Category — My Life
Last Saturday as I was leaving to go on my walk I saw a few men of the colony/area cleaning up the garbage. It was a real nice and heart-warming site to see people getting together and solving problems. Until now I haven’t seen people do anything together. Here it’s usually the ‘every man to himself’ rule that applies. Over the last couple of weeks the people have bonded over the dog issue and it seems the dogs have broken barriers between people. Finally maybe some good will be done in the colony. I only wish they would show some of this unity and vigour towards our apartment activities and issues too.
Anyway, the garbage outside our apartment had become an eye-sore. ‘Become’ nah its always been an eye-sore. Earlier we had a dustbin designed so dogs cant get at the garbage but people still threw their garbage outside the bin on the ground. We’d have stripped sanitary pads and torn diapers strewn all over the place. After all a pad and diaper are great playthings for dogs.
Then BBMP made segregation mandatory. Its another matter that our garbage collector doesn’t keep waste segregated, all wastes are thrown into the same mix at the back of the van. We did a drive back then and also gave pamphlets so those who slept through the talk could read later. But its too much work for most people so segregation happens only in some houses. Some don’t have time to put their garbage out for collection on time, so its simpler to walk out late at night and throw the garbage in the empty field where the old dustbin was. People would look at it everyday as the mound built but just walk away, then the maids were asked, even the BBMP guy was asked. No one wanted the clean-up job.
So, its good to see people take actual action together rather then just have meetings and keep talking.
The men were gathering all leaves and waste into a heap and setting it alight. I stopped by to pass on a message about BBMP wanting to send a representative volunteer to speak to the despiser group and ask if I could help with the cleaning. As expected it became a heat discussion on the demand that dogs have to go. In our talk Mr.M also told me about how there was so much plastic and they had to collect so many dry leaves to burn them. I looked at him aghast… ‘You burned the plastic?’. To which Mr.M shrugged and said, ‘If you burn it along with the leaves, its not toxic. I know all about it.’ Imagine… What do you say to someone who reasons like this. And while this conversation is happening there is a little toddler playing in the smoke along side Dad who’s also standing in the discussion group.
So I figured I’ll write about it after reading a little bit.
The fact sheet by WECF (Women in Europe for a Common Future) says
“How does home plasticwaste burning affect people’s health?
Most people who burn their plastic domestic waste do not realize how harmful this practice is to their health and to the environment. Current research indicates that backyard-burning of waste is far more harmful to our health than previously thought. It can increase the risk of heart disease, aggravate respiratory ailments such as asthma and emphysema, and cause rashes, nausea,or headaches, damages in the nervous system, kidney or liver, in the reproducti- ve and development system. The burning of polystyrene polymers – such as foam cups, meat trays, egg containers, yogurt and deli containers – releases styrene. Styrene gas can readily be absorbed through the skin and lungs. At high levels styrene vapor can damage the eyes and mucous membranes.Long term exposure to styrene can affect the central nervous system,causing headaches, fatigue, weakness, and depression. Not only these people who are burning the trash are exposed to these pollutants, but also their neighbours, children and families.
Dioxin emissions from plastic burning
The most dangerous emissions can be caused by burning plastics containing organoch- lor-based substances like PVC. When such plastics are burned, harmful quantities of dioxins, a group of highly toxic chemicals are emitted. Dioxins are the most toxic to the human organisms. They are carcinogenic and a hormone disruptor and persistent,
and they accumulate in our body-fat and thus mothers give it directly to their babies via the placenta. Dioxins also settle on crops and in our waterways where they eventu- ally wind up in our food, accumulate in our bodies and are passed on to our children.”
Here are a few other sites with more info -
Project Green Bag – Plastic bags must never be burned
Plastic is Rubbish – Burning Bins
Daily Kos – Burning Plastic can Kill You
I always thought that burning leaves was fine, but the Breathe Campaign site says even burning leaves is bad! I didn’t know that.
