Tuesday, May 28, 2013

10 Essential Herbal Oils from Nilgiris

If you have been to Nilgiris but not tasted the aromatic spice tea or the much less hyped lip-smacking homemade chocolates then you’ve been surely cheated by your cryptic luck. In such surreal situation you should once again plan a trip to this beautiful, yet modest land of Blue Mountains lying in the district of Tamil Nadu, ever ready to pamper you with her vast range of horticulture products and sniff some sandalwood perfume while exploring purest herbal products manufactured locally in the region. In the middle of this month, I had made my trip trip to Mysore, Ooty (Udhagamandalam) and Kodaikanal… So, I could experience the relatively-pure agro products of Nilgiris. I munched a lot of baby carrots, dark chocolates and off course Masala-teas (now don’t throw a silly question whether I smelled eucalyptus oil, because certainly I did it). During my shopping venture I came to know the importance and uses of different medicinal herbs or their products and thought to share it with you. One orthopaedic surgeon told me that these are nothing but placebos (placebos are substances which may relieve your disease symptoms without any sure-shot guarantee or scientific basis!) but I feel there’s no harm is experimenting with products which don’t have eerie side-effects like synthetic chemicals. Moreover I’ve great respect for Ayurveda and just because it’s beyond my level of understanding I won’t dare to call its components ‘placebo’.

Here are few natural Nilgiri products of medicinal values, right from the heaven of herbals! Are you wondering why am I wasting our time on them? Answer is simple… if you’re a good hunter you’ll get them in your city too and do I have to say that roses smell the same everywhere… I mean almost same.

1)    Eucalyptus Oil: Apply it externally on affected region for common cold, cough, headache and fever.
2)    Gaultheira Oil: When two spoons of gaultheria oil is mixed with two spoons of coconut oil and applied externally, it relieves joint pain, leg pain, rheumatic pain, frozen shoulder etc. it can also be used directly in acute conditions.
3)    Citridora Oil: If three spoons of citridora oil is mixed with 100 gm of coconut oil or shampoo and applied over wet hair, it arrests falling of hair, makes it soft and shiny. It also cures dandruff and lice problems.
4)    Almond Oil: It can be used as massage oil for body as well as hair. It makes the skin smooth and soft, eliminates dark circles of eyes and removes mild scars and acne from face.
5)    Clove Oil: Two drops of clove oil when mixed with regular toothpaste and used twice a week, toothache, bad odour, stains and bleeding gum problems are cured.
6)    Lemon Grass Oil: A drop of lemon grass oil in a cup of hot tea/water relives symptoms of gastritis, acidity, diarrhoea and dyspepsia.
7)    Camphor Oil: Apply it externally on affected region for common cold, cough and headache.
8)    Java Citronella Oil: When mixed with water and sprayed inside your home/office, not only it keeps those flies, mosquitoes, bedbugs and cockroach away but also maintains a pleasant fragrance inside the room.
9)    Olive Oil: I know I don’t have to bark on the versatility of olive oil as a perfect massage oil as you’ve been hopefully using it since your nappy days!
10)   Heena Oil: Apply it externally for migraine attacks, dry cough, running nose, tonsil and sinus problems.


Honestly speaking there’re some hundred more oils and other herbal products which would certainly come handy for our daily needs but you must make your trip to Nilgiris to study them… I’ll be really glad, rather overwhelmed if you come back from Nilgiris and help me with more info to update this petite list. Again to remind you of the diverse possibilities of Nilgiris, it’s not just about herbal oils, you can enjoy various sandalwood products, rose products, spices (like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, cumin, raisin, poppy etc), flavoured teas, pure honey and those yummy chunks of chocolates! Very soon I’ll be back with my travel story of Mysore, Ooty and Kodaikanal… till then take care.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Salvation Of A Saint - the Book Review


It all starts with a cold war in the living room, between Yoshi­ta­ka, a man who firmly believes that “If we can’t have chil­dren, there’s no point to us being mar­ried. Ro­man­tic love be­tween a man and a woman al­ways fades with time” and his unlucky wife, Ayane who had “dreamed of sit­ting in a rock­ing chair, stitch­ing a patch­work quilt, watch­ing her belly grow larg­er with each pass­ing day” all in vain. By insisting of a child before his barren spouse, the husband hints his priority of life at one hand and provides an indirect indication for a formidable divorce to their one year married life on the other. The readers develop disgust for the stonehearted Yoshitaka and soft corner for the beautiful but ill-fated Ayane right from the first page of the English-translated thriller “Salvation of a Saint” by Japanese mystery-novelist Keigo Higashino! Keigo Higashino is one of the most famous fiction writers in Japan whose mystery works have always been widely accepted by readers, earning him many honours like Edogawa Rampo Prize, Mystery Writers of Japan Inc award, 134th Naoki Prize for Best Novel and many more. A lot of movies and TV-series have also been made on his novels, the last most successful of them being “The Devotion of Suspect X” which relished four weeks topping the box office besides selling its 800,000 copies worldwide in one year!

