samedi 29 août 2009
mercredi 26 août 2009
Philosopher of Everyday Life
Alain de Boton is being paid 30 000 pounds to stay at the London Healthrow terminal 5 to observe and write about the life among the workers at the British Airport Authority/Heathrow Terminal.
His last book on WORK made the work of many people see the light of awareness of the population, he has the capacity of making the ordinary look interesting yet maintaining their ordinariness. Pylon watchers, fish sellers of Maldives, uninteresting accountants with wives and mortgages made to look uninteresting despite their long hours and Georgio Armani suits, aviators scrupulously unraveled… a slew of people we come across, don’t pay any attention to in complete ignorance of what exactly they do, while we are busy telling others how important our lives and work are.
This swiss born Englishman, balding prematurely but has not reached his middle years yet has a prodigious literary output. The anthropologists starting with Malinowski did participant observation, where they went and stayed with obscured tribes in Melanesia,learned their languages and customs and wrote toms about it, which are of interest only those in the field. With immediate connections and short attention span, seven days of participant observation suits Alain de Boton to a tee, he who has romanced by the baggage belt at an airport, thought about Aristotle while explaining the effect of Proust in our lives. Readers Digest with a touch of Class but much more erudite! He had talked about the Art of Travel, Philosophy, Work and Leisure, Love, Architecture all in separate volumes with an intricacy of intellect that is attractive to the curious international souls of our days.. He is a philosopher of everyday life who is good with words in English language. He like Malinowski stands out, not many of us are willing out to camp out at airports for seven days ( we complain to the airline staff when the flight is delayed a few minutes or we want to catch the next possible connection, even at airports which are engaging as Changi!) He finds the exotique in the common, while finding the familiar in an alien light. He is to spend time at an airport, the busiest international airport in the world, huge, confusing, frustrating, the Airport at London, England. ( to comfort my Yanqui friends I would add, the busiest airport in the world is in Atlanta, USA!)
Good Luck and will be looking forward to read something exciting, exotique and soul searching about a place where I find myself at least one a week.. an Airport…
Airports I rather be flying into:
Charles de Gaulle, Paris, France, CDG
Miami International MIA USA
Jose Marti International HAV in Havana, Cuba
RGN, KUL, HAN, REP, EZE, SUV, IPC..
mardi 25 août 2009
HEALTHY EATING IS THE BEST REVENGE
Over 23 000 German Citizens were followed for development of Type 2 DM, Myocardial Infarction, Stroke and Cancer.
They were between the ages of 35 to 65 years. They were followed up for closely 8 years.
The objective of the study was to determine the effects mainly reduction in the above chronic diseases just by FOUR common lifestyle factors
1. No Smoking
2. Body Mass Index less than 30 kg/m2
3. 3.5 hours per week or more of physical activity
4. A healthy diet as defined by high intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grain bread and low meat consumption
The four factors ( healthy 1 point and Unhealthy 0 points)
The Risk ratio for developing a chronic disease decreased progressively as the number of healthy factors increased
Participants with all four factors had a 78 per cent reduction of developing a chronic disease, 81 per cent less chance of a Heart Attack, 50 per cent less chance of a stroke and 36 per cent less chance of developing a cancer.
These diseases are collectively called Diseases of Western Civilization.
Only 1 in 10 adhered to all four healthy habits. But only one in 25 did not practice any of the above.
So the Western Man can prevent the Western Diseases by going back to a lifestyle which is slightly less Western.
Let us take a group of people, to compare the Germans with. Say, Indians from India.
The percentage of people adhering to all 4 healthy habits would be more like 6/10 rather than the 1/10 among the Germans.
Has that protected the Indians from Diabetes epidemic? Not all? Why not?
First of all, 30 kg/m2 of BMI is extreme for Indians from India, where 22-23 is considered normal and 30 would be in the obese range.
The diet has been consistently good since the majority of them are Vegetarians. And very little meat consumption. It would be interesting to see the DM prevalence among vegetarians vs non vegetarians. I remember reading an article that one of the highest prevalence of DM in India was among a caste which practiced strict vegetarianism. So it is not protective for them. They are not sedentary people.
What explanations come to mind then?
First of all, what is good for the goose may not be good for the gander..
The aetiology of diabetes Type 2 may be more than just physiological. I have felt that Diabetes is a Social Disease and it is much more prevalent among people who are
Living in conflict ridden societies.
