Monday, 24 August 2009

Changing Flavours of Maldivian Cuisine: A Blog and Book on Maldivian Recipes

Since cooking is my hobby, I thought it would be great to document all that I routinely cook at home and make it into a book of recipes. Therefore, myself and Soba(who also love cooking and have shared her recipes in this book) had gone ahead with the idea and put our heads together in putting these recipes together. Here is a link to our blog, where we hope to publish atleast 40 out of our 250 recipes presented in Dhumashi.

About our book;

'Dhumashi is a book of Maldivian recipes which we hope to publish soon.In this blog we will be publishing a number of selected recipes from our book, some of which represent some typical Maldivian food which we routinely cook at home. Some are easy to cook recipes which we have prepared keeping in mind the changing life style and emerging food habits of the young and busy Maldivians.

This book is authored by the two of us; Aishath Ali Naaz and Soba Ahmed and is a result of sharing a kitchen for seven months. We wish to bring the changing flavours of Maldivian cookery through our book which has over 250 recipes in it.

We have tested and tasted these recipes. We hope it will be accepted by young people especially by students who live abroad who has to cook up good meals, real fast which retain the flavours of home. We have also presented some of our favourite traditional dishes .
Our hope is you get to enjoy our Maldivian cuisine as much as we do!'

Happy cooking!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Ramalhan Mubarik!

Wishing all my readers Ramalhan Mubarik!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Say NO; Maldives Becoming an Indian Protectorate?

Words about Maldives becoming an Indian protectorate was uttered by some Indians in a restaurant in Rusholme, Manchester, UK just 2 days back. The Maldivian who heard the conversation could not believe it. Ofcourse something like that could not happen, will never be allowed to happen. This just cannot be true.

But the mvblogosphere was already posting blog articles about this issue with reference to an article published in the Indian Express. I refused to believe it, until I read enough to understand that this may be a possibility!

But, how could it happen?

Read the Gate Way to India; think about lakshwadeep; think about what goes through your mind as you listen to the dhivehi songs sung by Maliku people; think about November 3rd 1988; and the establishment of IGMH; the number of referals by IGMH for further treatment to India.......our health care system is dependent on Indian assistance; think of the number of people making India their home; read all that is written in this article ; think about how British East India company gradually took over Indian independence; think about the possibility of the 'Indian military arrangements as being dictated to us as a price we have to pay for getting Indian financial assistance to alleviate the economic and financial hardship faced by' the Maldives; think about our plight......dependent on India for health care?; dependent on India to alleviate our economic and financial hardship?; dependent on India for national security?; think of of your freedom now; think of what you may be about to become.

Somali pirates to be blamed?; links between Maldives and pockets of terrorism?; Maldivians involved in Mumbai blasts in some remote way?; islands or resorts under threat of terrorist attacks?; possibilities that some time in future there may be a misuse of our islands and oceans by terrorists?

Sorry, I refuse to buy the logic.

Please do not sign any agreement that will snatch away these feelings from our hearts. Please do not sell our nation; please do not take away our rights over our homeland from us. Please do not take away our right to exist as an independent nation. Please do not do anything that will compromise our sovereignity.

For if you do, our blood will rage, our souls would snap, our hearts will cry, our pride will crash and our nation would bleed in such pain.

I believe in our leaders to never do any thing that would hurt and harm our existance. I believe in people power that will rise like a tide to confront any threat that our nation may have to witness from any other power or nuclear power.

The sons , daughters , mothers , fathers, granmas and grandpas of Maldives who love their nation and its independence dearly will not sleep restful sleep until they get to know the facts about this gossip of handing over 25 islands, our seas and the sky to the Indian military for what ever purpose. Let us know what this is all about as soon as possible. Let us see the exact content of this agreement that is supposed to be signed by the defence minister of India when he visits Maldives later this week.

