It had just dawned. The slow train ran through the vast sunflower stretches of Koyilpatti in Tamil Nadu, India. Keeping aside my yawn, I wake up to the light sun-rays on my chin over at my side lower birth in the train. A vendor arrives with his crass cacophonous advertising, selling breakfast on a hand tray with portions steaming idlis, aromatic ghee pongals and meduvadai ( pulse battered with spices and fried into little rounds) on it, alongside a tumbler of chutney. He also carries a dispenser that keeps hot chai. I make a purchase for my tummy god in a jiffy, no thoughts there! Savoring the venpongal and steaming tea, I await as the train makes its way into Madurai station in no hurry.
The town of Madurai in the south of India is a 2500 year old heritage city that boasts of numerous temples, dotted with high rise churches, heritage mosques and a famous palace called the Naykkar Mahal. This town was an important center of education and pilgrimage from ancient times of the Pandya kings to this date that it has always been charming to visitors and patrons refuse to leave. The river of Vaigai flows through the lands and in the summertime, it dries up into a thin stream where women wash clothes and little children loosen the grip of heat on them.
From the small patch gardens and playgrounds to famous temples and eateries that dot Madurai town, on a balmy day, one could walk through the bylanes and streets that sell flowers, veshtis (dhotis) and pooja goodies. As Carnatic music soars in its myriad ragas at heart-warming pitches, the beats of mridanga, move the dancers’ feet in rhythm. Topped with the smell of fresh filter kaapi (coffee) lingering in the air, amidst the divine aura of temples, churches and mosques, any day is made memorable.
On the day I arrived at Madurai, my first stop was Tiruparankundram’s famous 15th century Muruka temple atop a hill. It is situated 14 kilometers off Madurai. I hire the local jeep that plies from Madurai town to Tiruparankundram. The temple was constructed over a hilltop centuries ago and one has to climb all the way up 1000 steps in an act of cleansing his sins and pray to Muruka’s deity for peace within. It is a temple carved completely out of stone with exquisite art, paintings and sculptures etched onto. Tiruparankundram is also famous for its dargah of Hazrat Sultan, a couple of metres away. This part of Madurai can be called a perfect example of religious harmony and secularism- one amongst many attractions of this town.
There are regular buses to Tiruparankundram and back from Madurai Bus stand as well. Hardly takes an amount of INR 30 (less than a dollar) for a to and fro travel. Groundnut sellers wait for devotees to snack on them coned, in the scorching sun, as Macaque monkeys wait in patience to grab a fistful of those crunchy nuts.
Madurai town’s evening see a lot of light and color. The gardens of in the heart of the temple town harbour an undisputed sense of calm and peace, as doves and parrots adorn the dark blue sky laden with streaks of orange from the setting sun.
For me, a journey is complete only if the city caters my senses both in the afternoon and evening as well; and Madurai does that, oh so well!
The afternoon after the Tiruparankundram temple visit, it was Madurai town’s time to charm me. This humble town is in the beginning of being gripped by buildings and offices, nevertheless, it loses no tradition of its own. The lanes of Madurai have great eateries, amazing snack shops and heavenly sweet shops. I needed to bite into a part of Madurai; that which it holds closest to its soul. And so, my aim was to hunt down the best Paniyarams (little steamed/ fried dumplings of rice and jaggery) and Jigarthanda ( a famous traditional mocktail made of milk, cream and boiled grains) I could ever find, as those were what Madurai’s taste scenario was famous for!
The shop wasn’t anything fancy, but on standing in front of the little eatery, the warm aroma of Paniyarams with liquid jaggery fills your entire lungs; literally leaving you breathless. The Paniyarams are of two kinds; the spicy one and the sweet one. I am greedy, I agree. Surrendering my taste buds to both kinds of those savoury dumplings was what my tummy wanted at that point. I did just that. Soft, warm and fluffy rice balls as big as a golf ball, might not captivate your sight in the first go. Dipping those little charms into a bowl of warm liquid jaggery and ghee (the sweet paniyaram) or a plate of spicy tomato chutney (for the spicy paniyaram) and biting into them would make you wish you had the capacity of an elephant in an instant! And there’s no stop for that feeling then on!
