Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A modern-day soap opera

An Indian-origin nurse in the U.K. working in the hospital where Kate Middleton is admitted, gets a call from "the Royal family" which she passes on to some other nurse. Some detailed questions are asked which this other nurse replies to.  It later turns out that the call is a hoax, from a radio station in Australia.  A nice practical joke, if you ask me. There was nothing to suggest anything indecent or offensive in the call, and everyone could have had a good laugh and moved on. But the story took a twist.


The nurse, Jacintha, who passed on the call, naturally gets named  in the media, may have been a bit embarrassed by the whole affair, and had to endure a bit of leg-pulling from her colleagues. She went and  committed suicide!  I don't think being on the receiving end of a prank like this  is sufficient cause to commit suicide, and if she, well, happened to do it, it was her problem. May be she was depressed or something. Or unhappy with her family. Or slightly unhinged. Who knows? Anyway, since anything to do with the royal family grabs a lot of attention, this came to the attention of the media. Who blew it up bigtime.


The problem is, the story starts with a death – a real death. So no one can put things in perspective, and talk reasonably. Especially not if they are representing big institutions like the media, or the radio station in question, or if they are getting quoted. It is extremely politically correct to show concern at a tragic occurrence like this, while condemning those who may have been even indirectly a cause for such an action.


There is an uproar. Everyone says it is a tragic thing (which I guess it is), and everyone says that the caller (the guy from the Australian radio station) is responsible – by that logic, I can trace every death to someone or the other who had been cruel to the chief protagonist some time in their life.  The latest fashion in the media seems to be to pick up one death at a time (we will ignore incidents of mass killing like what keeps happening once every year in the US) where we can sympathize with the victim, and feel that they were unjustly done in. And then milk it to the hilt. Emotion sells. So make sure the newspaper drips with tears.  There are photos of the grieving family – notice how well they seem to have adjusted to the situation? The family is always shown with a grim visage, hugging each other, and dabbing tears – I am sure this happens whenever there is a camera in sight, since you can't sustain this kind of behaviour for days on end. 


Even if someone feels that this is being over-hyped, he or she dare not speak up. It is really, really, politically incorrect to sound so heartless. You can't even do it around the lunch table with your colleagues nowadays.  It seems to be a race to sound more holier-than-thou than the next man. Anyway, that is the subject of a separate discussion. Meanwhile, every day newspaper readers are exposed to tearful photos of the family hugging, or rather, of the family hugging tearfully, for a whole week. This happens across three continents, since the nurse who died was an Indian from Mangalore, working in the UK, and the call originated from Australia. The radio station in question is totally on the defensive and they have to be seen to be making amends. So there is a very tearful, regretful, apology from the callers in question, who are "very very sorry" and "devastated" by what happened, no doubt drafted by the communications department of the radio station, vetted by their lawyers across three continents, and released very tearfully; never mind what the callers are actually feeling. The radio station is also compelled (no doubt by its own conscience) to announce a couple of million dollars compensation to the victim's (sic) family, which I am sure, makes them hug each other more tightly when the cameras are in sight.


They follow her all the way to the funeral in Mangalore, and there are more tearful photos.  For the near future, whenever they are seen in public, they have to maintain a grim visage.  May her soul rest in peace.


What is the likely fallout of this? All big organizations, not only media houses, will be drafting fresh guidelines as we speak. No more practical jokes. No more jokes. No levity even.  It may lead to someone committing suicide.  Even jokes over the lunch table will be banned. As it is, it is taboo to mention "sensitive" subjects like race, religion, sex, politics, and anything in which there are diverse opinions. Now it will so become that you can't even pull anyone's leg, since they may take offence and commit suicide. That will not be a very good thing, so we should avoid taking any risk. What is the bet that all Vision Statements will start incorporating the word "sensitivity"?  Once they put it in their Vision Statements, you can't accuse them of being insensitive.


Meanwhile, people keep drowning by the hundreds in boat accidents, dying in fires in garment factories where the exits are blocked from outside, getting killed by pilotless drones dropping bombs into their weddings. Someone should take these tearful photos of single deaths to places like Kashmir, Af-Pak, North Africa, and ask them what they think about it. I am sure the response would be very vocal. But no one would dare publish it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A tribute to Ravi Shankar

A rainbow that straddled the world,
Wowing both the East and the West,
With the traditional that he revered,
He broke bounds, mingling with world's best.

