COMA Newsletter December 2016

Hello friends,

Tis the most wonderful time of the year! Trees laden with ornaments and twinkling lights, houses decorated with colorful light displays, red & green wreaths on the front door, stockings waiting to be filled with goodies, elves running up and down the house, sleigh bells ringing, snow covered roof tops, children writing letters to Santa, lovingly wrapped presents neatly tucked away. Add to this list the Malayalee touch; painstaking preparation of naadan treats like achappams, fruit cake, kal kals, nankatai, vatteyappam, sukhiyan, kozhukatta….this is making me drool! Yes it does feel a lot like Christmas….

And so the time comes to bid you all farewell. This newsletter editorship been both an absolute pleasure, and a steep learning curve. I’m pleased that I took on the challenge, and looking back, I can safely say that the risk has paid off! In the process, I have made some new friends, which has been both enriching and rewarding in itself.

I’d like to thank each and every single contributor to the newsletter in 2016. All the good things that I hear about the newsletter are owed to your valuable contributions! Who knew COMA had so much talent? Keep it going and support those who have an interest in writing. Especially our kids. I am overwhelmed by the enthusiasm that our kids and youth have shown in supplying articles. In this technological age, where cursive has disappeared from schools and creative writing is at the brink of extinction, its wonderful to see young people express themselves in the most creative form!

I sincerely wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a very prosperous 2017. Keep the momentum going!

I leave you with these words…

“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”  – L.R. Knost

Warmest regards,
Anu Kurian

A note from the 2016 EC team

Thanks to all of you for helping your COMA 2016 EC team lead a memorable 2016. In 2016, we welcomed the largest group of COMA membership ever and hosted the largest Onam and Christmas functions. We expanded our outreach to support diverse charities – YWCA, Meals on wheels and charitable support in India. As a community, we have been able to host and showcase Kerala’s rich cultural talents in the quality of our cultural programs and our active involvement in International functions like Asian festival and sports events like Cricket. As we mourned the tragic loss of one of our own – Salil Nair, we came together as a community to honor and cherish their contribution and memories. Our Malayalam class volunteers provided the opportunity for our children to learn Malayalam and appreciate their heritage. The unsung heroes are your countless COMA volunteers who show up for every event and worked tirelessly to showcase the best of Kerala be it in our Sadhya, Vipanchika, Chenda, Thiruvathira, Jugal Bandhi, Margam Kali, Christmas Carols to name a few or the numerous stage decorations and upkeep of every functions on time. We are proud of our COMA youth team who follow their parent’s footsteps and volunteer in each and every COMA event and charity events. We volunteer to write, collate and publish our success in our COMA newsletter and share in social media to the entire world on how proud we are to be part of COMA. Thanks to all of your collective efforts, your COMA is a respected Indian organization in central ohio and your 2016 EC team is honored and thankful for the opportunity to lead COMA. As we welcome the 2017 EC team to lead us to even greater heights, we wanted to wish all of COMA a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!!!


The Pink Revolution – by Biju Anthony

Finally today, I got to join a queue at an ATM in an obscure alley in Bangalore. Fortunately, it was a short one; just four cash strapped men and a flower vendor, an old lady in her 60s, wearing the saree and sweater like Sushmaji, with three bamboo crates of marigolds and jasmine. Her turn at the ATM, ably assisted by a fellow cashless men didn’t end well and a commotion began. Apparently she didn’t get the money, her card was sucked in and then a not so fragrant conversation ensued with a call centre agent in kannada, while her flowers worried of wilting away outside the ATM booth. Obviously she is getting inducted to digital India and she better get used to ATMs and possibly a PayTM app on her phone. Growing pain it is, they say.

Finally I got my pink note – my first ever, since Modi declared pink is in – a garish pink and a pantone disaster!
Its an insensitive attack on pink – a color so cherished by young girls and expectant mothers. Perhaps, this is the shade of pink glow Modi wishes to drain away from the cheeks of small time black money hoarders. The big ones still blush in fluorescent pink as their off shore accounts and benami lands are far away from the serpentine queues. Perhaps someone told him that this is the shade of pink that will paint a black to white, more in the hearts of bhakts than the notes itself.

