January 24, 2018

Are you healthy-E-nough?

As a doctor, I often am hounded by extended family and friends asking for tips to good health. However, today, with the world resorting to drastic changes in lifestyle, the answer to this question is becoming increasingly difficult. With hardly any time for a well-balanced nutritious diet and exercise, we deprive ourselves in areas that really matter. We prioritize all else over health. Today, children are turning increasingly addicted to all kinds of junk food. Adults are having a tough time balancing work and personal life. And hence, we inadvertently end up making some bad choices.
It is no wonder, therefore, that there has been a sudden rise in lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension etc.

As for me, I have to shamelessly confess, I have been making a lot of bad choices myself. Neglecting my health had been one of them. So come 2018, I resolved to change that as best as I could.

Years of making mighty resolutions and breaking them by the third day of the new year has taught me to make achievable goals, and so I have decided to keep it real this time...take things slowly.
Accordingly, I have now started putting into personal practice a healthy routine by making necessary modifications in my negligent behavior.

That brings me to what I'm going to discuss today---the importance of vitamin E in daily health routine (as known from textbook, patient, and personal experience. So trust me on this!)

So let's start at the beginning:

What is Vitamin E and why is it needed?

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin. It has important anti-oxidant properties that protect the cells from damage caused by free radicals. 

So what are free radicals then?

Free radicals are compounds formed by the body during conversion of food to energy. They are also caused due to smoking, alcohol, environmental pollutants, and a variety of other unavoidable processes.  An increase in free radicals causes harmful tissue damage. 

Vitamin E fights the free radicals and hence aids in preventing cell destruction and ageing.

In addition Vitamin E plays a significant role in -

      1. Skin: 
  • Vitamin E plays a role in the skin's antioxidant defences. 
  •  It protects the skin against harmful ultra violet raysthat have carcinogenic potential
  •  Decreases wrinkles
  •  Makes skin soft, supple and moisturized.
  •  Protects against sun burns
  • Promotes collagen, maintains elasticity and thus rejuvenates the skin making it appear glowing and healthy.

        2. Hair
  • Helps in restoring the shine and lustre
  • Strengthens the hair
  • Prevents hair fall
       3. Serves as an anti-coagulant

       4. Reduces muscle soreness and leg  cramps 
Vitamin E has also proven to have beneficial effects in conditions like

      5. Diabetes

      6. Eye disorders-  helps improve vision deficits and conditions like retinopathy, cataract, and age related macular degeneration. 

      7. Cadiomyopathy and heart illnesses

      8. Cancers

     9. Hormonal imbalance, PMS etc

In addition to all the above benefits, Vitamin E helps in strengthening the immune system and protects the body against bacteria and viruses.

Being a Diabetologist, most of my patients come to me with secondary complaints of aching muscles, tiredness, and neuralgic symptoms, and an introduction of Vitamin E supplements like Evion for supervised time periods has shown tremendous improvement. Peripheral neuropathy is one of the most feared complications of Diabetes, and Vitamin E can help reverse changes if deleted early. It also helps reduce balance cholesterol imbalance.
However, one has to be careful not to continue it for prolonged periods especially if on other Vitamin K and anti-platelet medication.

Vitamin E can cause drug interaction with the following medication:
  • Cyclosporine
  • Niacin
  • Oral contraceptive pills
  • Warfarin
Hence caution should be exercised in these cases. 
Also, since it is fat-soluble, excess of it can result in a condition called Hypervitaminosis. So I always make it a point to advice my patients not to continue it for prolonged periods. 

The daily recommended dietary allowance for Vitamin E in adults is 15 mgs, (should not exceed the upper permissible limit of 1000 IU/day) and can be obtained from 

dietary sources of the vitamin such as --
  • Lettuce
  • Pumpkin
  • Almonds
  • Sweet potato
  • Fruits like mango, kiwi, raspberry, cranberry, apricots, black currents
  • Avocado
  • Spinach
  • Collards
  • Asparagus
  • Soya bean
  • Vegetable and nut seed oils
  • Olive, sunflower, corn and soyabean oil (rich in tocopherols)
  • Palm oil, barley, rice bran (contains tocofrienols)
  • Egg yolk
  • Margarine

However, if you see signs of Vitamin E deficiency, together with low blood levels, it is advisable to consult your doctor and start on Vitamin E supplements.

