Category Archives: Food for thought

Introducing The Med Bag

 

I’m excited to announce my new blog and website called The Med Bag. It’s a place where people from all walks of life can share their experiences and insights related to the medical field– sort of like medical reality TV but in the magazine form.

Do check it out, share and subscribe. Contributions are welcome! You can also click on the link right above this blog.

 

Surya Namaskar (Salutations to the Sun)

According to me one of the most spectacular scenes of nature is the play of the sun across the horizon. I’ve been lucky to watch the sunset often–over the Rockies and the ocean (whenever I visit the California coast) but not as often as the sunrise. The reason is quite obvious. I’m not an early riser, unfortunately.

Today, however I had to get up quite early to drive to the bus stop to pick up my husband (better than the 40 min haul to and from the airport). On the way back, I witnessed the most ordinary yet extraordinary phenomenon–the advent of dawn. First, the burgundy tint to the clouds in the east, followed by the gradual lightening of the skies and then the most spectacular of all– orange flames consuming the horizon. I was mesmerized. Who wouldn’t be? If you think about it there’s no other message more powerful than of a new day. It’s the message of hope, of change, of renewal, of revival. No wonder native people around the world worship the Sun and have done so for millenia including those from my country.  

 

Surya namaskar (Salutations to the Sun)


 

In the Vedas (ancient Hindu scriptures) Surya also known as Aditya is the Sun God. He first appears in literature in the Rig Veda (the oldest among the Hindu texts composed between 1500 and 1000 BC). He travels across the sky in a massive chariot pulled by seven horses representing the seven colors of the rainbow. He is also the creator of the material universe or prakriti. Those familiar with the practice of Yoga are familiar with Surya Namaskar or Sun salutation; a sequence of twelve poses, performed in the early morning on an empty stomach facing the east. They provide an excellent whole body stretching routine and cardiovascular workout. The purpose of this most famous yoga sequence which is in practice for thousands of years is to express gratitude to the Sun, the giver of life and the source of energy. According to Hindu tradition, different parts of the body are governed by divine impulses. One of these, the solar plexus (also called the second brain) is located in the center of the body and is connected to the Sun. The regular practice of Surya Namaskar enhances it thereby increasing our creativity and intuition. The notion is very tempting. Enough (I hope) to nudge me awake every morning 🙂

 

“Make America Great Again”

Illustration by Santiago Caruso

Yes, let’s make America great again not by ensuring health care to all, food for the hungry and homes for the homeless, but by giving weapons of mass destruction to our kids so they can murder their friends in order to deal with their frustrations because no one is willing to listen to them.

It’s a perversity and nothing less than a disgrace that citizens of the most advanced country in the world have to lead their lives in fear. We are so worried about government tyranny that we don’t trust law enforcement to protect us instead we have to carry guns to defend ourselves. We have become a nation of gun toting vigilantes, who shoot first and pretend to ask questions later. And if some of us happen to die in the crossfire; well a great wall of greed and impotence is the perfect consolation besides of course ‘thoughts and prayers’.

This is exactly what we envisioned- a classic case of hypocrisy. On one hand we talk about advancements in technology, AI (artificial intelligence) etc making our lives easier; on the other we train our kids to prepare for the eventuality of being killed. We send them to school not to get a sound education but to participate in active shooter drills. But don’t you see it’s a ‘mental health’ problem. Isn’t it always?

Okay let’s talk about mental health. Yes undeniably it’s a huge problem in this country. I know first hand as a physician because I deal with it everyday. In fact the system is overburdened. But most people with mental health issues aren’t violent. Even those who are don’t go around shooting down innocents with AR-15s. They do so because we put the idea in their heads and provide them access. And tell them it’s okay to do so because thoughts and prayers will solve everything.

According to me and I dare to say “ there’s no place for guns in civilized society,” in the least AR-15s. According to a radiologist who treated victims in the Florida shooting said the high velocity bullets from an AR 15 cause significantly more damage than a typical handgun and should be banned. I agree. But are we ready for a conversation? No. Not even the educated and rational  want to discuss it. They love their guns. Some of my colleagues own AR-15s and say they use them for hunting and target practice. It’s a hobby. 

The right to a hobby vs that of a child to go to school and be safe. What is more important? You be the judge.

