Parsis and Zoroastrians

This is a book I started reading in my hotel in Mumbai as there is a big population of them there and I was curious to find out more about them. As far as I know they don’t exists anywhere else in the world.

Freddie Mercury (Farrokh Balsara) was the most famous one as far as I can tell but I didn’t even know that myself until I had watched Bohemian Rhapsody which is an awesome movie. Zoroastrianism also turns up in Nietzsche as he wrote Thus spoke Zarathustra which is the name of their God. Although it’s a much changed version according to the book’s author which I’m afraid I don’t recall.

I had a spare day since Covid 19 had cancelled my city tour so I settled down to read through a photographic journey of the life of the author so far. The writer grew up in the Parsi culture in Bombay but was educated elsewhere so that is why they were able to explain in English so well a religion that is not well known in the rest of the world.

Parsis is the cultural name given to Zoroastrians to separate them from anyone else that was living in India. The Parsis are originally from Persia but left due to persecution from Islamic forces long ago. However, they were followed much later on so became very insular. Where as before they were at the forefront of business and became very rich a bit like the Jews of Europe .This fear and persecution has contributed to their downfall in the eyes of the author since they will soon no longer be numerous enough to be considered a community (30,000+). At this point (25,000) they will now be labelled a tribe. There is a very big emphasis on staying within your community and they will provide for you that’s why this downgrading of their status is such a big deal to them.

I was unable to get more than half way through the book as I had to leave the next day but the information about the lives of the children who were becoming priests was fascinating. It is part of the culture for at least one boy in the family to learn how to be a priest even if they subsequently decide that is not the field that they want to go into.

India – Taj Mahal at Agra

India – Agra

India – Delhi (part 1)

Best wishes

Angela

Machines like Me by Ian McEwan

This is an Audible book that I listened to recently while I was on holiday. Listening to an enjoyable story that is engaging makes long road journeys pass so much more quickly!

It’s alternative history based on the fact that Alan Turing wasn’t turned insane by taking oestrogen tablets to cure his homosexual urges. With this in mind we end up with a very different 1980’s. We have advanced sufficiently with AI to build completely life like humans that tests what it is to be human after all. They are an exercise in humanity as it teaches us whether we can accept machines into our lives as equals.

I loved the philosophical debates that Adam engages in with his housemates Charlie and Miranda. I also loved the technical, mathematical and physics details along with the anthropological studies. Adam raises a lot of interesting questions and provokes strong emotions which you wouldn’t expect a machine to be capable of. He is not really a machine though; but a conscious being capable of existing all by himself as along as he has the same comforts were used to like shelter, sleep and fuel.

This is essentially an exploration of the contradictions of being human. This is what every child has to learn and what autistics struggle with greatly. The same things that Adam can’t comprehend are also what we have difficulties with. There is however no real solution to these issues as life is such a messy business.

Best wishes

Angela

Michael Pollen – Cooked

He is a famous author and chef who has written several books on the history of food that are on Blinkist and I’m working my way through them. He also has a four part series on NetflixCooked after the title of his book that it follows. The episodes deal with the effects of Fire, Water, Air and Earth. It comes as no surprise that he has worked closely with Samin Nosrat on her Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat cookbook. He taught her how to write while she taught him how to cook.

In Fire he ventures around America looking for the secrets to bbq and grilled meats. He compares traditional methods to the ones used to industry. He goes in for the science and analyses the proteins present in meat with the transformation they undergo when being cooked – denaturalisation. He also indulges in some male bonding too while learning the secrets of southern cooking in addition to the history which is rooted in slave culture.

In Water he looks into the changes that have taken place in the American food industry since the 1950’s. He also tackles the rise in obesity and type 2 diabetes. I’m shocked to find that there is no longer an adult onset diabetes as type 2 used to be called. It’s now often found in children. This is directly linked to the fact we spend less time the kitchen and more time working. Even in India, one of the poorest countries in the world, you can’t live off one income and processed food is becoming the norm.

In Air he looks at the importance of bread to the daily diet in Morocco. He gets political about what happens when the price of bread rises too much; and how these conflicts cause shortages all over the world. Due mostly to over reliance on imports from bad harvests because of changing climatic conditions. He also gets scientific examining the role that gluten performs and why it’s so difficult to get a good gluten free loaf.

