Thursday, October 31, 2013

American Eavesdropping – The Ethics of it


A Modern Uncle Tom
Recently a lot of hue and cry is being made about the fact that an American agency has been spying on a lot of communications around the world. Personally I do not think much of it because if there is nothing to hide in one's doings then one need not worry about being overheard, even all google and yahoo communications. There is often something unethical in a communication one wants to keep secret. Criminals and Terrorists definitely want to do so and it is here this American agency helps by disrupting such activities and making the world a safer and better place. However, it seems that this agency got carried away with its ability to snoop and even eavesdropped on friendly leaders such as Angela Merkel.

True when such snooping is done American laws may not have been broken. It is always possible to carry out the dirty work on foreign soil to prevent that as it is possible to incarcerate fellow human beings forever on Guantanamo Bay.  But, what about the ethics of it all? How does one decide questions of ethics in a complex modern world? The answer is not difficult, just do as the saints and Mystics of lore said a long time ago – Do unto others as you would wish them do unto you.  If this American agency does not mind President Obama being spied upon by a German or European Agency they should go ahead and spy on Angela Merkel. Frankly speaking, I would rather gift my neighbor and friends with fruits and  sweet scented flowers instead.

One thing for sure is unethical. In Hindi that is called – Ek to Chori doosri Sina Jori – that translates as – First do a wrong thing, then act tough when found out – Therefore if a wrong is perceived one must not go about hounding those who have helped uncover it. What else can be done? The answer to that question is again very simple. We all keep doing wrong. It is human to do so. All one has to do is say that one is sorry and that it will not happen again. Just as simple as that! Life is simple if one wishes it to be so. Trying to cover a wrong by acting tough and/or counter-blaming only worsens the scenario and changes a person from a simply intermittently bad and very human one to an evil one, a danger of becoming a part of the axis of evil that spans the globe.

UPDATE: November 2, 2013

Today morning the Times of India , Page 12 carried this report:

" US Secretary of State John Kerry became the first high official of the Obama Administration to acknowledge an American spying overreach saying that the National Security Agency may have gone too far although he insisted eavesdropping was necessary to combat terrorism ------ and -- President Obama is now doing a thorough review --in order that nobody will have the sense of abuse ..we are going to make sure that does not happen in future"

Long live America! 
It is moves such as these that have made America a great nation. This blogger would like to think that this blog post contributed towards this decision seeing the language, identical choice of words, and content of it. There are other past posts in this blog on America and Obama too which too have been surely noted

Uncle Tom can now safely return to being Uncle Sam :)

Clearing a Thicket of Bougainvillea


Outside my home just near the gate was a bougainvillea bush that produced lovely red flowers with little maintenance. However, with time, especially this monsoon it became so huge and massive that it was blocking sunlight into the garden. Fortunately Hari a village lad who comes to work in the city every now and then and gets a room from me in return for some help in the garden was around. Therefore today morning I asked him to work on clearing away the thicket down to just a couple of feet from the ground. It was a massive exercise especially because the bush has nasty thorns and it required a whole day and I had to ask Hari to stay for the day in return for a day’s wages, about three hundred rupees (six dollars). We have just finished clearing the thicket and the result was pleasant as shown in the photo. The picture has Hari in it. Lot of birds used to rest on it in the evening but they have just moved to an adjacent tree. Fortunately there were no nests in the thicket. However, what was really sad is that significant parts of two trees within the thicket had to be chopped off - a Mulberry and a Drumstick. There was no other way to free the bougainvillea branches and the chopping was necessary because of overhead electric lines. Really hope that fresh new branches come up soon and that  Mother Goddess Earth makes them healthy again very soon. I shall water them regularly until then and in future make a good attempt to keep everything in the thicket well pruned so that it does not have to come to this. Surrounding oneself with trees in an urban setting can be challenging but one worth attempting to bring some of the pleasures of green forests home to a city.

Hari said his hands were aching from the effort so he got to wash and soak them in hot salted water for ten minutes followed by rubbing in Vaseline into the hands and he says he feels just fine now otherwise he would have got an aspirin from me too.My body too is stiff since I was the assistant and have not done this kind of labor for a while but in my case just a couple of glasses of beer and a good nights rest will suffice I think. I do not drink often but drink something light whenever there is physical, intellectual or emotional stress.

