#DecorDialogues with Interior Designer and Decor Stylist Sharon DSouza is now LIVE on the Home-N-Interiors page! CLICK HERE TO READ!

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

#DecorDialogues with Interior Designer & Decor Stylist Sharon DSouza

Hello lovely Home-Owners,

Welcome to the next edition of DECOR DIALOGUES - Presenting, rendezvous with interesting, creative and immensely talented individuals from the world of Decor - Architects, Interior Designers, Decor Stylists, Textile Designers, Artists, Product Designers and all those wonderful people associated with everything Home-N-Interiors!

Here you'll get to know more about creative professionals, their trademark designs and projects, their peeves if you will 😜, their modus operandi and also great tips on emerging and in-trend design bytes.

Our guest today has an astute sense of aesthetics and is an ardent lover of all things vintage. She leads and manages a huge community of decor lovers, is an avid blogger and all this, while being a successful interior designer and decor stylist! 

It gives me great pleasure to host on DECOR DIALOGUES, 
the lovely Sharon Colaco DSouza - Interior Designer and Decor Stylist.

Interior Designer & Décor Stylist 
Sharon DSouza 

Sharon Dsouza in her own words is a self-taught Interior Designer and Décor Stylist with the background of a post graduate degree in marketing. 
A love for all things decor and an eye for the "little things" inspired her to take up her passion. She designs and styles home interiors, leads and manages her beautiful Decor blog - TheKeybunch and a large decor community called Decor Drama with an impressive following of decor lovers on both Instagram and Facebook. 
A firm believer of connecting with and understanding her clients, Sharon takes pleasure in delivering their dreams through her custom designs, clean styling and precise execution.

Here is a glimpse of some beautiful spaces created by her...

Clean lines, cheerful colors and a wall of memories - Lovely!

Eclectic collage of tiles on a sunny door, niche details picked out in royal blue - Simply wow! 

The gorgeous stenciled pattern behind the headboard steals the show - Really chic!

Some beautiful eye-catching vignettes styled by Sharon...

You can know more about Sharon DSouza and her work,

Now, let's get better acquainted with Sharon DSouza, shall we? 

1) Tell us a little about yourself beyond your resume, maybe something about your personal background, family, hobbies, passion, quirks...

Sharon Says: I grew up in Mangalore where there were traditional Indo-western and colonial homes at the turn of every corner, old school buildings and chapels, and antiques in every house I visited. My love for old architecture, design and décor is because of these years. My grandparents and parents both played a huge role in helping me form deep opinions about good and bad design. My hobbies have always been reading and writing, and somehow it has all come together beautifully now as I write for and collaborate with décor brands for their social media as well as web content, and do a lot of styling shoots for their Pinterest pages. 
People may not know that I have been formally trained in western music, and I sometimes play my own background music for my home decorating videos.

2) Name one or more projects that you are proud of or that is close to your heart and why. 

Sharon Says: I have styled many homes, but I have only done one turnkey project, for a senior citizen couple based in Chennai. It was close to my heart because of the warmth and love I received from them, and also because it was wonderful to see so many ideas and plans come alive both architecturally and aesthetically!

3) What would you say is your signature style – any particular design element/material?

Sharon Says: Yes – vintage in a modern setting is my style – and I find that almost every styled picture I have has vintage elements in them! I also like living décor, and this year I am focusing on minimal but stunning aesthetics, in mostly neutrals because this is exciting me a great deal.

4) How important do you consider it to be – an Architect/ Designer - Client relationship? Also tell us what would be your vision of an ideal client?

Sharon Says: An ideal client should approach me on the basis of my past body of work, or my styling pics on my Instagram page, because just going through them will help them realize if I am the right person for their home or not. Secondly, I love it when clients bring out their old stuff, pieces from their early childhood, or things inherited and ask me to weave my styling around them. This is really my forte and such projects are usually my best projects – with both the client and me giddily happy at the end of it.
Yes – the client-designer relationship is a tricky one, but it helps if you can be honest with each other and call a spade a spade when you communicate. A lot of give and take is also required as designers can’t expect everything to go just the way they envisioned! 

5) Do you consider designing small spaces a challenge? Pl share some tips on the same.

Sharon Says: I think small places are easier because you know there is only so much that will fit in. Also, many people go vertical with small spaces, trying to maximize wall space. I think that's a huge mistake, because you are making the room look even smaller. Built in storage under couches, beds, and tables, or if there is a wardrobe, then floor to ceiling on one wall only, work well! I advocate the use of mirrors, light and breezy fabrics, whites or creams,  a pop of lemon or peach because these colours have a translucent affect and we tend to believe a space is bigger. 

