Food Spy

It is said that America is a country of immigrants. Over the centuries people from all continents made their way to the ‘promised land’ and made it their home. Interestingly, a lot of the food that is today so much a part of the American diet, is also part of another immigration story. Quinoa, kale, avocado, nectarines, soya beans; even pineapples, oranges and lemons—just about 150 years ago, these were unseen and unheard of in America. Many of these were introduced to the country by a single man, David Fairchild, who called himself an agricultural explorer.

David Fairchild grew up in Kansas at the end of the 19th century, a time when the diet of his countrymen was made up primarily of bland meat, potatoes and cheese, and excluded vegetables and fruit. Fairchild was no gourmet himself, but he loved plants, and he loved travel, and he found a way to combine both into a job for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At the age of 22, he created the Section of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction of the USDA, and for the next 37 years, he travelled the world, visiting every continent except Antarctica, in search of useful plants to bring back to America. When he started out in his new job, with little knowledge or knowhow, he began by stealing seeds, but over time he learnt other strategies like talking to the local people, visiting local markets and observing what people were growing and eating. This also earned him the sobriquet of Food Spy!

With a combination of strategies, and often at the risk of his own life, Fairchild managed to send back seeds or cuttings of over 200,000 kinds of fruits, vegetable and grains. His department, the Office of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction, researched these and distributed new crops to farmers around the states.

It was not an easy process, introducing new food crops. Farmers did not like to take risks, the general public was suspicious of new foods and fearful that the overseas immigrants would bring in tropical disease and insects. Even today there is a Quarantine Law which forbids anyone from bringing in agricultural material into the US. Uphill task though it was, Fairchild did succeed to a large extent, and managed to introduce mangoes, quinoa, dates, cotton, soybeans, bamboo, and even the flowering Japanese cherry trees that blossom all over Washington D.C. each spring.

In 1904 Fairchild was invited to speak at the National Geographic Society where he met the famous inventor Alexander Graham Bell who was the Society’s second president; years later Fairchild married Bell’s daughter.

Last week the National Geographic Society hosted a curated dinner where the menu featured some of the many foods—avocados, dates, and other that David Fairchild brought to the United States more than 100 years ago, thus changing the country’s culinary palate.

The story of this amazing food traveller is told in a book by Daniel Stone titled The Food Explorer: The True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats.

 —Mamata

 

Waste not…..

RecycleEarth_mediumNot many years ago, people returning from the US or England would relate shocking stories of how people there threw away everything—from TVs to beautiful containers to cars to old clothes. And we used to pride ourselves that in India, we re-cycled and re-used everything. Horlicks bottles were used to store pickles or dals. Bournvita tins became containers for masala powders. Bed sheets became pillow covers, which became shopping bags.

But now, ‘we’ are ‘them’!

Have you looked into your garbage bin recently? Have you noted how quickly it fills up? With changing lifestyles, we are buying more and more, and throwing away more and more. Today, In metro cities in India, an individual produces an average of 0.8 kg/ waste/ person daily.

India produces about 65 m tonnes of urban waste annually, out of which 5.6m tonnes consist of plastic waste, 0.17m constitute of biomedical waste, 7.90m tonnes constitute hazardous waste while 15 lakh ton is e-waste.

You may not want to do the exercise of researching the contents of your dustbin, so here are some facts. On the average, garbage is made up of 35% organic material, 30% paper, 12% construction related wastes, 9% plastics, 6% glass, 3% metal, and then miscellaneous.

The problem with garbage is that though you may throw it ‘away’, there is really no ‘away’! It is out of your house, but on the street. It is off the street but in a dumper. It is out of the dumper, but in a landfill. And at each stage, there are problems.

Just to understand what the problem is, just looks at the facts and figures below.

  • Banana peel – 3 to 4 weeks
  • Paper bag — 1 month
  • Cotton rag — 5 months
  • Wool sock — 1 year
  • Cigarette butt — 2 to 5 years
  • Leather shoe — 40 to 50 years
  • Rubber sole (of the shoe) — 50 to 80 years
  • Aluminum can (soft drink can) — 200 to 500 years
  • Plastic jug — 1 million years
  • Styrofoam cup – unknown–forever?
  • glass bottle – unknown–forever?

So what can we do as individuals? The mantra is ‘Reduce, re-use, recycle’.

