Monthly Archives: June 2011

Top 10 Luxury Hotel Rooms in the World

 

Have you ever dreamed of spending a relaxing night at a luxury hotel? Or maybe planning a romantic evening or a honeymoon where you want to impress your beloved? What would you want included? A gorgeous view? A large comfy bed? A Jacuzzi? A personal butler?

Did you know that prices at the best hotel suites have gone up 10% this year? Are you ready to drop about $30,000 for one night? Would you be willing to spend that kind of money on a hotel room? And by the way, none of the nightly room rates includes tax so be prepared to add another 10 – 17% to your bill at checkout.

Here are the 10 most expensive hotel rooms in the world from the last year.

10. The Penthouse Suite, The Martinez Hotel, Cannes

Nightly Rate: $18,000

This is the biggest, most expensive, and the only terraced penthouse suite on the Cote d’Azur. Both of the two suites has a Jacuzzi, plasma screen televisions, DVD library, kitchen, open bar, private butler on call 24/7 (ditto for a limousine), and an option to join both suites into one big apartment. The luxury has no limit here – the design is kept in the Art Deco style, with streamlined furniture, silk curtains and teak parquet floors.

The wraparound terrace is 2,000 square feet with the views of the Lerins Islands as well as the entire Bay of Cannes and can comfortably hold 100 people. One Saudi sheik liked the suite so much he wanted to rent it for five years. The hotel said no. What else can you say? Tres magnifique!

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9. Ritz-Carlton Suite, Ritz-Carlton Moscow

Nightly Rate: $18.200

The floor-to-ceiling windows in the Ritz-Carlton Suite will give you the most beautiful views of the Kremlin, Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral, and Christ the Savior Cathedral. The furnishings are in a Classic Russian Imperial style. The 2,500 square-foot suite comes with a spacious living room, dining area, library, office room and boardroom, grand piano, and heated floor.

You will get to enjoy five meals a day and their very own KGB-approved autonomous energy supply system and secure telecommunications array.

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8. Royal Suite, Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Nightly Rate: $19.000

The two-story, 8,400-square-foot suite features views over the Arabian sea, marble flooring, a rotating four-poster bed in the master bedroom, dining area, and a private cinema and elevator between the split-level rooms.

The marble bath comes fully stocked with full-sized products from Hermes. Guests are met by a chauffeur driven Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph (or, for a bit extra, by a helicopter). A personal butler stands 24/7 at the ready to fulfill every wish. The Royal Suite is the last word in luxury with a marble and gold staircase, leopard print tufted carpets and Versace linens.

What you can also enjoy is a submarine ride to an underwater restaurant complete with shark-infested aquarium.

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7. Imperial Suite, Park Hyatt, Vendôme, Paris

Nightly Rate: $20.000

This pricey suite is located on the 5th floor and takes 200-sq.-meters. A 60-sq.-meter balcony is overlooking the Rue de la Paix, with an outstanding view of the Vendôme column. The Imperial Suite has high ceilings, a dining room, kitchenette, bar, and a mansard roof. It also includes in-suite spa with whirlpool bath, steam room shower and a built-in massage table. Also included are high-speed Internet access and a computer with flat screen monitor, multi-line telephones, and a separate work area to help you enjoy the work process.

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6. The Bridge Suite, The Atlantis, Bahamas

Nightly Rate: $22.000

The Bridge Suite is located on top of a bridge that connects the two Royal Towers buildings, so it overlooks the entire resort and marina. An 800 square foot balcony and 12-foot high ceilings throughout with full length windows allow you to enjoy a 360 view of the water, lagoons and pools in Paradise Island. We can make a guess that most of the price is paid for the location of the suite. Forbes reports the suite has hosted guests including Oprah, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, and Bill Gates.

The suite has 10 rooms that are decorated in black, red and gold (including a 22-karat gold chandelier in the dining room). The living room is a 1,250-square-foot room with grand piano and twin entertainment centers. The master bedroom has a sitting area, his-and-hers closets so large that you can park your car there, and hand-painted linens. The kitchen also has its own entrance, so a permanent staff of seven, including a butler and a cook can access the rooms without bothering you.

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5. Presidential Suite, Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo

Nightly Rate: $25.000

The suite is located on the 53rd floor above Tokyo with spectacular views that include the Imperial Palace outer gardens and Roppongi Hills.

In the suite’s 3300 sq ft you get pure luxury with a stunning four poster bed in the master bedroom, personal concierge, connected living room/dining room, an oversized marble bathroom with Sony BRAVIA 20 inch flat screen television, and access to indoor pool and fitness studio.

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4. Villa La Capula Suite, Westin Excelsior, Rome

Nightly Rate: $29.000

The suite is located on the fifth and sixth floor underneath the cupola of the hotel which was made famous by Fellini’s movies. It covers 6,099 square feet and has an additional 1,808 square feet of balconies and terraces. While it only has two bedrooms, five more can be joined to it. The entire suite was just remodeled in 1998 for a cost of around $7 million. So now you will have all things Roman and excessive – a cupola, a Pompeii-style Jacuzzi pool, frescoes (the painted horizons on the frescoes were designed to match perfectly with the real Roman one), stained glass windows, and almost 2,000 feet of balcony space including a sun deck overlooking the Via Veneto district.

The downstairs also has a private kitchen, and the dining room features an antique Murano glass chandelier, a private wine cabinet with over 150 wines to choose from and a study/library covered in hand-carved wood. And what really makes this suite over the top is a private cinema with Dolby surround sound.

Now that’s living la dolce vita.
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3. Ty Warner Penthouse, Four Seasons Hotel, New York

Nightly Rate: $34.000

The $50 million Ty Warner Penthouse at the Four Seasons in NY was designed by legendary architect I.M. Pei, Peter Marino and hotel owner Ty Warner.

The nine-room suite has walls inlaid with mother of pearl, gold and platinum-woven fabrics. The suite is located on the 52nd floor of New York’s tallest hotel with floor-to-ceiling bay windows offering a breathtaking 360 degree view of the City. If that is not relaxing enough you can enjoy a waterfall in the Zen Room, play the grand piano in the library or soak in a tub overlooking Central Park. Full spa treatments, a personal trainer and a 24/7 butler are all included, and if you still find a will to leave, you can choose to be chauffeured in a Rolls Royce or Maybach, and you’re always guaranteed a table at the hotel’s renowned L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon restaurant.

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2. Hugh Hefner Sky Villa, Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas

Nightly Rate: $40.000

If anyone knows how to vacation in Las Vegas, that will be Hugh Hefner. Even though he is known as a homebody he has spent a few nights away from the mansion at the Sky Villa. The suite itself was built to model the original playboy mansion; it also incorporates elements derived from a vintage Playboy magazine article about the ultimate bachelor pad. The suite cost roughly $10 million to build but the high-rollers can rent it for a small $40,000 a night. Everything screams S-E-X-Y at the Sky Villa. The two-story 9,000 square foot Villa includes a glass elevator, a rotating bed set beneath a mirrored ceiling, and a glass wall Jacuzzi that extends out over the hotel and offers amazing Strip views, around-the-clock butler service, massage and spa rooms, work-out room and poker table, fireplace, three bedrooms, and pop-up plasma TVs.
Sorry, Bunnies not included.

