Sunday, December 26, 2010

D3 to the rescue.....

Just came across this report , where Nandan Nilekani puts forth the 3 numbers, which would define every Indian in the years to come. UID, mobile number and bank account number. While the thinking, behind , what life will be like in 2020, demographic definitions, numbers representing migrations and economies, and prospective human needs , is to be greatly admired, I have often wondered , why we are so blind to numbers that often represent the "internal me" so to speak.

I've just had occasion to check out vitamin D levels. The results are an eye opener, not to mention , a trigger for intense searches on google , that continue to open my eyes wider and wider.

My earliest introduction to Vit D, was in school, when we answered questions about rickets, in the filling-in-the-blanks part of the examination paper. Sunlight was our guaranteed permanent traditional supply , and for a tropical country, we were always blessed. One always assumed that one may be deficient in other vitamins, but there would be no worries with Vitamin D.

I was wrong.

Somewhere after you cross the 50's , the niggling aches and pains begin. By the time you cross 60, you start suspecting things. In the last one year, I have learnt more names of bones and ligaments, done innumerable xrays, even done an MRI which resulted in a blogpost introducing a new genre of music, and I would have been a great Brand Ambassador for various ointments and Zandu Balm had a certain item number expert actress not beat me to it.

Turns out, that when we handle all these age related niggles, like osteoporosis, hypothyroidism, prediabetes, hypertension, depressions, etc, we are actually concentrating on individual trees, where the forest view is actually relevant. Surely, each has a solution, but it is something that is part of a grander scheme of things.

I couldnt believe it after, my Vitamin D3 blood test results showed up in the deficient range, after a lifetime of bright sunlight, sports, etc. So I investigated matters.

Turns out, that D3 is the vitamin we generate in our bodies after absorbing sunlight. D2 is what the plants and fungi generate. It is fashionable for post menopausal women to discuss the taking of calcium, the absorbtion of which needs D3. And so many of us blindly keep taking calcium supplemented with wrong type of D. 99% of the Calcium is required for healthy teeth and bones, besides being required in transmitting nerve impusles to the brain, which handles the triggering of the hormone levels in our body. The remaining is used up to shore up the immune system, and the muscles. (I wish I had known this earlier).

This Vitamin D3 is actually a hormone. And so its deficency in the body, is always made up for in the body, by some other hormone or hormones going out of range, to maintain the dynamic body balance. Much like a drummer going unnaturally loud to drown out a besura singer in an orchestra.

For example, besides the obvious problems of bone health, fractures etc, a study was conducted in Finland, by the National Institute of Health and Welfare, to study mean D3 levels in the population and observe health problems. While the mean healthy value for D3 was 75-80 , that in the Finnish population was actually half that. A study was conducted to ascertain the link between D3 and Parkinsons disease, for 29 years. They found 50 unpleasant Parkinsons episodes over that period and studied the iced serum samples. Turns out that those whose D3 levels in the blood were around 50, had a lower risk of Parkinsons disease, than those whose D3 level was 25.

D3 also has something to do with your blood pressure. While there are more cases of blood pressure increase in winter in places far from the equator, it has been found that administering doses of Vitamin D3 to patients of hypertension, caused both the systolic and diastolic BP to decrease. To get into more detail, vitamin D receptors have been found both in the heart and blood vessels , indicating that although we may not know how , this vitamin has something to do here.

Vitamin D3 also has something to do with diabetes. A deficiency , impairs a persons ability to synthesize and secrete insulin in a correct manner. It isnt a cure for diabetes, and there is often a strong genetic component to getting diabetes, but it looks like having a decent D3 level , keeps your diabetes under a proper control.

There have been studies that indicate that this partucular vitamin deficiency could have something to do with depression, obesity, kidney problems, heart problems, cancers and even multiple sclerosis. Several studies indicate that good levels and adequate safe supplementation of vitamin D3 in multiple sclerosis patients helps inhibit this autoimmune disease.

A study done in 2007, in the US indicated that upto half the breast cancer cases and two thirds of colo-rectal cancer cases can be prevented by correct supplementation of Vitamin D3.

Adequate D3 levels in the blood , says another study, means better cognition in patients and elderly folks suffering from Alzheimers Disease.

Would it surprise you to know that Vitamin D3 has something to do with infertility ? This vitamin is required for creating sex hormones, as well as is a key factor in regulating cell growth. Messed up D3 levels often lead to things like PCOS, PMS, ovulatory dysfunctions and infertility.

So is this some kind of magic ? NO.

As we age, our skin's capacity to process sunlight into bio-available D3 (with the help of liver et al) decreases. We dont realize it because it happens gradually. We put on weight, become hypothyroid, some get lethargic, some get depressed, some are amazed at the variety of muscle and bone pains that suddenly happen. Thinning of bones, leads sometimes to posture problems.

Today, there is a doctor almost for every organ, but there isn't anyone for LIFE as a whole.

And so we go to to neuro physicians, orthopaedic fellows, endocrinlogists, cardiac chaps, psychiatrists, skin specialists, even intensivists and surgeons.

