Category: Culture, Spirituality & Religion

There is a side to the twin cities that few tourists venture to see, but most locals guard zealously, preserving a piece of history that has its own fan following: the simple Irani chai, served in Irani cafes, the sweet tea served in tiny cups.

The 17-km stretch between Shah Ali Banda in the Old City and the Clock Tower on SD Road in Secunderabad is home to 29 such Irani cafes, all serving their own version of the hot beverage that was first made popular in India by the British. These cafes may be bravely facing the onslaught by the Baristas and Cafe Coffee Days that have mushroomed at every corner today, but they still are a part of the city’s wallpaper, married to its population and culture.

A tour of the city’s Irani cafes, in a quest to savour the famous Irani chai, could begin at the Shah Ghouse Restaurant at Shah Ali Banda. A few paces along, near the calm courtyards of the Mecca Masjid is the Farasha Irani Cafe, and tucked away in a corner of Machli Kaman is the Shahrah Cafe.

And opposite the large white domed Afzalgunj Masjid, a little further on, is the New Grand Hotel. “My ancestors came from Yazd in Iran on a ship and reached the port city of Bombay,” says Jaleel Farrokhroz, the proprietor of New Grand Hotel. “From there they moved to Pune, and later set foot in Hyderabad,” he adds. Farrokhroz claims that the New Grand Hotel was the first Irani cafe in the twin cities and was established in 1936. “Hyderabadis love all things sweet, rich and fattening,” he smiles. “It is a part of Hyderabadi culture,” he says, adding that there is no substitute for Irani chai, which refreshes the weary and energises the weak.

According to Farrokhroz, tea in Iran was made with tea leaves and water and contained no milk. A large granule of sugar was tucked behind the cheek, and tea was enjoyed in small sips. The new settlers from Persia, he claims, realised that they needed to add something native in their new homeland. And so, milk and sugar were added to the original recipe and Irani chai as we know it today, came to be born.

But leave the Old City behind, paying heed to the changing landscape that moves from tiny momand-pop stores to large supermarkets and Hellenic named apartment blocks. Arrive in the swankier Banjara Hills, Road no. 11, and opposite Care Hospital, and come upon another Irani oasis in the form of Sarvi Cafe. One of the more modern Irani cafes, it is a far cry from the old signature wooden chairs and tables, with its yellow tiles and new furniture. This cafe houses a bakery and a take-away counter, catering to those always on the run.

“Sarvi in Farsi means greenery,” says Mirza Ali Sarvi, proprieter of the Sarvi cafe. “We started 25 years ago and have three branches.” He ponders for a few moments as if to align his thoughts and continues, “The best thing about Irani chai is that it is within the reach of the common man.”

The British, he adds, were fastidious in their management of tea estates, raising the bar on its quality every year. He rues the changes from then, saying that the quality of tea dust and milk have both deteriorated. Add to that the craze for skimmed and low fat milk by the younger generation, who also dislike malai, and this changed the original rich taste of the chai.

But back to the quest for the favourite Irani café haunts, and after negotiating the tricky traffic from Cafe Sarvi and arrive in the 200-year-old city of Secunderabad. Near the Clock Tower on Sarojini Devi Road is Garden Restaurant. “Iranian migrants chose Hyderabad as their home because both Urdu and Farsi were the lingua franca,” informs Kazim Khorrami, who established Garden Restaurant in 1952.

Irani chai, he says “is very different from the tea you get in Udipi restaurants and darshinis. Udipis add 3-4 litres of water to every litre of milk. They pour milk, water, tea powder and sugar in the same vessel and as soon as the colour changes they take it off the stove. They don’t let the tea brew,” he explains.

A characteristic of the old Irani cafes is their charm. The owners, the murmur of the old and the young customers, the rustle of newspapers, the lack of fancy decor and the old but serviceable wooden furniture, and tea cups on every table. For some, this atmosphere is soothing and comforting, reminiscent of times spent relaxed. Mujtaba Hosayn, a 24-year-old avid tea drinker from Malakpet says, after a long day at work, the only way to calm my mind is by drinking a cup of Irani chai.”

  • It takes 5 litres of boiled milk, 6 litres of water, 300-400 grams of tea dust and 1.3 kgs of sugar to make 100 cups of 90 ml each. Tea dust and sugar are added to the water, and boiled for twenty minutes, forming a decoction
  • This decoction is filtered into another container to remove traces of the tea dust
  • Milk is boiled separately for 45 minutes in a samovar — a copper container with a spigot at the bottom. After it reaches boiling point, the milk is left to simmer further for 2 hours, till it condenses and is rid of its water content for the most part
  • A cup of Irani chai is made of equal parts of the condensed milk and the decoction
  • Sugar is not added to the milk while condensing as it caramelises, changing both texture and taste

Enjoy the tea Hyderabadi style and lift up your spirits!!!


