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mardi 22 juin 2010

I love visiting USA but the Food?

Comparing to the food on Sunday Lunch in Miami (pictures below) to the simple dinner on Monday Night in Paris (photos attached, ) makes me realize that the quality and quantity of food elsewhere in the rich world, apart from the usa, is very different.. and of course healthy. But how to get this message across to my friends and patients in the USA without insulting them.. some of the food there is bordering on garbage!
I take it as compliment when my indian patients request that i leave the room after eating, since they could indulge in anything they want! We know we shouldnt eat it they say but it tastes so good! if you have a chance please watch a documentary called Food Inc. just four companies, three of them with HQ in Nebraska and one in St Louis, all in the midwest, control over 90 per cent of the agribusiness in the USA and now they are spreading their wings to other countries, such as India and Brasil!

lundi 21 juin 2010

La Casualidad no es tan Casual BY CHANCE?

Chance, Casualidad..we often wonder. . Does chance exist? or is it accidental and a fragment of ones imagination?
We can always go to the Philosophers, the indigenous ones with thousands of years behind them and the post renaissance western ones, with a few hundred years behind them.. LIke in many things, I am surprised how the old and the new philosophies agree on so many fundamental human characteristics..

No existe la casualidad, y lo que se nos presenta como azar surge de las fuentes más profundas.
Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805) Poeta y dramaturgo alemán

Like one sees a recent German Philosopher, like Koenig, repeating an ancient Tibetan wisdom, handed down the generations to Dalai Lama.... which in turn rests on even more ancient a wisdom of the indigenous people..

The above german poet says: Chance does not exist, what we see as chance arises from deeper sources...

American Indians have often repeated to me. Casualidad/Chance does not exist, it is just that we cannot always understand what it symbolizes...

I am writing this in Paris, having arrived her after spending a delightful few days with my sister and her husband.
One evening, I wanted to go look for some children's books in Spanish for our french friends with an adopted colombian child. As I was leaving, my sister gets up and says, I will come with you.
AT the store, she went looking for other items, while i was perusing the books.. I did see her talking to a woman in a corner, but did not pay too much attention...
As we were standing in line to pay, a woman joins the line. She had a tired look to her face, so I said to her, in spanish, Please, madam, go ahead...
She steps forward and then turns around and looks at me carefully... Is your name by any chance.....
Yes, I said.. trying very quickly to place her.. where have I met this lady? Miami? somewhere else?
I am a close friend of Prof ALP, your colleague in Havana. It immediately came to my memory, this is a Jewish Lady I had met at the home of my good friend in Havana. We were talking for a while. Since my sister has met my academic colleague from Havana as well, I called her over and said: this is a friend of our mutual friend in Havana.
My sister perked up, and said: I have been talking to her at the back of the store.. I knew she is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer and i wanted to comfort her..
The three of us marveled at this coincidence. I offered my apologies. All my Cuban friends are in Cuba and when I am in Miami I am not searching for any one...
My sister who has survived 3 major cancers, was able to spend time encouraging this recent arrival from Havana about the emotional aspects and also encourage her, transfer the spark of enthusiasm. I felt good, the lady felt good and my sister felt good..
We promised to get together, especially as my colleague is coming to Miami for a visit within the next month...
I thought of the Meskwakia the first Indian tribe that I worked with, and remembered what they had said. You must look at these things as good symbols, as harbingers of some good news, the Spirits are good to you, they would say...
Certainly the good news arrives the next morning. The Surgeon who had operated on my sister called to say that all the tests, biochemical and radiological, show that my sister is free of any remnants of cancer...
You can ask yourself... are these events related?
I arrived in Paris this morning, after a very pleasant flight from Miami, my sister and her husband had driven me to the airport... Smooth Flight, French Hospitality, a glass of champagne to begin the flight etc...
It takes very little time to clear Immigration in Paris, and as I was waiting for my luggage to arrive at the carousel, I saw an East Indian Looking man approaching me.. I thought, he possibly might want some direction to central Paris..
Are you a doctor? he asked me...
a strange question... yes I am..
Doctor, I met you in Madras about two years ago when you came to visit your friend Srinivasan and we went to the Saravanna Bhavan for a nice breakfast. Of course who could forget that nice breakfast and the pleasant conversations with the delightful professor of medicine from madurai and his protege, the person facing me at this arrival hall in Paris..
He is doing post graduate studies in Chicago and the professor would arrive in two days time.. to attend the first ever International conference... now get ready for this..

