Saturday, December 17, 2011

Part 2: Watch what you eat, as it becomes you!!

*This article has been summarized from a talk by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev - Founder of the ISHA FOUNDATION*

Here is the 2nd part of the previous post

One of the issues that has confused me for the last 5 -10 years is: Why should I be vegetarian? And to be honest I am still plagued by this question on and off. Here is my case as, why it is good to follow a veggie diet (as reasonably as possible). For comparison lets look at the bodily constitution of animals - herbivores and carnivores and then draw a hypothesis.

If you look at the digestive system of animals, herbivores and carnivores have different digestive systems. For carnivores the length of alimentary canal (AC) is 3 times the body, since meat stays longer in the system it makes sense to have a small AC. Moreover, their teeth and jaws are meant only for cutting, no grinding occurs in the mouth so they do not chew food. Henceforth, the major digestion happens in the stomach. On the contrary for herbivores the teeth have 2 functions: 1. cutting and 2. grinding. And so the incisors and molars are developed but not the canines. Furthermore, the alimentary canal is 6 times the length of the body, vegetables travel through the system faster than meat thus the long length works fine. 

Now if we compare the human system both the AC and teeth are structured as herbivores i.e. the AC is 6 times the length of the body and canines are not prominent. Thus, it makes more sense to follow a vegetarian diet as the system is geared towards that type of food. Secondly, too much of non - vegetarian food reduces the flexibility of the system (personal experimental observation). And last but not least whenever an animal is being slaughtered/killed it goes into a state of shock/nervousness this leads to an increase in the acidity content of the cells - consuming such meat will lead to inexplicable conditions of anxiety and tension in you. 

It takes longer to digest meat and thus any food that remains in the system for a long time leads to bacterial growth and lethargy, unless one is physically very active. Thus, if you are not able to give-up meat 100 %, you can make some rules for example: eating meat only after intense physical activity like 10K etc. 

If these reasons do not  motivate you to be a vegetarian then think about the effects non vegetarian diet has on planet earth - I will not write about this stuff as there are sufficient number of resources online. 

Now the question is, how to categorize the food, well the answer lies in the yogic culture where food is always looked in terms of pranic energy (life energy) i.e. certain foods have the capability to increase or decrease the energy and certain foods do not do anything they are just for taste. Here is a partial list:

Foods that Decrease Energy: Garlic, onion, asfoetida, chili, eggplant, coffe, tea and other neuro stimulants and intoxicants.
Note: Chili includes both green and red chili, though peppercorns are fine.

Foods that Increase Energy: Nuts, fruits, vegetables, sprouts

Foods with no effect: Potatoes, tomatoes

Moral of the story is: Exercise, watch your diet, do some pranayam/yogic kriya etc and the body will be like a breeze. If we watch our food habits and eat more consciously 50 - 60 % of major ailments will be gone. Why is it important, as only when the body is comfortable you will seek something higher.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Part 1: Watch what you eat, as it becomes you!!

I am writing after a long time, no excuses, but the rough draft of this post was prepared 2 weeks ago and somehow I kept procrastinating to refine the article. So here it is:

Disclaimer: * This article has been summarized from a talk by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev - Founder of the ISHA FOUNDATION*

Food if taken in the right amount and proper type serves to keep oneself healthy and alert, but if the required amount is not proper it can make you weak or lethargic. An analogy would be that if the body is like a car and if you put the correct fuel it will work great but if the proper fuel is not given it won't work to its highest efficiency. Thus, rather than being wishy - washy on what to eat it is important to think on this in a rational manner. 

Food is the building block for the body as what we eat becomes us. Fundamentally, food is eaten to gain energy and for our well being. There is a lot of debate on what to eat and what not to eat. I have had discussions with a variety of people from different cultures, backgrounds and countries and my 2 observations are: 

1. The way a person eats decides not only how the body will function but also the mental state.

2. What to eat or not eat is a subjective decision i.e. when you decide what to eat, you should consult your body not any one else. 
Caveat: Taste should not decide what we eat, as we are sacrificing the body for a patch of tongue which is not a smart idea. Always eat what the stomach likes, not what the tongue likes as the stomach never asks for taste, stomach only wants food that is easily digestible. That does not mean that you do not eat anything tasty, but I assume you are smart enough to make a decision. 