Burp was yet a glass away! Off the Paniyaram eatery, I walk a short distance to reach a juice shop, tucked in a corner of the road, with oranges hung on the ceiling of it in patterns, all for my share of ‘Jigarthanda’. This drink is a fancy mocktail of milk, cream, boiled Sago and flavours of sweet colors. The combination might sound utter rubbish, but the taste is of a million dollars. This is the only drink in this world that could induce a burp despite being cold!
As time flew by, evening came, making its way through the balmy weather bringing in cool winds and a relaxed atmosphere. The Nayakkar palace, in the heart of the town of Madurai is a famous 16th century palace made of white sandstone in full, laden with glass-work and stucco art on its walls. That was my next destination that Madurai placed on my plate.
There is a light and sound show at the palace in the evenings, attracting the tourists to the events that those giant palace pillars have witnessed in time; from history to today. The show begins at 6:00 pm but I was loitering around half an hour before, clicking the chirpy birds playing in the garden in front of the palace, to bargaining for the prices of corn boiling, smeared in chilli paste and lemon, on pushcarts that also sold roasted groundnuts and sliced, spiced mangoes. Tossing them all into my mouth, I look around to see kids playing on the grass, a few uniformed security guards standing at doors chatting and large sculptures made of white sand, broken here and there, guarding the palace from time immemorial.
As the doors open of the palace and into its large corridors, the beauty of it, begins to unfold. This site is also nowadays used for Indian movie productions and I for once recognize that in no time. The sculpture and carving work is unbelievably brilliant here and the sandstone shines its way into the hearts of the onlookers.
The light and sound show begins shortly, with myriad colored lights making imprints on the walls of the palace and its pillars, as the voiceover enacting portions of history are rendered along. Kings, wars, happiness, celebrations, anger and power; all emotions touch the cord of the onlookers. As the show winds up at around 8:00 at night, we are welcomed into a calmer and cooler Madurai town outside, mellowing down in the anticipation of the next day! At night, I move at a friend’s invitation for dinner and sleep, whose hospitality is a finest example of Madurai’s manners to her guests. Impressed much!
The following day was the most anticipated of all. The glory I was about to bask in, being at Madurai Meenakshi temple, the most famous of all temples in India, and one of the oldest heritage sites in the world was just undeniably the best! The glorious architecture, the intricate craftsmanship and all devotion that stands the test of time, is an experience in itself.
The Madurai Meenakshi has four entrances/ temple gates facing all four directions. The temple boasts of paintings that trick one’s eyes, numerous sculpted pillars and centuries of unhinged charm. The streets outside are swarmed with flower sellers and pooja shops. The warm aroma of incense fills the air near the bylanes of the entrance. It begins and ends divine.
As I enter, I am stunned and a beautiful aura of spirituality that engulfs me. The stone structures built on huge pillars whisper a million stories through their deep eyes. With little lamps of brass and silver hung from the ceilings being lit, it was splendid to look at the majestic interiors. Chants of Mantras rose, and for a moment I seemed to be covered by millions of those. Everything around gleamed, chrome yellow. Lamps struggled to flame and flicker in their oil-less wicks. Old women crouched under huge pillars, closed their eyes and prayed teary eyed bringing their palms together. Gold on the Meenakshi amman statue shone. The warriors guarding the temple carved out in stone, gave away the cast of anger for a moment. Old folks gathered and sang praises. The temple bells imitated pendulums. They brought out the divine and I get goose bumps as I witness. People thicken up for prasads from the priest; as he stands on a podium to distribute a small mix of flowers, saffron and sandal paste. Devotees accept the prasad in utter humility and extended respect, closing their eyes and placing the flowers on their hair. Large lamps adorn the sides of every statue and pillar. Priceless.