So now its confirmed, burning plastic is bad. So where then did Mr.M learn about this burning leaves and plastic recipe? And why the hell do parents not care about the health of their child? We all learned in school that burning plastic fumes are bad. So why don’t we give a damn about our health? Its cancerous fumes we are talking about here. Why did no one else stop Mr.M from burning plastic? Mr.M is turning out to be a good brain-washing politician after all.
Is there a way I can complain about this? Any authority I can complain to? I hadn’t recorded the conversation but I do have photos. It’s not ok to burn plastic. They’re putting me, my family and people at risk!
April 9, 2013 No Comments
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything other than book reviews and my culinary experiences so I thought it was time I wrote about something else. This one’s been on my list a long time…
As a person I been prone to palpitations and mild panic attacks for as long as I can remember. Of course I’m not a doctor so it actually may not be palpitations or panic attacks. What I feel when these episodes happen though is a wildly beating heart, breathlessness, sweating and extreme discomfort. It’s most likely to happen just after I’ve had an encounter with a cockroach. I am terrified of these creatures, no other creepy crawly does this to me.
Back when I lived with Mom and Dad, they came to the rescue and helped me regain my composure with lots of hugs and love. Then when I lived alone for a few years a shot of brandy or rum did the trick. All friends know just how petrified I am of roaches, and they usually jump in to help but they can’t always be there and over the years I’ve learned to deal with roaches the best I can but the after effects haven’t gone away and I try to deal with them too.
These episodes don’t just happen because of roaches, sometimes it’s when I’m really hurt or upset. Controlling emotions becomes tough, the tears start and then the breathlessness et all. Over the years I’ve noticed that hugs helped, they calmed me down faster and I got back control quicker, but I never really knew that there was a medical reason to this. Recently while watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, one of the doctors explained it in these words as she was getting a much needed squeeze – “Cows are squeezed tightly in a chute before they are slaughtered. The chute applies intense pressure resulting in decreased pluse rate, metabolic rate and muscle tone. It calms them down. Hugging relaxes the sympathetic nervous system, slows the heart, calms you down.”
That got me reading, I wanted to know more about it and if there were other ways to replicate a hug without needing another human being.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say – “A hug is a near universal form of physical intimacy, in which two people put their arms around the neck, back, or waist of one another and hold each other closely. Hugging has been proven to have health benefits. One study has shown that hugs increase levels of oxytocin, and reduce blood pressure.’
Reading further I found that Hugging or being hugged by someone you trust releases the hormone oxytocin into the bloodstream. Oxytocin helps reduce stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure and is even supposed to improve memory! The hormone oxytocin, produced by the pituitary gland is known to increase bonding, and closeness between people. An excellent example are mothers who produce oxytocin during childbirth and breastfeeding as it increases their bond with the child. Of course hugging only works between people who trust each other, and mutually want to hug; with strangers or people who make you uncomfortable the stress hormone cortisone is produced, and hence the positive effects of a hug are lost.
Recently at CeBIT, a high-tech fair in Germany a Singapore based firm unveiled their ‘cuddle jacket’. The jacket simulates the feeling of a cuddle by inflating small air bubbles in the normal looking fleece. The jacket can be controlled by a smartphone and the type of cuddle can varied between light pressure and a bear hug. Trials have shown it is immensely helpful with children who have learning disabilities. An autistic child who gets distraught by loud noises and new faces can be calmed down faster with the soothing effects of the jacket. James Teh the founder of the company hopes to make the jacket more widely available soon not only for children with learning disabilities but also adults who want a good hug from time to time. He definitely has one buyer in me.
Marcus Julian Felicetti a Yoga Therapist lists out 10 Reasons for why we need more than 8 hugs everyday. He says hugs build trust and a sense of safely. They remove feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger and help with open and honest communication. Extended hugs elevate mood and create happiness by lifting serotonin levels. Hugs strengthen the immune system, boost self-esteem, and relax muscles. They teach us how to give and receive. In his words ‘Hugging therapy is definitely a powerful way of healing.”