Maldives Towards a Future Without Drugs;My Thoughts for Discussion Board of Facebook

On Detoxification, Rehabilitation and Prevention of Drug abuse in Maldives

On Detoxification

1. Do we need new detox centers across the country ?
2.Can we have detox teams who can visit all atolls to conduct detoxification camps. Visiting teams to train primary health care physicians on detox methods and open the doors of health care centres and regional hospitals for detox purposes.
3. Detox team at a central location like villingili (detox centre?) can be the focal point to network with the detox work carried out thru out the country?
4. Detox teams to visit with senior NA and NARANON members to set up meetings and remain for longer duration till island communities becomes self sufficient. 5. Have a good referral system established to refer those who need further institutionalised care for further rehabilitation

On Treatment and Rehabalitation

1. Decentralise treatment( more than it is now). Difficult to run big centres and several disadvantages in having large centres such as DRC himmafushi, working on a single treatment method like TC.
2. Select more regions and have centres with few beds, encourage different models of treatment to take place, allow option for treatment methods within the country
3. Privatize rehabilitation, but have specific minimum standards to be practiced, with a focal point to monitor nation wide rehabilitation centres, may be NNCB
4. Allow ex addicts to play a major role in the treatment and rehabilitation process , allow professionals to be equally involved.
5. Begin treatment and rehab in the prison
6. Decentralise community based tr and reh.
7. Segregate those with criminial records and without, when offering treatment.
8. Important to clean up NNCB (keeping in view auditor generals report on NNCB)

Prevention and Awareness

2.Introduce school based awareness program that have been tested in neighbouring countries EX. The scout badge program followed in some of the Malaysian schools and life skills education 3. Expand mentoring among school children with behavioral problems
4. Increase the opportunities for employment and further education for those who complete education ( high school)
5. Increase spirituality and meaning in life.......religous/spiritual education
6. Increase community rehabilitation and develop the employment assistance program for recovering addicts.

I think the outcome of this major event would be to produce a plan of action that would steer the country towards a drug free country. So ( I am being deliberately critical here) , at the end some papers would be generated. So whats new? How many such papers, how many such conferences and workshops have been conducted in the country? What was the outcome? True, we have new and determined leadership, we have the National Drug Council....true..aye. BUT.

1) Would you all address in the paper (action plan) a mechanism to ensure that what is on paper would be definitely put in to action? Ensure that this is not just another bureaucratic stunt and that this paper would not end up collecting dust some where as has happened so many times in the past?

2) It is important thing to have a professional group to develop, monitor research and review the drug situation, quality and outcome of treatment, rehab and prevention programmes carried out across the country. They can be made responsible in facilitating a National Annual Conference related to substance abuse issues in the country. This can be the forum where the outcome of the programmes conducted in the country through out that year can be presented, yes with evidence and then review accordingly.

3) Understand why previous programmes failed or was forced to be stopped midway or whether they were discarded or shredded. This has to be understood to ensure that what you start today, will not meet the same end. To ensure that whatever programmes that are implemented ( either by the government or NGOS) will have a time line, a starting point, the process, an end point and opportunity for review and follow up. Unless this is done, some one will start a new program today, next day some one else will come, discredit it and put it in the bin (without ever knowing how useful or useless this was). We have to make sure this sort of thing does not disrupt the programs in the country. I think , this issue has to be addressed in a concrete way if whatever we may decide is to take real shape.

Any way, what happens , what is decided in this conference will surely play a major role in the policy decisions that are going to be implemented in the near future.The best of our brains , all stakeholders and our leaders are present in this gathering so good is bound to happen! I am sure.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Personal Musings; Revolution, Reform and Nation Building

It is difficult to pass through this period without recollecting the events which occurred on 12th/13th August 2004 in the Maldives.I believe that Evan’s death on 2003 , was the last straw that was needed for many people to actively decide on changing not only the destiny of a nation but end decades of silent suffering many people were enduring in the country.

I remember standing near the dead body of this boy, wondering why and how things had come to this, in a nation of such peace loving people. How could human cruelty stretch so far? The wounds on this boy’s body which have now become the symbols of prison torture for many of us were caused by men born to Maldivian parents. How did these people learn such cruelty....and how dare they inflict such suffering on a helpless person.
I watched frozen in a moment of silence as people moved silently past the body.

I stood close by, when the former president visited the cemetery.Amidst the chaos and confusion, I thought, “Here is a leader looking at the death of his legacy and lying on the parapet is not only the dead body of a young man but of a lad who was born during his rule and who grew up to represent the problems which malice the society he governed, to be killed by torture.. !”

