May 26, 2019

The time-keeper at Chor Bazaar

He sits outside his shop in the narrow lane of Mumbai's infamous chor bazaar. His is one of the many in line of the bric-a-brac stores in the area. Abdul Ghadiwala, he calls himself, a plump bespectacled man smiling broadly at the camera hanging in my neck with all except his front two teeth. I doubt that is his real name. Abdul sounds Muslim, and Ghadiwala sounds Parsi, but I do not debate. I simply assume it is part of the advertising gimmick he uses to sell his wares, a wide range of clocks and watches from the vintage to the new. There is a grandfather clock in one corner of the store, looking ancient yet in full working condition, an old Smith's clock, and a variety of other time pieces.

Abdul, however, unlike the other shop owners at Chor Bazaar, is more interested in regaling his life story than displaying his ware. I think he has presumed (from my cloth jhola and camera) that I work for some paper or am a reporter of some sort and that this might be his first lucky break to being famous.
He tells me his family has been running the shop since over three generations now.


"My grand father named it The time machine," he says, pointing to the signage hanging on a nail outside the store. "He used to say time is precious, and we have to treasure every second of it."

I smile, taking in the truth of the statement.
"Why time machine?" I ask, half expecting him not to know what it actually means. He surprises me.

"This shop is filled with memories from my past, but the people who come here show me glimpses of the future. Most of these antique watches too are testimony of somebody's past, but they are fated to travel into somebody's future. They are with me only for the time being, the present." he says, his disposition calm and almost Buddha like.
"I come here in the morning and say Namaaz, with the tick tick of the watches in the background. It has now become synonymous with my heartbeat.”

Then after a deep sigh, he continues.
"So with every customer buying a watch from my store, I feel my heart travels too. That way I don't just travel across generations but also visit places all over the globe..."

I laugh at the innocence and depth of his explanation. The man is a philosopher.
He takes offence and turns away, trying to hide his irritation by pretending to be busy. I immediately realize my mistake and attempt to correct the damage. I ask him if he has any hour glasses to show me. His face lights up at the mention of hour glass.

"Yes, yes," he says. "Nobody asks for them anymore."
He fishes out one from a dusty old box of curios that have been relegated to one corner of the store.

"Here," he remarks, placing the hourglass in my hand, "As good as new."

And just like that, he is back to regaling me with his stories. He shows me a gold embossed pocket watch that had travelled across two generations only to return back to his store. I tell him that would make up a grizzly horror story, he frowns. "Do I look like some evil 'hocus pocus' man to you?" I like the way he says 'hocus pocus' and he tells me that it was the name of the magic show he had gone to watch with his teenage son.

"That hocus pocus man stole my watch. He asked me for magic trick, and gave different one back," he complains, half impressed with the magic trick he had witnessed.

It is getting late and I have to head back. Mr Ghadiwala is disappointed to have to end the conversation abruptly. But I promise him I will visit again, next time with an actual reporter friend who'd be willing to do a piece on him. I buy the hourglass as a souvenir of our fascinating rendezvous and make my way from 'The time machine', the conversation etched in my mind.

Abdul Ghadiwala might not be the best salesperson in Chor Bazaar, but he sure as hell makes an excellent story teller!

February 28, 2019

#WordlessWednesday: Of poetry vibes and poetry tribes


It was in January that walking book fairs made a stop at Goa, and I was thrilled...mainly because
  • in an age and time where poetry is losing its glory, here were this young duo (Shatabdi Mishra and Akshaya Bahibala) who were trying their level best to reignite interest and resuscitate it back to life. 
  • ‘Poems on the road’ was not just a casual and fun approach but also a earnest attempt at making poetry more accessible, more approachable. 

The van that became poetry

For the uninitiated, Poems on the road was basically a two month long ‘Pan India’ road trip by Walking book fairs, covering a distance of 10,000 kms, in 20 states, and 30 cities. 

From December to February, it covered Sambalpur, Raipur, Khammam, Hyderabad, Anantapur, Bangalore, Mysore, Coimbatore, Kochi,  Goa, Pune, Mumbai, Indore, Ahmedabad, Udaipur, Jaipur, Gurgaon, Delhi, Sonipat, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Greater Noida, Agra, Lucknow, Patna,  Ranchi and provided a democratic platform for people to express their views freely.

With over 500 poetry titles stacked in the back of their minivan, this duo set out with the sole aim to promote poetry. 


The lovely collection

What ensued were wonderful interactions where poetry connoisseurs got together to express their thoughts and bring about a positive change. There was an  open mic as well, wherein one was invited to perform their written poems and/or discuss favourite works.