Two magical things happened in the exercise. First, although a lot of sparrows collected on the thicket there was not a single nest. I would have been very sorry if some eggs had been lost in the process. Perhaps to understand the magic of this you would have to read an older post called - From Birds to Telepathy. The second was an urticaria tree was growing behind the thicket that had tried constantly to bend southwards to reach the light. We had kept it tied to keep it straight. However when the thicket was removed the tie was removed and the tree just bent down. We were looking for another place to tie it again when miraculously the tree became nearly straight on its own. I see in these two observations the blessings of the Lord.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A New Tree Today


A Newly Planted Tree
Outside the front boundary of my home and before the street there is a patch of vacant land on which I have planted four trees and some flowering bushes ( Jasmine and bogain
villea). At one time a lovely perfumed oleander bush with rose like blossoms grew here. It produced lovely deep pink blossoms. With age it died about a couple of years ago and there was an empty spot. However, I have since discovered that oleander is poisonous. Therefore rather than replant a new oleander, this morning I replanted it with a tree that was earlier in a flower pot and had become rather large for the pot. It is shown in the photo. The area around it looks barren just now because it had become full of weeds during the monsoons and we have pulled all that out just two days ago. New grass will come up there in a few weeks. I do not know the name of the tree put it has lovely shaded foliage, does not become very big and produces a fruit that birds like. I have no idea yet if the fruit or plant has any medicinal value but as soon as I find out its name I shall Google for that. If any reader knows the name and can tell me in a comment, I shall be obliged.

As a young professional when I lived in an apartment I had discovered that trees when young make great potted plants. They are also cheaper than many other fancy plants available in nurseries. However, in a few years time they become too big for the flower pot and are all ready to be transferred in to the bosom of mother earth. I have suggested the same to a lot of friends, especially those who purchase a Christmas tree every year. Rather than cut a tree it is much nicer to grow one in a pot. Keep it until spring in the pot and then transfer it to a park or countryside during a picnic in spring or summer.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Buried Gold and Covert businesses in Disguise


Golden Bricks
Recently, a religious mystic of Northern India by the name of Shoben Sarkar informed the government of India through his foremost spiritual associate Swami Om ji Maharaj that he had knowledge of a huge cache of gold buried at a depth of fifteen feet or so under an old ruined fort near his Monastery/Ashram. The claim was made on the basis of some old records and the divine perceptions of the mystic. The Mystic wished that the government should recover this gold and use it to restore the faltering economy of India.

The government took cognizance of the mystic’s claim and ordered a geological survey of the grounds. Scientific tests declared the presence of buried material and the possibility that it could be Gold. Thereupon, the government ordered the Archeological Survey of India to carry out excavations of the area. Perhaps a better organization to have been given the task would have been a building organization that would have excavated the site within a day and verified the claims. The archeological Survey is more or at least as concerned with preserving historical artifacts of this historically significant site and is therefore carrying out the excavations very slowly, digging only about a foot a day. So far digging has been done up to a depth of five feet.

In the meantime political opponents are criticizing the government that they have now begin to act on the basis of mystic visions and therefore are encouraging superstition and blind faith. There is a lot of that kind of fraud in India and a large section of the public is critical of it. However, it does not mean that true mystics do not exist. But how does one know which is which?

It seems that one must have a true heart in order to distinguish the true from the false but then what does one do if one does not live a truthful life as many in the modern world may not? That may be the very reason they are seeking mystic help.

It is true that there are many covert businesses in the modern world that exist under the hypocritical and seemingly respectable disguise of a religious organization, political organization or a charitable one. How does one find out that a religious mystic is not heading one such? Here are some signs that give away the frauds:

  1. Such organizations or persons are in the business of accumulating wealth either in their own name or for a close relative such as son, daughter, mother, brother etc.
  2. Such organizations or persons may involve a close relatives such as a brother, son, daughter etc. in the business enterprise and to carry it on as in family businesses. The mantle of religious organizations helps them win members from amongst the gullible. They often develop huge followings using techniques similar to multi level marketing i.e. members gathering more members and singing praises of benefits to attract. Similarly politics helps one with power and the guise of a charitable organization helps collect funds.
  3. They will not hesitate to use unethical, secretive, corrupt and even criminal intimidation to carry forward their agenda
  4. The buildings and establishments they construct are just as grand as other businesses do to attract and impress customers.

Recently an Indian religious Guru with a huge following has been charged and imprisoned for alleged rape of disciples. Personally I am not against sexual indulgence in moderation provided it takes place with mutual consent and for mutual pleasure even if one of the actors is a religious personality. The desire for sex is next only to that for food amongst humans. However, when such an act takes place by force and intimidation against the wishes of a partner, it is an evil thing when carried out even by an ordinary human leave alone a person in religious or political power. Incidentally the person charged met all the conditions listed above. He grabbed property and land illegally too and involved his son and even his daughter in carrying out his activities. Another famous Indian guru recently allegedly was using a younger brother to kidnap and assault opponents. He too has been accumulating wealth and political patronage.