6) Do share some goof-ups, candid moments or anecdotes you may have encountered while you were doing a project.

Sharon Says: Goof up – which will haunt me forever is when I had outsourced a tiling project to a local contractor. He had done the bathroom tiles perfectly, but when it came to the kitchen, he brought in his own tiling guy, and the tiling work was slap shod! We were all left wondering how the guy who had done such a good job, had messed up so badly, and it all came to light a few days later. The client was livid, but after much discussion, they decided to leave the tiling as it is. It still gives me the creeps because whenever I think of their kitchen, I imagine them having to live with those awfully laid tiles day after day!
I learnt so much from that incident, and happily now, such goof ups never happen!

7) Please share some insights on some latest design trends in the home décor scene.

Sharon Says: I am seeing a lot of handmade, and printed tiles coming back, and I am so excited because it automatically elevates the home to a new level. I think its minimal in most other areas – wall textures, upholstery and furniture styles. Organic or sustainable materials are definitely in. The kitchen is being used more, and there is a great deal of interest in keeping it organized and functional, yet stunning! Gardens and landscapes are gaining importance, and its lovely when people want greenery to be worked into the plans right from the beginning. 

And now it's time for some...

🔥 Rapid Fire 🔥

1) Favorite color: Currently Blue

2) Favorite designer/architect: Benny Kuriakose

3) Favorite artist/musician: U2

4) Favorite book: The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

5) Favorite Instagram handle: @storybookstyle a series of flatlays done around books

6) Favorite food: Anything Middle-Eastern 

7) Favorite holiday destination: Goa - as it has architecture for me and the beach for my beach bumming family!

I am sure you folks enjoyed this tête-a-tête with Sharon, learning about her creative nuances and also gaining helpful and rather interesting tips on home decor. 
I am extremely delighted to have hosted Sharon DSouza on DECOR DIALOGUES
While she has quite a few feathers in her cap, here's wishing her many more! 

Stay tuned to the Home-N-Interiors Page on Relax-N-Rave meet more such talented and creative personalities from the World of Decor!

Till later,

Beautiful homes, Happy Homes! 

Note: All image credits in this post - The Keybunch Blog



#DecorDialogues Series:

1) Relax-N-Rave presents #DecorDialogues

2) #DecorDialogues with Architect Siddharth Shirur

3) #DecorDialogues with Interior Designer & Decor Stylist Sharon DSouza

Architects, Interior Designers and folks from the Decor industry may connect with me for collaborations: relaxnrave@gmail.com

Copyright © 2020 KALA RAVI

Monday, 20 January 2020

#DecorDialogues with Architect Siddharth Shirur

Hello lovely Home-Owners,

As promised, Relax-N-Rave is here with its brand new series - DECOR DIALOGUES! 
Presenting, rendezvous with interesting, creative and immensely talented individuals from the world of Decor - Architects, Interior Designers, Decor Stylists, Textile Designers, Artists, Product Designers and all those wonderful people associated with everything Home-N-Interiors!
Here you will get to know more about creative professionals, their trademark designs and projects, their peeves if you will 😜, their modus operandi and also great tips on emerging and in-trend design bytes.

It gives me immense pleasure and honor to host my very first guest on this series,

Architect Siddharth Shirur 

Architect Siddharth Shirur is an extremely dynamic, charismatic and versatile professional that I have personally had the good fortune of working with. 
He is a founding partner of Vistaar Architects & Planners and has been with the firm since the past 19 years. 
He completed his G.D. Arch from the reputed Academy of Architecture, Rachana Sansad, Mumbai (1996).
He has to his credit numerous projects in residential, commercial, educational, sports, industrial, institutional etc. fields. 

One of his great achievements is winning the First Prize in the Design Competition for the proposed National Tax Headquaters in New Delhi - Rajaswa Bhavan along with Design partners CSA Partners Ltd.

Proposed National Tax Headquarters -Rajaswa Bhawan, New Delhi

Some of his other projects of distinction,
Rajasthan Bhawan, Vashi

You can know more about Architect Siddharth Shirur and his work at,

Now, let's get a bit more well-acquainted with Arch. Siddharth Shirur, shall we? 

