Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 - The New Year is Here

The dawn of the New Year is imminent,
The year to close has been, phew! a heavy dose,
Financial scandals and skulduggery have been prominent,
Governments battled recessionary flames with a monetary hose.

It all started in the USA
But soon the contagion enveloped the globe
So fast was the spread that it appeared governments had no say,
So bad was the state, some countries had to disrobe.
Under the aegis of the UN, countries to a unified charter said aye.
Whatever their plan was, looked like a blueprint under a strobe.

USA was the first off the block with a new plan
They injected about dollars a trillion,
Cash for clunkers was the new business gyan
Whatever the path, the USA wanted China and India as pillion.

The first ace to fight the battle and saber rattle
Was a man of Indian origin called Neel Kashkari,
Don't know how he coped - was it fatal?
Whatever it was, the original plan was given the bury.

So bad was the state that countries left it to their fate,
Every business suffered, save a few
I am told astrology did business without even giving a rebate,
In the coming year I hope it will be a chapter new.

We go into the New Year with the hope it won’t be queer,
Assuming that we have buried the ghosts of the past.
We go into the New Year and wish things won’t be dear
Into the New Year with the hope of flags flying high on the mast
We hope the New Year will be easier to cope and be without fear
In 2010 everyone's hope that businesses will renew and move fast
Here's wishing everyone A Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

2009 - If You Are Not Virtual You Are Not Real

T'was before the end of the cold war,
The world wide web was only the doing of the KGB
Beyond this my vision did not cover,
T'was the era of the 486 when the ram was not counted in GB.

T'was the era where few knew about googol and none about google,
Here Sabeer was not even a hot male,
One could only ogle or toggle
Only a few could send an email.

T'was the era of letters,
People had the time to play bridge,
Families had the time for each other,they kept together without wi-fi fetters,
Life was not about walking on a narrow time ridge.

A decade hence t's a different time,
With twitter, facebook, orkut and linkedin,
Who you are is not worth a dime if you're not online,
No matter if the netizen's worthwhile or a bumpkin.

Online is devouring our time,
We log to connect to people behind a veil,
Thinking that paying attention to who're close is a crime,
The world thinks only those who are virtual are real.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Much ado over nothing!

Acquitted after 14 years.  Madhu "Saanpre" & Milind "Ssssoman". So much ado over nothing!  Tuff luck for their detractors.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tractor Tyres

I have never ever seen tractors on Indian roads with less than fully inflated tyres. Also,I have never seen tractors at petrol stations having tyre pressure checked. For years I thought that tractor tyres were of the non-inflatable type. However, even that does not seem to be so.

Beats me.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Recuse me please!

So what if I don't score a perfect 10 on Reader's Digest Word Power (OK..OK.. there are 15 words but 10 sounds sexier). Even a score of 7 to 9 makes your vocabulary "promising". Word Power is tough. Take for example, "panagram" or even 'neologism". Wouldn't you judge my vocabulary to be good if I could give you the meaning of these without relying on the dictionary.

However, this morning's newspaper just stumped me. The judge "recused" himself from presiding over the case. The pocket dictionary didn't help. No, it not all hot air or gas - though  some bit of it has to do with gas - it's true. The dictionary did not have the meaning to this word. Try your word processing software or the online spell-check on your browser. They don't understand recuse. Finally, The Chambers Twentieth Century dictionary came to my recuse, sorry rescue. Recuse i.e. to disqualify oneself. I generously recused, sorry, excused myself for not knowing this word. In this day an age does anyone recluse, sorry, recuse or disqualify himself?

To me the word seems to be an anachroism in today's pushy age. Of course, once in a life-time one may stumble on a situation where unless you  recuse you cannot rescue yourself from turning into a recluse!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Weekend resurrection -Thiruvannamalai, Part III/III

Continued from here: Weekend resurrection -Thiruvannamalai, Part II 
Of course, no trip to Thiruvannamalai is complete without visiting the caves where Ramana Maharshi meditated for years. One of these caves is the Skandhasram and the other is called the Virupaksha cave. These are located on mount Arunachala and accessible on foot (it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get there) from the Ramana Maharshi ashram. Ideally, one need to walk barefoot to get there. However,for those not used to walking barefoot, canvas shoes may be an option.  

