Thursday, April 14, 2016

Meet 'Lakshman Rao' - Novelist cum Tea Seller.

"A writer is born after 50 years of age and gets the real life after his death." -- Lakshman Rao
This is the real life story of struggle, rejection, unflinching determination amidst penury and now recognition. This is the story of Lakshman Rao, a tea seller on pavements of Delhi.
His story is bound to teach us a few lessons on persistence, perseverance and listening to inner voice when the entire world thinks otherwise.
Lakshman Rao - Author of 24 novels, plays, political essays written in Hindi; had a life fraught with poverty, obstacles and tons of struggle.But sheer determination helped him pave
way to present fame and very little fortune, after numerous rejections and decades of dedicated reading-writing on the noisy South Delhi street of Vishnu Digambar Marg near Hindi Bhavan, while selling tea.
The best part is he is publisher and salesman of his books to numerous schools and libraries across Delhi. He decided to self-publish his books after being rudely shooed away by a publisher. They would say, "a chaiwallah tea seller can't write books".
So he would cycle 60 km in mad Delhi traffic to promote his books across Delhi and then sell tea till 9 PM. After reaching home - a one-room tenement that he shares with his wife and 2 sons, he would write till early morning hours.
After all these years of dedicated work, he is finally getting recognition in Indian and world media. Newspapers from 'The Guardian' to 'New York Times' have published articles on him. Indian president had invited him to Rashtrapati Bhavan (Presidential Palace) after reading one of his Novels 'Renu'. Now he is a recognized man on the pavement where he sells tea as people from all walks of life stop by his stall to sip tea and take life's wisdom from him. As one bank manager says, "I feel richer and relieved of life's hassles after a conversation with him".
Check out this You Tube video with Lakshman Rao sharing his wisdom >>

One of his novels has been translated in English and available on Kindle. He says, even if a single person from across the world in London reads his work on Kindle; he would be rewarded! For now he is busy preparing tea at his stall and conceptualizing his next novel.
Surprisingly for a man with such humble means, barely making under $200 a month to support his family - has larger than life dreams - his eyes beaming with satisfaction as he says "I loved Shakespeare and wanted to be a writer. Now that people have recognized and read my works, I am a happy man and no sorrows in life".
Remember, here's a man living in abject poverty and few means, saying "he has no sorrows in life". Perhaps this should be a priceless take for all of us in an insane consumerist world where nothing is enough to satisfy our greed....
Let's salute indomitable spirit of Lakshman Rao - 'The Novelist'

Greece Crisis: The fishing giant caught in an economic whirlpool, desperate to be fished out!

european union member
Greece revolution
Greece: Sunshine land of sea, shipping, fishing, olives, and; plenty of social well-being and happiness. Or is it? The answer is both 'Yes' and 'No'. Yes, for it's past and No, for the present.
An ancient civilization from the pre-Biblical era, Greece is the cradle of western civilization; as such the birthplace of democracy, philosophy, and Olympic games.
In modern times, it was a developed country with a high-income economy and a very high standard of living. Greece was the founding member of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and development (OECD), member of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), European Union (EU), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United Nations (UN). In fact, Greece was the Second largest defence spender after the United States within NATO.
But, now the Goliath is on it's toes; badly battered financially and socially. But what went wrong? Were the reasons of this debacle internal or external? These are the questions hounding everyone: considering the abject misery the greeks are subjected now!Well, it's mostly internal mismanagement (corruption, over-spending and deceit that has sent Greece into a downward spiral for almost a decade); with only one major external factor (gaining Euro as currency that Greece has no control over).
Since late 90's Greece was getting into fiscal deficits because of over expenditure by means of rich pensions for retirees, millitary expenditure, while failing to collect due taxes.Since Greece joined Euro club and replaced 'Drachma' with Euro in 2001; it was able to afford loans at a much cheaper rate  from International institutions - awash with cheap loans, it splurged in abundance. For e.g: In 2004 olympics, it spent 8 times more than that of Sydney Olympics. Moreover, Greece had been indulging in accounting malpractices since long which eventually helped it gain entry into Euro - by covering it's prolonged fiscal deficits. Greece had paid millions in bribe to Wall Street banks including Goldman Sachs to fudge it's books and trick Eurozone community into believing in it's financial viability.