1) Tell us a little about yourself beyond your resume, maybe something about your personal background, family, hobbies, passion, quirks...

Sid Says: My wife calls me a 'multi-tasker', which probably I am. Whether that's a good trait to have or not, is a different question. Of course that goes with my varied interests apart from architecture, to name a few - reading, trekking, running and managing Lakshya Shooting Club founded by my wife, Suma Shirur (Olympian and Arjuna Awardee). 

2) What was your inspiration to take up your chosen career?

Sid Says: Well, in those days there was not much awareness about architecture as a profession. So my understanding of the profession was limited to Mumbai and its sights and sounds. And I had this creative streak in me that told me somehow that architecture was the right profession for me. I actually gave up my confirmed seat in Medical through an All India Entrance Exam, in favor of a seat in Architecture in the Academy of Architecture of Rachana Sansad, Mumbai.

3) Name one or more projects that you are proud of or that is close to your heart and why. 

Sid Says: Rajaswa Bhawan - The National Tax HQ in New Delhi is a design competition that my firm Vistaar Architects & Planners won in design partnership with CSA Partners. This project will remain special for me because it was a National level competition that saw 158 entries from all over India. Another project close to my heart is  a small farm house modern villa in Alibag for Mr & Mrs. Baljekar.

4) What would you say is your signature style – any particular design element/material?

Sid Says: I believe in responding to the context for every project as per the demands and needs of the project. But the underlying principle that guides my design process is - 'Simplicity in design and purity in materials used define a good building'. I strive to adhere to this principle; at times I am successful, at times I am not. 

5) How important do you consider it to be – an Architect/ Designer - Client relationship? Also tell us what would be your vision of an ideal client?

Sid Says: Hmm. If we only lived in a perfect world, there would be that perfect client - and that perfect architect! So let me put it this way; the day I become the perfect/ideal architect, that day I will deserve to have the perfect /ideal client. For now let me say that, I am my ideal client! Well, that would be a partial lie, as I did have 'near ideal clients' in the past who gave me considerable amount of freedom to design for them. But they have been few and far between. 

6) Do share some goof-ups, candid moments or anecdotes you may have encountered while you were doing a project.

Sid Says: Goof-ups? Looks like you want to embarrass me! But seriously, there are things that may happen on site at times, that are completely out of your control and you are left wondering!!

7) Please share some insights on some latest design trends in the home décor scene.

Sid Says: I think a design process can only be eternal, and not latest or outdated. Of course, materials come and go. Also as newer lifestyles demand newer thought processes and a design trend, or rather, a material trend that responds well to the current scenario, and that has environmental benefits should be the material an architect should look for to use in their scheme of things. I am excited to see the resurgence of decent quality marble mosaic flooring  making a comeback in the market to give you one such current trend that has caught my attention of late. 

And now it's time for some...

🔥 Rapid Fire 🔥

1) Favorite color: Black

2) Favorite designer/architect: Luigi Snozzi

3) Favorite artist/musician: A R Rahman

4) Favorite book: Annihilation of Caste by Dr. B R Ambedkar

5) Favorite movie: Pyasa

6) Favorite food: Maa ke haath ka khana

7) Favorite holiday destination: The Himalayas

I am sure you folks enjoyed this tête-a-tête with our esteemed guest for his unique flair and insightful responses. 
I am extremely delighted to have hosted Arch. Siddharth Shirur on DECOR DIALOGUES and I wish him the very best in all his endeavors!

You can know more about Architect Siddharth Shirur and his work at,

Stay tuned to the Home-N-Interiors Page on RelaxN-Rave to meet more such talented and creative personalities from the world of Architecture and Interior Design.

Till later,

Beautiful homes, Happy Homes! 

Architects, Interior Designers and persons from the Decor industry may connect with me for collaborations: relaxnrave@gmail.com


#DecorDialogues Series:

1) Relax-N-Rave presents #DecorDialogues

2) #DecorDialogues with Architect Siddharth Shirur

3) #DecorDialogues with Interior Designer & Decor Stylist Sharon DSouza

Copyright © 2020 KALA RAVI

Friday, 20 December 2019

Relax-N-Rave presents #DecorDialogues

Hello lovely Home-Owners,

Do you feel awe, wonder and delight when you see beautiful man-made structures? 
Do you marvel at the cleverness of design, the smooth flow of shapes, the unexpected play of lights, colors and textures? 
Do you feel curious about what goes into the making of beautiful homes, the creative intellects behind these aesthetic delights?
Then, you are in the right place! 