In Earth he examines the process of fermentation. Here he discovers that cacao beans are first fermented for a week before they are dried and then turned into chocolate etc. I didn’t know it was necessary to do this because the raw beans are so bitter as to be unpalatable. If you’ve ever eaten cooking chocolate you might know this taste. In contrast to chocolate, cheese is a another food that undergoes fermentation that we all know about. Here still there are more secrets to be discovered by looking into the science of the rind on cheeses. He also experiments by making his own beer to continue on from when he learnt to make bread.

I have found this series fascinating to watch to realise that there is a lot to learn from traditional methods of cooking that we can’t replicate in our modern high tech kitchens. The culture of disgust in relation to the French appreciation of stinky cheese is an amazing topic to have a discussion on. Our overuse of antibacterial sprays to clean with and antibiotics to cure to disease is causing a backlash in the health of our gut biome which is only just starting to be looked into seriously. I liked the anthropological look into ancient cultures and how they would pickle vegetables to get through the winter which is why vegans need to eat kimchi etc to remain healthy. Its a source of b vitamins and even vitamin c.

Best wishes

Angela

Advocating for autism

As a proud autistic adult I have written 2 new books and these are about how to deal with the traumatic and emotional events that life throws at us like dealing with grief, social occasions, adolescence etc

Imagina and A Life of Ice and Fire.

This is in addition to Autistic Communication and Autistic Education.

My other books are on How to learn the Greek language, Greek life, More Greek, How to learn languages and finally A Life of Halcyon Days which is a romantic chick lit book set in Greece.

Best wishes

Angela

On finding out the reasons for things – cookery edition

When I was just starting out to cook for my self I made the usual student meals. Everyone knew that bacon and cheese were wonder foods that could pretty much rescue anything disaster that you happen to make in the kitchen. Bacon was also the cure if you had drunk too much. What those experiments teach you is the importance of salt and fat to your food.

You don’t realise this then as the object of food then is fuel that is to be cooked quickly and eaten just as quickly so you can get on with whatever activity you were doing before.

I also realised why you always eat pancakes with honey and lemon. There soft, sometimes chewy but also crispy and sweet so all your taste buds are covered.

I’ve have had Hugh Fernley Whittingstall’s 3 good things cookery book for a while. It’s another textbook sized cookbook that goes into detail about the ingredients that chapter is focused on. I’ve used it quite a lot as it’s simple and quick to put together but the results are amazing. I have his River Cottage cookbook and his Bread cookbook too. Bread is a thing the British don’t do particularly well as anyone who has even eaten a slice of white sliced bread will know.

I also like Jack Monroe as I bought her first book about cooking on a budget. She it turns out is autistic and has some Greek heritage too so that might have something to do with it. It’s a good book as the receives are simple to follow and there all costed and portioned well. They use some unusual ingredients like tinned peaches but if your as limited on funds as she was you have to improvise.

Another one of my favourite chefs is Jamie Oliver as when he first came on the scene he was known as the Naked Chef due to his stripped down style of cooking. He has made many a book and program since his Jamie’s Great Britain but I find this a brilliant book.

I also have a Readers digest book on potatoes which I find quite authoritative when coming up with new ideas for what to do with spuds.

I thought I would list the best books that I have found for autistics to use so that they can learn some independence. It works for students just as well as there are no fancy ingredients unlike Nigella Lawson.

Thriving Autistic Adult Series

  • Best wishes
  • Angela
  • Circe by Madeline Miller

    Circe by Madeline Miller
    Circe by Madeline Miller

    This is the Retelling of the story of Circe from her birth to her involvement in the Odyssey and beyond.

    Circe here reminds me of myself as her company is unwanted by all who surround her as she is different from all the others. She is not interested in the great parties, the gossip or the other guests. Instead she is prone to wondering the great halls alone wanting her fathers attention while avoiding her mother.

    This lack of attention causes great loneliness in herself as she has no purpose. She has great strength but doesn’t believe in herself because of the ridicule she has previously received from her loved ones. Her innocence and naïveté cause her to fall in love with the first man she sets eyes upon. This is unrequited love but she cannot see it until he falls in love with another. All she wanted was to help another because she cared for him but it wasn’t to be. She repeats the pattern as she cannot help the fact she has so much love to give it spills over. She needs an outlet but without children what is an Ancient Greek girl to do?

