‘Fat tax’ is sensible!

Last evening, I was snacking at a burger chain with another mate and I happened to see this family of 4 eating gluttonously at the table next to us. All the members of the family were overweight including the 2 young kids. I wasn’t concerned about the ‘grown-up’ parents but the poor kids. What types of lifestyle habits were those kids getting influenced by watching their morbidly obese parents eat probably 3,000 calories at one sitting?

In the Bhagwad Gita, a sacred Hindu scripture it states that; a man's own self is his friend/ a man's own self is his foe. How true! Look at this set of parent; they both are obviously their respective foes. Or else, why would they eat to their ill health and most probably death? They probably are not aware about the enemy within them!!!

This got me wondering if the ‘fat tax’ movement is sensible. First it was United Airlines’ decision to ask the obese passengers to buy two tickets. Now Ryan air proposes to levy ‘fat tax’ on overweight fliers. Critics have slammed these new moves on the grounds that they are discriminatory against fat people. Airlines have justified their measures by stating that why they should ferry a person double the weight of a normal person and lose revenue. If passengers are charged for excess luggage, why not charge obese people, especially, in today’s hard economic times. Of course, there has to be a line to differentiate whether a person is obese or not.

Well I don’t want to get into the nuances of business economics or co- passenger comforts of this new strategy. According to me, this charge might actually act as an incentive for those really large passengers to lose a little weight and feel lighter and healthier. Times were when being overweight was considered to be a sign of prosperity and health. However, things have changed. Obesity is a global and environmental problem affecting all of us directly or indirectly.

Some food for thought!


Freedom from suffering

Today, I want to share a beautiful Indian folklore.

A king was looking for a suitable candidate for the post of prime minister. After several tests, three people were shortlisted. The next day was the final test. There was a rumor that the king had a magic lock which can be opened only with great skill and knowledge. And whoever unlocked it, would be the prime minister.

Hearing the rumor, two of the selected candidates acquired a lot of books on locks. They spent the whole night going through the mathematical equations relating to locks. The third person was very relaxed. The next morning, all three were taken to the palace. And the rumor turned out to be true. The king said whoever unlocks the lock will be prime minister.

These two people felt very happy thinking that it was good that they had referred to many books and then went and looked at the lock. Once again they returned to the books, whereas the third person, looking relaxed, went there, looked at the lock and pulled it, and to his surprise, it opened. In fact, it was not locked at all. The other two were still busy referring to books.

In the meantime, the king announced that the third person had been selected as prime minister. The other two asked him, “You never referred to any book on locks, how did you unlock it?” The king said, “The very first thing that a prime minister should do is that he should know whether the problem really exists or not, before trying to solve it.”

If you do not know whether the problem exists or not and if you try to solve it, the whole effort becomes futile. Here the problem was that the lock was not fastened. And these two persons assumed it was locked and with that assumption they tried to solve the problem. Therefore, they found that they had wasted their time and energy.

Similarly, we often have unrealistic anxieties and fears in life. This leads us to live a life of mental and emotional anguish. In fact, we exhaust most of our time and energy trying to combat these imaginary anxieties and fears. If only we start looking at these problems with a relaxed and positive state of mind, we would realize that most of these negative perceptions don't exist and it this attitude that would help us transcend beyond this apparent suffering.

To your freedom and mine!


When Nature Calls

I want to share with my readers an article that was published in The New York Times by Roger Cohen on April 15, 2009. This article is a wonderful display of humor coupled with morality, irony, and reminder to most of us how we have lost common sense, humanity and respect for basic human dignity.

A man who says he desperately needed to use an airplane bathroom after eating something bad in Honduras faces a felony charge after being accused of twisting a flight attendant’s arm to get to the lavatory, the F.B.I. said.

Joao Correa, 43, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he had a bathroom emergency 30 minutes into a March 28 Delta Air Lines flight from San Pedro Sula to Atlanta but found the single coach aisle on the Boeing 737 blocked by a beverage cart. He said he asked whether he could use the lavatory in business class but was told no.

When the cart wasn’t moved after a few minutes, Mr. Correa said, he ran for the business-class lavatory. He said the flight attendant put up her arm to block him and he grabbed it to keep his balance.


I should begin by saying I’ve never been to San Pedro Sula so I don’t know how bad the bad food there is. I’m sure Honduran cuisine — no oxymoron intended — is generally great, even though nobody has ever suggested to me: “Hey, how about Honduran tonight?”