Relax-N-Rave is proud to present a brand new series on the
Home-N-Interiors page:


This exciting new series will feature regular rendezvous with interesting, creative and immensely talented individuals from the world of Decor - Architects, Interior Designers, Decor Stylists, Textile Designers, Product Designers, Artists and all those wonderful people associated with everything Home-N-Interiors!
You will get to know more about their skills, their trademark designs and projects, their peeves if you will 😜, their modus operandi and also great tips on emerging and in trend design bytes.

So folks, please stay tuned to my blog for this upcoming, exciting new series. I am sure you'll be interested to know more about the creative minds and faces working behind beautiful creations!

Architects, Interior Designers, Stylists and all you amazing professionals from the Decor world may connect with me for collaborations: relaxnrave@gmail.com

Do subscribe to my blog to receive my latest posts right in your Inbox, absolutely FREE!

Till later,

Beautiful homes, Happy Homes! 


Kala Ravi


#DecorDialogues Series:

1) Relax-N-Rave presents #DecorDialogues

2) #DecorDialogues with Architect Siddharth Shirur

3) #DecorDialogues with Interior Designer & Decor Stylist Sharon DSouza

Copyright © 2020 KALA RAVI

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Makings of a Happy Diwali

The Mother of all Indian festivals - Diwali is finally all done with. Phew, relieved! Yep, Mother of all Festivals, fathers cannot possibly be credited for festive buoyancy of such epic proportions! 
I am inordinately vexed with myself for being bitten by the festive bug ever since I can remember. It is doubly irritating that I have no one but myself to blame for this maddening fervor. Pre-festive jitters and post-festive blues are real enough conditions, at least for me! And still, year after year I let myself get swayed and carried away in the tidal wave of colors, lights, sights, smells and jubilation of the celebrations.

The tiny seed of festive fervor is planted well in advance as one glances casually at the calendar. 'Ah, Diwali next year comes early,' you observe and put away that bit of info in the back burner. Unlike the Gregorian calendar by which a festival falls on a fixed date year upon year, the Hindu calendar follows the vagaries of the moon and dishes out new dates for festivals every year. Dates vary from a few days to even a month forward or backwards.  

Diwali this year is early and just around the corner! How could you've forgotten, you chastise yourself.
The seed of festive fervor had gone into dormancy, post last year's exuberant and tremendously tiring celebrations. The year flew past in the comfortable companionship of monotony, inertia and lethargy. 
All of a sudden you catch sight of adverts, hoardings and all the online and offline shops going berserk with deals and steals galore. 
Good God, it is pandemonium time you realize with a rush of excitement and trepidation at the amount of planning, cleaning, decorating, shopping and cooking that come together as a festive package deal. 
You see, the harmless dormant seed is the crazy magic bean, one that bursts open and unleashes the giant beanstalk of endless festive chores. 

On an optimistic note you start with the Planning, after all it is pretty easy to draw out lists. You proceed to embellish and fine tune them, sort them alphabetically, doodle them prettily and admire your orderliness and creativity. The List becomes List 1, 2,....Final List, Final List 1, Final List 2...Finally Final List, Grand Final List, The End List....and then as time flies, you start revising the chores in the order of urgency, which finally narrows down to simply, IN and OUT.

Whoever dreamed of the idea of Festive Cleaning was definitely a sadist. In India, Diwali cleaning is a ritual just like spring-cleaning everywhere else. The difference is that, other than the family members, okay only me cleaning the house, the domestic help is also included in the grand plan. Before you declare that to be a fortunate bit of luck, let me assure you there is catch to it. The Diwali Bonus. Try what you may, this is one gift that can never satisfy the receiver however hard the giver tries. 
The Help and her...erm..."Helping Hand", albeit half-halfheartedly, joins the cleaning venture envisioning a Bumper Diwali Bonus. Your troubles are doubled in the effort of outlining her To-Do-List while not overwhelming her mercurial attitude towards the injustice of feudalism.
If you thought you could motivate through example and involvement, you are sadly mistaken. You are left scrubbing the chimney and hob, with your help looking on with a running commentary of insightful suggestions on how best to get rid of the stubborn grease. 
You will not believe the number of homes besieged with no house help post-Diwali simply because their Diwali bonus did not exceed expectations! 
The trouble with cleaning is that it is like opening pandora's box, with this particular box having its bottom connected to a black hole, never-ending! As soon as you are done with one bit of cleaning, the next one beckons and the next. You've practically scrubbed, scoured and polished every inch of the house, with no end in sight.
The family's contribution to the upheavals at home is to express their angst with lame memes on social media or worse, making observations like, "You mean you cleaned this? It looks just the same," quite similar to their response after your 6-hour stint at the beauty salon.