The most evolved of mystics like Buddha and Jesus kept their close family at arms length treating them no different from other disciples as per historical records and neither did they accumulate wealth. The use of unethical practices by such were unthinkable rather they are the fountainheads of morality and ethics.

Coming back to the buried gold, the mystic in question too is not into accumulating wealth or running his enterprise with the help of family members. He lives simply, half naked and bare footed often, wearing no fancy dresses and crowns, organising no large decorated gatherings, as many other pretend gurus who are into sucking out the goodness of the gullible do.He  has been known for his good deeds, service and truth. Before he became a mystic some thirty years ago, he was a well to do lawyer and political worker. His diction in both English and Hindi is better than most any spiritual, political or business leader from India that I have heard in a long time. It carries the weight of spiritual attainment and therefore I for one, even though in a minority amongst the educated, believe that the gold shall be found. When this author observed Swami Om ji Maharaj on TV he saw in his stance and words the power of Truth.

Image from:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Trees– Jack Nelson and the Blue Flamingo


Jack Nelson and the blue Flamingo
In an earlier blog post, children’s books by Jim Andersen were mentioned. There is a new one that has an essential message about trees for children. The story is about a flamingo that turns blue because a wicked witch made her nibble on some poison mushrooms. As a result the Flamingo is driven out of the flock and separated from the children. Jack and his friends try to help restore the color of the flamingo. For this they have to seek the help of Tweedy the magician (he is called so because he wears tweed only). The magician gives them a spell that has to be chanted to an interesting dance that is done by a group hopping in circles around a fire. The song is

Curdie Curdie
Hwa Hwa
Curdie Curdie
Hwa Hwa
Magic Tweedy
In a blink
Make our birdie
Blue to pink
Lol lol
Ha ha ha

The name of the dance is Tweedy dance. Some people might confuse the Tweedy dance with the Curdie Dance because of the words in the song but that is a different dance that also has a YouTube video on it. To find out what Hwa and curdie mean and the steps of the dance one would have to read the full story. Aside from the interesting story the book includes a message to encourage the growth of trees

“By planting trees in the forest one could give something back to the forest, not just take from it. Jack’s mother felt that when it came to choose trees to plant, fruit and nut trees were some of the best. Both birds and humans could enjoy the fruits besides the almond tree had pretty flowers that would just light up the forest. The fairy godmother of the forest was always on the lookout for good children to reward and who could be better than those who planted lovely trees in the forest. Some trees were lost in a forest fire from time to time or simply because of age or even because some had been removed for building works.”

My book, The Babaji Affair, too has a message about planting trees from the mouth a Himalayan Mystic. This kind is known not to mince words and the message is a bit harsh, not as gentle as by the Tweedy dancers

“Babaji had often said that a human who does not grow trees during his lifetime lost the right to be born as a human in future lives. He said that a human uses many of the earth’s resources during a lifetime. Growing trees is a way to repay that debt. Trees supported and sustained life. The leaves they shed added organic matter to soil. Some of it was washed into the oceans by rivers where even more green growth took place. Without plants there would be no oxygen and no life would be possible. Besides, humans were the only life form on earth that depended on cooked food. The fuel for cooking came from trees. If a human did not grow trees he was living a sinful life. He deserved to be born as a goat, cow or an insect and not a human.”

Kindle Link to Jack nelson and the Blue Flamingo : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FYHPEC8
Paperback link: http://www.amazon.com/Jack-Nelson-Flamingo-magical-adventures/dp/1493503987

Link to the Babaji Affair: http://www.amazon.com/Babaji-Affair-Dr-Ashok-Malhotra/dp/149232955X

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Worthy and unworthy human relationships


A Spiritual Message

In your Journey through life you shall meet and interact with other humans. Some of these relationships shall be worth cherishing. Blessed are such persons and relationships for as long as they last because in the long run everything must change as all things do in this universe. May such relationship last long.

In life you shall also encounter persons that are in the main quarrelsome, tense, abusive, argumentative, bitterly jealous, irritable or angry, some are all of the things that make human relationships painful and unworthy. In such cases either move away from such persons or move them away from you, whatever appears the appropriate course, for the fight of such persons is not with you, it is with themselves. You do not have to share in it. You shall also encounter some that come near you for the sole purpose of exploiting or using you rather than for solace and sharing the joys and sorrows of life. These latter deserve a similar treatment on an even more urgent basis.