Thus, most of the blame lies on Greece but not all. Because the markets also failed to assess Greece's credit risk. Earlier 'Drachma' had been devaluing periodically to adjust trade imbalances, but that was not possible now; with Euro as currency controlled centrally by European Central Bank (ECB) in Brussels. Many including Nobel prize winning Economist 'Paul Krugman' believe this also a major contributing factor to the ongoing crisis. Greece Economy is in dire straits - since 2010 it has received numerous bailout packages from EU and IMF; which largely goes into repaying earlier debts and less into rebuilding Greek economy.
Following are a brief timeline of debt crisis and bailout packages:
2009, December - Greece's credit rating downgraded.
2010, February - Govt. announces tough austerity measures and faces public strike.
2011, July - European Union members channel a bailout package of 109 billion euros. Credit rating downgraded to substantial risk default.

2011, October - Eurozone lenders approve of 50% debt write off in return of further austerity measures.
2012, February - Greek parliament approves of a new round of austerity measures with a background of violent protests; for 130 billion euro bailout.
2015, August - Supposedly a bridging loan as part of 3rd round of bailout, of 7 billion euros; out of which 4.5 billion Greece will repay to European central bank and 1.5 billion to International monetary fund. This will pave the way for future bailout plans.

To sum up Greece is caught in a vicious cycle with no amount of bailout - able to make a dent in it. Compounding the problem are the harsh austerity measures (huge increase in taxes, drastically cutting down on pension, public welfare schemes), and widespread unemployment having contributed to great social instability. Over these years, Greece has been witness to many violent protests on the streets of Athens.
Fishing Industry, a major contributor to the GDP and employer to many fishermen is almost entirely broke; as Greeks can't afford to buy fish. Many harbors are lying empty and many a fishermen are without trade. Fishing that has been a Greek trade for thousands of years

Small Fishing Village on Island of Crete
since 3,500 B.C is the worst hit for the first time in history. Fishing as a way of life has drowned with little hope in hindsight.
Many shops in Athens have closed down as there are no buyers. Banks had become a casualty  much earlier. Overall Greece is in a serious economic conundrum.

The way out: After all these years of turbulent trials, with ordinary Greeks being the worst sufferers for their Government misdoings, there has to be an end to this tragedy. The only way out it seems is an exit from 'Euro' (Grexit) and reintroducing Greek 'Drechma'. This will provide much-needed flexibility in devaluing it's own currency and making exports cheaper and competitive. This is bound to infuse stimulus into a shattered economy and mcuch needed respite to the Greeks.Paul Krugman who had been an outspoken opponent of single currency in Europe has said " Greek economy can recover from the severe recession by exiting the Euro and launching a new national currency, the drachma. ” he wrote in the New York Times in June.
While it may seem the only solution to the crisis, Euro Zone member countries are trying their level best to prevent this from happening. Because this will cause a crisis of faith in the European Union globally and worse, Euro would lose value against Dollar.
On a sombre note : Greeks and rest of the world are numb at irreversible greek tragedy; that is on the verge of turning into a spectre to haunt us forever, if not reversed soon!
Let us wait and watch when Greece gets fished out and by whom...

Are junk food - pornography related; and does one addiction lead to the other?

Apart from terrorism and pollution, two other things  that are posing a major threat to our wellbeing are: 'Junk Food' and 'Internet Porn'.
Both are recent phenomena and insidiously deadly. They prey on our primeval pleasure seeking instincts, making it appear normal.So what are their similarities and what makes them addictive?
Colored MRI Scan Of Human Brain.Dopamine - The link: Dopamine is a neurotransmitterer that carries signal from one neuron to another. It's simple reward mechanism in our evolutionary process to make us reach for food and sex for the survival of our species.Therefore, Dopamine has always rewarded us with excitement, stimulation, and satisfaction. In short it has made life worth living for thousands of years.

But something is wrong now, that has converted God's reward mechanism into a deadly curse - and we humans are to be blamed for this. 21st century has seen a great surge in science and technology in all domains for the benefit of mankind except for some of it.

Food Engineering: It has turned into a menace posing a risk for human health and nature. Modern food is processed, laced with synthetic food colors, flavor enhancers, loads of sugar, salt, and fat that makes us crave more and more -- with no amount able to satisfy us.Modern food interventions superexcite our taste buds and create a huge surge in dopamine levels making us addicted to junk food.
Pornography: I would say this also is recent even though erotica has existed for thousands of years. Erotica is a depiction of romantic sex or representation of nobler sex. Compare that with modern pornography where sex is aggressive, selfish -- bodies are surgically operated, sex toys, cosmetics used to add zing. Watching porn videos also creates huge dopamine surge, overexcites our sex glands and creates the insatiable appetite for more.

