Dear Friends and HumanityCollege.org supporters and sympathizers:
Happy New Year (in February!).
I just came back from a trip to India, and brought some fascinating pictures back with me. I’m sharing them with you.
India is a beautiful country, and my city Calcutta (now known as Kolkata) is a fascinating city. It’s progressive, it’s vibrant, it’s warm, it’s inclusive and secular, and its’ friendly.
On this trip, we had a gathering of family members and friends to celebrate our daughter’s wedding. About two hundred people came to the reception held on January 21. Our daughter and son in-law also brought a few of their American and Indian-American friends along with them. They loved it too.
“Kolkata changed my perception of India,” one of them said later.
Enjoy the photos. Any questions or comments, please write.
Brooklyn, New York
The blessings of Ashirvad ceremony happened here in Brooklyn, New York. Here, the Hindu priest is performing the ritual with the father of the bride.
I am standing on the sidewalk shopping complex at Kolkata’s popular Gariahat area. Thanks to Indian prime minister Modi’s scandalous demonetization, the bustling market is barren. Small businessmen and businesswomen are suffering badly.
Our old, mezzanine apartment in North Kolkata. This is where I grew up. A very precious, scared place for me and my family. I am glad we still have this place with us.
My father, 93, loved the company of our daughter’s friends visiting Kolkata from USA. He is fluent in English. Therefore, conversation was not a problem. You just have to speak loud…a lot loud 🙂
Our old, North Kolkata home. We lived for twenty-five years on the mezzanine floor, before I came to USA as a foreign graduate student. This place is haunting for me, with memories.
And finally, who could resist the temptation of Bengali and Indian food? All the guests were amazed. They all want to go back 🙂
My mother cooked Indian food that was simple but out of the world. She was not a professional, but her home cooking was professional quality. She only knew how to cook Bengali Indian food. Rice, curry, greens, dal, fish, hand-made bread, lamb, prawn, and rarely, a dessert or fruit chutney.
Of course, everyone I know would perhaps say the same thing: that their mother’s cooking was the very best.
Now my wife cooks Indian food that is also out of the world. Of course, everyone I know would perhaps say the same thing: that their wife’s cooking is the very best 🙂
Plus, my wife now built a home-based small business where other than select catering services, she teaches interactive, hands-on Indian cooking to New Yorkers. In a short three years, Mukti’s Kitchen has found a nice little niche and reputation for itself.
One common thing I noticed about my mother’s home cooking and my wife’s more professional cooking is that they both focused on the health aspects of the food. They never used artificial flavor or color, they never used preservatives, and they always used fresh vegetables, fish or meat. In Calcutta back in those days, we never knew anything that was not organic. Here in New York, my wife always uses organic. It makes a big difference when it comes to the quality of her preparations. People write wonderful reviews.
Many Americans and Westerners have no idea that Indian food could be healthy and delicious at the same time. But we can’t blame them for their ignorance. Most Indian restaurants you visit — whether in New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Rome or Paris — serve food that is quite tasty but high in sugar, fat and cholesterol. Plus, many of these restaurants use ingredients that fill you up instantly, and you feel heavy and overstuffed as soon as you get out of the restaurant. You do not want to do anything for the next few hours: your energy level does not keep up with you.
Problem is, if you eat this variety of Indian food, you drastically reduce your chances to live long. Your altered metabolism does not help your heart and other vital organs. Eating food made out of genetically modified crops is also a sure-shot way to get life-threatening diseases. Therefore, I’d strongly recommend that you opt for a healthy-and-delicious variety. Of course, I’m biased about my wife’s cooking and her home-based little entrepreneurship Mukti’s Kitchen. But honestly, I’m just asking that you found out the difference between a run-of-the-mill Indian and a real Indian — real, home-based Indian cuisine that helps you to keep healthy.