As the sun coursed its rays down, the smooth sandstone paths of the temple, seemed to extend its help. Cold buttermilk were available near small corners as refreshments. A lovely elephant (the temple elephant) with its mahout, stood guarding a hallway, with its trunk swaying playfully, tail wagging and ears flapping. Laxmi, the elephant has been trained to accept donations and bless her fans with her trunk which she does, willfully. Sometimes when she’s a little miffed, she splashes drops of water (or possible spit) on onlookers. I was one such lucky to be bestowed by her grumpiness.
Leading off the pathway is the famous 1000 pillar hall. This hall is one of the prime attractions of this temple as the hall is famous for its 1000 pillars each of which on being struck, produces a different musical tone from inside. It’s a marvel that still makes curious eyes crowd. As light pours into from the windows into this hall, it looks majestic, close enough to be astound by the craftsmanship; not that one wouldn’t be! It indeed, makes us all wonder how we can never push the past that built its glory sans any technology.
Time had come to bid goodbye to this charming town of Madurai with a handful of yummy sweets including ghee laden halwa and savoury murukku, alongside camera filled with beautiful snaps swelling with snippets of memories. Only to be back soon, but this time, to soak into the soul of this humble town; and to never let go.
Madurai, take me back. Make me yours.
Top 10 Simple Health Changes To Boost Your Well-Being
It does not matter how old you are, where you live, or what your occupation is, your health should always be a top priority. However, most of us are a little bit guilty of letting our well-being slide from time to time. With that being said, read on to discover some of the simple ways you can give your health a boost today.
- Get rid of at least one item in your life that contains toxic chemicals – You may be shocked by just how many items in your life contain toxic chemicals. This includes everything from air fresheners to bed sheets. Get rid of one of these items and replace it with something natural instead. This is something you should make a habit to do every few months or so. You will be surprised by just how much of a difference this can make.
- Deep breathe for at least five minutes – Throughout the day, you should make sure you take the opportunity to deep breathe for at least five minutes. Why? Well, there have been numerous studies that have shown that deep breathing can help to lower stress hormone levels. This means that you will feel better, get an improved night’s sleep, and you will have less anxiety too.
- Drink more water – You probably expected this to be on the list, but the importance of drinking more water should never be ignored. Your body needs water for almost every function. If you are dehydrated, this could be the cause of headaches, pains, aches, and a number of other symptoms.
- Have one veggie night per week – A lot of people eat far too much meat, red meat especially. So, why not have a veggie night once a week? Not only is this good for your health, but it will be good for your bank balance too. There are so many great recipes online that can give you ideas regarding tasty and creative dishes that do not incorporate any sort of meat or fish. Once you start off with one night per week, you may then decide that you want to up it to two nights, and so on. However, it always helps to start off small so that it is easier and more manageable, and you can then get used to it.
- Sign up for an online pharmacy – Nowadays, you can easily order your prescriptions and medications over the Internet via an online pharmacy. This can help you to boost your health because it ensures you never experience delays with your medication. If you are someone who often doesn’t take their recommended course of tablets because you cannot get to the doctors in time for a repeat prescription, then this is definitely a good suggestion for you. Your medication will be delivered to your door with a click of a button.
- Make a dedicated effort to lower your stress levels – There is no denying that we live in a very stress-filled world at the moment! The world we live in is one that has heaps of pressure, and it can be difficult to stay on top of everything and keep those stress levels low. However, it is vital that you find a way to do so. After all, if you don’t adrenal fatigue and health can start to take a tumble, which is the last thing you want. For those who are unaware, adrenal fatigue relates to a group of different symptoms that impact people who are under a lot of physical, emotional, or mental stress. From being a single parent to having a stressful job, there are a lot of different reasons why you may be struggling. Therefore, we recommend that you look for different ways to reduce those stress levels so that you can enjoy a more calming and peaceful life. Whether it is doing some breathing techniques or taking more regular breaks so you can have moments for yourself, there are a lot of different ways that you can make sure you are keeping your stress levels to a minimum. The importance of this should not be overlooked, as stress can impact our mental and physical health in so many different ways.
