Sunday, January 05, 2014

How to celebrate one's Birthday in the traditional way

In the current times Birthday party or birthday celebration has become synonymous with a cake cutting, gift giving, wishes and typical modern day party stuff (food, over indulgence). All of which reflects fun and entertainment and doesn't really reflect anything reflecting to longevity of a person except blowing off candles reflecting the age.
Blowing a candle traditionally always signifies a lost soul and entering darkness, for light is what drives darkness and sorrow away. Public display of affection during a party is also not necessary and unwarranted, for such things are more often show-off than reflecting any reality.
Accepting gifts as a traditions encourages worldly desires and needs and most of the times unwanted expectations. Donating and sharing one's wealth to the needs while seeking blessings from everyone of  is considered more benevolent than to current tradition.
Traditionally in the Indian culture there has been a certain significance and certain method to be followed on this day. This day signifies the start of one more year in this existence or life, while one thanks for the past one seeks blessings for the coming future with a pure soul and an austere mind. For seeking blessing on such a day we are expected to follow few simple steps..

1. Wake up early to have an oil bath, preferably seeking blessings  of the elderly.
2. After the bath one has to briefly worship their respective deities (both revered deity and the family's deity).
3.  Achamana(purification ritual) shall be performed reciting prayers seated facing the East direction and quietly slurping a mixture of black sesame seeds, Jagger mixed in cow milk 3 times through the right palm. This is to remove any hurdles or dangers which one encounters till their next birthday   
4. One has to remember the Chrirajeevi's (born-immortals of Kali yuga) and recite their names seeking longevity of life
अश्वत्थामाबलिर्व्यासोहनुमांश्च विभीषण:कृपश्चपरशुरामश्च सप्तैतेचिरंजीविन:।
        Ashwathaama Balir Vyasaha Hanumantha vibeeshanaha
        Kripa Parasuramas cha Saptaitey Chiranjeevinah
Chiranjivi here are "immortals by birth" living beings destined to remain alive on Earth through this Kali Yuga's end. Ashwathama, King Mahabali, Vyasa, Hanuman, Vibhishana, Kripacharya and Parashurama are the seven chiranjeevi's for Kali yuga. EAch signifies an attribute of man    
5. Seek blessings from the Parents and Teachers
The most revered and austere of blessings is " SathamAnam bhavathy SathAyu: Purushasyatha
Indhriya yEva Indhriya tE Prathithishtathi " meaning "Live for hundred years with fully life and vigor and observe the Karmas as directed in the scriptures like vedas.
6. Visit a nearest temple which is the nearest
7. One has to practice strict Brahmacharya (Celibacy) on this day reflecting their vow to longevity and respect to traditions. Also one has to restrain from other worldly desires to signify once dedication to the one purpose of life - to attain moksha
8. Offer donations (Share Wealth or atleast feed a cow some fresh grass doing pradakshina / circumambulation to the cow)
Link to the the above lecture: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8M28wan7Ek
Respect and follow the traditions, they mean a whole lot than we give them credit for.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Body Types: Ayurvedic Prakruti vs Somatypes


Each of us is born with a genetically determined constitution, or prakruti(nature).
According to Ayurveda two conditions influence the development of the prakruti; the balance between the energies of 
  • Vata(Space/emptiness & Air)
  • Pitta(Fire & Water)
  • Kapha(Water & Earth) 
and the prenatal conditions in the womb. The preponderance of one or another dosha(temperament) in our prakrti establishes our natural body type and determines our strengths and weaknesses.
It is said in Ayurveda that the established body types don't change after birth. Any imbalances in these three energies will destabilise the natural state, leading to bodily ailments.
Somatypes Body Types
In the 1940s, an American Physician Dr. William H. Sheldon introduced the theory of Somatypes by putting together the age-old insights of the relationship between body type and temperament on more secure foundations. His theory described three basic human body types:
  • Endomorph, characterised by a preponderance of bodyfat;
  • Mesomorph, marked by a well-developed musculature;
  • Ectomorph, distinguished by a lack of either much fat or muscle tissue.
He also states that most people were a mixture of these types.

Ayurvedic

When Vata is out of balance, the metabolism will be disturbed, resulting in excess catabolism, which is the breakdown or deterioration process in the body. When anabolism is greater than catabolism, there is an increased rate of growth and repair of the organs and tissues. Excess Pitta disturbs metabolism, excess Kapha increases the rate of anabolism and excess Vata creates emaciation (catabolism)

Body Types Compared:

1. Endomorph / Large:
A mesomorph has a large bone structure, large muscles and a naturally athletic physique. Mesomorphs are the best body type for bodybuilding. They find it quite easy to gain and lose weight. They are naturally strong which is the perfect platform for building muscle.
 Kapha-Dominant Body

Kapha-dominant individuals have big bodies and big bones, thick hair, strong, big teeth, and large, attractive eyes. They move slowly and gracefully, and exhibit great endurance. They are similarly slow to anger, and their loyalty makes them valued friends. Physically, Kapha-dominant individuals tend toward obesity; mentally, they can be selfish, greedy, and easily offended.

2. Mesomorph / Muscular:

A mesomorph has a large bone structure, large muscles and a naturally athletic physique. Mesomorphs are the best body type for bodybuilding. They find it quite easy to gain and lose weight. They are naturally strong which is the perfect platform for building muscle.
 Pitta-Dominant Body

The Pitta-dominant body type typically manifests itself in a well-proportioned, muscular frame. Pitta-dominant types tend toward lighter, more sensitive skin, often overly sensitive. They are usually active, particularly in sports, where they can be fiercely competitive. They are passionate and dedicated, but can be overly competitive, intolerant, and irritable.

3. Ectomorph / Skinny:
An ectomorph is a typical skinny guy. Ecto’s have a light build with small joints and lean muscle. Usually ectomorph’s have long thin limbs with stringy muscles. Shoulders tend to be thin with little width.
 Vata-dominant Body
Individuals with a Vata-dominant body type tend to be thin and active, but lack the stamina for prolonged activity and therefore often depend on caffeine and sugar for stimulation. The dryness of the Vata constitution and the consequent creakiness of their joints make them seem almost brittle. Restlessness, hyperactivity, curiosity, and creativity mark the Vata-dominant personality, as do rapid, chaotic speech and frequent changes of mind.


Factors influencing the Body Natures / Types

Factors that increase vata (Ecto / Thin)
  • Exposure to cold , no routine in life
  • Eating to much dry, frozen or leftover food, or food with bitter, pungent or astringents taste.
  • Fasting, lots of traveling, too much or inappropriate exercise, suppressing natural urges, abdominal surgery.
Factors that increase pitta (Meso / Muscular)
  • Exposure to heat,
  • Eating lots of proteins (red meat), salt, spicy or sour foods.
  • Indigestion and irregularity of meals. Exercising at midday
  • Useof antibiotic, alchol.
  • Too much intellectual work/thinking. Fatigue.Anger,Hate fear, emotion.

