Botany Folk Medicine How To Outdoors

The Chir Pine: Pinus roxburghii

I’ve been fascinated by the chir pine Pinus roxburghii (Pinus longifolia) for quite some time and realized that I haven’t yet put down a post on it. I’ve marvelled at its beauty both at Sattal and also Mussoorie in Uttarakhand and also in Himachal in India.  Unfortunately it is sad to see villagers set whole slopes of the forest on fire which is taken up by the layer of dry pine needles covering the mountain slopes. The villagers do it so that grass would grow again on the ground between the trees for them to take home back to their cattle. It is also suspected that the land mafia does this to deliberately deforest areas in connivance with the authorities which they can then encroach upon and sell. This is easy to do as the pine is rich in resin and catches fire easily even when wet.

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Health Living out the word Survival

The enigma of eating healthy

Eating healthy is an enigma indeed. This of course is on account of there being as many opinions on this subject as there are people themselves. It doesn’t help that those at the forefront of publishing these “scientific reports” often have  business interests, or are in the business of selling diets to lose weight, beat cancer or peddle similar miraculous cures or sell  so called super-foods -all with an intent to pad their pockets.

As you read, please bear in mind that this article doesn’t qualify as medical advice, so follow things at your own risk. My research has been done on my own person for a couple of decades. I cannot guarantee that it will work for you. However there is no harm in trying it out as there are no drugs to take -only natural food -as it is available in nature.

Like a lot of people, I have longed to know how to be healthy and what good food really is, as over time I have become a firm believer in the ability of the human body to heal and renew itself. I never take prescription drugs, except for the couple of times when I’ve been admitted to hospital and have had no say in anything -like the time when someone drugged and robbed me on the train. I seldom fall ill though. At the most, it is a few days of inefficiency and tiredness at work, or a day or two of casual leave to rest my body. However I haven’t been known for eating healthy food regularly, even though I order and cook mostly organic food. I mostly eat only when I’m hungry and in small quantities. Whenever I’ve gained weight and people tell me I’m looking all filled in and good, I fall sick and am down for 15 days or more. I’m not totally against commercial drugs as they work well when you need to have a surgery or are the victim of a road accident. However I would never pop pills on a daily or long term, sustained basis or for every little ache, pain or runny nose as some others would.

The road to health or wellness is not an easy one, not everyone can swallow the bitter pill of wellness even though all want to be healthy. I’ve tripped up so many times, but I feel that the important thing is taking small steps in the right direction rather than constantly penalizing yourself for the occasional regression. The road to wellness is a multi-pronged approach which involves the spiritual, nutrition, exercise and emotional wellness. This post looks into nutrition or healthy eating only. As far as exercise is concerned, I do all my house work manually without the use of labour saving devices and love to take long walks and treks. This has kept me in good standing. I did lift weights when I was younger and still have a Bullworker III with me, but I find it redundant. The media would love to impress upon you that if you have unnatural muscles like Arnold Schwarzenegger and other body builders’, you are in the pink of health. They couldn’t be further from the truth. You don’t need bulging muscles to be healthy.


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Botany How To Living Single Outdoors Survival

Harvesting and processing Arrowroot

Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) is a familiar name. As kids it was a kind of a sister to castor oil which mum sometimes spooned into our mouths. It was bland and insipid and that was the beginning of my childhood hatred for any kind of porridge and of Arrowroot biscuits which has thankfully now passed. Arrowroot derives its name from its past medicinal use in which it was used as a poultice to treat wounds inflicted by poisoned arrows.

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Botany How To Living Single Outdoors Survival

Harvesting and processing Turmeric

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a spice which is very familiar in Asia. It is usually used powdered and is one of the easiest to identify due to its bright orange-yellow color. However it is often adulterated and then colored with artificial colors. If you have a small garden patch, it is very easy to grow turmeric on your own. It is almost maintenance free and takes care of itself provided the weather is not too cold and there is good rainfall. 

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Kitchen Outdoors Survival

Drying/Dehydrating coconut


Back to the main post on the coconut tree

Coconuts when stored in their husk last for a long time, even after their water has dried out. A dried out coconut is called a gontu tarai (Tarai = coconut) in Tulu. A coconut in Kannada is called tenginakaai. However, from a bug out or survival point of view, you might suddenly find yourself in possession of more coconut than you might be able to use, or as a single person find your grated coconut going rancid pretty fast. Even if it frozen, it does lose part of its taste. Sometimes you might also need dried coconut for a particular recipe.

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How To Kitchen Outdoors Survival

Husking coconuts at home


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Husking  a coconut can be done in several ways. The simplest, also seen in a popular wilderness survival show is to use a flattened stake embedded in the ground to tear into the husk and then twist out the husk in sections till the whole coconut has been husked. This in essence must been the original technique for husking a coconut. I remember a more permanent version of this standing in grandma’s gadang (The store room) where this tool used to be kept, probably for fear that the kids might accidentally spear themselves with it if they fell over it. It was an iron rod about 1″ in diameter which was embedded in part of a tree trunk flattened on the underside, so that it stood with the rod  pointing upwards at about 75 degrees to its base.

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Folk Medicine How To Living Single Outdoors Survival

How to open up a green (tender) coconut

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I had clicked these pictures a couple of years ago. After procrastinating for quite some time, I’ve finally posted them. Green or tender coconuts as they are known make for a very refreshing drink -particularly in the summers. They are known to have a cooling effect on the body and are full of electrolytes. Wikipedia says that the water in an undamaged coconut is sterile and has even been used in developing countries and during WWII in emergencies as IV fluid. Back home in Udupi, we often give tender coconut water to sick people. Some varieties such as the more expensive yellow Gendali bonda is said to be more beneficial for sick people.

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