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1. Royal Penthouse Suite, President Wilson Hotel, Geneva

Nightly Rate: $53.000

The Imperial Suite, which is actually an entire top floor of the hotel, is reached via a private elevator and has four bedrooms, six bathrooms with mosaic marble floor, a cocktail lounge and a terrace with a dramatic view through the bulletproof windows over the city, Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc — all of which overlook Lake Geneva. The suite is decorated in a contemporary style, with marble and hardwood floors. The living room has a billiards table, a library and a cocktail lounge with a view of the water fountain, and can accommodate 40 people. The dining room seats 26 people around an oval mahogany table.

The hotel’s staff reassures guests that the security in the Imperial Suite is among the best in the world, ideal for celebrities or traveling heads of state who visit the United Nations headquarters next door at the Palais Wilson.

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Khilafat Again?

Revival of Muslim empire

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
YUSUF KANLI

Is it not a wild idea to assume that the radical Islamist fantasies of the neo-Ottomanists of the dissolution period of the Ottoman Empire or the mostly Egyptian Arab forefathers of jihadist Islam or the restoration of the Caliphate movement might have a minute chance of coming true?

If we are to take out the fundamental difference between the neo-Ottomanist ideology, which was centered on the creation of a united “Caliphate State” something like today’s European Union, with the caliphate remaining in Istanbul – and the Egypt-centered Arab jihadist or the restoration of the Caliphate movement, that was obsessed with Arabs taking back caliphate to the holy Mecca, there was a common cause: To achieve the united state of the nation of Islam, or the “ummah.”

Creation of the modern, democratic and secular Turkish republic and the March 3, 1924 abrogation of caliphate was a setback to both the neo-Ottomanist and pan-Arabic caliphate movements or aspirations of a united caliphate state of the ummah. [This is a complex discussion as according to many researchers caliphate is not indeed abrogated; its functions were ended while the institution and its powers were transferred to the Turkish Parliament.] The obsession of reviving the state of Islam – like the state that existed during the lifetime of Islam’s Prophet Mohammad and the succeeding first four caliphs – never ever died out and indeed has been one of the fundamental pillars of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement, which this way or the other, under many names, exists all through the Arab geography today. Interestingly enough, though with some slight, yet very meaningful differences, the movement exists in non-Arab Muslim societies, including Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.

Of course, no one can claim that al-Qaeda and the Nationalist View Movement in Turkey, or the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, are one and the same, though both come from the same tradition of political Islam. No one can claim either that both Hamas and the al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun of Egypt are one and the same. There are national and cultural divides between all these parties, which irrespective whether they officially declare it or not, aspire for the creation of the united caliphate state of the ummah, where shariah or the rule of Quran would strictly prevail.

Could the “Arab Spring” – as is so far said – succeed in creating democratic nation states in the Arab geography and beyond in the lands populated by Muslim people? Or, is there a possibility of the states of Middle East and North Africa turning into Sunni alterations of the Iranian theocracy? Or, as Newsweek asked in its June 20 edition, would the Greater Middle Eastern neighborhood eventually turn to Turkey and help the governance of political Islam there revive the Muslim Ottoman Empire? Though this last scenario was branded as “nightmarish” by the Newsweek and though very few Turks would object utopia of a Turkey-based revival of the caliphate state, it would not be at all easy either for the Turks to forget the “Arabs stabbed Turks in the back” rhetoric or for the Arabs not to remember what was it like for them to live under Ottoman rule. Definitely, there would not be a need for a new “Lawrence of Arabia” for the peoples of this geography to remember the recent history and the strong animosities coated with modern-day political interests.

Political Islam throughout this geography may wish to see their ultimate goal of creation of Muslim empire realized but if that target was so easy to attain it would have been achieved long ago, perhaps when there was still an Ottoman Empire. Like the Greek Megalo Idea, having utopias might help maintain integrity, but putting them into action might bring about farfetched disastrous consequences.

Muslim Soccer referee barred

Dispute over hijab in women’s soccer in Canada, as Muslim youth referee barred

Sarah Benkirane has been barred from refereeing while wearing her hijab. (File Photo)

Sarah Benkirane has been barred from refereeing while wearing her hijab. (File Photo)

A dispute between FIFA and Iranian and Jordanian women soccer
players over the right to wear religious Muslim headdresses during
matches is expanding as it spreads across the Atlantic.

A Canadian soccer referee, Sarah Benkirane, was barred this week by
Quebec’s Lac St. Louis Regional Soccer Association because she wears a
hijab, a religious headdress that covers a woman’s hair, neck and ears
in accordance with conservative Muslim dress code.

The 15-year-old referee had been refereeing games on Montreal’s West
Island and Vaudreuil for the past two years but was informed by
association officials this week that she had been barred because of
world soccer body FIFA rules prohibiting religious garments on the
pitch.

“I always felt like I was
equal growing up in Canada, so I don’t understand why they’re going to
take this right away from me,” Ms. Benkirane, who has worn a hijab since
she was 12, told Canadian broadcaster CBC.

“It’s just a sign of my modesty and how I choose to express myself. I
thought we were free to practice religion in this country if you’re not
hurting anyone else, and I’m not hurting anyone else,” Ms. Benkirane
said.

The banning of Ms. Benkirane comes after Iran earlier this month lost
its chance of reaching the 2012 Olympics when its qualifying match
against Jordan was cancelled because the Islamic republic’s women soccer
team appeared on the pitch wearing a hijab rather than a cap that had
originally had been agreed with the Iranian Football Federation (IFF).

The agreed cap covers a women’s hair but not the neck and ears.
Religious women players have charged that the cap violates Islamic dress
code.

Three Jordanian women players were also banned for wearing the hijab.

Iran charged that FIFA’s decision to disqualify its women’s team constituted an attack on all female Muslim players.

Prince Ali Bin Talal, a half-brother of Jordanian King Abdullah and FIFA
vice president has said he is seeking to resolve the dispute between
Iran and the soccer body. Prince Ali was elected to his FIFA post on a
platform that emphasized women’s rights.

Mr. Benkiran said she has filed a complaint with the Quebec association.
Ms. Benkirane insists that rules have to be adapted as society changes.
The Quebec federation has advised Ms. Benkirane to address her
complaint directly to FIFA.

The Lac St. Louis Regional Soccer Association asserted it was acting in
accordance with rules set out by the Quebec Soccer Federation. For its
part, the Quebec federation said in a statement that it was upholding
FIFA’s rule 4, which prohibits religious statements in team uniforms.

“The situation is clear,” the statement read. “Wearing a hijab is not
allowed on Quebec’s soccer fields just as necklaces, earrings, rings are
prohibited, and we will follow the rule until FIFA says otherwise.”

The federation’s communications director, Michel Dugas, said the group
could not make an exception for Ms. Benkirane because that would create
an untenable situation in which a referee wearing a hijab would have to
tell players that they can’t do the same.

The right to wear a hijab has long been a controversial issue in Canada
with some segments of Canadian soccer supporting women who wear the
hijab.

In February 2007, five Canadian teams walked out of a soccer tournament
in Quebec, because a Muslim girl was ejected for wearing a hijab.

Muslim women have been allowed to wear the hijab in other parts of Canada, including Ontario and British Colombia.

(James M. Dorsey, formerly of The Wall Street Journal, is a senior
researcher at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East
Institute and the author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East
Soccer. He can be reached via email at: questfze@gmail.com)

Top 10 sexiest science stories of 2010

Top 10 sexiest science stories of 2010

Whoever said science could never possibly be sexy didn’t have a chance to read this. According to Discovery News, below is the list of the top 10 sexiest stories of 2010.…
Thursday 9 December 2010 10:17 AM IST
Whoever said science could never possibly be sexy didn’t have a chance to read this.