Which brings me to the question: what kind of food to eat?
The answer is simple, food that makes you alert, agile, energetic and calm is good to eat. Food that brings dullness, lethargy is not good as the system is having trouble digesting it. When the system gets dull you hype it up with stimulants (tea, coffe etc etc) which impact the body in a negative way. Ideally, the diet should consist of 50 % raw and 50 % cooked food. Moreover, the process digestion should begin in the mouth (50%), continue in the stomach (50%) and end at the anal outlet. But currently due to over cooked food majority of the digestion happens in the stomach. The reason for this is, over cooked food is not chewed properly, thus the enzymes in saliva are not used and the food travels to stomach and digestion occurs there. This results in less burden on mouth and more on stomach - now you know why you want to sleep in office after that lunch :).

Next post I will make a case for why it is important to be a vegeterian and foods that have high enegy content....

To be contd......

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Is there anything called LUCK....

This is an interesting article in the Saturday issue of  NYT. Read it. 

BETTER to be lucky than good, the adage goes.
And maybe that’s true — if you just want to be merely good, not much better than average. But what if you want to build or do something great? And what if you want to do so in today’s unstable and unpredictable world?
Recently, we completed a nine-year research study of some of the most extreme business successes of modern times. We examined entrepreneurs who built small enterprises into companies that outperformed their industries by a factor of 10 in highly turbulent environments. We call them 10Xers, for “10 times success.”
The very nature of this study — how some people thrive in uncertainty, lead in chaos, deal with a world full of big, disruptive forces that we cannot predict or control — led us to smack into the question, “Just what is the role of luck?”
Could it be that leaders’ skills account for the difference between just meeting their industry’s average performance (1X success) and doubling it (2X)? But that luck accounts for all the difference between 2X and 10X?
Maybe, or maybe not.
But how on Earth could we go about quantifying something as elusive as “luck”? The breakthrough came in seeing luck as an event, not as some indefinable aura. We defined a “luck event” as one that meets three tests. First, some significant aspect of the event occurs largely or entirely independent of the actions of the enterprise’s main actors. Second, the event has a potentially significant consequence — good or bad. And, third, it has some element of unpredictability.
We systematically found 230 significant luck events across the history of our study’s subjects. We considered good luck, bad luck, the timing of luck and the size of “luck spikes.” Adding up the evidence, we found that the 10X cases weren’t generally “luckier” than the comparison cases. (We compared the 10X companies with a control group of companies that failed to become great in the same extreme environments.)
The 10X cases and the control group both had luck, good and bad, in comparable amounts, so the evidence leads us to conclude that luck doesn’t cause 10X success. The crucial question is not, “Are you lucky?” but “Do you get a high return on luck?”
Return on luck: We call it ROL.
SO why did Bill Gates become a 10Xer, building a great software company in the personal computer revolution? Through one lens, you might see Mr. Gates as incredibly lucky. He just happened to have been born into an upper-middle-class American family that had the resources to send him to a private school. His family happened to enroll him at Lakeside School in Seattle, which had a Teletype connection to a computer upon which he could learn to program — something that was unusual for schools in the late 1960s and early ’70s.
He also just happened to have been born at the right time, coming of age as the advancement of microelectronics made the PC inevitable. Had he been born 10 years later, or even just five years later, he would have missed the moment.
Mr. Gates’s friend Paul Allen just happened to see a cover article in the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics, titled “World’s First Microcomputer Kit to Rival Commercial Models.” It was about the Altair, designed by a small company in Albuquerque. Mr. Gates and Mr. Allen had the idea to convert the programming language Basic into a product that could be used on the Altair, which would put them in position to be the first to sell such a product for a personal computer. Mr. Gates went to college at Harvard, which just happened to have a PDP-10 computer upon which he could develop and test his ideas.