In India, the epidemic of Diabetes coincides with the Economic Liberalization of that country which brought in untold wealth to a few and a necessity to change work ethics and morality to the majority.
What have I seen in that population?
They respond well to a more disciplined lifestyle with less emotional stress along with continuing a strict nutional adherence in keeping with their cultural norms. I have seen many many vegetarians under the age of 30 with type 2 DM who walk or bicycle 5 to 6 km per day but are under heavy stress to produce and meet deadlines in their newly found IT prominence. That is something new for the Indian bodies. And they are being given the gift of the Western Diseases..
Those who aspire to western way of living will be rewarded with western disease as well…
lundi 24 août 2009
Above Mari 1 in 2003.
TEARS OF JOY FOR MY LITTLE TOWN, BARACOA IN CUBA
Mi querido Sudah, quiero que sepas que aunque no te escribo mucho, porque se me hace difícil te sigo queriendo y en mi corazoncito siempre estarás presente con mucho cariño. Me gustaría saber como estas, por aquí todo bien, se que estas preocupado por saber el día de mi fiesta, estamos planificando para los primeros días de Enero, esperaré que vengas para decidir el día. mi abuela, mi tia, mi mamá y hermanita te mandan besos y uno especial y grande para ti de tu niñita Mari I.
My dear Sudah : i would like you to know that even though i dont write much to you, because of the difficulties (communication), i continue to love you and in my little heart, you are always present with great affection. I would like to know how you are, here every one is fine. I know you are worried about the dates of my 15th celebrations (fiesta de quince), we are planning for the beginning of January, hope you will come to decide the day. My grandmother, my aunt, my mother and my little sister al send you kisses, and one special and a big kiss for you from your little girl Mari.
How could one not shed tears of joy and saudade (longing) for that little village on the most eastern part of Cuba. This is my Cuba, my people and the affection which are inexhaustible. I met Mari when her aunt asked me to take photos of her on the third birthday.. Now she is celebrating her 15th birthday. I will make every attempt to be present there.
I am very much reminded of a story I read as a child, Kabuliwala by Rabindranath Tagore. I always thought of myself as Melquiades the magician Gypsy who visited Macondo in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude.. Mari’s letter makes me realize that I have become Kabuliwala
Fructose and Gout
In 1970, Prof (now emeritus) Fiorenzo Stirpe of Univesity of Bologna in Italy wrote a letter to The Lancet, the medical journal published in London, England, informing them that the administration of Fructose ( the sugar of the fruit, also 50% of the white sugar) brings about an elevation of Uric Acid.
A low Fructose diet (no sugar, no sweets, limited fruit) benefitted the patients (who had Gout). All of us are taught in the medical school that it is the Purines ( such as barley in Beer, spirits) that raises the risk of gout.
A large survey of 50 000 men were followed up for 10 years. In this study men who had two or more sweet drinks had an incidence of gout almost double than the other men.
So, if you have Gout, perhaps you might want to consider abstention from Fructose- limit the fruit intake except Grapes which contain Glucose.
In 1970s we did not have High Fructose Corn Syrup. Now it is ubiquitous. If Fructose can cause Gout, so can HFCS..
In a huge study of 46,393 male health professionals in Canada, a survey was carried out and then they were followed every four years for 12 years. Over that time, 755 men developed Gout.
Compared with men who almost never drank sugar-sweetened soft drinks -- fewer than one per month -- frequent soft-drink drinkers were significantly more likely to suffer gout:
· Two or more soft drinks each day upped gout risk by 85%.
· One soft drink each day upped gout risk by 45%.
· Five or six soft drinks each week upped gout risk by 29%.
HFCS sweet drinks raise the Gout risk by 35 %, more than twice the risk run by 2-4 spirit drinkers per day!
Soft drinks can certainly increase the risk of Diabetes.. and Gout.. in fact one by one, all the Diseases of Western Civilization the so called Western Diseases would be shown to be caused by Artificial and Processed Material which is sold as Food.. so eat Food when you can, and not something that passes for food…
mardi 18 août 2009
dimanche 16 août 2009
I was extraordinarily lucky to have had my medical education divided between three countries:
London in England, a medical model still paying attention to the great masters of the past while trying to provide equitable care to all
Australia, where the average person started the conversation with the holidays they just had or the holidays they were planning or dinner parties. I enjoyed the medical model of this country where they very cleverly used the young doctors as pawns, rewarding those who wagged their tails to the drools of the senior doctors, dark skinned doctors assigned jobs that no one wanted and the mediocre white doctors (the grand majority) of them guaranteed a cushy suburban life with no great expectations, except holidays in Noosa or an occasional medical conference in the USA or Europe. They were a bunch of imitators of American ideals, but without the knowledge that American ideals were heading nowhere, and still clinging to a system assuaged on its colonial origins.