As for me, I mostly rely on dietary sources for consumption. However, not so long ago, my blood work showed low levels of the vitamin. I was having symptoms of tiredness, sore muscle, and hair loss. 

It was then that I resorted to #Evion, a brand name for Vitamin E that I had been prescribing to my patients since the last so many years now. There comes a time in every doctor's life that he has to take a dose of his own medicine (literally) and I was confident about Evion. 
As expected, I started showing improvement within a month's time. I observed reduction in hair fall, and my skin had become soft and supple. I was also feeling more active and energetic and was convinced of the improvement my patients felt with Evion supplements.

Since then, I have been using Vitamin E in my moisturizing routine and hair oil massage. And needless to say, I am happy with the results.

MERCK is a trusted pharma company and a pioneer brand of Vitamin E products since 1978. IT has not just launched Evion (in multiple dose strengths like 200, 600, 400) but has also recently come up with a skin cream hat has  has also come up with a skin cream containing Vitamin E and aloe vera, both of which have moisturizing and skin protecting qualities. You no longer need to prick and squeeze Evion capsules for your hair and skin masks. Just buy the cream instead. 

For more information, check here 

Packaged in an aluminium laminated peel-off foil Evion 400 costs only Rs 22.35 for a pack of ten capsules. The Evion skin cream comes in a 60 gms tube pack and is priced at Rs 144 only. Economical, safe, and packed with benefits, I think this is a great deal to attain lustrous hair and healthy skin, the tell-tale signs of a healthy and happy life.

With that, I guess, I've said E-nough.

After all, the proof of  the pudding...

December 23, 2017

Book review: 'Padmavati - the queen tells her story'

It is December, the season where wishes are granted in mysterious ways. It was just the other day that I was cribbing about the deferred release of Sanjay Lila Bhansali's movie 'Padmavati' because of the row created by the Karni Sena.
Having read about the legendary queen of Chittor in my childhood ('Amar Chitra katha' phase) I had been earnestly looking forward to see how it would roll out on the big screen.
However, I wasn't disappointed for long. Thanks to Readomania and Sutapa Basu for coming up with this beautiful rendition  of the glorious legend. It seems like this heartpiercing  tale with all its vivid imagery is going to stay etched in my memory for a very long time.

    Book title: Padmavati: The queen tells her story.
  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Readomania 
  • Published in: December 2017
  • Language: English
  • Author: Sutapa Basu

'Padmavati---the queen tells her story' is a fictional account of the extraordinary journey of an extraordinary queen.
Introduced in modern times, the author has incorporated a contemporary element to this age-old folklore. Mrunalini Roy, a journalist for a national daily is researching the life of Rani Padmavati for which she travels to Chittorgarh. This is where she meets Uma, a village girl who lures her into listening to the story with the promise of leading her to Padma-Wali, an autobiographical document on old parchment that is written by the queen herself.

As Uma narrates the story enroute, we are transported to the lovely kingdom of Singhaldweep with all its blooming details.

"An oval emerald, snugly nestling in tiers of frothy white lace, floated in the crushed silk of turquoise seas. It was the enchanted island of Singhaldweep, off the eastern coast of Bharatdesh. A land that entices you into such a magical spell that you wonder how you existed without experiencing such a paradise."

A few pages down and one cannot help but notice the stark difference between Singhaldweep and Mewar (where Princess Padmini moves after marrying Ratan Singh). The difference is made evident by Ginni's (a talking Hiraman parrot) description of the rocky and sandy desert land of Mewar;
Ginni describes Mewar (Is it never pleasant here? What a land! During the day, hot winds howl and blow sand through the palaces while at night the stone walls are chilled by icy breezes. How I wish I was back in Singhaldweep!)

The book provides a window into the soulful and heart-wrenching journey through the life of the legendary queen Padmini, who is well acclaimed not just for her beauty but also for her strong character, skills at warfare, and astute wisdom.
With a talking parrot, Ginni, and her childhood friend, Ambika, as companion and confidante, and a kind and compassionate husband whom she barely knows but soon grows to respect and love unconditionally, the young queen bravely battles against the plots and plans that are schemed against her, both by family and foe.
But will her unparalleled beauty and elegance prove to be a curse for the young queen?
As Rani Padmavati faces and fights her destiny, she makes one final decision---she documents her story until the end; a story that transcends all boundaries of friendship, love, and honor.

