodle, both in shape, size and ingredient. It is made of egg and is much thicker than any other string of noodle on this list and I am not talking about the commercial spätzle. In fact, the inspiration of Maggi (Nestle’s internationally known noodle) came from spätzle. It is widely eaten in Switzerland, Austria, Hungary and East European countries knopfle, galuska or other native forms. Passatelli, one of northern Italy’s favorite dishes, is also variety of spätzle. Spätzle can be turned into a flavorful dessert as well adding generous amount of butter, sugar, cherries and apples. A hearty dish of spätzle can be enjoyed in Karlsruhe, Stuttgart or Munich.
Authentic German suggests making the noodles (spätzle) at home which requires a Spätzle Maker. If you have one such or can borrow from a friend then watch this video to learn how to make spätzle at home. Alternatively, you may use a ricer. Another recipe for homemade can be found here.

spatzle

Dotori Guksu – South Korea

Authentic dotori guksu (or dotori naengmyun) is made of acorn flour or starch, so it is also known as acorn soba. These acorns are collected from red or white oaks which give this type of noodle a special taste and aroma. Due to lack of sufficient ingredient, buckwheat is now being used to produce dotori guksu. The strings are finer in buckwheat soba and lack the flavor of acorn starch. Though, unless you taste the original you would not understand the difference. Local connoisseurs will tell you that each acorn differs in taste from the other, so even if made from acorn starch no two dishes of acorn soba can be identical. Frankly, we are not in a position to testify such claims. Both the varieties are cooked in broth rich with vegetables, sea food and meat. Seoul and Busan’s upmarket restaurants serve authentic dotori guksu. Alternatively, you may visit Balwoo Gongyang Temple Kitchen in Insa-dong, Seoul to taste not only acorn noodles but other Korean delicacies.
Following one is a hot recipe for dotori guksu.

Ingredients:
Noodles (200 g)
Cucumber (1 chopped)
Egg (hard boiled cut into half)
Kimchi (vegetable seasoning) (chopped 30 g)
Kimchi juice (1/3 cup)
[For making your own kimchi juice see this]
Clove (minced, 1/3 tbsp)
Sugar (1 tbsp)
Sesame Oil (2 tbsp)
Vinegar (2 tbsp)
Roasted sesame
Salt & Pepper

Recipe:
1. Add everything except the noodles, cucumber and egg in a bowl and mix well.
2. Add noodles in pot of boiling water, gently separate the strands. Close the lid and let it stand for few of minutes till tender.
3. Rinse the noodles in a bowl and stir in the seasoning.
4. Top with chopped cucumber and half portion of the hard boiled egg.

 

Dotori Naengmyeon

This weekend why not unwind with a bowlful of noodle in hand?

 

Image Courtesy:

Hiroyuki Takeda, DigipamLuca Nebuloni, Divya Kudua, Asha Pagdiwala, Tracy HunterBarbara Ann Spengler, Jens Ohlig

Around this time last year the authorities of Tokyo’s plum park Umeno Koen, decided to uproot more than 1200 plum trees. The news came as a huge shock for everyone. But the authorities believed it was the only possible way to prevent the spread of notorious plum pox in the area. For years people came to visit Umeno Koen attracted by the sight of blossoming plum trees and dangling fruits. The custom of watching plum blossoms was celebrated with much enthusiasm. Though replaced by the revelries associated with watching the blooming cherry trees (hanami), the tradition is still followed in parts of the country. In places such as Hanegi Park in Tokyo, Kaju-ji and Dazaifu Tenman-gu in Fukuoka in Kyoto the tradition is kept alive. The last one boasts of more than 6000 plum trees! Yet, the loss of thousands of trees to disease continues to be a sore point, particularly considering how slow we generally are in replacing them and the time that would elapse between planting the saplings and their coming of age, i.e., to see them become fruit bearing trees. The ineptitude of modern science in curing the affected trees and preventing the spread of the disease without culling the trees is another point of concern and distress for everyone.

plum blossoms and little bird

Dear little bird
Though I may cease to be
You will fly far and wide
Carrying my song of immortality.
The time I spent here is now nearing its end,
The cloak of vivid flowers is soon to be a distant.
Cankering inside is disease and pain
And the beauty you so praised is never
To going to be seen again.
But don’t worry, Little Bird,
Though I may not live,
In memories of countless visitors who
Came to sit under my floral canopy,
And in the bosoms of friends like you
I will continue to thrive.
Dear Little Bird, I am grateful to you,
For you have carried my essence beyond
The azure expanse of the mighty sea. And you will
Now carry my song of felicity,
Of fulfilment in blossoming year after year
In sharing of happiness with anyone who came near
Before finally being one with the eternity.

