Monday, August 14, 2006

a dialogue on being Indian

Hey as promised naresh its me Gaurav from aseem's party last
night. Great meeting up, it made the evening tolerable and even at
times pleasant. I have a difficult time in such parties though you
are right, I need to check my ego. Not because I am not great, its
just I need to engage these people because they are a very potent
reality. Its just I feel disapointed when I see indian people, my own
people, on such consumerist shallow narrow minded corporate tool
paths. I mean shouldn't our discussion be based on more than money,
cars, retirement packages, health care plans, my beta is at Upenn so
and so is doing well for themselves. What about the finer virtues of
ayurveda, something deeper, if everyone exerted just 10 percent of
their energies and power to something good, a real concerted effort,
it would not only change the world, it would change their life. It
would infuse their lives with a meaning much greater than what they
have now. And perhaps our parents generation is different, for they
have seen virtue being equal to providing well for one's own, that's
considered noble, responsible and rightous. They came from nothing
many of these people to become big men and women, but thats them, what
about our generation? Their lives were exciting because they made
something of themselves and now are we to continue on that path? WIll
Aseem strive to have even a bigger house than his parents? And the
point is? Okay money isimportant, but why don't we strive to be
like the old money in America, great gatsby style, with great taste, an
emphasis on the arts and statesmanship, great food and great habits.
I sound like an intolerable uncle, forgive me.

Quickly some books to change your life and write me who you

India unbound - Gurcharan Dasif you are interested in india, indian economy, the future, the past
the present this book puts it all together. I don't agree with
everything but the man is sparklingly brilliant.

my favorite indian writers and books :

Imaginary Homelands - salman rushdie

A book fo essays 2-3 pages each most importantly on indian expat
communities, identity, the longing for a home. Also great analysis on
indian politics of the 80s, cultural studies on the movie gandhi and
much more. The other essays are on authors and films, its a real gem
and was the first book that showed me that indians can be much more
than doctors and engineers, that we have a rich artistic and
philosophical traditions. go for it.

The Guide - rk narayan

also a great bollywood movie. To be lost, oh to be found!

The god of small things - arunshati roy

to understand what exactly happened in the 90s to india and also hands
down the greatest book in modern times on modern india. Its really
really important. and will stay with you for a life time. treats
caste, imperialism, marxism, religion, it hits everything so
eloquently so beautifully. Arundhati who I met in delhi on my last
trip is also oneof the most important thinkers of our times with her
books of essays on 9/11 and much more.

Alright naresh wishing you well on your path. I like you. You got
fire and passion. Just use it for good. and the world will be better
for it.

and ofcourse if you want to put me in touch with some people I am
open. and humble.

Peace and Love

Gaurav Deep Arora


Naresh response:

Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed response on your
feelings on the IA community.

I think you touch on some important points and some very factual
points.  Most importantly, you sense that there is much to change. 
Yet at the same time, it seems as though the IA community has reached
such a profound level of success that much of the community's
underlying problems go unheard of.  I would challenge you to link of
with the hundreds of IA's in DC that are trying to bring these issues
to light ( i.e. small business loans, profiling, the poor (yes we have
poor IA's), India development issues, etc, etc). 

I actually heard a touching speach from Sonal Shah of Indicorps at
SAIS two weeks ago in DC and she talked about how the Indian immigrant
community pretty much not treated the same way that one in India would
treat us if we were to visit there.  I think it's true in many ways
and metaphorically describes how our generation has become inward
looking and the moral values that define our parent's generation is
lost in many ways.  I've always supported and co-founded National
Gandhi Day of Service (at Rutgers) which atleast attempts to restore
the humility and respect in our generation's youth, even if its for
one day.  I think over time, leaders will emerge in our generation and
take on these challenges...Yes, I know they are nothing in comparison
to the real challenges that face some humans but I guess our
generation is blessed to have had such hard working moral parents to
build our base.