REDUCE

Don’t create waste in the first place! Buy only what you need. Use all that you buy. Avoid heavily packaged products. Avoid disposable items like paper plates and plastic spoons. Buy the largest size package for those items that you use often.

REUSE

Reuse items – use them over and over until they are completely worn out. Borrow or share items you don’t use very often. Donate unwanted items. Repair items, instead of throwing away and buying new. Refill bottles. Plastic bags can be used for many times over. Use your imagination, not the trash can!

RECYCLE

Recycle means taking something old and making it into something new. Old newspapers, plastic bottles, glass bottles and jars, aluminum and steel cans can all be recycled. Sell these to the ‘kabadi wallah’.  Not only does it keep items out of the landfill, recycling conserves natural resources. For example, making newspaper out of old newspaper saves a valuable natural resource – trees.

And compost, compost, compost!

Think about it and see if you want to make these your New Year Resolutions!

–Meena

Colour and Cheer

 

 

P1130289 (1).JPGRight through the long and dusty summer months when all the other plants drooped and dried, it was the riot of pink and white bougainvillae in my little garden that bestowed colour and cheer to the sweltering days.

I have always enjoyed the sight of the colourful mass, and took it pretty much for granted until I read an interesting story about how the plant was discovered. In 1766 the French government had commissioned French Navy admiral and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville to sail around the world, to find new territories for France. Accompanying him on this voyage of circumnavigation was Philibert Commerson a botanist, whose brief was to collect hitherto unknown plants from the different continents and countries during the voyage. It is Commerson who is thought to be the first European to describe the plant we know of as bougainvillae.

Recently, the story of the discovery of bougainvillea has been revised. It turns out that Commerson did go on the voyage and was the botanist. But he was accompanied by his housekeeper and lover, Jeanne Baret. The French navy absolutely and explicitly prohibited women on naval vessels. Nevertheless, Baret disguised herself as a man and not only sailed with Commerson, she was with him while he was exploring plants in the new lands where the ship docked. As Commerson was frequently unwell, it was Baret who did most of the plant collecting, and she is believed to have discovered many of the plants which are attributed as being Commerson’s discoveries.

It is now believed that it was probably Baret who found bougainvillea at the very beginning of the trip, in Rio de Janiero. Impressed by the bright blossoms, Commerson named them Bougainvillea after the admiral. Baret also thus became the first woman known to have circumnavigated the globe. Interestingly the surviving journals of the expedition barely mention her, probably due to the fear of the consequences of admitting that the “no women!” rule had been broken.

Since the introduction of the first two species to Europe in the late 1700s, Bougainvillea have made their home all around the tropical world. They are drought-, salt- and wind-resistant, but require hot climate and hours of full sun. They will grow as shrubs, or vines, or even low ground covers and are found in many colours. Currently, there are over 300 varieties of bougainvillea around the world, and since many of the hybrids have been crossed over several generations, it is now difficult to identify their respective origins. Botanists, however, have traced back most of today’s rich variety of bougainvillea back to only three of the original eighteen South American species identified.

While the Bougainvillea is popularly known as an ornamental plant, the people of the Amazon region had long used bougainvillea as a medicinal herb, and it is only more recently that it medicinal values are being recognised by other schools of medicine.

There is definitely more to the bougainvillea than colour and cheer!

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 It’s not the flowers that make this plant so colourful, it’s actually the bracts or modified leaves that surround the tiny white flowers. 

–Mamata

 

A Crusader for Women’s Health

Ashoka Fellow Indu Capoor is Founder-Director of Centre for Health, Education, Training and Nutrition Awareness (CHETNA), based in Ahmedabad, India, an organization she started when she was just 23 years old. This was in the early 1980s when the young nutritionist had a vision of an India where the health and nutrition of marginalised women and children mattered. So when she was asked by a multilateral funding agency to write a proposal, she wrote a note going well beyond a project. She proposed an institution that would work as a bridge between policy and practice. And CHETNA, or Centre for Health, Education, Training and Nutrition Awareness, was born. Chetna means awareness in Hindi.

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Indu is an old friend and a senior colleague. Yesterday, I met up with her for an hour and we chatted about many things, including the subject closest to her heart—woman and child health. Here is the interview.