[Plum pox affects the stone fruits of almost type. The Plum Pox Virus (PPV) does not pose any threat to human being, at least not in its current avatar. But it causes deformities to plums, peaches, almonds, apricots and such like trees. For more information on plum pox you may read this article.]

 

Image Courtesy:

Kanegen and gtknj

Ancient wisdom suggested complete devotion and surrender to sun as the primal form of energy. To offer their obeisance to this luminous star of the blue sky, human being erected places of worship dedicated to Sun God. Already in case of India we have seen how the architectural and artistic majesty of these sun temples have the capabilities of astounding us even today. Today, we will learn about some of the other sun temples that our forefathers so lovingly constructed.

Karnak, Laxor, Egypt

Karnak Sun Temple is another one of the sun temples included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. The biggest precinct of the temple is dedicated to Sun God. Other precincts of this massive temple complex also pay homage to Mother Earth, wife and son of the solar deity. Archaeologists have failed to establish the actual date of construction of the temple of far. But it is generally believed, the temple of Karnak is older than 4000 years.

Abu Simbel, Egypt

The Great Temple at Abu Simbel is often considered pharaoh Ramesses II’s greatest creation. Like many sun temples of the world, the construction of this shrine too was so planned to permit the entrance of sun’s rays on a specific spot every February and October 22nd. However the temple, built in 1244 BC is no longer situated at its original location. It was dismantled and shifted in 1964 to prevent any loss due to rising water level of Nile as a result of the Aswan Dam. Abu Simbel’s monumental proportions, beautiful façade and intricately decorated interiors continue to be an enviable engineering, architectural and artistic feat.

Teotihuacan, Mexico

The Pyramid of the Sun was built by the Mayans to show their respect for Sun God. It is placed alongside a cluster of other monuments and tombs one of which also pays homage to moon. The exact date of the construction of this site could not be established. The city of Teotihuacan, though, is older than 2500 years. The city is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Machu Pichu, Peru

The sun temple of Machu Pichu is one of the finest examples of Incan stone masonry. Inti Watana stone acts as an astronomical clock. The stone continues to successfully trace the summer and winter solstices. The cave of Inti Mach’ay was used for various Incan rituals honouring Sun God. Inti was the presiding solar deity of this ancient shrine.

Ise, Japan

Ise Shrine is presided over by the solar deity Amaterasu-ōmikami. In fact, Amaterasu represents not only sun, but the entire universe. Her temple was erected by Emperor Temmu between 678 and 686 AD. The shrine is set in the lap of nature. True to its surrounding, the temple is built following an architectural form known as Shinmei-zukuri which discards any added superfluity.

Prambanan, Java, Indonesia

Candi Prambanan is dedicated to Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Maheswara the destroyer, in other words the entire life cycle of every living thing of this planet. But inside its magnificent structure it also pays homage to that source of energy which continues to flow in every living organism – sun. Built in 850 AD, this massive temple complex once again showcases the artistic superiority of its time. Every inch of its wall is decorated with most intricate reliefs and murals. In recent years, the site has become host to frequent cultural events.

As I have stated in my earlier post, sun temples are too many numbers to be documented in its entirety. From Tiwanaku in Bolivia to Mesa Verde in the US, Nuissere in Egypt to Khmer shrines of Sun God they could be found in every place where ancient civilisations thrived. Stonehenges too are supposed to giant monuments tracing the movement of sun. But no matter how far and wide are the spread of these ancient structures they always seem to depict the very best architectural and artistic skills of the era. It is this quality which continues to make their decaying structures stand apart under glow of the Almighty Sun.

Prambanan

 

 

Image Courtesy:

Kyle Taylor, Cormac Lawler, Dennis Jarvis, Arian ZwegersJosé Luis Ruiz, Joel Bedford, Karl Baron, Krista & Robyn, Johan Wieland, Nedim Chaabene, Roger Nelson, IK T, Bryn Pinzgauer

 

Do you know that we spend more than 99,000 hours of our lives slogging in our office cubicles? That more time is consumed by us in working with our digital devices, such as laptops and smartphones, than resting per day? Over 10,000 hours of our lives are spent surfing the net? Perhaps yes, you already know these facts. But do you know why am I referring to these statistics today? Because, it is fast becoming ultra important for us to make our office spaces as habitable as our living rooms, perhaps even more suitable than usual.

The harmful effects of computer radiation are creating havoc in our systems. Environmental pollution is poisoning our entire body. Add with that the ongoing stresses every diligent worker is subjected to – looming deadlines, dreary meetings, meeting customer demands and so on. Earning for oneself and one’s family to lead a respectable life and meet the hopes and aspirations of the near and dear ones were never easy. The recent financial crisis the world over made it even harder for everyone. So how do we ensure that life doesn’t sound so dreadful and planet earth an appalling place to be on?