Anyway, the uncle in me has also surfaced and I see your point.  Man,
when you go to DC...attack and learn and use your potential to do
something big..I'm all in, just let me know how I can be of
assistance.  Have fun in Italy and give me a shout out when you
return.  I'll be coming back to NJ and DC more frequently since I am
taking those mini-MBA classes and studying for the GMATS.

Gaurav Response:
I feel you with the IA community and I value

making certain issues pertinent to everyone.

There is however an uneasiness I possess on IA

groups. I like you because you are cool and I

cannot deny that your being indian awakens a

feeling in me I didn't know I possesed. Kind of

like the first time I rode a bus in india and it

was full of indian people. It felt so good, I

felt so happy to be surrounded by only indians

and then I step back and ponder if this need

this good feeling is not some shallow

nationalism or a deeper need to fit in, to be

accepted, an issue all indian people growing up

in America have dealt with at one time or


and my dissapointment, saddness as to how most

IA's are is bigger than anything I would feel

for anyone else. Perhaps because I am intimate

with aspects of Indian history and spirtuality

and I have looked to india as a respite to

corporate american consumer culture, something

which has only enhanced my american

experience(or better said provided a shelter)

and when I see these people act like white

people, negating the best and accepting the

worst of our traditions I feel hurt.

and to call our parents generation moral I don't

know. Are they hard working as a group, yes.

Do they provide for their children, yes. Are

they wildly successful materially, yes. are

they good people? I don't know, to me they have

led magical lives, transformative lives, the

stuff of legend but does that make them good? I

don't know. To me many are dull, narrowminded

and place "success" over the heart and spirit.

The fear in them and what i have seen many do to

their children is saddening. at the same time

there is a love and a warmth, a stability and

unconditionality in loving which is refreshing

in this "what have you done for me lately"

modern culture.

Its complicated. Its simple. all i know is I

want to do something about it, constructively

and you remind me that there are many people

like us who are not content with the status quo.

and let me make it very clear to you naresh

that my appeal to other IAs is not going to be

from a moral mother theresa like standpoint

where I have to convince the rich to help the

poor. The poor are not my primary concern. If

we are to be elite, a status many IAs now are

reaching, than we need to be a rational and

healthy elite, one which uses its power and

influence for the good life. At our present

state many would argue that the USA and much the

world, in the history of history there have

never been a more pathetic elite. The elite

have never been as unhealthy,uncultured,

depressed and over-worked. and thats what needs

to change and thats what I want to change

because they set the standard point and effect

the world around them. and indians because of

their history can be the trailblazers if they

are to be leaders rather than followers. I have

nothing against wealth, my problem is rich

people who are dull and do not make the most of

their wealth. happiness and health, focus on

those 2 things always and you will be rich.

Much love,


Microbesity NY TIMES magazine august 13


The cover of the NYtimes magazine features a study in process on the theory that obesity
may be more than just eating less, exercising more and cursing our
genes. What could be at play are viruses that affect our inner
flaura, those friendly bacteria in our gut which become altered in a
way which affect nutrient absorption and metabolism. In the 1970s
there were landmark studies done on the obese which took 300 pound
people and calculated how many calories they would need to eat to
maintain a weight of 300 pounds. They in turn fed these people
mathematically calculated meals and found that many of these people
still gained weight, no matter how little they ate.

I have my own theories on these theories as a person who consistently
struggles with weight issues and at one point was morbidly obese (at
age 15 I was 265 pounds). These on-going studies are on to something
I have believed through my own experience and research on what makes
us fat and why. Flaura, the friendly bacteria in our gut are
essential in digestion and if they do not work properly than our
digestion is slowed and ultimately we are unable to efficiently
process any type of food, be it healthy or unhealthy. Much of our
flaura is disturbed by antibiotics and ironically extremely sterile
environments. In third world countries and other countries where
obesity is less of an issue (though disturbingly becoming more of an
issue) much of the food consumed is fermented naturally, a process in
which food contains bacteria which work in symbiotic relations with
your own flaura. That is why many lactose intolerant people can eat
yogurt (a fermented food) and not drink milk (an unfermented one).
There is numerous evidence on the health benefits of fermented foods
and my own traditions and roots in India have consistently confirmed
the relation between digestion and disease. Indians consistently
swear by their yogurt as an aid to digestion and to over-all health so
much so that my mother over the past 30 years or so in New York City
snuck in strains of yogurt bacteria from India to make proper yogurt
here in the States. Even recently on her most recent visit she
realized there was no yogurt and so went to a friends place for some
of her yogurt to ferment a fresh batch. Using ready-made yogurts from
the store usually doesn't lead to success in making yogurt because
those strains due to strenuous pasteurization aren't alive. Its dead
yogurt and thus according to my mother lacking in any health benefit.