The book has an attractive cover, although I felt it could have been a tad more innovative. The use of Mewari, Singha, and Urdu words gives the story a colloquial appropriateness, that is well translated by a helpful glossary in the last few pages.The narration is carefully detailed yet crisp and suggests meticulous research on the topic. Intermittent dialogue and interspersed poetry add the necessary creative zing, turning a piece of historical fiction into a riveting page turner. The scheming nature of the crafty Raghav Chetna and the treacherous lust-ridden Alauddin Khalji leaves you feeling sorry for the virtuous Rani Padmini who finds herself at their mercy time and again. But the undaunted queen refuses to bend.
How then does she change the course of her fate? Despite being fully aware that Padmavati is just a fictional figure, what is it that makes one ponder on whether there could be a semblance of reality amidst all the literary devices? Is it just extraordinary story telling, or is there really a fine line between truth and myth, between history and historical fiction? I guess it all depends on what you want to believe in. For now, let's just believe in good literature and our love for reading.

The end caught me by surprise, and no, I'm not talking about the obvious here. That is not the end. There is a story within the story. (Read the book to find out. You can order your copy here.)

Personal rating: 4.0 out of 5

About the author: Author, poet, editor, and ardent bibliophile, are just some of the feathers in Sutapa Basu's hat. She is a prolific writer and has several published short stories and poems to her credit. Her debit novel 'Dangle', a psychological thriller, was published by Readomania in 2016. This is her second novel.

(The views in the above review are entirely mine, and are not subject to obligation of any sort.)

August 08, 2017


You never realize when or how it slips in. But by the time it makes itself evident, it's almost always too late. It has embroiled itself into your life, made its way through the labyrinth of your thoughts, and depending on how it shapes, is destined to liberate or destroy you. You attempt to ignore it, perhaps even succeed for a while. But then it comes right back, gnawing at your neurons, demanding your attention, distracting you off the imperative in your life until you allow it to hold you by the hand and lead the way. Even then it is seldom satisfied. It does not rest until it has consumed you completely. You are tempted to give in. Tempted to see where it will take you. But you resist. Moments of incertitude and self-doubt begin to creep in. Should you or shouldn't you?

Eventually you learn. It teaches you to channelize, focus, and finally surrender. Fighting it is futile. It's not leaving, and that only means it's meant to stay.

You cannot kill an idea once it has made a home in your head!

July 31, 2017

Z for 'Zig zag zindagi'

Life, as we all know, is like that troublesome virus that keeps changing its morphology and hence makes it impossible to nail a cure for. In fact, so vain are its complexities and idiosyncrasies that we are often left befuddled, with mouth agape, trying to make sense of the curveballs it (life, not the virus) keeps throwing at us.

Back when I was young and naive, I used to believe that in the 'no-regrets' philosophy. You know that theory which says you shouldn't regret anything that once made you smile blah blah...
Well, now I'm older and wiser. And like most mature people believe that what you believe in when you are young and naive is a load of crap.
Of course, you have regrets. And sometimes you regret things that once made your addled brain happy too. But that doesn't mean you stop making mistakes...nah! You just keep making new ones. You keep regretting them. And you keep learning from them. That's the way the cookie crumbles.

You see, that's the thing about regrets and realisations. They usually happen only (and I mean ONLY) in hindsight. By this I mean that when they happens, the clock has already ticked by, the circle is complete, the chapter is over, and the deal is sealed. Things attain clarity only when you are not desperately seeking for the haze to clear. And all you can do then is shrug your shoulders, fake a wan smile, and say 'C'est la vie'.
Because that's what life is all about anyway, isn't it? It's never a straight curve on the time versus progress graph. It's a zig-zag...a roller coaster ride with surprise ups and downs. You remember the game of snakes and ladders you used to play as kids, wherein you could never be sure what the throw of the dice would bring you? Well, isn't life pretty much like that? A series of unfathomable situations with puzzling choices for solutions, with the only way of surviving the chaos is to go with the flow.