Factors that increase kapha (Endo / Fat)
  • Exposure to cold
  • Eating lots of sugars, meat, fats ,cheese, milk, ice cream, yogurt, fried food, excessive use of salt.
  • Excessive intake of water , taking naps after meals.
  • Sedatives usage.
  • Doubts, greed, and possessiveness. Lack of compasion

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chalene Johnson's Turbofire Workout Review

I have started on a journey on improving my fitness levels in August 2011 with Chalene Johnson's Program called Turbofire. Chalene already had established cardio programs like Turbo Kick, Turbo Jam, Chalean Extreme, PiYo and Hip Hop Hustle. 
Turbo Fire is a complete body conditioning fitness program whose emphasis on High Intensity Interval Training. The upbeat music will motivate one to work harder and more intense. One will do kickboxing drills and aerobic exercises mixed with some dance moves. .
What's unique to TurboFire is that Chalene managed to incorporate a fusion of aerobic, dance and free flow martial arts forms with the concept of dedicated High Intensity Interval Training on few days for the schedule.

So How does it fair...
  • The complexity of the program comes from the choreography of cardiosequences and the pace with which the transition of moves happen. It does take some patience and effort to getting used to. There is a new to class / break-down mode which can be referenced to understand the moves. Having said that, people who expect to master this quickly there is a bad news. It takes a bit of patience and effort to get into the groove.
  • The program is a simple one and anyone from a beginner level can get into it. There is a easy-level modifier simplifying the moves for beginners or people with less flexibility. 
  • There is an equal emphasis on lower body, upper body and core during this program.
  • Muscle multi tasking is not my favourite concept. I believe in muscle focus and isolation to maximise results. But this is not a dedicated strength training program.  
  • The time commitment for this program is in a range of 30 to 70 minutes. 45 minutes is a typical average which is a wonderful for time crunched people. 
  • While this is positioned as HIIT based Intense Cardio training. I feel its rather a balanced program with equal emphasis on Cardio, Stretch, HIITs and strength for a serobic program.
  • The energy of the cast is really high and keeps you to keep pushing without ever having to pause. The Cast are very well prepared and trained and do well in keeping up with everyone else and contribute to the overall energy level.
  • Chalene does an excellent job of professional conducting, instructing with no BS. She not only is instructing and running the show but with her working out we get a feel like we are competing with her.
The Break-up
The Cardio's
Fire 30 – Basic and shortest among the Cardio workouts. 5 min of Warmup, 4 min cool down. 2 HIITs
Fire 45 EZ - This is workout one does for max amount of time. Easily the most intense in terms of Heart rate zone and hence calorie burn. Though there are no HIITs in this workout one stays in the upper zone for the max amount of time. This is my favourite among the three
Fire 45 – This is perhaps the most complex in terms of the choreography. Needless to stay I miss my moves and eventually never liked it. Fortunately we don't get to do this many times. Has got 4 HIITs in this 45 minute workout.
Fire 55 EZ – Lasting for about 53 minutes and with 2 HIIT's this is the second longest cardio in the whole program. This is a relatively simple routine in line with 45 EZ and Fire 30
Fire 60 – (in advanced) - This is the longest among all the Turbofire workouts lasting about 57 minutes with 4 HIITs coupled in. The moves are not as complex as Fire 45, but surely will take some time to catching up.
The HIITs
HIIT 15 – The shortest and perhaps the most hippiest HIIT. It has 3, 35 Second Fire Drills which are repeated thrice
HIIT 20 – Perhaps the easiest of all the HIITs. The intensity is the least 7(3 Drills - 2 are repeated twice and last one thrice) Fire Drills of 55 seconds each. Not my favourite for lack of intensity in this moves
HIIT 25 – This HIIT routine has the most Plyo-metric jumps in all of Turbofire. First time I tried I finished with a really really bad back. Each of the 4 70 second HIIT is done twice in this. This is the hardest of HIITs and my favourite.
HIIT 30 – The longest HIIT routine, has 5 drills of around 60 sec each which are repeated twice, while the last one is done thrice.



The Strengths

Apart from the HIIT and Cardio, Turbo fire throws in few strength, stretch and core exercises in the program.
Sculpt 30/Tone 30 – These are two 30 minute sculpting workouts done with bands. Mostly combination moves where upper and lower body worked at the same time - Chalene calls it muscle multi-tasking, and I hated it as focusing on mutliple muscle groups at a time is not something I was able to achieve. I had to take rests and the resistance bands where very uncomfortable pulling the hair and skin. 

Upper 20/Lower 20 - These are part of the advanced workouts basically toning up either the upper body or lower body. I feel this is much better in terms of muscle isolation than the muscle multi-tasking workouts. Lower 20 uses the lower body bands and they give an extreme extreme burn on the bums and outer thighs. 

Stretch 10/Stretch 40 – Stretch workouts which are typically done at the end of every workout during cool
down. Stretch 40 borrows the entire set if Yoga moves (Surya Namaskara / Sun Salutations) and almost a dozen Yoga poses for stretch. I love this day of stretching.
The Core
Core 20 –This workouts is all about the core work, with little or no crunches. This program uses a lot of  normal ab exercises but uses the resistance band to add extra resistance. 
Abs 10 – This 10 minute Ab only workout is one of the toughest 10 minute ab-workout ever. Immense immense muscle activation. You can almost feel the 6-pack underneath the sheath of skin and fat. 

My Results
Started at 207 lbs went on till 213 lbs after completing the workout am at 189 lbs

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Significance & Tradition of Sankranti

 Ariselu, Pongal, Boorelu, flying kites, playing cards and hanging out with family and friends as you watch Bogi mantalu… That’s what many of us look forward to
For the western society in simple terms it resembles the harvest festival like Thanksgiving sans the gift. Many of us have forgotten or not aware of what the significance, true meaning and purpose this festival serves. It’s my effort to unearth the significance of this important festival
Sankranti is termed one of the biggest rural/pro-agro festivals. It’s a three day festival comprising of Bhogi, Makara Sankranti and Kanuma
Astrological Significance:



Makar means Capricorn and Sankranti is transition. There is a sankranti every month when the sun passes from one sign of the zodiac to the next. There are twelve signs of the zodiac, and hence twelve sankranti's as well. Each of these sankranti's has its own relative importance but two of these are more important - the Mesh (Aries) Sankranti and the most important, the Makar (Capricorn) Sankranti. Transition of the Sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn, during the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere is known as Makar Sankranti. From this day begins the six-month long Uttarayana(northern migration of sun), considered very auspicious for attaining higher worlds hereafter. It is believed that a person who dies during the Uttarayana has a better chance of reaching heavens than during the winter solstice.
Scientifically, the shortest day of the year is around December 21 & 22 after which the days begin to get longer, hence actual Winter Solstice begins on December 21 or December 22 when the tropical sun enters Makara rashi. Hence actual Uttarayana is December 21. This was the actual date of Makar Sakranti too. But because of the Earth's tilt of 23.45 degrees and sliding of equinoxes, Ayanamsa occurs. This has caused Makara Sankranti to slide further over the ages. A thousand years ago, Makar Sankranti was on December 31 and is now on January 14. Five thousand years later, it shall be by the end of February, while in 9,000 years it shall come in June.
While the traditional Indian Calendar is based on lunar positions, Sankranti is a solar event. So while dates of all Hindu festivals keep changing as per the Gregorian calendar, the date of Makar Sankranti remains constant over a long term, 14 or 15 January. Makar Sankranti is celebrated in the Hindu Calendar month of Magha. There is another significance of this day, after this day the days start becoming longer & warmer, and thus the chill of winter in on decline. 

