Sunday, July 27, 2008

Health and longevity … is there a relation between the two?

A conversation sprouted between me and a very good friend of mine on one regular sun-drenched Texas afternoon. The topic was “health and longevity”. My friend who is 30+ years older to me had so much personal knowledge and experience to append. I was little startled when he said that good health doesn’t guarantee longevity and ill health doesn’t assure fatality either. He believes there is no relationship between the two. I was little skeptic to hear that. Longevity is one of the most important reasons for staying healthy for majority of population isn’t it? The conversation got more remarkable with so many real life examples to support his credence on this subject matter. One of those examples that stuck in my mind is the example of his brother who was diagnosed with some fatal heart disease. The doctors’ told his brother would die in a week or so. His brother ended up living 20 more years from the day he was told he would die. Fluke I thought at that time. Not in disrespect to his ideology, but a severe lack of real life experience on my own part.

This conversation took place about seven years ago. Whenever I reminiscence about it, I couldn’t agree more on every word he uttered on that day. In these seven years I have heard of true stories of healthy people demise due to heart failure. My husband’s colleague’s nephew died at a young age of 21 years. He died of heart failure. Isn’t his age too young to die of heart problem I thought? Recently DH’s colleague died of heart failure. DH spoke to him Friday night and he died Saturday morning around 3 am. This was a huge shocker for us. A healthy person who had no cholesterol problems, no hyper tension, no diabetes, and no family history of heart disease died so suddenly (He never smoked or drank alcohol). Tim Russert who hosted “meet the press” collapsed on his work desk and died due to heart failure. Tim was fifty eight years young. In these seven years I came upon some many real life examples that I’m now convinced that being healthy has nothing to do with once death or longevity.

By saying so I’m not promoting any unhealthy habits here. Staying fit and being healthy is the best gift one can give themselves. If you ask me why is it so important to be healthy? The answer to it defers from individuals to individuals. For some being healthy saves money by visiting less often to doctors and paying less frequently for those expensive medications; for some it brings best work performance and more over business enterprises these days tend to recruit healthy and fit employees for their own healthy productivity; for some it bring more energy, emotionally stable and spiritually in touch with one self; for some it bring happy hormones, makes them happy and contented; for some it slows downs the aging process, keeping them look and feel young for a long period of time; for some it is a claim for independence, less dependence on other to do their daily chore. My personal reasons for staying healthy and fit are changing accordingly to the stages of my life. At this stage of my life, I literally live for my kids. Their routine gets hampered if I don’t keep well.

If longevity is your reason for staying healthy then you might want to rethink about it. Can any one guarantee longevity if you are a regular exerciser, healthy eater and disease-free person? I bet not. Who can predict death? Death may befall on anyone anytime does matter if you are healthy or unhealthy person, poor or rich, young or old.

Friday, July 18, 2008

An unsung hero

This is a true story of my friend Usha.

The story begins with Usha driving home from her frenetic day at work. She is running late and the gridlock traffic on the road is not making her situation any better. She knows of a small abandoned alley which connects her work place and her home. If she takes this alley, this would reduce her drive time by 10 minutes or more. She knows that driving through that lane is prohibited but she also is 100% sure that there wouldn’t be any cop patrolling that alley. That day, frustrated and wanting to reach home early, she takes that derelict passage. Unfortunately for her doom, she is caught by a traffic cop on that day. She could have been sent home with a warning, which by the way was very feasible, but instead she is given a traffic ticket worth of 250$. Completely upset and irritated, Usha curses the officer on her way home. A simple mistake that would have been forgiven for, but is bashed with such huge penalty was just agonizing her. She, out of her sheer anger, appeals for an evil or misfortune to befall on that officer.

Just after two days of this incidence, Usha is flabbergasted to watch local news on her TV reporting a deadly accident involving the same officer who gave her ticket. The officer survived but is in need of a blood donor. Usha remembers this officer distinctively; the ticket episode was rewinding in her mind for the past two days now. Usha isn't happy to see this news. She is not angry or frustrated anymore but felt very bad for all the things she cursed him for. She never meant any of her curses to come true, not even in her wild dreams. Usha feels completely guilt burdened; she wants to help. Upon some inquiries, Usha learns that there is a blood drive in the community to help the officer. This is a perfect opportunity for Usha to help. She visits the blood drive center and donates her blood.

