Friday, December 08, 2006

Open your eyes and save your heart

LittleIndia, a small magazine available freely in Indian grocery stores and restaurants and targeted towards Indians immigrants in America, ran a cover story on Killer Belly. It mostly talks about how recent research throughout the world has show how Indians, even seemingly healthy looking ones, are more inclined to having a heart disease and dying young. Dr. Enas A. Enas, Director of the Coronary Artery Disease among Asian Indians (CADI) Research Foundation and Advanced Heart Lipid Clinic in Downers Grove, Ill, and a clinical associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has been doing this pioneering research since last 15 years. The article contains good anecdotal accounts of people getting heart diseases at a young age and lot of statistical data. This acted as a shock therapy for most of them as they got a bad wake up call when they were tested after their heart pain episodes. I know couple of my friends, who at a young age of 30, have to worry about decreasing their cholesterol. While you can read the article for more details, I will try and highlight some important points for my friends.

If you're an Indian woman and measure more than 32 inches or an Indian man over 35 inches, brace yourself.

U.S. studies have found that Indians in the United States have three to four times the heart disease rate of the mainstream U.S. population.

Indian men, no matter where they live, have one of the highest rates of heart disease in the world, even if they have low levels of traditional risk factors such as cholesterol. In fact, even non-smoking vegetarians under 40 who exercise regularly may be at high risk.

Under mainstream standards, a BMI of 25 is considered normal, 25-30 is considered overweight and more than 30 is considered obese.

Dr. Enas says:
A BMI of 23-25, which is normal for Americans, is considered overweight for Indians and 25 becomes obese

Indians have a genetic predisposition and if you have a family history you know you have a higher risk of heart disease

We quickly develop abdominal obesity and that leads to the condition known as metabolic syndrome, whereby your triglycerides and small, dense LDL, the worst part of bad cholesterol, goes up, while HDL2B, the best part of your good cholesterol, goes down.

Sure genetics is one of the main reason why we get heart diseases, but environmental factors, namely food, smoking/alcohol habits and physical activity, contributes in a big way. The key is to do the right exercise. One has to do an exercise which not only increases the heart rate but also maintains it at that level for at least 45 mins to an hour. Most of the people know that they are not doing enough cardio but they keep procrastinating as they think that if nothing is broke, why fix it. This is the prime reason why it has become a silent killer. Atherosclerosis, or accumulation of plaque in arteries, can happen so silently that in lot of cases, its not even visible through a regular ECG exam. Usually, when you actually get some kind of chest pain thats when you find out and by that time lot of damage has already been done.

Dr. Enas says:
Early testing, aggressive treatment, and diligent management of risk factors through lifestyle alterations is imperative among Indians to reduce the devastating economic, emotional, and social consequences to the individual and society that premature, severe, malignant heart disease currently poses to Indians everywhere.

Genetics loads the gun, environment pulls the trigger. So if you get heart disease, don't blame your parents and grandparents. Do something.

You can find the introduction about Dr. Enas here and read the first chapter of his new book "How to beat the heart disease epidemic among south asians - A prevention and management guide for Asian Indians and their Doctors".

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bloglines Rules

I know some of you already use but I started using it just a few weeks ago. I feel so much connected now. Bloglines makes it so easy to keep track of all the blogs you read on a regular basis. It shows you all the blogs as unread mail folders and whenever you access any of the folders (blogs) it shows you the summary of all the new blog posts. It also has AJAX enabled updates so your blogline window gets updated without you having to manually refresh the window.

Rock on Bloglines.


I was looking at various projects listed on this Indicorps website when I came across this list of fellows. To my surprise, these are all the kids raised in the US or other countries, going and living in rural/urban India to give back to the country. This way, they get a good international experience and get to learn a lot about India by living and traveling. Hats off to the kids who have done this or are doing this right now and hats off to their parents for providing their kids with good guidance and financial security.

Suddenly the stereotypical image of an Indian-American kid crumbles. I do not know a single 'desi' guy/girl who have done this. Perhaps because they are still in the process of setting up their own financial foundation and security. Perhaps...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Create your own Jackson Pollock

NYTimes reports that David Martinez, a Mexican financier, just bought a Jackson Pollock's drip painting, "No. 5, 1948", for $140 Mil. from a Hollywood entertainment magnate, David Geffen.

Well, what do I know about art, but you can create your own drip painting at this website.