Last New Year’s Day, I read a brave prediction on the death of opinion. Even the most self-absorbed practitioners of my noble, if insular, calling will have dimly perceived that we haven’t had the best of years. We aren’t dead yet, though.

So, in a spirit of public service, mindful of the season, and with all the solemn seriousness that befits discussions of the state of our opinion-generating industry, this New Year, I’ll suggest a few resolutions for us. First, whatever you’re up to, don’t get caught. It is clearly extremely inconvenient.

Not that you’ll be fired or anything. (The very idea!) But you’ll be required to defend yourself, and that cuts into your sleep schedule. Besides, what you think of as the most innocuous contacts can bring down on your head the judgment of the People.

Those outside Delhi just don’t seem to understand how difficult it is to hang up on influential callers who can be mean to you later. Have they never had girlfriends?In fact, just to be certain you don’t get caught, don’t use the phone. It is difficult to work out what a safe medium of communication is, though.

Phones are tapped by the income-tax department if they’re having a slow day at work, and the direct tax receipts for 2009-10 suggest they have no shortage of slow days. The home ministry, which never saw a technological innovation it didn’t want to control, is busy trying to decode BlackBerry Messenger.

You could try email, but if it’s at all interesting, Julian Assange might want to read it, and Julian Assange isn’t particularly scrupulous about how he gets what he wants. The old-fashioned method, writing a letter to give to your doctor to deliver, will just get him life imprisonment for sedition.

Probably best to use carrier pigeons.Or, of course, you could use the most confidential method of communication that the genius of man has yet developed, and tweet more. Tweeting, you can be assured, is the equivalent of speaking to the ether, a mystical communion between you and your computer that nobody would dare to overhear.

And even if someone were ill-mannered enough to actually read your tweets, why worry? There’s no chance of being misunderstood: people accustomed to pontificating over 10-minute monologues or 1,000 words have no trouble making themselves clear in 140 characters.

If you’re too old-world for new media, you could always go back to basics, and shout louder. You cannot go wrong by dialling up the volume, or pitching yourself shriller. The Great Indian Middle Class expects it. We can barely hear things now unless they’re Diwali-night loud.

Those of you who are forced to rely on the written word, do not despair: exaggeration is the volume button of print. Overstate your case, make impossible predictions, be provocative. Don’t worry, nobody will call you on it. Read, retweet, forget.And if you do get caught — claiming something that’s proved false later, or talking to someone you shouldn’t, or perhaps merely in plagiarism — don’t apologise.

That just keeps the story going, because the chances are you’re so unaccustomed to doing so that you’ll do it really badly. Besides, why should you? Does anyone ever own up to solemn predictions that haven’t materialised? If they did, then the ideas bazaar would be subject to a little market discipline, the quality would improve for consumers, and we can’t have that.

We like the bazaar as it is, thanks — though perhaps, as I said, we bazaaris could shout a little louder. Of course, sometimes you get caught, and sometimes you wind up apologising. If that’s the case, be creative about yourself. The weirder the excuse, the better. In fact, be creative in general.

Be creative about language: let your inspiration be Fatima Bhutto, who said, of Urdu’s response to American imperialism, that “it is not a language where we have words for computer, or wi-fi or text messaging. It’s not a language that automatically updates itself as others do, like Arabic or French.

So samraj is especially important because it literally means the raj of Uncle Sam.” There’s nothing you can call that sort of creativity but “opinion”. The ideas bazaar rewards creativity, if of the right sort. Nobody will take you seriously as a news or opinion peddler, for example, unless you write a novel.

Or, if you have greater power of invention than mere novelists, an impressionistic, anecdotal work of pop sociology. It doesn’t matter if it’s a coming-of-age story about a young small-town journalist discovering the rottenness of metropolitan India, or a return-to-the-motherland story about a young NRI journalist discovering the rottenness of metropolitan India.

We are a broadminded society, capable of dealing with variety. However, until we are certain your publisher values you enough to give us free booze at your book launch, we cannot think of you as a public intellectual. India is unique: journalists want to become novelists, and novelists want to become journalists — very effectively confusing the New York Times op-ed page.

And, finally, a very important caution: don’t be seditious. It isn’t clear what sedition is, but don’t do it anyway. You may have thought that it’s a low-cost way to get Guardian-reading tea-sippers in the West to like you and offer you a fellowship to a small New England liberal arts college, but it turns out we forgot to take it out of our lawbook when Nehru told us to, and the eternal truth about laws is that if they’re there, somebody will decide to enforce them.

