Monday, November 25, 2013

Beauty and Goodness

A Lakeside road in Nainital

My childhood was spent in the beautiful Himalayan Town of Nainital. Aside from its bewitching beauty, there was something else in the town that was even more valuable. The lives of most people were filled with simplicity and goodness and that added to highly stress free and happy atmosphere. It seems that goodness and beauty are frequently two sides of the same coin. Unfortunately this town has not remained so with time and commercialization of the modern age.

In later years, I have lived in many parts of the world for education, work and living but never found the same level of goodness prevailing. An increase of greed, lust, anger, jealousy, selfishness vitiates the atmosphere of any town or village and destroys this sense of peace and happiness. When a mind is obsessed with a desire arising out of greed, anger, lust, jealousy, pride etc it has obviously no space or capacity to enjoy the many joyous wonders life has to offer without asking. Only a town or village was mentioned in this paragraph and not cities intentionally because in large impersonal concrete jungles that a city is, that is a given fact. One may not survive in such a jungle without fear, suspicion and selfishness perhaps and have no energy for a full life because of it and also because of the noise, pollution, lack of greenery, lack of sunshine, lack of fresh air because of traffic and sewerage lines, crime, an impersonal neighbor, cramped spaces and commuting.

During my childhood my mother’s sister in law came for a visit to our home in Nainital. Unfortunately she developed a medical problem and needed expensive surgery immediately. My Father was then away on a army assignment in Nepal and although he sent enough money every month to keep us well fed and comfortable there was just not any surplus money for the new medical expense. However, my mother (her name was Nand Rani or Nando for short) had a set of expensive gold bangles that married Indian women wear often. She rushed to Bura Bazzar (the marketplace) in Nainital to sell these immediately to a gold smith and raised enough money for the operation that was carried out successfully. In later years some relatives have talked about the deed as if it was a grand sacrifice but in those days and in that town it was considered an obvious thing to do i.e. to help out a friend or relative in need if one could with ease. In later years she acquired many more gold bangles mainly gifted by my father after he became wealthy and some bu her children e.g by me on her 50th wedding anniversary, and she used her bangles to help others when an emergency arose including a couple to me when I ran out of money and got into difficulty after exhausting my money and interrupting my job to build a home that I presently live in. There is a photo from it below.

White Roses in Ashok's garden in Jaipur

Recently when I compiled a book that has many stories of Himalayan mystics (Nude besides the lake and The Babaji Affair) that have this town as the background it included the prevailing ethos of the town as Iknew it from my childhood. Those who read the books loved the stories but many remarked that the goodness of characters in the book was perhaps unrealistic or fairy tale like. However that is how it was and that is what is needed to make a town or village stress free. In later years I have tried to achieve the same sense of peace and happiness in other places by increasing my communion with nature and becoming very selective in social interactions. One may commune with nature in a forest or countryside but some such is possible even in a home garden. It is amazing the number of birds and bees that will visit to sing for you if one has a few trees and flowers around one’s home.

For a wider view of the Nainital Photo and more pictures of Nainital check out  
For the spirituality of the region and more pictures see    
For the book - The Babaji Affair - see an older post

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Beauty of Coconut

There are two older posts  ( here and here) on coconut in this blog, on the tree and on its health benefits. A great recipe called Mother’s Bounty has also been described. However without mentioning the contribution of coconut to human beauty the information would be incomplete.

Coconut oil is great for adding beauty to human skin and hair. It appears to restore damages to both rather quickly. It tends to solidify in winter but if one takes a spoonful and rubs it in the palms of one’s hands it melts immediately.

The best way to use it for hair is to rub it into the hair and scalp about half an hour before a bath and then wash it off during a bath with a mild soap or shampoo. It will add health to the hair and act as a natural hair conditioner. It may be left on the hair all day too but then a greasy look is not at all fashionable. In India women and men in the province of Kerala use it regularly on hair and the people of this province have the thickest and healthiest of hair in all of Asia, perhaps even the world.

The oil can be rubbed the same way on the face before a bath and it will make the skin healthier and reduce chemical, weather and cosmetic damage in a matter of days while adding a healthy rosy glow to the skin. Many modern chemical cosmetics provide temporary beauty but at times lead to allergy, rashes and unnatural skin tints. Women feel obliged to use these on special occasions but the wise women limits it to just that – just the occasion and wash it off with lots of clean water and just mild bathing soap soon after. However, the use of coconut oil as suggested appears to restore damage in many cases.