First International Conference on Yawning
24 to 25 June 2010
Paris, France

Everything you ever wanted to know about yawning but never dared
to ask: ethology, psychology, neurophysiology, phamacology, FMRI
imagery, diseases, stroke, migraine, stress, displacement activity,

Web address:
Sponsored by: Association pour la recherche sur le bâillement ...

what does this all mean? I am too tired from an overnight flight... a Manha sera outra dia...

The Origins of Obesity in America

We can offer a thousand explanations, but one thing is clear, Americans are overweight and Obese.. and the trend is not reversing itself....
As an Endocrinologist and a person interested in the welfare of the Oppressed People to whom artificial foods were first introduced, I was horrified to see what is being served as food at an extremely popular restaurant in Miami. There were lots of people waiting to be poisoned!
First of all in no other Civilized country in this world would be portions be so HUGE..
much of the food was not fresh, muffins and god knows what used to make pancakes, syrup, ketchup full of High Fructose Corn Syrup, the "vegetable" served was diced potatos!
This was a special occasion for celebration and even though I ordered, a spinach and eggs benedict with no meat, i could not eat the muffin and the diced potatos and i left the fast food place, since this cannot be given the honorific, Restaurant.... very hungry and thank God there was some fresh Curried Goat at my sister's house!

samedi 19 juin 2010

Miami, the future Capital of the Americas.. Champagne and Asian Fusion Food!

Filipino Chinese Chef, Peruvian Student from Lima, LAN Pan Asian Restaurant
It is time to celebrate, dear friends! What ingredients do we need?
Good News! Of course, lately we have been blessed with a few pieces of Good News’…Today was the best, the news about the wellness of my sister.
Welcome Hadar Siman Tov in Haifa, Israel. And her sister Lea is vacationing in Quiberon! Nice feeling of spending last week with the Indians of Nebraska… I always leave them with a nice sense of contentment. My Kikapu sister in Mexico had a dream about my dearest friend in Asia, and it looks like she after weeks of being in Himalaya, has had her head cleared.
Time to rejoice! Time to set our priorities right!
I am leaving for Paris in a few hours time…
One of them said to me, for fifty years of my life, I don’t think the White people would understand, I have lived under other people controlling my life and now the doctors are trying to control my life by prescribing and forcing me and threatening me with their medications. That is why I chose the doctor whose homeland was recently destroyed by Earthquake, Haiti, may be he would understand us better than the American doctors…
The chef appears, a Chinese from Manila and who owns the restaurant and his fusion cuisine is truly one of the finest in Miami. We begin with Edamame beans, then a tempura/sushi combination...rice cucumber…
The grouper fish in glazed tamarind sauce, brown rice and green peas… flat rice noodles (kew teow of Malaysia and Thailand) in vegetables…
The person serving the table is a student from Peru, who does not look mestizo or Indian but more middle eastern.. Then she says her grandfather was Chinese even though she didn’t inherit his features. Ah well, this is the pleasure of Miami, people from all over the place. This is America of the future..
The bottle of Nicolas Feuillette champagne was chilled and served. Sweet and delicious. This is the official champagne of Air France. I will be having another glass on my flight to Paris as well… mmm.
It is so nice to eat and drink and share good stories with good friends. The night outside is balmy, we are all happy.
Gracias a la Vida…

Lan Pan-Asian Cafe on Urbanspoon

Saturday Afternoon in South Miami

Visit to a Catholic Church to say Thanks..

American Indians always say that people pray and when they are rewarded, they forget to thank the people responsible for it. After hearing the good news about a follow up PET CT Scan on my sister Jackie, she asked me, do you want to go to church with us this afternoon?

OK, let me explain.

My sister, Jackie is English and brought up in Jamaica and her husband Joseph’s father migrated to Cuba from Bethlehem in the 1930s! they both are catholic and strong believers but that has not interfered with our deep relationship, which gets better with time.

This is the first ever time, in my memory, that I have attended a mass, even though I have been inside a church for weddings and funerals. The rituals reminded me of some of our rituals or variations of it. I was able to separate myself from the liturgy but feel one with the ambience of reverence and pray silently for the continued well being of sister Jackie.