- Do something nice for someone every day – You will be surprised by how good this makes you feel, and by how much this has a positive impact on your health. It’s all about mental well being. When you do something nice for another person, you are benefitting their health, as well as your own. First and foremost, there is no denying that it feels good to hear some nice words for someone or to get a helping hand when you need it. You feel recognised and appreciated, and this is something we all need. At the same time, doing something nice for someone else and seeing their reaction can make you feel amazing too. After all, doing something good for someone is a gift for yourself at the same time. You will find that the deed continues throughout the day, making you feel great and happy within yourself.
- Incorporate some movement into your commute – If you do not have an active job, this is particularly important. Sitting at a computer all day can be bad for your health. One way to combat this is by incorporating some movement into your commute. If you can walk or bike to work, you should give this a go. If not, start parking your car further away from your place of work so that you have to walk there and back. You should also start using the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can.
- Start meal planning – You will find it much easier to eat healthily if you plan your meals. At the start of every week, make a menu of what you are going to cook for dinner every evening, as well as what you are going to make for your lunches every day. Not only will this help you to eat better, but you will save money too. Make sure you incorporate some healthy snacks into your food prep for work. This will stop you from going to the vending machine whenever you are bored or your energy is zapped. The great thing about the times we live in at the moment is that you can easily get recipes and meal prep inspiration online. So, if you are struggling, simply do a little bit of digging online and we are sure that you will find a lot of different options when it comes to meal ideas and clever food prep suggestions for the week ahead. Not only is this going to help you to be more organized, but you will find that it actually saves you quite a bit of money in the process. After all, when we do not have a food plan for the week ahead, we tend to spend a lot of money on items we do not need. Food can end up going in the bin because we do not use it. This ends up in an awful lot of waste, and we should all be looking to reduce this, so meal prep is great in many ways.
- Keep a journal – Last but not least, keeping a journal is good for a person’s mental health. You should write down your thoughts. It doesn’t need to be a long entry; you can simply jot down a few bullet points every evening. This will help you to articulate your thoughts so that they do not wear you down. After all, it can be very difficult to sleep if you have lots on your mind. A lot of experts advise this approach for people who suffer from insomnia. One of the main reasons why a lot of people struggle to get the hours of sleep they need is because they cannot shut off when they go to sleep; their minds are still going at a million miles per hour. They are thinking about what they need to do the following day and any worries or concerns that they may have. Because of this, it very much makes sense to keep a journal so you can offload some of these thoughts and worries and you can have a much more restful night of sleep. Once you get into the habit of doing this, you will see that it actually does make a significant difference when it comes to drifting off and enjoying a good night of rest.
So there you have it: some of the best ways to give your health a boost. The suggestions that have been provided are really simple and easy, so there is no excuse not to give yourself a bit of TLC. we are sure that you will start to notice a difference as time goes on. However, as is the case with anything, it requires patience and persistence. You cannot expect to turn your health around in one night.
Acquiring your dream house in the south of Spain
We all dream about moving to a different country, temporarily or permanently, and the amazing new experiences that would come with it. Over the last years, a destination that has become very popular among people looking to acquire a second residence or a holiday house is the southern part of Spain, especially the coastal area of the province of Malaga. This area is known as Costa del Sol because of the incredible amount of sunny days it has per year, making it an idyllic destination if you are looking to enjoy beautiful beaches and good weather. Down below, you will find all the information you would need about this amazing area, as well as information about the best real estate brokers in case you decide to go ahead and get your own house there.
Rely only on professional real estate agencies
We grow up dreaming about owning a breathtaking home in an idyllic place, right next to a stunning beach. However, in order to ensure that our dreams do not turn into dust, we need to plan carefully every small decision along the way. Acquiring a home in a foreign country is never easy, especially in a tourist area like Costa del Sol. Not only we will have to face different laws and legislations, but we will also have to interact in the foreign market and avoid that our lack of familiarity with the market results in us being scammed. Because of this, it is strongly recommended that we rely on the help of professional real estate agencies with a renowned reputation in the area, like Homerun Brokers.