This is almost like approaching a city's problems piecemeal, by catching goondas /punishing them without finding out about their motivations, family and moral backgrounds, providing vehicles without providing roads infrastructure, declaring fancy courses in schools without trained teachers. You notice a problem, and provide instant local solutions without worrying about how it relates to other things in the city. Things then often work at cross purposes, and supporting one thing hinders another. You find out that much much later . Then you appoint a fancy committee, which takes years to do a report and tell you what they should have known in the first place before trying out piecemeal stuff.

Unfortunately, in life, we are our own committee.

We need to be alert to how we feel physically as a whole. May be those tingling extremities are related to your sense of lethargy; possibly diabetes ? Yes, your knee pain has something to do with your weight, but could it be bone thinning, weak muscles , and could your sense of depression be related ?

The vitamin D3 test is a very simple , but expensive blood test. It doesn't cost anything more than a branded outfit. But we spend more thoughts and money on brands than health. Avoid these check ups, and you wont be fitting in that outfit for some time to come.

A serum D3 value of 30 ng/Ml and above is considered normal and acceptable.

A value > 100 is extremely dangerous and it means you have overdosed on the D3.

A serum D3 value between 20 and 30, indicates an Insufficiency in your D3 levels.

A serum value below 20, is a Deficiency.

Overdosing on D3 is a very serious problem , leads to kidney problems, sometimes with fatal results. So checking levels and taking the supplements , if necessary, of the appropriate strength/potency, under the advice of a good qualified doctor is recommended.

One should not take any supplements without these blood tests, as this is a fat soluble vitamin, and is stored in the body, unlike vitamin B, where excess is excreted out. Certain diabetes medications like metformin, actually cause a depletion of D3 (and vitamin B12 too) levels according to research. So check your D3 levels before you rush and someone hikes your dosage or puts you on insulin shots.

BP problems that are defiant in the face of excellent medication, could sometimes be solved by checking the D3 levels. A good D3 level sometimes gets the medications to behave.

Supplementation can be done by swallowing prescribed ampule doses and drinking certain doses of D3 granules mixed with any cold liquid. No, these are not prohibitively expensive, and are much cheaper than all the various pills you pop everyday, and the pizzas and Big Macs that are part of your trendy life.

For a long time, we've been a complacent society. Healthwise. Cardiac stuff , earlier thought to be troublesome for westerners addicted to eating red meat and alcohol, is now our prerogative. We lead the world in diabetes. Regardless of where we stay, in India or abroad. We even call it a rich persons disease, giving an instant status upgrade to some.

While hospitals constantly upgrade their cardiac, nephrology, neurosurgery, infertility, orthopaedic and even psychiatric setups to match with the best, in machinery and patient costs, certain things like adequate vaccine storage facilities, neonatal thyroid checkups , nutrition therapies, preventive diagnostic tests , hygienic living assistance are relegated to the lower rungs.

Maybe vitamin D3 is not as exciting as some other things. But sometimes, in our big hurry to beat everyone else and reach somewhere, we forget, that the roads travelled on by everyone are made of the same stuff.

I realize many of my blogger friends are much younger than me, and in the pink of health.

But I like to think, that when they get to my age, they will still be looking for more mountains to climb and conquer, more marathons to run, more books to read and write, thanks to some decent preventive check- ups they did across the years......

Friday, December 24, 2010

A HipHop Lunch

Imagine the scenario. A campus teeming with young people with eminently commentable dressing patterns, all from across the country , there to attend a very well known , well entrenched youth festival. Banners and stuff all across campus, making use of the huge density of trees for holding them up. Stalls with soft drinks, all kinds of youth centric companies exhibiting their wares and sponsorships, an exhibition of Harley Davidson bikes, including one with an embedded music system, so to speak, (which you could actually hear above the revving of the engine, but I challenge anyone to listen in the 7 pm traffic rush outside, with 5 cars honking at you...). They even had two real Sumo Wrestlers, who did workouts in the gym, under the supervision of a trainer 1/10th their size. Asha Bhosle, Kavita Sheth, Iktara, the works. Even Medvedev, the President of Russia couldn't keep away, and came with all the associated tough looking security.

Early morning today , saw droves of sleepy eyed young boys and girls lugging and rolling suitcases to the Main Gate, on their way home from the campus, where caution, voices, and other things were thrown to the winds, over 4 days of revelry.

And into this chaos, 2 old ladies decided to meet for the first time.

Two years ago, on Dec 20, 2008, 5 people who were unaware of each others existence , except as residents of Blogger, decided to meet. For a lunch. They had so much fun, they decided to meet again. This happened several times in 2009, at assorted venues, and an anniversary of sorts was celebrated in Dec 2009 , with folks traveling in from Pune and Indore, and a great time was had by all, not to mention some folks trying to swing on the roots of a amazingly tolerant banyan tree.

2010 has been difficult. I know we've had scams, and stuff, lot of running in parliament, and some may even be happening as I write this, but somehow, in keeping with the exceptional situation all over, the 2010 Bloggers lunch didn't seem to be happening.

Some folks were travelling out of Mumbai, some had many weddings to attend , and some were unable to travel into Mumbai from outside.

But one lady travelled a huge distance down from Bihar, (or is it Jharkhand? never mind...) braving Naxalite areas , with no trains moving there at night, and 6-8 hour stops for trains at roadside stations. She was to visit family in Mumbai and she informed the other old lady about it much in advance.

The nice thing was her family lived nearby, and so the two ladies met . This morning, at 11:30 am.

