Chennai Summer

The Indian Flag gently flutters , courtesy a gentle sea breeze on a warm summer night in Chennai. Shot from the departure area of Chennai Domestic Airport with the Tirusulam hills in the background and an almost ready Metro waiting to get operational

Chennai Summer Night
Chennai Summer Night

 

Know Your Food – The Maggi Fiasco

The lead in Maggi and the subsequent outrage, ban, hullabulla, off the shelves drama and all that fiasco of a non existent, dysfunctional and yet another corporate greed oriented useless agency which goes by the name of FSSAI (Food Safety & Standards Authority of India) is the least of our problems. What Nestle is doing is the norm for every single packaged food and processed food industry across the world. They fool the gullible into believing that the the shit you eat is the epitome of nutrition and we have the a bunch of ignorant and overrated actors endorsing brands as long as they are paid. I still recall that Lisa Ray’s sprite ad where she emerges out of the bathtub and exclaims in a husky voice “Sprite, meri glowing thwacha ka raaz” (Sprite, the secret to my glowing skin). The ad ends with Sprite’s typical in your face sarcasm. Well, neither Lisa Ray nor Sprite are any better than the rest anyway.

Lets get to see what is in Maggi and explore the infinite goodness and well being that it gets into your daily life so much so, it is recommended by one of the overrated actors with a “Pay me and I will do whatever you want” attitude to have it as the first meal of the day after an early morning workout.

Read the labels would you ?

Before you actually go to the calories per serving, spare some time to take a look at the ingredients list. I suggest three simple rules to follow to help you make an informed decision before you purchase that healthy food with natural goodness of real vegetables

1. If it has a long list of ingredients (>6) don’t eat it.

This is the ingredient list of a sample healthy simple multi grain potato chips.Dehydrated potato, vegetable oil, potato starch, rice flour, seasoning, cheese solids, milk solids, yeast extract, whey, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, buttermilk, onion powder, sour cream, natural & artificial flavors, disodium phosphate, turmeric, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate,lactic acid, wheat bran, sugar, oatflour, MSG, pottasium chloride, dextrose, mono & diclycerides, citric acid, silicon dioxide, ferrous sulphate etc.Phew all that crap for just a pack of potato chips. Just slice those potatoes, fry it and eat it.

Sweet ! Potato Chips !
Sweet ! Potato Chips !

2.If you cannot understand what is in the ingredients list, just don’t eat it.

Cannot get any simpler.

3. Read the first 5 ingredients carefully.

As per international regulations, ingredients should be listed in descending order. For example, the first ingredient in the list contributed the largest amounts and the last ingredient contributed to the least amount in a processed food. So if you know sugar(s) is in the top 3, the food is loaded with sugar. The manufacturers have a way to get around this and I doubt if this is really followed except in a few countries across the world.

OK, now that we have set the context right, lets dissect Maggi starting with noodles and follow it up with the MASALA TASTEMAKER.

Healthy Maggi
Healthy Maggi

Wheat Flour : Simply put, it is maida. Real whole wheat flour is referred as Atta. Maida is heavily refined atta. In other words, there is very less or no nutrients with a high Glycemic Index (GI). It is a simple search to find out what high GI foods unleash in your body. You can read the details elsewhere, but in summary it messes up your insulin and pancreas in the long run and will reward you with diabetes.

Edible Vegetable Oil : Instant noodles are normally flash fried leave large traces of Edible Vegetable Oil. These contain a lot of trans fats that do not go rancid and accumulates as LDL cholesterol in our body as even our body finds it difficult to break it down into simple components. A liver can do only that much.

Salt : Well salt it is and a pack of instant noodles can supply your body close to half of the recommended dietary intake of salt. Great ! half my needs with just one pack of instant noodles? Think again.

Hydrolysed Groundnut Protein : ICING on the cake !!! (BTW, I hate that icing on the cakes .. )Whoa that is some real healthy stuff. You have extracted that healthy protein out of the groundnut. Lets look a bit close shall we ? Meanwhile, do you remember reading that “NO ADDED MSG” somewhere in Maggi. To be fair to Nestle, they did post the truth here. They have not added MSG in either the noodles or in the tastemaker, but lets take a closer look on this super healthy sounding ingredient. Glutamate is an amino acid naturally present in our human body. A derivative of glutamate called monosodium glutamate, also fondly called as MSG is formed by hydrolyzing proteins. Cooking does this to your Hydrolysed Groundnut Protein. A honest label “NO ADDED MSG”, but you still end up with that MSG ? You can also watch out for flavor enhancers or taste enhancers in the ingredients list. It is usually a 3-digit number starting with 6 and if recollect correctly it is usually in the 61x – 63x series.The packaged and processed food industry knows inside out that it is bad for you, but the profit margins, relatively long shelf life, ease of usage of these foods, the market demand , the lazy lifestyle of us consumers with a farcical demand for healthy foods has led us to this unviable and unsustainable environment. Every single health claim of packaged and processed foods are just simply lies.