However, all this is easier said than done. When push comes to shove, you tend to get clingy, desperate, hopeful, even obstinate. You try to tighten our grip over what you think is yours and reach out for more...
And somewhere amidst all this mess, you tend to lose out on what is most important...the here and now.

Your present, however fleeting it may be, is the only thing that is certain. And you tend to give up on it in the pursuit of an elusive tomorrow.

You get too busy chasing butterflies when you can stop and smell the flowers...

Z for 'Zig zag zindagi' is the twenty-sixth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

With this post, I finally complete the A-Z series of posts. I have been guilty of neglecting my blog for a while now. But I promise that is going to change start August. So watch this space for a lot more frequent updates in the days to come. 

April 05, 2017

Y for 'YOLO'

5 th April / 12:48am

You Only Live Once- and thank heavens for that. I wouldn't be able to handle my life another time over...

Y for 'YOLO' is the twenty-fifth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

March 31, 2017

X for '(e)X-factor'

Relationships are complicated, and even more complicated than them are break-ups. We all have had at least one person for whom we have suffered through the anger-despair-regret cycle, for whom we have sat on the bathroom floor crying buckets, devoured dollops of empty calories from ice cream tubs, binge watched movies and emptied boxes of Kleenex.
It is true that getting over a relationship is an arduous process, and drains you out emotionally especially when you see your ex moving on at break neck speed. That is when the  reality of the situation strikes you the hardest. You know you need to move on but feel you will never be able to. But like they say, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

So for all you broken-hearted people, who, right now, just need that one person who can assure them they are going to survive the pain they are feeling, this one's for you. The fact that you have stumbled upon this page, and are reading this post which I have no clue why I got about writing is proof enough that it's all happening for good reason. Maybe this is exactly how it's supposed to work.

Anyway, let's not digress too much. We got work to do. Long story short, here are some tips collated from the experts and their break-up experiences which promise to help speed up recovery.

So buckle up, and put that smile back on your face. It's time to axe your eX.

1. First and foremost, accept that the relationship has run its course. Every relationship comes with a shelf life, after which it starts to lose its flavour. The chinks in the armour begin to show, the flowers seem to  wither, and the stars don't twinkle as bright as before. It's rather tough to detect these changes because human as we are, we keep convincing ourselves that it's just a speed breaker and not a road block. But deep within, we know when it's really over. Accepting a drastic change like that is difficult. But it's no use holding on when it's time to let go.

2. A common mistake we tend to do after breakups is hurry. We do not give ourselves enough time to bleed. You must realise that healing is a gradual process. Finding a rebound will only provide a temporary emotional crutch before things get messy again. Take your time out. Bleeding wounds if bandaged prematurely will only soak the bandage. Grieving over a dead relationship is alright. Don't be too hard on yourself. Cry a river. Then build a bridge and cross it.

3. Concentrate on your career. Invest in your passion. Learn a new language. Paint, write, sing. Pursue a hobby to the hilt. A better future involves all this and so much more. If you meet love on the way, welcome it. But don't forget, it's just a pit stop. The journey is long and wonderful. This time, don't settle for less than a love that agrees to go the entire nine yards with you.

4. If you've had an ugly breakup, the best thing to do is end all communication. Go cold turkey. Block messages. Ignore calls if any. There is no point in playing blame games or mud slinging. If you cannot be courteous about it, a clean finish is the dignified way to end a relationship.

5. Spend time with people you have been neglecting, friends who won't venture into 'curious' territory and still make sure you are having a good time. Step out more often. Make the trip you always wanted. However, try and keep away from places where you are likely to bump into each other.

6. Ice cream always helps. But watch those calories. Remember once you start feeling better, you wouldn't want those extra inches around your waist to be cause for misery again.

7. Jive, Salsa, Zumba---participate in some high energy activity.

8. Kill the green monster. Don't stalk him/her on Facebook to check out who he is hanging out with, who has tagged him in pics, or what he is up to. It's only going to get you jealous for no reason. Moving on takes time. Don't impede the process.

9. Love yourself before anyone else again. Because in the end, it's only self-love that proves to be the strongest.

10. Make art . You are in this world for a reason and as much as you'd want to believe that the reason is love, it isn't. In the famous words of Carrie Fischer, "Take your broken heart, and make it into art.