No name cards and stuff was needed. You can tell a fellow blogger from a mile away, and she stood there at the gate while the other lady performed some parking acrobatics in the presence of some overzealous security.

Enthusiastic meetings, visits to home, and family, and the two ladies, set off for some sightseeing . As is traditional, perhaps, unknowingly or by habit, a visit to the local Devi Temple kind of started off the meet. Built around the idol image found underground, and honored by visits of the great late M. S Subbalakshmi and religious gurus, this temple has a very old history No crowds, no hustle and bustle, no priests urging you to "move on", just a quiet temple, with the Goddess quietly observing folks coming to worship her.

A longish drive around campus, seeing the various departments, and the younger blogger from the north, who is also an academic might have found it interesting. She had been on walks on earlier visits since her family lives close to the Institute, but this was possibly the first time she had a fast campus darshan tour.

Our way to lunch, and at one turning , it was either us or a car with a flag and red beacon . (Don't know what it is with ministerial/powerful red beacon cars and me, but during the last lunch here, some army types drove in excitedly in tinted cars , beacons and flags. ) This time it was us out front, with the flag-car behind us. I finally knew what a pilot car feels like. As we sailed into the parking area, I found out who was the Big Visitor, as we were summarily asked to vacate a wonderful parking space and go park under a far away tree. One doesn't argue in front of whistling cops, police jeeps with barricaded windows, and the two old ladies decided to make their way to lunch.

This was, the 3rd blog-lunch at this place. The guy should even give us a discount. But we were a good change for the folks there, from the usual smart , young, twittering and facebooking , casually posh, and poshly ordinary young people, sometimes referred to as dudes and dudettes, normally seen there.

A nice vegetarian lunch was ordered, and enjoyed over lots of chit chat about the state of the world, the state of education, administration offices, young people, their ambitions, whether its a nice idea to shift to Mumbai (it isn't), how some offices we have to deal with are the pits, how matrimonial search techniques are different today than in our time. :-)

There was great concern over knees, and the trouble they cause, Vitamin D3 blood tests (more about that in a forthcoming post), our fun memories of meeting other bloggers. A bit of tsk tsk about young folks today.

And we suddenly realised that the raita we had ordered was not so thick, and there was a lot of it left. Like we don't like to waste stuff we had ordered, and so at the fag end of the meal, we asked for an empty bowl, and half the pineapple raita was "poured" into it, and the two ladies kind of drank the raita in great style, chewing and nibbling on the fresh pineapple titbits.

Of course some photos were taken (not drinking raita), one of the in-charge types, clicked one with both of us.

I too took some. Of people and things. And veggies.

We spent almost 2 hours talking and still could have talked more. This always happens when I meet bloggers that I follow and read. Start off as if we've met before , and there is always so much to talk.

An amazing way to get to know a person, is to read the persons views on a plethora of subjects , through her blog.

The last time I had a one on one meeting with a blogfriend, it was a year and more ago, in Sunnyvale, USA.

The same feeling, the same conclusion.

The two of us get up and leave, weaving our way through tables choc-a -bloc with young people and luggage, having a last bite, before, bidding goodbye to friends.

They, to friends they have recently made, and me to a friend, it feels, that I have always known. She , amazingly says the same , as she gets off at the gate, to cross the road, on her way home.....

The world suddenly seems a nicer place.

All the signs are there.

They even served onions at the lunch table .......


Sunday, December 19, 2010

A gem of a choice.....

Some stand
on the shoulders
of parents,
zeros without them,
that a fall,
will be cushioned,
by mattresses
stuffed with
papers of certain colors,
obliging officials,
and the
rights of innocents.

And some,
years after
slogging years,
feet firmly on the ground,
eyes willing the ball,
stand tallest
at 5ft 5inches,
as they
and sweep,
in an arc in the sky,
22 x 50 x 100
of them.......

A slight smile,
a deep exhaling
as he removes the helmet
and looks up
into the beyond
his father,
who showed the way,
but left him
to define his own paths
by hard work,
quiet concentration,
and respect.

At 37,
his fathers child
and a favourite child of the country,
his is not to
sit back and gloat;
he mobilises
to face
a Protean swing
and spin...
eyes sharp,
mind calm
a billion prayers empowering him.

Mothers wish
for a son like him,
Coaches pray
for a student like him
Fathers smile
when they watch him,
children puff up
when they talk about him,
and blades of grass
on the cricket grounds
all over the country
shiver in excitement
as they recall being part of it all....

He stands tallest
as he calls himself
an Indian first,
in the face of
mindless statements
by those with mortgaged minds.

How many
Republic days must go by
before someone
in high places
next choice for
Bharat Ratna
is obvious........

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Return of the Fighting Fi(a)t

She was with us for almost 38 years.

And now, after an exemplary service of so many years, that actually coincides with one's retirement, she has taken off, to return to the native place.

She preceded me in this house by two years . For someone accustomed to a lumbering Ambassadors she was pleasurably light, and a delight to manoeuvre.