Wow, Bill Gates was really lucky, right?
Yes, he was. But luck is not why Bill Gates became a 10Xer. Consider these questions:
• Was Bill Gates the only person of his era who grew up in an upper middle-class American family?
• Was he the only person born in the mid-1950s who attended a secondary school with access to computing?
• Was he the only person who went to a college with computer resources in the mid-’70s? The only one who read the Popular Electronics article? The only one who knew how to program in Basic?
No, no, no, no and no.
Lakeside may have been one of the first schools to have a computer that students could use during those years, but it wasn’t the only such school.
Mr. Gates may have been a math and computer whiz kid at a top college that had computers in 1975, but he wasn’t the only math and computer whiz kid at Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Yale, M.I.T., Caltech, Carnegie Mellon, Berkeley, U.C.L.A., the University of Chicago, Georgia Tech, Cornell, Dartmouth, Southern Cal, Columbia, Northwestern, Penn, Michigan or any number of other top colleges with comparable or even better computer resources.
Mr. Gates wasn’t the only person who knew how to program in Basic; the language was developed a decade earlier by Dartmouth professors, and it was widely known by 1975, used in academics and industry. And what about all the master’s and Ph.D. students in electrical engineering and computer science who had even more computer expertise than Mr. Gates on the day the Popular Electronics article appeared? Any could have decided to abandon their studies and start a personal computer software company. And computer experts already working in industry and academia could have done the same.
But how many of them changed their life plans — and cut their sleep to near zero, essentially inhaling food so as not to let eating interfere with work — to throw themselves into writing Basic for the Altair? How many defied their parents, dropped out of college and moved to Albuquerque to work with the Altair? How many had Basic for the Altair written, debugged and ready to ship before anyone else?
Thousands of people could have done the same thing that Mr. Gates did, at the same time. But they didn’t.
The difference between Mr. Gates and similarly advantaged people is not luck. Mr. Gates went further, taking a confluence of lucky circumstances and creating a huge return on his luck. And this is the important difference.
Luck, good and bad, happens to everyone, whether we like it or not. But when we look at the 10Xers, we see people like Mr. Gates who recognize luck and seize it, leaders who grab luck events and make much more of them.
This ability to achieve a high ROL at pivotal moments has a huge multiplicative effect for 10Xers. They zoom out to recognize when a luck event has happened and to consider whether they should let it disrupt their plans. Imagine if Mr. Gates had said to Paul Allen after seeing the Popular Electronics article: “Well, Paul, I’m kind of focused on my studies here at Harvard right now. Let’s wait a few years, and then I’ll be ready to start.”
When we examined less successful companies, we saw a generally poor overall return on luck. Some of the comparison cases had extraordinary sequences of good luck yet showed a spectacular ability to fritter that luck away. When the time came to execute on their good fortune, they stumbled. They didn’t fail for lack of good luck. They failed for lack of superb execution.
WHILE getting a high return on good luck is an essential skill for 10Xers, getting a high return on bad luck can be a truly defining moment. Consider the 10X case of Progressive Insurance.
On Nov. 8, 1988, Peter Lewis, the chief executive, received news that shocked the insurance industry. California voters had passed Proposition 103, a punitive attack on car insurance companies. Prop 103 required 20 percent price reductions and refunds to customers, plunging a huge auto insurance market into chaos. Progressive had significant exposure, with nearly a quarter of its entire business from that one state — bang! — severely damaged by a 51 percent vote on a single day.