The Mahabharata Reference:

Bhishma, on this day declared his intent to leave his mortal body. He had the boon of "Ichha-Mrityu" (choose when to die) from his father, so he kept lying on the bed of arrows till this day and then left body on Makar Sankranti day. It is believed that the person, who dies during the period of Uttarayana, becomes free from transmigration. So this day was seen as a sure-shot Good Luck day to start your journey or endeavors to the higher realms beyond.

Cultural Significance:
The purpose of human is beyond just birth, eating, reproduction and death. Human's are the supreme most beings on this plan and for a reason.Humans are unique from others for the very reason that they have elevated intelligence allowing them to purify their souls and proceed towards greater austerity and eventually nirvana(path towards the supreme soul). But with all the routine and materialistic needs, human’s need to break from these and start concentrating on larger purpose of life - attaining spiritual wisdom to understand the meaning/purpose of life and move towards divinity.
The Dhanur-masam month (as per the Indian Lunar calendar / typically mid Dec to mid Jan) is called as Shoonyamasam (null/void/nill month). This month has been named so because this is the duration where humanity doesn’t have the benefit of the guidance from the Sapta-rishis (7 masters who administer the entire creation on God’s behalf and guide all life) as they sit for meditations throughout this month, after handing over the charge of administration to another batch of Rishis. This is the month where the Saptarishis give all their focus and attention to spiritual activities, hence since time immemorial, humans also kept aside all material pursuits and focused on spiritual pursuits throughout this month.These new Rishis bring with them very special energies, new knowledge and also educate humanity on newer ways of living, at a different level. All these factors provide major opportunities for spiritual growth, which when properly utilised can help us make faster progress. 
This was the reason why no auspicious activities like house warming, marriages or business ventures were taken up in this period, thus allowing the individuals to focus on their spiritual growth. Everyone starts to prepare for upcoming events and auspicious time during this month. During this month people are expected to wake up at 3am have a complete head-to-toe bath and dress up traditionally. Women clean up the front-yard with cow-dung water, prepare Rangoli with small cow dung balls(Gobeamma) placed in the rangoli. One is think of divinity and have devotional thoughts while engaging in this activities.

Unique People Visiting homes 
1. Hari-Dasu (Servant of Lord Hari/Vishnu)
Specialty of this season are Hari-dasu. They are considered as representation of Naradha-rishi swaroopam. Uniquely Hari-dasu comes in the early hours of the morning unlike the beggars, nor he begs “Biksham dehi”. He rather sings devotional songs and praising Gods while trying to awakening the spirituality within us by reciting the Hari kertana. This helps us to set the tune for rest of the day remembering God and songs dedicated to almighty. This indirectly supports us being engaged in our spiritual journey for the rest of the year. Hari-dasu carries a rounded pot/bucket (bindhe) on his head where grains are offered there. The rounded pot represents earth where one plants seeds which get multiplied once the crop is harvested. Hari-dasu while accepting symbolizes that Hari-dasu was born to accept alms because he has in past rejected offering the same. Symbolically it means that as long as one donates in this life they will always be in a position to donate rather than seek alms in their next lives. Hence the Telugu saying “Enadoo peti putaadu” translated as “He is one who donated benevolently earlier that he born prosperously”

2.Gangi-re-edhu Varu (People of Holy Vehicle of Shiva Ganga - Ox)
Gangiredhu, the holy OX is another unique way of respecting the animals in this festival. The names means vehicle of Ganges river which also is a vehicle of Parvathi Parameshwarulu. Ox is born out of the holy Cow and thus consider equally holy. The cow is revered for its peaceful and austere nature, while feeding us with its own milk and help us grow. All of the cow’s excreta is either used as fertilizer and pesticide, while the cow was the centre of all farming (it’s the one which helped plough the land, carrying loads, pounding and extracting grains, milled seeds to oil etc. For all this reasons the Ox is equally revered in our agrarian society and brought home while the harvest season is complete. Families give it back old clothes in the house while aarti is offered to it.
3. Sooth sayers and Fortune tellers
Also unique to this time are Budubukala varu (folk fortuneteller/Oracles) and Sodhi chepevaru (folk soothsayer) visit the houses offering advice on future events and how the rest of the year is going to be like.

Unique Practices during the month

1. Rangoli / Muggu (Decorative artwork on the floor at the entrance of the house)
Rangoli is a timeless tradition that is followed all over India. Rangoli is also known as alpana, aripoma, or kolam. Rangoli patterns are usually made using coloured chalk, rice powder, and crushed limestone. A rangoli is always made by hand and all designs are carved out using the fingers. A line is usually drawn using a single finger, like a pencil. In some cases, a pattern may be outlined using dotted movements, which are joined together at the end. Once a pattern is formed, the desired colours are filled in.
Scientific Significance: The powder used in making rangolis attracts many insects and bacteria like ants and keeps them outside instead of entering the house. Additionally the limestone in the powder can kill many of the organisms which consume this. Additionally the turmeric being applied on the lower door frame acts as a disinfectant/anti-bacterial agent and helps keeping potential harmful insects and microorganisms from entering the house
Health Significance: It takes a lot of stamina, flexibility, endurance and concentration to create a design. During the process the women are almost most of the time kneeling down while artistically shuffling the colours and powder to create the pattern. This process is supposed to improve the flexibility, endurance and concentration levels after few weeks of this practice everyday. It also promotes concentration, focus and dedication to the task at hand.
Themes and Learning: The bare minimal rangoli which every girl starts off is a nine box rangoli which signifies the nine planets and with sun placed in the middle signified by bright flower, turmeric and kumkum. This is to showcase the importance of sun and the central life giver of life and dependency of other planets on the Sun. There are lots of themes with certain meanings while creating these designs.
Personality Assessment: The rangoli patterns same as an artwork speaks volumes about the personality of the woman who has created it. A rangoli which uses thin lines (careful not to over use the powder) signifies a person who is modest and realistic and doesn’t overspend. A person who completes her task fast and in a neat fashion has an excellent awareness of significance of time and is dedicated as well skilled in her art. A very well made and intrinsic patter signifies that the person loves decorations and an admirer of beauty. A person who overspends time and redoes is considered either a novice or lacks the patience or concentration levels to achieve the task at hand.