Her first trip out of state , was to Goa in the winter of 1975. No express highways, and food malls, but she expertly negotiated the narrow 30 degree U turn with 60 degrees gradient in the Khandala Ghats en route from Mumbai to Pune. Onwards via Kolhapur and Belgaum, to Goa, it was an trouble free ride. Goa with some bridgeless rivers then, and she would enjoy the slow ferry ride amidst the smells of diesel and feni, and the subsequent drive through the back roads. Of course, she didn't know we were enamoured of the native red "chira" stone cut from the mountains in Goa, and must have groaned aloud when we insisted on carrying home 4 such stones in the trunk, which caused several eyebrows to rise at the border check post, where they were convinced we were smuggling feni liquor.

Her next trip with us was in the summer of 1977 , almost a South India Darshan , as it were. Driving down the Western ghats, with trips to Bangalore, Mysore, Hubli, Bandipur National Forest, Mudumuali Sanctuary, and Ooty. Then down to Coimbatore in the southern plains. Languages changed several time, milestones , of course kept changing.

A day here and there, and she continued down to Thiruvanantapuram, then called Trivandrum. 3 days, of seeing museums, wonderful textiles, even a movie we didn't understand a word of, because it was in Tamil, and it was time to aim for India's southern tip. Kanyakumari/Cape Comorin, the confluence of the three oceans, and then back up the Coromandel Coast to Pondicherry , then Bangalore, and Hyderabad. The names of have changed now, but had she travelled now, she would have probably recognized the roads.

Several trips, a few years later, down the Maharashtra Coastal back roads, visiting folks in ancestral places, she certainly had her fill of forts, and beaches, areca nut and coconut plantations.

A couple of times, she did go northwest, towards Gujarat. There were some worrisome times, like the time she got stuck in some obnoxious fumes emanating from a collapsed chemical tanker, and the visibility was almost zero for a few kilometres.

Middle age makes your structure porous (ask me , I should know), and some of those fumes came on through the floor , and forced all the people to rush out shouting for help. Several cars banged against her unknowingly in the foggy fumes, and she did sustain grievous injuries. But miraculously, she was helped out by a altruistic lorry driver, who couldn't bear to see the little son of the house desperately in tears over all this and unwilling to abandon her.

She was back home the next day, bloody , banged but unbowed. She had several surgeries after that. But kept indicating the signs of age in the way she would groan when we made her travel fast. The Mumbai monsoons played havoc with her skin, and she had to get it patched and redone. For some years she looked green, and later on a dark blue.

But she would miraculously perform at all important times.

Like coming in from Lonavla in the ghats during torrential rains in the thick of night, because the only daughter of the house , on her regular maika trip to Mumbai (from Delhi) , was to be driven to the train station and going by taxis was not the done thing.

Like the time, she was the official conveyance for a dear neighbor's son's Nikkah (Moslem wedding service). She was to take the young couple back to the boy's house, and gave everyone a fright when she wouldn't budge, for a while. Good sense must have prevailed, because she did get going, and managed to do her wedding duties with great aplomb. Only when she tried to go out the next day, did they find out that she had a problem with her Bendix wheel. Which was to be an Achilles (w)heel of sorts.

Like the niggling bone fractures and muscle pulls that bother me, the Bendix wheel thing was really bothersome for her, and she would get stuck at all kinds of places, like in downtown Mumbai at rush hour, in torrential rain in slush along a lakeside, and sometimes even on an incline next to quarries and stuff with heavy truck traffic. She held her own, and always cooperated with who ever came to help.

Like all folks who go to the beauty parlour, she too, would go in periodically for complexion cleaning and color treatments, not to mention , polishing. But she was getting on in years, and although everyone, right from little children, older folks, ladies in wedding finery, roadside altruistic vendors, rickshawallahs, students walking by, yuppie types with bright white shirts had an opportunity to push her to get her going, over the years, it was clear, that her activity had to be cut down.

In the meanwhile, the world had changed. It was now full of modern weird shapes, noiseless travel (inside), smooth shifts, and sophisticated names. Sometimes she felt out of place when she went out, and folks would give her looks. They would exclaim at the noise she made, and she often suffered impatient honking from others when she appeared to be a bit slow. A few cops even stopped her once demanding to see her papers, and shook their amazed heads when they checked them.

By and by she would rattle and sometimes sneeze. Found it laborious to turn here and there. All that effort would get her all hot under the carburettor collar, and she would stop in some quiet place, relax, and cool down before starting out again.

Its been 38 years. For our old Fiat car. The Premier Padmini.

It was basically home bound the last year. Driven just to keep the battery heart ticking. Many folks asked about buying it. It commanded so little a price, that two wheelers cost more. But selling was something we could not think of. Very often such cars are consigned to lives as taxis. The black and yellow ones. And she wouldn't be one of those.....

And so when we heard of an institute in our native Kokan region, that trained fellows in automobile repairs , so that they could start their own 'combined enterprise in an area now teeming with interstate highways and traffic, an idea took seed.

They needed a car(s) for the students to learn on. Something they could take apart and put back again. The best way to learn. In today's fancy car universe, you replaced entire units, and not individual parts. Much like a doctor functioning only with machines and scans, and forgetting to listen to the pulse, examine the tongue, and the swelling on the feet etc etc.

And that's where she would go. Willingly and happily donated by us. With best wishes from us.

There were lots of checkups, temporary support strategies, a small bit of cosmetic stuff.