No Added MSG : A claim as specific as this inevitably means that you will get MSG in your food. It just means it has not been added directly. The same goes for No Added Sugar, No Added Chemicals, No Added Salt etc.

Extra Fiber : Typically a negligible amount of fiber added artificially. It may be as small as a drop in a bucket of water. Solution – Get some real fibre eating fibre rich foods like spinach, oats etc.

Real Fruit : A drop of real fruit extract in a litre of artificially concocted chemical mixture labelled as juice. Same applies to Real Almonds, Kesar, Raisins, Cashews, Vegetables, Butter,etc. Just remember every drop of goodness has been completely extracted due to the treating and other processing that even this drop is of no nutritional value. Solution, dump this juice concept as it anyway destroys the complex carbohydrates and instead enjoy the real fruit, the way it is supposed to be.

We live in a world which is best described as alternate reality as we do not have the stomach to face the reality. The reality is every instant of our life is overloaded with toxins,radiations, toxic chemicals and complete lack of humanity. There have been multiple claims across centuries on when the great apocalypse will strike us and the world as we know it will come to an end. None of those claims make any sense as the world we are existing in right now has ended a long time ago in our quest for wealth and riches. Hope one day when all rivers dry, all the rainforests are cut, all the resources diminish, we will realize that we cannot just eat money. Eat well. Live well.

Racism & Hyprocrisy – An Indian Birthright ?

I wanted to watch the ICC 2015 Cricket World Cup final between India and Australia. I need to thank my clients who had scheduled an important meeting which forced me to miss the match and thankfully spared me from the witnessing the humiliating defeat. They sledge you, taunt you, provoke and keep coming at you relentlessly till they achieve their target, which is to crush the opponent and leave them high and dry. They have been doing it for decades and I see no end to this. The impact it creates on an insignificant viewer like myself is I want to see the Aussies lose rather than India win. Am I racist here ? Oh you are an Aussie ? Well, you must be arrogant and so full of yourself and I hope someone gets back at you. I am blinded by drama on field more than reality, but oh well, no one can beat us when it comes to drama in real life !!!

Racism-Words-940x324

I do not remember exactly when, but sometime in 2008, an Indian Taxi driver was stabbed in Melbourne. In 2009 Australia was in international news across the globe for alleged attacks on Indian students, which surprisingly evoked a response from our then PM who believed in actions speak louder than words claiming that he was appalled by the senseless violence and crime and even stated that some of them seemed racist in nature. Needless to say, what followed this was a circus. Media, who of late is looking to make our living life with anger, resentment, jealousy and starts our day with the most depressing and goriest of news hand picked and delivered just in time for all the self centered and selfish souls to comment on the sad and disgusting state of our citizens within and abroad, had a field day and decided to take the role of the monkey. Political parties decided to take complete mileage of this incident and start discussing their expert opinions with the media. Some of our illiterate educated publicity seeking vultures who do not where Australia is in the world map, write to the Australian PM strongly condemning the attacks. Australia is now on fire with Indian diplomats urging internationally to brand it as a “racist” country with no values. Let me come back to this towards the end of this post, while I would like to look at myself in the mirror.

Bihar, in India, has been a neglected state both by the central government and the state government. RJD which ruled the state for a significant period of time, is accused of heavy corruption and consequently a significant Bihari’s have migrated to a various parts of the country where huge economic and industrialization led to significant need for skilled workers.As an extended consequence, trains and buses to Bihar are always over crowded with no room to even look around and in due course, with no significant move from government to help Bihar grow, Indians from Bihar started to get a bad reputation. They have been subjected to a lot of ridicule and still discriminated and calling someone a “Bihari” has somehow turned out to be an insult. The current generation knows nothing about the history except for the fact that being a Bihari means you are inferior. What do we call this ? Racism ?

African tourists and students in India face a grave threat of being abused and attacked. Indians, the fairest of whomĀ  is considered as black / colored / dark by the West apply racism with logic. We attack Africans because they are darker than us !!! Great logic.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/11132768/Racist-Indian-mob-attacks-African-students.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2780841/Time-end-Indian-racism-against-black-people.html

Are you from North East India ? Assam / Nagaland / Sikkim / Arunachal / Manipur / Mizoram etc ? Well you are a “Chinkee” then and the rest of the country will not only ignore you and treat you as non existent, but any attempts to settle down in rest of the country would have “consequences”. North east is no lagger now. They retaliate and is there an end to it ? No idea. We are not racists.

http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2014/10/17/attacks-on-northeasterners-renew-calls-for-anti-racism-law-in-india/

