Sunday, June 19, 2011


We all live glorified lives without ever realizing how real pain, suffering and sacrifice could be. We are so self-indulgent that nothing can completely satisfy us. We crib at not getting a pay raise, we frown when gas prices go up and we are crest-fallen if we are not able to take that big summer vacation. We request God to fulfill every small (and silly) wish we ever have and more often than not complain that he doesn’t do enough for us. But many of us do not realize that there are people who live in such despair and misery that would make our lives look trivial. Once we hear their stories, we will be grateful for the wonderful lives that we were blessed with and hopefully angry for the lives that were stolen from them.

Girl trafficking in Nepal is one such heinous act that rips apart the lives of so many young girls and women.  Gina was sold into sexual slavery at the tender age of 7. She was raped by 14 men and beaten with sticks and aluminum rods. Anita was lured by a friend and sold to a brothel at 12. She was threatened with being buried alive and forced into compliance. Maili was seized at the age of 19 with her infant daughter who was used as “insurance” to prevent Maili from fleeing. Jyoti was trafficked at the age of 12, raped, choked and forced to drink alcohol to break her resistance. There are so many such horror stories that you will need a lifetime to listen to all of them.

The child sex trade in Nepal is a highly organized syndicate that rivals the drug trade in profitability. There is a well-developed supply chain which runs from recruiters and smugglers who catch girls from villages in Nepal and transport them all the way up to urban brothel owners in Nepal and India who enslave them and corrupt policemen who help legalize the business. Heartless hungry men who rape and infect these girls complete the chain. And everyone else in this chain profits except these poor girls who pay the price with their bodies first and then later with their lives (80% get infected by HIV). For most of these girls, their Gods deserted them at a very early age.

I have always been amazed by people who dedicate their entire lives for the cause of others. How many of us can live one selfless day? Imagine doing that your entire life and you will realize the value of such a life. One such crusader is waging a battle against these traffickers and its corrupt nexus to save innocent girls from an experience that is worse than death. Ms.Anuradha Koirala started Maiti Nepal in a small house in Kathmandu with her own savings. Today she is a widely recognized activist and lecturer who has dedicated her life to combating the sexual exploitation of women and children. She is supported by her volunteers in Maiti, Nepal most of whom are rescued young women. They watch borders and prevent pimps from crossing over with innocent girls. They collaborate with local officials and others inside brothels to rescue girls. They create safe havens for these girls and slowly heal their physical and mental scars. The rescued girls spend their time in the healing center where they learn skills and participate in arts programs that rebuild their spirits. And the lesser fortunate AIDS-infected girls have a place where they can die with dignity. 

But sadly, this small movement still is no match to the powerful criminal elements and their political connections. There are still so many girls who live in a world seldom known to outsiders and suffer death every single day. Sad indeed when so much more could be done by all of us for their cause. Anuradha says, "Society rejects me and my girls, but they are the most important thing in my life." It is high time that we all embrace Anuradha and Maiti, Nepal and join her crusade to help young innocent girls live their lives the way they deserve to! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I love cooking and more often than not, something edible comes out of it. I tried making Thai Green curry the other day and it turned out pretty good. It was actually an experiment of a stir fry combined into a green curry. Here is the recipe for any takers. Guess this picture will help to ignite your taste buds!

ü  2 cans coconut milk
ü  1 small onion
ü  3 green chilies
ü  Red, green and yellow peppers – 1 cup
ü  Vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, zucchini, shitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, beans, carrots and peas – 2 cups
ü  3 cloves garlic and a thumb size of ginger (very finely chopped)
ü  Fresh basil leaves – ½ cup
ü  Fresh tofu – 1.5 cups
ü  Thai green curry paste – 2 to 4 tsp depending the spice quotient of your tongue
ü  Olive oil -  3 tsp
ü  Soy sauce and chili garlic sauce

Stir fry:
v  Heat oil in a frying pan. Add the onions, peppers, green chilies and basil leaves and sauté for a few minutes.
v  After that add all the vegetables and stir fry them for 5-10 minutes with soy sauce and chili garlic sauce.

Preparing tofu:
v  Cut the tofu into small cubes and shallow fry it in oil.
v  In a bowl, take half a cup of coconut milk and add soy sauce and chili garlic sauce and mix well. Soak the fried tofu in this mixture for 10 minutes.
v  This gives a good taste and flavor to the tofu.

Thai Green Curry:
v  Once you are done with the stir fry and the tofu, it is time for the finale.
v  Heat oil in a wok and add the green curry paste (2 – 4 spoons depending on how strong your palette is) and fry for a minute until you get a good fragrance.
v  Now add the remaining coconut milk to the wok and allow it to simmer for around 5 minutes. Adding basil leaves here will give you more fragrance.
v  Now add the soaked fried tofu to this mix and allow it to simmer for a couple more minutes.
v  Finally add the stir fried vegetables and cook it for some more time.
v  Check for salt and spice and adjust with more Thai green curry paste, salt, soy sauce or coconut milk until you get the desired taste.
v  That is it and yummy green curry is ready. Serve it with hot Thai jasmine rice.

And do let me know if it turns out well and more importantly do not curse me if it is not edible. I am sure you will do well.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


What comes to your mind when you think of the lion? Yeah, King of the Jungle strikes us as a majestic, powerful and awe inspiring behemoth. And what about the tiger? Swift, charismatic, lethal, solitary. Both of them evoke contrasting emotions in all of us: Fear and jealousy. We are terrified by the fact that they can crush our neck by just a friendly pat. Yet at the same time we admire their beauty and their superiority to stake their place at the top of the food chain.

That was why it was so difficult for me to even think that they could be abused. The Exotic Feline rescue center in Indiana is a place where big cats are given a second chance to live! Seriously! I couldn’t believe that they could have such a predicament until I saw it for myself. I saw lions and tigers that were abused, abandoned and had nowhere to live out their lives. They had been left to die in filthy cages, rusted and abandoned circus carts without any sanitation, hygiene, food or water. They were kept as pets and walked on leashes by soul less men with king size egos. They had been traded in parking garages for just $300. They had been starved, tortured, physically deformed and had endured great suffering throughout their lives.

Man is a funny animal. One hurts and the other heals. Those at the Exotic Feline Rescue Center take extreme pains in discovering such abused and abandoned cats, rescue them, treat them for their illnesses and provide them a permanent habitat for living a peaceful life. It is not the jungle but it is an asylum where they can rest and lick their wounds of the past and recuperate and discover life. A second chance it is!

When I look at these majestic cats, I can still catch a glimpse of pride in a corner of their eyes. Declawed or not, they can still send a shiver down your spine with one glance. But there is also a longing in their eyes. The longing to rule the jungle again, to run wild and free, to hunt and to live life the way it was meant to be. They know that they will never be able to experience freedom as a wild cat would have. Have you ever thought how a painter would feel if he lost his eyes one day? The agony that he would not be able to see and reproduce the beauties of this world cannot be explained or expressed. And so is that longing in the eyes of these cats! They would continue to haunt me for a long time.

The people at the Rescue Center feel proud that they are able to bring some light into the lives of these abused cats. They deserve a lot of credit for putting their lives on the line and in spite of suffering losses they are still dedicated to giving these cats a place and a life to live.  But there are still those who relish caging these animals, overpowering them, incapacitating them and rendering them unfit for their natural habitat just to feed their egos. Is that a matter of pride or is it something to be ashamed of? Well, it is certainly something to think about!
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