The new car , parked alongside, would observe the going-ons with great interest. The newer cars were all about quantity , in features, in cost, in add-ons and many things. The older days were all about long lasting quality, never-say-die, and loyalty.

I have always wondered why one doesn't see cars being pushed these days on the roads. For one thing , the newer shapes are un-push-worthy, and utility-for-pushing has been sacrificed at the alter of fashion and modernity. Fiats , the old ones , that is, are ideally configured for pushing. Ergonomical pushing.

This morning the papers were checked, filed, and the gas tank filled in Mumbai for the last time.

The minister in Delhi, spoilsport in these Leaky days, even managed to hike the price of gas a day before, to make her feel really rich, I suppose.

Typically , she wouldn't start. And so they pushed her. Her family, running behind, hands on her back, for the last time, and her new host, at the wheel, feet on the clutch, and the car in gear. He would release the clutch at some point, she would cough up and start.

The third time it worked, and she took off, to a new life in a new land.

Like a senior citizen, who enjoys teaching children in his old age, she would help train young folks in the vocational, hands-on automobile repair course.

And like retired folks, who return back to their native place , in their old age, she has now gone back.

Last heard, she was 25% of the way there, chugging along, making the long-ago trip, once again .

Back to the area from where my ancestors came.

Dedicating her last years, in the midst of youth, greenery, mountains, green valleys, teaching them , how folks like her are the way they are. .....

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rich me, poor me.....

A friend posted this on FB.

A site with the amazing name of has compiled a list of must-have fashion items for men and women . And they then ask you to indicate what you have and what you don't have , or are dying to acquire or whatever.....

My already open mouth kept getting bigger and bigger (along with the eyes), while the brain gets into a fast reverse mode. I don't even know some of the things.

Till a few years ago, a single pair of chappals was just fine; sturdy enough for daily skirmishes to get a foothold on the steps of the Mumbai buses, and beautiful enough to wear on "occasions". Fashion magazines were what you saw at an upmarket dentist's before he delved deep into the recesses of your mouth, and you ignored all those women shown wearing sarees the wrong way, mostly in what was considered a shameless manner.

The list kind of puts me in my place, socially.

Here is my take on the stuff.

For Women

1. Little Black Dress : Never had one. Little would be a misnomer.

2. Black Flats : But I've always worn flat black chappals or sandals. No heels, mostly out of consideration for other folks, possibly walking alongside. Teetering on heels is not considered smart.

3. Gold Hoop Earrings : The last time I wore them was in class VI. At that time they were not called hoops, but rings. I lost one that year carelessly, and then the earring variety changed in class VII. I now wear them as bangles.

4. Mac Waterproof Mascara : Not that I swim with full make up, but I wear glasses, which actually have a hidden benefit. People on the other side (in front) see my eyelashes automatically bigger due to the lens curvature.

5. A Black Clutch : I don't understand this fuss. Why a clutch ? Why not a decent shoulder purse? And why make a fuss about "hands-free" phones and stuff, when you ignore "hands-free" shoulder-hanging purses ? We always use a clutch when we go buying vegetables, so that we have one less bag to carry, and its easy to use it frequently at the various fruit and veggie stalls. And you can always stuff it amidst the beans and tomatoes.

6. Sling Bag : This is my eternal fashion statement. I have tons of these, in various sizes, and once even lugged a chutney stone by train , from Pune to Mumbai in one such bag, to the amazement and delight of the ladies in the second class ladies compartment of the Deccan Queen Express....

7. Gucci /Hermes-Berkin/Chanel/Prada Bag : Are these the guys who have been copying Linking Rd stuff and selling it in air conditioned shops, with uniformed security, and heavily accented two dimensional sales women ?

8. Light-Colored Cotton Saree : Is this anything to ask ? This is like asking if I have potatoes in the house. Just for the record, I have several. Sarees as well as potatoes.

9. Summer Scarf : In my childhood, this always meant something tightly wrapped around your hair and ears, when you cycled for early morning 6 am PE classes in college. But mostly in winter. While I can see , why someone tearing through Pune's two wheeler infested polluted traffic on a hot day might need one, I've realized today, that loosely throwing one or tying it fancily around your neck, for no particular reason , probably classifies you as smart.

10. Bright Colored Umbrella : We never match our umbrellas to our clothes. Tough and sturdy black umbrellas that fold once, are the ultimate fashion statement , amenable for use as protection from rain, and occasionally as a weapon, in Mumbai. Colored, beautiful umbrellas are OK, but have been known to be stolen from dripping buckets, kept outside Xerox shops, when you go in to get some important work done.

11. A Red/Purple/Blue Handbag - Why not orange and green ? Be patriotic, folks.

12. Over-Sized T-Shirt : Actually , 40 years ago, we started this fashion, when extremely tight fitting tees were considered hurtful to their eyes, by the elders. And we , naturally obeyed. Today this is being abused by folks wearing undersized tees and showing bare midriffs.

13. Pencil Skirt : What an amazing name for a short saree petticoat !

14. Black Crepe/Georgette Saree : I don't know about the "black", but I have an old one that goes under the name of "Binny's Georgette", which was avidly aspired for 30 years ago, and bought on some special occasion. Currently faced with the danger of being recycled into a kurta.

15. Louboutin Shoes/High Heels : Suffice it to say, I don't move in high circles, Louboutin or otherwise. I am so very down to earth, sometimes I even sink.