The post-cleaning aches and pains, in joints you never knew existed are not the end of your woes. The cleaning spree gives way to the Decorating nightmare. Dreamy Pinterest and Instagram handles flaunting vibrant, eye-popping festive homes haunt you as you look at your own rather sepia-toned home in comparison. If untangling bunches of lights and decorations frazzled your nerves, setting them up in position only to find most of them not working is teeth gnashing. Outsourcing the chore to the better half only reminds you of helpful Uncle Podger!

The growing pile of items in the OUT column of the List is disconcerting to say the least while Shopping still looms large with very little time left to do it in. You fervently look into cupboards and decide to allocate each member an unopened new set of clothes as their festive gear. Ah, good that was easy! Next comes, navigating crowded aisles at the super markets to buy gifts for the near and dear, scouring streets for miscellaneous items like lanterns, rangoli powder, diyas and more till your arms are aching lugging all that shopping. 

For some reason you cannot at present fathom, why you kept Cooking - making the eagerly awaited festive treats to the very end, with just two days to go. "It's the Final Countdown..." plays in your head on an endless loop. As you come up the lift to your apartment you get tantalizing whiffs of goodies from each floor. Folks at home are anxiously peering into empty dabbas in the kitchen and returning empty-handed. You finally remember that last Diwali your overeager self had made a humongous batch of treats a good week before the festival which disappeared to mere scraps by the time the big day actually came, which prompted you to postpone sweet-making to the very end of chores this year, sigh Planning!

The sweet-savory trail begins with big plans and ear-marked YT videos of exquisite dishes. All you need to do now is follow the videos and voila! As you check out the videos, one by one, your heart sinks looking at the eclectic ingredients you've never seen and elaborate processes you've never attempted. Well, it's back to basics ain't it? Simple, tried and tested trumps over esoteric, exclusive and exotic. 
A few failed attempts nevertheless make mandatory festive appearances. You are covered in a fine layer of flour, sticky sugar powder and oil hunched over a pan stirring a stubborn blend to the right consistency to pour out into the barfi trays. As you jubilantly cut through the rows upon rows of the favorite sweet, you are wondering who on earth is going to appreciate your back-breaking labor when the very same sweet is churned out in tons by the Haldirams and Bikanerwalas. You still have to make the rangoli, make up goodie hampers, doll up, buy crackers....will the List never end?

The better half walks into the kitchen, offering a sympathetic suggestion,"Why didn't you simply pick up a few boxes of  Haldirams with the brilliant Buy 1, Get 1 offer we saw last week at S-Mart?" 
THAT DOES IT. You calmly set aside your diligent labor into a fresh box. You walk out to the living room, sink into the sofa, put up your bone-tired feet, pick up your phone and drown your sorrows gazing at the gazillion pre-Diwali wishes. An epitaph floats into your mind, "She died trying to make it a Happy Diwali," as you drift into an exhausted slumber. 

The room is dark by the time you wake up. As you squint open your eyes stretching the aching limbs, you realize the house looks beautiful with the twinkling lights and smells divine with the lit up scented candles. The family is tip-toeing around, the kids outside the door arguing in hisses and shoves on how the lantern should hang. The better-half is shuttling from room to room with the mounds of gift boxes. 
Somewhere along the line, I'd managed to inflict the folks around me with the same festive affliction! 
I continue pretending to sleep while blissfully watching my lazy elves finally embracing the festive fervor. 

"After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working." 
- Kenneth Grahame (Wind in the Willows)


This post has been featured on Women's Web online site:
A Homemaker Looks Back At Her Hectic Yet Happy Family Diwali That Just Went By... https://www.womensweb.in/2019/11/a-homemaker-looks-back-at-the-makings-of-a-happy-diwali-that-just-went-by-nov19wk2sr/

Copyright © 2019 KALA RAVI

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Why Suffer, When You Can Be Safe? #TogetherAgainstMeningitis

We live in an era where we are subject to numerous health risks due to modern lifestyle, air/soil/water pollution besides the already existing diseases in the environment. Doesn’t it make sense therefore to avail of safe and preventive measures such as vaccines that modern science offers us, to safeguard ourselves from potentially life-threatening and debilitating diseases?
I recently came across some chat forums on twitter discussing one such disease: Meningococcal Meningitis, a highly unpredictable and life-threatening disease that can be safely prevented with the aid of vaccines.