No doubt we’ll eventually get round to living without them: New Zealand wound up repealing sedition laws after the Dunedin police, irritated beyond measure by a local bar-owner (who advertised, to match-happy local students, a competition in which the prize was a petrol-soaked couch), found they couldn’t get a conviction on “encouragement to arson” — and tried to get him on sedition instead.

Of course, our law-and-order institutions are above such underhanded methods, but just to be on the safe side, unless you want to turn into a burning sofa-bed, avoid seditiousness. Far better to say the commonplace, if very loudly. Resolve to make these changes, these seven in 2011, and we won’t go wrong. Though, as I said, even if we do go wrong, nobody will notice.

Mental disorders effect millions of people in the world and can lead to years of psychotherapy. In some cases, the psychological problem suffered is extremely rare or bizarre. This is a list of the ten most bizarre mental disorders.

10. Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in an abducted hostage, in which the hostage shows signs of sympathy, loyalty or even voluntary compliance with the hostage taker, regardless of the risk in which the hostage has been placed. The syndrome is also discussed in other cases, including those of wife-beating, rape and child abuse.

The syndrome is named after a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden, in which the bank robbers held bank employees hostage from August 23 to August 28 in 1973. In this case, the victims became emotionally attached to their victimizers, and even defended their captors after they were freed from their six-day ordeal, refusing to testify against them. Later, after the gang were tried and sentenced to jail, one of them married a woman who had been his hostage.

A famous example of Stockholm syndrome is the story of Patty Hearst, a millionaire’s daughter who was kidnapped in 1974, seemed to develop sympathy with her captors, and later took part in a robbery they were orchestrating.

9. Lima Syndrome

The exact opposite of Stockholm syndrome – this is where the hostage takers become more sympathetic to the plights and needs of the hostages.

It is named after the Japanese embassy hostage crisis in Lima, Peru where 14 members of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) took hundreds of people hostage at a party at the official residence of Japan’s ambassador to Peru. The hostages consisted of diplomats, government and military officials, and business executives of many nationalities who happened to be at the party at the time. It began on December 17, 1996 and ended on April 22, 1997.

Within a few days of the hostage crisis, the militants had released most of the captives, with seeming disregard for their importance, including the future President of Peru, and the mother of the current President. After months of unsuccessful negotiations, all remaining hostages were freed by a raid by Peruvian commandos, although one hostage was killed.

8. Diogenes Syndrome

Diogenes was an ancient Greek philosopher, who lived in a wine barrel and promoted ideas of nihilism and animalism. Famously, when he was asked by Alexander the Great what he wanted most in the world, he replied, “For you to get out of my sunlight!”

Diogenes syndrome is a condition characterised by extreme self neglect, reclusive tendencies, and compulsive hoarding, sometimes of animals. It is found mainly in old people and is associated with senile breakdown.

The syndrome is actually a misnomer since Diogenes lived an ascetic and transient life, and there are no sources to indicate that he neglected is own hygiene.

7. Paris Syndrome

Paris syndrome is a condition exclusive to Japanese tourists and nationals, which causes them to have a mental breakdown while in the famous city. Of the millions of Japanese tourists that visit the city every year, around a dozen suffer this illness and have to be returned to their home country. The condition is basically a severe form of ‘culture shock’. Polite Japanese tourists who come to the city are unable to separate their idyllic view of the city, seen in such films as Amelie, with the reality of a modern, bustling metropolis.

Japanese tourists who come into contact with, say, a rude French waiter, will be unable to argue back and be forced to bottle up their own anger which eventually leads to a full mental breakdown. The Japanese embassy has a 24hr hotline for tourists suffering for severe culture shock, and can provide emergency hospital treatment if necessary.

6. Stendhal Syndrome

Stendhal Syndrome is a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly ‘beautiful’ or a large amount of art is in a single place. The term can also be used to describe a similar reaction to a surfeit of choice in other circumstances, e.g. when confronted with immense beauty in the natural world.

It is named after the famous 19th century French author Stendhal who described his experience with the phenomenon during his 1817 visit to Florence, Italy in his book Naples and Florence: A Journey from Milan to Reggio.

5. Jerusalem Syndrome

The Jerusalem syndrome is the name given to a group of mental phenomena involving the presence of either religiously themed obsessive ideas, delusions or other psychosis-like experiences that are triggered by, or lead to, a visit to the city of Jerusalem. It is not endemic to one single religion or denomination, but has affected Jews and Christians of many different backgrounds.

The condition seems to emerge while in Jerusalem and causes psychotic delusions which tend to dissipate after a few weeks. Of all the people who have suffered this spontaneous psychosis, all have had a history of previous mental illness, or where deemed not to have been ‘well’ before coming to the city.

4. Capgras Delusion

The Capgras delusion is a rare disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that an acquaintance, usually a spouse or other close family member, has been replaced by an identical looking impostor.