A comment from a sweet shop owner escalated quickly out of control and ended up in the death of a 20 year old Arunachal student. It is not known to me what the comment was, but media and politics have already decided that it must be racist and this is a racist attack. We may never know the truth as the “comment” is actually dwarfed by a bigger crime now.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nido_Taniam_Death_Incident

We Indians stereotype people based on their state. It does not matter if this branding is genuine or otherwise, but we end up creating races. We do not know the origins, but the racial divide is wide and prevalent in India. We have Gujjus, Mallus, Madrasis, Biharis, Marwadis, Sindhis and many more. We have been conditioned to racially discriminate them and we do it without a second thought in the blink of an eye without even realizing that we are racists. Our media insists that being fair gets you any job. Our corporates insist that applying their facial cream can turn an African into an American (Pardon my racist statement here). We discriminate people based on color, caste, region, language, religion, sex, locality they live, educational institution they work in, car they drive in, place they work in, the brand of clothing they wear and even celebrity status. If a genuinely good bus driver runs over someone genuinely by accident God save him and the bus if the raging public gets their hands on him. However you can drink and drive and kill a dozen on the footpath with your imported car if you are a celebrity. All you need to do is create a charitable organization to legally clean the black money to white (Oops another racist remark) and beg and market for attention trying to erase the ghosts of the past, albeit not in his mind. A right does not make a wrong reverse itself. You cannot right a wrong. The right way to right a wrong is being not wrong in the first place. Of course in this case, as per a few chirpers , about whom the world doesn’t care or even know will squarely blame the victims for being at the wron time in the wrong place. If all else fails, convert real like into cinema. Anyway , back on topic, Dalits are treated like shit all over the country. They are being gang raped when the lust for flesh hits the roof and the very same perpetrators treat them as untouchables under regular circumstances. Double standards or Racism ?

http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/dalit-tortured-for-daring-to-wear-slippers-410219

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Dalit-tortured-forced-to-eat-human-faeces/articleshow/42945561.cms

http://www.ibtimes.co.in/dalit-youth-asks-water-after-being-assaulted-non-dalits-urinate-his-mouth-626687

Well, this does not stop with individuals. We have corporates and institutions doing the same stuff across the world. Educational institutions, which should ideally set this divide right are very well a part of it. Educational institutions subsidize fees and ease out admission pains based on your religion. All you need to do is Google and find out the type of responses RTE evoked from private educational institutions. Racism at is best. They are children and they have a pure non racist mind. Do not poison them . Leave them alone.

With so much diversity, politics is all about vote bank and exploiting this very diversity. Caste based admission and reservation is the cherry on the cake. I still remember when getting a medical seat on merit for a government classified and approved upper caste citizen like me is beyond miracle, much to my anguish and dismay, I see someone who had scored a single digit mark out of 600 get through easily to the medical profession just because, the quota under which he was racially discriminated did not have enough meritorious students to fill the vacancies. God bless his patients. With such a passive and sub conscious support for racism, I wonder why we make such a hue and cry of others being racist towards us. I think we deserve it. Unless we treat human beings as human beings, It just makes me wonder if evolution has actually taken a step back by making humans out of monkeys.

Coming back to the alleged Aussie racist attacks, did we ever think that this could have been a regular mugging attempt ? Do we care about other human beings the same group would have targeted who are non Indians ? An Indian was attacked an murdered in a shady part of Sydney in March 2014. A racist twist was immediately associated with it despite the victim being clearly warned not to use that specific route as it was not safe.

Hate crimes and racism is all over the world. It has been in the historical past. It is happening right as as we speak and will continue to happen in the future. Unless you introspect honestly without trying to extract any sort of political mileage out of it, I am afraid, it is a fire which will never extinguish. Let me close this with a message I received yesterday on one of my social groups.

“Racism will never end as long as white cars are still using black tires. Racism will never end if people still use black to symbolize bad luck and white for good and peace. Racism will never end if people still wear white clothes to weddings and black clothes to a funeral. Racism will never end as long as people who don’t pay their bills are blacklisted and not white-listed. Even when playing snooker you haven’t won until you have sunk the black ball and the white ball must remain on the table. But I do not care, so long as I’m still using white toilet paper, I’m fine!”

An Elevating Experience

I am not obese by any standards, but having been imbibed the essence of my community since my memory could recall, being above average is the norm and my BMI is no exception to that either. Just browse around and advice flows in from all quarters across the internet from seriously obese bloggers on how to happily be and stay below average. A very popular and favorite simple easy to use daily driver tip, which I read today as well , is to use the stairs instead of elevators. Ironically, I was indeed reading this on my way to the 7th floor and following the “You will read anything in Whatsapp Syndrome” with due diligence, which ideally should have been applied to the “use the stairs” advice and guess what !!! IT IS A BAD IDEA. Using stairs instead of the elevator is the worst that you could do with your life. I actually found using the elevator to be an extremely healthy and rejuvenating experience for your mind. A few typical characters I kind of indifferently observe on a daily basis is worth not trying to shed off that extra flab.