Readers are cleverly tickled over their tummies by Ayane’s soliloquy that concludes the first chapter, “I love you more than any­thing else in this world. That’s why your words were like a knife stab­bing me in the heart. That’s why you have to die, too”. Higashino utilises his fan’s negativity he has already grossed for the rich Tokyo executive Yoshi­ta­ka and intensifies it further by exposing his infidelity with a young lady Hiromi in his wife’s absence. So, in coming few pages when Yoshitaka is found dead by arsenous-acid poisoned coffee, neither we get sad for the victim nor do we get upset with the author for knocking him down so early. Now, you’re happy for some unexplainable reason that the betrayer has been punished. You know the mode of homicide. You can guess the suspect because the blurb itself enlightens you “When a man is discovered dead by poisoning in his empty home his beautiful wife, Ayane, immediately falls under suspicion. All clues point to Ayane being the logical suspect” but you also know, how could she have committed the offence when she was hundreds of miles away at Sapporo, in her parents’ place? Although Higashino introduces you with the apparent climax in the beginning, don’t feel cheated or disheartened as you’ve to ride the whole circle of this merry-go-round 0f 350+ pages to get the actual pleasure of the climax. I think the author has intentionally adopted this style to enrich the movie-making potential of the novel. Soon, Tokyo Police Department takes up its role and we find investigating officers Kusanagi, Utsumi and later on detective Yukawa playing their parts dynamically. You’ll come across vivid police proceedings in great details but you won’t be denied situations of overflowing unbalanced human emotions too. This story is a true rollercoaster of suspense and attributions of perfectly portrayed characters like, Ayane’s boldness, Kusanagi’s biased heart, Hiromi’s soft heart or Yukawa’s satisfaction in dissecting the perfect murder case. If you’re into crime-tales or detective-salsas you need to give it a read to experience biting your own nails!

Unlike my every other book review, I missed my two cents on the cover graphics here. Yes, a good title and attractive cover is very essential in today’s world where a lot of copies are sold online… in a web-store what else will hit your eyes, especially when the author is new one? Here the apathetic but elegant side-face of a lady (perhaps Ayane) succeeds in catching our eyes efficiently. Although I haven’t read the original work in Japanese but the fluent English translation by Alexander O. Smith doesn’t leave me thirsty for the original words. ‘The Japanese Stieg Larsson’ has given no scope to complain for characterisations and their introduction in proper time. I would have definitely loved to know Kusanagi deciphering the riddle of crime than his Holmes-like colleague Galileo, but that certainly is my extra demand. Overall this read of “Salvation of a Saint” has been satisfying and I wouldn’t have regretted spending money for it if I didn’t receive it for free to review. Oh did I tell you that this is my 2nd fiction from any Asian (non-Indian) author in 2013!

My rating for this Book: -   6/10

Saturday, May 4, 2013

La Tomatina for Modern Day Healthcare - touching Lives!


By looking at the heading “modern day healthcare- Touching Lives”, most of you’ll surely scream for an amendment – “modern day healthcare- Touching Wallet”. I would humbly ask for your apology and join discussion in open forums to chuck at least a dozen of rotten tomatoes/eggs to the existing health system and the ‘butcher-like’ healthcare providers disguised in white coats! By sitting in your cold cabin you escape this summer heat which otherwise would have driven you nuts… but I know, this state of comfort is another itch… You want to be more dynamic, more social-aware and most importantly, more intellectual. So, when your wife points out that your monthly family medical bill has exceeded your expenses for beverages, or her beauty care bill, you couldn’t suppress the wounded lion in you to roar back… a roar against those ‘greedy’ practitioners of medicine and the whole unkind algorithm involved in the investigation, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of your diseases, injuries, and other physical and mental impairments in you. Now if you’re one of those footpath-sleepers I know you don’t have idle time in abundance to waste in my article and I can only pray the Omnipresent to settle your unbalanced score with the health policies of our country which are scripted in the penthouse of our possessive political poles.