It is most common in patients with schizophrenia, although it occur in those with dementia, or after a brain injury.

One case report said the following:

Mrs. D, a 74-year old married housewife, recently discharged from a local hospital after her first psychiatric admission, presented to our facility for a second opinion. At the time of her admission earlier in the year, she had received the diagnosis of atypical psychosis because of her belief that her husband had been replaced by another unrelated man. She refused to sleep with the impostor, locked her bedroom and door at night, asked her son for a gun, and finally fought with the police when attempts were made to hospitalize her. At times she believed her husband was her long deceased father. She easily recognized other family members and would misidentify her husband only.

The paranoia induced by this condition has made it a common tool in science fiction books and films, such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Total Recall and The Stepford Wives.

3. Fregoli Delusion

The exact opposite of the Capgras delusion – the Fregoli delusion is a rare disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that different people are in fact a single person who changes appearance or is in disguise.

The condition is named after the Italian actor Leopoldo Fregoli who was renowned for his ability to make quick changes of appearance during his stage act. It was first reported 1927 by two psychiatrists who discussed the case study of a 27 year old woman who believed that she was being persecuted by two actors whom she often went to see at the theatre. She believed that these people “pursued her closely, taking the form of people she knows or meets.”

2. Cotard Delusion

The Cotard delusion is a rare psychiatric disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that he or she is dead, does not exist, is putrefying or has lost their blood or internal organs. Rarely, it can include delusions of immortality.

One case study said the following:

[The patient’s] symptoms occurred in the context of more general feelings of unreality and being dead. In January, 1990, after his discharge from hospital in Edinburgh, his mother took him to South Africa. He was convinced that he had been taken to hell (which was confirmed by the heat), and that he had died of septicaemia (which had been a risk early in his recovery), or perhaps from AIDS (he had read a story in The Scotsman about someone with AIDS who died from septicaemia), or from an overdose of a yellow fever injection. He thought he had “borrowed my mother’s spirit to show me round hell”, and that he was asleep in Scotland.

It is named after Jules Cotard, a French neurologist who first described the condition, which he called “le délire de négation” (“negation delirium”), in a lecture in Paris in 1880.

1. Reduplicative Paramnesia

Reduplicative paramnesia is the delusional belief that a place or location has been duplicated, existing in two or more places simultaneously, or that it has been ‘relocated’ to another site. For example, a person may believe that they are in fact not in the hospital to which they were admitted, but an identical-looking hospital in a different part of the country, despite this being obviously false, as one case study reported:

A few days after admission to the Neurobehavioural Center, orientation for time was intact, he could give details of the accident (as related to him by others), could remember his doctors’ names and could learn new information and retain it indefinitely. He exhibited, however, a distinct abnormality of orientation for place. While he quickly learned and remembered that he was at the Jamaica Plain Veterans Hospital (also known as the Boston Veterans Administration Hospital), he insisted that the hospital was located in Taunton, Massachusetts, his home town. Under close questioning, he acknowledged that Jamaica Plain was part of Boston and admitted it would be strange for there to be two Jamaica Plain Veterans Hospitals. Nonetheless, he insisted that he was presently hospitalized in a branch of the Jamaica Plain Veterans Hospital located in Taunton. At one time he stated that the hospital was located in the spare bedroom of his house.

The term ‘reduplicative paramnesia’ was first used in 1903 by the Czechoslovakian neurologist Arnold Pick to describe a condition in a patient with suspected Alzheimer’s disease who insisted that she had been moved from Pick’s city clinic, to one she claimed looked identical but was in a familiar suburb. To explain the discrepancy she further claimed that Pick and the medical staff worked at both locations.

New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to throw a party — everyone is in a festive mood, looking to mark the end of the year and to kick-off the new one with a bang.

And if you want to throw a truly memorable bash, here is Dame Barbara Cartland’s guide to social etiquette, written 50 years ago, that provides a few things you can do to make sure your guests have the best time and your party goes without a hitch.Cartland, who died 10 years ago aged 98, explains how to throw the perfect New Year’s Eve party — and how to be a star guest, reports the Daily Mail.

1. The Basic

A cocktail party with a buffet is one of the best ways to celebrate the bash. The usual starting time is 7.30 – 8 p.m. and because this type of party is informal, verbal invitations are best.

2. Choosing your guests

Invite an interesting mix of people. As a rule of thumb, 50 per cent of your guests should already know each other. A mix of relatives, colleagues, friends and neighbours is ideal. It is a fatal mistake to invite too many distinguished or extrovert guests. The more important the guest, the larger the audience needed. And no more than two ‘stars’ at any party guarantees success.

