Leaving no woman behind
As International Women’s Day falls tomorrow (March 8), we spoke to several trendsetting women whose physical disabilities have not dampened their spirits but spurred them to overcome their challenges. These courageous women urge all fellow Lankan women to join hands with them in a journey of empowerment.
by Randima Attygalle
“I gained knowledge with my ‘Head’, skills with my ‘Hands’ and developed good attitudes with my ‘Heart”, says Manique Gunaratne, Manager, Specialized Training and Disability Resource Centre of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC). The vision impaired internationally renowned advocate’s words echo poet Maya Angelou’s words of inspiration, ‘a wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.’ Manique who lost her vision in her late twenties to Retinitis Pigmentosa is today a committed leader improving the lives of persons with disabilities. A highly skilled ICT professional who trains people with disabilities to be IT- savvy, her efforts to enhance the quality of lives of such people have been recognized by various global platforms to be having a significant impact on inclusive economic development as well.
Driving the EFC’s Specialized Training and Disability Resource Centre which rests on the concept of ‘nothing about us without us,’ Manique translates it to all her efforts in empowering women and men with disabilities to be independent in society. “I’m really happy about who I am today. As a woman with a disability I was able to reach the top professionally. Today I’m committed to empower my fellow women, so that they can also enjoy a leadership role.”
Working strongly on the ‘5-Ds’ is her success, says Manique who urges all women to take a cue from her mantra to overcome challenges. “Dream- Desire- Determination-Dedication and Discipline’ can do wonders,” she reflects. Women without disability can play a huge role in joining hands with women with disability to become proactive partners of a journey together, she believes. “Always include women with disabilities in all your agendas because they are part of you.” She goes on to note that women with disabilities should also be included in all policy-making committees and task forces. “Even the National Committee for Women does not have a single woman with a disability. We need to change this trend,” she says.
Self pity is our worst enemy, and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world,
said Hellen Keller, the American author and disability rights activist. Inspired by these words, Vasantha Padmini from Ambalangoda has turned adversity into opportunity. Vision impaired from birth, Vasantha, 53, a mother of three, is a professional Hindi translator and a gifted musician. She has translated nearly 15 books of reputed Indian authors to Sinhala. A lover of Latha Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and Mohammed Rafi, Vasantha sings and plays the violin.
With bare minimum resources both as a schoolgirl and later as an undergraduate at the Kelaniya University where she read Hindi, Sinhala and Translation Methods, Vasantha lobbies for wider study material in Braille both at school and university. “Every vision impaired person should be able to access all his/her subjects of choice in Braille,” says Vasantha recounting her student days experience of learning with the help of her mother and friends who used to read the notes out to her. Her determination to master Hindi at the university with just a handful of Braille material offers inspiration to many who would easily abandon their dreams.
Vasantha who became a visiting lecturer of Hindi at the Kelaniya University was fortunate to see her younger daughter following her footsteps. “Although I could not become a full-time lecturer due to my disability, my daughter completed my dream for me by becoming a Hindi lecturer. My elder daughter is a teacher and my son runs his own business,” beams Vasantha.
A woman who believes that learning transcends age, she is now learning the ropes of the ‘virtual world’. She is constantly updating her knowledge with the help of the on-line Braille material. “Keeping one’s mind engaged helps to overcome physical disability,” says this gritty woman who is working on several translations. She met her future husband when she was teaching music at the Batapola Central College and has proven herself a successful wife and a mother. Her husband and three children, all blessed with vision, make her world complete. “However, not everyone with a disability is as fortunate as I,” reflects this multi-talented woman who is vocal about the rights of the less fortunate. “Life is unpredictable, anyone can become disabled at any time, hence women without disability should be more sensitive to the needs of the disabled. What is required is not sympathy but empowerment so that their sisters could become equal partners contributing to national development.”