    You can listen to a sample of this book if you are not too sure about buying it on Audible. It is alternative history as the female side of things tends not to survive. Hence we have history or his story.

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Telling tales in Greek

    For Christmas I got this book. It is a children’s book to help English speakers learn the Greek language. It is the tale of the Odyssey and Odysseus. However the Greek that is taught in this book is the original Ancient Greek. This means extra learning of words that they no longer use. It’s interesting looking at the origins of the language though. Some words however remain the same.

    The best part of this book is it’s focus on grammar including the most difficult point I have come across so far – the genitive sandwich.

    This is very difficult for an English speaker because we don’t really have cases, declension or even gender in our language anymore. We therefore don’t ever need to worry about genderised conjugation or even really conjugating.

    English is a hodgepodge of rules that have been adopted from all of the different invaders. This makes it a difficult language to learn because it’s not as pure as older languages are. You do however get compensated by having many cognates with other newer languages.

    Another reason for the inherent difficulty in processing Greek from an English speakers perspective stems from the genitive case being the one that you use to indicate possession. In our enlightened times we wouldn’t ever think of saying ‘of Daniel’ to indicate that something belongs to Daniel unless we were referencing The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s anti feminist and very archaic to think in terms like this.

    Grammar wasn’t taught much in schools when I was attending in contrast to previous eras. I believe they have changed that now with an emphasis on more exotic foreign languages like Mandarin instead of just European. This means that today’s school children are better equipped to handle the linguistic diversity that is present in the world. At least in my opinion.

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Ebooks vs real books vs audio books

    This is an interesting conundrum as there are positives and negatives for all sides. I have addressed this previously in my books here on My author page. I have also written several articles about reading – Different types of Reading, The to be read pile etc. As it’s such an essential skill there is always more to examine so, today I’m going to delve into what happens when I read an ebook as opposed to the real version and add in a little about audiobooks too.

    When I had a Kindle and started reading the e versions of books as it was too expensive for me to continually buy the real versions I noticed that I wasn’t enjoying them as much. I’m not one of those that particularly goes in for the smell of old books, the feel of the paper, the weight of the book or the cover design but the fact you can disconnect from the digital world is brilliant. This doesn’t happen if you have stopped working using a screen but progressed to reading using a screen. The book may be fiction and it may be an author or subject you really enjoy but the electric light interferes. Your not relaxed because the photons don’t allow that. You also can’t go to sleep reading an ebook as the light does the opposite in keeping you awake.

    I used to think that the reasons I didn’t finish books was because of the style, subject matter, author but the format also has some input into my overall enjoyment. I read the paperback version of Organised Mind by Daniel Levitin. Or tried to read it as I should say because although it’s a very interesting book it was like trying to walk through a quagmire. I gave up. Then I come across the book on Blinkist. I read it very quickly as with all books on there because there designed like that. However, to me it didn’t feel like I was reading the same book at at all. It was summarised so it had all the salient details but as far as I know, by someone else. Therefore, to me, it doesn’t have any of the authors insight or stamp on it. It’s just a collection of words that teach you something, albeit better than the original, but bearing little resemblance to it. I’m really starting to dislike abridged versions of books.

    I remember listening to a Jane Austen audiobook and it was enjoyable but since it was abridged it skipped out a lot. Sometimes when traveling my attention is diverted elsewhere so I lose the thread of the story and I found this happening frequently. I think I need all that extra information to keep my focus as it’s a bygone era.

    I don’t like listening to audiobooks much as I have sensitive hearing that seems to be affecting me more than when I was younger. I could however just be noticing it more. I know alcohol dampens the senses but it’s not good to use that to cope with noisy situations. Anyways I find I pay less attention to an audiobook but it’s more relaxing that way as I can just switch off.

    So in conclusion Real Books are best for absorbing information information, e books if you want a wide variety that doesn’t take up any space and audiobooks if you need a distraction from every day life.

    Do you agree with my conclusion?

    Best wishes

    Angela

    An alternative perspective on autism

    This article is about an amazing book I have read about autism and this is one of the best descriptions I have come across. It’s certainly the best from someone who isn’t personally on the autism spectrum themselves.

    transformingautism.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/eBook-TAP-May-2017.pdf