3. Keep it simple

The host who goes in for too elaborate a show will not only exhaust himself, but also embarrass the guests who remember their own more modest efforts. The food, which should be plentiful, can be simple, and restricted to items that can be eaten with a fork or the fingers. Drinks need not be elaborate.

Have more plates, cutlery and glasses than you imagine can possibly be used. Do not use paper plates and plastic glasses. Borrow or hire china, cutlery, glass and table linen. Do not plan a schedule of games or entertainments. Children, unless the guests are relatives or very close friends, should be out of the way for evening occasions.

Guests will be expected to leave some time after 11 pm. Serving coffee at this time will help to bridge that gap when guests are uncertain whether they should leave.

4. Time to say goodbye

Whether it’s mince pies and coffee, cocktails, or a formal dinner — if you are a guest, it is always important to know when to leave a party. If you are asked for coffee at 11 a.m., you must leave by noon. If you are asked to lunch at 1 p.m., you leave by 2.30 p.m. If you are invited for a drink at 6 p.m., you leave about 7.30 p.m. If you are asked to dinner at 8 p.m., you leave at 10.30 p.m. If you are asked in after dinner, leave by 10.30 p.m., unless you are pressed to stay.

5. How to be the ideal guest

The golden rule for any guest is punctuality. It is never smart to arrive late or more than a few minutes early. When being introduced, it is important to smile and look each new person in the eye. It is then good manners to start a conversation once introduced. Guests are expected to eat what is put in front of them. If you are on a strict diet, it is better not to accept a dinner invitation. It is almost always wrong to ask if you can bring someone else to a party. A gift of flowers, chocolates or a book for your host is always greatly appreciated. On leaving, a guest should thank profusely for being entertained. If you do not drink alcohol, just say: “No thank you.” But if you do drink alcohol, know your limit and stop there.

Jodi Tor Dak Shune Keu Na Ashe (Bengali: যদি তোর ডাক শুনে কেউ না আসে তবে একলা চলো রে Jodi tor đak shune keu na ashe “If they answer not to thy call”) , often shortened to Ekla Cholo Re (Bengali: একলা চলো রে Êkla Chôlo Re Walk Alone) is a song written by the Nobel prize winning poet Rabindranath Tagore, and is a part of the Rabindra Sangeet canon.

It exhorts the listener to continue his or her journey, despite abandonment or lack of support from others. The song is often quoted in the context of political or social change movements; Mahatma Gandhi cited it as  his favorite song.

In Bengali

Jodi tor đak shune keu na ashe tôbe êkla chôlo re,
Êkla chôlo, êkla chôlo, êkla chôlo, êkla chôlo re.

Jodi keu kôtha na kôe, ore ore o ôbhaga,
Jodi shôbai thake mukh firaee shôbai kôre bhôe—
Tôbe pôran khule
O tui mukh fuţe tor moner kôtha êkla bôlo re.

Jodi shôbai fire jae, ore ore o ôbhaga,
Jodi gôhon pôthe jabar kale keu fire na chae—
Tôbe pôther kãţa
O tui rôktomakha chôrontôle êkla dôlo re.

Jodi alo na dhôre, ore ore o ôbhaga,
Jodi jhôŗ-badole ãdhar rate duar dêe ghôre—
Tôbe bojranôle
Apon buker pãjor jalie nie êkla jôlo re.

Tagore’s English translation

If they answer not to thy call walk alone,
If they are afraid and cower mutely facing the wall,
O thou unlucky one,
open thy mind and speak out alone.

If they turn away, and desert you when crossing the wilderness,
O thou unlucky one,
trample the thorns under thy tread,
and along the blood-lined track travel alone

If they do not hold up the light when the night is troubled with storm,
O thou unlucky one,
with the thunder flame of pain ignite thy own heart
and let it burn alone.

“Mile sur mera tumharaa, to sur bane hamaraa….
Sur kee nadhiyaan, Har disha se behkee saagar mein milee,
Baadalon ka roop leiker, Barse halke halke
Mile sur mera tumharaa too sur bane hamaara..”

Sometime back, this song beamed on my television and I could not help but watch it for the next four minutes even though my eyes were burning. The next sixty minutes I just kept remembering that song and how it impacts me every single time I watch it.

Every part of the poem is so meaningful yet distinct from where I see. What truly is remarkable that even though we have been a civilisation for over a three thousand years, as a young united country in the middle of the technologically backward eighties we could envision such a grand idea shot at such grand an intensity.

The songs asks us all to look beyond the boundaries set by man for ourselves and respect each other irrespective caste, creed, sex, religion and language. The tone of the song reminds us of the melodic dynasty that we have inherited and brings along a fragrance of unity.