Time has certainly made watch-mending Nisha Shariff from Kandy a resilient woman. A wheelchair user, Nisha runs her watch repair business in the Kandy town. Having learned the trade at the Ragama Rehabilitation Centre, Nisha strives to share her knowledge by mentoring others. “There is still no other vocational centre which trains people to repair watches despite this being an essential service. If any such centre is willing to use my skills, I’ll be more than happy to share because this is a skill which can easily be acquired by especially those with disability,” smiles Nisha. She has her own loyal customers whose first impressions of her is quite amusing. “First question they ask me is where my husband is, assuming I’m only an assistant. When I say I have no husband and I run the shop, they are quite impressed,” she chuckles.
Having set up We for Rights, an organization dedicated to the cause of those with disabilities, Nisha’s ultimate dream is to see it expanding across the island. Having learnt the alphabet only at 18, she reads and writes Sinhala well. She is also fluent in Tamil. A woman ever willing to challenge herself, Nisha is self-studying English with the help of online teaching material. Her latest challenge is teaching watch mending to a young boy with an intellectual disability. “He has progressed considerably,” beams Nisha.
An activist who labours to galvanize like-minded men and women to empower those with disabilities and help them to stand on their own feet, Nisha is critical about discrimination at every level. “Very often women with disabilities are treated only as exhibits; policies are made for us without our voices being heard. It is very sad that even on Women’s Day, there is hardly national level representation of women in our predicament. We are confined largely to Social Services which should not be the case because we are active partners in the economy and our expertise should be made use of at every level.”
An accident in Germany where she worked 17 years ago paralyzed Nelum Perera. Wheelchair bound, she sought refuge in art. “I’ve always been good at drawing but I never pursued it seriously. It was only after my accident, and when I was 50, that I started learning art professionally,” recollects Nelum who works with both acrylic on canvas and water colours. Lack of disable-friendly toilet facilities is one of the main bottlenecks which prevents her from exhibiting her work at leading art exhibitions in the country. “I’m often pushed to become only a spectator at these exhibitions as there is no suitable infrastructure for people like us to sell our work at open fairs,” says Nelum. She also finds it difficult to source her art material due to high prices. “I’d be grateful to anyone who can visit me and purchase my work or help find potential buyers,” adds the artist.
Live healthily and say yes to avocado
What Is an Avocado? An avocado is a bright green fruit with a large pit and dark leathery skin. They’re also known as alligator pears or butter fruit. Avocados are a favorite of the produce section. They’re the go-to ingredient for guacamole dips.
Avocado or more popularly called ‘Butter Fruit’ in India is a rich creamy flavoured fruit that has loads of health benefits associated with it. This super fruit is available in different varieties and all of it has one thing in common i.e its creamy taste. This is considered a super fruit because it improves digestion, prevents cancer, helps in weight loss and good for your heart.
Apart from this, this super fruit also aids in good skin health and helps improve your vision. The lutein content found in this fruit protects your skin from ageing. Thus, this super fruit comes packed with antioxidants, fibres, vitamins and minerals including a high source of potassium.
Worldwide, this fruit is known as ‘Alligator Pears’ and this fruit is treated as a luxury in most countries of the world. This is because it contains low levels of cholesterol that can do good for your heart as well as aids in weight loss. Moreover, this article will focus on the health benefits that this super fruit offers including some of its nutritional facts that can make this a luxury fruit.
Facts about Avocado (Butter Fruit):
Apart from the fact that this fruit offers loads of health benefits, there are certain interesting facts that you need to know about this fruit. Here are some must-know facts about butter fruit.
This sacred fruit has the ability to maintain sperm quality and this is because it houses healthy fats, vitamin B6 and vitamin E. Moreover, its content of vitamin B6 and selenium is said to prevent sperm damage.
This super fruit is low in cholesterol that can prevent you from the risks of developing heart diseases.Avocados contain four grams of protein that makes this fruit the highest of protein content.
Avocado trees bear fruit and survive only when there is another avocado tree next to them. This means that these avocado trees do not self-pollinate and do require another of its kind close to them in order to grow.
Health Benefits of Avocado for Health and Skin:
There have been numerous studies in the past that have listed out some of the health benefits of butter fruit and why this fruit is considered a super fruit. Thus, here are some health benefits of avocado that you should know.
