Review: Pacsafe eXomesh rucksack lock

Buying the best backpacking gear is expensive, so keeping it safe is a priority. Backpacks or rucksacks are not secured as easily as a suitcase is. Suitcases can be chained or tethered by means of a cable/chain and padlock, but how do you do that for a backpack? If you loop a reinforced chain or cable through any part of the pack, the pack can be cut  or slashed and the thief can get away with the damaged pack and its belongings. Googling backpack security solutions returned the PacSafe site listed at first position.

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Review: Glock Entrenching Tool

An entrenching tool ( e-tool for short)  is a compact digging tool which is a good thing to have in your backpack. It can be used for a variety of purposes, -digging a toilet pit,  digging a shallow trench around your tent to channel off rain water, digging for roots, mundane construction projects or to shovel soil onto the remnants of your camp fire to keep it from flaring up after you’ve left. The entrenching tool however has its origins in the military and is used for digging foxholes, latrine pits and probably for burying the dead as well. I’m sure it has more uses than what I’ve listed here.

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Calotropis gigantea / Calotropis procera

Buds, Flowers and leaves of the Calotropis procera in Charmwood Village, Faridabad, Haryana

This plant is an old friend on account of its familiarity since childhood, thanks to its wide distribution all over India. I remember this plant as it is pretty easy to identify. It is covered in a whitish powder and when a part of the plant is broken off, it exudes  latex ( a milky-white sap) which is sticky and hard to wash off. As kids we used to break off the leaves and play with the sap or chase its wind borne seeds  after blowing on them. This seed dispersal method probably explains the large distribution of the plant in India. This is in addition to its ability to grow in waste land and in areas of poor soil. Continue reading Calotropis gigantea / Calotropis procera

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Recipe: Soji/Upittu/Rawa/upma

Upma is a popular breakfast dish in India and can also be served at tea time. It was not very popular in our house though as we were part of the Maggi instant noodles generation which saw the rise of fast, tongue tickling, instant foods in India. However we reluctantly had to eat what was dished out to us. The Udupi upma called uppittu in Kannada and simply soji (semolina in Tulu, similar to sooji -what it is called in Hindi ) or rawa in our house was different from what we saw around. It was white and had barely any oil in it and was healthy (not to forget quick) and so saw a resurgence in my kitchen. Here is mum’s recipe, hope you like it.

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Poha/Avalakki/Bajil recipe

This is one of my all-time favorite snacks. I had written it down from mum many times but have always misplaced the scrap of paper I wrote it on. This time I decided to post the recipe as I can always refer to this post online while others can get access to the recipe as well.

Poha is flattened rice. It is manufactured by rolling husked rice which has been previously parboiled. This flattened rice is then dried and sold as poha.  The clearance of the roller determines whether the poha is thick, medium or thin. Although this is prepared in Karnataka as well, this recipe may well have a Maharashtrian influence as we lived in Mumbai for a long time. Poha is called Avalakki in Kannada and Bajil in Tulu. In Maharashtra, there are two variants of the dish -one using potatoes and the other using onion. We have always used both of them together.

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