Image result for junk food addiction and pornPorn addiction leads to social anxiety, isolation, confidence issues; creates lethargy and drives one into depression. In such a scenario, it's obvious that one would desire junk food that acts as a companion in overexciting human brain.
Both junk food and pornography are thus related and have hijacked humanity to a bottomless pit of desperation, craving, and irresistible hunger; while posing a risk for the environment. To get our dopamine fix, we have/are plundering natural resources and injecting ourselves with supernormal stimuli in the form chemical food, artificial recreations of perverted sex etc.
Harvard psychologist Deirdre Barrett argues that supernormal stimulation govern the behavior of humans as powerfully as that of animals. In her 2010 book, Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose,[9] she examines the impact of supernormal stimuli on the diversion of impulses for nurturing, sexuality, romance, territoriality, defense, and the entertainment industry’s hijacking of our social instincts. (Source: WIkipedia)
How food influences human behavior was well known in ancient Hindu scriptures since the dawn of civilization. According to Ayurveda, food is of three types:
1) Satvik: Food that is fresh, natural, sweet, less spicy/salty. Such food creates a balanced personality, improves mental clarity and spiritual awareness.Most vegetarian food consisting of grains, lentils, fruits, vegetables, clarified butter, milk, nuts and seeds fall in this category.
2) Rajasic: Non-vegetarian and other food items that are heavy, salty, spicy, pungent and sour. Rajasic food creates a personality of anger, jealousy, greed, power and prestige.Non-vegetarian food, chili, peppers, other hot spices, onion, garlic, alcohol, tobacco and caffeine are Rajasic.
3) Tamasic: Food that is stale, putrid, processed with extreme amounts of salt, sugar, flavor enhancers and preservatives.

Most of modern junk food falls into this category. Such Tamasic food  creates mood swings insecurity, lethargy, cravings, anti-social behavior. (Perfectly fits into a porn addict's personality that modern psychologists describe)
Verdict! There's no need to explain further on the kink between junk food -- porn addiction & vice versa. I am of firm belief that porn addiction would surely lead to junk food eating as porn addicts spend hours, even days hooked to porn. They also tend to be socially isolated and suffer from complexes.Whereas, junk food addiction if not directly related to porn watching, lays a fertile ground for the other addiction to sprout by changing body's biochemistry and thus preferences.
Solution: Fixing these issues is fairly simple by changing one's habits and creating new ones. It only needs dedication and patience.
Let it all begin with eating right kind of food. This is bound to create a conducive environment in the body for generating right kind of thoughts.
Pair the above with some physical activity. Walking, Running, Working out and Yoga can work miracles by re-energizing lethargic cells with a gust of endorphins.

Finally Meditation. Last Nail in the Coffin of a Rut Lifestyle. Meditation is like God's pathway to have communion with inner self and sync with the outer cosmos. Meditation calms mind by generating positive thoughts of "compassion, coherence, love, generosity, clarity and care" (Quite opposite of depictions in Porn Movies!).Just a few minutes of it can work wonders, Trust Me! Get rid of all crap in life and reclaim the true essence of living that we are all born with and which is our right.                      

Hurry Sickness: Tame it before it tames you!

We live in a frenzied-chaotic world, where being in a rush always has become the norm. In a fast paced world with constant flurry of activity, it's easy to get sucked into this madness.  

Image result for hurry sicknessWe get programmed to be in hurry from early in childhood. It all starts with wrong teaching imparted by parents and teachers. One is made to believe that the world is always in a rush and one would lag behind if he/she spends a little time  in quiet; doing nothing. Damn, the world would pounce on him making him believe that he is a laggard.
At times we need to hurry especially while living in a big city to keep pace - to catch that train/bus for work - but still we can find time to be with self- once we board the train (Unless it is Mumbai, India!). But instead we are instantly glued to our tablet checking emails, facebook updates, news and what not.

