Tuesday, March 31, 2015

50 shades of brown

Last 2 months have been quite fun for me in terms of outdoor activities that I could do on weekends. My normal weekends are quite lazy with getting up late, browsing worthlessly on social media and watching funny YouTube videos. This follows the cleaning, washing and mundane house keeping stuff.

However as luck would have it, since first weekend of February I have been going out in the sun almost every weekend. So it has been – exploring ancient ruins, trekking, swimming, kayaking, laying around on a beach and just generally being in the sun.

Depending on the clothes that I wore at that time, I have effectively had levels of tan on my body. For e.g. I did a weekend with trousers followed by shorts, then I have “darker tan lines” indicating the place where the trouser ended, then lighter ones with the place where my short ended on the legs. The more I stay outdoors the stronger the original tan becomes.

While legs and hands with these shades can be ignored, I have some funny tan lines on my face based on the cap that I wore and swimming goggles on subsequent weekends. Effectively, now I have the privilege of having multiple shades to show off, than just one brown. I wonder if Indian fairness creams can help me this time!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The fortune teller

Had a rather weird encounter with a stranger last week. Got approached by an Indian guy on the street asking me for directions to a random place in Singapore. It was far away so I gave him directions to the nearest public transport, but he insisted he wanted to walk there! So with my amazing directing skills, I gave him a very comprehensive idea of how to walk down to that place using the compass as a reference! (almost 2 KMs away).

After my long rant (which I could figure he was least interested!) he suddenly changed his topic. He said by talking to me he knew that I was unhappy at work. He said that I deserved more in life than what I had got and I was very compassionate etc. Then he gave a few other pearls of wisdom about me and then said that he could “help” me make my life better if I went for his paid consultation. He my dear friends, turned out to be a fortune teller.

Now, as far as his skills are concerned, he might be extremely good at his profession, or he could be very good at statistics. I mean, a guy my age, size and nationality helping a complete random stranger on the street would have certain set of characteristics that any person can easily predict, without necessarily knowing anything about me. And then there are some general human tendencies like – everyone thinks they are paid less than they deserve or that their job is tough and not that easily replaceable etc.

Anyway, what he failed miserably at predicting was my general fear of horoscopes. So as far as identifying target customers was concerned, he could totally not predict. I politely said no, and without giving any more directions walked away from him! So much for helping strangers on the road.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Economic impact of obesity

Came across an interesting paper published by the Mckinsey Global institute titled “Overcoming obesity: An initial economic analysis”. It makes for a very good read on the economic impact of obesity on the world! Some alarming statistics – 30% of the world is now either overweight or obese that too by the lenient WHO standards of having a BMI of 25 or higher! (If you follow the stricter standards of Singapore’s Health promotion board then for Asians, they classify BMI above 23 to be overweight already. That will bring up the number quite a bit!)

The economic impact of world obesity is now estimated to be 2.0 Trillion USD per annum. The estimate is based on loss of economic productivity, costs to healthcare systems and investment required to mitigate the impact of obesity.

Mckinsey Global Institute - Overcoming obesity

It is actually at par with the other social evils (like Wars and Terrorism) that get a lot of media coverage. I am appalled, amazed and amused because whenever I read such reports, I think of the future as shown in Wall-E the Pixar movie. I have embedded the clip for your viewing pleasure. When I saw it for the first time, rather than finding it funny, I felt it was more of what the future is really going to be!

Wall-E Obese People

Another interesting topic is that it details an exhaustive list of 74 different types of interventions in 18 categories such as – Healthy meals, Labelling, Media restrictions, Parental education, Portion control, Public-health campaigns etc. that can help control the rise of obesity. However, the paper also states that it requires multiple sets of interventions to be simultaneously applied to help have an effect. As someone who has actively struggled with weight control all my life, I can identify with most of the interventions.

So if you are bored (or interested) I highly recommend reading the paper (or atleast the executive summary). And finally, if it got you scared, then I would love to share this long but amazingly written article about food by Michael Pollan titled “Unhappy Meals” (written more than 8 years ago, but still my favourite read for nutrition and portion control!).