16. Le Smoking Jacket/Suit By YSL : Please. I don't smoke. Even if I did, I wouldn't need a jacket for that; shirts on which ashes fall can always be washed in Surf Ultra/Ariel.... And no suits, YSL or Raymonds or whatever, .....

17. Trench-Coat : NO. NO. NO. We have enough trenches dug on the road outside. Wearing a coat to fall inside them is a totally bad idea. Besides sweating buckets in the trench, you wont be able to climb out , using the girders.

18. Crisp White Cotton Button-Down Blouse/Shirt : Contrary to what folks at 99 labels say, my mother and mother-in-law actually had a monopoly on that , and it almost became a fashion statement since you wore it on just about any Kanjevaram silk saree, with a great disdain for "matching" . While shirts are not my kind of style, crisp white cotton kurtas may be seen in my part of the cupboard......

19. Solid Wash Jeans : While I haven't worn some for quite a few years, I must emphasize that they were always solidly washed. It surprises me that people don't wash their jeans, and they finally develop slits and tears, which are then flashed as fashion by shameless girls and aging heroes who should know better.

20. Leather Jacket : Are you mad ? Decent, God-fearing, law abiding ladies driving 38 year old Fiat cars, don't need leather jackets.

21. Pair Of Black Pumps : In my time, these were installed in gardens , and water gushed out of them. Maybe some can wear it in the Mumbai monsoon, and enjoy the water that will gush out as they walk. I have nothing more to say about this totally unnecessary footwear..

22. Knee-Length Boots : I give up. You will never understand the need to scratch the feet, and remove footwear so many times a day, when you visit folks, temples , kitchens etc. If all you do is oscillate in discos, then I can understand the need to have a weighted base.

23. Silver Earrings/Baalis : These are pretty, and always so delicate. I like to see them on younger folks, who carry them so well. But I am from the old-is-gold generation.

24. Leather Gloves : See item no 20. And no, I don't garden. because there isn't one.

25. Sexy Black/Red Stilettos : I always thought stilettos were weapons. Umbrellas are so much better. Besides, I challenge anyone to notice and describe my footwear in a general crowd. My one-of-a-kind chappals stand tall.

26. Turquoise Stone Bangles : I do have an antique one, from my late mother, which also has some other shades.

27. Ipod : Personally , no. Though the children always have one of these stuck in their years, to avoid hearing when I call....:-)

28. Platform Shoes : No. God has given me such a wonderful natural platform, I don't need these shoes. Then there is always the nearest suburban train station, and I am hoping they soon have the new Metro station near us...

29. Sexy Swimsuit : Hanging on to sides of the pool, drinking stuff, making eyes at similarly behaving men, and being photographed at stretching angles necessitates this item. One swims, but in decent Speedos (conservative cut), and once in the water, no one knows what style you wear. And one must have consideration for what other folks see. Cant inflict shocking visuals .

30. Toe Ring : This isn't fashion, it is tradition. Next question.

31. Tattoo : No. My obsessions are in my head.

32. Black Tank-Top : It occurs to me that sometimes a shorter version may pass off as a saree blouse, but haven't tried that as yet.

33. Hot-Pants : Hot or cold, an emphatic NO.

34. Kajal : Of course . Since childhood, Though folks keep saying it doesn't suit light typical Chitpavan hazel eyes.....

35. Banarsee/Kanjivaram Saree : Now you are asking ! Finally , something I love. I have many.

36. Beach Sarong - I think you got my name spelling wrong. And forget the beach.

37. Oversized Sunglasses : No. An oversize person must economize with photo sensitive prescription glasses of normal style.

38. White Salwar Kameez : Again, now you are asking ....yes of course...

39. An Evening Gown : You mean a night one ?

40. Classic Leather Belt : Belts imply waists . I think they are , in my case, also a waste.

41. Lingerie By Victoria'S Secret : You mean so many years after the East India Company, they still haven't figured out her Secret ?

42. Summer-Hat : A few of these. Some saying Indusladies, some saying Cricket India, and one panama style cap. There used to be a wide brim straw hat, but someone stepped on it in the rush once.

43. Chanel/Hugo Boss/Dior/Ysl Perfume : I have some stuff from Bath and Body Works. I don't really go for those mentioned here....

44. Silk Stockings : Pointless.

45. Iphone : All you grammatically challenged folks, it's My Phone. And mine is a basic Nokia. And it is just fine.

46. Kundan Choker - I have an heirloom thing from my late mother. Could be classified as Kundan, I don't know. It doesn't matter, too.

47. Pearl Necklace : Yes of course. In various traditional styles.

48. Faux-Fur Outerwear : Are you serious ?

49. Halterneck Dress/Halter Top : Contrary to what you think, I have sufficient blouse material.

50. Body-Piercing : We stop at ears. Might go as low as nose. No further.

51. Silver /Junk Anklet/Bracelet/Armlet : I don't wear these, but the daughter maintains a collection which I admire from a distance.

52. Clinique Set : Yeh kya hai ? Isn't besan and ambe-haldi the thing ?

53. Churidaar Kameez : the cupboard is full ....

54. Platinum Band/Ring : Like I said, old is gold. Or should I say Gold is old ?

55. Bracelet Watch : I have a wonderful one, belonging to my late mother, which is like 60 years old. and Swiss. I keep it in a box and admire it since it doesn't go around the wrist anymore....:-(

(fatigued from explaining....)