Ramana Maharshi Ashram and Mount Arunachala in the background

Since the caves are open from 8 am to 5 pm - depending on how you take the walk -you may start walking by around 7.15am to reach in time and be among the first few when the premises is opened in the morning. Post 10 pm, there are a lot of devotees at the caves. So reaching there early is a good idea. These caves are (at least the  Skandhasram is) protected monuments under ASI. The insides of these caves have been preserved as it was at the time of Ramana Maharshi. The exterior has been modified for protection and safeguarding it for posterity.

The path to the caves

The view of the top of the hill is quite spectacular, as you can see from the two photos below. It was not warm for an early October in Tamil Nadu. However, a month later it could be colder and may need a cardigan.



At Skandasharam.The cave is behind the grills

At Virupaksha caves

While the path from Ramana Maharshi asharma to Skandasharam is quite walkable the same cannot be said of the 10 to 15 minutes walk from Skandasharm to Virupaksha caves. It is quite  steep and at times a little slippery. One does need to take additional care while walking this stretch.

Inside the cave, the original environment has been retained. It is quite hot inside. However, it is very peaceful and easier to meditate.

As with other journeys, the return journey to the main asharam appeared to take much less time.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Flood relief - contribute wisely

One day salary contribution is nothing. Ensure that these two boxes " Instant file clearance" & "Quick file clearance" are displayed prominently under your table. A day's collection will boost the calamity fund corpus.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sitback, relax and enjoy the fight - III/III

                              Boarding for a dogfight over Pakistan

   Welcoming you aboard for a catfight over Pakistan

Sitback, relax and enjoy the fight - II

Channel 1 for Hindi movies, channel 2 English movies. channel 3 for airshow pilot view, channel 4 for airshow downward view. channel 5 for crew fight - cockpit view, channel 6 for crew fight - cabin view. Channel 7 is a paid channel - Airfrance cockpit view. Feeling lucky - channel 8 - you never know what you may see!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sit back, relax and enjoy the fight - I

"Passengers are requested to fasten seatbelts as the aircraft is experiencing turbulence due to a fight in the cockpit. Service will commence once the crew have settled their dispute. However,for the safety and comfort of passengers, the aircraft is now on autopilot. Sit back, relax and enjoy the fight."

Weekend resurrection -Thiruvannamalai, Part II

..Continued from: Resurrection over the weekend -Thiruvannamalai, Part I

We had booked at Sparsa Resort - since Ramana Maharshi ashram was full. Run by Auromatrix Hotels, with resorts in Kanyakumari, Chidambaram and Thiruvannamalai Sparsa Resorts is a clean friendly resort. Perhaps,the only other star type of hotel with an air of modernity is Hotel Arpana.

  Hotel Arpana - Thiruvannamalai
This hotel is in the middle of the congested and noisy town. On this account alone, I do not recommend it.

The previous evening, I only had  a desire to make a trip to Thiruvannamalai - no plan. This was since no accomodation was available at the ashram and my son has his accounts tution. It is true "if you truly desire something, the universe conspires to give it to you". Never before has my wife, Rama, stumbled or discovered something (say hotel accomodation) on the internet, which has met my approval. In this case she did, but mentioned it to me past 7.30 pm the previous evening. The resort's website had only their Chennai office number which no one answered since it was past office hours.On the final attempt someone did answer to say that the office was closed but gave the mobile phone number of one Mr.Balraman Krishnan at the resort. Balraman Krishnan took a booking on the phone promising to convey this to the resorts resevations - which he did. My son's tution got canelled as his tution teacher had to make an urgent out of town trip. Truly, someone conspired to make this trip happen - which was in planning for several months.

We left home at 6.45 am on Saturday the 26th September - holiday. It took at good hour, at this hour, to reach Electronics City. A 45 minutes halt at Sarovar Portico for breakfast. We were at Sparsa before 1 pm though I follow road and speed regulations to the t. A 2 minutes ,on the house, foot massage and lunch followed by an afternoon siesta.

                                        A view of Sparsa Resort

We were now ready for the Girivalam or the circumambulation of the holy mountain - a 14 km barefoot (in hindsight, canvas shoes will be easier on the feet since some part of the walk in through the city which has roads completely dug up and walking on road with w-i-p is not the simplest task) walk. We began the barefoot walk at Ramana Maharshi ashram. It was only after completing the circumambulation that we realized that the correct place to begin the walk is from Arunachala Temple. The correct procedure for the Girivalam is here.We completed the Girivalam at 9.30 pm i.e. in 5 hours.

One of the many temples on the Girivalam route where one has to stop for a brief prayer

More later....