Is the answer to the obesity epidemic my mother's yogurt? A part of
it is diet I suppose though I am encouraged in general by this
promising approach to look at the epidemic in creative ways (studying
the feces of the obese and non-obese to test for certain microbes).
If an effort can be made to restore flaura, and to gain understanding
on their sensibility than through preventive measures one can give
more nuanced advice than just the simplistic eat less and exercise
more routine. After all a calorie is not a calorie when it comes to
losing weight as different foods have different effects on blood
chemistry, appetite and mood. Studies on insulin and blood sugar have
pointed to the differences of whole foods and refined foods, and this
evidence is what gave way to those carb free meat diets which though
extreme and at times harmful were based on some valid data, it was
just the intrepetation and implementation which was misguided.
Similarly I am afraid the same thing is going to happen with this data
as the article extrapolated a sort of guilt freeness that could come
about in how we treat obese people. Also a large emphasis was
placed on the work of an Indian doctor who isolated a virus which
killed off a flock of chickens while simultanously making them fat.
Can you see where this is going? Isolating a virus than manufacturing
a drug and then wallah we will have cured obesity without challenging
the causes and of course there will be unknown side effects, as all
drugs have.

The article also points out that many people who lose significant
weight constantly have to live in a sort of repressed state where they
feel hungry at all the times and while other people daydream of
tropical vacations the formerly obese dream of "crabs legs dipped in
butter". What silly nonsense. What mainstream America has always
failed to grasp is that their attachment and desires to certain foods
are based on addiction psychologically and physically. Coke, cookies,
white bread have consistently been proven to destabilize blood sugar
in a way to produce cravings much the way many illicit drugs do. Yet
food is not seen as a drug, but much of the packaged, chemical fare
should be seen as such. Instead, we feel deprived because we haven't
been able to step out of the dominant paradigm that associates
happiness with cakes, and cookies, which make one feel left out if one
cannot partake in such sinful pleasures as chocolate cake and movie
popcorn. No. The first step is to form a strong loving relationship
with whole foods in their natural form and to find healthy substitutes
for more "decadent" pleasures. The base has to be whole, unrefined
foods to satiate the body and then the mind and then our body is much
more prepared to deal with the devilish fare we may indulge in from
time to time.

Studying and building flaura, ridding ourselves of packages sweetened
foods, experimenting with fasting and other alternative therapies is
still is the best bet to not only physical rejuvenation but the
spiritual as well.

My struggles with obesity are what made me politically conscious. I
realized who benefited by my ill health and how much of our economy is
driven by over-consumption. While there are very real forces trying
to stem the epidemic, giving free reign to fast food companies to
advertise to children and in a world where even hospital cafeterias
are filled with junk, then the problem is systemic. Which doesn't
mean these studies aren't useful or promising, we just need to be
vigilant in how they are interpreted and the approach to the "cure"
they will take. Are obesity vaccines only a generation away? Am I
the only one who finds this all odd?


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

low-fat life

Low-Fat Diet Does Not Cut Health Risks, Study Finds
A large study has found that a low-fat diet has
no effect in reducing the risk of getting cancer
or heart disease.