Initially, I was a little skeptical. A library in a moving van...was intriguing but seemed a little too dramatic for poetry. However, what I witnessed made me instantly review my impression and accept that not all fine tastes need be high maintenance.

The certificate and book I was awarded

Of course, as the name suggests, Poems on the road was not about fancy-shmancy poetry readings, with snooty poets sipping on wine and twitching their noses to each other's poetry.
On the contrary, it was as low key an event as possible. Poetry on wheels. A van parked off the road and a group of poetry lovers surrounding it; reading, discussing, and performing poetry in front of a niche audience. Expanding circles one city at a time, like children gathered around an ice cream truck, like moths to a flame. 

A humble tribute for all to see. 

Professing love to poetry. 

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Since we are on the topic of poetry, I will take this opportunity to introduce to you all, my e-anthology of poems, titled 'Potpourri'. 
You can check it out at Amazon here
Do let me know what you think of it. It would mean a lot to me. 

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Linking this post to #WordlessWednesday. You can check the other submissions here.


February 16, 2019

Packing for a day trip #SuperBloggerChallenge #Instacuppa

There are two types of travel junkies in the world
The spontaneous firebrands, who with their come-what-may attitude, believe in throwing themselves into impromptu trips, and those who like to be prepared and plan ahead for everything life and travel may throw their way.
When it comes to day trips, I prefer to belong to the latter category.


Having said that, here is a listicle of essentials that I would pack for a day trip.
What you primarily need to carry is a medium to large sized duffel bag that you can preferably sling over your shoulders. A backpack or a large hand bag may also suffice. Make sure these have zippers and at least a couple of compartments in order to to keep the contents safe and handy.
  • Sunscreen - Absolutely essential especially if it’s summer. Use a sunscreen of SPF 15 or more, depending on the weather.
  • Medicine box - Don’t forget to pack in the medication that you are on, in case you are on any.. Also, throw in a couple of band aids, an antiseptic, an anti-diarrhoeal and an anti-emetic just in case of emergency. Saves you the trouble for going in search of a pharmacy.
  • Snacks/munchies - Granola bars make for a great snack for road trips. They provide the required calories and are also healthy and nutritious.
  • Kindle reader/book - so that you can read that lovely book you are dying to finish.You can either carry your carefully thumbed physical copy of your current read, or if you like to carry your entire library along, then the kindle would be your preferred. However, now with the kindle app, you can also read on your phone. But this will only mean consuming phone battery a lot faster. 
  • Phone - a must have to always stay connected even while on the go. Just in case you want to check your mail, send that urgent text, or make calls while on the go, 
  • Camera - Depending on your photography skills,you can either carry a SLR, a DSLR, or a Nikon handycam. If you believe in real light packing, then you can also settle for the camera on your phone.
  • Charger cables - for your phone and kindle reader. 
  • A fully charged power bank - to charge your phone when it runs out of charge. 
  • Sunglasses - to protect you against the harsh rays of the summer sun and also to add that added style quotient to your day-time look.
  • Travel brochures - If you’re in a new city, travel brochures can be collected at the railway station, airport, and even at the concierge’s desk at the hotel you are staying.
  • Itinerary - Make a short itinerary for all the things/places you want to see during the day trip, along with the distance and time it takes to reach there from base. Then number them accordingly according to location. Keep the itinerary handy so that you don’t waste time and fuel due to haphazard travel.
  • Wallet - Always keep loose cash, in case of places that do not accept cards
  • Keys - Home keys, because  wherever you go, you’re coming back home. Car keys, in case you’re driving.
  • Tickets - If you have to switch a bus/train/plane.
  • Ear plugs - to plug into your music and get away from the frivolous banter of chatty co-passengers. Sometimes you need your mind space.
  • A spare tea shirt - For emergency situations of ketchup spills and baby vomit.
  • Box of tissues - always comes in handy. Keep a box of wet wipes preferably. They are refreshing and smell real good.
  • Hand sanitiser / lotion - to kill all the microbes that are traveling with you. 
  • And last but not least, ID card and/passport - in case of emergencies, especially while traveling to unknown places. Also these are legit proof of your existence on the surface of the earth. So carry them along!
Phew! That's about everything you need for a safe day trip.
With these packed in your duffel bag, all you now need to do is sling it over your shoulder and head for the road.

Remember, adventure is out there!

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“Note: This article is written as a part of SuperBloggerChallenge2019 conducted by Healthwealthbridge.com, Allaboutthewoman.com and should not be repurposed, republished or used otherwise. The content herein is owned by the blogger. SuperBloggerChallenge2019 is not responsible for any kind of infringement caused.”



Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

February 12, 2019

Chai and I - a love story! #SuperBloggerChallenge #Instacuppa

My relationship with tea goes back a long way. I think it was the Madhatter's tea party that first got me all curious. I must have been barely seven then. That was a time and age when children my age were forbidden from touching any kind of adult beverage. However, even as a child, I was always the curious sort and an early introduction to books had only managed to fuel this sense of wonder and curiosity in me.
I would watch the adults sipping on their cups of tea, while I listlessly nursed my glass of milk, sulking at the unfair privilege age allowed them.
Alice was allowed to attend a tea-party. Then why wasn't I? I had raised the argument with my father once. "Because we are not mad hatters," he had laughed at his own joke. I was being clearly outwitted.

Until one day, I decided enough was enough. I was clearly missing out on something. I couldn't wait until I was a grown up to quench my thirst for this forbidden beverage. It would take me ages to get there. And so, with dogged determination, I did what every manipulative seven year old would do in times of emergency; I tried throwing a silent tantrum.
I stayed mum all day, refusing to talk to anyone until my demands were met. I pushed away my glass of hot milk and with animated gestures insisted that I was served what everybody else was having. After several futile attempts at dissuading me, my mother finally gave in and agreed to offer me a sip from her cup, on the lone condition that I'd finish drinking my milk later.
I grinned. The silent tantrum had worked. The negotiation was done! I promised I would drain my glass of milk to the last drop if only she'd allow me to have a few sips. Although I was aware that it was clearly my mother who had got better part of the deal, I knew beggars couldn't be choosers. Besides I was afraid they would adjust themselves to my silence (and God forbid, even begin to enjoy it) had I to push my luck.


For a good many months, I obediently settled for sips of my mother's tea as part of our negotiation...until one day, curiosity (that was until then my forte) got the better of her, and she stealthily entered into the kitchen just in time to see me draining my glass of milk in the sink. My secret was out!
She stared at me in silence. My mind was already coming up with excuses. I knew my life was over. My mother would lecture me on the hungry kids of Somalia, her favorite topic, when I refused to eat the veggies on my plate. She would take away all my books and distribute them among my cousins. Or perhaps she would forbid me from having another drop of tea. Before she could say anything, I went in full drama-queen mode. I started to over-explain. I bawled. I protested. I told her I couldn't let the milk ruin the taste in my mouth...not when I was being allowed just a few precious sips of the chai I so craved.

She was still staring at me. And then she laughed. "We have a tea-junkie in the house" she told my father, narrating my shenanigans later that evening. They both chortled as I stood there, staring at them with my best puppy dog expression, hoping I had convinced them into allowing me to make the grand 'doodh to chai' switch-over.

The next day onward, I was given my own cup of tea. And that is how my journey with tea started...

While the other adults in my extended family frowned at my parent's decision to allow me what I wanted (tea over milk, to be precise), I acted eternally indebted to them, much to the point of suspicion, until I was completely sure they weren't going to change their mind.

As I grew up, I started thinking of myself as a tea connoisseur of sorts. No matter where I went, I could not make myself leave the place without trying the tea there. Hitherto, I have enjoyed various varieties, namely lemongrass tea, iced tea, kulhad chai, butter tea, tandoor chai, Darjeeling tea, Assam tea, oolong variety, and some other herbal infusions.

Thinking about it, I can say that my preferences too changed dramatically over the years.
During my childhood or pre-teen years, I loved the more milky, extra sugary type of tea. I guess this had more to do with the tea-drinker adult image that I was so fascinated with. During my adolescent  years, it was masala chai that became my favorite. Perhaps the spice level of that chai was more in tune with my feisty teenage years. Somewhere during medical school, my choice of tea changed again. Late night cramming for exams and a hectic schedule meant me downing cups of black tea to keep me up and about.
Cut to present day, I am me, more mature and level headed (or so I like to believe), much more concerned about my health and fitness than I was years ago. I am still a tea lover nevertheless. But over the last few years, my choice of tea has changed once again, this time to a more soothing cup of green tea.

When I first started having green tea, around three years ago, it took me a while to get adjusted to its characteristic 'grassy' flavour. But soon enough, it had found its way into my routine. Green tea, is not just more soothing and relaxing, but also possesses a lot of health benefits.
Allow me to elaborate...

What made me opt for green tea?

Green tea is loaded with healthy nutrients. It is rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, flavonoids, and catechins.