Monday, September 28, 2009

Resurrection over the weekend -Thiruvannamalai, Part I

Ooty's been done to death. You know each of the 36 hairpin bends - between Bandipur and Ooty - like the back of .. ok make that the leather trimming on the steering wheel. Masinagudi, Bandipur ,Nagarhole,Munnar, Kodaikanal leaves you with the feeling of once is enough.For your next weekend break try Thiruvannamalai. It offers you everything you want your weekend break to have. A long short drive from Bangalore. 200 kms in a maximum of 4 hours.Great roads, for most parts. Pristine countryside. One of the country's most spiritual (not necessarily religious,mind you!) destinations. Pool,spa.. wah!

For starters, take Hosur road. Curse if you must, since the road till about 7 km beyond electronics city is in shambles, in stretches, due to work on the elevated highway project. This is of course after you have navigated the crowded roads till Total Mall. Then step on the gas till you reach The Renaissance ( now Sarovar Portico) in Hosur. This is just after the first flyover you encounter just before reaching Hosur. This is the best place for breakfast/meal till you reach your destination (buffet breakfast Rs.200/head). The other breakfast alternatives are Ananda Bhavan in the Bharat Petroleum filling station (beyond Sarovar Portico) - if you like your Dosa served with Speed 93 fumes instead of chutney - or the Coffee Day in the HP premises where the queue for sandwiches is longer than the one for gas.

Irrespective of whether you have had Dosa with Speed fumes or sandwiches after an interminable wait set your heading for Krishnagiri followed by Uttangarai & Chengam before you reach your destination - Thiruvannamalai. Except for about a total of 50 kms of not so great roads ( small potholes but nothing like the unsoldered stretch before Electronics City) you can zip,zap,zoom.

If you have had a fill at Hosur - neither your car nor you will need a refill till you reach Thiruvannamalai. However, do provide a stimulus package to the local economy by patronising sellers of strung jasmine buds and tender coconuts who you will encounter on the way especially after Uttangarai. If nothing else,it make their day and will also augment your good karma.

Oh! do make the necessary arrangements for accommodation before you leave. Try for the free accomodation at the Ramana Maharshi Asharam ( or stay at the Sparsa Resort .Sparsa (Ph:04175-236911) is a great place.Worth the Rs.4,000 for a double.

Accomodation at the ashram will lead to purity of the mind - and who knows even self realization. Sparsa resort too does not allow smoking and alcohol. Though, of course, it has a spa and a pool if you don't just have spirituality on your mind.

More later...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Announcement for Jet Airways crew

"Good morning ladies & gentlemen.This is an announcement from the passenger cabin. Crew may please pay attention. Passengers of Jet Airways welcome aboard the crew on 9W-allflights. As you have cleared the air about the turbulence you caused,the seat belt sign has switched off. However, for your own safety and for the safety and comfort of the ground crew of Jet Airways, you are requested stay fastened to your current negotiated position till the company reaches cruising altitude.More information on your heading will be announced in the next quarterly result. On account of your Karma,passengers of Jet Airways will do everything possible to increase your PLF. In the meanwhile, please do not sit back ,relax or switch on the autopilot - you have a long way to go re-earn our trust."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Casa Deep Woods - Not quite Phantom's home

The previous day, there was no plan for a weekend break. A Google search for an Environment Education project for my son took me to triggering thoughts of a weekend getaway. Cut to It offered a Casa Deep Woods, Masinagudi, package for 2 nights. Ten clicks later I was done with the booking – subject to an offline confirmation. In recessionary times, I reckoned, the confirmation was only a formality and decided to proceed without the confirmation – which was expected the next day.
The best thing about an extended weekend getaway, by car, is that your holiday begins when you want it. A little earlier or a little later than what you may have planned. In my case, this weekend holiday began on the 5th June at 5 am. Hurtling through the roads of Bengaluru at 80 kmph, I stepped on the gas on the City Market flyover and in minutes I was past Jnana Bharati , Kengeri beyond Ramanagaram and well enroute Mysore. Even at 100 kmph the engine purred, as if enjoying this part of the 250 kilometers drive.