Even when there is no need, also one is hurried - smitten by the 'hurry bug'. I have seen people who are in a hurry while watching television, flipping through channels at the speed of light, anxious to glance at what the other channel might be showing. Let me highlight the term "Might be".
Might be this, might be that; is a major underlying factor for hurriedness. Not just TV but "Might be" along with it's close companion "Hurry" has driven mankind to lunacy. But let's stop and take a moment to reflect on nature which creates miracles constantly without being in a hurry: "Flowers blossom, crops sprout, trees get laden with fruits, list goes on".
So what miracle are we accomplishing by being in a hurry; and would the world collapse if we miss that party or forget to put cinderella-like makeup for party, or miss a trivial meeting, a TV show
Before we try to fix this hurry disease, let's look at the underlying reasons:

  1. Greed: This is evil no 1. Man's greed is insatiable and the line between how much is too much gets blurred in most cases. In order to satiate this monstrous greed to acquire more, one tends to cram more work in a day's schedule, to earn more - making himself huiried. Statistics prove that around 60% of our belongings are not needed and can be easily done away with. Is this sanity to always hurry - acquiring things - many of which are not needed.
  2. Self-Importance: This is the evil twin of greed. Many of us have this irresistible urge to feel important in our circle; let it be family(sibling rivalry) or society. And keeping oneself busy pampers one's ego even when it may not be a penny's worth! I have seen people who are miserable idlers without meaningful work, hobby or a cause; saying they don't have a minute to spare when invited over dinner!
  3. Dislike for One's Job: Dislike for one's job or profession breeds irritation instead of satisfaction. Nothing like the joy of a job well done and so is the pain of drudging in the wrong job. This scars the deep crevices of mind resulting in fickleness, as an escape for the mind.
  4. Procrastination: Ailment of procrastination has been as long as mankind itself. By delaying things, they tend to pile up and create metal clutter. A cluttered mind is an unhealthy mind which would always jump hither and tither.
  5. Impatience: This is a 21st-century malady arising out of one or more of the above factors. We live in a world of instant gratification: fast food, reality tv shows, pop music, thriller movies, computer games and internet porn.  All these conspire to steal joy of living in the present - "without any external stimuli".

List of remedies for combating this sickness:-                             
  1. Let Go: No matter what, we can't fit everything in a day's schedule. And the world won't go for a toss if less important activities are sacrificed at the altars of health and peace of mind. Therefore "Let Go" of less important things and don't bother with nitty-gritty of everything under the Sun.
  2. Plan, Organise and proritise: Now that we have learnt to let go, it is important to plan and organise our chores like a funnel - "Most important : Important : Less Important : Least Important" and allocate time accordingy. Least important activities can be done away with entirely in the event of time constraints.           Being organised would save us of many a troubles and time expense like misplacing important stuff and spending a fortune (of time) in locating it.
  3. Stop or Minimise Watching TV: Oof! Television! The world would be such a quiet and beautiful place without this piece of crap. TV creates restlessness by bombarding us with tons of advertisements, eating into a chunk of our time and affecting our sleep. Remember a sleep deprived mind is a "Monkey Mind".
  4. Brisk Walk: Walking slowly and steadily whenever one can afford to can have a tremendous therapeutic effect. It definitely would subside mental chatter that makes us feel busy even when one is not.
  5. Early Rising: Animals, birds and beasts, all rise with sunrise, barring human being. But we were not always like this. In fact for most of our evolutionary history(approx. 99.9% of over 1,00,000 years), we too were like the rest in waking up early but for the past century.           Early rising saves a lot of time, helps to plan and organise for the day better; thus reducing the need to be in a hurry for the rest of the day.
  6. Meditation: Ah! This is like a breath of fresh air. It heals jagged nerves, soothes and calms a chopped mind. Just a few minutes of it can work wonders by making us better decision makers, forging conducive relationships, improving overall health & persona, achieving our goals and innumerable other benefits. Most importantly meditation helps us connect with our own inner placid self and get answers to many of life's perplexing issues. Try it dilligently every day without fail and you would never be the same again. I swear!
  7. Stop Eating Junk Food: Yup! It's junk food which is devoid of any nutrition, laden with toxic chemicals(flavour enhancers, preservatives, thickening agents etc etc.) that deceive our taste buds and wreck our body, making it a fertile ground for many of modern maladies. Most importantly such food makes us restless by exciting our nerves, makes us irritable(body reacts when deprived of nutrition - and makes us more prone to violence (

Admit that the world has changed drastically over past century and we need to keep pace.
But actually in hurrying we loose the race by committing costly mistakes in our jobs and fixing them over again, risking safety, getting ill with huge medical bills, dying prematurely in accidents or sickness. Remember the adage: “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” 

One can be quick and get the job done smartly and efficiently without mental hurriedness. This would surely create a better person inside and lead to a meaningful contended life..