Mr. Lewis zoomed out to ask, “What the heck is going on?” He placed a call to a former Princeton classmate, Ralph Nader. Mr. Nader had long been a consumer rights activist, at one point leading a sort of special forces unit nicknamed Nader’s Raiders, and he had championed Proposition 103. The message that Mr. Lewis heard: People hate you. Or, in other words, people simply hated dealing with insurance companies, so they revolted, screaming with their votes.
“People were saying, ‘We hate your guts. We’re going to kill you. And we don’t give a damn,’ ” Mr. Lewis said.
Chastened by what he had heard, he called his staff together and told everyone, “Our customers actually hate us.” He challenged his team to create a better company.
Mr. Lewis came to see Proposition 103 as a gift, and he used it to deepen the company’s core purpose and to reduce the economic cost and trauma caused by auto accidents. The company would create its “immediate response” claims service: No matter when you had an accident, Progressive would be available — 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Claims adjusters would work from a fleet of vans and S.U.V.’s dispatched to policy holders’ homes or even directly to an accident scene.
By 1995, Progressive could note this achievement: in 80 percent of cases, its adjusters would have visited the customer, ready to issue a check within 24 hours of an accident.
In 1987, the year before Proposition 103, Progressive ranked No. 13 in the American private-passenger auto insurance market. By 2002, it had reached No. 4. Years later, Mr. Lewis called Proposition 103 “the best thing that ever happened to this company.”
Progressive and Mr. Lewis illustrate how 10Xers shine when clobbered by setbacks and misfortune, turning bad luck into good results. They use difficulty as a catalyst to deepen purpose, recommit to values, increase discipline, respond with creativity and heighten productive paranoia — translating fear into extensive preparation and calm, clearheaded action. Resilience, not luck, is the signature of greatness.
Nietzsche wrote, “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.” We all get bad luck. The question is how to use it to turn it into “one of the best things that ever happened,” to not let it become a psychological prison.
WE came across a remarkable moment at the very start of the history of Southwest Airlines, described by its first chief executive, Lamar Muse, in his book, “Southwest Passage.”
“The very first Sunday morning of Southwest’s life, we narrowly escaped a disaster,” Mr. Muse wrote. “During the takeoff run, the right thrust-reverser deployed. Only the captain’s instantaneous reaction allowed him to recover control and make a tight turn for an emergency landing on one engine.”
What if the jet had smashed into the ground in the first week of building the company? Would there even be a Southwest Airlines today? If we all have some combination of both heads (lucky flips) and tails (unlucky flips), and if the ratio of heads to tails tends to even out over time, we need to be skilled, strong, prepared and resilient to endure the bad luck long enough to eventually get good luck. The Southwest pilot had to be skilled and prepared before the thrust-reverser deployed.
There’s an interesting asymmetry between good and bad luck. A single stroke of good luck, no matter how big, cannot by itself make a great company. But a single stroke of extremely bad luck, or an extended sequence of bad-luck events that creates a catastrophic outcome, can terminate the quest.
The 10Xers exercise productive paranoia, combined with empirical creativity and fanatic discipline, to create huge margins of safety. If you stay in the game long enough, good luck tends to return, but if you get knocked out, you’ll never have the chance to be lucky again. Luck favors the persistent, but you can persist only if you survive.
After finishing our luck analysis for “Great by Choice,” we realized that getting a high ROL required a new mental muscle. There are smart decisions and wise decisions. And one form of wisdom is the ability to judge when to let luck disrupt our plans. Not all time in life is equal. The question is, when the unequal moment comes, do we recognize it, or just let it slip? But, just as important, do we have the fanatic, obsessive discipline to keep marching, to push the opportunity to the extreme, to make the most of the chances we’re given?
Getting a high ROL requires throwing yourself at the luck event with ferocious intensity, disrupting your life and not letting up. Bill Gates didn’t just get a lucky break and cash in his chips. He kept pushing, driving, working — and sustained that effort for more than two decades. That’s not luck — that’s return on luck ".