Breakfast at Barista. The Bangalore-Mysore expressway is dotted with branded and unbranded eateries. You can have Dosa’s or Danish pastries. After an English Breakfast topped up with Mysore Coffee, we ignited the engine for the next leg. Since the journey is as important as the destination, I let the engine relax. Even at the relaxed pace, Maddur and Srirangapatanam were soon behind us. The ring road let us by-pass Mysore and put us on track to Masinagudi. The progress was slower on this leg. Narrower roads, great in parts and dug-up in other parts. I too was in no hurry – though I was looking forward to the stretch that went through the Bandipur and Mudumalai sanctuaries, the former in Karnataka and the latter in Tamil Nadu. The stretch between Bandipur and Mudumalai is through the Tiger and Elephant reserve. Elephants blocking the roads, especially in the early hours is not uncommon. The Bandipur check-post gate signaled that we were entering the reserve forest. The drive through the lush green forest and rain swept roads was exhilarating. With the windows rolled down, the blast of fresh air on the face was invigorating.
The Mudumalai forest check-post indicated the end of the reserve forest but the terrain continued to be lush green. Casa Deep Woods was only a short distance away. A few kilometers on this stretch we saw the first signboard to the resort. A turn into a narrow freshly laid road left the route to Ooty behind us. Lush green on both sides and the misty mountains ahead. Perhaps, Phantom’s Deep Woods was similar. I was now in a hurry to get there – though the goats, cows and sheep ambling on the road were in no hurry to clear the way. Honking in such a peaceful environ would shatter the tranquility of the place. A mental request and a gentle nudge with the bumper worked.

Finally! Casa Deep Woods. The parking was full – recession be dammed! I did not have a confirmation of my booking, yet. I remembered Ralph Waldo Emerson“ if you desire something badly the universe conspires to make it happen”. I hoped this would work to confirm my reservation. At this point, I desired nothing more. The universe did conspire to make it happen. Ravi Kumar, at the resort, confirmed this and escorted us to our cottage on a cobblestone pathway between densely wooded areas. Finally!
The rooms were very clean but basic. No TV. Mobile signal only if the wind blew your way. The almost alien to Bengaluru, chirping of birds and crickets, the occasional scream of the monkeys sailed through the quiet atmosphere. I did not miss the blare of television – my son did and went to the common room for the lone TV - with a satellite dish connection - for those who could not do without their daily fix.
Lunch was a good spread. Some vegetables came from the local farms and did taste nice and different from the usual fare. A Kabab by the bonfire before dinner was served at 9 pm. Talented guests sang and the not so talented took a swig from their hip flasks and enjoyed the songs before dispersing for dinner.

Ooty, from Masinagudi, was only about 40 kms away – via the famous 36 hair-pin bends route. 70 kms away via the longer route which is broader and more navigable. It didn’t feel good being so close to Ooty but not going there. Let’s go, we decided. 36 hair-pin bends and missing-a-brush-with-the—other- vehicle- by- a-whisker-later we were in Ooty after driving through blinding rain. The car and you need to be in good shape to make it to Ooty via this route. It amazes me how some old trucks, with their engines groaning and belching, make it to Ooty through this route. If you find one of these contraptions, ahead of you, on this route - keep distance. If it does not make it across the hair pin bend the vehicle will slide back before making the next attempt to take the bend. The wait will make you go around the bend!

Ooty is dotted with Eucalyptus trees. The Eucalyptus perfume cures you of a cold as my great-grandma used to say. Within minutes of being in Ooty I could breathe better with my nostrils clearing up. Since we all wanted to experience the Nilgiris Mountain Railway, I drove straight to the Ooty railway station. This train service is now a heritage rail service. However, this experience was not to be as the incoming train was delayed for an unknown duration due to heavy rains. With this desire unfulfilled, I drove into the very colonial Taj Savoy for lunch.

This leisurely lunch was filling and made me long for a snooze. Not wanting to take the sharp route while less than fully alert I took the longer and more driver friendly route back to Masinagudi via the Pykara dam. On the way back, we decided to take the Tiger safari at the Mudumalai which is available from 3 to 6.30 pm and 7 to 9am. The queue at the ticket counter was longer than a queue at a multiplex showing a blockbuster. We decided to try our luck the next morning. The ticket counter opened at 7am. We got our tickets by reaching the place at 6.15 am. It’s a 20 minutes drive from Casa Deep Woods to the safari . The safari itself was uneventful. Almost a letdown. No tigers. The Elephants, Bisons, Peacocks and the Deer ignored us in their own home. Back to Casa Deep Woods. After breakfast we bid adieu to the hospitable people managing this facility.