On December 1, 2004 Juan Mann started what we all know as the Free Hugs Campaign. He stood in the PittStreet Mall in central Sydney with a board that read Free Hugs. He had gone though some difficult times and was rather depressed and lonely. A hug from a stranger at a party had made him feel enormously better and he wanted to pass on the feeling. Initially people were distrustful and he stood there for 15 minutes before an elderly lady walked up to him for a hug. Gradually people started to come up to him for free hugs. Today the first Saturday following June 30 each year is celebrated as Free Hugs Day in remembrance of the first day Juan offered free hugs in Sydney in 2004. International Free Hugs Month is celebrated on the first Saturday of July and continues until August first.
Apparently hugs aren’t the only things that make us feel better, a good cuddle with the one you love increases the bond in your relationship and increases your chances of sticking it out together. Then there are also the benefits of kisses and sex
So, have you hugged someone today?
Photo Credit: Jo Marshall, on Flickr
March 14, 2013 No Comments
A couple of days before we were leaving for Tour of Nilgiris I heard from Sakina the Digital Marketing Manager at The Four Fountains Spa. She offered me an hour’s free package at the spa to experience it and review it on my blog. The deal sounded good to me but I still asked her if the offer holds in the case of a truthful review. She wanted nothing else so, of course I said yes, I’d do it.
I haven’t been to a lot of spas and know zilch about them. My first spa experience was at Angsana in UB City a few years back and I came away worse than I went in. Had a actual visible muscle lump in my shoulder for a week and I paid a bomb for it! That experience put me off spas and until we went to Thailand last year I hadn’t been near any spa. But after TfN the idea of a spa was really tempting and then Che agreed to come along so there I found myself talking to Sakina and booking a slot.
We went to the branch of the Four Fountains Spa in Jayanagar in the morning on a weekday. There was just one person waiting so we sat down and started to browse through the list of therapies they had. We weren’t waiting long before Dr. Devishri came to greet us and asked us to fill up some information forms. She followed that up by asking us questions about our life and lifestyle to assess our stress levels. Turns out I’m more stressed than Che
Based on our stress levels and type of lifestyle Dr. Devishri recommended a Swedish Massage for Che and the Head-Neck-Shoulder Massage and Foot Reflexology for me. But after the battering of the sun and mountains on my face through TfN I felt a facial was due so, I added a Healing Facial to my list of treatments.
I was introduced to Arunli my masseuse who led me to my room. At the Four Fountains Spa the massages are gender specific, i.e. men will only have male masseuses and women will have female masseuses. Arunli asked me to change into disposable undergarments that were provided and locked my valuables away into a locker. Then the massage started.
I don’t remember much after this other than a feeling of bliss as Arunli worked my scalp, head, neck and shoulders. The right pressure and fluid movements had me in a zone of peace in no time. By the time she was ready to work my feet, I was ready to fall into a soft calming sleep. After a hot bath where I washed off all the oil (atleast most of it), she got started on my face slowing cleaning and rubbing away all the smudges made by the sun. My face felt my own after a long time.
An hour and a half later I walked out into the reception feeling all shiny and new. I could feel all my muscles now but in a nice way. I looked across at Che and we shared that smile that says, oh baby, that was good! I hadn’t had this good a spa experience ever. But it didn’t end here, we still had the bill for Che to come.
But before the bill Dr. Devishri sat us down and gave us individual prescription booklets where she marked specific diets, lifestyle changes and exercises she recommended for us to reduce stress in our lives. She also told us how often she thought we needed massage therapy. With the booklet we also got a guide to stress-free living. I must say I was amazed by the extra mile they were going for customers.
Finally we got the bill. And it wasn’t much. I ain’t saying its cheap but it not as expensive as most other spas. Che’s Swedish Massage with an upgrade of oil and steam for over an hour and a half cost us less than 2K. That’s cost effective and great value for money!
