Monthly Archives: June 2010

Nature and Us

Nature & us

Nature & Us

In China, there are some sacred mountains which are breathtakingly beautiful. It is said that the energy that is generated on the mountains is special and can be distinctly felt. They were and still are the abode of Taoists and Buddhists. Both Taoism and Buddhism have a deep respect for nature. Humans are born from nature and depend on her for survival and development.

Taoism sees nature as their mother. They believe that mankind’s relationship with her should be one of respect and care.  Nature provides us with everything we need. Once we abuse this relationship by taking more than we need and giving nothing back, we can expect problems.

The Taoists practice Tai Chi, a mix of meditation and martial art. When they practice Tai Chi, they are learning to balance the inner energies through a focused, quiet mind and gentle movements. This begins with recognizing and respecting the body-mind relationship. We must realize the importance of good health and a balanced state of mind. Looking after ourselves involves self love and self discipline. We need to pay attention to the signals of the body.  We have to know when to rest and what to eat.  Once we neglect ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, our health and well being will suffer. If we fail to look after ourselves, how will we be able to care for others?  Caring for the environment would be out of the question.

In Taoism, there are many rules governing a novice’s training. They adjust their lifestyles and training according to the seasons.  In summer, they rise early and retire to bed early.  Taoists gained inspiration from nature when developing their teachings. Tai Chi also follows the principles of nature, such as, flowing like water, being as firm as a mountain and as resilient as bamboo. When their training has matured, their form looks natural and flowing, and their energy is smooth and continuous. At the end of training they understand what it means for the body-mind to be natural.

About 3,000 years ago when parts of China were experiencing drought conditions, the emperor offered a reward to anyone who could bring rain. Many people tried and failed.  Eventually, a Taoist came and took up the challenge. He meditated for a week. Then, he summoned his internal energy and finally, dark clouds appeared and it rained. When asked how he achieved this miracle, he replied, “When I first came to this area, I could feel that the people’s hearts were hardened and they had lost their harmony and balance. So for the first week, I had to strengthen and stabilize my own energy and it gradually affected the local people. Once their energy was harmonized, the natural environment became balanced and the cycle of the seasons returned.”

The above story may seem somewhat incredible.  However, we can all relate to feeling our energies drained after listening to people who always talk negatively. Yet, we know that we feel good when we are with people who are positive and enthusiastic about life.  Ancient cultures have long recognized the importance of the relationship between humans and nature.  We all need to respect ourselves, others and our environment.  This is the key to happiness and good health.

A recent study has revealed that nature makes us more charitable and concerned about others because nature enables human beings to connect with their authentic selves. Our authentic selves are inherently communal because humans evolved in hunter and gatherer societies that depended on mutuality for survival.

In addition, the richness and complexity of natural environment may encourage introspection and lack of man-made structures provides a safe haven from man-made pressures of society. Nature in a way strips away the artifices of society that alienate us from one another. This is the reason urban as compared to rural dwellers show more reservation, indifference and estrangement from others.

We are influenced by our environment in ways that we are not aware of. In truth, we are not protecting Nature; Nature is protecting us.  For example, trees and plants are necessary for the purification of our vital energy.  When Nature graciously protects and serves human beings, it is our responsibility to reciprocate.

Vaishali Parekh

www.indian-cooking.info

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Cure Yourself

Nature & Us

Nature & Us

Since a long time I wanted to write this one, but could not bring myself to focus on the task. I knew I would do it someday, but at the same time I also knew that the task was a huge one and it would take many months, for me, to complete the book. I used to get overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the project.

But, goaded on by my family and friends, my online readers and my website team, I finally decided to begin. Thus began a long and arduous journey. I started collecting my thoughts and put them down on paper. After I managed to get the blueprint ready, began the process of collecting information. Hours, days and months were spent on this task, which resulted in a huge volume of data, which had to be scrutinized and edited.

My team and I spent many nights going through reams and reams of info and deciding what to retain and what to reject. After the content was finalized, my technical team swung into action to compile the entire content into a well designed e-book, which I could present to you.

This e-book is all about natural health and natural remedies, and my intention is to stop you from running to the doctor at the slightest sneeze or rumbling in your stomach. Why not try and find out how to take care of minor ailments with whatever is available in your kitchen and refrigerator?

The natural healing powers of some common vegetables, fruits and spices are simply amazing. Mother Nature has gifted us with so many things which we are not aware of. This book is my humble attempt to bring you closer to her.

Vaishali Parekh

www.indian-cooking.info

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A painful observation

Just 1 among 1000s

Just 1 among 1000s

By now we all know about the verdict delivered by the court regarding the Bhopal gas tragedy which killed and maimed so many lives on that fateful night, 25 years ago. In fact, the effect of the chemical gas leak continues to affect the populace even today. It would not be an overstatement if I say that Bhopal has lost an entire generation.

But what did our government and the judiciary do about it? First of all, our government did not take any serious measures against the management and the people who were responsible. A few were arrested and very soon released on bail and were allowed to leave the country. Second, it took 25 years to deliver the verdict, which, in my opinion is grossly inadequate. How can our judiciary take so long to resolve a case of such huge magnitude? How can our investigative agencies take so long?

They could take so long only because they had the government’s tacit support. But why was the government in a go slow mode? What stopped it from taking severe action against the culprits? Was it money? If not money, then what?

Our constitution says that the government is by the people, of the people and for the people. Do we really feel this way? Isn’t there a huge disconnect between the ruler and the ruled? Does anybody really care about us? Are we safe?