There are times when the Phantom leaves the jungle and walks the streets of the town as an ordinary man. I knew how Phantom must have felt leaving the jungle. I too felt a twinge of regret leaving the jungle so soon.

The familiar concrete jungle beckoned.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Swine Flu Trap and Other Simple Remedies

A blood pressure reading of 170/110 mmHg is considered high. It was actually alarming enough for my family doctor to recommend putting me, immediately, on a course of Beta Blockers. At the age of 23, I was, however, reckless enough to ignore the doctor’s advice till I had tried alternatives to a life-long course of medicines.

Subsequently, in just a few months and without any medication, my blood pressure was a normal 120/80 mmHg.

Like Hypertension, Diabetes too is difficult to control. Yet, there are ways to bring uncontrolled blood sugar to an even keel without life-long allopathic treatment. My wife has tried these with excellent results and without any side effects.

The market size for acne controlling products is estimated to be about Rs.65 crores per annum. How much of your income has contributed to this, without commensurate benefits? If you consider a Rs. 65 crores market large, you have got to know that the market for weight control, which consists of health clubs and gyms, exceeds Rs. 1,500 crores per annum. Have you paid for a gym membership, aiming for fitness, without having made good use of it because of paucity of time?

From times immemorial, good health systems like Yoga, Ayruveda, Acupressure and Mudras (hand symbols) have been available for prevention and treatment of ill-health as well as for general well being. These systems of medicines and treatment do not need any equipment. In the time that it takes one to reach a gym and return, one can complete these exercises. However, learning a Yoga Asana (body postures used in yoga) or Pranayama techniques is not as easy as popping a pill. But then, even beer has an acquired taste.

Here are some simple Yoga Asanas, Pranayama (controlled breathing) methods, Acupressure techniques, Home Remedies and Mudras which, if followed with regularity, can lead to a cure from nagging illnesses and also lead general well being.

Hypertension:If your blood pressure is greater than 120/80 mmHg, you may be suffering from Hypertension. It is necessary to, first, rule out secondary hypertension - say a kidney disease leading to hypertension. Treatment for essential hypertension (hypertension which cannot be traced to a specific ailment) is being discussed here. Hypertension has deleterious effects on the human body which includes kidney failure. The following exercises can control hypertension without the use of drugs.

Kapalbhati Pranayama :
Sit in comfortable crossed leg position with the back straight or on a chair. Hands must rest on the knees. The face must be relaxed. Inhale deeply through both nostrils expanding the abdomen and exhale with the forceful contraction of abdominal muscles. That is, pull in the abdomen by quickly contracting the abdominal muscles while exhaling through the nose. The air is pushed out of lungs by the contraction of the diaphragm. After exhalation, inhale again. However, this inhalation should not involve any effort. Just relax and the lungs should automatically expand and fill with air. After completing 15 quick exhalation and natural inhalations, inhale and exhale deeply. This is one round. One can start the practice of Kapalbhati Pranayama with 3 such rounds. For detailed visual explanation of Kapalbhati, you may refer to a video on Kapalbhati on youtube.

A clove of raw garlic, every day, on an empty stomach will help in reducing hypertension. The beneficial effects of garlic are not only well documented in Ayurveda but modern science also acknowledges its goodness in controlling Hypertension. 50 ml of raw Bottle Gourd juice each morning, before breakfast, also helps in keeping hypertension under control.

There are several Acupressure points for controlling Hypertension. The two points which I have found very effective are located on top of the skull and next to the inner ankle bone protrusion on both feet. Press and release the Acupressure point on the top of the head with your forefinger. This has to be done in a rhythmic motion. In order to do this, inhale while applying pressure on the point and exhale while releasing the pressure. Only gentle pressure needs to be applied. After you complete the point on the head repeat the action next to the inner ankle bone on both feet. 30 seconds of this on each Acupressure point is adequate. Do not do this within 2 hours before or after a meal.

Diabetes: A Fasting blood sugar result - 12 to 14 hours after a meal - of over 100 mg/dl or 140 mg/dl at 2 hours after eating indicates abnormalities in the body's ability to regulate sugar. Oral anti-hyperglycemic drugs are first-line drug treatments under Allopathy. Insulin may eventually be needed. However, a combination of the following may help in the control of diabetes without the use of drugs.