I definitely recommend the Four Fountains Spa if you are looking for some massage therapy.
Now here’s the bonus. You can also get a free massage, just read on for details to take part in the contest and a chance to win that free massage.
The guys at Four Fountains Spa have offered free spa vouchers to three winners here on my blog. The contest starts on 04/02/2013 and closes on 17/02/2013.
To participate all you have to do is answer a question for the first prize which is a Gift Voucher for a 1 hour full-body massage. There are also two half hour partial-body massages to be won through a raffle draw that you can enter through twitter and facebook. You can make additional entries everyday for the raffle i.e. you can make upto a total of 20 entries!
Remember you are NOT limited to one entry!
A little bit about The Four Fountains Spa. They are India’s largest chain of affordable day spas with 17 conveniently located spas across 8 cities of India where therapies include over 20 body massages, body polishes, body wraps and facials. They are currently located in Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Kolkata, Aurangabad, Bhopal, Goa, and Manali.
This was my first ever contest and I think it did well. Thank you everyone who took part and helped me spread the word. Now for the winners –
1 hour of free massage therapy was won by Greeshma CV
1/2 hour of free massage therapy won by Sushesh S Mallya
1/2 hour of free massage therapy won by Meeta Panicker
Congrats Greeshma, Sushesh and Meeta. Hope you enjoy your massages as much as I did.
To everyone who participated, better luck next time. I’ll be having more contests and giveaways soon, so don’t miss them.
February 4, 2013 4 Comments
Sometime about the time we returned from TfN I had an allergic attack, by New Year’s it was a full blown sinus cold & cough and last week despite precautions and medications it moved to becoming a migraine. I hate migraines, I wouldn’t wish them on my enemies and sinus migraines are the worst.
My sinus migraine follows a wave, it goes away for a while and I rejoice, then suddenly when I least expect its back in full force. It’s like someone hammering a nail into my head. Only in one little spot in my head. I feel hot and in hell, my eyes feel red and I literally see red. Oh!, it’s horrible. After a while I don’t even enjoy the time when the pain is gone because I know its going to be back and I’m dreading the moment. On a scale on 1 to 10 I’d say the pain fluctuates between 7 and 10. I not yet screaming only because I have a higher pain threshold than normal.
Ah! That felt good. Thank you for listening. I’m in so much pain that I really wanted to tell someone, so I wrote it down
I’ve managed the last few days to do the physical non-thinking work but all mental stuff like my blog posts are just beyond me (it took me four days to slowly complete this post). I can’t; I’m unable to think and its blaady frustrating. I’ve been quite a burden these past few days, mopping around holding my head and moaning at the weirdest of times. I refuse to let a migraine stop my life but it’s horrible and frustrating.
Since medication hadn’t worked and I needed some serious sinus relief, Che did some research on YouTube (hurray for the internet). Here’s a couple of things we watched and tried.
Dr. Veera Gupta’s massage technique works and it did help. It did drain my sinuses a bit and gave me some relief but I guess my sinuses are really clogged and this isn’t enough by itself. Maybe if I did this massage regularly or when the cold starts it’ll help a lot more and I won’t get to this situation. The other drawback to this is that its not easy to do on yourself, it’s better done by someone else on you.
I tried doing these yoga positions but with an all-out migraine bending over caused excruciating pain and I couldn’t do most of the steps Chaz Rough shows. But I guess doing this yoga routine regularly will help stay away from the migraine situation. The breathing step is great and easy to do just after a stream session though.
I also found this video with Michelle Ebbin on ModernMom talking about how to use reflexology to reduce migraines. I don’t really know how well reflexology works but at this point in time I’m happy to try almost anything.
The other thing I’ve been doing a lot is steaming. I’m doing at least two rounds of 10 min. each everyday for the last few days and that has helped too. The steam relieves the nasal block and clears the head at least for a while.