But the pink that team Modi didn’t see coming was the silent, resilient and ‘UPA-chief bullied’ former PM in the pink of health in Rajya Sabha. If his warnings may turn out to be true, it may be camouflaged by another surgical strike with undercurrents of nationalism.

But what’s baffling is that, no one wants this pink anymore. The ones you have collected painstakingly cannot be used for anything less than 2000 rupee value. There is no change in anyones kitty. And having no change has its own advantages. No tips, no begging and no wasteful impulsive expenses. Not everything is bad after all.

PM’s intention may be good. But going after Swiss accounts and Panama leaks would have been less disruptive to the vast majority, who anyway have nothing to do with the black, and fetched far more results. Next time, letting PM’s personal stylist to choose the pantone shade (going by the vibrant colors of his vests and shawls) would fix the color problem and allowing the printer shops print enough stock before the next color of the season is ushered in, would let the flower vendor on the street to sell her flowers before they wilt.
Biju Antony is a Dubai based banker turned entrepreneur, who cofounded the first Equity Crowd funded commercial film production company in India, Finecut Entertainments. He is also an avid blogger and aspiring script writer. His debut book, Shadows Lie just got published in December 2016.

Grange Gives Newsletter- Jacob Vengal special feature

Organizations: Lifecare Alliance (2 yrs), Kairos Prison Ministry (4 yrs), Refuge Ministries (7 yrs), Toastmasters (7 yrs), Homeless Ministry and one-on-one ministry for several in need, Indian Cultural Organization (18 yrs).

About Jacob: Jacob is a Client Server Lead Programmer/ Analyst in GTS and has been in Grange for over 8 years.

In response to being asked why he gives back, Jacob says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” This is one of the principles that guides me. In addition, Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself….if you have two coats, give one away. Do the same with your food too.” There are a ton of people in our society who are hurting. Some of them are interested in turning away from heir destructive lifetstyle. We have a moral responsibility to give them a helping hand.

Congratulations Jacob, a very well deserved recognition!


I Wonder- How do Some Countries Celebrate Christmas?
By Shreya Sreekanth (5th grade)

Have you ever wondered how different countries celebrate Christmas? Well, If you have or haven’t you should know that over 160 countries celebrate it and they all have some of the same and some different traditions. Let me share with you some interesting things I learnt about how some countries celebrate it. Since you all know about the U.S Christmas traditions, I’ll tell you about some other countries traditions.
First, let’s start with Brazil. A lot of Brazilian Christmas traditions come from Portugal, because Portugal ruled Brazil for many years. People go to a midnight mass or Missa do Galo (mass of the rooster). After the Missa do Galo there are usually fireworks, and in large towns and cities there are large Christmas trees decorated with lights. Santa Claus is called Papai Noel and Bon Velhinho in Brazil. Children leave a sock near the window, and if Papai Noel finds he’ll exchange it for a present. People often get a 13th salary in December to help boost Christmas economics. The most popular Christmas song in Brazil is “Silent night”. Favourite foods eaten during Christmas include pork, turkey, ham, salads, fruits, and ice-cream.
Another country that has it’s own traditions is China. Since there aren’t many Christians in China, most people know little of it. It is mostly celebrated in big cities. In these cities, there are Christmas trees and other decorations. In China, Santa Claus is called “Shen Dan Lao Ren”. How to say merry christmas in chinese is “Sheng Dan Kuai Le”. Only a few people have christmas trees. If you wanted to find one you would most likely find it in a mall. A tradition in China is giving apples. Why? They do this because the Chinese Christmas Eve is called “Ping’an Ye” which means peaceful or quiet evening and in mandarin apple is “píngguǒ” which sounds similar to the word for peace. Going to midnight mass services has become very popular.
Another country is, my favorite, India! The midnight mass service is very important for Christians in India. Families will walk to the church for the mass and afterward eat a delicious feast. Some people don’t decorate the traditional christmas tree. They decorate banana or mango trees instead. In southern India, Christians put little oil lamps out to show their neighbors that Jesus is the light of the world. In Goa, people like to go christmas caroling, eat sweets, and give sweets to others. People hang up paper lanterns in the shape of a star as decorations. They eat a Christmas meal which includes roast turkey or chicken.
There are many interesting Christmas traditions across the world and these are a few of them. I hope you are inspired to read more about this. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Keep wondering 🙂
Shreya is in 5th grade at Deer Run Elementary in Dublin. Her family has recently moved to Dublin. She lives with her twin sister Shruti and her parents Priti and Sreekanth, both of who are physicians at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Adjustment to Life in College- By Nikita Sathiaprakash