Well, the answer is thankfully simpler than you imagine. We redecorate our office spaces to pump both fresh air and energy into our lives. We keep our office desk uncluttered, our cubicle clean and we introduce plants, as many as possible, to cloak ourselves into an environment of positivity. The same can obviously be done for our living spaces as well, but today we will only talk of having suitable plants on our desks, close to our laptops, corner of our cubicle and everywhere else we possibly can.

Plants in Office

Benefits of having Plants in Office Spaces

Besides being a continuous source of oxygen plants in office spaces can bestow many other blessings that we are hardly aware of.

  • Certain plants have the capability of absorbing the harmful electromagnetic rays emitted by computers and other types of electronic devices.
  • Plants can help balance the moisture level of the atmosphere.
  • According to a study carried out by Dr Helen Russell, Oxford and David Uzzell, University of Surrey, a small hedge is capable of reducing the noise level of any office as much as by 5 decibels!
  • Many toxins travelling through air are captured and absorbed by plants.
  • Scientists also believe that the presence of plants help in reducing the stress level of the employees and create a positive impact on productivity.
  • Its aesthetic value considerable.
  • Bright flowers and shiny foliage are great mood enhancers.
  • Metaphysicians believe that certain plants bring good luck and prosperity for their owners, something which cannot be ignored in an office space.

Criteria for Selecting Plants for Your Office Desk

Here you must remember that only specific plants can survive in an “office environment.” So while choosing one for yourself ensure that,

  • It can survive under fluorescent lights.
  • Can withstand artificially conditioned air.
  • Does not require sources of natural light.
  • Can thrive in a small space.
  • Does not need too much looking after which can be cumbersome for the owner busy with work.

As you can see these considerably narrows down your options. So for your benefits and for all those who are picking up the nuances of gardening in an office environment here are some suggestions.

Plants Suitable for Office Desks or Cubicles

Bromeliads
The family of bromeliads (Bromeliaceae) contains many plants many rather interesting plants. To begin with, the juicy pineapple is a prominent member of this family. But for the office spaces we will pick aechmeas, fascicularia, neoregelia or tillandsia. Bromeliads are natives of South America. Among other things, their ability of surviving under the fluorescent lights make them particularly suited for office desks. Almost all bromeliads produce big vibrantly colourful flowers. Tillandsia is having a pleasing clove-like aroma. Tillandias have proven themselves to be superbly adequate in absorbing airborne harmful particles.

Peace Lily
The pretty face of peace lilies will give any office space a fantastic makeover. But perhaps more importantly peace lilies will improve air quality and absorb radioactive radiation around you. Surprisingly, it requires minimal care and can thrive under fluorescent lights and low humidity almost effortlessly.

Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum)
Devil’s ivy proves to be an angel in disguise. It cleans up your environment and reduces its toxicity. It is not a flowering plant but the leaves are pleasing enough. It requires hardly any maintenance except watering once or twice week. It can thrive without sun light. English ivy (Hedera helix) too is quite efficient in this matter. Interestingly Epipremnum aureum is also known as money plant. It is believed that they have the capability of enhancing money luck. Somewhat ironically though, both of these ivies are highly toxic in nature.

Rubber Plant
Rubber plants not only emit high level of oxygen, but also reduce the level of harmful formaldehyde substances in air. Courtesy their broad shiny dark green leaves, rubber trees are one of the most sought after indoor plants. These plants also have medicinal values in traditional herbal medicines and ayurveda.

Goldfish Plant
Due to the unique shape of their flowers Hypocyrta glabra is called goldfish plant. Beside their vividly colourful flowers saturated in red and orange, goldfish plants are renowned for their capabilities of filtering the air of its pollutants. They also absorb the electromagnetic radiation making your office cubicle a cleaner and healthier place to be.

Cactus
In your pursuit of making your office space a more habitable niche, do ignore the cacti. They are tough, capable of enduring the artificial lights of an office building, do not need much space to grow, capable of dispelling harmful electromagnetic radiation, needs little maintenance and in time gives beautiful lustrous flowers to enhance the aestheticism of your work area more than ever before.

Gerbera
We round off this discussion with a mention of the dazzling gerberas. According to a research conducted by Nasa, gerberas high amount of toxic materials from air – one of highest among all tested plants. But gerberas do require moderate amount of sunlight to grow. So if you manage to have a window sill nearby to place your potted gerbera on use it by all means. You will do a great service not only to your co-workers, but to the entire humanity gasping for a breath of fresh air.

 

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Dave Fayram, Dennis Hill, Bertknot, James Ho, Cliff, Ray, Ruurmo, J Nathan Matias, Miyo Sekimoto, Maja Dumat, Newtown Graffiti, Mike Souza, The World Through Athene’s Eyes, Peter Barabas, Chris Isherwood, Mariko, Alias 0591 and Liz West

In today’s ultra-competitive world, owners of small businesses need to be as much technologically conversant as their more illustrious counterparts. Online accounting software is another one of the many available tools added to their repertoire to derive full benefits from their business operations. By shelling out a meagre amount, the full advantages of many of these online programs could be extracted. But before that it is necessary to understand its many benefits thoroughly.