The amalgamation of the various different languages coming together on board a common platform and airing the common message of unity is a landmark effort to unite a country blessed with diversity rarely found anywhere. It is really a gem of a work done to bring about national integrity. It asks us to all to tune our thought process in such a fashion so as to bring about harmony in our thoughts as a whole community. The lyrics serenely make a point that only when we come together that our thoughts can turn into actions and form a revolution and thus take the country further ahead. The most striking part of the lyrics is this phrase-

“Baadalon ka roop leiker,
Barse halke halke

The aim of this video is truly ingrained in this part of the lyrics where the channel aired it repeatedly and successfully built a deep-rooted value of unity. In an age where we are quick to switch loyalties and where our belief systems lie in instant gratification, we need to realise the value of our independence. I shudder at the very idea to be transported back to the ages when we were under British rule. The stifling environment in which our freedom fighters fought through to achieve the life we are currently enjoying must be respected with complete gratitude.

At this point we need not confuse westernization with our loyalties to our nation. We need to keep up with the times and if need be we will have to change to the tunes of the world. What we need to keep in mind is the deep rooted values that we have taken us so far should not be altered. Integrity is what we have gained from these values and integrity is what we take with us as legacy. The strongest legacy that I have received from my country is that of unity and respect for diversity.

Our politics, which is completely populist in nature, needs to be revived where every politician to garner votes comes shamelessly in front of equally irresponsible set of journalists, who airs the view as something of a national importance, to show their unsettling solidarity with the people of their region and ask for a separate state based on frivolous ideas.

Regional politics is not something we need to pursue considering that the fragmentation that it leads us to. Considering that consequences are no coincidence, politics of the region and religion should be stopped now or else it can take a Titanic proportion in terms of consequences where we would not be able to handle our political system. If we fall prey to manifestations of such politics we are doomed to the ideologies which could scar our bright future.

Politics is not something which is completely populist but is more about doing things the right way. In times such as these, where the world is completely broken due to distrust in each other, differences steaming from misleading ideologies and indifference towards ideas of solidarity, politics should not be of divisive nature. We as a nation should unite in such times of crisis so as to set an example to the world and help build it as it should be, healing the wounds and weaving through the diversity as we go ahead.

This song is a unique example of how we can build unity. I think it should be part of the syllabus for children of this generation across India of how to respect what we have in our country. The same need to be imposed on the politicians of the previous generation with a liberal dosage, who are still sitting prettily in the various administrative positions so as not to practice politics which is scrupulous in nature.

Our country is the silent, quiet and frequently unacknowledged centre of our lives and we must respect this unspoken role that she has played with consistent continuity. As a citizen of the world we need to live our lives with as much sincerity and dedication, to go on to become an ambassador of peace, goodwill, harmony and compassion, and trying to do full justice to the opportunities that life and our country has given us. It begins with our duty to preserve what we have and achieve what we long to, so that we can be part of the nation building process.

God bless India!!!

It is very usual that we come across people who chide in god. They are not happy about what they have been given. I would ask, do we really want all those that we ask god? I am not sure. If I say I would ask god for anything, I am lying. But last night when I heard my brother saying that he saw god, I realised that god is everywhere and god reflects in the genrosity of many.

I realized that god, being omnipresent ensures that godliness prevails in this world through the generosity of us fellow human beings. He was driving back home late in the night. December nights in Hyderabad are generally very cold and this time the cold is worse. He saw a person stopping and looking for beggars and destitute who take the roads and pavements for their homes and started wrapping each of them with a thick blanket. He was first confused. Then when he understood the noble intentions of the person, he went to congratulate. To his surprise he found two very old women accompanied by a young kid in a battered car distributing blankets. He diligently thanked them and came home with a feeling of satisfaction of seeing god. I AGREE!!!

How many of us would agree that he saw god in their generosity. Can there be a better example of godliness prevailing in this world. I felt happy that such small deeds gives a confidence that inspite of all the shortfalls and deficiencies we as a species have, we can still make this world a very better place to live. For us. For our children, their children and their children to go on….

From Mundaka Upanishad, Mandukya Upanishad and Prashna Upanishad:

Om Bhadram Karnebhih Shrunuyaama Devaah
Bhadram Pashyemaakshabhiryajatraah
Vyashema Devahitam Yadaayuh
Swasti Na Indro Vridhashravaah
Swasti Nah Pooshaa Vishwavedaah
Swasti Nastaarkshyo Arishtanemih
Swasti No Brihaspatir Dadhaatu
Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantih

Meaning: The literal meaning of this mantra is: “OM. O Gods! Let us hear promising things from our ears. O respectful Gods! Let us  see propitious things from our eyes, let our organs and body be stable, healthy and strong. Let us do what is pleasing to gods in the life span allotted to us. May Indra, inscribed in the scriptures do well to us, May Pushan who is knower of world do good to us and May Trakshya who devastates enemies do good to us! May Brihaspati do well to us! OM Peace, Peace, Peace”.