2. Gobbemaa (Cow dung balls) on the Rangoli
This is tradition of remembering Goda Devi / Andal (Only 15year old girl Alvar of the 12 Alvar saints in India) and Shri Krishna’s Gopikas. As per the mythology Gopa Devi refused to marry any earthly man and accepted that Lord Krishna was her husband. She lead a life similar to Gopika of Krishna who accepted him as their saviour and husband and dedicated their lives to him. During this month the Gobbemma balls are made of cow dung are made reflecting the holiness, purity and sacredness of these women and equally them to the holy cow. To these cow dung balls turmeric, kumkum and other seasonal flowers are offered to reflect that these women are recognized as married and whose husbands are with them thus elevating there austerity.
Scientific significance: The cowdung balls after a full day use are not discarded off; instead these are saved and dried to be burnt later. The ashes arising out of this is mixed with herbs like basil or neem to be used for various skin ailments against fungal and bacterial conditions.

3. Bhogi Pallu / Regi Pallu shower (Goosberries)
Another tradition is to show the kids at home with Bhogi pallu (gooseberries) by the community /family/neighbours. The kids receive blessings of health and prosperity during this occasion. Regi pandu(gooseberries) is called arka phalam (Sun’s Fruit), during this occasion we are reminded ourselves of the significance of Sun as a provider or health and life. Thus symbolically we are seeking blessings from the Sun God for the young kid.

4. Bhogi Fire (Bonfire)
The practice of setting up community bonfire in the middle of the street has got a lot of health significance. On one day and one time all of the community sets to set ablaze a fire with old clothes, rugs, furniture and any unusable material in the houses. Thus, with the fire trying to destroy any accumulated bacterial, fungal, microbial infestations carried over from the cold and wet months. Also the warmth of the fire and smoke helps clear the atmosphere of harmful organisms by the heat and fire. This helps the whole community in cleansing their areas of potential sickness borne of viruses and bacteria.

5. Bride Selection/shortlisting during the festival season
During this season the parents of grooms scour for brides for their sons. The festival throws an opportunity for the parents to see, understand, assess and even compare the young women and pick one as per the aspirations. The rangoli personality, the enthusiasm with which they participate in the functions, the way they address there friends, elders and strangers is well observed and projects a decent amount of personality profile for the parents to make choices. These age-old practices of personality profiling based on cultural and tradition is in one way more successful than the present day practices of choosing partners based solely around the education, job and salary earned, while ignoring the personality aspects

6. Village Sports

Though these hold no cultural significance, these events showcase the valor and traditional (brutal) ways of having fun. Bull fighting, bull riding, bull races are common violent sports that dates back to the Indus Valley civilisation. Jallikattu is a form of bull wrestling that is celebrated in the villages of Tamil Nadu on Mattu Pongal (the third day of Pongal). The villages of Palamedu and Alanganallur near Madurai are renowned to host the bloodiest jallikattu.
For people in parts of Andhra Pradesh, Sankranti is incomplete without cockfights and, like in the past, a ban could not prevent them from betting millions of rupees on it this time either.
Leading the violation of the ban were powerful politicians of all hues, who consider cockfights a part of the culture of the coastal Andhra region. The participants included film personalities and businessmen. An estimated Rs5 billion ($340 million) change hands as thousands of people watch & bet during the cockfights.



Friday, January 06, 2012

Roundup 2011

The year 2011 has been one of the most happening on a personal front. This year I was successful in breaking a few hangover issues and few jinxes.
I was being plagued if not seriously addicted to a online strategy game called Travian for close to two years. This severely impacted my social, professional, personal and negligence towards health. Towards the mid of the year when the last of the game servers was upgraded I refused to upgrade and relearn the game. Atleast this prevented me from getting back to the addiction. After done away with this most of the stagnation in life seems to be a passé on multiple fronts

Biggest movers
  • Quitting from my Vertical practice and moving out to a different vertical at work
  • Let go off the Travian game’s addition
  • Move from east coast to the mid-west
  • Discovering that my BP levels are on a high
Biggest Learnings
  • Do something for yourself and keep engaged to improve self
  • Keep pushing and pursuing a series of set targets
  • Divinity and spirituality is never to be ignored
  • Keep faith and keep working on. Learn from experiences and not to let loose
Best for the year

Top Albums/Songs
1. Jaane Tu Jaane Naa - Kabhi Kabhi Aditi
2. Bachana Ae Haseno - Khuda Jaane Kyu

Fav Movies
Harry Potter (1-8) Series


Fav Quotes -
'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II'

Harry Potter: We have to go there, now.
Hermione Granger: What? We cant do that! We've got to plan! We've got to figure out -Harry: Hermione! When have any of our plans ever worked? We plan, we get there, all hell breaks loose!
Fav Holiday/Travel
- Washington DC
Fav Food
- Pizzaa
Fav Shopping Spot
- Premium Outlet, Pleasant Prairie, WI, USA
Fav TV Channel
- The Food Network
- NTV

Fav TV Shows
- Ancient Aliens (History)
- Chopped (Food)
- Restaurant Impossible (Food)
- Evadi gola Vadidi (TV9 / TV1)
- Na Varthalu Na Estam (NTV)

Closely followed issues
- Casey Anthony Trial
- Sakala Janula Samey in Telangana region