Sure, you might get unlucky with a mondongo (intestine) soup — or notice teensy-weensy creatures doing the breaststroke in your water — but I for one refuse to knock Honduran cooking or suggest it’s bigger on bulk than finesse.

Still, I think you have to accord great respect to a “bathroom emergency,” especially in a middle-aged gentleman.

Imagine poor Correa, assailed by disquieting visions of the mountain of fried fish with jalapeƱos he’d vacuumed down at the Bistro San Pedro Sula Del Mar, and then — the horror! The horror! — spotting the beverage cart (formerly the food cart) blocking his path to relief.


I can hear the snippy reply from the flight attendants, mostly middle-aged themselves, all of whom think the fun of flying disappeared some decades back — about the same time as their job security and sense of humor — and would rather be sipping mojitos in Sanibel than talking up seven-dollar “wraps.”

“You’ll have to wait, Sir. We’re doing the drinks and tiny pack of peanuts service.”

The intonation of that “Sir” will be familiar to many of you, a tone peculiar to American airline companies, one in which resentment, superiority, fear, contempt and impatience are coiled into a venomous parody of politeness — a three-letter expletive really — that stands the notion of service on its head and tells the whole dismal story of U.S. carriers in recent years.

“But I have a bathroom...”

“Sir. Please return to your seat.”

Correa, the jalapeƱos now fully fired up in his bowels, rues the fact he gave up the high-jump in middle school. He does a quick mental reconnoiter of the plastic bag of toiletries he brought on board: no Diarrex there. He considers some metaphorical “arm-twisting” — like paying $50 for a “wrap” and saying, “Keep the change!”

Not a great idea, he determines, good sense intact even over the clutching of his sphincter, before turning to see the aisle — empty as the coffers at Lehman — stretching away toward the flimsy curtain separating the Business Class section.

Come on, he thinks, that’s over: that whole master-of-the-universe, platinum-card, us-and-them, starter-mansion, you-line-up-over-there game. With five million lost U.S. jobs in a year, that’s history. He needs a lavatory pronto but there’s a cartload of stubborn pique standing between him and a rightful salvation.

“May I use the business section lavatory...”


Correa snaps. If he can’t high-jump, he can do the mile-high, eight-yard dash. As he accelerates past 8.5 miles an hour — his usual pace on the treadmill — he glimpses a blur of a downy, female arm flung out to block him. Veering left, he stumbles on a protruding Louis Vuitton dog bag (prompting the yelp of a drugged terrier), and grabs the arm.


“Hasta la vista, Baby!”

With a non-metaphorical arm twist, Correa’s gone. Nothing can stop him now. More than his legs are in a running state. He powers through the curtain, past the slumbering fat cats, to his business-class catharsis.

After which Uncle Sam’s humorless reckoning begins.

Far from a felony charge — a felony charge! — Correa should be honored for his initiative. We’re not going to get out of a crisis into which we were led, sheep-like, without thinking for ourselves. We’re not going to get out of this crisis without realizing we’re all in this together.

We’re not going to get out of this crisis with petty regulations standing in the way of common sense and solidarity. We’re not going to get out of this crisis with post-9/11 fear governing our actions rather than some more generous humanity. We’re not going to get out of this crisis without being grown-ups.

Clear the ex-food carts, Delta. And America, clear Correa now.


Ordinary Souls

Most of us have a strong tendency to think that only a very spiritually elevated person can teach us about higher truth. In fact you learn more about higher truth through everyday contacts. We tend to invalidate what we learn from these people simply because we believe that they are ordinary humans. The danger of this influence is that you may over-idealize the so called ‘spiritual’ person, especially those who have made a profound impression upon you. You may regard them as spiritually and morally superior to any of your relatives, friends, colleagues whom you may neglect as a result. The important point here is that though these day to day people in your life are human also, they may still have something to teach you.

All you need to do is to become sensitive to the feelings of other people. Become aware, at least on a subliminal level of the deeper and more complex attributes of relatives, friends, neighbors colleagues and those around you. Learn to act toward others with much less ego involvement, be less selfish and not so concerned with getting your own way. With this new changed perception, persons whom you have taken for granted now assume a very different look as you go below their surface appearance and look into their hearts. Thus you are able to be much more compassionate and giving to those around you. In fact, you will end up acting more selflessly and with greater understanding.

And with this new changed attitude, don’t be surprised how someone ORDINARY enters your life in very casual guise who will show you deep spiritual truths.