Cultural disorders (culture-bound syndromes) are mental disorders or quirks which seem to affect a single cultural group and are, therefore, often unknown outside of their own regions. I have tried to cover some cultural disorders in the past but this is the first list to deal with them exclusively. It is also the first time that I have included syndromes affecting westerners.

10. Koro

Koro is a psychological disorder characterized by delusions of penis shrinkage and retraction into the body, accompanied by panic and fear of dying. This delusion is rooted in Chinese metaphysics and cultural practices. The disorder is associated with the belief that unhealthy or abnormal sexual acts (such as sex with prostitutes, masturbation, or even nocturnal emissions) disturb the yin/yang equilibrium which allegedly exists when a husband has sex with his wife, i.e., during “normal intercourse.” Koro is also thought to be transmitted through food. In 1967, there was a koro epidemic in Singapore after newspapers reported cases of koro due to eating pork which came from a pig that had been inoculated against swine fever. Not only did pork sales go down, but hundreds of koro cases followed.

9. Windigo

Wendigo Psychosis is a mental disorder in which a person intensely craves human flesh and thinks they are turning into a cannibal (despite an abundance of healthy food available). The most common response amongst the aboriginal communities in which wendigo psychosis was most prevalent, was curing attempts by traditional native healers or Western doctors. In the unusual cases when these attempts failed, and the Wendigo sufferer began either to threaten those around them or to act violently or anti-socially, they were then generally executed. While some have denied the existence of this disorder, there are a number of credible eyewitness accounts, both by aboriginal communities and by Westerners, that prove that Wendigo psychosis is a factual historical phenomenon.

8. Gururumba

Gururumba is a “wild man” episode in which the suffer (typically a married male) begins by burglarizing neighboring homes – taking objects that he thinks are valuable but which seldom are. He then runs to the forrest for a number of days returning without the objects and with a case of amnesia. The sufferer appears hyperactive and clumsy with slurred speech. This disorder is specific to New Guinea.

7. Saora Disorder

Among the Saora tribe of Orissa State in India, young men and women sometimes exhibit abnormal behavior patterns that western trained mental health specialists would likely define as a mental disorder. They cry and laugh at inappropriate times, have memory loss, pass out, and claim to experience the sensation of being repeatedly bitten by ants when no ants are present. These individuals are usually teenagers or young adults who are not attracted to the ordinary life of a subsistence farmer. They are under considerable psychological stress from social pressure placed on them by their relatives and friends. The Saora explain the odd behavior of these people as being due to the actions of supernatural beings who want to marry them.

6. Berserkers

This fury affecting the Norsemen, which was called berserkergang, occurred not only in the heat of battle, but also during laborious work. Men who were thus seized performed things which otherwise seemed impossible for human power. This condition is said to have begun with shivering, chattering of the teeth, and chill in the body, and then the face swelled and changed its color. With this was connected a great hot-headedness, which at last gave over into a great rage, under which they howled as wild animals, bit the edge of their shields, and cut down everything they met without discriminating between friend or foe. When this condition ceased, a great dulling of the mind and feebleness followed, which could last for one or several days.

5. Shenkui

A sufferer of shenkui (a Chinese culture-bound syndrome) shows marked anxiety or panic symptoms with accompanying somatic complaints for which no physical cause can be demonstrated. Symptoms include dizziness, backache, fatiguability, general weakness, insomnia, frequent dreams, and complaints of sexual dysfunction (such as premature ejaculation and impotence). Symptoms are attributed to excessive semen loss from frequent intercourse, masturbation, nocturnal emission, or passing of “white turbid urine” believed to contain semen. Excessive semen loss is feared because it represents the loss of one’s vital essence and can thereby be life threatening.

4. Ghost Sickness

Ghost sickness is a culture-bound syndrome which some Native American tribes believe to be caused by association with the dead or dying. It is sometimes associated with witchcraft. It is considered to be a psychotic disorder of Navajo origin. Its symptoms include general weakness, loss of appetite, a feeling of suffocation, recurring nightmares, and a pervasive feeling of terror. A symptom of “ghost sickness” is suffocation. This may be associated with a coffin. If you were buried alive with a loved one or friend below ground, you may feel as if you were suffocating. The sickness is attributed to ghosts (chindi) or, occasionally, to witches.