Image Courtesy: NY Times

Friday, October 13, 2006

Surati Ghazal

Gujarati reading skills: Required

Read it in a surati/parsi style

It took me a while to get this but once you get it, its pretty funny. I couldn't stop laughing for a while. Hats off to whoever wrote this.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

You must have heard the news last year about how the creationists on the Kansas School Board advocated that the Intelligent Design Theory be taught in the classroom along with the Scientific Darwinian theory of Evolution. This year voters voted noncreationists in majority (6 to 4). Well, someone here has written this open letter to Kansas School Board. Its simply brilliant.

I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most sense to them. I am concerned, however, that students will only hear one theory of Intelligent Design.

San Jose Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon

Most of you know I ran the San Jose Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon last Sunday. I have been telling the same thing to lots of people so I will just create a post to share this with everyone. The first marathon I ran was San Francisco, US Half. SJ RnR was certainly easier as the course is almost flat with no big hills like SF US-half. There were lots of rock bands on the way. Water stations were arranged at good distance and they had gel shots at mile 9. Perfect!

My performance:

  • ChipTime: 2:27:25
  • ClockTime: 2:28:55
  • Overall: 5376
  • Pace: 11:15
  • Total_in_race: 8291
  • Total_in_division (30-34): 552
  • Total_in_sex (M): 3487
  • 5k: 35:16
  • 10k: 1:09:12
  • 10mi: 1:52:55
  • Age grade: 39%

After the finish line, they had wet towels, sprinklers to get yourself wet, finisher's medal, spanego sponsored sandals to get out of those sweaty shoes, bagels, muffins, energy bars and water bottles.

The course was such that the 6th and 13th mile were overlapping. So, when I was about to reach the 6 mile marker, I could see the Kenyans zipping past me to finish their race. The first ranker, Duncan Kibet ran the 13.2 miles distance in 1:00:22 at sub 5 min/mile pace. Simply amazing. First woman to finish was a Russian Silvia Skvortsova who completed the race in 1:09:17.

Overall experience was very positive. I will definitely recommend this run if you want to improve your timing.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Brainy Bay Area

Three Nobel Prizes in three days. With Stanford, UCB and UCSF in 50 mile radius and an environment of innovation, anything is possible in the Bay Area.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Planet or not, fun facts about Pluto

1 Astronomical Unit (AU)= 93 000 000 miles
1 light year= 63 000 AU
= 58 00 000 000 000 miles (5.8 trillion miles)
Speed of light= 186 000 miles / second

Pluto, is about the farthest planet (now dwarf-planet) located in the Kuiper belt, about 31-51 AU far from earth. That means light will take between 4-8 hours to reach pluto from earth.

To calculate - ( (31 or 51) * 93000000) / (186 000 * 3600) = 4.3 or 7.08 hours

I think its a great thing that we are looking at and questioning the definition of a planet as and when we discover new objects in the Kuiper belt. It shows whether we are ready to learn and question our own beliefs and assumptions. I don't think it matters to Pluto or for that matter any other object whether we call it a planet or a dwarf-planet. It will exist in the shape and form its supposed to and will move in the same fashion it is supposed it. Its more for us, whether we want to include more objects in our planet system or not based on our old definitions and new discoveries.

Refer to UCAR website for more details -

Read about Pluto, Kuiper belt objects (KBOs), 2003 UB313

Some other interesting facts

  • Our milky way galaxy has about 200 billion more stars like Sun
  • The width of our galaxy is about 90 000 light years
  • The Sun (and our solar system) is revolving around the center of the Galaxy at a speed of 0.5 million miles an hour, but it still takes 200 million years for it to go around once.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Yeh Hai Meri Kahani - Zinda

Its been a while since a good hindi song touched my heart. I love oldies because of the melody and more importantly the lyrics. Newer songs are sometimes melodious but still don't cut it to be called poems..However, this song from Zinda really touched my heart so wanted to share it with you all. It is sung by a pakistani group - Strings.