Rich in Potassium:
Potassium is much-needed for the human body but most people do not get it enough and this is because of the sort of food we get today. This nutrient helps your body’s cells in numerous ways. Just 100 grams of butter is more than enough for your body to reap all of its benefits. It said to have a much higher source of potassium than bananas meaning this fruit is said to have a high source of potassium that is usually found in bananas. Potassium levels maintain a healthy blood pressure level.
Good For Your Heart:
Beta-sitosterol is the major compound found in avocados and this helps in maintaining good cholesterol levels. In some studies that involved lab rats, avocados that were given for 5 weeks continuously witnessed 27% lower triglyceride’s plasma levels in HDL cholesterol which is a good thing. Based on this finding, it is said that consuming at least 100 grams of avocado can protect you from many heart diseases.
Good For Digestion:
Avocados aids in good digestion as this super fruit is said to be good for your intestine. This is because this fruit contains soluble and insoluble fibres that maintain and keep your intestines functioning with ease. These fibres are necessary for digestion as they ensure that you have bulk stools and normal bowel movements through the intestinal tract.
Good For Skin and Hair:
This super fruit comes packed with nutrients that can help you maintain a healthy skin texture. So if your skin is dry, then you need to drink some avocado juice and this helps your skin develop a glowing texture. This will also nourish your hair and treat dry hair.
You can also prepare an avocado face mask and this will benefit your skin in a much faster manner. You can also use avocado oil that is available in the market for treating psoriasis. The two major components found in avocados are beta-carotene and lycopene and these components help improve your skin tone and prevent premature ageing.
Improves Your Vision:
Avocados help keep your eyes healthy as they contain carotenoids that help protect your eyes from developing cataracts, age-related eye issues and macular degeneration. This fruit is rich in antioxidants and this helps to neutralise the effects caused by free radicals. Moreover, in order to develop your vision, you need to consume some avocado juice every day. Just 100 grams of avocado can do the trick.
Natural Painkiller for Arthritis:
This super fruit comes packed with loads of antioxidants that can relieve you from joint pain and muscle pain. How difficult would it be to drink a glass of avocado juice? So, here is what you need to do. Simply drink a glass of avocado juice every day and you can ease out the joint pain that you are suffering from.
Prevents Bad Breath:
Consuming avocados can prevent you from having a breath that is caused due to indigestion or an upset stomach. So how does this super fruit do this? Well, this is because of the antibacterial and antioxidant properties in the fruit that manage to kill bad bacteria in your mouth. Also, butter fruit can prevent oral cancer too.
Prevents You From Cancer:
Avocado is said to prevent you from cancer due to its carotenoid and monosaturated fat content. Glutathione is the major antioxidant that protects your cells from cancer and other free radicals that can cause cancer. Medically speaking, this sacred fruit can prevent you from prostate cancer, oral cancer and skin cancer. So all you need to do is to make it a point to just consume a glass of avocado juice and this will do you good.
One of the most striking diseases that most people around the world are facing is heart diseases. Some of the reasons for people developing heart diseases are cholesterol, inflammation and blood pressure. Moreover, avocado prevents heart diseases by:
Reducing cholesterol levels
Reducing blood triglycerides by 20%
Reduces LDL cholesterol by 22%
Increases HDL or good cholesterol by 11%
Aids in Anti-Ageing:
Avocado contains zeaxanthin and lutein decreases signs of premature ageing by protecting your skin from UV radiation. Applying avocado oil or consuming it can benefit your skin and prevent it from ageing. Its high source of antioxidant properties such as lutein and zeaxanthin play an important role in maintaining skin from the sun’s rays and aids in better and younger skin.
Good For Your Bones:
The lutein and zeaxanthin content present in avocado reduces your chances for cartilage defects. Zinc, copper and phosphorous, calcium and selenium reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis. Instead, these minerals help in improving bone density. So all you need to do is just sip a glass of avocado juice and this will help keep your bones strong.
Aids In Weight Loss:
Avocado is called a super fruit because this can also aid in weight loss and this is because avocado curbs your appetite. One glass of avocado juice can curb your appetite and this will stop you from munching now and then. Constant munching and crunching of food can lead to weight gain and as a result, this sacred fruit can curb that. Adding this healthy fruit to your everyday diet can help you consume fewer calories and this will make you feel full.