Chronological Milestones
January - Uncertainty
I had been waiting for some time to settle and stabilize myself in the USA. What I was looking was some bit of support and a long term assignment. My assignment in Delaware started to look questionable with potential delay / postponement of the project due to factors not in my control. By the end of the month it was inevitable and orders for my release where issued. Issues and competition between the client and our company coupled with delays in the current solution shifted focus and put my role in a fix.
Time flew at home with stagnant work and snow on the streets alike. I wanted to move out of my company and start looking for more stable opportunities, floated my CV and was trying to secure a moment.
February / March / April – Uncertainty Intensifies
Come mid of February, I bid good bye to the account team as I started searching for new avenues within and outside my company. Things didn’t seem to move much. I was also planning to purchase a car at this time as it was already becoming difficult depending on others. But the next assignments or lack of it put me in a fix.
As expected the issues at work during initial days of settling has become a reality in 2011. My ratings got hit and was not able to secure a promotion nor any salary hike.
The lack of future or direction seems to pinching me a lot by now. I tried spending most of the time at home (since Jan) photographing squirrels, doves, and rabbits through my apartment window to pass time. I challenged myself to get a few shots of jumping squirrels which I of course failed. I did buy a DSLR camera of
May
The momentums of things were not encouraging at professional front. I have not been billed to a client till now and with the apprehension and un-certainty I was more bent upon to return back to India and probably return back if there is a correct fitment of profile for me.
Also by this time my brother’s marriage was soon approaching and my wish to return back to be part of this last main family occasion added to me preference to return back. I was totally dissatisfied by the interest taken by my practice to send me back home. The see-sawed back and forth quite frequently on this adding to my woos. Most of the things have been packed and ready to be moved by never knew where the move is going to be.
In the mean while one of the long standing interview calls converted and the new team expressed to take me in to their new practice. Having just a couple of weeks to report I decided to make the best of these few days. While one of my closest buddies came down with his family we went on a trip to Washington D.C and Maryland. I personally liked the D.C trip the most. Though a short one it was well worth a look because of historical importance.
June/July/August
These are the times for settling down in the new place and new environment. Summer is here and I suppose this is the best season to be in this part of the world. I purchased a car (2002 Elantra) now that I knew I was going to be here for sometime and also the geography of the place with limited public transport ensured that I move in quickly for the purchase. Within the first couple of weeks it was a car and a new rental apartment to set in. Then soon enough the work, knowledge of the domain and building the relationship with the clients followed in.
All more excitement of working in a full fledge program with me being a focal point of all action was tremendous. But as days progressed the jinxes of previous project seemed to have followed me into this year as well. The eminent delays in projects ensured my waiting in the docks longer. While I started doing certain related activities nothing truly moved from a true true project sense.
While personally my wifey was back in India to appear for her final Master’s examination and also fill in the place for my brothers wedding. While I ate and spent time discovering the new village I moved into. The activities and happening life ensured that all of my weekends where busy.
While this move also ensured that I now formally stopped playing Travian, I quickly reconnected with trying to improve my health and bring down my BP levels. I initially started with Manthena’s tips and natural raw food. Then got into a bit of evening jogging and yoga. I was also actively getting into sports activities being organized by my company. Towards the mid of August I moved into Turbofire workouts and I never looked back. As of this year workouts are my new addiction. I workout close to 5 hours a week now, and its supported by modified diet and lifestyle. Much of the laziness, dizziness and fatigue slowly started to wane out but the process of self-improvement has truly started.
September/October/November
My gals back home from India and we continued to put back the lives together in the new place. Roaming a bit, shopping a bit while work moved at snails pace with lack of synergies at the clients organization. But working on few small things ensured that I was occupied and grew in my experience.
Also in October was when I joined Facebook. Yes finally am on facebook. I can recall my early social networking journey starting on Hi-5(2004), Orkut(2005), Linkedin(2006), Geni(2008) and now Facebook(2011).
My fitness journey did keep growing in knowledge and application with new gizmos and trackers being added on a continual basis. I feel am well educated enough to understand a few things to which I had no visibility to.
This period also meant it was the shopping season for me. Though not worth a mention the prices this thanksgiving seemed to be comparatively on a higher end than the last year.
December
This is the official holiday season in the US. That being said we have more than 4 official holidays in this month alone and possibly the least working hours. My assignments are seriously restricted or tapered as of this month. Being end of the year things have slowed down to gather steam in the new year.
At the end of the year we went on a drive to Chicago and returned back by the night. The chill and lack of parking space didn’t help me in any way. Probably the next time I plan I need to plan carefully and be choosy. End of year gift for my gal is a new Sony Vaio laptop which dark pink/magenta coloured one.

Am looking forward towards chopping if not dissolving my financial liabilities in the new-year. I think Rupee depreciating in value and rising interest rates back home should help me reach this goal. All together I am looking forward for a healthy, happening, and happening year and also be blessed with kids and promotions at work which are in my opinion long over due.

Health living driven by the 5 Elements

Prelude: "Panchabutala sammohanamee Manava Shareram" - Human body is an manifestation of the five elements. Diseases and ailments are nothing but imbalances in these five elements.
Ok; What are these Five elements(pancha mahabhutas) we are referring to
As per Ayurveda...
  • Akasha (ether/Space)
  • Vayu (air)
  • Teja (fire)
  • Aap (water) 
  • Prithvi (earth)
The five elements can be seen to exist in the material universe at all scales of life and in both organic and inorganic things.
In biological system, such as humans, elements are coded into three forces, which govern all life processes. These three forces (kapha, pitta and vata) are known as the three doshas or simply the tridosha. Each of the doshas is composed of one or two elements.
  • Vata dosha is composed of space and air; It is the impulse principle necessary to mobilize the function of the nervous system. It affects the windy humour, flatulence, gout, rheumatism, etc
  • Pitta dosha of fire; It is the energy principle which uses bile to direct digestion and hence metabolism into the venous system
  • Kapha of water and earth. It is the body fluid principle which relates to mucous, lubrication and the carrier of nutrients into the arterial system..



The tridosha regulates every physiological and psychological process in the living organism. The interplay among them determines the qualities and conditions of the individual. A harmonious state of the three doshas creates balance and health; an imbalance, which might be an excess (vriddhi) or deficiency (kshaya), manifests as a sign or symptom of disease

Incorporating this balance is everyday living serves two purposes; one to stay healthy and two to treat the ailments by correctly identifying and filling in the gaps.

Importance of these 5 elements in daily life.
1. Need of  Akasha (Space) - We need to create space in the body to allow the body to take-in additional quantities of other elements. If there is no space what happens is we can't supply additional nutrients required to it. Body is filled with toxins that the body either slowly succumbs to it or tries to create more space, but creating more cells and trying to adopt. Thus it stores what it can't dispose off. Thus leading to obesity.
2. Need of Prithvi (Earth / Matter) - A human body required sufficient amount of nutrients supplied in form of solid food. The presence of solid earthly food which is nutritious and  high in fiber helps the body in two-fold; It supplies the necessary nutrients and as well as aids in cleaning the system.
3. Need of Agni (Fire / Energy) - A human body being a warm blooded being requires sufficient amount of calories to produce heat and maintain the energy levels. Any lapses in the body temperature means the bodies vital organs will eventually be unsustainable and collapse. Hence body needs sufficient amount of calories and energy to sustain.
4. Need of Aap (Water) - It's ironic that we resemble to mother nature in terms of water composition. Both the human body and mother earth are composed of 70% of water. Water is a vital part of life for any living being. We can sustain life without eating anything for 7-8 weeks, but without hydration the bodies vital organs will shut down within 4 days if not being hydrated. Blood constitutes of 92% water and is the carrier of oxygen and nutrients to the entire body. No wonder water and water borne diseases are the biggest killers.
5. Need of Vayu(Air) - While food and water are quite necessary for a healthy living, if supply of oxygen is cut off the human body wouldn't even last a few minutes. Such is the importance of air and air quality on longevity and health. Intake of fresh and clean air and distancing ourselves from smoking and pollution is perhaps the most important duty we can ever offer to our body.


In a nut shell. It's our duty to create enough space by proper expulsion and accumulation of other four elements. The body should have a continuous energy source  to sustain vital systems, supplied with vital nutrients and oxygen to be carried through the water-based blood though-out the body. Any shortfalls and imbalances would lead to a bodily trigger of readjustments and leading to ailments.

Credits: http://heymonicab.com/2009/06/seasonal-dosha-chart/

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Nothing like Home!!