The beautifying effect of coconut oil will be enhanced considerably if after rubbing the oil into face, hair and hands you expose it to full direct sunlight for about twenty minutes. However keep your eyes closed or look down so that you do not have to look directly at the sun; that can damage eyesight. In case you are fond of  meditation, if these twenty minutes are spent in mindful breathing and/or mantra meditation an attractive aura will develop around you in a matter of a few weeks (provided your diet is balanced, water pure and the rest of your life is not anti LTS and therefore stressful). Both Mantra meditation and mindful breathing is described in earlier posts of this blog. LTS stands for Love, truth and Simplicity. The only danger in this exercise is that one becomes irresistably sexy and if that leads one to lust the glow shall be lost. Some lusting as a part of romantic love does not damage but lustful indulgence sans love destroys inner and auric attractiveness.
Lust is like the serpent in the board game 'Snakes and Ladder' that sits on square 99 for those on the spiritual or evolving path. After overcoming anger and greed, it is the most daunting challenge, the longest serpent, that created beings have to overcome. It is the apple of the forbidden tree, that causes beings to hide and be ashamed of the clothing the Lord made for them.
The Mother’s bounty Chutney described in the earlier post contains besides coconut some almonds too. Almond oil is another great natural aid for skin but it has to be used very sparingly whereas coconut oil may be used liberally. Almond oil is especially effective in removing dark spots and blemishes. A combination of both may be used on the skin too. A few drops of almonds oil rubbed into the face first followed by a palm full of coconut oil. Do not use almond oil on hair. Coconut oil, especially after heating slightly is great for massage. When cooled it may be used on any part of the body, even lips as a far healthier alternative to petroleum jelly.

original coconut image before modification from:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

How this Blog is helping to change the World

Linking Bosses Pay to the Lowest wage

The Swiss 1:12 Initiative

The Internet has made propagation and access of information widely available. Just about anyone in the world can post his her ideas and once posted they become available to just about everyone, anywhere in the world with a few clicks of the mouse. One does not have to search for it in a library as was necessary a few decades ago. Although many thoughts may be of little relevance as thoughts often tend to be, some have the potential to cause significant and valuable changes in the way humans live, love and work.

This blog has been publishing articles on health, environment, life style, economy, politics and spirituality for the last several years and some of them have made a difference to our world, hopefully for the better. An article (now deleted) urging a referendum in the Falkland Islands lead precisely to that. An article on inflation in this blog provided a key to how the Japanese could leverage deflation to get out of decades long recession (here). That idea has worked successfully, an idea that was surely already known to the economists but got enforced when it became known to the public.

The most recent example of the influence of this blog is a recent Swiss proposal that fixes the top salaries in an organization as a ratio of the lowest salary in that organization. The idea was first proposed by this blogger in an article early last year 

An Image from the Swiss 1:12 Initiative
Realizing its importance this blogger posted it in several other places on the net and it seems now that the idea has caught the fancy of the Swiss and other European Nations. As mentioned in the original article it is easier for the Swiss to do this than other nations because their system of democracy is far more inclusive than other nations.Even the Swiss posters and flags now allover the country and being used in the campaign are similar in design to the original image created for the idea by this blogger and repeated in this post. This blogger had released the copy right of the design to the public as recorded on the original image (top image with this post also). Similar initiatives are also being considered in other countries including Spain and France. it is possible the present Swiss initiative may not win the necessary votes this Sunday since it may seem a bit to revolutionary presently, but there is no doubt that the idea has arrived and it shall re-enter in various forms in the policies of nations around the world, in the coming years.

It seems the support for the initiative is presently only around 40 per cent. In case it does not get through this time my request to the campaigners is to reintroduce it as a 1:20 or 24 campaign. Perhaps the world is not yet ready for a greater equality. That should satisfy all corporations except for a few blinded by and buried in the slime of greed as well as utter lack of compassion for fellow humans whose needs are just as much and whose families are just as dear as that of a few fat cats, or those who wish to run away to their mansions with money that rightly belongs to the share holders and public, supported by a few politicians who survive because of their campaign contributions. Most of all the money spent by any corporation or organization on wages does not belong disproportionately in the main to just a few top executives but to all the employees in fair proportions because it is the combined effort of all that makes an organization viable and successful. It is true that some inequality amongst humans is as inevitable as amongst the trees in the forest and some incentives are required to encourage talent and good work; however when such incentives translate to salary ratios of more than ten within any human set up, it is not an incentive but pure and simple greed of humans in a position to exercise it.  This is because human talent and work does not vary by a larger ratio as mentioned in the original article ( if those in asylums, or worthy of them are kept out of the reckoning).  Trees of a species do not vary in height by ratios of more than ten unless they are damaged by disease or forced through processes such as Bonsai. Limiting inappropriate and excessive greed is not anti capitalism. It is Capitalism sans exploitation.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Nutrition Facts for the less Educated – and the Scriptures