What is Meningococcal Meningitis?

Invasive Meningococcal Disease (IMD) is a rare but potentially devastating bacterial infection caused by Neisseria meningitis.1 It commonly present as an infection of the brain (meningitis) and/or infection of the blood (septicemia or blood poisoning).1 One in 10 people who develop the disease can die from it in as little as 24 hours while 10-20% of survivors suffer from serious complications such as amputation, scars, deafness or brain damage. 2, 3

How is it caused?

Around 10% of the population carries meningococcal bacteria in the back of their throats at any given time (carrier). Occasionally the bacteria defeat the body’s defenses and cause infection. Meningococcal disease is spread from person to person through respiratory droplets (e.g. coughing, sneezing, kissing).4

Who is at risk from Meningococcal Meningitis?

Children below 5 years of age, adolescents and young adults (15-19 years) with the highest carrier rate of the bacteria are at most risk. Increased risk factors include living in community settings, participating in mass gatherings. Basically, it can affect anyone, anywhere in the world, even healthy individuals without identifiable risk factors.5

What are the symptoms?

The early symptoms can be misleading as they are flu-like in nature (e.g. irritability, fever, loss of appetite) 6 and make diagnosis difficult.7 Signs of meningococcal meningitis include fever, headache, stiff neck, vomiting, sensitivity to light, confusion etc.6 However it is important to react as the disease can lead to death within 24 hours of onset.7, 8 Diagnosis involves testing samples of blood and cerebrospinal fluid for the Neisseria meningitis bacteria.7

Can Meningococcal Meningitis be prevented?

Yes! Vaccines can be given to infants as young as 9 months and works as the missing link for comprehensive protection against acute bacterial meningitis!11 Vaccines available in India can prevent four different types of bacterial serogroups that cause meningococcal meningitis.

Should you get Meningococcal Meningitis vaccination?

Armed with all this information, I am ready to take a stand against this dreadful disease. I plan to visit my doctor along with my teen son, discuss this life-saving vaccine and avail immunization at the earliest.

How about you? I strongly suggest that all parents get more information on meningococcal meningitis and how to prevent it by having a talk with their doctors. A simple timely vaccine can spare your family from this devastating disease.

It is after all, always better to be safe than sorry

Join the movement against Meningococcal Meningitis today!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog content are independent and unbiased views solely of the blogger. This is a part of public awareness initiative on meningitis supported by Sanofi Pasteur India. Sanofi Pasteur bears no responsibility for the content of the blog. One should consult their healthcare provider for any health-related information. This article is meant to help create awareness and spread knowledge. Any decision regarding your health and child's health should be done after consultation with your doctor. While all efforts are made to keep articles updated, the speed of research in these fields mean the information often may change when more research knowledge is available. Relax-N-Rave or the authors should be in no way held responsible in that case.

1. Meningitis Research Foundation. What are meningitis and septicemia
2. CDC Meningococcal disease: Recommended vaccines
3. Meningitis now. After-effects of septicemia
4. Meningitis now. What is meningitis, types and causes
5. Martinon-Torres, F. Deciphering the burden of Meningococcal Disease: Conventional and Under-recognized Elements. Journal of Adolescent Health 59. Volume 59, Issue 1, March 2016. Pages 12-20.
6. CDC. Meningococcal disease-Signs and Symptoms
7. CDC. Meningococcal disease – Diagnosis, Treatment, and Complications
8. Branco, R., Amoretti, C. and Tasker, R. Meningococcal disease and meningitis. Jornal de Pediatria. Volume 83, Issue 7, 2011. Pages 46-53
9. CDC. Meningococcal Disease – Prevention.
10. WHO. Meningococcal meningitis.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Those Cold Days

I am dabbing ineffectually at my unstoppable nose with an overburdened handkerchief and wondering dispassionately, what happened to the good old course a common cold was supposed to follow? It's been a good two weeks and this dratted cold along with aches and pains galore, doesn't want to leave me!
The mutant common colds today are like unwanted, pesky guests with no due date of arrival or departure. You have no clue what to expect from them. Are you supposed to ignore, worry or pamper them? Are your symptoms just those of a common cold or is it dengue or chikungunya? 
Trying times, I tell you. Why can't germs follow prescribed or known norms?