Dietary Control: Complete abstinence from all forms of food which have refined sugar. This includes chocolates, tea or coffee (with sugar) ice-cream, health drinks (with added sugar) and other similar food. Fruits, not fruit juices, are allowed. Restrict consumption of polished rice and other simple carbohydrates. Eat Bran, Barley, Maize, Oats, and Brown Rice. As far as possible, try to avoid even sugar substitutes.

Exercise: Obesity is dangerous for a diabetic. Exercises like cycling, walking, skipping are needed to bring your weight to the normal range, if you are overweight. A height weight calculator is available on

Pranayama: Practice Kapalbhati for 10 minutes a day as described above. In addition, do Anulom Vilom pranayama for 15 minutes a day. The practice of Anulom Vilom Pranayama involves blocking your right nostril with thumb and breathing in from left. Next, open right nostril and close left nostril with the ring finger and breathe out from right nostril. Then breathe in from right nostril followed by closing the right nostril and opening the left and breathe out and so on. There are many short video clippings on Anulom Viyom available on youtube. Watch one of these carefully before starting on any Pranayama. Pranayama is like a pneumatic drill. If performed incorrectly it may cause harm.

Acupressure: Diabetes is caused due to the inadequate production of insulin in the body. It is possible to re-activate the Pancreas by pressing the Acupressure point for the Pancreas for 30 seconds twice a day. Press the Acupressure point with the thumb of the other hand in a pumping action. That is, apply pressure on the Acupressure point with your thumb and release the pressure in quick succession. Do this first on the right hand and then repeat for the left hand. Do not do this for more than 30 seconds in each palm. Do not do this more than twice a day. There are many Acupressure points for activating the Pancreas. Many of these points are described in detail on various internet sites. One of these sites is A good book on the subject will explain the finer point of Acupressure in greater detail.

Obesity:Obesity, if not caused by a hormonal imbalance, can be reversed. Practice Kapalbhati for 15 minutes, twice day. I am almost certain that there will be visible weight loss in 45 days of your practice of Kapalbhati. Of course, regular exercise and moderation in diet are equally important.

Migraine:Allopathy has no known cure for Migraine. Homeopathy has known cures for Migraine. However, a combination of Pranayama and Acupressure, I am fairly sure, will give you the pleasure of living life without the head-splitting, life disrupting aches. Practice Kapalbhati and Anulom Vilom pranayama, each for 10 minutes a day. In addition, apply the Acupressure technique, as described above, to the point on the inner toe nail as shown below.

Swine flu:Swine flu has made people scared of even and ordinary flu and cold. Mudras are finger postures which can help in curing several illnesses ranging from the common cold to Hypertension and Diabetes. The Linga Mudra is effective in making the body resistant to colds, coughs and chest infection by generating heat in the body. It clears the chest of accumulated phlegm. Just five minutes a day in Linga mudra will keep you resistant to colds or cure it if you get infected. To practice Linga mudra, join both the palms and lock the facing fingers together, keeping one thumb upright. The upright thumb must be encircled by the other thumb and the index finger. Due to the heat generating properties of this Mudra, it is advised that this not be practiced for more than five minutes a day. It is also recommended that one drinks eight glasses of water each day while practicing this Mudra.

Yoga, Acupressure, Mudras, Pranayama are ancient techniques. Their efficacy has been established by their practitioners over hundreds of years. Undoubtedly, modern medical science has made immense progress over the last 5 decades. However, modern medicine is driven by commercial considerations. Medicines are effective but often unnecessary. A bout of common cold lasts for 7 days if left untreated and 1 week if treated! The body is a self-repairing machine. It breaks down because it is often pushed to the brink due to our unhealthy habits which stresses it beyond its ability.

It takes less than 30 minutes a day of Pranayama, notably Kapalbhati and Anulom Viyom, to be fit and keep most ailments at bay.

Note: This article is written based on the author’s experiences with Pranayama, Yoga, Accupressure and Home Remedies. All systems of treatment mentioned here must be learnt under the guidance of an expert in the field. This article is not a substitute for expert medical advice

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Chariot - An account from the mast

The place looked festive for the celebration of the Chariot festival. There were kids prancing with brightly coloured helium filled balloons – their parents, dressed in new clothes, engrossed in bargaining with the vendors. For festivals, especially for the traditionally oriented, new clothes are mandatory. The Chariot festival transformed the place – for 3 days, the duration of the festival - every year.