According to Discovery News, below is the list of the top 10 sexiest stories of 2010:

1. The naked dwarf: Known as the “Portrait of Dwarf Morgante,” the subject was a court jester, part of the Medici court in the Florentine Renaissance.

he paintings were grouped into a two-sided canvas, providing onlookers with a front- and rear-view.

Originally painted by Agnolo di Cosimo, better known as Bronzino, around 1553 with a full frontal view, the portrait was altered during the 18th century to hide the subject’s private parts.

2. Why booze makes everyone look attractive: A study found that a few drinks can affect the way you look at a person. Alcohol can inhibit our ability to detect asymmetry in faces. Symmetry is an important aspect of what makes a face attractive.

The study further suggests that men were less prone to losing their symmetry-detecting ability when intoxicated than women.

3. Women like to cozy up after sex: A study published this year in The Journal of Sex Research found that women usually want intimacy after a roll in the hay.

A cozy chat, a caress and other bonding behaviours are what women prefer after sex.

Men, on the other hand, typically want a drink, a smoke-anything that will increase the chances of a second encounter.

But in long-term relationships, both genders think it’s equally important to say, “I love you,” after sex.

4. Note to all single men out there: Wear more red – According to a study published this year in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, women are more attracted to men wearing red and find them more sexually desirable.

Red appears to signal rank in virtually all cultures. The researchers point out that China, Japan and sub-Saharan Africa populations have all tied red to prosperity and elevated status.

5. All a woman needs to attract a man is her natural scent: a study published in the journal Psychological Science found that men who caught the scent of an ovulating woman from a T-shirt had higher testosterone levels than men who smelled either fresh T-shirts or those from non-ovulating women.

6. While humans may not necessarily be enticed by the smell of perfume, big cats are a different story: Researchers with the Wildlife Conservation Society found that jaguars, pumas and other wildlife were attracted to the smell of Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men.

When around the scent, these cats would repeatedly sniff the source of the smell, lingering around its origin. One pair of jaguars even shows some very rarely seen mating behaviour, so the smell seems to turn these animals on.

7. Frogs sing during sex: Frogs apparently like to hear something smooth when they’re in their groove, according to research published in the journal Animal Behaviour.

In fact, some female frogs are known to sing during sex. The rhythmic click calls of the females are so attractive to males that they move rhythmically back and forth whenever they hear these calls during mating.

The song seems to turn the males on, according to the research.

8. Meet Roxxxy, the robotic companion who will-whether you’re entranced or repulsed by “her”-haunt your dreams.

This sex robot was initially designed to be a health aid, intended to provide extra care to patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions.

The robot didn’t catch on, so the inventors repurposed their design. Instead of a health care worker’s uniform, the robot wears lingerie.

Rather than providing drug information or exercise instructions, the robot’s voice function is used to create a sexy personality: ranging from shy [Frigid Farrah] to adventurous [S and M Susan].

9. Why men cheat: The answer is there’s no one answer, according to Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University.

Fisher divides the brain into three systems: the sex drive, the desire for romantic love and attachment.

Because these systems don’t necessarily need to work together, “the brain is, alas, built to enable us to love more than one person at a time,” Fisher explained.

However, because we all have a different biological map, according to Fisher, some are more susceptible to cheating behaviour than others.

10. Long before human ancestors began pairing up, fish were having sex: Fossils of extinct fish from the genus Materpiscis found in the Gogo Formation of Western Australia suggest that sexual intercourse began as early as 410 million years ago.

Researchers made this connection after discovering a 380-million-year-old female specimen that still retained a single embryo connected by an umbilical cord.

The discovery of this kind of advanced reproductive technique among prehistoric fish fossils has important implications for our understanding of animal evolution. (ANI)

NEW HOPE FOR A HEART AILMENTS

NEW HOPE FOR A HEALTHY HEART

A miracle pill that repairs tissue damage of a heart attack and a cheek swab that assesses the impact of statins on your body are just two developments likely to improve the prognosis for those at risk of heart disease…
Wednesday 22 June 2011 1:40 PM IST

IMAGINE popping a pill that could repair the damage suffered by your heart after an attack. Or even halt a heart attack in its early stages. You may have to wait a decade for this development, but rest assured that it’s on its way.

British scientists have found a means of repairing cells damaged during a heart attack in mice, leading to expectations that a pill capable to perform this repair in humans would be available in ten years. This breakthrough discovery has created hope for millions of people at high risk of heart attack. Experts predict this would take the form of a preventative drug for people at high risk and may even be effective for people in the early stages of a heart attack.

“The pill to mend a damaged heart sounds like science fiction but might a possibility in a decade,” says Dr Neeraj Bhalla, chairman and HoD, cardiology, BL Kapur Memorial Hospital.

“In the past, several attempts were made but they never worked out. Now, scientists are working on a pill which will directly stimulate the stem cells in the heart and convert them into health muscle cells, which will aid in repairing the damaged heart,” he adds.

Currently, any damage caused during a heart attack is permanent. Though more people survive attacks than in the past due to more effective medication, the damage to the heart is irreversible.

GRIM SCENARIO

NEWS about this pill is welcome in India, especially as the outlook for heart disease among urban Indians bleak. Indians accounted for 60 per cent of the world’s heart disease load 2010, and this figure is slated to rise. Findings of a seven- year study conducted among 1,100 young adults in New Delhi confirm this.

The study, published in the Journal the American College of Cardiology , found that all the risk parameters for cardiac disease including — hypertension, obesity and diabetes rose in this group over the time of study. Such a remarkable rise suggests that young adults in India could have high rates of heart disease and stroke. No wonder, the need to expedite preventive measures of heart risks is being felt like never before.

Is that pill dampening your desires | Get rid of your negative thoughts

MAGIC HEART PILL

COMBINATION of low- dose aspirin, statins and two blood pressure- lowering medicines, the polypill has been promoted as an effective means of reducing the risk heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular problems across the world. It was first proposed the British Medical Journal eight years ago and has now moved out of labs to the chemists’ stores.

Short- term trials of polypill have shown that it’s as effective as its individual components – aspirin, statin, beta blocker and ACE inhibitor. The one- a- day pill is touted to cut the risk factors for heart diseases.

However, outcome studies are still awaited, which will show how successful is polypill in preventing heart diseases,” says Dr Bhalla.

The good news is that it’s now available in India too, courtesy Cipla and Cadilla. Dr Reddy’s has joined the fray as it’s likely to launch its ‘ Red heart pill’ soon.

Its research wing began work on the ‘ Red heart pill’ ( as it is has been called) in 2005. An international trial of Dr Reddy’s four- inone combination pill has found it can cut the risk of heart disease and stroke by 50 per cent with everyday use. It was also concluded that those with a higher risk of heart disease will be able to get greater benefits from the pill, to the tune of 80 per cent.

But experts say that the pill may not be suitable for everyone so every patient should be assessed and treated on an individual basis. More research is needed to clear the doubts that still exist about it.

All you men! You must know what is PMS

DNA TEST FOR STATINS

ANOTHER development creating a stir among experts is a DNA analysis that can foretell the side effects of statins before you start using them. Statins, as we know, are the most prescribed drugs in the world for reducing cholesterol levels and cutting the chances of a heart attack. On the flip side, they come with certain side effects such as muscle pain and weakness.