Earlier I was watching an Youtube video from back home. In that video I happened to hear the cukoo cukoo of Koyal or the Cuckoo Bird. This was too teasing, bringing back the older memories from back home.
I realized that among the things I miss the most from home is mainly
1. The Sounds of home.
Continuing on the cukcoo, I can recall days where I used to mimic it and call it out every time I felt happiness from within or like sharing things.
Another common sounds are the crowds when one goes to a market. The word fish market is almost applicable to even a small size market run by vendors.
Something very similar is a hand-cart vendor calls out while going by his/her route on the road.
Another sound was when one goes to a movie theater, all the hooters, whistling, clapping is another feel which one can't get any where else.
Sometimes even the Cacophonic sounds of a wedding or Ganesh immersion procession  is something which I miss.
2. The Smells of Home
Let's keep the bad smell arising from the open Nalla's and the Autowala's throwing semi-burned kerosene fumes from their half broken silencer exhaust trying to create a terrestrial acrobatic smoke display.
But a simple smell of some one doing their morning pooja at their home with Agarbathi (incense) lit, or be it aromatic smells from the kitchens all over. Even while walking down the street, the smell of special Elaichi Chai (Cardamon flavoured Tea) entices me a lot. Walk by the bakery for smell of freshly baked bread, or temple where smells of burnt camphor welcome the devotees in adobe. Fresh smell of soil when first showers of rain spray their droplets on the ever virgin land. Exquisite are the smells which we are so used to.
3. The Sights of Home
The very presence of multitude of colours which the rich Indian culture is second to none in the entire world. Even with all the giant LCDs and Neon Sign radiating heat and calling in the consumers and tourists alike in cities like New York or Tokyo are no where comparable to days when we see houses decorated with flowers, mango and neem leaves on a festival or an inviting rangoli decoration in the entrance of the house. Nothing equals the diya's on Diwali or the thousands of kites filling our skies on a sankranti. The colours of our Indian women adore are a visual treat in itself which is quite contradictory to white and blacks or earthly tones of the west. We can't get a place filled with colours as on a day of holi which incidentally resembles the rainbows.If one thinks am not going over board the flora and fauna in India no matter how rare they are becoming are quite unique and are a special treat in themselves.
4. The Tastes of Home
Nothing is parallel to what mom cooks. Yes she burns my biryani in the bottom of dish, I eat the bottom one the most. Yes my mom uses a lot of oil and salt, but I still like it and grew eating it. Yes I am choosy and hate my greens which mom makes, but heck I don't eat them, any of them outside. I miss my favourite Dil Khush (Tutty Fruity Pastry Puff), I miss my favourite Paneer Butter masala, the special hyderbadi biryani with mirchi ka salan, or a double ka meeta. I don't even want to recall the milk mysorepaak or Potharekulu from Godavari district or fruit biscuits from Karachi bakery. So many yummy yummy things. Enough of the stupid pizzaa's, and burgers with french fries or onion rings; Nothing tastes and smells better than home made Indian food; only thing which comes second is the one which we get in those famous stall and restaurants making mouth watering foods. Yum yum yum...
5. The Feel of Home
What tops it all is the warmth one gets back home. It is simply unequal. The warmth, the love, the affections is a treasure house in itself which can't be filled anywhere. The parents, the relatives, the kids its so much so happening. We are cared for, we are loved for, wanted for (in a good sense), seeked for, reached out to, and even sometimes an occasional curse after some praise. The joy with which people run around the apartment complex, the way festivals and get togethers are celebrated, the way elders are revered and relationships given importance makes me so so wanting to experience that all over. There is always that energy generating back home which makes a place to be called home lack of it makes it a house. Even in general places one could always stop by and ask help or directions if you are lost; in here one might not be surprised if the other person draws a concealed weapon or pepper spraying you thinking of some danger. Trust is something which exists in general walk of life back home, which to some extent is lesser in the western world.

No matter where one goes and explores the thing called happiness is no equal to a place called Home. A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it, so true, so really really true. Perhaps that's why even the wild animals return to their native/home roots when they want to breed their offspring. No wonder

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

American's Shop till they drop: Record Thanksgiving Sales for 2011

In my Earlier blog Exagerrated Poverty Levels in the USA, I was mentioning how the American media was projecting the state of affairs of US economy and particularly the poverty levels. While there are cries over increasing poverty, falling salaries, increasing unemployment numbers a surprising and contradictory scenario emerged from the Thanksgiving sales.
Thanksgiving apart from being an American tradition is the most happening Sales season in the US, where the retailers and consumers across the country and from neighboring countries get into a shopping frenzy.
What's rattling are the emerging numbers from the National Retail Federation (NRF), USA. NRF reported that estimated sales of $52.4 billion during the four-day weekend, up from $45 billion last year. With 9% unemployment numbers and $15 trillion in debt, this is rather surprising figures. The consumer spend continues and no conservatism seems to ever return. Whatever the news of bad economy and recession are the spending in the holiday season has not on held on but also rose year on year.
The retailers make about 20% of the revenue over the Thanksgiving weekend sales which typically lasts 4 days.

Annual revenue earned by Indian I.T. which is estimated $88 billion in revenue in 2011 according to Indian I.T. trade group, NASSCOM looks like a ridiculous figure comparing what the retailers make in an year which is around $500 Billion. One could imagine how deep the consumerism in the US is and how it drives the debt, prices and costing skyward.The same spending can not only eradicate poverty and hunger in the US but the world over !!!!
 

A few observations
  1. Exceedingly heavy promotions this year, couple with staggered store openning times drew more consumers. More stores participate and many opened at midnight or even earlier - during Thanksgiving Thursday - rather than waiting until 5 or 6 a.m. as they used to.This added shopping hours in peak season mean that year-on-year comparisons will be skewed. For example Walmart opened it stores at 10pm instead of 12am Kohls and Target opened early at 12am. Many retailers followed this suite. For myself I had my own road map based on store openings. There were beelines everywhere huge huge lines. Even the afternoon sales at North Face and Coach outlets had a line for getting into to the store and billing. North face we stood in entry line for 30minutes and another 55 minutes for billing. 
  2. What was ironic was most of the Apparel and few regular consumables have been marked up by atleast 15% in comparison to last year.Add inflationary measures the cost of merchandise has actually increased. Am pretty sure that the basket size of shopper definitely shrunk this year compared to earlier years.
  3. Thirdly the hardships of 2008 seems to be taken care as of today, as many consumers either got of debt or reduced their debt or refinanced it better. With worse off shoppers did manage to indulge in some impulsive buying suppressed previously.
  4. To sum it up the observed human condition behind the supposedly bullish Thanksgiving weekend sales indicates a bearish consumer mindset. Even though small-scale personal anecdotal experience is rarely cause for significant investment action, the nature of the encounter serves to reinforce my belief that the so called bullish Black Friday sales numbers were borne out of both consumer and seller desperation rather than some sort of resurgent confidence.
Behind the Statistics of NRF, ShopperTrak
Here is the survey method from NRF.
The survey, conducted Nov. 24-26 by BIGresearch for NRF, polled 3,826 consumers and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.6%.* NRF’s definition of “Black Friday weekend” includes Thursday, Friday, Saturday and projected spending for Sunday. The survey estimates number of shoppers, not number of people. 
 
For a person like me who had been working with statistics for a major part of my career can say the sample set is rather misleading and too unrepresentative of the actual population. The numbers given out by NRF are sample projection to a population and not actual numbers by any means. There is a significant error factor in the same. More so going by the Thanksgiving numbers it is highly improbable to predict how the rest of the holiday season which is to follow will pan out. Dampening, fatigue is never ruled out looking at 2008 numbers.
Secondly the shoppers numbers is actually traffic and not count of people who shopped. In traffic it is again an estimate of people who went to a shop.

