Friday, September 19, 2014

Bindi : the Indian symbol of third eye

In India, it's tradition for women to wear a bindi. A bindi is a mark, generally circular,  made on the center of the forhead.

The dot is commonly placed slightly above the junction of the eye brows as this area represents the seat  of concealed wisdom. Wearing a bindi on that area is said to strengthen concentration and retain energy. Also, this area is considered to be the seat of the third eye. The third eye as per Indian spiritual texts is the inner or invisible eye which can give you perception beyond ordinary sight. It is thought to be the gate to higher consciousness. Therefore people who meditate generally fix their gaze at this spot.

Generally the mark is made in red as it represents the colour of love, honour and prosperity.

In ancient times, the bindi represented a sign of worshipping ones own intellect therefore it was worn by both men and women.

A strong intellect was thought to help one to make noble decisions in life, to be able to stand up to challenges in life with courage, and to recognise and welcome good thoughts in life. 

In some parts of india a red dot on the forehead is made to signify the married status of the woman and is a sign of respect for the institution of marriage. 

Over the years , the bindi might have lost its religious importance but it is worn very frequently with the Indian traditional dresses such as the Sari to cosmetically enhance the look.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Plitvice National Park, Croatia

So I was headed towards Croatia on my Euro holiday. The destinition was Zagreb , the capital city of Croatia. Unlike the seamless crossing into different countries in Europe with the Shenzen Visa, I was surprised when at the Croatian border my visa went under the scanner. The reason for this was that Croatia at that time was not a part of European Union (Croatia became the 28th country to join the European Union in July 2013).

Honestly, I was unimpressed with Zagreb. Having already travelled to more economically well to do countries in Europe,  I had seen plush cities. Zagreb in comparison didn't have anything impressive to offer or so I felt.

However, after a tour around the capital,  I headed towards the outskirts of the city. I was pleasantly surprised to see that only at a short distance away (2 hours by road) from the capital city an exquisitely beautiful national park was nestled in the woods.

Plitvice National park is situated close to the border to Bosnia and Herzegovina and is a UNESCO World heritage site.

What's sets this national park aside are the 16 beautiful lakes nestled in the park. The lakes are arranged in cascades and are formed by confluence of numerous small little rivers .

Plitvice is the oldest national park in South East Europe.The lakes are known for their distinctive colors, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The colors change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight.

A beautiful cobbled stoned path has been built all along the banks of the lakes , making it easy to access these exotic water bodies.

 Number of lodges /hotels offer accomodation around this area and the lakes are just a few minutes trek down from these places.

The serenity of the place and the beauty of the lakes is just larger than  life and it's a humbling experience to be amongst such abundance of natural beauty.

And finally a happy feet photo to end my write up :)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

India's beautiful valley in strife!

India's beautiful valley of Kashmir has been in strife for a long time now. Almost a 100 years before India got its independence from British raj in the year 1947, the autonomous princely state of Jammu and Kashmir was created.  At that time, although this state was a Muslim dominated state, it's ruler Gulab Singh was a hindu.

He was succeeded by Maharaja Hari Singh who belonged to the Hindu Dogra dynasty and was considered to be partial to the Muslim population and largely kept them illiterate, poor and feebly represented in the state assembly. The unrest among the people of the state grew but their attempts at revolt were brutally crushed by the state forces. However the rebellion to end the autocratic rule grew continously and following Indian independence the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir acceded the state to India.

Pakistan did not accepted this accession and the first war between India and Pakistan took place in 1947-1948. Since then the region has been in conflict with Indian authorities trying to maintain peace while insurgents and militancy trying to create unrest.

With public sentiment flying high in the region a number of hindu settlers of the region had to flee fearing for their lives.

Due to the ongoing unrest in the region, development, industrialization, tourism have taken a hit. I for one have not visited the region as for long as I remember it was not safe to be there but people who have had the good fortune to be there in more peaceful times cannot stop raving about the beauty of the valley. It a shame that a resolution had not been reached in over so many years and people suffer!

This year the region saw another problem crop up and this time it was not man made. The worst ever floods in Kashmir' s history ravaged the region. Near about 500 people lost their lives and a number of villages were completely washed away forcing nearly 700,000 people to leave their homes.

The suffering continues... It is as if God is raging his fury at the man made conflict and stubburness of humans..Prayers for the people in the valley.

I made my contribution towards the relief fund , so can you. Every bit is useful..
Link is mentioned below..donation towards relief fund

Friday, September 12, 2014

Could travel on a long distance flight kill you ?

And I am not refering to plane crashes, tecnical glitches and bird hits! The chances are low however, it is a possibility that a travelling on a long distance flight or for that matter any other travel where mobility is restricted may lead to a medical condition called 'Deep Vein Thrombosis' which can be life threatening at times!