I have prayed for her, on numerous occasions at the Schwedagon pagoda in Yangon, at the Chinese temple in Malacca, the hindou temples of Shiva in Madras and of course at the synagogues the few times I have attended them: at the cochin synagogue and also at the tomb of the Malabari Jewish Saint, Naomi Mutta. And on more than one occasion I have prayed along with other Indian friends at their sweat lodges.

If you come with a clean heart and know what you are praying for, I don’t think it matters where you are praying, the infrastructure I don’t think it matter, but what is inside your heart does…

PS as always i used this occasion for anthropological observations.. on a saturday evening at 5pm, there were quite a few people in attendance. majority of the people were white, most of the non white people were of caribbean origin, matronly black ladies from jamaica well dressed, chinese jamaicans with their american children in tow, some white was nice to see families attending the church together, young and old. What i did not like was that many of them were dressed very casually, a woman sitting in the front pew had her two children and she was wearing what looked like a housecoat and crumpled shorts and sandals!

vendredi 11 juin 2010

Food Insecurity in the Land of Plenty

It is not in every one's fate to think in advance about Food on the day of their trans atlantic flight..But on my 45th transatlantic flight since September 2006, i began thinking early enough about the food for the entire day...
I give myself plenty of time on the day of a long trip.. left home early enough to reach CDG in time to check into the Lounge..The efficiency of the Paris Transportation system makes one feel confident about taking it on the day of departure across the seas..
Train to San Lazare
a mere minutes..
Dont give into the temptation of nibbling on a pain au chocolat here.. but look for no 21 to take you to the opera.. The driver a young african was in a morose mood.. so forgive him..

the ride to Opera is a short one and the direct bus to CDG is getting ready.. and the driver is very friendly, making a definite attempt at greeting each of the passengers and talking his best in English..9.10 euros and off you go and while the peripherique was cluttered on this rainy day, we did manage to reach CDG terminal ! which is the first stop on this bus, by 9 am
First morsel of the day, while checking the mail at the Star Alliance Gold Lounge at Terminal 1. After checking in, you walk up and then go through security and somewhere along the line someone cursorily looks at your passport..

a nice capuccino, some cheese, a pain au chocolat, yoart avec fruits...
the time waiting was spent catching up on news, checking emails and during the last few minutes walking around the terminal 1 which is not at all pretty. There were passengers to shanghai and tokyo who would be connecting with their flights at zurich as i was connecting with mine to Miami.
Even though the flight was only 45 minutes in length, i knew that a breakfast of sorts would be served as the flight left at 11 am, and one has to be judicious at the selection of food. cold meats out, just eat the fruit and the vegetable compotte and enjoy the yaort and the fresh bread.

there was but one hour in between the arrival of the flight from Paris and the departure of the flight to Miami and all international flights departed from a distant terminal eventhough ZRH is a small airport by international standards.
but one has to trust in the Swiss Efficiency. arrival. transfer to a bus. to the terminal. passport check. security check and then a train to the departure terminal. another security check. and then you are right near the aircraft an airbus 340 300 ready to depart for Miami. I had selected a nice enough seat with enough privacy. and the journey began with a glass of champagne...
reading, wanting to watch a movie, the selections were not that good since i look forward to watching a japanese movie on these flights. as one could imagine most of the movies were recent american releases with a smattering of european movies and funnily enough a few hindi movies which i have no interest in watching. i chose to watch invictus about nelson mandela and the rugby world cup 1995 and the tense situation at that time in that rainbow nation, appropriate as it begins to host the 2010 FIFA... well acted by Morgan Freeman and Matt Demon with south africa itself as the back ground, rather emotional at times for those of us who come from the southern climes...
i shall wait for my lunch now..
I dont ever remember tasting a swiss wine, so i opted for this wine: Baselbieter Primus BR x 100 % Riesling x Sylvaner 2009
which was a good choice for the starters. the menu had been developed by star chef Tanja Grandits of the legendary Basel Resto Stucki, called the Romantic Cuisine.
vanilla marinated pike-perch spiced jus and sauteed melon, just melted in your mouth.
There was no doubt about my choice for the main course: I eat and have eaten so much salmon, from my student days in London, it was my favourite breakfast and now in Paris, it is the fish of choice, so when i saw Salmon offered as one of the choices for lunch, neither the veal steak nor the chicken ragout or the chicory piccata held any attraction.
Baked Salmon with wasabi crumble, wasabi sauce, saffron and lemon basmati rice and fennel sauerkraut.
yoghurt panna cotta with rosemary. A glass of port Porto Niepoort Tawny didnt sit well in the tongue.
I truly enjoyed this flight. it is not often one looks forward to long flights these days, so that i was grateful for every little comfort on this flight. also going west to the united states the flights are longer and it is during the day, as such it seems longer than the through the night flights back to europe.
light snack just before arrival at Miami International Airport