About 20 per cent of those who take the drugs often complain of these and the FDA recently issued a warning against a specific statin, Zocor,

DRUGS FOR DAMAGED HEART

ALTHOUGH prevention is being touted as the first step in improving cardiac health, studies are also being directed on finding ways of reducing the damage done to the heart during an attack. A new anti- clotting drug, Ticagrelor, could cut one in five deaths following a heart attack. This finding by the University of Sheffield comes in the wake of cardiologists’ claims that in the last one year, many deaths of patients following a heart attack were largely avoidable.

Anti- clotting drugs have been available for ages but this new one, Ticagrelor, comes with a fillip and is 20 per cent more effective than the older one, Clopidogrel.

What’s more, Ticagrelor works as well on those above 75 years as on younger patients.

However, there are concerns about the cost of the newly licensed drug. It is almost ten times the cost of Clopidogrel. It could also have some serious side effects like shortness of breathing, bleeding and skin allergies.

DID YOU KNOW? These are 5 health mistakes you must never make

BIO-ABSORBABLE STENTS

WHILE the wait for Ticagrelor continues in India, those with cardiac problems can rejoice over bio- absorbable stents that have found their way into the country. Recommended for dilating blocked arteries, metallic stents have been in use for a long period. Arterial blockage has various causes. At times age, chronic diseases, or congenital factors make artery walls weak, causing them to recoil and narrow.

In such cases stents help with dilatation. “ Metallic stents are known to cause infections, recurrence of blockages in the same area or clot formations in the long run,” says Dr Viveka Kumar, senior consultant, interventional cardiology and electrophysiologist, Max Healthcare. In extreme cases a tumour may also develop due to long term presence of the device.

Though medicated stents developed a decade ago have fewer side- effects, they are still not absolutely safe. “Those on stents – whether medicated or non- medicated are supposed to be on blood thinners for the rest of their lives. This makes it difficult for them to undergo surgeries or any medical procedure involving heavy bleeding later in their lives,” says Dr Kumar.

Now, stents made of bioabsorbable materials are being used. Although they are in trail phase currently, large scale commercial usage is likely to begin in a year. “ Unlike the metallic stents, these new stents don’t stay within the artery forever.

Rather, they provide support to the dilated artery walls for a few months and then gradually dissolve in a year,” says Dr Atul Mathur, director, interventional cardiology, Fortis Escorts Hospital.

This naturally chucks the need for blood thinners and also the risks of side effects.

Views of Kumarakom in God’s own country!

 

By
early June the southwest monsoon breaks and there are three months of
wind and water with short spells of sharp, glittering sunshine that
thrilled children snatch to play with. The countryside turns an immodest
green. Boundaries blur as tapioca fences take root and bloom. Brick
walls turn mossgreen. Pepper vines snake up electric poles. Wild
creepers burst through latente banks and spill across the flooded roads.
Boats ply in the bazaars…thus Arundhati Roy begins her Booker Prize
winner – The God of Small Things. Although the novel – which is set in
Ayemenem village adjoining Kumarakom – does not render the unspeakable
beauty of Kumarakom, aren’t the aforementioned words enough to lure you
to the most beautiful place in Kerala (arguably)? And If I say Kumarakom is the capital of the God’s own country, will you disagree?

 
Well,
honestly, this is my fourth trip to Kumarakom, with an intention of
doing a photoblog on Yahoo! Strangely, it had been raining all these
four times, maybe, to make me realize that the beauty and majesty of
Kumarakom are at its best during monsoon.

 
And
this time, I’m in a houseboat, the perfect place for chilling out -and
much more ;-). Houseboats are big barges with five-star amenities –air
conditioned bedrooms with contemporary bathrooms, modular kitchens that
prepare the choicest Kerala-style food, home theatre and whatever else
you want. Some of them have as many as five bedrooms, some have
conference halls and some are even double-storied.

 
Every
here and there you see a fisherman, hounding for Karimeen (pearl spot).
The boat captain excitedly explained to us four different methods to
catch a pearl spot fish and how clinically they do it. Interesting!

 
At
the prow of the houseboat sits Sreehari, 15, after whose name the boat
is named. He doesn’t just share his name with the boat, but he owns it!
The young guy too has his share of knowledge to impart – about Tiger
Prawns, another taste of the Kumarakom. He flashes his torch into the
water, toward the stone wall of the canal’s side and I see two small
bulbs flashing between two stones. And he says those are the eyes of a
Tiger Prawn. Wow!

 
Before
I clicked this photo, it never occurred to me that lightning is the
best source of light for night photography. Yes, this photo was clicked
at 11:40 pm, there was lightening and the photo came out like this.

 
It
may be the company of boatmen, the palatable Karimeen (pearl spot) fry,
mouth-watering tiger prawns curry, a bottle of chilled beer from the
boatmen’s icebox, a romantic night with your other half, or the cruise
across the Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom guarantees you something to cherish
for a lifetime.

A few bird’s eye views have been donated by the Kerala Tourism Board. See them below…

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Herbs & spices from your kitchen can perk up your sex life

A herbal delight!

Herbs & spices from your kitchen can perk up your sex life…

IT NOT just spices up your curries, but also punches up your sex life.

Researchers
have found that fenugreek or methi can increase the sex drive by a
quarter, according to a report in the Daily Mail. When libido levels of
60 healthy men aged between 25 and 52 who took an extract of the herb
were checked, it was found that their scores were much higher than those
who took dummy pills.

The
tests were carried out by the Centre for Integrative Clinical and
Molecular Medicine in Brisbane, Australia. Fenugreek seeds contain
compounds called saponins which are said to stimulate the production of
male sex hormones including testosterone.

The local grocery store
or even your household kitchen can prove to be the best apothecary for
shooting up the sexual drive, as supplying the right food to the brain
can turn you on. For example, the ubiquitous spices like black pepper, chilly pepper, cumin, fennel, flax seeds, and turmeric powder can work wonders for distraught couples. These and other herbs can stimulate the libido, perking up people’s sex lives.

Experts have since long suggested the use of Chinese herbs such as Ginseng
— a sexual stimulant — and native African Kola nuts — known to be great
energy boosters — among others. These herbal aphrodisiacs are most
sought after, as they are cheap, effective and have minimal side
effects.

Studies have also shown that a diet which includes soy
can raise the temperature in the bedroom as soy is beneficial to the
prostate — a very important male sex organ. A food rich in granola, oatmeal, cashews, walnuts, garlic and onion,
can lead to improved blood circulation, also boosting the male sex
drive. Even a diet rich in iron and zinc can prove helpful for those
having a tough night life.

Many experts say that an unhealthy supply of Vitamin E
can affect the sexual function as well. A diet rich in dopamine can
lead to greater results. Dopamine is a feel good chemical released by
the brain. It motivates people to pursue pleasure and have sex.

  • Also,
    fish, legumes, cottage cheese, red meat, milk, beetroots and peas if
    included in the diet, can increase the sexual stamina.

Ayurvedic experts have their own dose of suggestions. Tribulus, Sarsaparilla, Siberian Ginseng, Saw Palmetto are herbal plants which have a proven record of increasing the sex drive, according to them.

Who’s spying on Pranab, PM in waiting?

After The Indian Express exposed the eavesdropping on Pranab Mukherjee’s office, the finance minister brushed it all away, saying the Intelligence Bureau had investigated his complaint and found nothing serious.

That spies could easily walk in and out the finance ministry is scandalous enough. (Were they insiders, and if they were, aren’t we compromising national security by not identifying them and punishing them?) And for our finance minister to say it was just a trifling little matter seems even more scandalous. He first sought a secret investigation and then called in private sleuths to check what was happening. Obvious question: Why didn’t he call in the home ministry’s detectives? (Possible answer three paras on).

Also, is the government trying to hush it all up? One explanation being given out is that adhesive was found under the tables, but it was just some chewing gum. Really? And why would anyone stick chewing gum at 16 strategic spots, and in rooms where India’s top financial policies are discussed and decided? Three chewing-gum adhesives were stuck in Pranab’s room alone. And why were there grooves on those blobs?

Who could have spied on Pranab-da, as he is called in Delhi’s political circles? Were his bosses keeping an eye on what he was doing? And does that explain why he doesn’t want to talk about it? We list some suspects.

P Chidambaram: The BJP believes Home Minister P Chidambaram was up to some mischief. Now, if that were true, it would be logical to conclude that the battle within the cabinet for the No 2 position is being fought behind the scenes, and that the contenders aren’t shying away from employing dirty tricks. Pranab is now the undisputed No 2: Sonia Gandhi’s trusted man for all seasons, and Manmohan Singh’s ready deputy. Why is the No 2 position so coveted? Well, parliamentary elections are due in 2014, and if the UPA wins again, and Manmohan Singh decides he has had enough and would like to retire, No 2 could become the prime minister (if Rahul Gandhi remains on the sidelines, that is). So. Pranab and Chidambaram are also known adversaries, prompting the BJP to make the exaggerated charge that a civil war has broken out. (War within a party is a factional fight, and not quite the same as people of a country killing each other). India Today reports Pranab bypassed the home ministry because of the “fault lines within the government”.

Party bosses: Many in Delhi say Chidambaram couldn’t have ordered surveillance on Pranab without permission from someone higher up, and that means Sonia Gandhi. The finance ministry is a high security area, and not everyone can walk in. The Gandhi family is vaguely wary of Pranab since 1984, the year Indira Gandhi was assassinated. Pranab was then No 2, as he is today, and the family’s grouse is that he projected himself as next-in-line prime minister. The job went to a reluctant Rajiv Gandhi, who didn’t give Pranab a cabinet position. Pranab then quit the Congress and floated a party of his own. It didn’t make any headway. He came back in 1990, and has been a family loyalist since. But suspicions persist, and could have prompted the bugging of his ministry. Journalist D P Satish uses an analogy from princely times to describe the relationship: “Pranab is the dewan of the Congress family. A dewan enjoy huge powers, but he can never be king. It is customary for the royal family to keep a close eye on its most powerful minister.”

Foreign powers: This isn’t as far-fetched as it seems. The Indian government has off and on arrested its own employees on charges of spying. Did someone in some overseas capital get inside information on what India’s finance ministry was thinking at a particular point?And did this country hire Indians working in the finance ministry to place mics so that they could eavesdrop on Pranab’s conversations? Is a larger espionage project afoot to collect information from India’s top leaders? If Pranab can be snooped on, is Prime Minister Manmohan safe? What secrets could have leaked out from Pranab’s office, and who could have benefited is not clear yet. What is stunning is the way the cabinet is taking it all in its stride. No wonder ministers aren’t outraged by private citizens’ complaints of snooping. If powerful ministers in this country are under surveillance, why would they want ordinary citizens spared?

Big business: Lots of very sensitive tapes have come into the public domain recently. They implicate not just the Rajas and the Radias, but also the country’s business icons. It’s possible top ministers clandestinely released these private phone conversations to the media. In the dirty tricks department, what the government can do, the private sector can do better. If the government spies on corporate houses, they can spy right back. Could our business icons have sent undercover agents to find out what was happening behind closed doors? Any advance information from the finance ministry is worth millions at the stock market. Did someone make a killing somewhere using inputs from the country’s financial policy makers? Were the snoopers looking for tip-offs about tax raids?

Political rivals: The BJP has started beating the UPA with the ‘breach of security’ stick. Pranab’s rivals may be tying to dig up enough dirt to keep him out of the top position. But all that’s within the party. Would the opposition BJP snoop on him this way? Theoretically, yes. It’s all possible in the cloak-and-dagger world of Delhi politics, but that party wouldn’t be demanding an investigation so loudly if it were involved in this murky business, would it? Sushma Swaraj has described the incident as India’s Watergate, but we’ll have to wait and see if it brings down the mighty as Watergate did in the US, or if the investigations will go anywhere at all. First Post isn’t surprised by all this: “If the No 2 man in the government, the most powerful cabinet minister in the UPA government who heads several sensitive ministerial committees, can be monitored illegally, it also means that it’s a free-for-all in Delhi’s power game.”

Questions, questions, questions. What’s your conspiracy theory?

Is Turkey the Key?

Is Turkey the Key?

Of the countries I’ve visited, my favourites happen to share important features. They are all large but not intimidating in size, with proportionate populations. They have a varied landscape, a mostly temperate climate, and enough fertile land not only to feed themselves, but to have evolved exceptional cuisines. They are old civilisations possessed of the cultural self-confidence that comes from having been centres of empires, without the hubris or smugness of perpetual victors. I’m thinking of Spain, France, Turkey and Iran, and would have added Italy to the group, had its citizens been less loud, rude and vain. Turkey, despite all its gifts, and a convenient location straddling Asia and Europe, went off the world’s radar for decades. The Orient Express stopped running, and was replaced in the popular imagination by Midnight Express. Indians, who now flock to Istanbul and Cappadocia in the thousands, had little connection with Turkey between the collapse of the Khilafat movement and Mallika Sherawat’s item number in Guru.

The Khilafat movement: we all read about it in school texts; we learned Mahatma Gandhi supported it; but we never understood what it was really about. Which is not surprising, since I have problems wrapping my mind around it even as an adult. Khilafat activists protested against British rule in India because they felt Britain was mistreating the Sultan of Turkey. You might think there were enough complaints to be made against imperialist behaviour locally, what with millions paid out of the Indian treasury to aid Britain’s war effort, and the Jallianwala Bagh massacre; but Mohammad Ali, Shaukat Ali and Abul Kalam Azad were more concerned about the chap in the Dolmabahçe Palace. That’s because the Ottoman ruler, who controlled Mecca and Medina, was the Caliph, or Khalif, symbolic leader of the world’s Sunni Muslims, the latest in a line extending back to the Prophet’s companion and father-in-law Abu Bakr.

At its peak, the tri-continental Ottoman empire encompassed all lands bordering the Black and Red seas, much of the Mediterranean coast and a substantial chunk along the Caspian sea. Turkish rule extended to Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, Cairo, Jerusalem, Damascus, Baku, Baghdad, Sanaa, Athens, Sofia, Belgrade, Bucharest and Budapest. As the list makes clear, Arab capitals wracked by unrest these past few months were once Ottoman territories. By the beginning of the twentieth century, however, the empire had atrophied and its administration decayed. At the outbreak of the first World War, the Ottomans allied with Germany and Austria-Hungary. The opposing Entente powers eagerly drew up plans to dismember the Sultanate, an effort led, needless to say, by the British, who love drawing dividing lines on maps (Scratch a contemporary border dispute and you’ll find a line drawn by a Briton).

The winners of the World War almost had their way. Through the Treaty of Sèvres, much of what is now Turkey was either given to Greece and Armenia, or parcelled out into Italian, British and French zones of influence. The Sèvres agreement would have led to decades of unrest, except that a brilliant General named Mustafa Kemal ignored the Sultan’s orders and fought back. He rallied Turkish troops and defeated Armenians in the east, French forces in the south and Greeks in the west. The allies were forced to negotiate a new treaty in Lausanne, creating an independent nation with borders closely matching those of today’s Turkey. Mustafa Kemal, later to be honoured with the title Atatürk, meaning Father of the Turks, went on to abolish Ottoman rule in favour of a secular republic. This was a catastrophe for the Khilafatists and millions of Muslims around the globe for whom a world without a Caliph seemed inconceivable. Ever since then, radical pan-Islamist movements have promoted the idea of a new Caliphate.

The republic of Turkey did all it could to distance itself from its imperial history. Atatürk commanded that Turkish be written in the Roman script rather than the traditional Perso-Arabic one. The fez was banned, as were headscarves in universities and government offices. After the Second World War, the nation became part of NATO. Though less than 10% of its territory was in Europe, Turkey saw itself as part of that continent rather than Asia. This made qualifying for the football World Cup considerably tougher, but Turkey set itself the loftier goal of qualifying for EU membership.

Unfortunately, the Turkish brand of nationalism and secularism was frequently enforced at gunpoint. Authorities forbade discussion of mass killings of Armenian civilians during the first World War, and tried to squash Kurdish and other minority identities. Atatürk had stressed the need to befriend neighbours, even reaching out to Greeks he had fought; but that legacy unravelled when right-wing Greek Cypriots took over the government of Cyprus. Turkey invaded the island to protect the Turkish population, and the affair ended with a partition in which the southern Greek side was recognised as the legitimate government by the world at large, the northern side by Turkey alone.

At negotiations for full membership of the EU, Turks would be asked, What about the Armenian genocide? What about Kurdish rights? The fact that Bulgaria, hardly a paragon of liberalism, gained full membership of the EU, made Turks wonder if Europeans simply didn’t want a Muslim nation in their Christian club, and were using civil rights as an excuse. When Cyprus was admitted to the European body in 2004, many Turks gave up hope of ever being full-fledged EU citizens.

At the same time, the country’s internal politics led to a shift from its Western focus and hardline secularism. A moderate Islamist group led by Recep Erdoğan, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), won elections after a string of constitutional battles. It liberalised the statist economy and rode an economic boom to two more election victories, the latest coming a little over a week ago. Like India, Turkey had punched below its weight in international fora for decades, weakened by internal troubles. The AKP pitched Turkey not as a wannabe European country, continually slapped on the wrist and sent to the back of the EU queue, but as a Eurasian leader. Critics call the new foreign policy neo-Ottomanism, and view the moderate Islam of the AKP as the thin end of the wedge that will ultimately destroy the secular Turkish state. I am more optimistic. Although I find all communal parties distasteful, I believe the Ottoman’s empire moderation in religious matters and Turkey’s modern liberal civil society will keep fundamentalism at bay. Since the Turkish population is over 99% Muslim, and overwhelmingly Sunni, there’s little scope for sectarian strife arising from the AKP’s policies. The Turkish form of secularism, with its restrictions on headscarves and state control over religious preaching, was neither desirable nor sustainable anyway.

A number of Western analysts are troubled by Turkey’s friendship with Iran, and its worsening relationship with Israel. Prime Minister Erdoğan’s recent words and actions with respect to Syria ought to ease their fears. Erdoğan, a personal friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, threw open Turkey’s borders to Syrian refugees, set up camps to house them, condemned the “savagery” of the Syrian crackdown, and asked Bashar al-Assad to fire his younger brother who has led the assault against protestors. When was the last time you heard such a clear moral line being taken by a leader against a friendly neighbouring regime? It’s a sign that, following the Ottoman empire and Atatürk’s Republic, which served as models to be emulated in earlier eras, Turkey could be the guiding light for newly emergent West Asian and North African democracies in our time.

Congress to Nitish Govt: slaughtering Muslims not “good governance”

Congress to Nitish Govt: slaughtering Muslims not “good governance”

By Md. Ali, TwoCircles.net,

New Delhi: Congress has strongly criticized the Nitish Kumar
government in Bihar for the Forbesganj firing in which the state police
killed four Muslims including one pregnant woman and one infant on June
3.

Referring directly to the firing in a press conference this
afternoon, Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said that Nitish Kumar
had already showed his “good governance” by “slaughtering four members
of minority community.”

Forbesganj police firing victim: Sahil Ansari (6 months)

Tiwari used the firing incident to criticize Anna Hazare who had
praised the governments of Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar for their
“good governance.”

“Is this good governance according to Hazare?” questioned the Congress spokesperson.

This is the first time that the Congress party which is ruling at the
center has raised the issue of Forbesganj at the national level and has
come out strongly against the human rights violation of the minority
community under the NDA regime in the state.

Forbesganj police firing victim: Mustafa Ansari (18)

Nitish is already facing huge criticism from the civil society and
the opposition parties in the state over the firing incident and also
over his failure to punish those responsible for the firing.

On 3rd June 2011, residents of Rampur and Bhajanpur villages under
Forbesganj block in Araria district came out, after Juma Prayer, to
protest against blockade of the connecting road between the two villages
for a factory. The police not only opened fire on the protestors but
chased them to their homes, entered in and killed even women and infant
pointblank. Six people including two women and a six-month-old infant of
the two villages of 90% Muslim population were killed.

Muslim Woman Weight Lifter from America Barred

Weighty issue for Muslim lifter from America

Jun 13, 2011

USA Weightlifting will take Kulsoom Abdullah's case to the IWF this month.

Kulsoom Abdullah took up weightlifting a couple of

years ago when she was looking to get stronger. She quickly grew to love
the sport, entering local competitions and even allowing herself to
imagine one day making it to the Olympics.

But her dream was crushed last week. Abdullah, a 35 year old from Atlanta,
Georgia, was barred from entering the US championships next month
because her Muslim faith requires that she cover her arms, legs and head
– which violates international rules governing weightlifting attire.

“I’d hate to think that just because you dress a certain way, you can’t
participate in sports,” Abdullah said. “I don’t want other women who
dress like me to say, ‘I can’t get involved in that sport’ and get
discouraged.

“It would be nice to have an environment where it wouldn’t be an issue
of how you dress or having different beliefs and faiths.”

The debate over the attire of Muslim women in sport is not new.

Last week, the

Iran women’s football team had to forfeit an Olympic qualifier in Jordan
because the players wanted to wear the traditional hijab headscarf.
Fifa defended its decision by saying the scarves are banned for safety
reasons; the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Fifa
“dictators and colonists who want to impose their lifestyle on others”
and vowed stick up for the rights of the Iranian players.

Muslim
women have competed in other sports, such as athletics, wearing
neck-to-ankle bodysuits and the hijab, most notably Roqaya al Gassra of
Bahrain, who made it to the semi-finals of the 200 metres at the Beijing
Olympics.

“What we hear all the time is, ‘You’ve got to empower
Muslim women around the world’,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for
the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has taken up Abdullah’s
cause. “Well, how can you empower a Muslim woman more than being a
weightlifter?

“She should be encouraged and helped along in this process.
There shouldn’t be arbitrary roadblocks placed in her path.”

Some sports’ rules designed to keep an athlete from gaining an advantage
could run foul of a particular religion. Swimming, for instance, has
banned high-tech bodysuits that led to a rash of world records, ruling
they compromised the integrity of the sport. Now women can wear only
shoulder-to-knee suits that leave their arms and lower legs exposed.

Abdullah, however, made it clear that she is not trying to gain any sort of
competitive edge. When first starting out, she was allowed to enter
local meets wearing attire that made her comfortable: loosefitting
exercise pants, a tightfitting long-sleeve shirt with a T-shirt over it,
and the headscarf.

As she attempted to move up to higher-level
competitions, she ran up against International Weightlifting Federation
(IWF) rules, which forbid suits that cover either the knees or elbows
because judges must be able to see that both have been locked out to
complete a lift.

But Abdullah said a tightfitting shirt allows
judges to get a good look at her elbows. And, if it meant ensuring a
level playing field, she would be willing to wear a leg covering that
conforms to her religion but allows the judges to determine whether she
has completed a lift. Considering all the advances in athletic apparel,
that should not be a major issue.

Abdullah got a bit of good news last week when USA Weightlifting
agreed to take her case to the IWF this month. If the IWF agrees to
alter its rules, she might still get a chance to do some snatches and
clean-and-jerks at next month’s US championships.

While she is not yet lifting at an Olympic level, she has not given up

on that dream.

“She’s not seeking any kind of advantage. She’s seeking to maintain her
religious principles,” Hooper said. “In an atmosphere of goodwill, these
things can always be resolved.”

Top Five Fruits to keep you Cool this Summer

Five Fruits to keep you Cool this Summer

These
are time of scorching heat. Sun is ruthless and the heat wave
unsparing. But these are also the time when exotic fruits bloom in
plenty.

And these fruits can have an immensely chilling effect on us.
But the problem comes when an entire generation falls for Coke and
Pepsi and gets estranged with the bounties of nature. People are quite
oblivious about the health properties of these fruits. And even if they
know, few care about procuring them.

  IQSoft recommends these five summer fruits to beat the heat this summer:

Black Plum or Jambul

The fruit is useful in spleen enlargement. The seed of the fruit is
well-known diabetes. It reduces the quantity of sugar in the urine and
quenches the maddening thirst. The fruit is also a good source of
antioxidants.

Litchi

The luscious litchi/lychee or Chinese Hazelnut is a very delicious
fruit. People eagerly wait for its arrival during the summers. May-June
is the best season for the fruit. This sub-tropical fruit has very good cooling, demulcent and aphrodisiac properties. It is also a good thirst-quencher.

Mango

It’s not for nothing that Mango is called the ‘King of Fruits’ in
India. The vastly delicious fruit is a storehouse of vitamins A and C.
The ripe mango tones the heart, improves complexion, stimulates hunger,
improves vision and is greatly helpful in liver disorders, loss of
weight and physical abnormalities. The popular mango powder (amchur)
made from green/unripe mango is very beneficial in scurvy and pyorrhea.

Muskmelon

Muskmelon is a popular tropical fruit which is readily available during
the summers. The fruit contains Vitamin A, B, C and minerals like
magnesium, sodium and potassium. It has zero cholesterol and is safe for
blood cholesterol patients. When consumed with jaggery, it helps in the
curing of skin diseases. It greatly reduces the body heat when consumed regularly.

Watermelon

The succulent, scarlet-red watermelon is a delicious and health-building
fruit. It contains large quantities of easily assimilable sugar. Being
an alkaline fruit, it can be easily enjoyed by persons with acidosis.
Its juice quench the thirst like anything. Rich in vitamin A,B, and C,
products based on its juice can serve as wonderful cooling drinks. The
fruit is also beneficial for combating hypertension.

Top 3 Everyday Food Ingredients That Make You Fat

3 Everyday Food Ingredients That Make You Fat

There’s
a lot of ingredients in your food whose name you can’t even pronounce.
Those chemicals, disguised as food in your nutrition label are the
tricky uns worth thinking about – most calorie-loaded loads are always
rich in chemical additives, preservatives and artificial ingredients.

However, there’s also the simpler everyday villains in your pantry.

IQSoft tells you about the simple things in your food that will make you fat.

1-Monosodium Glutamate

Known as MSG, or Ajinomoto (the name of the company that produces it),
Monosodium Glutamate is described as the “essence of taste”. And if your
potato chips are flavored,
they contain MSG. MSG tells your brain that the food you are eating is
tasty by exciting your brain cells. It also enters your brain that is
known to correlate to obesity and other disorders (including short
height and sexual issues)

Which in turn will makes you fat.

Secondly, it may also increase your pancreatic insulin, another reason behind obesity.

Directly injecting MSG into rats has increased their appetite and induce obesity.

What contains MSG: Maggi Noodles, along with a lot of other packaged
noodles. MSG awareness is the reason behind the “MSG-free” you might see
on new “Health soups”It’s also in your chips, your salad dressing, It
goes by names like Accent, ‘Aginomoto, ‘Natural Meat Tenderiser,
Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein, and is in ALL your fast food (especially
McDonalds and KFC)

2-Sugar

Sugar, especially of the
refined variety is not good for you. It’s carbs which you may not burn,
and it also spikes your appetite. On nutrition labels, it might be named
as flour, corn syrup, dextrose,Carob powder, Dextrose, Fructose, Fruit
juice concentrate, Maltose.

“Most people probably have no idea
how much sugar they’re taking in,” said Jo Ann Hattner, a San Francisco
registered dietitian who teaches nutrition courses at Stanford
University School of Medicine.

Sugar, by itself isn’t bad. It’s too much of it – more than 12
teaspoons a day. With your nutrition label in front of you, remember
that 4 gram = 1 teaspoonful of sugar. This should include your daily
consumption of juice, chocolate, lemonade, biscuits, and even your ketchup (yes!). Incidentally, if you eat ketchup everyday, you might be eating close to 200 grams of sugar every week.

3-Sugar Substitutes

If sugar is bad for you, surely an alternative to sugar won’t be? Right?

Wrong!

Aspartame, responsible for “over 75% of adverse reactions reported to
the US Food And Drug Administration…” is present in anything that begins
with ‘Diet’ or substitutes sugar, including Diet Pepsi, Diet Coke, Nutrasweet, Equal, Chewing gum, breath mints

Aspartame causes carbohydrate cravings – specifically cravings for the sugar content.

Top 5 Tricks to fool yourself into not Smoking

Trick yourself into not Smoking

Just like nicotine snuck into your system, you have to use the same wily ways to trick it out of your life.

There’s a lot of easy ways of doing this. Get your notepad (or notepad app) ready.

Don’t Buy a Pack

if you buy a packet of chips,
you’ll want to eat most of it (if not all). While it’s not
chip-addiction we’re cracking down on, the formula is the same. If you
buy one cigarette , you’ll channelize your laziness (into buying another
one) to actually reduce your time between cigarettes.

Smoke only Half a Cigarette Each Time

I don’t have to explain the 50% off on your health.

Remove the ashtrays

The tradition of easing into your comfy chair with a cigarette and a
ashtray- nix it. Throw away your lighters too. Make smoking a chore, an
annoying bodily necessity.

Enlist Fellow Quitters

Peer pressure got you into smoking, now use the same devilish social
conditioning to have the pressure of your fellow man’s expectations of
you. You can pool in your anti-smoking resources and motivate each
other.

Exercise

It’s a simple chemical reaction. Smoking => Nicotine => Dopamine in your brain => Happiness. If you’re already feeling good after enjoyable exercise (it can even be jumping with your kids, as long as you love it)

Change your Brand

You’re overriding the love you have of a specific blend of tobacco with something your throat will chemically dislike.

Smoke Alone

If smoking was bonding time
with fellow addicts, smoking alone will force you to have less of a
reason. On a deeper level, it will show it’s reality as an addiction.

Write down each Cigarette Smoked

Pressure
motivates a lot of clicks of the lighter. Write down the things that
made you want to light up in the first place. Start addressing those.

Smoke Free Zones

Libraries, cultural centers and cinema halls are all places where
smoking is banned. Hang out at such smoke-free zones – the entertainment
options will distract you from smoking.

Top 7 Foods to Help you Quit Smoking

Top 7 Foods to Help you Quit Smoking

Friday, 03 June 2011 22:3

A major change in your lifestyle cannot happen without changing your life holistically.

We have told some cool ways of sneaking the butt out of your reach and explored the relationship between smoking and weight gain, and this seems a good starting point to pay more attention to foods’ role in reducing, and then quitting smoking.

Reduce Cravings for Cigarettes

Avoid sugary foods, red meat, coffee and alcohol.

Sugar, because it precipitates an eventual crash from the sugar high,
andy you’ll crave another high. Red meat makes cigarettes taste good –
just ask smokers. Coffee’s buzz (and subsequent drop – leading to a
craving for another source of caffeine) and alcohol’s neurobiological
effect on your brain makes you crave a cigarette. And when you’re
drinking, you might not be able to remain firm in your resolution to not
smoke.

1-Apples

Maybe 2-3 apples a day. Apples contain
pectin, which reduces your blood toxin content. In adverse cases, it is
known to use an apple-only diet to completely purge the bloodstream diet
of the toxins from cigarettes.

(Above is Charlize Theron doing it all wrong!)

Apples are also crunchy and sweet, and appeal to smokers who need something to do with their mouth.

2-Cinammon

There are many ways you can use cinnamon as a quit-smoking aid.

cinnamon

Simply inhaling deeply on a cinnamon stick mimics the deep drag on a flavorful cigarette.

Secondy, cinnamon boosts brain activity, reduces nervous tension and memory loss – all the temporary side-effects of quitting smoking.

Cinnamon is also good for, well, everything. Your blood, your stomach – cinnamon is a tonic for most things.

3-Ginger and 4-Garlic

Ginger is hot stuff – literally. It makes you sweat out your toxins.
Garlic stabilizes your fluctuating blood pressure when you quit.

6-Milk and Other Dairy Products

Can you imagine smoking after a glass of milk? It sounds uncool. And, it’ll make your cigarette taste bitter.

Plan your daily dose of Horlicks around your regular sutta break.

6-Vegetables

Carrots, celery, broccoli, cucumbers are all foods that that can delay
your urge to smoke with their sheer crunchiness. They can make
cigarettes taste awful and are also known to reduce cravings for
nicotine

7-Salt

A weird tip that works – lick a wee bit of salt with the tip of your tongue. It’ll extinguish your urge to smoke

Tata Manza clocks an incredible mileage of 46.33 km per litre to join Limca book of records

Tata Manza clocks an incredible mileage of 46.33 km per litre to join Limca book of records

The Tata Manza (Quadrajet Aura ABS) has clocked an incredible mileage of 46.33 km per litre. This feat has been…


Monday 6 June 2011 2:33 PM IST

Narayanan Menon with his Tata Indigo ManzaThe
Tata Manza (Quadrajet Aura ABS) has clocked an incredible mileage of
46.33 km per litre. This feat has been achieved by Narayanan Menon, a
resident of Coimbatore who has zoomed into the Limca Book of Records.

Narayanan R Menon, Managing Director of Aromen Engineering Company and a
proud owner of the Tata Manza has been certified for the remarkable
drive on the Coimbatore- Avinashi by-pass on 25th of May 2011. Menon’s
Tata Manza covered a long stretch of 72.3 kilometer on road by consuming
only 1.58 liters of diesel, which translates to an incredible mileage
of 46.33 km per litre.

A mechanical engineer, Menon himself does not credit an amazing mileage
to a ‘magic foot’ rather a combination of good driving and car
maintenance. For a country where fuel efficiency is a significant factor
for automobile ownership and with fuel prices increasing, the feat
certainly bodes well for the mileage conscious customer.

Top 10 Foods to Reduce Belly Fat

Top 10 Foods to Reduce Belly Fat

Not only does belly fat make your abdomen bulge out, it also poses grave risk to of diseases like hypertension, diabetes and stroke. While you should obviously give up oily stuff and junk food, you must incorporate these foods in your diet to get rid of a bloated belly.


Monday 6 June 2011 6:15 PM IST

Obese people find it the hardest to deal with the fat stored in and around the abdomen and the waist.

Not only does belly fat make your abdomen bulge out, it also poses grave risk to of diseases like hypertension, diabetes and stroke. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), men who have a waist more than 40 inches have heightened risk of heart diseases and diabetes.

The most common reasons for the accumulation of fat in the tummy are hormonal imbalance, excessive eating, intake of large quantities of alcohol, sweets and chocolates and lack of exercise. Stress is also one of the prominent reasons for the storage of fat in the belly. Stress triggers the secretion of a hormone called cortisol. Excess of cortisol stimulates the storage of fat around the waist. Then there’s another factor of improper digestion. Due to malfunctioned digestion gastro problems arise and this leads to a persistently puffy belly. As we add years, our efficiency of burning calories goes down, so sluggish metabolism also sets off the buildup of fat around the midsection.

If belly fat is one of your problems and you still thrive on a typical diet full of oily, starchy foods and carbs, it’s time for you to treat this article as a wake-up call. You would need to change your diet drastically. First of all, you should avoid eating two to three hours before bedtime to control the belly fat. At the same time, incorporate foods which can help you overcome the problem.

Here’s some information on foods which you should consume if you have a bloated belly.

Eggs: They provide good quality protein which in turn helps overcome hunger pangs.
Beans: Beans like black gram (chana), green gram (chana), chick peas and green moong bustle with fibre and proteins. They help you shed pounds and improve muscle tone.

Oat Meal: Befriend the good ol’ oats if you’re battling belly fat. Start your day with oats cooked in water or consume them with milk. They’re high in soluble fibre and low in fat.
Vegetables: Green vegetables are rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Consuming vegetables for dinner without chapatis and/or rice is helpful in shrinking the waist size. What’s more, most green veggies have only 30-60 calories per 100 grams.
Barley: Barley has a considerably low glycemic index and contains lots of soluble fibre. This helps in diminishing the circumference of the waist. Regular consumption cuts down the risk of cardiac diseases and type II diabetes.

Green Tea: Polyphenols present in the tea help boost metabolism. Green tea is less processed and contains higher levels of anti-oxidants. It greatly suppresses the appetite.
Milk: When we say milk, we’re not recommending full-cream milk. In fact, make sure you stay away from that. Go for non-fat milk which has the same amount of calcium and protein as full-cream milk but contains less sodium and helps prevent water retention. This reduces bloating.

Yogurt: It’s oozing with calcium and protein and has very less calories (80 calories in a cup of low-fat yogurt).The beneficial bacteria present in yogurt boost immunity and aid bowel movement.
Tomatoes: The luscious red tomatoes contain only 20 caloriesper hundred gram. They are rich in fibres, lycopene and potassium. They avert water retention, thereby also preventing bloating of the belly.

Olive Oil: People realise that veggies are good for health but many find their taste boring. Add a small quantity of olive oil. This will improve the flavour of vegetables and make them tastier. But its real benefit is that it can help you lose the hateful flab around your belly.