Over the past couple of centuries or so there has been much poverty in large parts of India. There has been some poverty reduction recently but it still continues in the rural hinterland. One effect of poverty is near or total illiteracy, another is poor nutrition.

The Lord has been kind in seeding our planet with much grass and this is the direct or indirect source of food for many animals and humans that live on the planet. Sugar, Wheat, Rice, Corn etc. all come from grass. Because of its abundance wheat is also one of the cheapest sources of food. Therefore the diet of poor rural persons around my area primarily consists of unleavened bread. When such persons come into the city they make good money nowadays, but human habits persist and they tend to continue with the same sort of diet they ate in their villages. This is where I have to intervene and explain to such persons  the importance of proper nutrition along with some nutrition facts.

If one were to try and teach an illiterate person about carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and so on it would go over their head. A simpler explanation has been developed by me. I tell them that although bread will appease hunger and give them the capacity to work it will not help any more. They need an egg a day and some milk, about a quarter of liter of it daily to make their flesh and bones. Further, vegetables are required to make blood the best being leafy green ones such as spinach and goosefoot that is plentiful in India. In addition, to get the strength to digest all this properly something raw like onions, carrots or a bit of fruit is required (for the live enzymes). This simple explanation, albeit highly approximate, works quite well and those who follow this simple prescription (such as the village lad Hari described in a couple earlier posts) put on some weight and develop a healthy rosy color in a matter of weeks as any laboring person who has a nutritious diet would tend to.

My simple explanations although inaccurate serves the purpose and this makes me realize that mystics of lore must have been doing something similar when they described the spiritual side of the universe to mankind. Thus when a scripture describes that early on in creation the darkness was separated from light some modern humans tend to laugh at this. However, the fact is that most advanced modern explanations for creation include the separation of photons (light) from antiphotons (darkness) as a primary step in creation. Thus when it is said that Eve was created from a bit of the rib of Adam that too makes eminent genetic sense. It would have been just as useless to tell the early human or even many modern ones that the male contains both the X and Y chromosome and it is the Y bit from this that creates the female, as it would be to tell Hari that trace elements such as iodine are required for a certain hormone in his body. Yet when Hari accepts my simple explanation with faith he benefits.

Image adapted from

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Let your Food be Natural - Trans Fats

Different species of plants and animals have evolved for millions of years on the planet providing mutual sustenance and life to each other. The very waste air we breathe out is fresh air for plants and the oxygen plants breathe out as waste is our breath of life. Plants provide our food too. Such food that comes from life, consumed in its raw form or with natural processing such as drying, fermenting, pickling and cooking may be regarded as natural food.

With advancement of science, over the past few centuries humans have also learned to produce synthetic food and food additives. Such synthetic foods do not occur in nature but may be produced through a combination of elements or by modifying natural foods through chemical or other extreme processes not common in nature.

Basic wisdom would indicate that foods that have been consumed for hundreds and thousands of years are far more likely to be safer and beneficial for life rather than synthetic foods that may have harmful affects over the short or long term. It is human ego, stupidity and greed that has made humans overlook this harm from time to time. Ego comes in when a scientist believes that he has outsmarted nature in creating a food that is superior and greed comes in when a company markets such food for profit with claims that have not been substantiated with long term use. Human stupidity plays a role when a person readily believes modern science food fact as compared to wisdom about a food that has been handed down by civilization for centuries. During the seventies when reports began to appear that eggs are harmful because of cholesterol, this author discarded such reports in favor of the wisdom in the family that an egg a day is good food. Now with time the doctors too appear to have admitted that. The same has been the view of this author with butter, clarified or otherwise. Similarly, this author has never touched margarine in preference to butter even though it is cheaper, simply because it is a trans-fat. There have been times in this author’s life when he was financially hard up but at such times he has preferred to do with out an expensive food rather than go for a cheap synthetic alternative.