  1. Oral health: Green tea helps maintain good oral health. The catechins in green tea inhibit certain bacteria responsible for bad breath. Also killing off the bacteria reduces the risk of plaque formation and cavities. 
  2. Green tea possesses around 30-40 mgs of caffeine (much lesser than in coffee). Hence green tea provides you with stable energy without the risk of risk of muscle tremors. It also increases your concentration span and helps you stay focused. 
  3. Green tea increases good cholesterol (HDL) and reduces bad cholesterol (LDL)
  4. It helps regulate hypertension by lowering blood pressure.
  5. Studies show that the catechins present in green tea decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and Parkinsonism. 
  6. L-theanine present in green tea helps you stay relaxed without being drowsy. 
  7. The large amounts of antioxidants in green tea reduce the risk of cancer.
  8. Green tea increases metabolism and promotes burning down of fats. Hence helps control weight gain.
  9. Research shows that green tea decreases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and also increases longevity. 
Ergo, green tea is literally the elixir of life. Of course all the above benefits are based on correlation and should be supplemented with healthy eating and fitness habits. One cannot be reckless in all their habits and expect a miracle out of green tea alone. 

However, every time I traveled, I was rudely reminded of how good things in life are often either overpriced or simply unavailable. The cafes en route would either roll their eyes when I ordered green tea or came up with an exorbitantly priced pitcher of some ambiguous green-tea brand. So when I read about the vacuum insulated tea infuser bottle by #Instacuppa, I immediately made up my mind and placed my order at Amazon. 
With advanced temperature control, this double wall vacuum insulated design helps keep both hot for 1 hours and cold up to 24 hours. Also the vacuum insulted thermos travel mug is the perfect travel companion for those who want to have their regular green tea-fix even on the go, and be spared of judgmental looks and hole in the wallet.
The infuser bottle can be used not just to create infusions of green tea, but also to prepare infusions of coffee, fruits etc. Detach the steel infuser, and it can be used as a simple water bottle too.

How to prepare green tea using infuser bottle?

Of course, it is no rocket science.
  1. Firstly, detach the infuser basket from the bottle.
  2. Separate the long infuser from the short strainer.
  3. Add one tbsp of loose leaf green tea in the bottle
  4. Cover the infuser with the short strainer.
  5. Put the infuser back in the bottle.
  6. Add hot water to the bottle until it reaches just below the strainer level.
    1. Cover the bottle and let it stand (infuse) for four minutes or more. The colour of the water changes almost instantly.
    2. For faster infusion, flip bottle upside down for a few times. 
    3. After four minutes, your tea infusion is ready. 
    4. Pull the strainer and infuser off the bottle and sip on your freshly brewed green tea straight from the bottle.
    And that, my friends, is how I prepare a perfect cup of green tea. 
    I normally prefer to add a dash of lemon in my green tea. Lemon aids in the absorption of some of the nutrients in the green tea. 

    So that's it, folks. Now that you all have read a slice of my love story and are privy to the secret of my energy (nope! it has never been a chocolate milk-drink that the ad mad world leads us Indians into believing), I will end this post by rephrasing a popular scrapbook line that most of us would fondly remember scribbling in each other's scrapbooks as kids.

    "Drink hot coffee green tea. Drink green tea. Burn your tongue and remember me!"

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    “Note: This article is written as a part of SuperBloggerChallenge2019 conducted byHealthwealthbridge.comAllaboutthewoman.com and should not be repurposed, republished or used otherwise. The content herein is owned by the blogger. SuperBloggerChallenge2019 is not responsible for any kind of infringement caused.”

    February 10, 2019

    #ShortStory: 'The final crossover'

    She owned this blanket with cherry blossoms that she adored. You would think it had some sentimental value; maybe it was a gift from a loved one, or a prize perhaps, or perhaps a distant memory of a romantic liaison that got too close before it disappeared.

    However, the truth was far from it. In actuality, this blanket helped her crossover from one world to another...from fact to fiction. She had first discovered its magic when the cherry blossoms on the fabric had teleported her to springtime in Japan. It had taken a few seconds to realize it had been just a dream. Never had she slept so soundly; it had almost felt like she was traveling through a different time frame.


    Since then the blanket had become her favorite. It was a magic carpet and dream catcher rolled in one. As she lay in her bed, she would swaddle herself up head to toe in it...and never realize when the whole day’s exhaustion would sweep her away.
    As she drifted off to sleep, the blanket would then start its job...of dream travel, take her to places she had only read about but never seen, show her things she could have only imagined.

    Until one day, something unexpected happened. She was beside herself with grief. There was this huge tear in the center of the blanket. Something sharp had ripped a hole right across it.