.....I've just realized that I am probably likely to be classified as Poverty Stricken, by these 99label folks.

Its OK.

It is so much more fun being rich in ideas ...:-)

Monday, December 06, 2010

Aiyyo ! What a life changing device !...

Submitted for the
Life Changing Device contest at Blogadda.

Technology has evolved magnificently in all the years that I have had the pleasure of inhabiting the earth, and as the years advance, it becomes fairly mind boggling to select that one technology device that has changed my life or impacted me the most.

It must be something I still use. I should have bought it, or if it was gifted to me (which in my case it was) , I probably spend a lot of effort upgrading it. It shouldn't take an engineering degree to figure out how it works, and it should be very user friendly, so much so that I should be fairly oblivious to how the back end technology functions, and deal only with a menu shown to me.

As a citizen with a social conscience, I would of course like technology which is classified as "green", something that can recycle, and reuse, things. Unlike contraptions that use noise to make you aware of their presence, this should really be a silent worker. And most of all, whenever it malfunctions , I don't want to be without it, cribbing to the maintenance types about a replacement(which they always refuse). It should have self correction technology embedded .

A tall order ? Nah....

Lets just say some folks gifted me this several years ago. Decades , to be precise. We didn't have malls and places advertising these things then, and there was obviously no buy-one-get-one-free; but I did hear someone say, that the system improved with busy usage. And it has been a key product in my life which has simplified things.

Just weighs 1.5 kilos. Has two screens, and 5 other USB ports, with universal connection capabilities regardless of the number of pins in the connector. I started with the version 0.0 as it was called then, and have been able to upgrade several versions since then, without any download problems as such, or visits to dealers.

Unlike Windows and Linux which have versions, and operate nicely in their own domains , my device has both systems, and some more working simultaneously, as it has been trained to seek the best of all that is on offer in the e-world. With apologies to Babbage et al, I must say, that this device does not depend on just the binary behaviors in the world.

There is more to life than just Yes and No, more like the delicate uncertainty of a tentative Maybe. It has a range of operations in between.

So how has it changed my life ?

Even before the concept and inventor of Google Maps was born, my favourite device had this feature installed. I mean, maps of so many places, of different scales too.

Way before everyone went ballistic about the Web, I realized that my system had delicate, minimal, and hypersensitive connections internally, which could respond instantly to outside events.

It had a lamp, and a lens for capturing images. (No you know where the web cam types learnt their stuff).

Amazingly it even had a mirror system to allow it to see things as others were seeing it, as well as see other things and oneself, from various angles.

It came with a self updating tool box installed, and unlike today's e-companies that thrive on stealing ideas and taking each other to court, this technology had a built in sharing mechanism, that allowed its findings to be shared with others , near and far.

I mean, unlike today's hard disks getting full and one having to get a larger hard disk, my device simply manufactured its own extra memory.

Of course, some guys studied this device and came up with the system of linking of river canals in India. But then it's so difficult to implement the fantastic tree structure of the connections inside this device. Like the Brahmaputra, some of these tree branches change size and direction in response to things like stresses, , but unlike the river, it is always done in the overall good, and not in a hurtful and destructive sense.

Much like our corrupt ministers this device can also control movements outside itself , but unlike our corrupt ministers, it benefits nothing from all this.

Occasionally, like all devices, it threatens to malfunction, but unlike other devices, I have never had to shut it off or reboot it. So far at least. Of course, the great thing is most of its repairs can be done while it is working, possibly in single user mode, with real time diagnostic responses.

And I must say, that it is the only device I know that energises itself in standby mode. Every single day.

Like so many things that we own, this also functions on the premise "Use it or Lose it.".

And whats more, at the end of its life and utility, it causes no mountains of e-waste; coming as I do , from a generation to whom doodhi halwa was incomplete unless you used the doodhi peels to make chutney, this is so appealing !

Where do you get this ? I don't really know, because I got this as a gift from my parents 60 years ago, and it only gets better and better.

You really need to admire their choice :-)

What is it ? I guess it can now be revealed.

Popularly referred to as Bheja version 0.0.

Otherwise called

, मस्तिष्क, Utak, Cerveau, Hjerne, Gehirn, εγκεφάλου, מוח , Inchinn, Cervello, мозокот, Cerebro, Otak, мозг, Ubongo, Beyin, Não, Ymennydd or Brain ,

depending on whether you are

Chinese, North Indian, Philipino, French, Danish, German, Greek, Hebrew, Irish, Italian, Macedonian, Portuguese, Malay, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, Vietnamese, Welsh ......or me,


My little brain, sitting in convoluted grey splendour , covered in crowning glory, very much at the top, protected by greying protein strands ( once black) flowing down to my shoulders in respectful curls.

Using a biotechnology, which has not yet been replicated in its entirety, anywhere...

I couldn't have done without this device.


Come to think about it, neither could have all the fellows , like Bill Gates, Linus Torvalds , Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Nira Radia, Barack Obama, John Lennon, Barkha Dutt, Lata Mangeshkar, Ratan Tata, Azim Premji, the corner grocer, the bus conductor, the guy who fills the road potholes, (though I do have some doubts about folks building 27 story houses for 5 people....never mind) and the list goes on and on.