United States of America (there are United States of Mexico, United States of Brasil, America is the name of the continent, and usurped the name really on the back of economic might. Their revolution was one of the oldest in the world, their democracy certainly very old, older than France where the revolution arrived a couple of decades later.)
Go West, Young Man, said Benjamin Rush, considered the father of the Limitless Western Medicine practiced in the USA with its boundless optimism and endless possibilities that leaves 50 million people without care and another 50 odd million afraid to get sick because of bills and people like Dick Cheney getting extraordinarily good medical care! One cannot help being enthused by the eternal determination of the Americans and as such reflected in their medical system as well.
The first week I was at the Washington University School of Medicine to begin my career as an Endocrinologist, I realized that a communication barrier existed. None of the world famous doctors knew anything outside their very narrow field; one even asked what Belize was. Not, where is Belize? And I had no great interest in the finer aspects of the calcium metabolism of the trabecular bone. This lack of communication was to plague me for the next four years, until the Native Americans mixed with Jamaican rum and Cuban migrants in Miami saved me...I can communicate well to the spirit world of the Indians, I liked the ambience created by the mindless bourgeoisie of Jamaica who had created an incredibly narrow cage for themselves made of Gold, and thanks to the streaks of Cubanness still surviving in the soul of some Cuban immigrants, I became interested in the real thing, the island of Cuba, which later became my home.
This balance between knowledge, dedication to service and solidarity, and the counsel of ancient people brought a sense of balance, approaching something close to what one could call harmony in life.
It became evident to me that I was not destined to be a doctor with a plush office full of waiting patients; no one would be willing to pay large sums of money to a doctor who specialized in talking about the structure of society and the sicknesses it creates. No drug company would pay a first class ticket to Paris with a hotel room at the George V to a doctor preaching natural remedies such as Ayurveda, meditation and yoga, in addition to the limited mechanism and aetiology oriented medications supplied by the drug companies. I once asked my good Friend Daniel A, who is the president of the Diabetes Association in his country, “Tell me Daniel, why are they treating you to Paris?” First class tickets for two and a weeks stay at George V. His answer was acceptably frank, “I prescribe more Vytorin (a drug not shown to be superior to a much cheaper generic version used to combat high cholesterol levels) than anyone else in my country.” Go in peace, Daniel, you are my Family but can’t say that of another leech of the society, who managed to sneak into the private practice world of medicine in Miami from an impoverished South American country, after providing a modicum of service to his fatherland.
When I met him at an Endocrine Society meeting, his first question was, “What happened to our dreams?” (I assumed he was referring to being of service to humanity). I thought to myself, “I am still attempting to realize it, my friend; it is you who appears to have given it up.” Then and there I decided to never get in touch with him again, this usurper of morality and leech on his own country where he was educated and now sucking the innocents in Miami dry. He seemed very angry and disappointed at his friends, but he told me he had a plush office.
Because I have traveled extensively, I always maintain Frequent Flier status that brings smiles to the airlines. But mostly I am faithful to just one airline, often being rewarded with upgrades on transcontinental flights. Once, sitting next to me on a flight from Madrid to New York was a young American man of African descent who couldn’t wait to open his computer as the flight took off. To be polite, I asked him, “Where were you in Spain?” “Valencia”, he answered, but quickly added that he had no time to see anything and only ate American type food at the hotel. I watched this pitiful specimen of the powerful nation on earth, seeing him work, for the six hours, while I drank champagne and delightful wines from around the world, danced in my head to music from Cabo Verde and reading Alvaro Mutis once again extolling the virtues of Maqroll el Gaviero. As we were disembarking, as a departing gesture to this most hospitable country I said, “Why don’t you buy a plot in the cemetery and lie down and wait for death to arrive?”
I don’t think he who prides his hard work appreciated this comment from a champagne drinking, music listening book worm from the other side of the world.