Bringing India to the world at large,
No better ambassador can be found. 
Who said "East is East and West is West"?
He proved him wrong, for through him, they met.

As did traditions of hoary age,
With the colour and dazzle of life.
His zest for life could not be contained,
By the usual rules that bind others.

At every stage in life he rebelled,
Breaking bounds, exploring the new.
But he kindled afresh where he went,
A respect for the past, born anew.

Genius cannot be contained by rules,
Nor should ever be made to comply.
His own path the Genius must choose,
Blazing trails for others to walk by.

Dinesh Gopalan
13 December, 2012

Dinesh Gopalan
mob: 9845257313; blog: http://www.dineshgopalan.com

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My thoughts on what "Food" means

Article attached below on 'White Bread is "dead" bread', as an example of many such articles that we keep coming across.  While this one is correct in what it states, or at least the conclusion is correct (don't eat white bread), the problem with such information is also that, with food industry lobbies, government lobbies, allopathic lobbies, so-called scientific lobbies, sheer misinformed lobbies (like modern day nutritionists who don't know what they are talking about) controlling a lot of the research in the world, you don't even know what to believe. Plus the fact that some of the "accepted truths" about food and health, the postulates if we want to call them that, that are based on the "modern allopathic western" construct, are faulty. Any theorem built on faulty postulates is likely to be faulty as well, and most of the "wisdom" on food and health out there are theorems built on faulty postulates.


Most of the research on health and nutrition out there is absolute junk, and actively contributes to the deterioration of health standards the world over.  Is it a coincidence that health standards in the US, which is the country with the most processed/ industrialised food, and with the most research as well, and the biggest per capita "health (sic)" budget by far, are among the worst in the world - one-third of all US people are obese, and they don't know what positive, vibrant good health really means.


So what are some of the fundamental stuff about food that I consider "self evident truths" (self-evident at least to me)?


Listed below are some of the rules about food and health that I believe in and follow (at least substantially if not completely or fully, and for the record, I am not in the least fanatical about following these rules)  - all of these conclusions are based on a lot of reading over the years, distilled wisdom of natural-health experts, sifting and sieving, and eliminating all that is contrary. If you want more "proof" for each of these assertions, I cannot oblige because that would be a huge waste of time! 'Tis better to be considered dogmatic, than to waste time trying to prove your faith to non-believers (saying that I just made up)!  

Suffice to say that there is enough material to support each of these assertions - google, and thou shall find!  There is also enough material to support exactly the opposite assertions, and many other shades of assertions in between, as well. But then, "the essence of faith is to ignore the nay-sayers, the liars, the agents of the devil, the provocateurs, the saboteurs, who will sway you away from the true path" (another saying I just made up).



1) Eat only what nature gave, as close to what nature gave. In other words, eat "food". Manufactured products are not food. Examples of manufactured products, is anything that comes out of a packet or a bottle! That includes breakfast cereals and juices whether called "Real" or not.  


2) The body is a chemical factory, and breaks down food into its components and rebuilds the components into what the body needs. Therefore, food needs to be easy to breakdown. All natural foods are easy to break down, since they "spoil" - any foods that don't spoil  are by definition, not food.   "Only eat foods that spoil fast, but eat them before they spoil"


3) Do not count calories. It is a useless wasteful exercise. 


4) Drink lots of water. (Not soda)


5) Foods to avoid: those foods that are actually dangerous and highly harmful to health: white sugar; refined flour; any foods with high fructose corn syrup (which means most of what passes off  as food in western supermarket shelves); too much salt, dalda / hydrogenated vegetable oil; any kind of junk food - that includes pizzas, burgers, and all things of their ilk; white bread; carbonated drinks; ice-cold water / water from the fridge; all bakery products; all milk products (except butter and ghee which are good for health)


6) Foods to preferably avoid:  old food, stale food, food that has been cooked more than a few hours back, reheated food. Food kept in the fridge after cooking would by definition belong to this category


7) Foods to avoid at any cost: microwaved food. Avoid the microwave at all costs


8) Let your diet consist predominantly of plants / plant-based foods. In other words, fruits, vegetables and their ilk.