I have been watching this festival every year only because I find myself in its midst, each year. The place transforms miraculously. Overnight, make-shift stalls and festoons come up. Vendors set up stalls for almost anything you can think of for a village like fair - descending on the place from apparently nowhere. So do people who throng the fair. These are people who do not live here. They are, perhaps, from nearby villages and small towns.

So happy, cheerful and carefree they look that they make the city folks and local residents look decidedly forlorn. City folks are not known to let their kids loose, the way the children who come to the fair are. I wondered if the kid with the helium balloon knew where his parents where or how he could locate them when the balloon finally bored him. Did the couple – who were furiously bargaining with the vendor for trinkets – know that their kid, if the child was theirs, was several metres away from them in a swirl of people – blissfully lost in his balloon?

As dusk set in, darkness descended sooner than usual. Power supply was cut off for the locality. The tall chariot would soon make its appearance – pulled by devotees. Since the mast of the chariots could get entangled with the overhead power lines, power was disconnected as a precautionary measure. Nevertheless, the place was soon brightly lit by Petromax lamps without causing any disruption to the festivities.

The arrival of the chariot, pulled by over 50 men, was announced with frenzied drumbeats. Shopping stopped as people rushed to see the splendidly decorated chariot. There was no sign of the boy with the balloon. But, there were so many kids – most of them looked alike. The chariot seemed to plough into the crowds as it trundled its way past to the beating of drums and blaring devotional music.

Tomorrow, the place would revert to normalcy or at least a semblance of it. Local residents would, perhaps, breathe more easily. The bursting of fire crackers had vitiated the atmosphere in the last few days. No wonder the local residents did not seem as excited at the visitors.

Each year, the main thoroughfare of the locality was converted into a makeshift fair ground. Vehicles and pedestrians alike had to wade through hordes and unfamiliar faces to get to their homes, offices or even the next road. The local residents had to contend with loud music blaring till late at night and the power supply cut off when the chariot passed by.

This is an age old festival. It raison d’etre is lost in antiquity. The inconveniences it brought was not lost on the local residents. Like each year, they would petition to the local authorities to shift the festival to a location more suitable for the convenors and the convened.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The postman just delivered gold

Bullion by post! It sounds incredible that you can order gold bars or bullion have have it delivered by post.Gold dealers like Bullion by Post are offering this facility of ordering gold bullion online and arranging for delivery the next day.

Gold,as many are aware, is becoming an important part of the asset profile of an investor. In the coming months, inflation is likely to become an important concern. There is no better hedge to inflation than gold.The currency of every country is backed by gold. The central bank of the country needs to have gold in in its vaults to maintain the value of its currency. In 1930 the value of 1 ounce of gold was set at $35. That is, for every $ 35 in circulation there was 1 oz of gold with the Central Bank (The Federal Reserve in case of the USA).

Later, the value of currency was changed to make $70 = 1 oz of gold. While the gold standard was abandoned by the USA in 1971, even today currency is backed by physical gold reserves. Just like it is necessary for the Central Bank to keep a physical quantity of gold (gold bars) in in vaults, it is also necessary for individuals to have physical reserves of gold stored securely in a bank vault.

In case of severe inflation, currency and bank deposits will rapidly lose value. Investments in gold bonds and other similar instruments, where gold is underlying commodity, is not as good as gold in its physical form. Gold bonds and other market traded forms (ETF or Exchange Traded Funds) of gold may lose their value due to the vagaries of market conditions. Besides entry load and fund managements cost affects the return from ETF gold.In times of hyperinflation, there may not be enough buyers in the exchange to buy ETF gold.Therefore, physical gold (bullion) of a high purity level is essential for a well balanced investment portfolio. Gold dealers like Bullion by Post play an important role in delivering physical gold or gold bars to investors.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dr. Venkatakrishnan & Bovine Mastitis

Dr.R.Venkatakrishnan retired as a professor from the Veterinary College, Chennai, India. Upon retirement,he developed numerous products for animal health and welfare. Recently, he developed a way to detect Bovine Mastitis much before the clinical symptoms of the disease showed up.Bovine Mastitis is a bacterial disease which affects dairy cows and significantly affects milk production.It has a negative financial impact on dairy farmers.

By developing a simple and inexpensive kit for the early detection and treatment of Bovine Mastitis, Dr. Venkatakrishnan has provided an simple way for farmers to preserve the health of their cows and minimize their financial losses from this disease.

This Bovine Mastitis kit is one among the many inventions of Dr.Venkatakrishnan - several of which are patented. Some of these are also acknowledged by the Lemelson Foundation, USA.