I know that a few teens are planning on going to college next school year, so I thought I would give some insight. I started my college journey back in August at The Ohio State University. I thought that I was mentally prepared for college, especially since I took six Advanced Placement classes during my senior year of high school. But I was really wrong. College is 360 degrees different from high school and looking back, I don’t think that there is a way to truly prepare for college. You just have to go into it knowing that it won’t be like high school and that it is not going to be easy. I was one of those students who barely studied and easily maintained a 4.0 GPA. But it is much harder to keep an A in a college class. It requires a lot of work outside of class, especially a lot of reading. Also, studying for tests is not something that needs to be done the night before the test. Instead, I had to start studying at least two weeks in advance to make sure that I was ready for the test.
The first round of midterm exams is followed by what is called Freshman Freakout, which is when college students stress out because they did not prepare as much as they should have and did poorly on their first set of midterms. I managed to avoid the freak out because I made time to prepare mentally for the exams. Sure, knowing the material is important, but you also have to be ready to just take the exam in the college atmosphere. Imagine a large lecture hall, basically the size of an auditorium, filled with five hundred students, who are all stressed and nervous about their first exam. This was what my first General Chemistry exam was like.
Now that I have “survived” my first semester, I have more of a handle on things. If I could go back in time to when I first moved into Ohio State, I would tell myself to spend more time studying and less time worrying about doing well, because in the end, if you put enough work into the class, then your grade will reflect that. Many classes only have four or five grades, which are the midterms (at least three for each class), then maybe a research paper, and finally the final exam. So it is essential to be constantly reviewing the material. Studying is a very large part of the college life.
The other part of college is the social life. Personally, I am not a party person, so I did not attend any college parties. (However, I did celebrate when we won the football game against that team up North!) Instead, my roommate and I spent time getting to know Columbus. We spent quality time with North High Street, which is full of fun things to do. We visited art galleries and the first Jeni’s Ice Cream Parlor. We found new favorite restaurants and great places to hang out. When we aren’t out exploring Columbus, we were meeting with the student organizations that we joined. Student organizations are a great way to find friends who have similar interests and put together events to promote various causes. I should mention that there are two Bollywood Fusion dance groups at Ohio State, as well as numerous other interest programs. Ohio State is home to over one thousand student organizations, and if you still can’t find something, you can make your own organization and OSU can give you funding.
The Ohio State University has become my home and I am loving every minute of it. It is nice to come home and see familiar faces, but college is exciting for me everyday, and I love the fact that I can take classes that I am genuinely interested in. I was proud to be a Monarch at Marysville High School, but now I am even more proud to be a Buckeye!

Christmastini- By Nish Nishant

Here’s a very festive and refreshing cocktail that I think would be perfect for a Christmas gathering. It’s basically an Appletini, which I have conveniently renamed as a Christmastini. This is a classic cocktail recipe with many variations, and here’s the one I use.

1 part Vodka (Absolut Apple)
1 part Sour Apple Schnapps (DeKuyper)
1 part Apple juice

Mix the ingredients with ice in a shaker for about 10 seconds, and pour into a martini glass. I usually make two drinks at a time. I also add a green or red maraschino cherry as garnish. You can also add a splash of grenadine for that dramatic effect.