Some more Interesting Numbers
$11.4 billion Retail sales on Black Friday alone.
28.7 million Shoppers who visited stores and websites on Thanksgiving Day
37.8 % Spending done online
48.7 % Shoppers went to department stores
37.5% Shoppers went to discount retailers
51.4% Bought clothing and accessories 39.4% Bought electronics 32.6% Bought toys
More than 9,000 People waited outside the Macy’s flagship store in New York City’s Herald Square for a midnight Friday opening
$2Price of waffle irons that set off a frenzy – or a “near-riot” as some have called it – among shoppers at a Walmart near Little Rock, Ark
20 People injured at a Los Angeles area Walmart when a woman eager to buy an Xbox 360 reportedly pepper sprayed her fellow shoppers


Financials
On Black Friday alone, retailers raked in an estimated $11.4 billion, up 6.6% from last year, according to ShopperTrak. It was the biggest year-over-year increase since an 8.3% surge in 2007, and easily surpassed the anemic 0.3% growth rate reported last year. Nationwide, about 227 million shoppers visited stores and websites during the long weekend, up from 212 million last year, the retail federation said. Foot traffic on Black Friday jumped 5.1%, ShopperTrak said.
Spending during the period is closely watched by retailers to gauge how sales might go in the final sprint before the holidays, and is also monitored on Wall Street because consumer spending accounts for about 70% of the U.S. economy. The market loves the news flow overall, by close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 291.23 points (2.59 %), the S&P 500 gained 33.88 points (2.92%).

Friday, November 18, 2011

Exaggerted Povery levels in the USA

Every now and then the American media cries aloud on how poverty is on a rise in the US and how the government is failing to arrest the same. I find it surprising for the most prosperous nations media's insane cry on poverty rise where both the government and business focus on consumerism and spending as means of economic growth. One fails to understand that spending doesn't mean to spend on unnecessary items and luxury. The context here is seems to be within the developed/Industrial world. The poverty levels are no where comparable to rest of the world.
If a country is getting deep into poverty there should be steps taken by government and public alike to increase savings in view of the tougher times, but he opposite seems to happen here. USA's is building on it debt to finance more and more spending and feed corporate greed and do nothing to stem the financial problems for the long term. No wonder US today has got a debt mounting to 100% of its GDP. Germany's debt accounts to more than 150% of its GDP. Compare that to India which has got only 25% GDP in debt.
About the cartoon: Poverty stricken people all over the world might be starving but the poor fill their diet with cheap fast food like McDonalds. Obesity by poverty and fast food chains is rampant in lower class in the US, while the opposite is true in India. Middle class and effluent communities cherish the American fast foods like the McDonalds, KFCs, Dominos and hence put on weight.
Behind the poverty definitions
Definitions of poverty vary considerably among nations. For example, rich nations generally employ more generous standards of poverty than poor nations.
Dictionary.com - the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor.
Standard definition - Significant
material deprivation, an inability to provide a family with adequate nutritious food, reasonable shelter and clothing.
What does poverty in India actually mean? It is difficult for those living in an industrialised country to truly appreciate the level of poverty in our country.
In the West, even those living in poverty can live in well-constructed dwellings, with heating, clean running water, indoor toilet facilities, access to health care, and even a vehicle. But such luxuries are a distant dream for India's poor.
In the US, the poverty level defines a earning threshold of $22,350 (total yearly income) for a family of four. If a family of four falls below this level its considered in poverty.





Statistics

USA - Nearly 46 million in poverty that's 15% of US population (as per US Census Bureau)
India - Nearly 415 million in poverty that's 41% of Indian Population (as per World Bank)
There has been no uniform measure of poverty in India.The Planning Commission of India has accepted the Tendulkar Committee report which says that 37% of people in India live below the poverty line(BPL)

The Arjun Sengupta Report states that 77% of Indians live on less than INR 20 a day (about $0.50 per day).The N.C. Saxena Committee report states that 50% of Indians live below the poverty line.
India has 33% of World's poorest population. India's number of 415 million are more than combined numbers of Africa's 26 poorest countries.


Income Levels of poor
USA - Poverty level for 2011 was set at $22,350 (total yearly income) for a family of four. That's $5587 per person per year. This doesn't take into consideration Social security, unemployment, food stamps and state paid benefits. If one where to consider these benefits most of them are above the threshold.
India - 80% of Indian Population earns less than 2 $ per day. That is less than 750$ per annum if they earn for 365 days. Which is 7 times less than what US follows as its standard.


What do the Poor Own ?
USA - According to data compiled by US government agencies, the typical household considered “poor” by census officials has a car and air conditioning. For entertainment, the household has cable or satellite TV, two color televisions, a DVD player and a VCR. If children (especially boys) are in the home, they have a video game system such as Xbox or PlayStation. In the kitchen, the household has the ordinary conveniences: refrigerator, oven, stove, microwave. Half the poor now have a personal computer. A third have a widescreen TV (plasma or LCD); a quarter have a digital video recorder such as TiVo.




India - In India the poorest are living a life of real deprivation: a large family crowded into a leaky, overcrowded, unsanitary slum-like shelter. In most situation most of the poor might not even have roof when they go to sleep on the hard ground. One can only wonder when was the last time when such person would have had stomach full of food. Life is despair and miserable, with no materialistic possession at all. Government and NGOs alike try to provide Food, Cloth and Shelter as bare minimal, but these efforts are far from reaching the millions and millions.



Hunger

USA - The media cry with alarm that “nearly one in four kids” in the nation are hungry. Again, government data show otherwise. Fully 96 percent of poor parents stated that their children were never hungry at any time during 2009, despite the severity of the recession, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

India - It is estimated that about 42.5% of the children in India suffer from malnutrition. The World Bank, citing estimates made by the World Health Organization, states that "About 49 per cent of the world's underweight children, 34 per cent of the world's stunted children and 46 per cent of the world's wasted children, live in India. The child malnutrition rate in India is twice as great as sub-Saharan Africa. Data from The World Bank shows that the percentage of underweight children in sub-Saharan Africa is 24% while India has almost twice the amount at 47%.

Moreover, the malnutrition is not just common among children but about one third of adults in the country also come under the same category with their weight less than the set standard (body mass index- 18.5).

Indian Government says that food subsidy would rise if there was any increase in the number of BPL families. Food subsidy stood at about Rs 720 billion (or $16.5 billion) in 2010. Considering the food shortages and inflation in India things are only to get worse.

An Unequal World

In 1960, the 20% of the world's people who live in the richest countries had 30 times the income of the poorest 20%; by 1995 it was 82 times.

The world's 225 richest people have a combined wealth of over $1million million. Only four per cent of this wealth - $40 billion - would be enough for basic education and healthcare, adequate food and safe water and sanitation for all the world's people.

There is a satire in corporate world saying "We are not here to solve World Hunger". May be its time to think beyond making exotic swaps and derivatives and driving economies into recession by self driven greed of gobbling more and more wealth for what ??