The Social Worker :

Hiring an attendant for pressing buttons is economic sabotage. Why waste resources on this, when there is always at least one socially inclined traveler who diligently opens and closes the elevator for everyone. He doesn’t want to throw away that extra 2 seconds to wait for the elevator to stretch its arms inside. Our social worker is all set to give it that extra push to ensure doors open a second earlier. He goes out of his way to ensure that there is no time wasted once boarding is complete. Another push and the doors close. Yes that 5 seconds make the difference. Railways and other public transport operators need to avoid recruiting them as an empty platform or a bus stop implicitly means NO STOPPING !!!

The Flexible Independent :

This person is well and truly independent. Why depend on others when he can do his job himself even if means, he needs to pass his hand through a couple of S curves and climb a few mountains and valleys through the deepest darkest dungeons, dispering his half emptied deo for the benefit of the rest, in his quest to press that damn button 5 feet ahead of him and 2 feet over his head. Poor guy he never know about the social worker, just waiting for your command.

The Poker :

Every elevator group has one. You want to open a closing door, just swipe your hand and reverse the action. Want to enter an already fully occupied one just closing in on you, poke your footwear and watch the magic unfold and squeeze your half obese pulp into a thousand ready to burn you to ashes, staring eyes and boy does he care !!!

The Silent Assassin / The Observer :

The scariest of the group. He watches everything, listens to everything, observes every minute details, assimilates a lot of data, arrives at logical conclusions and may even analyse to the extreme to become fully judgmental. He surprises himself on his analytical capabilities and decides to put it to good use, all of which vaporizes the instant he leaves the elevator.

The Focussed :

No matter what happens, he will read that 18742 messages on Whatsapp, 8965 facebook notifications and all those spam SMS on how he is wasting his life and how to improve it. There is always someone who will get out on the same floor as him and there is always that social worker just waiting to help him out. You can easily identify this person smiling into his phone and my guess is that is certainly not for a selfie.

The Self Advertiser :

This is one special character. Why is my 2 year old bike the best in industry and how to research and find the best. Why is green tea mixed with half a drop of honey and 3 drops of lemon taken exactly 17 minutes after breakfast and 22 minutes before lunch the best detox and how has it helped him to detoxify. Why should you be using the same mobile device he is obsessed with. How to react to specific embarrassing situations. This person has the best retorts to any situation and shoot you extempore with a dozen of them for each situation all natural and spontaneous outbursts of witty and thoughtful concoctions. And well, do not question him on why he sold his old bike before getting his new one.

The Privacy Guard :

Easy to observe typical behavioral patterns. “I am getting into a lift. Will talk later”. Locks the mobile screen. Urges their friends or colleagues to talk once out of the elevator. Hides their employee badges to display the backside with no photos or employee id. Will not attend phone calls, respond to SMS, Whatsaapp or any social beckoning until out of the elevator.

The Stealer :

The most common I have come across. Take a closer look at your colleagues or persons whom you have always wanted to well, look. A quick succession of stealing glances up close and personal, all just to be forgotten the moment you are out of the elevator.

The Indifferent :

With interconnected and always on social media / music / movies 24×7, there is a sharp increase in this breed. He just does not care what is going on. It all about me, myself and my Irene. He walks in with his headphones on at full volume, without realizing that his not so nice music is spilling out of his phones and walks out once his social worker helps him get off at his destination

The Solution Architect :

The agony aunt is hilarious. Do you have any problem ? if yes, just hope that your elevator agony aunt travels with you. Basement to terrace, your problem is no more a menace. Taller buildings can solve some serious issues not restricted to global warming and climate change.

The Indecisive :

Oh boy, this elevator has 2 buttons, one arrow indicating up and another down. What do I do ? Oh no I will be late for my meeting ? What if I miss the elevator on its way to my destination. Should I inform my elevator, which is 7 floors above me to take me up or should I request the elevator to come down ? This is some serious decision making. Well why should I care ? Let me leave that decision to the elevator. I will press both.

The Unadulterated Idiot :

This breed is unique. Courtesy and common sense do not exist in their fantasy world. They do not wait for anyone to exit, but barges in with sizes ranging from a matchstick to 5 times the lift opening. No quantum of stares and weird looking expressions have any impact on them. They want to go up just one floor on a 200 storey building, but will go all the way to the back of the elevator so that they can push everyone else out on their way out.

Which ONE are YOU ? There is more, but the fact is this short 1 minute ride in an elevator can either be a complete turn off or a real rejuvenating experience. It is a choice and it is upto you to react and choose. Do let me know your comments and criticism.