When she told me this story, I had to ask her what made her donate the blood. She said the officer was just doing his job. She is guilty of breaking the law and using the prohibited alley in the first place. She never ever wanted any harm to befall on that officer. Donating blood is the least she can do to help; an answer to her curse and her peace of mind. She told me that she will never ever curse anyone; she is afraid those curses might come true.

Did they give Usha’s blood to that officer? I don’t know the answer to that. To me it’s irrelevant. The fact that Usha gave her blood shows her caring and helping nature. I bet she would donate blood, even if its not that officer. To me she is an unsung hero. The officer will never know anything about Usha’s deed nor anyone in his world. There are amazing people like Usha who just do what feels true without being recognized and praised for.

Little background about Usha:

Usha is a beautiful, energetic, vivacious young woman. She is happily married and blessed with two wonderful kids. The first thing I noticed about Usha is how very lean she is, weighing merely 105 pounds for her stature of 5 feet 4 inches. I was told by her husband that she is a regular blood donor back in India. He admits he dislikes this fact mainly because of her weight. He feels she is too skinny to donate blood every month. She, on the other hand, feels blessed to be of some help to an ailing person. By the way she donated the blood to the officer without the knowledge of her husband. She had a feeling he might not approve of her decision.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What’s in a name?

"What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other word would smell as sweet" - Romeo and Juliet.

I believe it wouldn’t. When I think of “Rose” all I think of is its vibrant color, those sharp thorns and the unique fragrance that only a Rose has. Try calling it another name, the whole definition of the word “Rose” vanishes. Going back to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet play, I want to acknowledge that the author was suggesting that a rose would smell sweet regardless of what we call it; therefore implying that a name attached to a person should not change them. But in practical life name is a strong module of any human identity. What’s in a name? Everything … our identity, our origin, our culture, and our character. All the activities in the world are carried on the basis of name.

In Hindu religion, naming a child (Naamkaran) is given a great importance. The ceremony is usually held on the 12th day of the child's birth, although, according to one custom, it can be held on any day after the tenth day, and before the first birthday. The name of a child may be derived from the star constellation of its birth, the deity associated with the Hindu month in which the baby was born or the family deity`. As I explore more on the subject matter, I came across lot resources that I was unaware of. Did you know that there are two purposes of naming the child? The first is that the name is used to address the child, and the second is that the name should raise good feelings inside the person, which reminds him of his goal. Let’s take the example of my name. According to Hindu religion, I (Preeti meaning Love) should be cheering and spreading Love everywhere I go. Every time I hear someone calling my name, I should be reminded of my purpose. Fascinating isn’t it? I asked my parents why they named me “Preeti”. The answer I got was as simple as every one of us has done so far. The name “Preeti” was a new trend, a fashion during those days, so they named me Preeti.

I sincerely believe naming is personal and it should be left to the parents’ choice. These days very few of us look at star constellation, or birth hour or day or any of those things before we name our baby. Usually baby’s name is chosen depending on a popular choice in the household, which is the norm in today’s society. But I still wonder if we are forgetting the importance of giving our child a nice, which reminds the child of some goal or objective in the life. If the name is meaningless how can it be inspirational for the child? There are so many “Does” and “Don’ts” of naming a child like boy's name should contain even letters (2,4,6,8) and girls should contain odd letters (3, 5, 7). The name should have two or four letters. Two-letter name for a boy gives fame and four-letter name gives divine knowledge. Child’s name should not be named after birds and animals. Why are these rules made? Is there any significance? What happens if we break a rule and name the baby after an animal for instance? Are we forgetting our Hindu religion’s principles of naming a baby? I may not know the answer to it yet or may not know it at all. If you guys know more on the subject matter, please do share. It will be fun and educative to know more about "Namakarna" and its significance.