And so it occurs to me that no one could write more elegantly about the pleasures and sorrows of work than the philosopher of everyday life, Alain de Boton. He brings to light my own thoughts lying dormant.One of the chapters on Alain de Boton’s book is about accountants; the time he was given the opportunity to spend time with accountants at Ernest and Young, at their headquarters, and had a chance to interview their CEO.
Alain de Boton is a literary anthropologist who does participant observations and translates them brilliantly into English. I am quoting the last page of his book in its entirety. His words on work follow, dedicated to those who take their slot in life far too seriously, a state of mind not congruous with good health.
Work does not by its nature permit us to do anything other than take it too seriously. It must destroy our sense of perspective, and we should be grateful to it for precisely that reason, for allowing us to mingle ourselves promiscuously with events, for letting us wear thoughts of our own death and the destruction of our enterprises with beautiful lightness, as mere intellectual propositions, while we travel to Paris to sell engine oil. We function on the basis of a necessary myopia. Therein is the sheer energy of existence, a blind will no less impressive than that which we find in a moth arduously crossing a window ledge, stepping around a dollop of paint left by a too-hasty brush, refusing to contemplate the broader scheme in which he will be dead by nightfall.
The arguments for our triviality and vulnerability are too obvious, too well known and too tedious to rehearse. What is interesting is that we may take it upon ourselves to approach tasks with utter determination and gravity even when their wider non-sense is clear. The impulse to exaggerate the significance of what we are doing, far from being an intellectual error, is really life itself coursing through us. Good Health encourages us to identify with all human experiences in all lands, to sigh at a murder in a faraway country, to hope for economic growth and technological progress far beyond the limits of our own lifespan, forgetting that we are never more than a few rogue cells away from the end.
To see ourselves as the centre of the universe and the present time as the summit of history, to view our upcoming meetings as being of overwhelming significance, to neglect the lessons of cemeteries, to read only sparingly, to feel the pressures of deadlines, to snap at colleagues, to make our way through conference agendas marked “11:00 am to 11:15 a.m.: Coffee break” , to behave heedlessly and greedily and then to combust in battle-may be all of this, in the end, is working wisdom. It is paying death to much respect to prepare for it with sage prescriptions. Let is surprise us while we are shipping wood pulp across the Baltic Sea, removing the heads of tuna, developing a nauseating variety of biscuit, advising a client on a change in career, firing a satellite with which to beguile a generation of Japanese school girls, painting an oak tree in a field, laying an electricity line, doing the accounts, inventing a deodorant dispenser or making an extended-strength coiled tube for an airliner. Let Death find us as we are building up our matchstick protests against its waves.
If we could witness the eventual fate of every one of our projects, we would have no choice but to succumb to immediate paralysis. Would anyone who watched the departure of Xerxes’ army on its way to conquer the Greeks or Taj Chan Ahk giving orders for the construction of the golden temples of Cancuen or the British colonial administrators inaugurating the Indian postal system, have had it in their hearts to fill their passionate actors in on the eventual fare of their efforts?
Our work will at least have distracted us, it will have provided a perfect bubble in which to invest our hopes for perfection, it will have focused our immeasurable anxieties on a few relatively small scale and achievable goals, it will have given us a a sense of mastery, it will have made us respectably tired, it will have put food on the table. It will have kept us out of greater trouble.
Finished writing in Paris 17 22
August 14, 2009
From memory I think on this day Paquistan became independent and on the 15th august, India became independent form the British rule in 1947..
Happy Independence Day!
mercredi 12 août 2009
lundi 10 août 2009
Musee de la Vie Romantique
mercredi 5 août 2009
Dinner on the night of 4th August 2009
Moroccan Crab Salad
Cream of Asparagus Soup
Santa ana Reserve Torrontes, Argentina 2007
Santa ana Reserve Torrontes, Argentina 2007
Three Cheese Vegetarian Spaghetti Carbonara tossed with English peas and roasted cherry tomatoes
Anne Boecklin Pinot Blanc Reserve, France 2006
Anne Boecklin Pinot Blanc Reserve, France 2006
All Natural Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae
Plunkett Blackwood Ridge Botrytis Semillon, Australia 2003
where is this restaurant, in which city in America, you might ask? Alors, the meal was not servedon the ground, but as a Delta Airlines Flight was leaving the American Shores on its way to Paris from Atlanta. Flight 52.
dimanche 2 août 2009
Priests of the New Nutritionism: An American Tragedy