Homerun Brokers is a Real Estate Broker Marbella, right in the heart of Costa del Sol. The Homerun Brokers agency has over 65 years of experience behind their backs finding the perfect houses that will fit every client needs like a glove. Homerun Brokers has an extensive knowledge about the local real estate market and its trends, making them the perfect option to assist you to find your new holiday home, residency or investment property. Homerun Brokers only works with the higher quality buildings, and will sit and listen to your needs to make sure you find the one that adapts to your personal needs perfectly. One of the perks of choosing this real estate agency is that their dedicated team is fluent in Spanish, Polish, Swedish, English, German, Italian and Dutch, which will help you avoid the language barrier that can result in so many problems while being in a foreign country. On top of that, Homerun Brokers has very good personal advisors and coordinators that will help you start your new life in Spain, from recommending you local tax advisors to simply letting you know about the best restaurants in the area.
Overall, the purchase of a new house or property is a decision we should carefully plan for, but if we trust experts like the Homerun Brokers Real Estate Agency, we will not have to worry about anything.
Where to buy your new house
The south of Spain is an area that has for decades attracted visitors from all over the world. This area is famous for its welcoming people, good weather, delicious food and breathtaking beaches. No place in the country embroiders this ideal like the province of Malaga, which is by far the perfect place to experience Spanish and Mediterranean cultures. There are many charming spots where you can acquire a new house in this province with the help of Homerun Brokers, but the ones we especially recommend include:
Malaga is the capital of the province, and the 5th largest city in the country. The city is the perfect mix of modernity and tradition, with a modern business center in a traditional, relaxed Mediterranean atmosphere. Malaga is considered by many as Spanish’s cultural center thanks to the many alternatives the city offers, from beautiful performances at the Cervantes Theater to exhibitions in many museums like the Carmen Thyssen museum. After all, what else could you expect from the birthplace of Picasso?
Malaga has a lot of restaurants, shops and monuments, making it the perfect place to live. And the cherry on top is that the city has its own international airport, making it really easy for foreigners to arrive. Most of the properties in Malaga tend to be flats of all ranges, but if you go slightly to the outskirts you will be able to see luxury villas for sale in Málaga. These properties are equipped with everything you could wish for and very well-connected with the rest of the city, so you will not have to worry about anything. And since they are located on the outskirts, you will be able to avoid the noise that comes with the busier areas.
Costa del Sol
Costa del Sol is the name given to the coastal zone in the province of Malaga, an area that gets its name from the incredible amount of sunny days it has per year. This area is full of charming coastal towns with traditional Mediterranean architecture, like the towns of Benalmadena or Torremolinos. Checking out luxury apartments Costa del Sol would be a perfect alternative if you are looking to relax next to the beach, away from more mainstream crowds. The towns of Coast of the Sun are very well communicated, just a few minutes by car away from Malaga’s airport and many interesting places like Malaga itself.
Marbella is Malaga’s jewel of the crown. This coastal town has specialized in luxury tourism, with lots of interesting alternatives for wealthy people, making it a very exclusive destination. Marbella is the hometown of the Homerun Brokers Agency, making them the perfect assistants to help you buy luxury villas in Marbella. These properties are located in the best areas of Marbella, with everything you could wish for right at your doorstep. It does not matter if you are looking to live close to exclusive shops, monuments or want to live closer to nature, there is the perfect luxury villa in Marbella awaiting you.
The province of Malaga is full of charming places where it would be a delight to live in, and with the assistance of the Homerun Brokers real estate agency, you will be able to buy the luxury property of your dreams.
Where can you buy Argentinian products in the United States?
For immigrants, the aromas and flavors of their countries of origin are something sacred, and they will always want to enjoy them in any situation. For Argentinnians in the United States, the best way to get closer to their roots is through Latinafy, a platform that has a wide variety of South American products that can be ordered from the comfort of your own home.
The United States is among the countries in the world with the largest number of immigrants (of many different nationalities), most of them coming from Latin American countries. According to the Census Bureau, in 2020 there were 31.7 million Hispanic Americans, representing 11.7% of the total population.
The fact that many Latinos live in the U.S. has generated an enormous growth of markets and sectors oriented to satisfy their needs. The idea behind them is to ensure that migrants can have the closest possible connection with their home countries.