THE GOOD NEWS: in the past 50 years poverty world over has fallen more than in the previous 500. Since 1960 child-death rates have been halved and malnutrition has declined by a third. Developing countries have covered as much distance in human development during the past 30 years as the industrial world managed in over 100.
THE BAD NEWS: one in four of the world's people still live in severe poverty. It's worse for women than for men; and for black people than for white. Even in the so-called 'rich' world increasing numbers of people do not have enough to live on.

US needs to ask itself in retrospective....
1) Were you aware of the growing gap between the rich and the poor? May be

2) Why do you think the U.S. has higher income inequality than other industrialized countries? Capitalism

3) Why do you think the U.S. has some of the highest poverty rates among industrialized countries? Overspending

For the US, it's time to focus on human development and raising the standard of living by cutting down the disproportionate wealth between the rich and the poor. Cutting down on spending defense (rather offense) expenditure for all the conflicts they get into around the world. As for the general public it would be more of indulging in conservatism and moderation while trying to let go off unwanted fashion, luxury and fad. On the hind-sight obsession with alcohol, tobacco and other in-toxicants also needs to go.

Regrettably, however, most discussions of poverty in the U.S. are riddled with exaggeration and misinformation. Effective anti-poverty policy must be based on an accurate assessment of actual living conditions and the long-term causes of real deprivation—especially the collapse of marriage and erosion of the work ethic. Does any media houses in the US understand and even remotely interested in this. May its time not to just boost ratings by giving exaggerated numbers of their own country while rest of the world suffers on misdeeds, over consumption and greed of a few. Wake up nation.

Credits - Poverty: Dimantling myths, "How poverty is calculated in India" on rediff.com, Wikipedia and Robert Rector in Real Clear Politics

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fatenning lifestyle

Nov 14 in India is remembered as "Children's day" remembering Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru the first Prime Minister of India on his birthday. Nov 14 world wide is also marked for a rather notorious reason, it is the World Diabetes day.
The statistics world over are startling with rising number of cases with ever growing percentage of population being effected by this health condition. Estimated by 2030 1 in 5 in the US would be diabetic. India is not way to far, it has the highest diabetic population in the world. Whats alarming these numbers are set to increase and grow in unmanageable proportions with the current generations failing to realise the simple cause for this an epidermic problem. Our children, the younger generations are more obese than the other age groups.
Obesity is one of the primary causes to diabetes in addition to genetic makeup. People fail to realise that diabetes as condition is a safety mechanism by which the human body is genetically evolved over centuries to survive hardships of mother nature. This bodily condition maintains and controls the blood glucose level to what is required, sustainable and needs to be stored for future needs.
In Indian or African races where the population is geographically and historically exposed to repeated famine and malnutrition the human races here have evolved to adopt the life of famine. The way the body achieves this is by responding to small indication or triggers for starvation. Human body or brain to be precise receives an indication of anxiety, stress and reads it as stress and anxiety driven from fear of lack of food; lack of food was foremost primeval fear of mankind; fear of immediate loss of life drives adrenaline, and energy boost to take evasive action. The anxiety and tensed state of mind drives automatically triggers in the body for the preservation mechanism to kick in and convert as much of energy as possible into fat reserves and slow down the metabolism. There is a human hormone called "Cortisol" which is released into the blood stream during those anxious and stressed out moments. Any amount of "Cortisol" means the self preservation and fat storage mechnism of the body starts. Once the days of anxiety and fear have passed, the human body slowly returns back to higher metabolic rate and lower fat storage. This has been a successful mechanism to sustain life during the difficult days of famines and lack of nutrition which the human race has sustained and conquered during the evolutionary periods and this embedded in the genetic make-up.

What is happening today ?


  1. Stress levels are high; why ? Today's world all over has become so competitive that everyone is forced to run fast with time and each and every one is playing an endless catchup with each and everyone. Result is people are stressed out trying to reach the targets set by family, by their schools, by their organization to top it all personal goals and targets if any only make the things worse. Stress, stress and more stress piles up. Anxiety and tension of future goals triggers a brain triggered chemical reaction sensing the need of self preservation against non-existence. Only that non-existence in the present is not driven by hunger. Hence the effect of body stacking up fats and slowing down metabolism. While this continues we are not only high on calories we are loosing control on our calorie intake.

  2. Then there is a thinking in the recent generations that you got to enjoy what ever you can today as you have no tomorrow. Result is people are over indulging in Sweet beverages, fried foods , bakery foods and sweet savoury. Add to this the idiot box, the movies, the game boxes, the smart phones implying an addiction and a complete lack of control on physical activity. With people drooling all over these devices and snacking in with all those sodium and fat rich foods exponentially implodes the problem.

  3. There is no physical or mental activity. True we are so much used to luxury and things happening on push of a button, that we hardly get to do anything which sustains a healthy living lifestyle. Evolutionarily be it hunter-gatherer or forger, the amount of physical activity which the human body endured during the lifetime today is not equal to what out ancestors might have endured in an year or lesser. We live a complete sedentary life, full of materialistic indulgences, cravings and ever growing desire for more more and more.

What does the body which is already in preservation mode do ?? With all the tension it continues to pile more and more fat for future needs. This is a cycle triggered by the stress around us and uncontrollable appetite of unhealthy foods which follows us. Lack of activity, slower metabolism !!! Recipe for disaster
So how can we reverse this ?
1. Cut down stress levels. Reassess what is that one will finally achieve by going 100 miles an hour. One needs to apply brakes voluntarily or else we will run into huge road bumps.
2. Think positive and be happy. Stop worrying so much of everything and anything. What is the worse that can happen is someone will die. But everything in this world has expiration date isn't it. We either do what we are supposed to do or worry about what can't be done. We have a choice
3. Be active - Both mentally and physically. As long as one is really engaged and occupied with determination and goals, the focus of the body and brain are all on achieving one singular purpose and as long as on is unabated they will tend to have control on what the brain activity is like. Physical activity on the other hand will keep challenging the body physically to improve, keep all of its systems running. If any part of body are not used, the body responds by shutting it down slowly. Ex. Lesser we walk, lesser the challenge on leg muscles, lesser the challenge on sustaining those muscle groups, hence under nourished over a period of time leading to weak lower body.
4. Be conscious of what we eat - This may be the last. Why ? if one is successfully in 1 & 2, the impact is there are no self preservation triggers from the brain. Hence the body is not getting into starvation and self preservation mode. If one is successful on 3, the body metabolism is still relatively high. This combined the body takes in only those which are essential and ejects which are not. This is in the same way the proteins or vitamins are minerals which are excess and not required are rejected by the body. The body has capacity to reject fats and excess calories one consumes if one trains oneself to those levels. This is achieved by a disciplined mind over matter and intelligent eating which prevents any trigger of starvation by the body.
It's my strong view point that one who has control over there brain and followed by positive self talk can achieve and sustain and relatively healthy physical state over a sustained period of time. Any negative thoughts, any stress any anxiety levels has such a negative effect that the impact of the same are beyond our comprehension. Let conquer or minds, tune them, calm them. Meditate slow down the pace and make space for happiness and well being.
Diabetes, obesity and related issues will not bother for a healthier part of life.

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