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Monday, August 29, 2016

Introverted tastes

Though I do like local cuisine and do make an attempt to have them when I travel somehow my fascination for Indian cuisine is almost bit narrow minded ,somehow I fail to get satiated with other options .
Sushi and Sashimi are known for thier excuiste liking by connoisueers but I have always been prejudiced about these Japanese raw fish delicacies
So when I attempted the first bite of a sashimi it brought amusement and applause from other seasoned gourmets !
Sashimi is raw f...ish sliced and deep frozen quickly on catch so that it never becomes sour later its quick thawed before serving soft and succulent
Taken with wahabi sauce (a pungent sauce of wahabi root )
Sushi is actually raw seafood with vinegarised rice
and a bit sour

A few days back in a Continental sit down dinner at an upmarket Brunei restaurant
  the titles of the three courses were all pompously French .
It started with Oak Chip Smoked Salmon with Salsa Verde
One small bite of it and I had enough
it was just powdered undercooked fish made to look glamourous ,I was reminded of the anaemic models in fashion show ramps weiring wierd hair dos and dresses with people ranking them as beauties , sorry I always felt they needed good food to become healthy good looking ladies
Then came Chicken potatoe with vegetable chiken jas !
well it was just boiled chicken with no taste other than boiled chicken and overcooked potatoe
bland and tepid
Then came a mess called Vegetable lasagna I didn't think I took it to describe it here

 by then I was demanding a Sprite to calm my hungry gut !!
and then I thought retribution came in the form a just dessert as a colourful one was placed with a panache by the waiter ,it looked colourful and inviting
the apple tart with panda coconut sorbet but the apple tart was bitter and the panda was sour !!
so much for the sit fown dinner with the fancy names
give me my Indian food anytime
sorry just my opinion
I fully understand many will not agree with me and no offense meant...
. tastes differ
 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Myths in Cancer





 

The Label Cancer has an ominous ring to it and unlike many other illness that affects humans it creates alarm and anxiety as there is a stigma associated with this disease as an incurable affliction leading to the end of the road.

To a large extent the information cascade of the present times has changed this but at same time a lot of myths and false news hovers around cancer.

The Internet is a double edged sword in the sense it provides unlimited information on anything and  is just a click away but at the same time it depends on the right way to access that information otherwise one is flooded with misinformation,

Cancer is one ailment that has been scourged by such false information.

One of the greatest setbacks to cancer management is these myths.

Way back in 400 BC Hippocrates the father of medicine said that science and opinion are two different things, while science begets knowledge opinion begets ignorance on several occasions

Cancer is abnormal multiplication of tissue cells and spread of these abnormal cells into other parts by blood stream, lymphatic circulation or by direct spread

Each tissue will have its own type of cancer and to call cancer as a single disease is as if to call the Alps a single hill.

So it is with the treatment of cancer, it is unique and different to different types and to different patients.

So many factors like the stage, the aggressiveness ,the condition of the patient ,his other diseases , the center where he has his treatment ,his compliance ,all these factors have a part to play in the outcome of cancer treatment .

So no cancer patient on treatment need to be anxious in comparing themselves to other patients as even in the same type of cancer it could be different in different patients,

This anxiety follows natural discussions that happens between patients and families in cancer hospital waiting rooms ,while this is good in several respects as to get a patients perspective and families outlook to the  treatment undergone and to get tips on food and other issues ,one has to be vigilant of not trying to substitute the experiences  of the other patient for oneself ,because they could be totally different this is where the counselling of health professionals in the center would help the patient to clarify the truth

 

Another very common myth is on diet and supplements

This is one of the most common topics that is addressed when patients and their families meet

Man by nature has a tendency to give advices based on his experiences but medicine being an actual science is not always based on subjective descriptions or advices

At times the advice is given by people who are not related or by visitors or by a neighbor who may his or her own motives or reasons for telling them

Most advices are on diet or on what not to use in diet

There are circulating myths online and offline about food fads for cancer patients those good and those harmful for them

Generally cancer patients have Dysguesia or altered tastes or early satiation or anorexia due to their disease or as adverse effects of their treatments, hence the food consumed would definitely be lesser than earlier and loss of weight and lassitude are very common for cancer patients

Dietary fads are a disaster for such patients

 In most myths most food are banned

Like cancer patients are asked not to take sugar, the explanation being sugar would feed the cancer cells and hence it would grow,

All cells need sugar or glucose for their energy and all food constituents are transformed into glucose or energy, in no way does sugar have any special nutritive factor to malignant cells, in fact sugar is a good form of nutrition for a cancer patient!