Monday, October 24, 2011

Random shots from my eye 02

Perfect symmetry in nature's creation

Happy Halloween

Reading class in the park

Posing for the shutterbugs

Park's Angel

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How to handle grief.....

I think he has made a very clear point as to why people go in grief. Amazing clarity and the way to look at things.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Updated: With lots of love - to my boss...

I have the best boss in the world - my thesis advisor. In short a rare combination of being humane, humble and at the same time extremely smart. The experience of writing my 1st paper with him is encapsulated in this cartoon. 

So here is for the best boss.....


Monday, September 12, 2011

Recipe - Goat Meat/Lal Maas/Spicy Goat curry - Rajasthani Style

   Goat meat is something I have eaten since my childhood. It is only when I came to the US I realized it is a delicacy and not easily available. Recently, I was able to get my hands on goat meat and here is my tribute to all the cooks who have fed me goat meat. The recipe below will feed 3 people with an average diet. 

Prep Time: 20 min
Cooking time ~ 70 min 

You will need:
Olive oil or clarified butter 
Goat meat: 1 pound (500 grams) - cut in small pieces and washed clean
Whole masala (100% optional): few bay leaves, pepper corns, cinnamon stick, cloves
Red onions: 2 - 3 (medium sized) - chopped fine
Haberno pepper: 1 (large) - chopped fine
Garlic Cloves: 4 - 5 (grated)
Ginger: medium sized piece (grated)
Ginger/garlic paste: 2 - 3 tablespoons
Tomatoes: 2 - 3 (medium - large) - chopped fine
Curd: 4 - 5 tablespoons - I prefer Fage brand (greek strained yogurt) you can use any 

Garam masala: 1.5 teaspoon
Red chili powder: 2 - 3 tablespoons
Turmeric powder: 1 tablespoon
Coriander powder: 1 teaspoon
Salt: as per taste

1. Heat oil in pressure cooker - without the lid.
2. Once oil is heated add whole masala and cook for 1 min then add chopped onions.
3. Cook till onions are light golden brown in color.
4. Add chopped haberno, grated ginger and garlic and ginger garlic paste.
5. Cook for 1 min and add garam masala and cook for 1 min.
6. Add goat meat and cook on high heat until all the moisture evaporates - do not burn the meat in this step be careful.
7. Add tomatoes and cook on high heat till all the water dries up. 
8. When the water is drying up in step 7, take the yogurt and put chili, turmeric and coriander powder and some water and mix well. 
9. Put the mixture in the cooker.
10. Mix everything well and let it come to boil. 
11. Reduce the heat to medium and cover the cooker with a plate and let it cook for 10 - 15 min. Stir every 5 min.
12. Now cover close the lid of the pressure cooker and put 2 whistles - if you want the meat to be medium rare, for well done ~ 3 whistles.
13. If the meat is cooked well all the oil you put will separate and come on the surface - as in the picture below.
14. Serve with hot rotis/naan/rice.

PS: If you want -  garnish it with fresh cilantro and scallions. 
PPS: If you want to be more fancy add - bay leaves, cinnamon, pepper corns before the chopped onions. 

Let me know if you have any questions - I have almost perfected this recipe. 
Bon appetit

See pictures below.....

Figure: Golden brown onions with whole spices, ginger, garlic and garam masala

Figure: Goat added and cooked till all the moisture evaporates

Figure: Add the tomatoes

Figure: Heat them and keep heating till all the water is gone

Figure: This is how it looks once all the water from tomatoes evaporates

Figure: Add the curd mixed with spices and bring to boil

Figure: Cooked meat - Love the color and the texture - note no artificial color has been added

Figure: Served with hot naan 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

See this plot - shocking inference

Source: Lancet

Hi this a plot of various chemicals that are used to get a buzz......
Lesson: Cannabis (marijuana/pot)/LSD/Ectasy does less physical harm and is less addictive than alcohol.....
Question: So why dont they make it legal, if alcohol is legal?

Perhaps it is illegal that is the reason people want to pay a huge premium to get it.....

Think about it....

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hey, You! Mean People Earn More, Study Finds - Source: Wall Street Journal

I found this article in WSJ today and I am putting it up here. My personal experience: Unfortunately it is true....