Now that you know that avocado or butter fruit is a healthy fruit that can a lot more good to your health than you can ever think of, here are some frequently asked questions that will shed some insight into the negatives of consuming this fruit in excess.
What happens if I consume too much butter fruit?
You need to understand that what is good for your health may turn out to be a nightmare for you if it is consumed in excess. So the excessive consumption of avocado causes:
Sensitivity to light; and
It is advised that you consume at least 100 grams of avocado every day and this will do good.
What are the benefits of avocado oil?
If the avocado has loads of benefits, then avocado oil is said to be even more beneficial, especially for your skin. Here are some of the benefits of avocado oil.
It moisturises and nourishes your skin.
Fights inflammation in the skin, especially psoriasis and eczema.
It is the best natural treatment for acne.
Prevents premature ageing.
Keeps your scalp healthy.
Can avocado oil be used for cooking?
Avocado oil can be used for cooking purposes like frying cooking etc. It is considered healthy as this will reduce your risks of developing heart diseases. This will add to your healthy lifestyle and will benefit your health in multiple ways.
Avocado is a seasonal fruit similar to mango and this is considered a super fruit that can benefit your health in multiple ways. You need to keep in mind that excessive consumption of butter fruit can cause other medical complications such as migraines, nausea and problems with eyesight. In order to get the best out of avocados, all you need to do is to consume at least 100 grams of it daily. Live healthily and say yes to avocado. –The Health
The ‘ right way to eat suchi
tips from the experts on suchi rules to follow
With the recent spate of sushi pranks that have rocked Japanese society, we set the record straight on the “right way” to eat one of the world’s greatest food delights. In February 2023, a video surfaced online showing a man licking a communal soy sauce bottle as it rolled by on a sushi conveyor belt. The man went on to tamper with other sushi dishes as well, to the dismay of restaurant onlookers. That should’ve been the end of the story, but like most viral trends (emphasis on virus), sushi-ruining copycats sprang up, showing videos of people licking chopsticks, rubbing saliva on sushi and putting wasabi on other people’s orders.
Three of the perpetrators have been arrested by the Japanese police, hopefully putting a stop to the sushi-destroying shenanigans, but it still shocked a nation that’s known for its rules, regulations, cleanliness and etiquette, especially with food. Additionally, sushi restaurants in Japan have begun to disable their conveyor belts or install sensors and cameras to catch the “sushi terrorists” red-handed (or red-tongued as it were), possibly putting an end to one of the world’s great sushi eating experiences.
Obviously, the offense of licking conveyor-belt sushi, known as kaiten restaurants, is limited to extremists, but there are still a bevy of sushi rules to follow if you want to avoid any fishy faux pas.
On the fine-dining end of sushi consumption, there’s Sukiyabashi Jiro, the impossible-to-get-into restaurant made famous from the documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi. On their website, they have a list of 12 rules that range from how to use your chopsticks and cleanse your palate to timing on when to eat the fish that’s splayed out in front of you. This writer has eaten there and has been admonished for taking too much time between bites.
According to Kazunori Nozawa, the co-founder of the famed SUGARFISH sushi restaurants and veritable Sushi Shokunin (Master), there are a handful of dos and don’ts in the world of sushi. First, Nozawa says, “Don’t rub your chopsticks together after you split them apart, that is seen as inconsiderate.” He continues with a surprising note that, “eating with your chopsticks is preferred, but eating with your hands is also acceptable. If you need a fork, it’s ok, just ask for one.”
Additional etiquette rules from Nozawa include:
“Eat your sushi when it arrives, it’s best right away. This is especially true so the nori does not lose its texture for hand rolls or gunkan style (gunkan means “battleship” in English and is similar to a handroll that’s shaped more like a boat and usually topped with roe).”
“Eat nigiri in one bite.”
“If you are adding wasabi, it’s okay to add it to your soy sauce, but you should have another soy sauce that does not have wasabi. Not all dishes are best with wasabi.”
“Don’t add ginger on top of your sushi. It’s meant as palate cleanser between dishes.”