Dig your own grave with teeth: "Eat Instant Noodles" !

We humans have gotten uglier in the way we eat, what we eat and how we eat. Whole food (grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds) is out and ready to eat is in, with instant noodles being the no. 1 monster. To put it simply they have oodles of fat, salt - peppered with toxic chemical preservatives and flavor enhancers.                                                                         
Toxic Noodles
Dark Side of Instant Noodles
I remember back in my school days, occasionally vans of Maggi noodles disbursing bowls of steaming hot noodles outside the gate for free and kids, famished-hungry after a grueling day at school devouring that junk, impatient till reaching home and savor mother's home cooked nutritious meal. I would wonder why is Maggi offering noodles to well-fed kids instead of poor ones starving on the streets.
It took me years till I grew up to understand that was advertising gimmick to induce kids who can trouble their parents to feed them more of that crap.
Now let's dive straight into why one should immediately stop eating instant noodles. This would benefit one's health, planet and national economy as well, with reduced health costs and more national productivity.
Studies conducted in South Korea and Malaysia(two large Noodle eating countries) have found large number of people consuming instant noodles to be suffering from Metabolic Syndrome, which essentially means a bunch of illnesses ranging from high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, renal failure, excess body fat, abnormal cholesterol levels - thus increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. Hyun Joon Shin, MD of Harvard school of public health said in a press release “This research is significant since many people are consuming instant noodles without knowing possible health risks.”
Meaning instant noodles are an assault on human body causing host of metabolic illnesses, plus certain ingredients raise risk of cancer and devastating neurological disorders. So what's in this toxic food that cause all these?
Following are the list:
1. Salt: The World Health Organization recommends a maximum of 2000mg of sodium per day (equivalent to 5g of salt) for adults. Most instant noodles contain more than 100% of an adult's daily sodium intake just from a single packet.
Then, what about the rest of day's meals and snacks?
2. Fat: Most of instant noodles are processed in Palm oil after being steamed. Oxidized Palm Oil causes organ toxicity of heart, kidney, liver and lungs.
3. MSG (Mono Sodium Glutamate): This one devil should send jitters down one's spine. It lurks everywhere: restaurants, cafeteria and mostly in processed foods. MSG makes food super tasty without laboring a dang! It's dirt cheap and easily available to be used generously!  MSG is an excitotoxin, maeaning it overexcites nerve cells to the point of damage or death leading to brain dysfunction.
It potentially causes varied neurological diseases including Alzheimers and Parkinson's.
Look how smart the food industry is to disguise MSG with pretty terms like:
  • Gelatin
  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP)
  • Yeast Extract
  • Malted Barley
  • Rice Syrup or Brown Rice Syrup
So watch out!!
4. TBHQ (Tertiary butylhydroquinone): Used as food stabilizer is mentioned as an anti oxidant to hide it's true identity. Causes vision disturbances, affects human behavior, increases tumor risk.
5. BPA (Bisphenol A): Used in plastic packaging of food items that is known to leach into ingredients contained within and cause hormonal disturbances.
Years earlier, Malaysian health officials had issued a warning : "Eating instant noodles can cause or increase risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney damage because of ingredients such as thickeners, stabilizers, sodium, and preservatives".
Adding to the above list, there was a recent "Lead" scare in Indian Maggi Noodles detected by fssai (Food Safety Standards Authority of India) in which abnormal quantities of lead was found in maggi noodles. Now that's what is called "Topping on Ice"!
Bountiful Mother nature has literally thousands of foods, herbs and spices offered to us. Can't we idiotic humans stop processing, modifying food items and eat them whole and natural, the way nature supposed it to be.
A simple recipe that has most nutrients and 10 Min's to prepare: Cook some rice in a pressure cooker. While the rice is cooking, chop and saute assortment of vegetables (Carrots, Green Peas, Onions, Garlic, Tomatoes, Beetroot, Cauliflower, Mushrooms) in Olive or any oil of your choice. Sprinkle salt, pepper, Indian spices or Soya sauce. Top it over once rice is ready and have a nutritious meal in 10 mins. Have lemonade instead of Soda with it.
You may make it non vegetarian by adding little chunks of chicken,  2 poached eggs and prawns, shrimps.
Lastly empty kitchen cabinet of those toxic stuff  Noodles into garbage bin! Yeah....