As you’ve accepted my apology, now come out of your London dreams and imagine of a neighbourhood or, a large hall with 100 beds with 100 people, tossing and wriggling on them. They are having violent cramps in their tummy, profuse diarrhoea and severe vomiting. In few hours their bodies get rid of so much water that their blood thickens, eyes shrunk deep down their foreheads and skins get shaggy. It doesn’t take much time to follow the stairway to heaven leaving a heap of corpses scattered on a floor flooded with puke and poop! Oh did I tell you they died of Cholera epidemic? Thank God, Modern day Healthcare wasn’t there to advocate water hygiene or detain those departing souls with few bottles of intravenous fluids and some antibiotics… yes, I know how irrationally pricey those antibiotics are! So, here’s the first rotten tomato from my basket for the Healthcare in miniskirt…

By the way, have you watched the 1970’s Bolywood movie ‘Anand’ where the protagonist peacefully passes away in few months with lymphosarcoma of intestine (a fatal tumour of intestine)? When he was diagnosed of the disease it had spread a lot inside his body. Thank God, there was no such fashionable diagnostic methods in those days like Ultrasound, CT Scan, MRI, Radionuclide imaging or PET scan, otherwise the cancer patient could be detected in early stage and sucked out of his hard earned savings in the name of cancer chemotherapy/radiotherapy/surgery just for another 10-15 years of survival! Yes, I understand how much fortune those Imaging studies suck… Come on, why should we care for the cost involved in those technologies? We enjoy doing post-mortem on doctor’s interest from prescribing them and that’s what all we care about. Here’s my second rotten tomato for the Healthcare advancement…

Let’s gossip about some historical tales. In your schooldays did you ever come across that story of Dr Edward Jenner, who had crazily inoculated an eight years old sick boy with the germs of cowpox and prevented him from dying or living with the deformities of Smallpox? One freaking act revolutionised the immunology and saved more lives than any other whimsical discoveries by other scientists. While about 300 millions died of smallpox in 20th century, one bold step by the British physician eradicated the mystic disease to the extent that the last known case of smallpox was found in Somalia in 1977! Well, we don’t have enough logic to bash this issue… but as we said before, it’s history, not the part of modern healthcare right? So, let me aim my third rotten tomato to this rapidly developing (hard to catch!) modern healthcare…   

Did you know that few hundred years back patients were tied with ropes from head to toe to operate on them? It’s too cinematic to see a screaming man with bleeding body and few professionals (may be barbers at times!) cutting through his muscles and organs with carpenter like tools! Fortunately most expired, I mean took the stairway to heaven, being unable to withstand the unbearable pain and the rest died of sepsis in few days… cool! Of late, surgeons take the scapegoats (us) to spaceship look-alike operation theatres, give us a prick or gas of anaesthetics till we fall asleep and then they do all sorts of cut-copy-paste on our open-body. When we regain consciousness we yell with postoperative pain and they give us painkiller liquid through our open veins or the pigtail fitted to our spine (they call it epidural) to keep the pain away for some time. The biggest blow we get when we’re handed over the bill before the discharge. We had a pain-free operation and a 5-star stay but does it mean that the shrewd healthcare would strike our dream for world tour or daughter’s grand marriage ceremony? Here’s my fourth rotten tomato for this opportunist healthcare…

Hey do you remember when your better half got pregnant… right in the middle of pregnancy you two had decided to opt for an elective Caesarean section delivery? Bearing that animal-like labour pain was no question for your tender spouse in lipstick. You wanted to get the best of options to gift her healthy child by comfortable delivery. Finally one day your first baby was born in the odd hours of night by the ‘paid’ and ‘taken for granted’ intervention of some insomniac obstetrician. When you threw a party to your colleagues, you forgot to narrate many things but didn’t forget to mention ‘the hospital has ripped off my parse fully!” I didn’t forget that either, so, here’s my fifth rotten tomato for the burglar modern day healthcare…

Last year one of my staffs when faced a debilitating road accident got his left lower limb amputed and later he was made to walk on his legs again with ‘Jaipur foot’… sadly, he lost the lifelong chances of relaxing on a wheelchair. One of my uncles was fitted with a costly pacemaker device when his heart rejected to beat. Today when a school kid watches someone dying of fever in television melodramas he wonders “Does anyone die of fever too?” This is the timeframe when programmed robots operate on living human bodies, an age where we give a visit to the clinician after breaking our spectacles on web-searching our disease symptoms. All these are due to over-ambitious rise of modern day healthcare… I wish I had another 5 rotten tomatoes to throw but there has been a recent hike in the rate of tomato… I couldn’t afford more at one go!

We won’t lower my voice until the healthcare promises to be my free armour or the doctor takes not more than 50 paisa for prescribing a 1 rupee Crocin (paracetamol). We’ll continue the candle march against the over-demanding modern day healthcare till the healthcare provider mellows his audacity to write a list of money-hungry investigations when we visit him with our apparently ‘simple’ fever or headache. We’ll bypass health insurance showing our brotherhood with 100 crores of Indians who can’t afford it. Either we’re part of this Government or too decent to raise our voice against it. Moreover our political culture and tradition has taught us to be obedient citizens of this largest democracy. So, the only hare we can hunt is the Modern day Healthcare that is trespassing to touch our lives. There’re only two things that unite people, either fear or interest. So never mind, I’ll join you back with chilled beers and my basket of rotten tomatoes to aim the soft culprit again… till then hold on your complaints, preserve your hatred and checkout cutting edge medical care… hopefully, tomato price will come down as the summer heat retreats.