Spiritually Yours,


You Got Talent

I want to share a video that goes to prove that one should never judge a 'book'(person) by its 'cover' (the outside). I watched this video over and over with tears and goose bumps. It's one of the loveliest things I've seen in a long time. This video also encapsulates how our inner ability can inspire and move people and yet we don’t realize the hidden talent within us. Most of us are hiding our talents for years. Always remember to embrace your uniqueness. Time is much too short to live someone else's life.

This video has a simple unassuming village lady from Britain, Susan Boyle sing ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ from the musical Les Miserables on the show Britain’s Got Talent. It’s best to see this video to know what I mean.

Here's to your uniqueness!


Truly Yoga

This morning, I bumped into an old gym mate and was inquiring about the other long last gym buddies. With a smirk he told me how few of those gym mates had given up on weight training and were doing yoga instead. According to him yoga was just a passing fad for current fast-paced lives and actually didn’t really help. He went on to doubt the efficacy of yoga and its benefits. Here are some of the allegations he labeled against yoga which I would like to share with you.

According to him yoga is not for everyone and doesn’t offer a comprehensive way to get fit. For someone like me who has spent years, exercising in the form of jogging, weight-training, cardio workouts, cycling, swimming, playing active sports, dancing, etc, and finally settling for yoga, this statement came across as very absurd. Little did he know that yoga is the most holistic form of living. In fact, yoga is the only exercise (i.e. if one categorizes yoga as a form of exercise, though yoga is actually a way of life.),that works not only on one’s external and physiological body, if done the correct way, but also promotes the well being of mind, emotions and spirit. More so, it’s only yoga that can be done by all age groups and with any fitness level.

This friend told me how yoga had caused injuries to many practitioners. It should be noted that any physical activity done in a wrong mode is bound to cause injuries.

He went on to assert that yoga doesn’t help in cardiovascular health and weight loss. I beg to differ again! There are many poses and sequences which help tremendously for not only weight loss but also an array of other health ailments. On further clarification, he cited an example of how yoga doesn’t develop the muscle- bearing strength needed to help fight osteoporosis. I had to make him realize that that in Yoga, the practitioner uses one’s body weight which is the most ideal weight to develop strength to fight osteoporosis.

The tone of the entire argument sounded more like his own distorted views on yoga, rather than based on facts. It would have been appropriate if this guy had done his research on the studies by various medical schools and universities across the globe that have proven the benefits of yoga

However, during this friendly banter, it got me thinking if this is the common fallacy among people about yoga? Does it have something to do with yoga teachers who are the brand ambassadors of this beautiful science? I realized that part of the problem for this distorted and wrong perception is because yoga teachers are not qualified enough to teach this subject. Actually, lack of qualified teachers is the main cause of injuries in yoga practice. That’s why I follow the Iyengar way of yoga, which in my experience is the most precise and scientific form of yoga. In fact, Iyengar School of yoga qualifies a yoga teacher only after years of intense and accurate training. If only one learns yoga under a qualified and experienced yoga teacher, then such misconceptions of this beautiful all pervading subject can be cleared. Yoga then becomes not just a passing fad but truly a holistic way of life!

Yours truly,


Success and Rest

I often come across successful people who just seem to be in the right place at the right time and say all the right things. They are not really any smarter than you and me–the difference lies in their application of an ‘inner awareness’ based on the usage of their innate resources-emotional, mental, physical and spiritual.

These are the people or leaders who shut their doors once in a while. They take an effort to rest and think about the rhythm of their own lives and look for some variation. For such successful people, this downtime is not wasted time, its time for rejuvenation, to think outside the box. These are the people you’re competing with. Who do you think has the better chance of being successful in their chosen field? The mantra to success here is 'REST'.

Unfortunately, there will always be stress in our lives, but HOW we choose to deal with it is up to us. That’s why many a times some people are always stressed. The solution lies within them. But they don’t take any initiative to combat that stress. For them stress is part and parcel of this material world which CAN'T be dealt with. Though the human body is equipped to deal with stress, if the stress response is activated too often, it can make you ill on the mental, emotional, behavioral and / or physical level .Thus seriously impairing the quality of your life .In fact, when you strain your body everyday without any holistic rest; the risk of breakdown grows tenfold. Yet people do not realize how damaging stress can be, until it's too late!

And mind you, stress can get contagious. It is stressful to work with someone who is stressed; similarly, you are stressing people around you when you are stressed! Stress or not, is a matter of choice and not circumstances. It's a call you make. You decide, "I shall rest and not be stressed today."

Have a restful mid-week.