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Surviving food allergies in India can be hard when there is so little awareness of the very real consequences they can have.
We Indians love drama! India is a country where serious terms are thrown around just for the heck of it. Feeling low is termed as “depression” (when it is actually a specific mental illness) and intense dislike for certain items is termed an “allergy”.
Food allergies are practically unheard of, and that is an unfortunate reality.
I have been struggling with an allergy to nuts for a while now. As a complete foodie, it has been an upward battle. Come festival time, and the hazard is increased further.
It is often frustrating that people do not take such food allergies seriously. “Oh, allergies are so ‘in’ these days”. “Are you allergic to this? Come on, have a bite, you might actually like it”. A “bite” that might result in an anaphylactic shock, and can prove fatal.
Food allergies are rare, no doubt. But they are not caused by eating way too much processed food. Or not getting enough Vitamin D. The white blood cells are just a bit too overprotective.
So how does one survive nut allergy in a country like India where a celebration means a generous dose of nuts and dry fruits? And where no occasion is complete without mithai?
To begin with, I am quite ruthless when it comes to refusing food served if the host is unsure of the contents. Some do take offense. But more often than not, informing the host in advance ensures I have a choice of nut free food.
I find dining out much easier. Most restaurants are accommodating. I am labeled the “nut-wali lady” (the nut lady) by most take-away joints. Jokes apart, most restaurants are accommodating and a conversation with the chef is a big help. Among other restaurants, I regularly dine in at Barbeque Nation where the staff ensures that the food served is completely nut free.
Festival time is mithai time. I did some digging around and found a few I can actually eat. Jalebis, Rasgullas, and Haldiram’s Gulab Jamuns (bless you, Haldiram’s). It is not really that bad, is it?
It is high time there is an awareness about food allergies in India when it comes to packaged foods. They might not be particularly healthy, but one is allowed an occasional cheat food, right?
The Indian food industry has finally woken up to the fact that people might be allergic to some of the ingredients used. But there is still a long way to go.
When I was diagnosed with the allergy, I decided to not let it define me. I wasn’t one to stay cooped up inside the house. It takes a few lifestyle changes. And being very, very adamant.
But I am getting there, living life to the fullest (with an antihistamine in my bag… just in case).
I am an entrepreneur, a design professional, an avid reader, and a complete foodie. Books and cooking are my relaxation mantra. read more...
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Rajshri Deshpande, who played the fiery protagonist in Trial by Fire along with Abhay Deol speaks of her journey and her social work.
Rajshri Deshpande as the protagonist in ‘Trial by Fire’, the recent Netflix show has received raving reviews along with the show itself for its sensitive portrayal of the Uphaar Cinema Hall fire tragedy, 1997 and its aftermath.
The limited series is based on the book by the same name written by Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy, who lost both their children in the tragedy. We got an opportunity to interview Rajshri Deshpande who played Neelam Krishnamoorthy, the woman who has been relentlessly crusading in the court for holding the owners responsible for the sheer negligence.
Rajshri Deshpande is more than an actor. She is also a social warrior, the rare celebrity from the film industry who has also gone back to her roots to give to poverty struck farming villages in her native Marathwada, with her NGO Nabhangan Foundation. Of course a chance to speak with her one on one was a must!
“What is a woman’s job, Ramesh? Taking care of parents-in-law, husband, children, home and things at work—all at the same time? She isn’t God or a superhuman."
The arrays of workstations were occupied by people peering into their computer screens. The clicks of keyboard keys were punctuated by the occasional footsteps moving around to brainstorm or collaborate with colleagues in their cubicles. Most employees went about their tasks without looking at the person seated on either side of their workstation. Meenakshi was one of them.
The thirty-one-year-old marketing manager in a leading eCommerce company in India sat straight in her seat, her eyes on the screen, her fingers punching furiously into the keys. She was in a flow and wanted to finish the report while the thoughts and words were coming effortlessly into her mind.
Natu-Natu. The mellifluous ringtone interrupted her thoughts. She frowned at her mobile phone with half a mind to keep it ringing until she noticed the caller’s name on the screen, making her pick up the phone immediately.
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