I was amazed about our people who were so tolerant and so civilized....they just allowed him to come and witness first hand what his regime had done ..........'.Despite the pain we all felt, pain caused by the ruthless murder which happened under his leadership, no one harmed him, no one uttered a word.I was personally interested in watching his face when his glance fell on this murdered youth.

I wanted to know what he felt, perhaps some of his emotions would show…. or so I thought. It was then, that I realised how vain all this was. I thought I saw teary eyes, fear and pain similar to what we were feeling. This was a man who perhaps never wanted something like this to occur under his rule and in that cemetery on that day I saw an old man, coming to terms with the reality that things had gone so far... in fact too far.....

I felt so sorry, so sorry that this boy had to lose his life like this. Sorry that many often forget to think that all good things and even the bad ends. The world has seen the rise and fall of empires and kingdoms, and right before us we were witnessing a beginning of an end.
Little kids, women and men, old and young, went past the body in such eerie silence. No words could describe what was happening to our hearts and minds at that moment.A young addict came and wept near me saying....the person who was dead was his friend and he will fight to death........
Next the mobs happened like a logical progression of what was the next best thing.

Through the chaos of that day, new leaders were born. New hopes, new determinations were chalked out by ordinary people who decided to stand up for what was right. Some decided to support the waves of change in silence and some were confined to express their views due to reasons they just cannot ever share. The brave stood up and decided to do something about it, so that their sons and daughters will not have to lie so mercilessly killed right before their eyes.

At some point later, I felt that people were working hard to make amends to what went wrong. I believed that the hard work that began in wanting to change the system was really not stemming from a desire to remain in power. I believed there was remorse and determination to make significant changes to the lives of the common man. I believed that there was a genuine need and effort to remove the black stain caused by this event. But how difficult it was going to be to redefine the legacy of this leader! How challenging it would be to correct everything that had rotted within the system that had governed our nation for decades.

On the night the reform agenda was announced, I sat among the audience and felt that at last, this was proof that peoples’ voices for a need to change have been recognised. Whatever else people may say or think, here was a leader who had done a lot of good to our country but under his rule many changes occurred which made dignified people beg for basic health care, shelter, water and food. The moral and social fabric of the society was torn to bits, drug abuse had become rampant and crime rate was on the rise.
The rich just continued to become richer and the poor became poorer by the day, the gap between the two was too much to tolerate. Some of us were struggling for 2 decent meals a day, working day and night between jobs while others.....were bathing in mineral water, flying to neighbouring countries for personal pampering, shopping and relaxation sessions.

Often I felt I was living in a sort of kingdom, where some people were gifted with laurels and roles which was not based on the quality of the work they did nor the expertise they had in their profession but merely because they belonged or were affiliated to a certain blood line. There was a silent sort of discrimination which was demoralising decent people who wanted to serve their country in utter sincerity.

Then came 12/13th August 2004.
Things changed for Maldives that day and in the days and months which followed.

Finally, when the old guard gave to the new with the former president accepting defeat, I stood in a house in London with a community of Maldivians, who in their own ways had worked day and night to make their contributions towards the process of change that was sweeping through our beloved homeland. We watched the handshake and heard the leaders speak and honour each other. Once again, I saw a dozen or more intellects of our country slumber in a state of frozen silence. The tears this time was in celebrating and honouring those who decided to allow change to happen and in saluting those who decided to accept defeat in a honourable way.

This was the Maldivian way of bringing in a revolution.
It happened with the sacrifices and hard work of people who love our country, who dared to stand up and make the difference. But, our democracy is in its infancy still. The world economy and our economy are in recession. It is such a challenge to achieve the dreams, hopes and aspirations of the young and old, the weak and the strong who hummed the tones of the WATHAN edhey gothah to bring in this day.

It may be so easy to fall into the traps of power and forget why this revolution happened. In the face of frustration and fights between colours, we have to remember, the nation comes first and that include all its people. We have to ensure that we do not end up just building houses or flats alone, but homes for people who value people and relationships, who are proud of their culture and religion and whose daily life is governed by principles and morals that can build but not fragment our hearts and minds. Perhaps, the real revolution of building a just society, a safer and better society is all yet to happen.