Common Cold Mami saga

Once upon a time, when you were afflicted by the common cold, you expected a set pattern of events. The cold of yore started with a ticklish, irritating sensation in the throat. The head began to pound at loud noises. Eyes watered in bright light. The body ached at all places and your appetite went down from 5 helpings of everything to meager 2 helpings. Amma would be the first to discern that you were coming down with something. Your over-bright watery eyes, warm forehead and lowered enthusiasm for her special potato roast curry alerted her right away.

The first patient of the common cold season, always instigated the latent medical genius and patient, caring nurse in amma. Later patients weren't as fortunate.

No time to lose! You are hustled off to sleep under her watchful eye while appa could decide to sleep...wherever! The cure-all Vicks Vaporub came out from the medicine box which amma liberally rubbed over your forehead, nose, throat and chest. The fan was switched off, the thick rug brought out and a glass of the mandatory manjalpodi paal (turmeric latte, ahem!) thrust in front of you. Your annoying sibling was promptly told off to be less annoying, find shelter in another room and avoid the contagion. Ah, the sweet perks of sickness! 

Next morning you woke up with a frog in your throat, a blocked nose, feeling hot and cold simultaneously and an anxious amma peering at you. By laying her thermometric cheek to your forehead, she instantly declared you were officially unfit enough to qualify for a school leave and she hurried along, mentally planning the alterations to her usual schedule. 

The aroma of tulsi, carom seeds and ginger being boiled into a kashayam wafted in the air, proclaiming the home to be sick bay. Before you had any thoughts of brushing your teeth, a tall steaming glass of salt water awaited you - Have cold, Will gargle, period. If your face creased in distaste, you are reminded that had pati been around, you'd be harboring a piece of kadukkai in your mouth along with burnt turmeric paste on the forehead. 

The tried and tested formula for any known ailment in my family for generations has been the "milagu-jeera rasam" that makes an appearance irrespective of whether it is a cold, indigestion or general lassitude. This particular rasam is genetically embedded in our DNA (along with thayir sadam) and thus qualifies as soul food. A hand-mashed bowlful of steaming hot rasam sadam warms your insides while the pepper-induced streaming nose, clears all blockages. 

If you still waddled around with a stuffy nose, out came the dreaded tall vessel. Hot water was boiled in this vessel and generous scoop of, what else...Vicks Vaporub was added and you were forced to bend over it, a towel thrown over your head and made to inhale the healing vapours. While the nose promptly got blocked again by the time the water in the vessel cooled, the "Vicks vapour" inhalation sure gave your face a sheen like nothing else.

After a cozy nap, by late afternoon, you were done with sufficiently warming your bed and now your stomach growled for some attention, what with the milagu-jeera rasam having accomplished its job of improving your digestive capacity so well. When amma offered you a couple of slices of dry bread toast, you told her to add a few couple more topped with a generous flourish of Amul butter. Amma's ante immediately perked up. She quietly watched you polish off the pile of toast engrossed in the dog-eared volumes of Indrajal comics and ask for a refill. Uh-Uh! The saintly mother nurturing the sick child quickly vanished. "Aha, so now that you are well enough, you better call up your classmates and ask them what you missed at school. Better still, go over to their house and bring back lessons to copy and homework to complete."

Darn, I didn't want my "coldiday" to end so soon! Meanwhile, the door bell rang and since I was trying to pretend to be weak and wan still, I refused to answer it. Cursing about how she was the only one in the house doing everything, amma went to answer it. It was appa, he was home early. He told me to move over from the cushy diwan. He needed to lie down, he sniffed loudly and asked amma to get him some piping hot kaapi for his splitting talavali
"Make the kaapi extra strong and extra hot...cough, cough, achooo!"Appa quavered. He asked me to fetch him some extra pillows, the newspaper, his reading glasses, his bottle of Amrutanjan, the thermometer, his muffler, his large handkerchief...

Good God, appa had caught the cold! Time to flee! I scooted to gather my school bag stuffing a couple of comics into it and headed to my friend's place. Uff!! What a big fuss over a common cold!


kadukkai - a dried fruit from the tree Terminali chebula used as cough remedy
pati - grandmother
milagu-jeera  - pepper-cumin
Thayir sadam - curd rice
milagu-jeera rasam - Watch this one!
Kaapi - filter coffee
talavali - headache

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