    As night fell, she became more and more distraught. No matter how she folded it, the rip in the blanket no longer allowed her to envelope herself in it.

    “How could I have let this happen?” she wept herself to an adventure-less sleep, clutching a corner of the cherry blossom designed duvet.

    She brought out her sewing kit and tried to approximate the edges of the rip, only to find her frustration grow exponentially with every pull and tug.
    The rip had created a huge gap that was too large to be tacked. Her lovely blanket had been ruined. And she feared, so was the magic it had once possessed.
    Heart broken, she stared at the huge hole mimicking the gaping wound she felt inside of her.

    Soon enough, she confined herself to her home. She’d spend all day thinking how to mend the damaged 'cherry blossom' blanket. Her nights too went tense and sleepless. She missed the adventure the blanket provided.  The comfort, the security that she felt was now lost. And as time went by, she became increasingly convinced that they were never coming back.

    The cherry blossoms were fading, drifting her away from the magical realm of her escapades, her rendezvous, her imaginings. Not allowing her to reach them from the confines of her bedroom window.

    It was a cold wintry night, when an unusual sort of notion crept in her head. She could no longer bear to see the ripped off cherry blossoms on her blanket. She had to make sure they stayed intact in her mind forever. She picked up her sewing kit in one hand and clutched her blanket in the other, and for the first time in weeks made her way outside.

    No sooner had she stepped out, a cold wind blew through her hair, raising a chill through her frail body. It was as if the world had changed while she was brooding.
    As she dusted the blanket, she noticed in its upward motion, something she had never observed before. Her heart was no longer sulking at the hole in the blanket. Instead, it was beating faster at the breath taking sight through it...the mesmerizing canopy of a diamond studded sky.

    Next morning, it was passing pedestrians who spotted her stiff and lifeless in the cold, her skin pale, her lips blue. She wasn't breathing.

    “Who, in their right mind, sleeps under the stars in this kind of weather?” they scolded nobody in particular, like all witnesses to tragedies, who mean well and think they know better. “The woman should have been careful.”

    Shocked bystanders speculated on her state of mind. But there weren’t many who could deny she looked happy.

    As she lay there in peace, head resting on crossed palms, she appeared to be gazing at something she couldn’t tear her eyes away from. Rigor mortis had set in. But the smile on her face added to her otherwise tranquil countenance. The sewing box sat beside her, unopened.

    It was a terribly windy morning. As people held on tightly to their billowing hats and coats, they found it impossible to fathom how a tattered fabric could hang still from a nearby branch..as if offended at being discarded just before the final crossover!


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     ‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’ 

    Winning post for the weekend of 8 - 10 Feb 2019

    February 04, 2019

    #MedicalMondays: Antibiotic resistance

    Today, on the first Monday of the #MedicalMondays segment, I am going to address a matrer of growing concern in the field of medicine all over the world, and lately in India as well...antibiotic resistance.


    India has seen a rampant rise in the use of antibiotics, over the last few years.
    My house-help, a 28 year old female, often insists I prescribe her antibiotics, even for a minor cold or cough and is disappointed when I refuse to do so. In fact, why just her? My friends and relatives have also, in the past, been guilty of doing the same.
    Sometimes, I myself, have been tempted to pop in an antibiotic without confirming the accurate pathology of a viral flu.

    Ergo, the need to shine some light upon this topic of growing concern...

    What is antibiotic resistance?
    Antibiotics are a group of drugs that are capable of destroying or inhibiting the growth of bacteria.
    They are used to treat bacterial infections like pneumonia, TB, ear/throat infections, urinary tract infection etc.
    Bacteria are constantly evolving inside the human body. Repeated use of an antibiotics causes these bacteria to gradually withstand the curative effect of that antibiotic, thus allowing the thriving bacteria to mutate and multiply in large numbers. Thus the antibiotic, which was once effective, is now ineffective and unable to fight the infection.

    Why is it that we have become an antibiotic-obsessed nation? 
    It is a common misconception that stronger the medicine faster the patient improves. And what ‘strong’er drug than an antibiotics to hasten the recovery from a niggling cold, or untimely flu, thinks the common man.
    However, what is often not realised is that the effectiveness of any kind of treatment does not depend on the strength or dosage of the drug but on its appropriateness with reference to the ailment.

    Let’s discuss this in a little detail...

    Causes of Antibiotic Resistance :

    • Misuse and overuse of antibiotics.
    • Over prescribing of antibiotics
    • Abrupt stoppage of antibiotic treatment.
    • Lack of proper hygiene and sanitation.
    • Poor infection control.
    • Indiscriminate use of antibiotics in live stock
    • Inefficient and slow lab tests. 