 Conditions which restrict mobility can lead to stasis of blood in veins and can cause blood to clot. The blood clot is called a 'thrombus'. It generally affects the veins of the legs and the signs are swelling of the limb, pain and redness over the affected area. 

 So how can this condition be life threatening? As long as the clot is in the leg it is not serious however at times, a piece of the clot can dislodge and move up to the arteries of the Lung. This can be life threatening and is called 'Pulmonary Embolism'! Fortunately the condition can be diagnosed and treated. 

Diagnosis is generally done by administering dye into blood of veins and then seeing the blood flow obstruction through imaging or by ultrasonography (which is identifying the block in the veins by using ultrasound waves). A number of medicines are available to treat this condition such as heparins, warfarin etc.

 Other conditions which can cause 'Deep Vein Thrombosis' are : 

1. Post surgery - where mobility of the patient is restricted for days.
 2. Bedridden patients in nursing homes
 3. Age greater than 75 years 
4. Cancer 

 So next time you take a transatlantic flight and your leg starts to pain , do not take it lightly.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Amendment of Indian criminal law on sexual offences

In December of 2012, India witnessed one of the most horrific of rape cases in its history in its capital city, Delhi.

The public was outraged and much was said about the ineffectiveness of the security forces and need for stricter laws to help prevent such incidences. Thus, in 2013 the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, on laws related to sexual offences took place. In order to assuage public unrest, this amendment took place in a rush.

The most important change that has been made is the change in definition of rape under Indian Penal Code.. The section has been amended to include "penetration to any extent", and has made "lack of physical resistance" as an immaterial evidence for constituting an offence. Except in certain aggravated situation the punishment is imprisonment not less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine. 

Although the intent of this amendment was to ensure that stricter punishments would act as a deterrent for anyone with malicious ideas and no doubt that it has been able to achieve that however it cannot be overlooked that misuse of this law has also increased. For relationships which fail, women are using this law to forcefully get marital rights and earlier consensual acts are being termed as 'rape' when things don't turn out as planned. The  bizarre thing about all these rape accusations is that the victim wants to get married to the man she says raped her thereby making a mockery of the law and undermining it. Does getting into marriage with a man who has betrayed you guarantee hapiness? As soon as the man agrees on marriage, the charges are dropped. I feel this is really sad and should not be allowed. If a man is considered to have committed a crime then the case should be fought to convict him and to see that he serves the sentence. 

This sort of manipulation of the law just undermines the case for all genuine cases of rape. Maybe a further amendment of the law is required.

Lifestyle Changes to Control Hypertension

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a common illness  which if left untreated can cause complications like heart attack, stroke, renal failure.

The 7th report of the Joint National Committee by Heart, Lung, Blood intitute , Maryland, USA in 2003 are widely  followed guidelines on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of hypertension.

As per the JNC 7 guidelines , the salient points are as follows:

  • Stages of hypertension:
    1.  Systolic Blood Pressure (SBP) lesser than 120 and Diastolic Blood Pressure (DBP) lesser than 80: optimal blood pressure
    2. SBP greater than 120 but lesser than 139 and DBP greater than  80 but lesser than 90: Prehypertension (boderline)
    3. SBP greater than 140 but lesser than 159  and DBP greater than 90 but lesser than 100: First Stage  of Hypertension
    4. SBP greater than 160; DBP greater than 100 : Second Stage of hypertension

  • Risk factors or factors which promote the propensity of a person to develop hypertension are:
         - increased weight
         - decreased physical activity,
         - less vegetables and fruits in diet,
         - excess dietary sodium intake and 
         - decreased intake of potassium,  
         - increased intake of alcohol.

It is important to keep blood pressure in control and a few lifestyle changes which can make a huge difference in that respect are as follows:

1. Lose weight
It has been seen that every 1% reduction in weight can decrease blood pressure by one unit. Therefore a weight loss of 10 kg can reduce blood pressure by 6-10 units (mm of hg)

2. Decrease salt in diet

  • Salt has high sodium content which should be avoided in  hypertensive patients.  Sodium is a mineral in blood.
  • There are tests available to test levels of sodium in blood.
  • Therefore it's best to choose plant based food or packaged food which clearly states 'low sodium' or ' no added salt'
3. Build in an exercise routine
Thirty(30) minutes of moderate intensity workout on most if not all days of a week is recommended.

4. Increase potassium rich food in diet
  • Potassium is a mineral in blood
  • There are tests available which can test the amounts of potassium in your blood.
  • Foods rich in potassium are  meats, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, and fruits such as bananas. 
5. Decrease alcohol intake
A man should not exceed 2 standard drinks/day while a woman should not exceed 1 standard drink/day
Atleast 2 alcohol free days in a week should be practiced.