Careful my people be careful, this 450 million
dollar study makes some valid points but mainly
one needs to be careful in analysing the
results. While I agree that low-fat in of itself
is not sufficient to reduce risks for disease
what many of these studies leave out is the
QUALITY of food being ingested. Technically if
one eats a turkey sandwich on white bread with a
diet cola, instead of a hamburger and coke, it
appears as if one is eating healthier (much like
the subway sandwich madness). But while one may
reduce calories and theoretically be able to
reduce weight, its possible that one increases
their risks for cancer and other diseases.
Similarly people who opt to drink skim milk, and
low -fat goods many times ignore the fact that
whole foods in their whole form do less to throw
our body out of equilibrium, a theory poineered
by Dr. Weston price (

Ofcourse the study points out that lifestyle,
exercise and all are factors, as well as the
type of fats ingested. But what about climate?
Air pollution? New York city has one of the
highest rates of heart disease in the nation
though statiscally its problems with obesity are
much less. A boggling statistic for many public
health officials. The NIH is in the process of
doing a study that takes into account air
pollution and stress. What all of these studies
leave out is the type of food being eaten,
natural, processed, organic, artificial.

What to make of these studies? They usually end
up influencing the paradigm of thinking, so it
seems important to analyze or debunk. Let me
know what you think.

Peace and love


Y no olviden que la tierra goza al sentir el
contacto de sus pies desnudos y que los vientos
anhelan jugar con sus cabellos.
- K. Gibrán

We tell ourselves stories in order to live
- J. Didion

Saving for sickness

I just read an article in the times about health
savings accounts.

"These supercharged checking accounts, which
must be linked to a high-deductible health
insurance plan, allow consumers to invest their
own money for current and future medical
expenses and have it grow tax-free"

Since when are we suppose to be financially
planning for our future illnesses?

What happens slowly is people forget what their
rights are and end up following the herd for
survival. Similarly with University Education,
retirement, a very hearty argument can be made
that we are paying for what is our rights as US
citizens. Such things in europe or canada even
are absurd. But thats one part of the argument.

The other part which troubles is the expectation
of being sick. Its astounding how being sick
now or in the future is taken as inevitable.
Look around you, ask friends and family and its
astonishing the amount of drugs, problems and
sicknesses that arise, more alarmingly so in
young people.

For me, above all political campaigns, health
needs to be an issue on everyones agenda as it
effects all of us. Unfortunately health is seen
merely as a bad luck affliction and very rarely
does one view through the lense of injustice and

What boggles me even further is that the elite,
the very people who are suppose to be enjoying
life at the expense of others, get sucked in
themselves in the infinite warp of drugs and
surgeries which leave many of them debilitated
and dead. Perhaps they support modern medicine
because their sons are in medical school?

Oh how I long for old money great gatspy style
to take over....

Y no olviden que la tierra goza al sentir el
contacto de sus pies desnudos y que los vientos
anhelan jugar con sus cabellos.
- K. Gibrán

We tell ourselves stories in order to live
- J. Didion

Monday, August 07, 2006

to remember

Is all we have just memories, things remembered, regrets and nostalgia.
Looking back, all I have to fulfill my life are times in which I
entered a certain joy in living that as the moment was passing I had no
idea I was living. Only in retrospect was I able to realize I led a
good life for a certain time frame that came to an end in the very
moment I started reminiscing. Its a beautiful feeling remembering,
especially great memories, when we were heroes. It implies as well a
certain sort of martyrdom in which one chooses to live through memories
rather than just live.........

queer eye

<bold>You know I don't watch TV and in my time not watching TV I
usually spend telling people I don't watch TV. From time to time to
be ironic I will indulge in the habits of the common man and allow
myself to be taken in by the dream, by a particular vision, which has
a fabulous capacity to make you feel, if not for moments that
everything is alright. Hamburgers, cars, make up, drugs, violence are
not all destroying the world. That somehow progress is good, that we
are a big happy family and technology, the government, money, business
make us have a really great time. I fall into it, and queer eye, its
a fucking revelation into the strange turn mainstream television has
taken. It’s Gay with a capital G yet its softening and conditioning
middle America to accept what it has never been able to handle. Yes
the men are stereotyped and do portray gay men as detail oriented glam
freaks yet much of the advice, the helping of getting it together vibe
somehow in this day and age feels useful. The make overs are

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