    Misuse/overuse by patients:
    Antibiotics are often taken for viral flu and common cold (self-medication).
    Around 80% of common colds are viral in nature, and so an antibiotic in such cases would be ineffective.
    It must be remembered that antibiotics fight only against bacterial infections and are useless against viruses.

    Recommendations of antibiotics from relatives who mean well, self-proclaimed doctors, or the Internet should be discouraged. Consult a trusted medical professional for a prescription instead.

    Misuse/overuse may cause the antibiotic to be ineffective in the future and hence should be avoided.

    Another cause of antibiotic resistance is noncompliance on the part of the patient. 
    Abrupt stoppage of antibiotic course on cessation of symptoms has been observed in patients. This kills the susceptible bacteria, allowing the resistant bacteria to mutate and give rise to the resultant increase in an antibiotic-resistant strain.
    Hence when prescribed a course of antibiotic, it becomes important to complete the entire course.

    Antibiotics are largely used as growth supplements in livestock to improve health of the animals and produce a larger yield and high quality animal products.
    The antibiotic-resistant bacteria produced in the gut of these animals are then transmitted to humans through the food chain.
    Also, 90% of antibiotics administered to livestock are excreted through their urine and feces into the soil, and act as fertilizers for plant produce; another means of entering the food chain.

    Prevention:

    • Do not demand antibiotics from your doctor. Also do not share antibiotics with family members without prescription, or save prescribed antibiotics to use for a later date.
    • If you are adviced antibiotics by your doctor, take them as prescribed. Do not discontinue treatment until the course is complete. 
    • Maintain sanitation and hygiene. Wash your hands. Stay as clean and bacteria free as possible.
    • Embrace a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy. Exercise regularly. This will keep you away from infections. 
    • Keep a chart/record for vaccinations and take them as per schedule.
    • Spread information about resistance and explain the dangers of inappropriate use of antibiotics among family members and friends.

    The problem is global. But with judicious use and controlled management, we can prevent ourselves from becoming an antibiotic hazard.

    Remember: when incorrect or in excess, even medicine turns into toxin. 

    See you Next Monday...
    Until then, stay aware, stay healthy!


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    Disclaimer: Self-medication, with little/no prior knowledge of medicine may be harmful. ‘Medical Mondays’ aims to mainly create more awareness on issues pertaining to health and well being. However, the needs of every patient are different, and an online transfer of information has its own limitations. So please confirm with your consulting physician before attempting any drastic measure. 


    Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers



    January 30, 2019

    Raising awareness #LeprosyEradicationDay

    Today, 30th January, is remembered by most Indians as Gandhiji’s death anniversary. Gandhiji who played a major role in making our country a free nation, Gandhiji of the Sabarmati ashram and Satyagraha fame, Gandhi who brought forth the Dandi March and promoted non-violence. The use of the charkha and khaadi are often associated with the father of the nation.

    However, what remains in the background is an important struggle that Gandhiji was involved in all through his lifetime...the struggle for eradication of leprosy.
    It is therefore, that 30th January is also celebrated as ‘Leprosy Eradication Day’ in India.

    India is a land of superstitions and myths. Although we have been successful in busting most of these old wives tales over the years, there are still a lot of misconceptions and illogical fears associated with diseases and infections.
    Among these is the fear of leprosy and the people suffering from it. While most people are hesitant in even staying within talking range of the patients (insensitively termed as 'lepers' by the common man), there are others who harbor and spread false information regarding its spread and communicability. As a consequence, those who experience the symptoms often conceal them out of fear of the rejection and scorn from society, and sometimes even family.

    Ergo, it becomes the responsibility of every aware member of the society that we become aware about this condition...and rid not just our society against this prejudice but also cleanse our own minds of the bias.


    So let's start with the basics:

    What is leprosy?
    Leprosy is a chronic granulomatous infection that affects mainly the skin, mucous membrane, and nerves. It is caused by the bacteria M.Leprae (Mycobacterium. Leprae).
    There are two types of leprosy:

    • Paucibacillary
    • Multibacillary
    Transmission: 
    Leprosy is mildly contagious and is seen mostly in the lower socio-economic groups. 
    It does not spread by touching or holding hands. 
    M.Leprae cannot infect intact skin.

    Leprosy is transmitted through nasal secretions or droplets. 

    Genetic defects in the immune system may cause certain people to be more susceptible to the infection than others. 

