Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bad foods

So we got health warnings on Cigarette packets to deter people from smoking (I always thought that Singapore had the worst images, till I saw what Brazil shows!). The general intention is to warn people of the bad effects of smoking each time that they buy a packet and then psychologically induce them to reduce or quit smoking. Scientific evidence has indicated a higher probability of cancer with smoking.

There is substantial scientific evidence linking obesity to death. Also there is enough evidence linking sugar and (wrong type of) fats to higher incidence of obesity amongst individuals. Besides there is also enough evidence linking sodium in processed foods to cardiovascular diseases and kidney damage.

However it is interesting to note that none of our processed foods or fast food restaurants are mandated to carry any warning signs whatsoever (think Pizza and deep-fried patties in Burgers and those sugary colas that we drink to push them down our throat. And then don't forget the pastries and Indian sweets that we saviour). Ironically, though it is  mandatory to show nutrition facts labels on packaged foods in India not many manufacturers put them on their foods.

Considering that incidence of coronary heart disease in India is expected to increase many folds in the coming years and Indians too are progressively becoming obese, it is high time that we start warning people against consuming unhealthy foods. Foods high in bad fats, sugars and sodium should carry a health warning just like Cigarette packets do today.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Before the advent of online maps and smartphones we still could go to unknown places with ease thanks to good Samaritans sprinkled all over India. As long as we knew the general direction, the right city and some landmark we were good to go. You just hop into your car and then on your way stop and ask people.

Now, choosing the right person to ask for directions itself is an art. Without sounding biased, I generally keep away from well dressed people (yeah they are clueless), people who look like they don't belong to that area (for this, you have to remember Little Tiffany from Men-In-Black video provided below) and people too old to respond “ah?”. The best people to ask for directions are necessarily the roadside paan vendors and newspaper stalls. They generally not only know the area extremely well, but also they know the people (and their history as well). “Oh so you wanna meet the old uncle whose 3 daughters are in the States and his son is always in a state of intoxication?”, they ask. “I just saw him go home after running errands from the neighbouring shop. I think he bought some chips and a bottle of coke! At this age also he eats junk food!”, they provide additional information.

I once had a over zealous guy sit in my car and take me to a the place that I was looking for because he said “giving directions would be too complicated for you to understand!”. Learning from India, I once did the mistake of asking for directions in the US (yeah some 6 years ago). The guy was so rude that he asked me to strip naked and stand in the middle of the road so that the police pick me up and then they drop me at the right destination. it was a cultural learning for me to never ask for directions in that country again!

Now, I tend to walk a lot in the area where I live (not because I am health conscious, but because I have nothing much to do in the evenings and driving around in the traffic is not an option!). I get approached by a lot of clueless people looking for directions. Going by my explanation above that means – I am shabbily dressed and I look like a true native.

Now, most of the times I am pretty okay with my directions and I kinda guide people to the right place (or I think so). Today was one of those unlucky days when I actually guided a person to enter into a one-way lane and see him get stopped by a policeman. I am sure the guy must be very angry for me to have lead him there. So this is more of a guilt-laden blog post. Anyway, I have had my share of direction bloopers before in which I accidentally told people to take left when it was right etc. But I think today’s was the lamest.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Indian Swimming styles

I have been observing various types of swimmers in my community pool for well over a year now. That makes me our resident expert at “types of swimmers”. So, without further ado, I take this opportunity to present to you – swimming styles of India.

The splashing Sham – Splashing Shams think that swimming involves splashing water with their hands and feet. They try to emulate birds to generate lift on water. Such swimmers are entertaining to watch and they get exhausted before they reach the other end.

The whale breath Wasim – These swimmers take in the pool water along with air while they breathe. Then when they breathe out they spray water like whale blowholes. If you are around them, you shall be showered with it.

The blind Bhushan – These guys think that backstroke is the best form of swimming and that the community pool is their own (in Hindi – baap ka pool). So they casually perform backstroke and go anywhere they like without bothering about who is in which lane. If you bump into them they give the look – “Cant you see I own this pool? How dare you not meekly submit to my whims and fancies?”

The exercising Eknath – These kinds of swimmers think that the pool is meant for doing stretching exercises. You can see them right in the middle of the pool stretching their arms and legs and generally causing inconvenience to other swimmers who are trying to do laps. If you ask them to exercise at one end of the pool, be ready to get a piece of their mind about no peace left in this world.

The standing Santosh – This guy swims standing in water. He makes sure that his body is not at all streamlined so that he exerts maximum effort to propel ahead. Such people are seen doing a lap or two and then waiting for eternity at the corner to recover.

The wandering Wahab – This style consists of starting swimming in a lane and then traversing the entire pool like a snake and ending anywhere. Such kinds of swimmers make sure that no one swims near them. If you dare to – be ready to get hit hard by a hand or a leg and then be frowned upon for coming in their way.

And before girls get all offended because I didn’t use their names (or rather didn’t observe their swimming styles) here is my excuse – I have hardly seen any women swim in my pool. Maybe because there is a separate Woman’s timing in my pool and everyone goes at that time or maybe because even if someone turns up while I am there, if I “observe” her swimming, I will be labelled a creepy old uncle.

Before I end I know you wanna know which style I belong to. Well well, I have written about my style before; it’s the – desperate swimmer.