Unless,

Such persons are children, in which case you may try and help them out and learn from them, if you feel up to it or if you are responsible for it. If they are not children, it is best to let God handle it without any unwarranted meddling from your side. Do not cherish the fond hope that you can change persons who are adults just like you. That is a job for the Lord who created them and gave them the freedom to be as they are. As it is, there is enough work on one's hand to reduce one's own faults rather than focus on those of others. Is it wise to go and extinguish the flames in another home when one's own home is on fire?

Remember, to be alone is far more peaceful and joyful than to be in the company of the unworthy, for in reality none is ever alone. God is all around you. Look at the squirrels of a forest or garden, just as happy and joyous to be by themselves as in the company of others.

Image: Public domain image from wikipedia commons  Uploaded by Richardfabi -http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Streifenhoernchen.jpg


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Obesity- Jack Nelson and the Emerald Princess


Jack Nelson and the Emerald Princess
Some half a century ago as a boy my favorite author was Enid Blyton. I simply loved her books and read each one of them. There are hundreds.   Now that I have grand children I shall recommend the same books besides the classic fairy tales of Hans Christian Anderson and Grimm’s.

As a child one read a book for fun but in later years I realized that besides their entertainment value the books also encouraged moral and courageous behavior. Therefore in later years when I had my own children, Enid Blyton was my first recommendation for my own children as well as others.

I do realize that in the half a century or so since my own childhood other even nicer authors may have emerged who have published worthy books that one can recommend to one’s children. However, not knowing about them I inevitably fall back on the choices of my own childhood.

There is an interesting one on Amazon recently called “Jack Nelson and the Emerald Princess’ by Jim Andersen, in print (www.amazon.com/Nelson-Emerald-Princess-magical-adventures/dp/1492949124) and Kindle and it is the sort of book that I would recommend without hesitation for a child. Like Enid Blyton the book has a sense of adventure and more. It also encourages a love of nature, trees and animals besides it has humor too. It makes light hearted fun of obesity. The Grand Queen of the emerald castle is an immensely fat woman and is therefore referred as – Your Grandness – rather than Your Highness. In fact she was so fat that she had to be pushed in through the doors of her horse drawn carriage until one day she got stuck and they had to pull the carriage apart to free her. It seems that she got that way from eating too many cakes.

The mechanized urban life of the modern world is responsible to some extent for human obesity. My own weight has increased steadily over the years. Some months ago when my daughter who is an internal medicine specialist in USA, insisted that I get a range of tests done here in India, scan the reports and send it to her. I complied. Fortunately everything turned out OK after a careful analysis by her except for one thing. She pointed out that my weight was approaching the obese starting limit and I better watch out. So out go the cakes, although in my case an increase of weight has to do more with a deficiency in physical exercise rather an excess of food. Both go hand in hand to create Your Grandness.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Good health and fighting Alzheimer’s disease naturally


Copra and Almonds
From time to time this blog has indicated natural foods that are a gift from the Mother Goddess, our planet being one glorious aspect of her. There are posts on the health benefits of tree foods, almonds and coconuts in this blog if you search through. The following recipe combines the benefits into a healthy delicious treat. Here is a very simple recipe of coconut and almonds that in my belief has three glorious health benefits. These are

  1. Regular consumption of this chutney/sauce will fight and even reverse Alzheimer’s Disease in many cases. It would take about three weeks of daily consumptions for a noticeable change.
  2. Vegetarians who consume this chutney regularly will not suffer any weakness that some vegetarians especially new ones face when they give up on meat.
  3. Students who consume this chutney regularly for a month or two before examinations will improve memory and recall. Therefore they will do better in examinations.

In general this chutney shall be beneficial for all persons of all ages and to top it all it tastes and smells wonderful.  The ingredients are:

  1. One whole copra (dried coconut)
  2. Twenty almonds
  3. Four tablespoons of coconut oil

In addition any or all of the following  may be used to season the sauce -

a bit of salt to taste, a tea spoon of sugar or honey, half a tea spoon of mustard seeds or a tea spoon of mustard sauce, a tea spoon of vinegar, a green chili. You may use none or all the seasonings as you like.

Preparation: Break the copra in inch size bits and soak overnight along with the almonds in clean water. To prepare the sauce run the coconut, skinned almonds (they skin easily after soaking), and the coconut oil through a blender. Add a little water so that the sauce is the consistency of a thick mayonnaise sauce but still grainy. Now mix in your seasonings. If you are using a green chili then chop into small pieces and add before blending. Transfer to a serving bowl. The chutney is ready to serve four persons. It is good with any vegetarian meal as a side dish or sauce. It will store for up to 24 to 30 hours in a fridge and then begin to go bad; therefore it has to be made fresh every two days or even better every day. Incase you are making this for a single person then you may halve the quantities as suggested. One may use a fresh coconut instead of copra but that is less convenient and less available for daily use. The photo accompanying this post was just snapped by me in the kitchen a few minutes before this article.