Erachi Pidi- By Meenu Vengal

Erachi pidi can trace its origin to the Malabar/Calicut region. This is essentially a wholesome one pot dish, quite like biriyani. The process sounds, and in fact is, quite laborious and time consuming. But well worth it for special occasions like Christmas. Enjoy!
Serves: 6

For Pidi (Rice Dumplings)
Rice flour – 3 cups
Finely grated coconut – ¾-1 cup
Small onion – 7
Fennel seeds (Perumjeerakom) – ½ tsp
Hot water – 3 cups
For Mutton
Mutton – 1 kg, cut into bite size pieces
Onion – 1 medium, sliced
Chilli Powder – 2½ tsp
Coriander Powder – 2½ tsp
Turmeric Powder – ½ tsp
Crushed ginger and garlic – ½-1 tsp, each
Water – ¾ cup
Curry leaves
For Masala
Onion – 2 medium, chopped
Small onion – 15, sliced
Crushed/grated ginger and garlic – 1 tbsp each
Tomato – 1 medium, chopped
Green chilli – 2-3, chopped
Coriander Powder – 2 tsp
Chilli Powder – 1½ – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Thick coconut milk – ½ – ¾ cup
To Roast and grind
Grated coconut – 1.5 cups
Chopped garlic – 2 tsp
Fennel seeds – ¼ tsp
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Curry leaves
Pidi Preparation
Grind together small onion and fennel seeds (qty mentioned under”for pidi”) to a coarse paste. If coconut is not finely grated, just pulse in grinder for a few seconds.
Add coconut, small onion paste and salt to rice flour. Mix well. Add hot water gradually and make a soft and non sticky dough.
Make small balls of dough almost equivalent to the size of a 50 paisa coin. Make a small dip in the ball, using your thumb.This is done, so that the gravy seeps into the pidi. Steam these balls in low-medium heat for 8-10 mins. We steamed the above qty in 3 batches. Keep aside the prepared pidi/dumplings.

Mutton curry Preparation
Add sliced onion, chilli, turmeric, coriander powder, ginger & garlic, salt, curry leaves and water to the beef. The qty of spices is mentioned under “For Mutton” title in ingredients list. Pressure cook the Mutton nicely. Once the pressure releases, continue to cook on lowest flame, while you make the masala. Stir it in between.

Masala Preparation
Heat oil and add chopped onion. When it becomes soft, add small onion. When the onions turn golden brown, add ginger and garlic. Cook for 2-3 mins. Add masala powders and mix well. Cook till the raw smell goes, around 2-3 mins. Add chopped tomato and green chilli and salt. Cook till the tomatoes become soft. Add this masala to the mutton and mix well. Keep cooking the beef on low flame. Make sure you stir it in between..
Heat oil and add grated coconut, chopped garlic, fennel seeds, turmeric powder and curry leaves. Fry it till the coconut turns golden brown in color. Let it cool completely. Grind it to a smooth paste without adding water.
Add the ground coconut paste to the mutton mixture. Combine and keep cooking on low flame.
By now, the gravy of the mutton should be reduced to ⅓rd or ¼th of the original qty. Add half of the cooked pidi and half of the thick coconut milk to this. Mix. Add the rest of the cooked pidi and coconut milk. Give a good mix and bring it to boil. It has semi dry consistency and the pidi, should be coated well with the masala. Add more hot water, if required, to adjust the consistency.
Garnish with fried small onion and chopped cilantro. Serve hot.


Ghagharas are the in thing at the moment. Skirts made of stiff raw silk and poufy Bakhrams have made a comeback. Choose materials with large motifs to make a bold statement. Colors can be vibrant and contrasting. Happy designing!

4 thoughts on “COMA Newsletter December 2016”

  1. What a wonderful write-up!!! I so love the variety of topics and the seasonal flavor added to each of them.
    Anu, I hope you continue to carry the newsletter into 2017.

  2. Wonderfully put together news letter. Articles are nicely written. I liked Nikita’s freshman experience the best.

    Keep it up

  3. Shreya’s article on Christmas is enlightening- I love the way she ended – Happy wondering – because by that point I was truly wondering in awe about the traditions that make our world beautiful and diverse 😘😘! Apples, mangoes, bananas – bring it on! It’s Christmas 🎄

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