“If sushi is sauced, don’t dip it in soy sauce. When dipping nigiri in soy sauce, I believe you should lightly dip the rice side, not the fish side, although many others believe differently. Try it and you will taste a difference.”
“Not an etiquette rule, but when eating a hand roll, take a bite, flip the hand roll, and take a bite from the other side. This helps keep the hand roll intact.”
Nozawa and Jiro would probably have a very long conversation about whether to dip the rice in soy sauce or not, as it’s number six on Jiro’s “don’t” list.
But continuing in the world of super fine-dining sushi, unspoken rules abound. Andrea Fazzari, the James Beard Award-winning photographer and author of Sushi Shokunin as well as an upcoming book on Japanese culture, says, “when dining at a fine sushiya (sushi restaurant), it is essential to respect the sushi master, the ingredients and everything about where you are. If you are dining with someone else, conversation should be muted and hushed; the sushi master and what you are eating should be the focus.”
She also explains that you “do not ask for extra anything: shoyu (soy sauce), wasabi, ginger. You will not be given a small saucer for extra shoyu in which to submerge your nigiri. The nigiri are already perfect as they are, prepared the way the master intends.”
With all this said, the experience of eating sushi in Japan shouldn’t be daunting. Sushi chefs want you to enjoy your experience as much as you do, but the rules and language barrier can be a hindrance. That’s where Sushi University comes in. To solve these problems, Sushi University partners you up with a translator who accompanies you on your sushi-eating journey so you can get the most out of the experience. They help you chat with the chefs, explain the history of the dishes and, of course, get you comfortable with the rules.
While Sushi University has a long list of sushi rules, Tetsuya Hanada, its founder and managing director, adds a few etiquette nuggets to consider, like “mak[ing] sure to only use a small amount of soy sauce on the topping only. Sushi rice (shari) absorbs soy sauce very quickly, so dipping the rice side of the sushi will make the piece fall apart. Also, do not use too much soy sauce so as not to inhibit the delicate tastes of the fish.”
Another quirk to the saucing rice debate.
Hanada also explains that, “Aojiso (green perilla), used a lot as tsuma (garnish), leaves a strong flavour in your mouth once you eat. This makes you lose the sense of the flavour of sushi, and therefore it is better to avoid it unless it is already prepared inside nigiri sushi or sushi rolls. The ginger is there to refresh your palate after eating a fatty topping. If you eat too much of it, it will affect the flavour of the sushi.
He adds: “Also, there is no specific order to eat the dishes in. Eat in the order you like. However, because their sweet tastes will affect your palate, it is better to leave anago (eel) and tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelette) to the end.”
One of Hanada’s more unique pieces of advice is about the sushi counter itself. “The counter scratches easily so please do not place your phone, watch or other items on it. A cypress counter can cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars. What you should do is remove your watch and place your smartphone on top of a handkerchief. And if you do accidentally spill some soy sauce, don’t clean it up yourself, but call over a staff member to wipe it up.”
To get back to where we started, there are also unspoken rules for conveyor belt sushi restaurants. For starters, hygiene is critical and you should always sanitise your hands. Hoarding plates is a no-no; just grab a plate, eat that piece then grab another. Once you’ve taken a plate, you keep the plate, never put it back on the belt. Never ever touch the conveyor belt or place anything on it. And finally, when it’s time to pay, stack your plates in an orderly fashion; they’re colour-coded to indicate what you ate and how much each piece costs.
Look, it wasn’t cool when Ariana Grande licked those doughnuts, and it was equally uncool when the sushi pranksters licked the fish on the conveyor belt. So, if you follow the basic rules, be considerate of others and the chefs and keep your tongue to yourself, you’ll be eating well and enjoying every sushi moment in the way it was intended – whether you dip your rice in soy sauce or not. (BBC)
Modern and contemporary styles in keeping with today’s trends
Managing Director of Widac Commercial Interiors, Chandi Alles is a pioneer in the field of Design. She started her career in New Zealand and returned to Sri Lanka at which point Widac ventured into offering its clients a total interior solution from design to fit out.