As usual the Global Entry which took me twenty seconds and as my luggage arrived quite swiftly, i was out of the immigration hall within about five minutes of arrival ..
Bienvenidos a Miami y las playas.....
So i ate sensibly and well, didnt over do, two flutes of champagne, and two glasses of Swiss Riesling, but the most satisfying aspect was that, soon after i arrived at the airport, my sister picked me up and we were off ...
After social catching up, her question was .. what would you like to eat.. I postponed it for a while but soon enough, okra and saltfish jamaican style was in front of me, with mango juice and nice english tea..
So life is a smooth flowing current in which you bring pleasures and relieve pains and sufferings of others while the Spirits look after you in the air and on the ground..
I am blessed with three gorgeous situations: my life in Paris which is getting better by the day, the life in Miami which is full of nostalgia and anticipation and my life in Havana full of visual and intellectual stimulations.. Gracias a la Vida.....(violeta para chile y mercedes sosa argentina)


A fascination with new possibilitis
shanghai.. no interest when you say that to me, despite the Expo. But mention Sao Paolo or Tokyo, my heart just jumps..
just to see the earth below and surmise the millions of dreams i am flying over now..
red tiled homes, orderly, valleys and possibly with their internet on?
I am flying over Switzerland about to land at ZRH
I looked after my sisters cancer, that does not mean that I am a specialist in Cancer Treatment..
a three month old with urinary tract infection? a sixty year old man with back me his scan results..
many of these things are out of my reach, but i have a reasonable grasp of what is going on...
I remember very well the Meskwaki indian sitting in front of me
you are the doctor and you should know
I pray oh great spirit help me out.. then i feel that he has something wrong with his kidney..
yes he did, later on we find out.
yes we must believe in something
Yes I strongly believe in the goodness of people
When MunChing wrote to me about her chance encounter with Ping Peng, I felt a gushing joy, because i believe in the good ness of peopel connecting with each other and doing good things for each other, and it can be done only if you arrive at the scene with a clean slate..
Indians consistently say, if someone cant understand you, pray that they do, see you for what you are, and if they fail to do that, just let them get out of your life...
This has been a very comfortable flight....

What a Lovely Time in Miami Florida

Miami never disappoints me... not this time nor at the many times i have been here..
Friends from UmonHon were visiting, so seeing them, showing them around a bit was enjoyable. They have never tasted Cuban cuisine in their entire lives so it was a pleasure to take them to La Carreta in SW 8th street...They are staying by the beach and enjoying what the tourists enjoy doing while visiting Miami..
A lovely dinner tonight at LAN a pan asian restaurant near Dade Land Mall. The waitress, Pamela was from Peru and was delightful. The meal was simply delicious and it was one of the nicest time i had shared with my sister and her husband.. just lovely..

jeudi 3 juin 2010

Antiquities from the Kingdom of Gandhara

Gandhara was a kingdom which flourished from the 1st to the 6th centuries of the common era near the present day Peshawar (sanskrit name Purushapura mentioned in the chinese chronicles of the 7th century of the common era)
Boudhisme is not what comes to your mind when you think of Pakistan clouded as we are by the current unfortunate political climate there, also we tend to forget that much of the early Indian Civilization flourished in what is now Pakistan such as Harappa Moenjadaro etc
in the valley of SWAT and in Purushapura great architectural monuments of a peculiar blend existed ... the so called greco-boudhiste art.
currently about two hundred of these exquisite pieces are on display at the Musee Guimet in the centre of Paris( metro iena close to charles de gaulle etoile). awe inspiring indeed, these well selected pieces of sculptures from the times forgotten when India nearly became a Budhist country.. it was only in the 1920s the British excavated this region and saved these antiquities for the future generations. there are examples of budhist art and sculpture from Afghanistan from regions where budhism held sway long before Islam existed as a religion. all in all very impressive. there are lectures to go with the exhibition which would run for another two months..