Milk is another prohibited food citing its mucous nature as one that would cause mucous secretion from tumors which again is a fallacy, in fact milks are wonderful sources of nourishment.

 

Avoiding red meat is cited often as red meat is said to be cause of several cancers,

This again is not the truth ,red meat like many other co factors if used in long term coupled with other factors like familial tendency or genetic mutants or several other factors that are involved in the slow and long term evolving into a cancer is just one spoke in the wheel and taking red meat alone cannot cause cancer

In cancer patients taking red meat once in while if the patient likes it will only provide him good nutrition, so he or she should not be denied his likes due to fallacies.

Artificial additives are painted as cancer villains most of the additives are taken for enhancement of taste in miniscule quantities and are not responsible for the evil they are blamed upon.

Acidic food to be avoided is another big myth, this is so said as the blood is mildly alkaline PH and acidic food is supposed to topple the balance,

Nothing of the kind as our body has enough in it to balance those mildly acidic or alkaline food and correct its PH by itself and it has nothing to do with cancer.

Supplements are mostly not needed as some are potentially harmful as most supplements do not label their ingredients and are conveniently called as herbal or natural food products or anti-oxidants with tall claims of curing cancer, they are generally costly and world over account for huge business by exploiting a cancer patients who would fall to their advertising charms and spend money which would have been better used for better natural foodstuffs like fruits.

At times some ingredients in supplements may cause kidney or liver damage and this will prevent cancer treatment by using conventional accepted forms of treatment as patient may go in for renal or hepatic failure

We should advice any patient on treatment to inform their physician or health professionals of any supplements planned to be taken by them whatever be the advice or claims the said supplement has

As Andrew Schopenhauer mentioned in 7 th century facts are always not very attractive

Initially they may be ridiculed ,secondly may be violently opposed ,and later only are they accepted whereas false claims are usually accepted easier because they offer escape routes from what the patient fears like undergoing chemotherapy etc but in the long run it is to the detriment of the patient

There is no alternative medicine.

There is only scientifically proven, evidence-based medicine supported by solid data or unproven medicine, for which scientific evidence is lacking

Under the rules of science, people who make the claims bear the burden of proof.

Testimonials or advertisements can never equal scientific evidences or studies

Promoters of quackery wear the cloak of science and are great marketing professionals

Another oft reported accusation is that the scientific community keeps facts away from the patient as a great ploy of the medical and pharmaceutical community, the very fact that the five year survival has shot up from 10 % in the sixties to more than 50 % today suggests this can’t be so !

So the cancer patient or his family should be open to suggestions and discussions with other families or the society itself but the decisions they take for the patient should always be after consultation with their health professional with whom they should discuss any such advises

 They should be beyond myths and should also not spread such myths to other patients.

 


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Penang

I love visiting places with the right mix of history ,culture ,food ,and sights is a delight .
Most of my travels has focused on these and they prod me on ,
Penang in Malaysia has been in my list for long but somehow I kept missing it ,I knew it would be right up my alley and I was proved right after my visit to Penang .
It was just a weekend that I had to spend in this treasure house of travel but it satiated my senses by then .



 Air Asia flight took more than two hours to fly into Kuala Lumpur by now quite familiar to me having visited more than a dozen times ,I had a connecting flight to Penang after two hours but had enough time to saunter into the lounge and refresh myself ,the short hop to Penang was over in an hour from the domestic KLIA II airport 
I had booked a hotel in Georgetown the happening heritage town of Penang its capital and arranged for a cab to pick me up ,in no time I was in the hotel ,the talkative driver giving me tips on the way .
after checking in I went for a night walk as the area itself was full of food places and shops of all descriptions ,I was amazed at the number of thriving food stalls in the street and people gorging themselves on food and drinks no wonder Penang is known for its street food culture 