Dr.Venkatakrishnan's forte in in formulating and inventing unique products for Bovine and Equine creatures. Marketing is not his forte. If the market for veterinary products was as well developed in India, as in the USA, or if there was a well developed chain of stores for veterinary supplies he would have retired, by now, from his post retirement activities.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Power Dressing - A gentle riposte

Kalpana Sharma,in the Hindu Magazine of the 9th August,2009, says that " commenting on the dress sense and looks of women in power is only one aspect of the tendency to run down their success. She goes on to ask, " does anyone care or comment on the colour of Prime Minster Manmohan Singh's turban when he appears in public?"

Here's a collage. Just look at the photos. Can you comment on Dr. Singh's turban? It has been blue for as long as I can remember, unless of course you have seen this photograph.

Even here, you would be hard pressed to comment on Dr.Singh sartorial style. Though natty, even Rahul Gandhi's style is becoming, well, Gandhian. Try filling in a newspaper column with it. Even if you can, you still won't be able to get anyone to read it. Can you say the same about Priyanka Vadra's style. Certainly not.

If the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, comes calling to India and if newspapers don't cover her sartorial style they would,perhaps, see a drop in readership compared to other newspapers which do.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has featured on the cover of Vogue - a fashion and lifestyle magazine. Michelle Obama was on the cover of Vogue very recently. Women are fashion conscious in a way men are usually not.They spend time and money on looking good.

Kalpana Sharma asks with reference to the comments in newspapers about Hillary Clinton's sartorial style " when the foreign minister of any other foreign country comes visiting, do we observe the clothes these gentlemen wear?"

Well, Condoleezza Rice dressed like this,sometimes.

Her predecessor Colin Powell attired well but looked like this at his best. Which Secretary of State's attire would you comment on?

Commenting on a lady politicians style is no different than commenting on a film stars style. You can write reams on Priyanka Chopra's style. Try doing the same for SRK. Your wife, mother or daughter will,in most cases, be better than attired than you, your father or your son. Women, no matter what their profession, attire well. In many cases, they even seek an approval,comment or a compliment on their style.

Commenting on Hillary Clinton style does not, in any way, diminish her capabilities or her role in global politics. Similarly,Meira Kumar's style is a welcome change from Somnath Chatterjee's missing style.

Somnath Chatterjee

Comments on her style is only accretive to her performance as the Speaker of the 15th Lok Sabha.

In the times to come, women will play an increasingly important role in public life. Their dress sense and looks will be as extensively chronicled as their work.India's most ordinarily dressed politician, Mamata Banerjee, has not been able to avoid comments on her sartorial style. If she can't no one else can.

Perhaps no one else also wants to, too.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Must India be self-sufficient in sugar?

The Economic Times of the 30th July,2009 (Bangalore Edition page 17) asks : Can India be self sufficient in sugar? The Times of India of the 30th July,2009 (Bangalore Edition page 18) says : India heading towards a diabetes explosion.

According to the Times of India, India is already the diabetes capital of the world. It is estimated that, by 2015, India will have 70 million diabetics (2007 figure: 41 million cf China 40 million) - reaching this figure a decade earlier than expected.

Changing lifestyles is leading to metabolic disorders which is turn is leading to diabetes. The per capita demand for sugar, in India, is about 23 kgs per person. A high retail price of Rs.30/kg , which on account of improving incomes, is not a deterrent to sugar consumption. We are consuming a large quantity of sugar without being aware of it. Colas, juices, ice-creams, biscuits, confectionery and other ready to eat foods have sugar embedded in them.

The production of sugarcane is water and labour intensive. Moreover, increasing water shortage and increasing soil salinity is making it difficult to increase sugar production.

The need of the hour is not to meet the increasing demand for sugar but to educate the population about the drawbacks of high sugar consumption. Ready to eat foods must have an advisory on the recommended maximum daily sugar intake and how much that pack contributes to that daily maximum.

According to research, that people at risk for developing diabetes can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes by:
* losing a modest amount of weight
* through diet and exercise
* restricting sugar consumption

Diabetes is a lifestyle altering and life threatening insidious disease. Changing lifestyles is wearing off even the genetic protection that one may have against the disease. The sooner one recognizes this the better ones chances for preventing and controlling it.

So,don't have chocolates seeking refuge under "Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye" - every time a Pappu passes by.

Don't contribute to the demand for sugar every "pehli tarikh".