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Information Management
The online accounting software helps in centralising all financial data of an organisation. Identifying a cash flow gap becomes both faster and easier. Errors during invoicing can be eliminated. The electronically managed inventory management facility indirectly affects customer relationship management. Employee’s payroll can also be looked after by using the same software.

Financial Management
The financial health of the small organization can be measured and analyzed by downloading the trending charts and other reports. Tax calculation and forecasting also become effortless by using this software.

Operational Efficiency
Small businesses often depend on individuals multi-tasking for various roles. For them online accounting software becomes a crucial tool for saving time without compromising on the accuracy of data. The ease of use and friendly interface provide welcome relief to the user.

Regulatory Compliance
Being compliant with various regulatory standards has become vitally important nowadays. Post the introduction of Sarbanes Oxley Act in 2002, the small businesses too need to be compliant with a number of auditing parameters. The same applies to Basel II standard. Having an updated online accounting software takes away many of the hassles of following such regulations.

Data Security
Maintaining data security is another important contribution of any quality online accounting software. This is made particularly robust considering the amount of sensitive data, including bank account information, the software handles. Regular online updates of security patches help plugging any possible security loopholes.

Accessibility
Data and reports can be accessed anytime anywhere provided there are basic amenities of network connectivity available on location. The cloud computing technology has increased its advantages in this regard manifolds. If you are a small business owner travelling to a distant location but wish to be on top of what is happening in your absence this is the facility that you will be grateful for.

Cost Effectiveness
Online accounting software is a cost-effective accounting solution for small businesses. No expensive storage devices are required to store historical information. Connectivity to your cloud accounting will solve the problem of saving crucial data. Sophisticated equipments are not a necessity to use this software. The same software could be used for a long period of time with periodical updates that are also done online. Multi-user accessibility could be enabled with almost all the versions of online accounting software. This helps in speedier completion of many accounting related daily activities.

Standardisation
Since the reports extracted from an online accounting software follow similar format these could be standardized and version controlled easily. This greatly helps in deciphering the details quickly and maintaining a record basis that. This also aids the general employees, who are not so adept with the language of finance, to understand the basic information such as sales trend etc in a better way.

Collaboration
With the usage of online accounting software collaborating within various departments becomes easier. This is further applicable if your business is spread across different geographical locations. Employees telecommuting can also benefit using this feature. This naturally assists in better financial planning and identifying opportunities for the growth of business.

Environmental Impact
With less paperwork the productivity of the employees increases automatically. Do you notice that the same aspect of online accounting software also affects the environment in a positive way (even if it is not created for that)?

Before deciding on particular software for your organisation, do utilize the ‘trial’ facility to find out if it is actually suited for the purpose. There are plenty of options available in the market now. But the best one suited will be a software that guarantees the maximum of aforementioned values within your budget. You may consider availing add-on facilities like training and dedicated online support. Do keep in mind your company’s future and / or planned expansions and other variables to ensure you may rely on the software for an extended period of time.

 

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andresfranco.net

The azure depth of my colour defies the blue vastness of the ocean. In my many sinews I reserve accounts of time. Unlike your popular beauties my skin lacks the lustre of youth, for I am old, very old. Who am I?

Civilisations courted me for ages. From China to Egypt I am coveted for my many qualities for centuries. Merely by staring at me many tend to feel a sense of peace and tranquillity. Greeks believed in my healing energy. Hera, Athena and Aphrodite carried me with them. King Tutankhamun even took me to his death chamber. Who am I?

Piscean born people often find satisfaction in being at close proximity of mine as I resemble their natural palace in the profundity of water. I am also a friend of Sagittariuns as their ruling planet Neptune shares a reverence for me. Traditional healers carry me in a small pouch everywhere they go. With my talismanic quality I can stir of the chakra energy, stimulating intuitive expression. Shamans still trust on my abilities of curing many diseases – mental and physical. Who am I?

From Qing Dynasty to Mughal Empire to 19th century Russia I was carved into beautiful artistic forms. Craftsmen who created such alluring pieces have perished with time, the names of these artisans were forgotten, yet I exist as I did from time immemorial. Bewitched by my charm high priced novelty items or utensils are still made with me. Who am I?

I existed in many religious paintings of noted artists from Masaccio to Titian. The ethereal firmament of Arena Chapel created by Giotto had not been possible without me. Vermeer drenched the cape of the Girl with a Pearl Earring with my surreal tone, sans that the painting might as well have looked insipid. Do you now understand who am I? Yes, I am Lapis Lazuli.

Lapis Lazuli in renaissance and Egyptian art.

 

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Jan