9) Minimize the consumption of grains - rice, wheat - as far as possible while increasing the consumption of fruits, vegetables, etc. as a proportion of the diet


10) Super foods - foods that are most excellent for health: all vegetables, all fruits, sprouts


11) Foods that are brilliant for maintaining health and have a lot of medicinal value as well (just a brief list, there are many): amla, honey (not the store bought honey that is processed, but raw unprocessed forest honey), flax seeds, fresh fruit juice (freshly extracted, less than five minutes old, since most of the nutrients get oxidised very fast), fresh vegetable juice (ditto)


12) As far as possible, buy seasonal, locally-produced stuff. It is not harmful to not do so, but generally better for health to follow this principle. Also, do not keep raw vegetables, etc. stored for too long – the extreme ideal is to buy directly from the farmer and cook the stuff immediately – though for logistical reasons one may need to buy for a few days at a time. In short, "Preferably ensure that the distance (and time) from farm to the table is as short as possible"

13) Eat sparingly. The less you eat, the less your body needs, and the healthier you will be

14) Fast frequently, for more and more extended periods.


15) Ignore fad diets. Following the above rules should be enough.



The above is a top-of-the-mind partial list.  There's more, but you get the general idea...


Also, I am not even getting into the science of food combinations (trophology) or into organic food.  Those are different dimensions of what good food means...


Would love to hear your reactions (which, by the way, it's enough to state, you don't have to prove your assertions!)



PS - forwarded article on 'White Bread' attached below









White Bread is "dead" bread  (author unknown)

The Swiss government has been aware of the dangers of eating white
bread for decades and in order to get its populace to stop eating it,
Switzerland has placed a tax on the purchase of white bread. The tax
money is given to bakers to reduce the price of whole wheat bread to
encourage people to switch.

The Canadian government passed a law prohibiting the "enrichment" of
white bread with synthetic vitamins. Bread must contain the original
vitamins found in the grain, not imitations.

Essentially, white bread is "dead" bread. Frequently, consumers are
not told the truth about this and so called "enriched" flour.

Why is the color of white bread so white when the flour taken from wheat is not?

It's because the flour used to make white bread is chemically bleached
, just like you bleach your clothes. When you are eating white bread,
you are also eating residual chemical bleach. Flour mills use
different chemical bleaches, all of which are pretty bad. Here are a
few of them: oxide of nitrogen, chlorine, chloride, nitrosyl and
benzoyl peroxide mixed with various chemical salts.

One bleaching agent, chloride oxide, combined with whatever proteins
are still left in the flour, produces alloxan. Alloxon is a poison and
has been used to produce diabetes in laboratory animals. Chlorine
oxide destroys the vital wheat germ oil. It will also shorten the
flour's shelf life.

Good Nutrition: You Won't Find It In White Bread
In the process of making flour white, half of the good unsaturated
fatty acids, that are high in food value, are lost in the milling
process alone, and virtually all the vitamin E is lost with the
removal of wheat germ and bran. As a result, the remaining flour in
the white bread you buy, contains only poor quality proteins and
fattening starch.

But that is not the whole story as to the loss of nutrients. About 50%
of all calcium, 70% of phosphorus, 80% iron, 98% magnesium, 75%
manganese, 50% potassium, and 65% of copper is destroyed. If that is
not bad enough, about 80% thiamin, 60% of riboflavin, 75% of niacin,
50% of pantothenic acid, and about 50% of Pyridoxine is also lost.

Scientific Study Has Confirmed What The Swiss Have Known For Years
These horrific numbers are the results of a study run by the
University of California, College of Agriculture.

It is obvious, from what we have learned, that white bread should be
avoided. Whole wheat, rye, and grain breads made with whole wheat
flour is a better way.

It is a good idea to always read the labels and never buy foods that
contain artificial flavors, colors, bleached flour, preservatives,
hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.

Dinesh Gopalan
mob: 9845257313; blog: http://www.dineshgopalan.com