One common synthetic food is Trans or hydrogenated fats. It makes food taste yummy but it is not natural. It is produced by a chemical hydrogenation of natural edible oil. For years its harmful affects on human health have been pointed out in various forums but its use has continued. Fortunately the food and drug administration in US has woken up now and initiated steps that will lead to the elimination of this artery clogging food. Undoubtedly this step will in time lead to its ban worldwide.

Sometime back while exploring the possibility of biscuits that may be used as a relief food, this author explored the various biscuits available in India. One brand known popularly as Parle glucose biscuits are produced at affordable rates and it is widely consumed all over India. The company has been providing a great service to the nation by providing a good biscuit at prices affordable by even the poor. However, Examining this biscuit, this author suggested to the company to research if a healthier alternative may also be produced by changing the ingredients slightly - a Parle H biscuit besides the Parle G they already produce. The parle H biscuit could then be utilised for relief operations, school mid-day supplement or just by others who were looking for  healthier albeit somewhat more expensive alternative. One suggestion was the addition of other natural ingredients to broaden the nutritional profile of this biscuit and the other was the replacement of synthetic ingredients such as Trans fats by natural ones. The concerned company has not bothered to acknowledge. However, eventually if Trans fats are banned this company would have to begin making the required modifications. That older post is here

Public domain image from:

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Strategy to reduce Commuting Difficulty

A Photo from the Backyard of the author's home.
A horror of modern life is the time, pollution, risks, expense, fatigue and stress caused by commuting to work everyday. This is a major factor leading to a reduced quality of life for very many humans in the modern world. In a much older satirical article in this blog -seven steps to unhappiness - this was mentioned as one of the seven contributing causes of unhappiness amongst modern humans.

A day has twenty four hours. On the average if we take away eight hours for work and eight hours for sleeping one is left with eight hours for other things. Of this half or four hours on the average may go for essential work such as  meals, shopping, cleaning, bathing etc necessary to maintain life. Just four hours of free time is left. Imagine if two hours of this is lost in commuting, an hour each way, fifty percent of time in a day is lost that could have been spent on making life happier and better. Not just this, more time is lost because every hour spent driving on road reduces one’s energy, life and health by a tiny bit that adds up to a substantial amount over a year. When one considers one’s spiritual/emotional state, just as green surroundings, forests, lakes and mountains are a boon for it, a crowded highway drive kills it sooner that one may realize.

Yet, in spite of all this, there is little choice for many. For some avoiding this commuting may mean settling for an insect like home in a large city instead of a greener spacious home in the suburbs. This author has described apartment complexes as insect homes in an earlier post because like beehives there are places above, below, to the left and right of your own. For others eliminating much commuting may mean staying away from family or loved ones. My own daughter who is presently a medical practitioner in the US is facing precisely such a dilemma.

However, there are some strategies that can reduce this pain. A person with a busy job in a city and a large home an hour away could consider renting a studio or a compact two room apartment or rooms in a city. Assuming a five day work week, let us say he or she drives to work on Monday morning sleeps at his city apartment on Monday and Tuesday night then drives back to the suburban home on Wednesday evening. The drive back and sleepover in the city is on Thursday. Driving back on Friday evening after work one gets to spend the weekend at home and more important gets to sleep for four nights out of seven in the suburban home. No doubt this strategy is only for such persons who can afford the luxury of a reasonable suburban home and a car to drive to work everyday. There are very many others who do this commuting by public transportation. For these others a major rethink and planning is called for and they may begin by going back to the older article on seven steps to unhappiness

With this strategy, ten hours of commuting is reduced to four and one gets back a major portion of one’s life. What about the additional expense? That would vary from place to place. Some savings will occur on driving expense and health bills as well as some other things like eating out, hurried shopping at the corner store etc. Overall, the additional expense may not be substantial and a small price for the entire joy one can find in return. Most important for those with young children it means that you get to spend more time with them, an opportunity that comes only for a few years in every life. What about those mothers with an infant child and a grandma or nanny that looks after the child during work hours? Just take them to the city apartment with you, they might just love the change as a lovely outing  while the hubby can enjoy golf or a beer with friends three evenings a week and enjoy a dinner from the fridge, unless he decides to do the same with an apartment in another city. The precise mechanics will vary from person to person but do think about it in case you are in this situation.

A friend and fellow blogger Keiko Amano just sent me this link that describes the results of several studies on how destructive modern commuting has been to human happiness. it is here: