Monthly Archives: January 2010

The Right Path

Every once a while we stop in our fast paced lives to check if we are going in the right path. This term called ‘right path’ is tough to define. It is tough to define because every entity defines it in its own way. But one thing is for sure. At the end of this right path that we intend to travel with all our energy lay the tree which yields the fruits of success and happiness. For every entity, an organization or an individual this tree is the inspiration to go on. It is the inspiration to rise up from every failure and keep moving towards this destination with more effort and energy than before. Any path that we are sure to take us to this tree is the right path. We define the right principles by what we call core values which guide us along the right path we have chosen. It is using these core values we can check if we are on the right path. We check if we are going in the right path in three occasions. One, if we are very proactive we stop once a while and check if we are on the right path. Two, we fail miserably at something which takes us to success. And the last occasion is on special occasions. One such day is today. The Republic Day of India. As a nation, we must check if we are what our core principles say we are. As a nation of over a billion people we strive to become the largest super power in the world and still remain a democratic nation. There are countless arguments that our nation is not going in the right path because of so many factors such as corruption, over population which remains untapped, crime rate, selfish leaders, thoughtless laws, pending cases in courts, poverty, internal fights over linguistic issues, over caste, creed and religion, useless education system, the bottom of the pyramid never getting benefited and so on. I agree. In short it may be put as our nation is not going in the direction our ancestors wanted it to go. It is true. It may seem like our dreams of becoming a super power will remain a dream. This is not the first time our nation has been in this state since Vasco da Gama found his way to India. There are two things which we can do now. Either keep lamenting over it, sit idle and let the devil drive our country right into hell or as a citizen, do our part to the nation and show what happens when a nation of a billion people fight back. And by the wish of good will, every time in recorded history we have chosen the latter and have succeeded. We have chosen to fight back with more strength and more commitment. As a citizen, we are not expected to great things. We can help the nation go in the right path by doing simple things such as following road rules, keeping the environment clean by making proper use of the dust bin, preserving places of cultural and tourist importance by keeping ourselves from inscribing our names on them, spreading the knowledge and love we have to others who do not have them, paying taxes, phone and electricity bills correctly and on time etc. There are some serious issues which we find hard to fight like corruption. But as a citizen, if we give our best to the nation, then by the laws of nature it will be reciprocated and the nation will give its best to us. This time it is our turn to make the choice which our ancestors made in their times. On this day I request you to ask yourself what choice you have made. To save the nation and come out as the largest super power Earth has ever witnessed or, go down as individuals. Now go out there and show the world what a billion people which joined hands can do! Happy republic day everyone! Proud to be an Indian!

Do comment about your choice. 

An Interesting Comparison

I was driving my brand new Yamaha R1 along a beach at over 300 kmph. The road was long and empty. I could feel the sea breeze on my chest. But my machine was a beast. It kept itself above the 300 mark with little effort. Soon I reached my house. It is not just any other house. It is a big farm house. Pretty much like what you see in the movies. I enter through the gigantic main gate and drive past the lush green meadows. I park my bike in the garage beside the silver Rolls Royce and get down. As I walk down the corridor my pet Labrador comes running to me. I push open the wonderfully carved teak wood door. From a distant hill I hear a voice. It sounds very familiar to me. It was my college roommate’s. The voice said, “Get up idiot! It’s 8:30 already!” Oh boy! This is the third time of the week I am going to be late to first hour class. I rush through my morning chores, skip breakfast as usual wondering if the last time I ate breakfast in college was in first year and run to class. I am fifteen minutes late. The canned response I get from the lecturer is ‘”next class.” After that there is no arguing but to move away. He just doesn’t understand that a budding engineer with big dreams and ambitions is waiting at the door step to start his pursuit of knowledge and he is just getting plainly dismissed off. I came down to the chota canteen to get myself some noodles and sit at the stone bench opposite to my department. It was a hot and tasty snack. My mind started to think about what to do for the week as I planned to sit there for the rest of the hour and hopefully make it to the next class on time. The following weekend I had my mid semester exam. Before that I had to submit an assignment, give a seminar for 2 out of 10 marks of internals, some record work, prepare slides for project review, pay mess bill, some fine for a random reason which would be added with it for every student and… As I was trying to recollect I saw a goat passing by. Yes a goat. It is a common domestic creature in my college. It caught my attention suddenly. It went to the nearby shrubs and nipped a bit. Then went to the nearby tree shade, sat down and started enjoying the weather. Out of the blue I became so jealous of the goat! The life it had! I mean think about it for a moment. It has no worries at all. No assignments, no exams, no attendance, no boring lectures, no mess bill, no pressure and not even a deadline to meet! It can go anywhere, eat and sleep anytime. No mess food! And still no one questions it. It is not even made into a meal like in other places because I study in a Brahmin college. And here I am sitting before it trying to recollect when I had my last breakfast! Aargh! I have become so jealous of a goat’s life! I wanted to become a goat! For the sake of living a lazy carefree life! I even prayed to God that in my next life I should be a goat in my college and sit next to a frustrated engineering student like this very same goat. And then something happened. Nothing big actually. The bell rang. So I had to rush for the next hour only to spend the rest of my day in class thinking what all I can do as a goat in this college in my next birth.

Awaiting comments!

It Happened to Me Once

It was 2 AM in the morning. I was chatting with my friend in GTalk about the movie I saw the previous evening, ‘Unnai Pol Oruvan’. It was such a wonderful movie. Many of who have seen the Hindi version claimed that was better. But I was not bothered.  I loved this movie and I was telling him about how it was. Every scene of the movie was green in my mind. The movie was literally flawless. As I was narrating him the story, my phone started ringing. I looked at the caller ID read ‘Private Number calling’. This was the first time in my life to see such an ID showing up in my mobile. It was such an unusual call at such an unusual time. But by the look of it, I was sure that call is not going to bring good times. Probably because of the movie I just enjoyed. The volume kept increasing and so was my pulse rate. My mind started making umpteen numbers of connections and calculations about the call. Who might it be? Could it be some terrorist like in the movie? What could be his motives? Will he threaten me about some bomb hoax? Or will I have to play the part of the reporter like in the movie? Or will I have to run for my life after the call? Or could it be something even worse? As I was hallucinating myself in these situations, the phone kept ringing. It was very strange. The night was very silent and calm. I was completely normal and when I saw the caller ID everything changed. I suddenly felt like I was the only person around in a lonely forest. I could feel my heavy breath and the sweat dripping on my forehead. Undeterred, the good part of my mind convinced me that it should be some routine procedural call from the service provider. So I picked up the mobile and answered it.  Initially there was a horse noise. After a short pause I heard a voice. It said “Salaam malikum bhai!” Though the voice was very calm I felt the depth of evilness in it somehow. Maybe the sixth sense in me started working. The voice sounded like that of a murderer. So sinister it was. Just these three words uttered by the caller kept echoing in my mind. As it echoed more my heart was beating with increasing speed every second. Adrenaline was rushing through my veins. My spine became so chill all of a sudden, fingers started shivering and tongue became completely dry. I tried to speak but my vocal system was paralyzed to function. The good part of my mind was trying to boost me up with everything it could but sadly it was no match for the other side this time. Somehow I managed to ask the caller “Who is this?” After a brief pause, the caller responded “Listen to me bhai. I have something to tell you.” That was enough to set me in super escalated hyper mode. I immediately cut the call in a reflex, gulped down half a litre of water, put my mobile into my drawer, took the ipod and ran out of the room and to the terrace. My mind went completely blank and I was in goose bumps. In an attempt to calm myself down I played my favorite songs at full sound. Gradually after an hour I was back to normal physically though I was still terrified. As I was walking around I saw one of my friends having a talk with his uncle in the US. The call got cut for some reason and when it came again and I looked at the caller ID. What I saw there made my heart skip a beat. It was written ‘Private Number calling’! I was completely convinced that a terrorist from some foreign land had called me up. I immediately ran back to my room and took out my mobile. There was no number in the received calls but just a blank entry. I wanted to call up the police and ask for Z-level security. I did not care what that meant but as long as it saved me from whatever that terrorist had in mind for me I wanted it. When I looked at my laptop which was still on, my friend whom I was chatting with left a message and went offline. It said “Dude. You need to know that when I call your mobile using Skype all you get is private number calling!”    

Searching for a reason to be kind???

“ Do not encourage beggars unless they are physically handicapped.. These people are a real disgrace to our country..they are the embodiment of laziness.. blah blah blah” . I’m sure we must have all come across such statements from our parents, our elders and teachers. Somehow , I have never questioned that so far in my life! But then, the recent decade that passed by and the one that has just begun has got something in it ,that stands out in the grey area waiting to be classified… Something that you totally can’t call laziness and neither can you call it a handicap! Something between these two categories.

It is a very common sight these days at our local bus termini and railway junctions, to see a few children in total rags, with dirty little hands and legs and hair that never got a chance to glimpse upon a bottle of hair oil! These little men and women come up to you pulling a sorry face and ask you for money! And they are just no ready to take a “NO” for an answer! They pull your shirts’ end or keep nagging you making all sorts of actions related to hunger! Sometimes they can be real pests!

Even as I use this word “pest”, I feel sorry for it! Now these little kids can’t be blamed for anything that they do because they don’t even know they are doing! Right from birth they have been experiencing only poverty and neglect that they do not know that there is a beautiful world out there and a meaningful living in it! Totally being refused from all goodness that life has to offer, these little ones have really done nothing to deserve this fate! I’ve wondered how these kids would feel when they see another kid of their age, well dressed and well fed while they strive hard at a very immature age! For a very long time I was confused as to how to react when these children came to me asking for money! Should I give them money? Or Should I not? Probably if I give them money, would I be encouraging them to stay this way all through their lives? Or if I don’t give them money, will my conscience approve of it? I really didn’t have an answer to this. So usually I would make it a point to silently move away from such places when I see them.. But would later feel bad for having moved away because that is very much, in naïve terms, an act of cowardice!

But recently, I found an answer to this!

After celebrating a fabulous beginning of this year with my cousins at our granny’s place, it was time for everybody to pack up and push our respective ways back homeward! It was half past 12 and we were all waiting for a bus! Meanwhile, a little boy approximately 7 years old, came to us asking for money! I first tried to shoo him away. But he just wouldn’t go! He came around us again and again. I barked at him for the second time. The poor kid got a bit scared and moved away! But he still stood at a distance watching us! Now, I felt there was something about this kid that pricked me! It was New year’s day. We were all happy, well dressed and well fed! And this poor kid has been deprived of it all totally! Stranded in the streets, this special day made no difference in his life! So what if it was the beginning of a year or it’s end.. He would anyways have to beg for his food! As I was looking at him, suddenly my language teacher’s words rang loud into my ears. “Never give money to beggars but feed them if you can. You will feel a difference” . He was one of my best inspirations back at school.. He told us one day in class that even such people need to be treated with courtesy and respect as they too deserve a good life! I don’t know why and how this thought hadn’t come up in my mind earlier, but that day it struck me .. I called that boy aside and took him to a nearby tea stall and got him a cup of tea! He silently stood sipping it in one corner and meanwhile throwing quick glances at me in between as if I would take away his tea. I silently watched him as he gulped down the entire cup! He kept the glass tumbler back and he started walking away from the place. After taking a few steps, he stopped and looked at me.. and then carried on! Believe it or not, but it was the most divine glance I had ever seen! Out of all the dusty appearance, his eyes shone brightly! And I just can’t describe how good I felt that day! And then when I turned back to my cousins, my little cousin told me in a low tone “good job anna” ! I smiled at her and went into a nearby shop to get something to drink for myself! When I came out, I was surprised to see that there was another small kid ..even younger than that one.. and one responsible cousin of mine was getting him something to eat! I felt very happy… Not because she fed the kid, but because I felt a chain reaction was generated there! A good chain.. I realized then , that there is actually so much goodness in this world that can make this earth a better place if we all come together for a good cause! And I left the place then, with a light heart and the satisfaction of knowing that I don’t have to feel uncomfortable anymore with those children!

And an earnest appeal to our citizens.. We can’t just wait for change to happen one fine day! We need to initiate it and be the change that we want to see! Regarding this specific issue, now there is an organization called “The Red Society”. Anywhere inside TamilNadu , if you come across such children , please contact this number 9940217816.Furthur details will be furnished about this soon! Thank you!

We are all blessed with the power to make miracles happen.. We just don’t realize it most of the times!

India – The Emerging Super Power in Stem Cell Research

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. 
 ~Arthur C. Clarke

I think this saying is very true. Let me prove this with an example. Let us assume a person meets with an accident, damages his spinal cord and is paralyzed. This means he cannot recover back to normal state anytime soon. What happens if a doctor treats him with a few injections and he is completely recovered in 2 years! If that seems to be a fiction, I shall take another example. An alcoholic spoils his liver. Traditionally he needs to do a liver transplant it but what if he can recover in six months or less in just a few injections? What if these are very economical that even a daily wager can afford it? Unbelievable? But all this is very true without any magic from Harry Potter! This is done by using a new technology called Stem Cell Therapy. When I read about it, the realization it gave me was like an atheist coming face to face with God. Here is a brief intro to this magic

What is Stem Cell Therapy?   
Have you every wondered how a baby is formed from the embryo? Of course, the obvious answer would be repeated division of the cells in it. When you look again into what you just said you meant ‘from the cells of the embryo more than 200 types of cells in various parts of the body is formed’. Every part of the body right from the brain to bones are formed from a single type of cell in the embryo. This is precisely the base of stem cell therapy. These cells in the embryo are called stem cells. In an adult, these are still available in bone marrows, pupil of the eye etc. It is because of these, human body is able to regenerate injured cells and body parts. Adult stem cells are weaker than the younger ones. This answers why older people find it tough to recover from severe injuries. Stem cell therapy is a treatment procedure from which stem cells are extracted and injected in the damaged portion where it grows into the required type of cell and viola! You are back to normal! This is the magic of stem cell therapy. 

From Where are the Stem Cells Extracted?
Stem cells may be extracted from your bone marrow or pupil etc. There are three types of stem cell transplants. Autologous, Allogenic, Syngenic. In the first case, cells are from self. In the second case, it is from another individual, either a relation or totally unrelated person. In the last case, it is from the identical twin. In most cases only autologous transplants are used. This brings us to our next question.

Where do I get the Young Stem Cells from?
Young stem cells are available in the embryo and umbilical cord. Young cells are very effective in blending into any body part and doing their magic. Couples are paying between seventy five thousand and one lakh to preserve the stem cells of their baby’s embryo within 2 weeks of its formation. These are stored in stem cell banks. This is a clear indication of where stem cell therapy is going in the future. 

State of Stem Cell Research in India
India is driving the express of Stem Cell Research and Therapy! Several centers are established for research and therapy in India. Some of them are

Apollo Hospital, Chennai
Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, Kolkata
All India Institute of Medical Science, New Delhi
India Hospital Tour
Nichi-In Center for Regenerative Medicine, Chennai
LifeCell, Chennai
Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, Mumbai
Reliance Group of Hospitals

Apart from this several small players are also into the sector. 

Applications so far
Though the stem cell therapy is in its nascent stages in India, several diseases such as diabetes, cancer, neurology, cardiac, ocular, liver problems, fractures and injuries due to accidents etc. In future, almost any disorder can be cured using this technology.

Stem cell therapy though it has its own group of critics stating moral issues, it is still a very valuable technology to be over-looked. Also, doctors are not sure how the stem cells react to various parts of the body. We don’t want a bone to be grown in the brain! Government of India is also spending more on this sector. Research in this field is advancing very rapidly and India is at the top of it! Proud to be an Indian!