komtar building

 The next day morning I took a cab to the touristy part of George town .
It resembled Fort Cochin in kerala a lot ,with British rule in both places for more than three hundred years it wasn't surprising at all ,
the streets were narrow filled with antique colonial houses which were well preserved 
The Armenian street was known for its street art by a Lithuanian artist commissioned by the Penang authorities ,
some of the wall painting s were very famously photographed and passed off as souvenirs ,the paintings had a three dimensional touch by real objects cleverly placed for example on the bicycle girls there was a sketch of two girls on a cycle and a real cycle was placed in the correct spot and one could take photos in front of the sketch 
walking around the multitude of boutique shops restaurants Buddhist ,Hindu temples churches and mosques the place was a great meld of culture and religion 
It was warm once the sun came up and walking was an effort but I manged to reach fort Cornwallis became the the biggest fort of British Penang ,Sir Francis light was the soldier officer who built this fort and it had erected canons protecting it in the beach front the chapel the barracks the cemetery I took a rickshaw to escape the heat and felt a little bad at my man pedaling in the heat but he was happy to do his job and took my extra tip with delight .
The heat sapped me of further adventures and I managed to return to the air conditioned comforts of my room after a quick lunch in an Indian restaurant  run by local Tamils called mamak hotel
bicycle path in tourist area


famous mosque














in rickshaw






 After sundown I ventured out again and this time I took a long bus journey form the central bus stand near komtar building  the highest 66 storeyed one in Penang 
Penang itself had done well as an investment hub and was the silicon valley of Malaysia
 It had three bridges connecting to the mainland and one could see this well from the Penang hill to which I was going 
The bus goes up half way upto the hill and there was a well known Buddhist temple with huge pagodas I decided to visit it one my return unfortunately I would be late and would miss the place 
there was a funicular train to go up the Penang hill and there was a long que to get ticket after waiting patiently in the que for more than an hour I found it was for locals and the foreigner que was very short and ticket quite costly too as I had to buy that foolishly I joined the short que after wasting a lot of time but the trip up made it up !
From the top the whole of Penang island and the Malay mainland could be seen quite clearly I walked up the hill for more than a kilometer 
well planned with lot of shops hotels ice cream places and at the end an uphill climb to reach the Murugan temple it was too early to open but I did a round and admired the ingenuity of the local Tamils 
hop on hop off buses


from penang hill










as in Malaysia Penang too has a mixed population of Chinese Malays and Tamils the Chinese Malay combos were the pernagakans and their culinary specialty was the non ya type of food 
After gawking at the setting sun I returned  down and got into a bus to go back to George town ,
I was pretty hungry by then and ventured into a very busy street food area ,I found a very big crowd around one particular stall making kar cheow teow or flat noodles and prawns so I too stood in the que and took videos of how he made the delicacy ,the chef had a trained and easy way of doing it he had a huge burning stove and he would dunk flat noodles in some boiling oil later some prawns a couple of sauces break a couple of eggs all the while stirring it with vigour as the fire would burnish the food later he added a few bits of cooked pork some spring onions sprouted beans some more sauces and handed  the mix in a paper plate with a flourish 
one could find a local table as I did and using a spoon and fork instead of chopstick used by most I tasted the delightful mix and washed it down with a nice beer !






metal art








Next day I  would again visit George town to make a leisurely walk and this time see an old man  making paper planes another one making seas shell paintings ,every local art were encouraged 
By afternoon I left in a cab to go tot he snake temple which was a monastery where snakes frequented all I could see were some sleepy coiled green snakes in a branch and a couple of pythons which were used for photographs with visitors 
I wisely turned  down the endearing offers for a picture with those slimy reptiles and just left the  much hyphed snake temple and walked in the afternoon sun to see a neighboring Hindu temple for Lord Shiva but since it was afternoon the Gods and the priests were having their beauty sleeps and I did not want to disturb  them any more so I walked past a closed church and found a sardar standing with a mobile phone in front a huge new Gurudwara
 ,he invited me in and gave me scarf to cover my head he took me up in a lift and showed me the prayer hall where I closed my eyed for a second  and wished him  Sat sree Akaal Darjee and left to the airport in the cab .

street art in Armeninan street





snake temple





Gurudwara

cool mojhito




fort cornwallis

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The Penang airport was quite big with a lovely duty free bit and i spent some time before my flight to kuala lumpur 
aa quicjick hop to Penang my long standing wish was done thus .

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