In fact, once you master the tricks of home-based Indian cuisine, with its wonderful spices and all, you’ll know that healthy-and-delicious Indian food also helps to cut down your anxiety and stress, and creates a peaceful state of being.
And that is the key to live a longer, happier life: lifestyle free of stress, anxiety and fear. Try it.
Many Indians and Bengalis have created this strange perception themselves that their food is always hot and spicy; in fact, some brag about how hot they are. Fact is, it’s not a true perception at all. Indian food can often be spicy, but that does not necessarily make them hot. There are literally thousands of dishes — both vegetarian and non-vegetarian — that are totally mild. They are mild, any American or European can taste them, and savor them. Spices such as turmeric, ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon or the exotic five-spice mix have both health benefits and wonderful flavor and taste. Once you know how to use them in the right proportions and order, you wouldn’t want to cook anything else.
In fact, some of the students passing through the cooking classes Mukti’s Kitchen offered over these three years often returned, with a craving to learn more.
The other myth that is out there is that Indian cooking is very complicated and overly time consuming. Not true at all. Of course, there are some dishes that take an inordinate amount of time, but the simpler and healthier, home-cooked dishes — and again, thousands of them — are quite easy and quick. Especially these days, nobody even in India or Bengal finds that kind of time to spend in the kitchen. Women are almost always in charge of cooking, and a vast number of these women — mothers, sisters, daughters and wives — are now working outside too. They have mastered the trick of cooking healthy and delicious — spending as little time as possible.
You can do that too — wherever you live.
Get to know the real, healthy and delicious Indian. It’s bliss. It’s also going to help you live longer.
Foreword: Stay away from Monsanto and its BGH-tainted milk…and other products. They are as bad as Agent Orange.
Have you ever seen someone you loved dying of cancer? I have. I have a feeling some of you may have too.
Those who have seen it intimately would quickly understand what I’m talking about: the horror and pain of the disease and how this disease from hell can hurt and destroy not just the person suffering from it, but the entire circle of family and close friends. But for the person who’s going through the pain and horror and trauma, it’s indescribable.
There’s a saying in our Bengali society: “Bhagaban, shatruro jeno emon na hoy.” It means, Oh God, may even my enemies not have this.
I am writing this article not as a doctor or a scientist. I am not a medical doctor. Although I have a doctorate degree in biology from a reputable U.S. university, and some of my post-doctoral research has been in molecular biology and infectious diseases, I do not have any special expertise to write about cancer from a biologist’s point of view. Plus, I have changed my career, and moved out of science into humanities, journalism and social sciences.
I am also sincerely apologizing to them who have sick patients at home: a child or an adult, whose cancer could not have been prevented because of various reasons. Some people are more prone and genetically predisposed to cancer. I am in no way contradicting their beliefs or lifestyle choices, or raising any hopes for them. I salute them for their courageous battle.
What I am writing here is purely a layman’s story. I’m describing some facts here, and I’m going to write down some simple tips I think I can share with you about cancer based on my real-life experience.
But before I write down the tips, let me quickly describe what kind of experience I have had with cancer. I must say it’s not something one should brag about. I wish I never had this kind of experience; I hope none of you ever have it too.
My mother died of cancer when she was only forty-two. She had ovarian and uterine cancer that spread too quickly — like wildfire. We did not have the means back in those Calcutta days to have regular medical check-ups, and my mother perhaps also hid some of the symptoms and pain to save my father and us from worries, stress and doctor’s visits. Maybe, she thought it was not serious, and that the pain would slowly go away. Eventually, when doctors saw her and did surgery on her, it was already Stage IV. Metastasis had occurred (i.e., the cancer had spread throughout her body), and even after removal of her ovaries and uterus, she did not survive for more than a month or perhaps six weeks. The cancer came back, caused her unbearable pain, changed her physically too, and doctors basically gave her maximum-strength sleep medications to save her from agonizing with the pain.