When a person leaves their country of origin, they will always miss many things that they have had throughout their lives: their traditions, their usual environment, their acquaintances, but without a doubt one of the things that they will miss the most and that they will look for in the place they go to are the aromas and flavors of their homeland.
The immigration to the United States has been increasing in recent years,especially among Argentinians, in fact in the year 2020 it was known that it exceeded 292 thousand people. This has increased the demand of these immigrants to have access to their favorite products, and thus feel closer to their homeland at all times.
Products from Latin American countries, such as Argentina, are highly sought after around the world, however, they are not easy to find in any physical store, although they are available on digital platforms that are increasingly available for users in various countries, including the United States.
Latinafy, the ideal site
Among the ecommerce sites where you can find a wide variety of items from Argentina and other South American countries, the best and most complete is undoubtedly Latinafy, a place that brings together all those aromas and flavors that make Latin American culture unique.
The team that works on this platform do so with the great pride of showing authentic South American culture to the whole planet.
It has a variety of product categories to choose from: Best Sellers, Combos, New!, Christmas and holidays, alfajores, books, cheeses, fresh cuts and sweets, traditional desserts, salamis, dulce de leche, candies, infusions, cookies, healthy snacks, alcoholic beverages, authentic leather shoes and jackets, board games, wholesale, pharmacy, mates and thermoses, coffee and tea, cell phone cases and much, much more.
The prestige that Latinafy has achieved is such that they are trusted by the main international manufacturers to represent their products. This is due to their integrity, honesty, reputation and reliability as suppliers, as well as the excellent service and attention they offer to both wholesalers and retailers.
Likewise, their team strives to provide the best products from abroad, constantly expanding, which results in a steady growth. They even offer the opportunity to bring foreign products that are not in their catalogs to your doorstep, just ask for them.
There is no minimum purchase with Latinafy and the shipping is free on purchases over $45. Undoubtedly, there is no easier way to receive all these products that are so loved and longed for, now you can get them from anywhere and without leaving home.
Products that identify Argentinians
There are several foods and beverages that Argentinians identify with, products that they want to keep tasting even if they are living far away from their homeland, and that thanks to online stores like Latinafy, they can still enjoy without having to leave their homes.
One of the most popular products are the delicious alfajores, which, although not originally from Argentina but from the Arab culture, are widely consumed in the South American country, perhaps it is consumed there more than anywhere else in the world. In fact, according to the Asociación de Distribuidores de Golosinas, Galletitas y Afines, 6 million alfajores are sold every day.
The alfajores are two sweet dough tops with a filling in the middle. There is a wide variety available, being the most popular one the “chocolate con dulce de leche”. The most sought after are the white Guaymallén, Cachafaz, the triple chocolate Fantoche and the chocolate Jorgito.
Chocolates and chocolate bars are also in great demand by Argentinians spread around the world, being the traditional Biznikke cookie with snowy coating one of their favorite chocolates, a candy that has been in the market for more than 60 years. Milka or Cadbury chocolates are also included.
As for chocolates, Argentinians will surely evoke their happy childhood years when tasting Georgalos or Arcor chocolates, as well as the traditional Jack de Felfort, which popularized chocolates with a surprise toy inside.
A product that Argentinians also love is dulce de leche, which is available in several brands such as Vauquita, La Serenísima, Chimbote, Havanna (which also produces alfajores), San Ignacio, Vacalín and more.
A drink that also identifies the gauchos is Yerba maté, a herb that is placed in hot water and consumed in a container known as a bombilla or mate. There is not a set time of the day to drink it, they drink it at any time, since more than considering it as just another random drink, it is a ritual for Argentinians, something to share with family, friends, or to enjoy alone.
Another very popular drink in Argentina is fernet, of Italian origin. It is a bitter liqueur of the amaro type, made from different herbs that are macerated with wine alcohol. It is then filtered and rests in oak barrels for between six and twelve months.
Overall, if you are looking to taste all the flavours Argentina has to offer from the USA, then we can not stop recommending you check out Latinafy, their big catalog will not disappoint you
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