Something is very wrong within us and within our system. A serious and dangerous rot has set in which is irreversible. We have ceased to be human beings, whose first principle is to care for fellow human beings. We have become dangerously selfish, so much so that, the death of thousands and thousands of lives is not affecting us any more. Unless and until, we are not directly affected, we are least bothered.

Mankind is racing towards self-destruction without him being aware of this fact. His current mental orientation shall induce him to destroy fellow human beings and ultimately, himself.

Who is responsible?

Who is responsible?

Another very recent incident is a pointer to this fact, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which is the largest of its kind till date. The entire flora and fauna, the adjoining coastline and all living creatures have been annihilated. Recovery, if it ever happens, shall take generations. BP is willing to pay millions as damages, but isn’t it too little too late? Why didn’t British Petroleum observe the necessary precautionary measures? Why didn’t the inspection agencies compel BP to observe those measures in the initial stages?

It seems BP cares only for profits and little for anything else. ‘Profit at any cost’ is the basic principle which is followed by most of the major corporations. These corporations are so powerful that the governing institutions and the government bend backward to appease them.

We are so drunk with money and power that we have become blind to the possible and very obvious consequences of this kind of suicidal behavior. I am not saying Doomsday is near, but it is not very far away too.

It is very painful to note that man himself created such great civilizations and now he is hell bent on destroying, with his own hands, whatever he created. Amen!

P.S. The above views are absolutely my own and I understand that you might differ. Please feel free to let me know what you think.

Vaishali Parekh

www.indian-cooking.info

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They survive on blood transfusion

No Blood No Life

Transfusion is a must

Thalassaemia is a disorder in which the body makes an abnormal form of haemoglobin, resulting in the excessive destruction of red blood cells. So, when there are aren’t enough blood cells to meet the body’s requirement this results in anaemia, which is why such patients require blood transfusion regularly. In the initial stages a patient may need a transfusion once a month but the frequency generally increases to once in 15-20 days or even a week.

Struggle for blood

Hospitals in India are generally apathetic towards thalassaemics, an attitude that causes delays in blood transfusions. In such a situation, patients have to rely on donors.

The situation is worse for patients of negative blood groups, as this blood is always in short supply. More than the painstaking treatment and the mountain of medical bills, it’s the struggle to get blood, unsafe blood transfusion practices and insensitivity of doctors which make life hard for thalassaemia patients in India.

Most thalassaemia patients in India are completely dependent on the Red Cross Society for blood as other banks, including the Rotary Blood Bank, charge an exorbitant amount. They also rely on the blood bank of the hospital where they have been receiving blood transfusion since their birth. So, in case of shortage of blood at the Red Cross, these patients approach their hospital’s blood bank.

And the misery doesn’t end here. There is always an impending crisis which is waiting to engulf a thalassaemia patient. Transfusions increase the risk of contracting blood borne infections such as HIV and Hepatitis. Though better screening facilities have brought the risk down significantly, this still exists.

Complex treatment process

Increased awareness about the disease, more effective medication as well as better screening of blood has improved the quality of life for thalassaemics. One of the major problems, however, is the iron overload in the body caused by the repeated blood transfusions, which still the remains the main cause for thalassaemia deaths.

Typically those who need a significant number of blood transfusions usually have an excessive amount of iron in the body which needs to be removed through a treatment called chelation therapy, as excess iron can damage the heart, liver and endocrine system.

Drugs known as ”iron chelators” help rid the body of excess iron, preventing or delaying problems related to iron overload.

This medication is administered intravenously by using an infusion pump. Generally, the pump is put on at night on the stomach or thigh, and a slow infusion of the iron chelating agent is administered over a period of about eight hours.

Though effective, most patients prefer pills over liquid medicine as it is inconvenient to sleep with a needle pricked into your skin.

Unfortunately, these iron chelator drugs have wide- ranging and serious side-effects such as fever, headache, nausea, stomach upset, vomiting, convulsions, bone marrow depression (dropping blood cell counts), a drop in blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, respiratory arrest, and hypocalcemia. Other concerns include kidney failure, which can require permanent life-limiting and expensive dialysis, or cause death.

The cost of treatment poses a major burden for thalassaemics.

Many line up at government hospitals to avail of free treatment, and forget about being choosy about which drugs are provided.

Some, however, are compelled to pay for a different regimen.

Screening can control

Some people with this disease may live completely normal lives and pass on the disease (which gets carried over several generations) without being aware of it. But, unfortunately, when one person with thalassaemia minor carrier happens to marry another with the same diagnosis, there is a strong possibility that their child would be thalassaemia major.

With existing thalassaemia patients struggling for regular blood supply, it’s difficult to imagine the future of those 10,000 to 20,000 new patients born in India every year. The only way to control this hereditary blood disorder is through awareness and prevention.

For instance, thalassaemia was a serious health problem in Cyprus about three decades back when 1 out of every 158 births suffered from thalassaemia. But since the introduction of strict screening laws in the 70s which included pre-marital and prenatal screening and abortion, the country has almost eliminated the disease from their population.

To save our child from inheriting a genetic disease or disorder such as Down syndrome, thalassaemia or haemophilia, every women of child-bearing age should go for recommended tests. For thalassaemia, a simple blood test called haemoglobin electrophoresis would tell if a mother is a carrier of thalassaemia.

And, if a woman happens to be a carrier then her husband is tested for the same as a child inherits the disease only when both the parents are carriers,” says Dr Sushila Kataria, internal medicine, Medanta-The Medicity, Gurgaon.

Vaishali Parekh

www.indian-cooking.info

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