I need to check on my extended memory to get you all the details.....

In the meanwhile, all I can say is .......Intel,AMD, et al, eat your heart out...... your motherboards come nowhere near mine.

Check out and connect with Indian Bloggers at BlogAdda

Friday, December 03, 2010

Aai, what is an MP ?

Highlighted by Global Voices - The world is talking, are you listening?

Remember the time in school when the class erupted into a unstoppable talkathon, and threatened to degenerate into a loud crescendo, till the teacher unexpectedly made an appearance, rapped the duster loudly on the desk, and the noise suddenly exponentially died down, as the realization dawned , that an authority that punishes existed ?

Remember the time, when you kept sulking for something, being unreasonable about things, throwing your books and stuff around, and all it took is a look and a call from your father to bring you back in line ?

Remember the time when it was raining, you were in a bus in Mumbai, packed to the gills, when a fellow started haranguing another about a dripping umbrella, voices rising, everyone talking away, and how the conductor loudly banged his punching machine, and shouted at everyone to pipe down if the driver was to preserve his sanity and make his way through the waterlogged roads, reflecting headlights in his eyes ?

Something is terribly wrong in the way our legislatures are set up. If you asked a child what an MP does, you will probably some or all of these answers :

1. He comes with folded hands during elections. After which his car gets an upgrade, he walk around with 4 police for protection, and has a flunky who carries the heavy load i e, his cellphone.

2. His face is seen on banners during all religious festivals and Sonia Gandhi's, Mayawati's, Balasaheb Thakre's , Raj Thakrey's and Sharad Pawar's birthdays, and these banners always block the traffic signal.

3. He is seen walking behind some great person, carrying some typed sheets, always on the steps of Parliament house, and smiling (as if he is privy to the inside stories with the minister) , regardless of whether the stuff being discussed on TV pertains to him or not.

4. He sits on one of the Parliament benches, either feeling sleepy, thumping the desk, or looking bored.

5. Once in a while, he sprints to the well of the House, and rushes menacingly towards the speaker with his friends, shouting slogans. I wonder what the poor clerks in the well transcibe . ("Your Honor", bang, "I wish to present, ", shove shove, push,throw,bang,step on crush! , etc etc)

6. Occasionally, he is seen walking , in sedate senior baraat style, along with other MP folks, in protest against something or the other, outside the Parliament building, but within the grounds.

16 days of doing this now, 16 days when the Speaker has managed to exhibit an unchanged smiling countenance, 16 days when the treasury benches and their leaders sit stoically in their seats , while chaos reigns all around, and daily around 1 pm, when I watch the news, they keep reporting that Parliament is adjourned, with no work accomplished.

At 15 days, we were supposed to have wasted 95 crores allowing all this to happen. This might even continue for many days more, while everyone worth their loyalty quotient, their election deposit, their white khadi, and their ability to kowtow to supreme political beings , holds on to their chairs for dear life.

This has to be the biggest scam being perpetrated (how I love that word) , on the citizens of this country.

Bring in a bill to upgrade members salaries, and the JPC will fly out of the window, standing committees will be lying down, and the speaker will breathe a quick sigh of relief amidst all that non stop smiling, as the members fall over each other getting there to vote in a working session. .

Invite a photographer to capture the member images on a grand photo taken in the hallowed premises, folks sitting and standing left to right, top to bottom, and you will see everyone ensuring that at least 20% of their self is visible. For the record. Not to show your grandchildren, but to intimidate folks, who refuse to meet your empty hand beneath the grand table.

Can we afford such scams ?

How long must we tolerate dereliction of duties by the MP's who get so many benefits and subsidies, free travel, meals, laptops, telephone calls, and the likes, while all through the year, normal citizens are treated guilty until proven innocent, and made to show up with various ID proofs, in post offices, banks, schools, airports, ration shops, election centres, transport offices, and pay through their noses for vegetables, petrol, cooking gas, health care, communication and security, while the government goes into a wild celebration of a 0.05% rise in the rate of growth of GDP or whatever and shakes a prohibitive finger at what it calls hounding of the corporates ??

Are there no law worthies and constitution minders, who can bring in a bill to say, that anytime Parliament has a logjam like this, say beyond a week, it will be mandatory to recall all MP's across all parties and announce a new election? And the deposit payable by the sitting MP's would be double that of fresh candidates ?

Why isn't anyone trying to do anything about this. ? And what is a logjam ? Is it a stoppage of floating logs , due to their senseless, Brownian movement in a river, or is it a wasteful collection of "log(e)s, contributing to a jam, given their highly sweetened overflowing pockets ? "..........

It just occurred to me that bringing in a Bill as described above, would get all the MP's back into the chamber, so that they can in righteous indignation, vote , probably , a solid

Should someone suddenly cheat and introduce something about JPC /Raja /CWG instead, you can rest assured, someone will hold someone in contempt of whatever, or pass , a privilege motion thing or similar stuff.

Its OK.

Actually, its not OK. At all.

But what can you say, when the Nation's Central Vigilance Commissioner himself is being kept under a vigil ?

Hey Ram.

(And no Jairam, I don't think you can do anything here......)