Warning: Please do not get greedy and eat more than the indicated amounts and no more than once a day. Strong foods tend to harm rather than help if consumed in excess.

A combination of almonds and coconut is a combination of the best of bounties of green mountains and green ocean coasts. Little wonder then that it is such a powerful food.

UPDATE OCT 10: A discussion in the comments has resulted in a name for this chutney. It is now called Mother's Bounty Chutney

UPDATE 2014: Two other herbs that are an aid to Alzheimer may be the herbs - Ashwagandha and Brahmi.  Ashwagandha is best consumed as a powder of the dry root, a tea spoon mixed in a cup of water, adding the powder on top of water or it collects like corn flour in the cup. It promotes deep sleep too and is therefore best before bed time.

UPDATE 2015: Increasing proportion of almonds in winter and the proportion of coconut in summer in the recipe appears to increase benefits, see: http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2015/03/health-byte-season-for-almonds-season.html



UPDATE, June 2015, Use of Cannabis

Modern studies indicate that use of cannabis shows promise in the control and treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease, for example see,


As is common with modern studies, this study is based on the isolated compounds of cannabis. While this may be OK for research, this blogger believes that use of isolated compounds can cause side effects and it is better to use the compounds as a group as found in the natural plant. Those who wish to try this, where legal may wish to check out a recipe for a traditional cannabis drink in milk that includes almonds too here,

http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2015/06/two-of-most-magical-and-medicinal-herbs.html

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

One Kudos for Obama and three Boos for the Republicans



Ashok at Raj Bhavan, Nainital
As global citizens watch the current budget scenario in the US, the world cannot help but cheer Obama for standing so strongly to help provide medical care for the poor of his country. On the other hand the world cannot appreciate three of the stances of the republicans:

  1. The world does not understand how it is humane to deprive the poor of affordable or free medical care as is available in Canada or UK and many other humane countries.
  2. The world cannot but deplore the rigidity of the Republicans in providing much access to assault weapons for citizens. This author and numerous others feel the policies of UK and Australia that ban such weapons and mass killings is much more humane.
  3. The world also does not understand why the republicans do not want the rich to pay a higher tax and would have felt better if the US would follow advice of Warren Buffet or emulate Sweden that keeps the rich poor divide within limits as well as cares for its aged.

On the other hand, it is not that the world blindly supports Obama in everything and opposes the Republicans in all their doings. Many learned people of the world agree wholeheartedly with the Republicans that debt cannot be raised indefinitely and that countries cannot run with debt. However, many differ where the cut should be made, in medical care or in other areas such as non-essential services like tourist facilities and even some non-essential parts of the army. Interestingly that is where the present stalemate is leading to. As regards the humane aspect nature is the greatest equalizer. Those presently who deprive others of basic medical care would get deprived similarly when in similar need, they and their loved ones too. However, it has to be pointed out, as Republicans often do:

If an individual incurs expenditure on philanthropy that is met out of borrowed money it is in the very least irresponsible and at worst a fraud on himself and his family; similarly, when a nation undertakes a welfare measure out of borrowed money it is irresponsible and a fraud on the nation.

One current stance of Obama on Syria is not at all appreciated by many in the world. As the leading country of the planet currently, the world expects that he would feel more for the suffering of others in the world, perhaps enough to work for a no fly zone over Syria as was done in Libya. It will save many children, infants and their parents from getting bombed in their beds. The USA also needs to take the lead in initiatives such as mentioned in the inked blog post (http://ashokmalhotra.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/need-for-a-new-international-law-to-save-humans-syria/, ) not in terms of a financial contribution but in terms of leadership. If it does, it will confirm that the US genuinely desires greater peace on our lovely planet.

I have a personal beef against the Honorable President of USA too. I believe promises should not be made (no one stops anyone from saying they will make a good attempt at something), and if made should be honored by the great leaders of our world even as Queen Victoria did once, whether it is a small matter such as getting a dog for the kids (the first thing after moving into White house) or whether it be Guantanamo Bay or Syria.
It is my cherished dream to catch Barack over a beer at an idyllic location such as shown in the photo above with this post and hammer the guy about it some day when he is just a sporting bloke and not a President, after his term is over. :)