यह है मेरी कहानी – ज़िन्दा
Singers – Strings, John Abraham
Lyrics – अनवर मक्सूद

यह है मेरी कहानी
ख़ामोश ज़िन्दगानी
सन्नाटा कह रहा है
क्यूँ ज़ुल्म सह रहा है

एक दासतां पुरानी
तनहाई की ज़ुबानी
हर ज़ख्म खिल रहा है
कुछ मुझ से कह रहा है

चुभते काँटे यादों के दामन से चुनता हूँ
गिरती दीवारों के आँचल में ज़िन्दा हूँ

बस यह मेरी कहानी
बेनिशां निशानी
एक डर बह रहा है
कुछ मुझसे कह रहा है

चुभते काँटे यादों के दामन से चुनता हूँ
गिरती दीवारों के आँचल में ज़िन्दा हूँ

बजाए प्यार की शबनम मेरे गुलिस्तां में
बरसते रहते हैं हर सिम्ट मौत के साए
स्याहियों से उलझ पडती है मेरी आँखें
कोई नहीं .... कोई भी नहीं जो बतलाए
मैं कितनी देर उजालों की राह देखूँगा
कोई नहीं ... है कोई भी नहीं
न पास न दूर
एक प्यार है
दिल की धड़कन
अपनी चाहत का जो एलान किए जाती है
ज़िन्दगी है जो जिए जाती है
खून के धूँट पिए जाती है
ख्वाब आँखों से सिए जाती है

अब न कोई पास है
फि़र भी एहसास है
स्याहियों में उलझी पडी
जीने की एक आस है
यादों का जंगल यह दिल
काँटों से जलथल यह दिल

चुभते काँटे यादों के दामन से चुनता हूँ
गिरती दीवारों के आँचल में ज़िन्दा हूँ

Friday, June 16, 2006

Aggressive teams in WC 2006

World Cup 2006 is turning out to be a very entertaining world cup to watch. I remember watching the games in the previous world cups with only a handful of attacks, but in this WC, the teams are playing very aggresively. The african teams from Ivory Coast and Trinidad and Tobago gave awesome fight to heavy weight European teams before going down. Ecuador is sitting on top of the group with Germany. The classic heavyweights are looking very sharp this year. Brazil, Argentina, England, Germany are putting up quite a show out there. The fans are amazing and the atmosphere in the stadiums is almost always "electric".

Monday, June 12, 2006

Czech - 3 USA - 0

In the first opening match of Group E against Czech republic, USA succumbed to a 3-0 loss. The Czech team was assumed to be a slower and older team but people forgot that experience is something that is only beatable by superior skills, which the US showed very little of in today's game. The towering czech forward Jon Koller at 6' 7" scored a dream goal in the fifth minute. From this early setback, it felt like the USA never recovered. They were very defensive and scared to tackle one-on-one. After the second goal, they should have been more agressive and should have been trying to make a goal with urgency, but instead of trailing 2-0 to the Czechs, the US team played a slow safe game. They weren't be able to go past the midfield and were taking the ball back all the way to their goalkeeper. This gave them less time to engineer a goal.

At the end of the day, I believe the better team won. If the US wants to survive the first round, they will have to bring a better game against Italy on the 17th.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Testing Hindi

चलती चक्की देख कर, दीया कबीरा रोय
दुइ पाटन के बीच में, साबुत बचा न कोय
- संत कबीर

Monday, June 05, 2006

Blogger messed up!

Aargh!! I have been trying to write something in Hindi here for sometime. Finally I created a post and posted here but it wouldn't show the characters properly, only ????. So, I published the post, quit the browser, logged back in to blogger and edited the post. The content was gone. All I could see now was ???? instead of hindi characters. So frustrating that blogger didn't save my content as is.

Has anyone figured out how to post in hindi/gujarati? I can type in the text box but when I post/publish, I don't see the proper font even if I wrap the text in <font face="Mangal"></font>

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Bravo Stephen Colbert!!

I have been busy preparing for our Europe trip so haven't been able to write anything, but when I saw this video I couldn't stop. I had to share it with everyone.

This video of comedy central's Stephen Colbert delivering a speech at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner in his own style is out of this world. Its a must see. You can see it at google video.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Beautiful Gem

Mind Without Fear
- Rabindranath Tagore

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action---
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

I was reminded of this gem by a rediff post. Thanks Arun Krishnan.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Remember Minority Report?

Check out this video. Pretty soon this kind of multi-input touch screen will be a reality.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Gateway to Information or Tool of Oppression?

Google has been in the midst of a debate about its action of allowing the Chinese communist government to censor Google's search results in China.

On one side of the argument it is becoming a tool of oppression for the Chinese government as Chinese citizens are not being allowed access to "sensitive" information. A company, whose motto is "Don't be evil", should not become a partner of some government willing to do evil by only allowing filtered information to get through to the masses.