11. (Sell off all the stuff that reminds you of him.

12. When in doubt, read. A good book is guaranteed to open up a whole new universe and show you how inconsequential your heartbreak is. Err...just make sure you keep away from the romance novels in the first few weeks.

13. Work out. Get into shape. Lose that extra flab you have gained by gorging on those ice cream tubs. It's time to fit right back into your favourite outfits. Let him eat his heart out when he sees you next. And when that happens, make sure you don't go back. Remember all the reasons you guys broke up for/over. Remember that they aren't going anywhere. They will be right there where you left them.

14. Now that you have read this list, it's time to focus on acting on it. Just like you won't find the same love twice, every break-up is also unique in its own way. Make your own rules. Find out which of these suggestions work for you, and pass it forward. There is always a heart breaking somewhere around you. You aren't alone in this.

Yes, we've all been there at some point, watched our hearts cracking open, witnessed/experienced the waterworks, cursed, ranted, raved, and sworn off love. But a few years down the line, it no longer seems as significant as it did once. Why?
Because we live only once. We are not coming back this way again. So why cause ourselves unnecessary pain and agony? There are more things to life than seemingly torrid short-lived love affairs. But it's hard to realise that when you are nineteen, right? Hell! It's hard to understand that even in your thirties or forties or fifties at times. But trust me on this, nothing in the whole wide world is worth the misery we are capable of bringing upon ourselves.
So cheer up and save that spark. The fire will burn again. Trust the magic of new beginnings.

Until then, keep smiling.
Peace out!

X for '(e)X-factor' is the twenty-fourth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

March 20, 2017

W for 'Wastrel proceedings'

I tried to cheat time by breaking the hour glass. I wanted to lock every moment, feel every memory in the palm of my hand, hold it, relive it, immortalise it and never let it go.
Carefully, I emptied the contents of the hour glass; golden dust of a magical past that I yearned to safeguard. But every time I closed my fist in an attempt to tighten my grasp over it, the grains of sand would slip from the gaps between my fingers.

As my gaze fell over the broken hour glass, I realised what I'd done. In my vain attempt to control time, I'd lost my chance of turning the hourglass over and starting anew. Desperately, I tried to collect the sand that had slipped onto the ground. But it was too late. My past, had taken along with it, my present and future and mingled with the dust.
And I could do nothing but watch...

W for 'Wastrel proceedings' is the twenty-third post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

March 09, 2017


As a child, I'd never seen a rainbow for real. But I remember dreaming about one.
I'd memorise the different colors and wonder if they could be shifted and mixed. I'd wonder if one color drained into another when it rained, like the way my water colors would when I dipped my paintbrush in a palate of water for a little too long. I'd fantasise about collecting pieces of coloured rainbow falling from the sky. I'd even dream of  eating them---savouring their taste which I'd imagine would be akin to Poppins, the popular multi coloured hard candy available those days.

But my flights of fancy were soon to end, and one day, I finally witnessed a real rainbow. There it was, peeping at me from behind the clouds, sharing the same sky as the golden sun. I immediately started counting it's colors. But I could hardly discern all seven. This rainbow was nowhere like the mesmerising one I'd seen in books and animations, the one that my childish imagination had fallen in love with. I felt duped...cheated, sold off an inferior quality version when all I'd wished and prayed for was the VIBGYOR of my dreams.  My brain and heart, all of seven years, felt terribly let down. And that is when I first realised that reality is never as beautiful as you hope and imagine it to be.

Later in life, I learned that most things are like that. Expectations are often braced with disappointment. But human as we are, we never really learn.
Even now, there are days when I still expect that rainbow, all bright and flashy with seven strips of color and leprechauns flying over it. But soon enough, reality strikes making me feel heavily disappointed and disillusioned.

Nevertheless, the child in me still believes!
When the world is whitewashed of joy and I see no hopeful hues, I reach out to that imaginary rainbow I'd first witnessed in books and animations; the one I'd fallen in love with, the one that set the bar so high that reality couldn't  match up to it, the one I still adorn and immortalise with my words and imagination from time to time---My VIBGYOR with all its colors intact, perhaps waiting at the end of this mystifying yet  magical experience called life.

V for 'VIBGYOR' is the twenty-second post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

Dated March 11th 2017