My mother died when my sister was only thirteen years old. I was twenty-one turning twenty-two. I could never get over with her painful death even after so many years. For my sister, she lost her at a critical age, and it caused her lifelong social and emotional problems. My father suffered greatly too even though on the surface, he wouldn’t show it.
One week after my mother died, my uncle — eldest brother of my father — died of oral cancer. His suffering was more prolonged. He actually got it a year before my mother did, and his cancer took time to develop. Doctors initially misdiagnosed it, and the disease spread. Finally, it went out of control, and my uncle who was a flute player, lost one side of his face; there was a gaping hole on his cheek. He couldn’t speak, and was in excruciating pain. Toward the end of the disease, about a couple of months or so before he died, he was in so much physical and emotional pain that he went to commit suicide.
Then, my grandmother — my mother’s mother — died of throat cancer when I had already left India for USA. She suffered greatly too for months. I heard she couldn’t eat or drink in the final months before she passed away.
(I have also known cancer deaths of a few other people I loved and admired a great deal: another uncle — my father’s youngest brother who had special affection for me; a colleague from my first work place at a rural Bengal college where both of us were professors; and a senior friend in Albany who became like an elder brother in this land of alienation where we have no relatives at all: friends have become like relatives here. I had a mentor who taught me political organizing during the dark days of Indira Gandhi’s Emergency rule also got throat cancer; twenty years later I saw him dying in Calcutta of this horrific disease. I have seen these deaths from a distance; yet, they were also difficult to bear.)
As I said, even though there’s nothing to brag about how many cancer deaths I’ve seen in my life — closely — and how they have forever changed my attitude toward life, I must say that I have also developed some knowledge and insight about cancer and how to perhaps ward off cancer as much as possible — if possible at all. And I want to share some of that insight and knowledge with you.
Sharing my personal knowledge — from a first-hand point of view — would be my small way to contribute to the worldwide battle against the deadly disease.
Again, thousand salutes to them who are fighting back courageously against cancer — all over the world.
Since my childhood in India, I always heard that very soon, there would be a cure for cancer. I heard that somewhere in the United States of America, some famous scientists had built an entire research township where they were pushing hard 24/7 to come up with cancer cures. In a poor Indian family like the one where I grew up, that rumor was reassurance. That was more than enough to believe that cure for cancer was not far off.
Boy, how mighty fools we were! Nobody told us that Western scientists — U.S. scientists in particular — have not been able to come up with a SINGLE cure for ANY diseases in the past fifty or sixty years. Nobody discovered or marketed a panacea like Penicillin or small-pox vaccine for a VERY long time, even though drug industries with help from media and governments have always created and sustained an illusion and false hope — whether it’s about cancer, AIDS or Alzheimer’s.At the same time, these powerful, now-global institutions have actively rejected thousands of years of scientific knowledge and lifestyle choices from the Old World: India, Africa, Japan or China.
Therefore, the real, believable rumor for me now has been that the mighty, well-financed, powerful medical research industry WOULD NOT want to come up with any more cures for deadly diseases — for obvious sale and profit reasons. Cures would cut long-term profit.
I’d save that political discussion for later.
But, because the fact remains that “modern” Western science has not been able to produce any cure for cancer, and more people are dying of cancer worldwide than ever before, and signs and predictions are that cancer deaths will rise rapidly in the coming decades, I believe it’s about time we approached the disease from a totally different point of view — going completely against the dictates of a rat-race-variety Western lifestyle and the powerful medical science industry.
We shall go the pro-active way as opposed to the re-active way. That means, we shall change our lifestyle so that cancer cannot penetrate us and take us over. We shall live the way civilizations lived peacefully and prospered before the re-active, profit-driven variety of Western medical industry and multinational drug czars and insurance giants took our lives over, once and for all.
So, here’s my simple, three-point pro-active lifestyle-change tips, based on what I have seen in my own life.
(1) The first and foremost lifestyle change is: REDUCE STRESS AND ANXIETY. (Catch phrase to remember: SLOW IS GOOD).