All said and done, I’m trying everything to help me deal with my allergies and migraines, especially since Bangalore isn’t the best of cities for someone with allergies. I’m off to the Doctor again tomorrow to see to the migraines; I can’t live with it anymore.
If you have any tips or advise for me, please let me know. I need all the help I can get.
Update asof 12th Jan ‘13: Been to the the Doc and he says it definitely looks like a sinus induced migraine however before we do any further investigation, I need to get out of the pain I’m in and the migraines and sinus build-up has to reduce. I’m on a course of medication for now. After the course and once I’ve got some relief I need to get a CT-scan done to see that’s constantly causing the sinus to flare up and not drain. Based on the scan further action can then be planned to resolve the issue fully.
January 10, 2013 No Comments
It seems like yesterday that it was New Year and here we are with a new year starting again. The years seem to be flying past as life slips by me and I watch it all unfold in slow motion. Ok, enough moroseness; switching topics – Happy New Year to you. May 2013 bring exciting times in your life.
This is the only 13th year in our lifetimes. 2013 for those who are triskaidekaphobic, must not be something to look forward to but I think 13’s lucky for me so, bring it on But before I start the new year I thought I’d look back at what I had planned for 2012, and just what came of all my grand plans.
So here’s some of what I’d listed out on January 1st, 2012. Warning: the following may get introspecty and boring, so skip to the end if you like
Learn to use the Mac well - I did try to do this and succeeded to a comfort level but not maybe an expert level. However as things turned out the Mac become more Che’s travel computer and I got the iPad that I seem to be using more and more these days. (I’m typing this post on the iPad. )
Learn a new craft - I didn’t get started on this for a long time but in the last quarter I put it together and bought three potted plants. I’ve learnt a lot already and I still have a lot of learning ahead but plants are still alive right now. I did a bit baking through the year though and tried a new recipe every time. Most of it turned out well, but my breads still need some rising
Blog regularly - I wasn’t very regular but I did write the highest number of blog posts ever this year, 103! And there were a couple of cool high-points for my blog this year – a few authors got in touch with me for reviews (I’m still smiling about that one); I’m not all that bad a book reviewer after all. I also got to blog the Tour of Nilgiris as their official blogger – TfN is this cool hip must-do tour in cycling circles and having seen it I heartily agree.
Mission Cuckoo - I didn’t get much done on this front. I had hoped to teach Cuckoo some new tricks but I just didn’t get down it. I did experiment with new toys though and surprise of surprises I found a toy that Buddha finally showed an interest in.
Read 50 books and watch 50 movies - This is one section where I excelled. I read 70 books and I’ve definitely watched over 50 movies though I can’t remember all of them. I really wish someone would make a GoodReads kindof site for movies.
In retrospect its been a good year. I didn’t really follow the plan but I did get most of what I had planned done, or at least somewhat done I hadn’t thought of 2012 as a gret year but it was, with lots of travel packed in too.
Looks like this plan and review thing works, well it did make me feel good this year. So, here’s a few things I’d like to do in 2013.
- I’d like to spend more interactive time with Cuckoo. Senti needs more exercise and so do I so, that’s on my list too. Then there’s Buddha who’s getting older and needs more attention and care. And last but not least is William and Max, the new additions to my brood, who will take a while to settle in.
- I need to learn a lot more about gardening, and set up a small veggies garden. I also intend to start composting at home.
- Last year I tried my hand at baking and came away fairly successful. This year I want to learn some of the finer nuances. I want to try my hand at icing and fondant.
- Start cycling. Yeah, yeah, ok, ok, TfN did inspire me. Not to cycle TfN but to take up cycling and explore the area I live in.
- I have a jigsaw that has been incomplete for a while now, I intend to complete it and start a new one.
- Last year I set a target of 50, this year I think I’ll up it to a 100 books.
- And of course it goes without saying – more blog posts than last year.
Phew! that seems like a long list. Wonder how much I’ll get done. Well, either ways looking back next year will be fun.
Have you done this? Does this review thing work for you?
January 1, 2013 No Comments