    Symptoms that should be watched out for:
    Early symptoms include:
    • Numbness
    • Loss of temperature sensation
    • Pins and needles sensation
    • Reduced tactile (touch) sensation
    • Pain
    • Blisters/rashes/white patches
    • Bent fingers with ulcers
    Late symptoms include:
    • Facial disfigurement 
    • Loss of digits
    • Large ulcers
    Erythema Nodosum: Painful skin nodules accompanied by fever, neuritis, joint pain and edema. 

    Leprosy, if detected at the right time can be treated and cured completely, and further complications can be prevented. However, there is no preventive measures for the infection. 
    Diagnostic measures include skin smears and biopsy.

    Currently, there is no vaccine against leprosy. 

    Treatment: 
    (Only after and as adviced by consulting diagnostician/healthcare professional)

    For paucibacillary Leprosy-
    In Adults: 600mgs Rifampicin once a month
                   +100 mgs Dapsone daily for six months. 

    For multibacillary leprosy-
    In Adults: 600 mgs Rifapicin once a month + 300 mgs Clofazimine once a month
                  + 100 mg Dapsone daily 
                   +50 mgs Clofazimine daily 

    Towards a Leprosy-free India:
    Leprosy treatment is free and available within easy reach. It is important to visit a dermatologist or nearby hospital on the first appearance of any of the related symptoms. 
    However, most people shy away due to the stigma associated with the disease. The myths and discrimination against leprosy ends up being the cause of most cases of depression in patients. The brutal attitude of the society towards them makes them lose their will to live and fight the infection. Some stop treatment midway, while some others refuse to go for follow ups, thus resulting in complications and a fatal outcome. 
    The microbe can be destroyed. It is eventually man who becomes the worst enemy of man. 

    It is only we and we alone who can put an end to our ignorance. We must keep in mind that Leprosy is curable at any stage and is not a matter of shame. We, as educated citizens should make it a point to spread awareness about this disease. 
    • Through medical talks in schools, colleges, and other gatherings, we can clear the misconceptions about Leprosy. 
    • Be watchful for signs/symptoms in yourself and in your loved ones. 
    • Share the information via social media, in Whatsapp groups, via retweets.
    • Free yourself...of prejudice. Debunk those myths. 


    Leprosy is not a curse. Neither is it a punishment, like some people believe it to be. It is simply an infection that can be fought with the right and timely treatment. 
    It is simply a war that can be won by cleansing our minds of the fear and stigma associated with it.

    Today, let's each take a step towards a Leprosy-free future!

    January 06, 2019

    #SmartHomeRevolution : Smart choices for a smarter you

    As a child, I grew up on a healthy dose of children's films and cartoon shows. I remember being glued to the sofa, refusing to allow anyone else the liberty to have access to the remote or the TV. Among all my favorite shows, the two that topped my list were 'The Flintstones' and its extreme opposite, 'The Jetsons'. (The former lived in the stone age, with machines and transport powered by birds and dinosaurs. Contrary to them, the latter inhabited the future, and made use of the most advanced technology.)

    While 'The Flintstones' made me giggle at the redundant lifestyle of prehistoric times, 'The Jetsons' would make me dream about a future wherein machines would be our slave and bring the world to our feet.
    I was fascinated by Rosie, the household robot, who although authoritarian, handled the family's every need with great finesse and dedication. I marveled at teenage Judy's digital diary that she fondly called DiDi. I longed for a computer like R.U.D.I who could be as much as a friend to me as he was to George.
    All of it seemed so magical back then...the inventions, gadgets, futuristic lifestyle. I would watch wide eyed, while the Jetsons made avail of equipment I had never seen nor heard of. I recall describing the series to my grandmother. Whenever I went over to her place, I'd fill her up on the shows I'd watch. And 'The Jetsons' hardly ever missed a mention.
    As I animatedly regaled her with stories about the Jetsons, she would let my imagination soar, allowing me to explain at great length...scenes from the series and some from my own imagination.
    In hindsight, it must have all seemed so crazy to her. Mechanical house robots and talking computers. But she never once let it show.
    A woman who lived in times before the TV and telephone were discovered would never be able to imagine what power the Jetsons possessed on a child's imagination. But the Jetsons had made me believe in possibilities...and the possibilities, like always, were endless.

    Cut to present day, my childhood fantasies do not seem so distant after all. In fact, we still have 43 years ahead of us to catch up with the kind of inventions the Jetsons used, and at the rate we are going, it will not be a surprise if we superseded them very soon.

    Over the last few years, India has seen a stellar rise in technology, allowing the tech-savvy prospective buyer to fulfill his desires and suit his preferences. Up to forty percent of smart watches and google assistants have been sold via Flipkart.
    Today, easy accessibility of the internet and smart phones in every small town and village has enabled India to bring about a digital revolution that promises to change the face of our country forever. Smart phones, smart watches, fitness belts, and of late, smart homes are on the rise. We are on our way to our Jetsons fantasy...
    And the only way we can fulfill it is by embracing smart options for ourselves and for our homes.

    Smart choices include:
    • Smart home - This includes thermostats, refrigerators, air conditioners, and other smart devices that come with Wifi capability, and can be controlled via apps on the smart phone. 
    • Smart lights - A smart home solution that can be operated and controlled using a simple app on your phone. 
    • Personal assistant devices such as Google home, Apple HomePod, Amazon Echo that are AI (Artificial Intelligence) powered, voice activated virtual assistants that carry out commands. These are integrated with your home automation devices.
    • Smart camera -  This smart camera not just safeguards your home from thefts but also makes sure you don't miss out on the important moments (like your baby's milestones) in life just because you are away. Wherever you are, smart surveillance cameras guarantees that the safety of your home and loved ones is just a click away. 
    • Smart wearable - These include smart watches that go as long as 45 days with a single charge, touch enabled fitness bands (like Mi band, Fitbit) that measure every step taken by you, bluetooth hats, smart glasses, smart headphones etc. 

    Why make these smart choices?
    Smart devices provide us with better security, reliability, and comfort.
    It is used friendly and very useful especially for the elderly. It is the surest way of ensuring the safety of your loved ones.
    Also these smart options save energy expenditure and cut down on expenses in the long run.

    To understand further, let us imagine a day in the life of a modern day technology smart user aka you as part of the #SmartHomeRevolution...

    It is morning.
    You are woken up by a familiar voice. It is your friendly assistant, Google Home. It rattles off the  news headlines for the day.

    While getting ready for your morning jog. you are in the mood for some music.
    "Ok. Google. Play me Ed Sheeran's Shape-Of-you," you ask. 
    Google Home obliges immediately. You hum along.

     A reminder from Google that you're getting late. You quickly strap your Huami Amazfit smart watch  on your wrist.
    "Google, turn off the fan," you say, and step out, reassured by the fact that your voice controls your favorite home automation devices. 

    You have now reached Joggers park. You check your watch for any call or message notification alert. The smart watch is a fitness tracker doubled up with a watch. As you complete your laps on the ground, it measures your physical activity. It records your heart rate and counts your steps. You are glad you decided to #GetFitWithFlipkart. Buying the multipurpose smart watch was the first step. 

     Four laps and you're done. You head home. 
    At home, the water is heated for a hot, refreshing post-exercise shower, just like you want it. It is definitely a blessing that you can navigate through all your requirements from your smart phone app. 
    A hot shower and breakfast later, you are all set to step out for work. Google Home reminds you of your appointments for the day. You have got it all covered...rather your assistant has it all covered. 

    You leave for office, assured that your home is safe under the watchful protection of smart surveillance. 
    You have installed the 360 HD home security smart camera. This enables you to monitor all activity inside and around the house with the help of the app on your phone. 

    It is evening and you are on your way back from work. You have had a long day and you are tired. Also the scorching summer heat is making you feel irritable and cranky. You can't wait to get home. You have already switched on the air conditioner using the smart home app on your phone, a little before your estimated reach-time. Also the Philips hue smart bulbs allow you to schedule, turn on/off, and even dim the lights via your smart phone. 

    Finally, you are home!! The long day and traffic has left you irate. But the crankiness from work soon disappears in the comfort of the dimmed out lights and the cool air of the air conditioner. 

    You microwave your dinner, while simultaneously setting your assistant to task. 
    "Google, play Sherlock from Netflix."

    You watch a couple of episodes while having dinner. 
    Then wash up and get into bed. Google Home plays soft instrumental music on your demand. It knows exactly what you need for a good night's rest.

    The smart lights in your room dim out, and your drift off to sleep. 

    The above scenario could easily become your everyday reality. At the click of a button, you can make a choice that will change your home and life forever. Flipkart offers great deals on smart home products. 
    You can start out small and gradually keep upgrading your smart home options. Speaking from personal experience, I would recommend a smart watch or fitness belt (depending on your budget) and 'Google home' to be on top priority list. The surveillance camera is also a deal worth considering.

    Let's make some smart choices today. We need to step up with the times.
    Our homes are turning smart. Let's get smarter!

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    This post was written for #GetFitWithFlipkart, a contest by Flipkart and Indiblogger
    If you liked what you read, please vote for it here.


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