(2) The second-most important lifestyle change is: EAT AND DRINK RIGHT. (Catch phrase to remember: LESS IS MORE). Here in the U.S., they say: “Eat one size smaller.” Plus, avoid junk food — like McDonald’s, KFC or Pizza Hut. Avoid drinking milk that has artificial hormones in it: such as Monsanto’s BGH.
(3) And the third advice, however generic, is: DO NOT DO ANYTHING YOU’RE GOING TO REGRET LATER. (Catch phrase to remember: LOVE YOUR LIFE).
(3a) — An emphasis of #3 above: LOVE YOUR LIFE. (Catch phrase to remember: YOUR LIFE).
Let me explain these three easy tips — one at a time. Stay with me for the next few minutes. Okay? Please?
But obviously, its easier said that done: reduce stress and anxiety. You’d say: yeah, right! How would you do it? In this West-inflicted, East-copied rat race where even the naive, half-asleep country farmer is being forced to overnight sell his farmland to a giant automotive, media or I.T. industry, where Monsanto is forcing Indian farmers to commit suicide by numbers unheard-of in human history, GE has polluted an entire river in USA, and where urban middle-class man with a private-sector job or small business is finding less and less time to spend with his loving wife and children (and in the Old World, aging parents) because he’s spending more time at work, on the road and away from home (and can’t even find free time on the weekend) — where is the time to rewind, to get rid of all the anxieties and stress?
The new world order controlled and run by power at the top of the food pyramid is demanding more of your time — more of your life. They order, “Work harder, meet our production goals, or we’ll make your life miserable!” Problem is, it’s already miserable. Problem is, we’re already working harder — FOR THEM. We shall never be able to meet their production goals.
It’s not easy to discuss it all in one article. Plus, I do not have all the answers. I am writing this piece to tell you what social, economic and emotional situations the people I saw up close dying of cancer went through, so that the prevention (note that I’m not using the word remedy, because of its reactive nature) is possible and can be worked out. Regardless of what excuses or real, serious predicaments you have, won’t you try to live differently before it is too late?
Don’t you want to spend some precious time with the people you love the most, before this life ends?
I’m sure you have thought about changing your lifestyle many times over. WELL, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, DO IT NOW!
(I promise to write more on it. Please come back. Let me know your thoughts.)
A few days ago, I wrote the above question as my Facebook status update. Happily, a sizable number of people — both longtime friends and new friends (and some relatives) wrote back warmly and positively. They all said they were interested.
About twenty people either “liked” my question, or wrote something in response. If you know how Facebook status updates work, it’s ever-fleeting: it doesn’t stay for too long on a regular Facebook user’s home page. Other status updates come up from other friends, or you post a new update, and they all scroll down the home page one by one, taking over and pushing the old update into oblivion. Life’s new scenarios come forward, and old stories quickly become just that: old stories.
What many Facebook regulars do these days is that they repost their old status updates that they consider to be important or noteworthy. Then, people who you wanted to draw attention from, and who had missed it the first time, would now have a chance to chance upon it, and comment to satisfy your yearning, or some say, ego.
So, following that state-of-the-art new media conversational process, indeed those twenty first-installment friends and their gratifying responses satisfied me. Now, reader of my blog, if you are not on my Facebook, I couldn’t give out the names of those responders for privacy’s sake; and I sincerely invite you to join my now-wow-list of three-thousand-plus friends. Meanwhile, I’m sharing here *some of the responses* I received on that thread, without ID-disclosing the responders.