Me: Indu, you have been in this field for over 3 decades. What still remains the major challenge to women and child health.

Indu: Women’s self-esteem, self-confidence and agency. Somehow you can link everything back to these. Poverty is of course a major issue, but social practices and beliefs are as significant.

For instance, take anaemia. About 50% women in India are anaemic and this is the major cause of underweight children being born, and other childhood problems. There is a lot of focus on child health, but I think we have to focus on the root cause—the health of the mother. If we fix that effectively, the problem is solved. But it is still true that women do not get enough food, or enough nutrition. Their food is not a priority. A young girl, at her in-laws place, has no say on what she eats. During pregnancy, it is important that a woman eats to her liking. But is that really possible? And the women themselves believe that they are the last priority.

I can never get over the fact that at my wedding, one of the vows I was supposed to take was that I would first ensure that my husband, children and guests were fed before I ate! I obviously refused to take the vow. But this is how deeply it is ingrained. We have to socialize boys and girls to understand that nutrition of young girls is extremely important.

Me: Have you seen any positive changes?

Indu: Yes, I do see changes in women’s confidence, mobility, decision making space etc. in urban areas, and the borderline poor. But not in the really poor.

In fact, ‘livelihood development’ and outside work sometimes adversely affect these women because their work burden increases hugely. No one else in the house shares domestic work, and in addition, she has to go out and work. This has implications for her health and well-being.

Me: This is worrying. Any other such concern areas?

Indu: Yes. Spiralling food prices, pollution, market forces, cost of medicines, loss of food diversity, all of these have huge implications for nutrition in general and women’s nutrition and health in particular.

Me: What is one critical action which can help in this situation?

Indu: I think we must consider each and every policy from a gender angle. We must ask: ‘how will this affect the health and well-being of women, especially marginalized and poor women’? And only then can we finalize the policy.

–Meena

For more: Read ‘A Shared Destiny: My Journey with CHETNA’ published by Academic Foundation is about Indu’s journey in of 3+ decades in the field of woman and child health.

One Man’s Meat….

‘One man’s meat is another man’s poison’. This expression is often used when two people disagree over something, especially food. Believed to have been coined by Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius in the first century BC, the expression is a pithy reflection of how deeply food tastes and taboos are ingrained in every culture (and indeed every family). What is tasty and what is not; what is healthy and what is harmful; what is culturally acceptable and what is not…the history of food and cultures has laid down norms since time immemorial.

I was reminded of this when I read about the Disgusting Food Museum which opened recently in the city of Malmo in Sweden. The museum features 80 dishes from around the world that, for one reason or another, have earned the epithet of being “disgusting.” Among these are Surströmming: fermented herring from Sweden; Cuy: roasted guinea pigs from Peru; Casu marzu: maggot-infested cheese from Sardinia; Mouse wine from China; Hákarl: well-aged shark from Iceland, and Durian: the infamously stinky fruit from Thailand.

The purpose of the museum is not so much to sensationalize the weird and the exotic, but rather to sensitize to the fact that food-related notions are subjective. What is delicious to one person can be revolting to another. The Museum invites visitors to explore the world of food and challenge their notions of what is and what isn’t edible.

This made me think about the many examples of these notions that are so intrinsically entwined with our food and food habits. In a country as diverse as India, the notions are as diverse as the nation; the state, the region, religion, schools of health (from hot and cold foods in Ayurveda to mutually incompatible foods in other systems), and above all family traditions and cuisines—all these combine to define what kind of food each one of us considers suitable, tasty and palatable.

This diversity presented a challenge when I had the opportunity to be a part of an exercise to develop national textbooks for primary students. One of the objectives was to develop lessons that celebrated the richness of diversity, especially food. How to do this led to numerous debates within the team itself—to talk about the fried caterpillar larvae as a delicacy in the Northeast of India, to talk about “non-vegetarian” food, even to talk about the different cooking oils used in different parts of the country? And how to present these in a manner that evokes not disgust and shutting out of ‘what is different’ but rather curiosity and openness about the richness of cuisines and cultures.

When I was in school we did not have too many such theoretical lessons, but every recess time was a live lesson. It was food that connected us—lunch boxes were opened, food was shared and tasted, and new tastes were cultivated; mothers exchanged recipes, and exploring and discovering different food that you and your friends ate was an everyday adventure, not part of a visit to a food museum!

Today with the homogenization of food (I suspect many lunch boxes contain the ubiquitous Maggi and Lays) we are losing such a rich link. Even more worrying is the fact that food is being used to create boundaries rather than bonds. The old Lucretius expression is, sadly, more true than ever before. It is time to remember another adage “Sharing a meal is the best way to turn strangers into friends.”

–Mamata

 

Speaking of Statues

Towering statues are the flavour of the month, so it seems appropriate to talk of statues to one of India’s towering personalities. I am not sure if there is (or it is even possible to have), a census of statues that so generously dot India’s landscape. But if there were to be one, my feeling is that the place for top numbers would be close-run thing between Gandhiji and Dr. Ambedkar. In fact, the latter may win. (One cannot say if the position will be held for long though, because if we were to include gods, it seems to me, the number of Hanuman statues may soon overtake that of any human!)

But coming back to the topic. Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the tall leader who probably did more to change the social landscape of India than anyone else, is commemorated with statues across India—big ones, small ones; proportionate ones, ones completely out of proportion; well-made ones, not so well-made ones. But three common threads across almost all of them: (1) They are most often blue in colour, (2) Dr. Ambedkar is always be shown wearing a suit, and (3) they will depict Dr. Ambedkar in one of two poses.

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Intrigued, I did a little surfing and found (mainly from journalistic sources), some interesting information:

Why Blue?

Dr. Ambedkar started a party known as Scheduled Caste Federation (whose name was later changed to Republican Party of India). The colour of the party was blue — Royal blue to be more specific. It is said that he choose blue as the Dalit colour, to set it apart from all other parties. With this strong association of the colour blue with Dr. Ambedkar, his clothes are always shown as blue (it seems even in real life, for the last 20-30 years of his life, he most often wore blue).

Why a Suit?

Dr. Ambedkar was a symbol of struggle and success of Dalits. His status as a teacher and his rise to the high level of Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee were unimaginable in those days and were empowering beyond measure. And Western clothing–the suit–was a part of this re-imagining of the possibilities. His wearing a suit had a huge impact on the marginalized and oppressed, a matter of pride. And hence, he is always shown wearing one in his statues.

The Poses

Sculptor Vinay Wagle explains in a magazine article (Outlook) that there are two main poses of Ambedkar statues: (1) the ‘lecture’ pose, wherein left hand is behind and the right hand raised with the finger pointing forward. This is supposed to symbolize his teacher status. (2) the ‘Parliament’ pose, where he has a book in his left hand, and his right hand is raised, symbolizing his position as the Father of our Constitution.

He was not only a lawyer, but he had Ph.D from Columbia University and another one from the London School of Economics. As well as two honorary one! He was Principal of the Govt. Law College Bombay and Chairman of the Governing Board of Ramjas College University of Delhi. Justifiable indeed, the ‘lecturer pose’!
He was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn, was India’s first Law Minister and chaired the Constitution Drafting Committee. The Constitution drafted under his leadership has been called ‘first and foremost a social document’. ‘ The majority of India’s constitutional provisions are either directly aimed at furthering the aim of social revolution or attempt to foster this revolution by establishing conditions necessary for its achievement. Justifiable indeed, the ‘Parliament pose’!

Recently I have seen a huge, very well crafted statue of Dr. Ambedkar, sitting in a statue-making yard. But it is golden! My friends tell me they are also seeing more of these. They do look better than many a blue one, but I cannot help wondering about the spirit!

–Meena

Old Wine in New Bottles

In recent days the life and style sections of the newspapers are carrying numerous articles with titles like 10 Beauty Hacks to Make you Glow, Be the Best Hostess With These 20 Useful Party Hacks; 15 Kitchen Hacks to Save Time; Have a Sparkling Diwali With These Simple Hacks…

I was intrigued by this oft-used word Hack. My vocabulary dates back to days before even Computer Hackers became news. The only meaning of Hack that I could recall related to the act of roughly chopping down a tree or, as we read in novels, a word used to refer to a slogging journalist or so-so writer. How the word leant itself to beauty and parties and kitchens was a mystery to me.

Being the curious word aficionado that I am, I looked up the word Hack in the dictionary. I was surprised to find the word had many more meanings than I had imagined:

Cut away

Fix a computer programme piecemeal until it works

Significantly cut up a manuscript

Cough spasmodically

Be able to manage successfully

Kick on the shins

One who works hard at boring tasks

A mediocre and disdained writer

An old-fashioned taxi

An old and overworked horse.

This search, having significantly expanded my list of two meanings, still did not reveal what I was looking for—the links with beauty, kitchens and parties. I thought to myself “What the Hack”!

And then Eureka—I came upon the word Life Hacks! And I discovered…

Life hack (or life hacking) refers to any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life.

It is a tool or technique that makes some aspect of one’s life easier or more efficient.

Aha thought I,  at last!

Then came the more amusing part. I discovered that there are so many websites offering innumerable Life Hacks for everything from how to get up in the morning, to how to carry out some of the most basic functions of life and living—from the sublime to the absurd! For example: ‘Do a 20 minute good workout in the morning and you can be lazy the whole day without feeling guilty!’ OR  ‘If you left home and forgot to brush your teeth or you ran out of toothpaste, chewing an apple can help with bad breath.’

I am sure one could come across some handy tips, but thinking back a bit…

Were these nifty suggestions not too long ago shared widely as DIY TIPS!

Baking soda and hot water to clean drains; a face pack of honey, cream and turmeric for that glowing skin…where did I hear those before? From mothers and aunts, of course. And magazines carried them under the title Grandmother’s Secrets!

I certainly spent an amusing hour browsing the many sites, and along the way I also found what I think is the best way to describe this term: A life hack is a colloquial term for common sense that makes people feel good about their basic creativity, or lack thereof. Typically life hacks are not all that helpful, they are simply advertised well so as to provide a false sense of improvement in the user’s day-to-day operation.

Well well well. What a great way of repackaging tried and tested ‘do-it-yourself’ ideas. Why go to Granny when Youtube will show you how!

–Mamata

Stitch and Rip

I am clumsy and so often put rips and tears on my clothes, and break my buttons. I only have to look at food and I put on weight. Between these two tendencies, I need to stitch up tears, and let out clothes.

So the two most important ‘simple machines’ in my life are the Needle Threader and Stitch Ripper. Simple, but oh, what amazing inventions. For those who don’t know what these are, here is a brief.  And even if you are young and sharp-eyed and the super sorted-out, do not scoff at these, for the day will come when you need them!

Needle Threader: A needle threader is a small sewing tool designed to help pull a thread through the eye of a sewing needle.

When exactly the first needle threader was invented is unknown, but within the European context it is likely to be an eighteenth or early nineteenth century development. There were various forms of nineteenth century needle threaders. But the one most commonly in use even today is a late nineteenth century form which consists of a small plate (often stamped with a profile image of a woman), with a diamond shaped loop of fine steel wire attached to it. The wire loop is flexible and easily passes through the eye of a needle. The sewing thread is passed through the loop and the loop (with thread) is then pulled back through the needle eye.

A number of needle threading devices were patented in the United States in the early 1900s, including Herman Trzeciak’s model patented in 1924 and Carl J. Schuster’s design in 1945. The first automatic needle threader incorporated into a sewing machine was designed by Juki in 1978.

Seam Ripper: There doesn’t seem to be much agreement on who invented this but there is a patent application by Allie  M. Minter, from Petersburg, Colorado in the US and Canada, in 1903.

Seam rippers are an item designed for breaking or undoing sewn stitches, often on seams. A seam ripper is also known as a ‘stitch unpicker’, ‘quick unpic’ and a ‘quick unpick’. (I call them Stitch Rippers). Typically, seam rippers have two spokes, one sharp and the other blunt, connected by a handle, while the intersection is usually a sharp blade.

I sometimes have nightmares of a gangsta (or a lady older and clumsier than me), holding me up with a gun (or pair of knitting needles), and saying “Your Needle Threader or your Stitch Ripper”. I have thought this horrific scenario through. I will part with the Stitch Ripper. One can substitute a safety pin to do this function (albeit a bit clumsily). But for the Needle Threader, there is no substitute!

–Meena

 

 

 

 

Bananadrama

Guess what is making cricketing news these days? Runs and wickets? Tantrums and tampering? No, it is none other than the good old Banana! It is reported that the Indian team has requested an ample supply of bananas for the team during their 2019 World Cup tour to England. The banana has been designated the “fruit of their choice!”

While the mango always lays claim to being the king of fruits, the solid trustworthy banana is taken much for granted, as it does not make a dashing seasonal appearance and compete for awards of the most varieties and the best of them all!

But, there’s more to a banana…

Bananas are both a fruit and not a fruit. While the banana plant is colloquially called a banana tree, it’s actually an herb distantly related to ginger, since the plant has a succulent tree stem, instead of a wood one.

Bananas grow in what are known as “hands,” so-called because of their appearance, which make up the larger stalk, known as a “bunch.”

The banana skin that we peel and throw is, in fact, a fruit because it contains the seeds of the plant. Although since bananas have been commercially grown, the plants are sterile, and the seeds have gradually been reduced to little specs.

The banana plant evolved in the humid tropical regions of S.E. Asia with India as one of its centres of origin. During the seventh century AD its cultivation spread to Egypt and Africa.  Carl Linnaeus an 18th century Swedish botanist whose work led to the creation of modern-day biological nomenclature for classifying organisms was the first person to successfully grow a fully flowered banana tree in the Netherlands.

Today banana is grown in more than 150 countries, and it is widely believed there are more than 1,000 types of bananas in the world, which are subdivided into 50 groups. There are at least 300 varieties of banana in India.

Even then, Linnaeus speculated about other uses for the versatile banana such as boiling bananas with sugar to cure anger, mashing bananas with honey to soothe eye inflammation and crushing banana root soaked in milk to alleviate dizziness. Today the banana is an acknowledged as a Superfood by all schools of health from Ayurveda to the trendy Diet and Nutrition experts. From digestive issues to depression…the banana is the panacea for all ills!

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source: Google

And there is an International Banana Museum in California, which they claim is “the most aPEELing destination” with over 20,000 (and still adding) banana related items…the world’s largest collection devoted to any one fruit!

I do know that the Banana was my father’s favourite fruit. He always used to say “sabse achha kela!” “Banana is the best”. So true…The scientific name for banana is musa sapientum, which means “fruit of the wise men.”

–Mamata

 

 

Nobel Paths

October is the month when the Nobel Prizes for the year are announced. The months preceding the announcements are full of expectation and speculation about who the winners would be, especially in the case of the Nobel Peace Prize.

While the Nobel Peace Prize is one of the most prestigious and honoured awards, it is ironic that the man after whom the prizes are named was an eccentric Swedish chemist, engineer and industrialist, who after a long study of explosives, produced the first dynamite, which was then labelled Nobel’s Safety Powder. He also went on to make other advanced explosives and detonators. These inventions made him a very rich man.

Interestingly, Nobel was essentially a pacifist who hoped that the destructive powers of his inventions would help bring an end to wars. This was reflected in his will which he made two weeks before he died, donating most of his wealth for the setting up of  a Trust to establish five world-wide prizes for peace, physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, and literature. His family contested the will and his selected award committee also refused to carry out his wishes. It was five years before the first Nobel was awarded.

The general principles governing the awards were also laid down in his will and are followed to this day.

The process leading up to the selection starts almost a year before the actual announcement when the invitations are sent out to those competent under the Nobel statutes to do so, for nomination of candidates. Proposed names need to reach the proper Nobel Committee in writing before February 1st of the year of the awards, following which the Committees consider the nominations—the deliberations and voting are secret at all stages.

As stipulated in Alfred Nobel’s will  which was opened after his death in 1896, the Nobel Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine and Literature are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, while the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway.

Since 1901, the Nobel Prizes have been presented to the Laureates at ceremonies on 10 December, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death. The ceremonial presentations for physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and economics have been taking place at the Stockholm Concert Hall (Stockholms Konserthus) since 1926; and that for the Peace Prize takes place in Oslo. From 1947 till 1990, the setting was the auditorium of the University of Oslo; in 1990 the event moved to the Oslo City Hall.

By happenstance, a few years ago, I had the opportunity to attend another awards ceremony (not quite Nobel!) in the Stockholm Concert Hall. It was an awe-inspiring experience. And earlier this year my daughter attended a function in the Oslo City Hall!

If not Nobel Laureates ourselves, we can at least lay claim to have followed the footsteps of the great and the Nobel, on the hallowed carpets where the exalted ones have tread!

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Oslo City Hall

–Mamata