On the other hand, why should Google care about how it manages to penetrate a controlled market? It is in the business of making money and it can choose to make reasonable decisions to improve its bottomline. Politics should be left for the governments.

On principle, it should not have gone in, but lets be practical here. How can Google be labelled as becoming a tool of oppression while others are merrily doing business with the oppressors? If Google decides not to go in, can Google be assured that no other American company will do business with the Chinese? Why should some companies be allowed to do business there while others can't? Who will make sure others don't go to China? Well, no one can, and hence Google's choice is valid.

Besides, there is one more very strong reason which is often overlooked. Its digital filtering. No computer system is that solid that it won't have bugs or allow tweaks and easter bunnies to sneak in. Its software after all. Would you rather that Chinese people do not have access to any information at all or that they have access to some information? I would choose to let them have some access rather than none. Perhaps minds can be transformed by ideas expressed in ways which are not obvious to censorship boards. At least we have some form of a channel of communication.

Here are some of the differences between and

Friday, January 27, 2006

Who has the edge?

Jeremy Siegel is a very accomplished professor of Finance at Wharton Business School, UPenn. He is writing a two part article on India Vs. China.

India lags in the hard infrastructure of roads, airports, and buildings, but leads in the "soft" infrastructure of democratic institutions, free press, and an independent judiciary.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Sweeping victory for who?

Can any democratically elected government be un-palatable to US? Looks like the newly elected palestinian govt. is going to be formed by Hamas, which is considered by the US govt. to be a terrorist organization. The US policy is that they don't negotiate with terrorists. Is it OK to work with a democratically elected "terrorist" group? Will Hamas modify their ways to match the requirements put forth by US et. al. and give up their militant branch. Lets wait and watch.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hindustani Classical Music Resources

My friend Priyank Desai is an excellent flute player. He is the one who initiated me into hindustani classical music when we were in undergrad at LD College of Engineering at Ahmedabad. He just started blogging. He will have good resources on Hindustani music on his blog. One such gem -

I have learned tabla from Emam for couple of years, so I know little bit about and enjoy different kinds of taals but don't know anything about raaga. I do enjoy listening to vocals and wish to get back to learning tabla and perhaps hindustani music at some point in my life.

Skiing trip to kirkwood

We went to Kirkwood for couple of days during the MLK weekend. I go to Tahoe for snowboarding at least twice or thrice a year since last 3-4 years. I have been to Squaw Valley, Northstar, Alpine Meadows, Rose Bowl and Sierra-at-tahoe, but Kirkwood is better than most. I remember Northstar and Squaw and I remember waiting in lines for a lift for at least 5-10 mins. Not at Kirkwood. The lines were very short and the slopes were not crowded at all. The reason is clear though. It is very inconvenient to get there as it is 33 miles from South Lake Tahoe and the places to stay around Kirkwood are very over-priced.

We reached Tahoe on Saturday evening through the tail end of the storm. We had to put the chains on as it was snowing heavily, but I enjoyed the drive. After getting a good night's sleep, we started for Kirkwood at 9:30 AM on Sunday morning thinking that it would only take about an hour. Little did we realize that due to chains we would be travelling at only 25-30 mph. All the AWDs or 4x4s were zooming by us. Then as we got closer to the resort, we were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for at least an hour and a half before we reached the gates at noon. Well, half a day on the slopes wouldn't be bad I thought, but I would have to work a little extra to get that as I would find. The friendly Kirkwood staff said that there was no more space for parking and were turning everyone around. We were so pissed as we had stayed in south lake. Everybody was heading back, but we didn't want to give-up just yet. We parked in a near-by gas station and decided to walk all the way in as all our friends were inside. To our surprise, there was no line at the rentals and since we had the lift tickets, we just took the equipment and hit the slopes. Kirkwood had excellent snow conditions and plenty of space on the slopes, just that their parking lot was smaller compared to others. We got a good 3.5 hours of snowboarding done on that day. Towards the end of the day the temp. was around 18 deg. fah. even though it was sunny all day. Yes, that is -8 deg celcius.

The next day was a lot better. The temp. was in higher twenties and no traffic. There was lot of parking when we got there at 10:30 AM. The conditions were great and we did get a whole day of snowboarding done. The trip back was very fast as Kirkwood is just 150 miles from the bay area. We are certainly going back.

(Picture taken by Priyank. Thanks Priyank!)
 Posted by Picasa