Response #1. “Yeah…. Am eagerly awaiting your arrival……”
Response #2. “In a free ride? Yes!!!” (she’s from Australia: their sense of prepositions is kinda outbackish 😉
Response #3. “Terribly so.” (I’m sure she meant well 🙂 a kind-hearted person, I know)
Response #4. — Here’s a good one: “What if all your 3179 friends show interest?” (I’d be overjoyed if they did 🙂
Response #5 — “This side of the Suez Canal, we are all waiting…:) ” — I know this person. Goodhearted, kind and warm and all, but she’s always been poor in Geography. She got mixed up between India and Egypt 😉
[and so on…]
Then, after a while, a different response came in. My friend Bill wrote:
“In the past, I had no great interest in seeing India, probably because I coiuld not separate from all the movie images of a British-tainted India. But you have shown me a different perspective, and would be VERY interesting to see it through those eyes, though I doubt the Indian office of tourism would be thrilled. However, the timing is not good for a trip. But I hope yours is fufilling, personally and professionally.”
Very insightful, indeed! Let’s see what and how many elements of interest can we find in Bill’s insightful comment. (By the way, I hope I’m not putting my good friend Bill on the spot. I’m just using his thoughts as a boiler plate, so to speak, to cook up some more thoughts that immediately come to my mind, whenever I see such comments; and I do it over and over again with high appreciation.)
Element One. — “In the past, I had no great interest in seeing India.” — Okay, no problem. Easy to understand. But why not?
Bill immediately explains it.
Element Two. — “probably because I could not separate from all the movie images of a British-tainted India.” — So, even good friends like Bill who keep an open mind and want to learn about other civilizations and societies, in this case outside of the U.S., have in their minds deeply ingrained, and probably fake, twisted and distorted, negative images of India courtesy mainstream movies. Jungle Book, Gunga Din, and the other Rudyard Kipling genre movies and novels have always done a great job to keep the Western audience misinformed about India and her people. Then, much later, Indiana Jones movies (Lost Ark, etc.) have done it even better. And, finally, who can forget about the modern-marvel-misinformation of City of Joy, Slumdog Millionaire or an Oscar movie I personally worked in — Born Into Brothels?
Element Three. — “But you have shown me a different perspective.” Aww, thanks, bro. Only if you could rub that onto my Indian would-be-rich-and-famous friends who would perhaps have a totally different perspective about your perspective about my perspective. (Now…read it one more time…if you please 🙂
Element Four. — “would be VERY interesting to see it through those eyes.” Bill means my eyes. I know. That’s a smarty-pants way to avoid expenses and time and hassle to visit India. I get it, Bill. You want to visit India at my expense, especially when I’ll be a couple of thousand dollars poor and at least a dozen pound smaller (sicker) coming back from eating carbon monoxide and lead from taxicab exhausts and sidewalk chicken rolls. Nice thought, Bill 😉
Element Five. — “though I doubt the Indian office of tourism would be thrilled.” Now, that’s not fair. I was planning to write about the romantic-sensual-erotic side of India too in my weekly write-ups, including vivid descriptions of Konark and Khajuraho stone dems (google images) and Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai diners. I don’t see any red flags raised by Indian tourism offices! Now, when I start writing about non-erotic subjects such as politics or poverty, that’s a different story. But I never plan to mix them up; in fact, I hope to make some little money selling my hot tourism stories, with no political masala, whatsoever.
I also plan to write more about the Indian women and how they have touched me — remember I told you that would be an ongoing story? Here’s your chance to get back on that mold. Promise it’s going to be exciting…at least fun. People tell me they liked the previous episodes.
So, that’s it for now. Tired and exhausted of finishing up long list of to-do’s before I leave. Excited and thrilled that I’m going back to a place I know so well and care so deeply about.
I hope you keep in touch with me on a regular basis. I plan to write, as I said before, at least on a weekly basis. On India. On the land of Tagore. On the land of Kabir. On the land of Sri Chaitanya, Buddha, Nanak, Tulsi Das and Mirabai.
I plan to write about the live reincarnations of the above legends too. You’ll know what I’m talking about.
I’m leaving for India. Are you interested?
By the way, I never really told you and you never asked this simple question: interested in WHAT?