3. Grisi Siknis

Grisi siknis (“crazy sickness”) is a contagious, culture-bound syndrome that occurs predominantly among the Miskito People of eastern Central America and affects mainly young women. Most of the victims are young girls from 15 to 18 years old. The attacks are prefaced by headaches, dizziness, anxiety, nausea, irrational anger and/or fear. During the attack, the “victim loses consciousness” and falls to the ground, subsequently running away. The victim may view other people as devils, feel no pain for bodily injuries and have absolute amnesia regarding their physical circumstances. Some grab machetes or broken bottles to wave off unseen assailants. Other victims are reported to have performed superhuman feats, vomited strange objects such as spiders, hair and coins and spoken in tongues. In some cases the semi-conscious victim will speak the names of the next to be infected, although it is not always accurate. Grisi siknis is highly contagious.

2. Couvade Syndrome

Couvade syndrome is a medical/mental condition which “involves a father experiencing some of the behavior of his wife at near the time of childbirth, including her birth pains, postpartum seclusion, food restrictions, and sex taboos”. The term originally referred to the medieval Basque custom in which the father, during or immediately after the birth of a child, took to bed, complained of having labour pains, and was accorded the treatment usually shown women during pregnancy or after childbirth. In some extreme cases, fathers can grow a belly similar to a 7-month pregnant woman and gain approximately 25 to 30 pounds (“phantom pregnancy”). Other symptoms include and are not limited to developed cravings, suffered nausea, breast augmentation, and insomnia.

1. Homosexual Panic

Homosexual panic is a term, first coined by psychiatrist Edward J. Kempf in 1920, describing an acute, brief reactive psychosis involving delusions and hallucinations accusing a person of various homosexual activities. The condition most often occurs in people who suffer schizoid personality disorders who have insulated themselves from physical intimacy. Breakdowns often occur in situations that involve enforced intimacy with the same sex, such as dormitories or military barracks. It was most common during the mass mobilization of World War II when barracks typically provided little privacy with communal showers and often without doors or even cubicles around toilets. Treatment usually involves hospitalization, firstly to remove the person from the situation and also because the condition may lead to suicidal or homicidal acts. Usually members of the opposite sex are selected to treat those suffering from the disorder, and invasive procedures such as injections with needles or suppositories are avoided.

The source of this list is and GFDL. I have searched the details in wikipedia to further conform this.

Broadly speaking there are three aspects to all religions. There are sacred symbols, there are rituals and there are values. Symbols across religions will vary, while some consider Om as sacred, some will consider the Star of David holy, other will consider the cross holy, still others will consider the fire worthy of worship, etc. Rituals too will be different at least on the surface. Some will face east and pray, others will ring bells, some will bow down, many fast on certain days, etc. There is a great variety of symbols and rituals among all the religions of the world.

The value systems though, of mostly all religions are almost the same. ‘Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt tell the truth, etc.’ Friendliness, compassion, love, brotherhood are the values stressed by almost every religions text.

It is interesting to note that all the major religions of the east, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Shintoism have managed to exist pretty harmoniously together, respecting and celebrating the diversity among the symbols and rituals. There may have been a few fiery debates, but never has there been loss of life over the religious beliefs of the east. The religions of the west Christianity, Islam, Judaism however have been forever fighting, and now have managed to bring their fight to the east as well.

When the value systems of religions are almost exactly the same, what are people fighting about? When I pray, I face east, you face west, so, let me kill you. For me the cross is sacred, for you the crescent moon, so let’s fight. These fights over symbols and rituals are so childish. All these quarrels also stem from a childish concept of God. People all over the world need to realize this. Religion is the banana skin, Spirituality is the banana. Religion is important and can take you up to a point in your evolution. After that for Religion to make sense, you will need to get to the core of Religion which is Spirituality. I like to say, Spirituality is what Religion wants to be when it grows up!

Indian Spirituality is the uniting force. Spirituality accepts that there are many, many ways to the same goal. And so accepts all and celebrates life in all its glorious diversity and never ever puts a human life as more valuable than an idea. When you practice Spirituality, yoga, meditation, then you do focus on one way, but you also respect all other ways. As H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, broaden your horizons but deepen your roots.

Terrorism comes from the seed, ‘only my way is right, all others are wrong’. To weed out this seed and destroy it forever, a broad based multi religious and multi cultural education system needs to be put into place. The division in the whole world and especially in India that has been done on caste and beliefs by corrupt politicians and religious leaders for their own short-term gains will crumble away only when Spirituality is given utmost priority. Otherwise, like so many foolish people, we will be left wildly waving the empty banana skin of religion after having thrown away the fruit of Spirituality!

Fear may work for a limited period of time. Love may take a lot of time to begin its work, but for the long haul, it’s the only choice. That’s how, even though India has been invaded and plundered umpteen times in the past 1000 years, and despite of all our internal problems, India still manages to be a force to be reckoned with. Indian Spirituality is an open secret for the world to learn from. More importantly for us Indians to learn again and again the lessons of the great Seers, Sages and Rishis of yore and take our rightful place on our glorious planet.