I live in a place called #Freedom

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Who wouldn’t want to live in a place called Freedom? But is an address enough?

Today on India’s 69th Independence Day celebrations I want all of us to take a moment to reflect on what does it really mean to be free–as a race and as an individual…

Below I’ve tried to pitch in with some of my thoughts—

We are not #free until we are all #free

#freedom from bigotry

#freedom from slavery

#freedom from inequality

#freedom from oppression

#freedom from child labor and abuse

#freedom from poverty

#freedom from corruption

#freedom from abuse–of humans and animals

#freedom from inequality (race, gender and everything else)

#freedom from forced prostitution

#freedom from illiteracy

#freedom from casteism

#freedom from child malnutrition

#freedom of expression

#freedom to be me

I am sure there are many things I missed but the general theme is the same. Let’s all strive together and really make the world a place called #Freedom 🙂

Thank you!

Mommy Dearest!

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Moments to capture

Memories to treasure

Beautiful mother

Lady, I bow down to your amazingness!

Anna Jarvis, a devoted daughter, created Mother’s Day in 1908 in West Virginia, United States. Anna’s intent was to honor her recently deceased mother, and mothers everywhere, for their love and dedication to their family and community. The new holiday was envisioned as a time to continue the good work of one’s mother.

The holiday was enthusiastically accepted all over the United States and in places across the globe.  However, the intention of the celebration quickly evolved to be a day to show one’s love and affection to our mother.  Typically showering our mothers with cards, flowers, and or a lovely meal prepared in her honor.

Only recently, in the last decade, has the celebration Mother’s Day become popular in India.  “In the presence of umpteenth number of existing festivals, it is a remarkable achievement for a foreign festival to make its presence felt in the vast and culturally diverse country like India,” according to the Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India.

In India, the already innate and powerful qualities of motherhood are deepened by strong, fixed social customs that mold its society.   It’s no wonder that this holiday is being embraced all across this country steeped in richness of culture.

Take for example the close bond that is created between mother and child by constant physical contact throughout infancy and childhood.  Children share the mother’s bed, may receive a daily oil massage, and may be breastfed until two or three years of age.  When old enough to eat solid food, the child is fed from the mother’s hand.  Even when children are older, mothers make sure that on special occasions, such as a birthday, cake and other special foods come from her hand.  Mothers in India go to all extremes to ensure the vitality of their children, even if it means sacrificing her own nutrition in order to provide food for her family.

How will I honor my own mother on Mother’s Day?  In the truest sense of the holiday, I will ponder the causes that are closest to my mother’s heart and put forth an act of beneficial goodness towards that cause. I couldn’t emulate my mother no matter how hard I tried because of the kind of person she is—compassionate, soft spoken, unbelievably kind and unselfish, self-sacrificing, supportive, resourceful, astute, smart as a whip and endowed with an astounding degree of fortitude. She has always been a role model for me and she is the one I turn to for inspiration whenever I fall short. So I try, not just on this day, but whenever I get the opportunity to do something that pleases her.

As we often say in my culture—we reap the fruits of our past karma. So I must have done something very good in my previous life to have been blessed by a mother like mine. Thank you Ammy! I am what I am because of you. I love you so very, very much!

‘I Have A Dream’ — Are The Funds Still Insufficient?

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(Image courtesy- Deviant Art)

On 28th August, 1963,  Martin Luther King Jr., gave a speech at Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

‘I HAVE A DREAM’

52 years hence are the funds still insufficient?

Lets  ponder…

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‘I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

                Free at last! Free at last!

                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

‘A Book must be the Axe for the Frozen Sea Inside us’ – Franz Kafka

metamorphosis

When Franz Kafka wrote to his friend Oskar Pollak ‘ I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us…We need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into the forests far from everyone, like a suicide.’ He was probably referring to his works, and the one which stands out the most is THE METAMORPHOSIS.

To attempt to analyze this short literary marvel would be a mistake, it’d be enough to say that every ‘thinking’ person should check it out at sometime or other. The tale in true Kafkaesque style brings our worst nightmare to reality, thereby making us realize that there exists another life that we all lead–the one in our dreams that we seldom give much importance to. Anyone could relate to this at once beautiful, comical, painful and wistful story of an ordinary man who wakes up one day to find himself transformed into an insect.