Steering Widac’s Projects Division, the Company has participated in many exhibitions and have won prestigious awards locally and internationally.She has an experience of 30 + years in the industry, and has been involved in working with clients that span over all segments of businesses in the commercial sector. Her passion for designs has helped to transform spaces to functional and practical working environments.
To mark 50th anniversary of partnership with Steelcase,Widac organised a CSR project to distribute wheel chairs prostatic legs and dry rations to the needy.
(Q) Your multi-faceted design firm not only deals with design but handles manufacturing of unique detailed products as well. Could you elaborate your unique design philology and how it reflects the key works done by your firm?
(A) Our designs are based mainly on modern and contemporary styles in keeping with today’s trends reflecting the business of the client. As such we work with processed timber and engineered surfaces which can be transformed to bring out unique creativity.
(Q) What made you opt for designer as a career. How has your work evolved over time?
(A) I enjoyed creative work from a very young age and when I went to New Zealand had the opportunity of working with an experienced designer. Her inspiration and my interest in “Design” created a career path for me. I have enjoyed 35 years of work to the fullest, and I gain satisfaction when I saw my creativity transformed into reality.
(Q) Luxury does not mean fancy construction materials or flamboyant installation but spaciousness, diverse usability and availability of options.Your opinion?
(A) Agree to your statement. Luxury can be achieved with less expensive materials. Use of colour , lighting and texture are key elements for the final product.
(Q) What in your opinion what are some of the loopholes that the designers get trapped in while designing luxury projects?
(A) Limitation of materials available at present in the market
(Q) A project close to your heart why?
(A) All projects are close to my heart as each and everyone is given a lot of time from start to finish. Being in love with my work is always the key to achieving better results
(Q)Your most challenging design project? Share the challenges and how you overcame them?
(A) Practicality is fundamental in my design. The biggest challenge I have had is to achieve precision in the final product. Design is a way of living,enjoying lifestyle to the fullest is my forte.
(Q)What is your dream project?
(A) Convert a complex that looks rather rundown to the best making it an icon for others to admire
(Q) How do you combine beauty and function? What do you see for the future of design?
(A) Beauty can be achieved with the correct use of materials, colour and light Nevertheless day to day maintenance needs to be considered as well to let the “beauty” last!
(Q) What are you working on at the moment?
(A) A VIP Lounge and Staff Cafeteria in a Commercial Building
(Q)What is your favourite project date and why?
(A) Etisalat – A well known name in the Telecommunication Industry. Dates back to a decade. It’s considered favourite for reasons below
a. Total design and build was by WIDAC
b. The first in the country to depict the same “Concept” of the Flagship Store and other forty outlets
c. The 40 outlets that it is spread out in the country were completed in one year.
d. Gave us real satisfaction to see our work showcased in main cities and little towns through out Sri Lanka
(Q)What fuels you to do what you do every day?
(A) I need constant excitement and challenges in my work to keep me motivated. I take pleasure in working on turnkey projects which are fast-paced; also anything stereotypical and conventional brings boredom.
I am highly passionate about what I do. There were times when I was not very enthusiastic about some things, but I worked on it by discovering small ways to keep the level of excitement high. Despite the challenges, the show must go on!
(Q) What is your definition of success?
(A) Success is subjective. According to me, it means having a name, fame, recognition, and appreciation for the work done. To have made it in the industry without anyone to endorse me has been my mark of success. I also believe that being able to grow and adapt to the trends and to evolve, yet staying afloat despite hitches, is a success. Although the monetary aspect plays an important role, hard work and honesty are something to be treasured.
(Q) What advice would you give to professional women?
Working women need to be respected as they are the embodiment of the art of balancing work, home, their lives, everything.
(A) I believe that time management is essential to being an organized person, so delegating and outsourcing must be made use of wherever possible.
More importantly, love and trust yourself, also be motivated by setting aside some time for self-care and enjoyment with friends. Learn to laugh and to let go, as there are some situations that are beyond your control and you cannot please everyone. Furthermore, never ever compromise on your self-respect and dignity, because you are worth a lot more than you think.
Live healthily and say yes to avocado
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