"It may not pay to be nice in the workplace.
A new study finds that agreeable workers earn significantly lower incomes than less agreeable ones. The gap is especially wide for men.
The researchers examined "agreeableness" using self-reported survey data and found that men who measured below average on agreeableness earned about 18% more—or $9,772 more annually in their sample—than nicer guys. Ruder women, meanwhile, earned about 5% or $1,828 more than their agreeable counterparts.
"Nice guys are getting the shaft," says study co-author Beth A. Livingston, an assistant professor of human resource studies at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
The study "Do Nice Guys—and Gals—Really Finish Last?" by Dr. Livingston, Timothy A. Judge of the University of Notre Dame and Charlice Hurst of the University of Western Ontario, is to be presented on Monday in San Antonio, Texas, at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management, a professional organization for management scholars. The study is also forthcoming in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
The researchers analyzed data collected over nearly 20 years from three different surveys, which sampled roughly 10,000 workers comprising a wide range of professions, salaries and ages. (The three surveys measured the notion of "agreeableness" in different ways.) They also conducted a separate study of 460 business students who were asked to act as human-resource managers for a fictional company and presented with short descriptions for candidates for a consultant position. Men who were described as highly agreeable were less likely to get the job.
For men being agreeable may not conform "to expectations of 'masculine behavior,'" the researchers write in the study. People who are more agreeable may also be less willing to assert themselves in salary negotiations, Dr. Livingston adds.
Other research shows that rudeness may not always benefit employees or their firms. A paper presented earlier this month at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association found that 86% of 289 workers at three Midwestern firms in the manufacturing and health-care industries reported incivility at work, including public reprimands and making demeaning comments. Incivility was bad for the organizations as a whole, though, increasing employee turnover, found the researchers, Jeannie Trudel, a business professor at Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion, and Thomas Reio, a professor at Florida International University.
"The problem is, many managers often don't realize they reward disagreeableness," says Dr. Livingston. "You can say this is what you value as a company, but your compensation system may not really reflect that, especially if you leave compensation decisions to individual managers."
Lockerz, a 65-person Seattle, Wash., social-commerce company, has what it calls a "no jerks and divas" policy that is stressed in its employee handbook and orientation, says Chief Executive and founder Kathy Savitt. She notes, though, that there is a difference between being respectful and being agreeable. "We are not about being 'nice' or 'agreeable' or 'civil,'" she says. "We have a lot of robust debates about all kinds of things. But we do stress the notion of being respectful."
Paul Purcell, chairman, president and chief executive of Robert W. Baird & Co., a Milwaukee financial-services firm, says that his 2,700-employee company "doesn't hire or tolerate jerks. That's frankly a large percentage of people in our business. They don't get through the interview process." The firm has fired at least 25 offenders of its "no-jerk" policy, he says.
Human-resources consulting firm Development Dimensions International, of Pittsburgh, offers courses in "Interaction Management," covering interpersonal skills such as teamwork, managing conflict and giving and receiving feedback. "They are very trainable skills," says Jim Davis, DDI's vice president of work force and service development, who says that its interaction-training business is up 20% so far this year."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Recipe - French Toast (Indian Style)

   Egg is the ultimate comfort food!!! Cooks fast, is delicious and nutritious. Here is the my twist to the french toast i.e. cooking it with Indian Style.

1. Take 3 eggs (organice, cage free, vegetarian diet fed chicken please).
2. Add chili powder and salt to taste and beat them up so everything mixes well.

3. On the side finely chop some red onion and a green chili.
4. Add them (onion and chili) in the beaten up eggs and mix everything well.

5. Heat some EVOO in a non stick frying pan.

6. On the side take a slice of white bread and dip it in the eggs till the bread soaks up the mixture.

7. Put the soaked bread in the frying pan and on the side up put some onions and green chills from the egg mixture. Cook one side for 2 min on a medium heat.

8. Flip the bread, be careful not to break it. The way I do it is - I make sure the spatula I use has enough area so I can accomodate the entire bread slice. 

9. Cook for 2 min on medium heat.

10. And voila, enjoy it with ketchup and a  glass of fresh orange juice.


  •  If you like the toast to be sweet add some sugar and vanilla extract and get rid of the chillies and reduce the salt by 80%.
  • This recipe can feed well one average adult person (like it can be a brunch kinda thing).
  • To make the dish more fancy you can add cilantro, scallions as well.

Next will be my escapade with an exotic dish I cooked.