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10 nutritionally terrible foods to avoid

Written By kom nampultig on Rabu, 01 Oktober 2014 | 18.47

Not just junk, keep junior off these 10 nutritionally terrible foods

So you make endless mental notes of fried snacks and sweets that your kid gorges on, but what do you know about foods laden with sodium, fat, sugar and other unsavoury ingredients? We run you through 10 unhealthy children's foods that you'd rather avoid:

Fruit snacks
For long, food and beverage giants have been pulling a fast one on you by using the word 'fruit' to sell nutritionally suspect products. Fruit cakes or fruit gummies, for instance, are as sugar-filled as a candy. The fact that they stick to kids' teeth make them a harbinger of cavities.

French fries
With the mushrooming of fast food joints, French fries have befriended children's taste-buds more than ever. The problem with fries is not just the unhealthy trans fats and calories it's loaded with, but also how easy it is to gobble too much of it at once. Fries are known to dominate the palate to an extent where the child may not really develop a taste for other vegetables. To rein your junior in, try baking your fries at home or rustle up sweet potato fries, which are packed with fibre, vitamin C and potassium.

Sugar cereals
It's no more a secret that most sugary cereals are hopelessly low on fibre and high on sugar. The trick then is to choose cereals that contain less than 10 grams of sugar and at least three grams of fibre.

Deli meals
Multiple research say that processed red meat, such as hot dogs or bologna, can up the risk of diabetes, heart disease and colon cancer. Hot dogs, for instance, are loaded with sodium, fat and nitrates which have been linked to cancer. Stick to chicken instead of beef, and if you buy deli meats, go for low-sodium, organic variants that are free of added nitrates. The best option is to always opt for fresh meat.

Sweetened drinks
Almost all the hype around the health risks that soda poses is sadly true, and more so for kids. Drinking soda or cola increases their odds of developing type-2 diabetes and ending up obese. Not to mention the cavities they will cause. Fruit drinks too can be just as bad as soda. Scientists say that if they aren't made from 100 per cent juice, their nutritional worth is as low as soda. In any case, limit your child's intake of packaged fruit juice, and encourage her to drink a lot of milk and water.

Granola bars
They have been hailed as the ultimate health snack, but many varieties of the granola bars have ingredients that make them more of a dessert than a nutritional delight. The catch is again on the cover. Hunt for bars that contain at least two grams or fibre and less than 10 grams of sugar, and also for those that have little or no saturated fat, and no high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.

Sports drinks
Your child might be drained after that gruelling session of cricket or badminton, but don't let him or her glug down sports drinks. Kids can become easily used to the taste and stop preferring water. Whip up a glass of chocolate milk instead, as it packs just the right mix of protein and carbs to help repair muscle.

Until she is at least a year old, don't give your child honey as they can contain spores which can cause botulism — symptoms include dry mouth, vomiting, paralysis, and breathing problems. Since infants have immune systems that are relatively weak, they're at the highest risk for botulism. This is why doctors often recommend that babies avoid products that contain honey.

Packaged noodles
Not only are noodles low on nutrition, they come with a lot of sodium. Children between the ages of two and three should have no more than 1,000 milligrams of sodium per day, while kids up to age eight shouldn't exceed 1,200 mgs per day. However, one serving of most packed noodles or pasta has more than half of a child's recommended limit.

While cheese is a fabulous source of calcium and protein, you need to watch your child's portions. A slice of cheese can contain over 100 calories and 10 grams of fat, so regularly having more than that for a snack can add the numbers up fast. The daily recommended amount for dairy is two cups for age 2-3, and two-and-a-half cups for age 4-8. Just one-and-a-half ounces of cheese counts as one cup of the recommended amount of dairy.

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10 Things never to say to a woman

There are few guarantees in life, but this much we can say with certainty: The sun rises in the east, death comes to us all, and you will -- at one time or another -- suddenly find yourself in the midst of a blazing fight with your girlfriend without even realizing it.

Many of us have been there. One minute you're having a conversation, maybe a minor argument, but that's OK; it's all under control. Then you say something -- a word or passing comment, something relatively harmless, or so you think -- and it sets her off. As soon as it leaves your lips, the air changes, and there's no easy way back.

There are some things men should never say to their women -- conversational land mines that appear insignificant on the face of it, but are anything but. The good news is that we know, for the most part, what they are. Many men have suffered before you. It would be wise to heed their counsel.

1. "Are you really going to eat all that?"

Your girlfriend is, by definition, as light as a feather and nimble as a ballerina. To so much as whisper a hint of the notion that she might be, you know, otherwise, is to risk paying a price as heavy as you suspect her to be. In fact, avoid the topic of food altogether if you can. Eating is an emotional, often obsessive business for women, and occasionally it's an actual disorder. It's tied up with their identity, their self-image, their fantasies. So the answer is, yes, she's really going to eat all that. All that ballet must have given her an appetite.

2. "B*tch"

The B word is like the N word: Unless you've been appropriately oppressed, you don't get to use it. You might be able to pull off an ironic Snoop Dogg-style "beeeyatch," so long as you're smiling as you say it. But to say "b*tch" with any kind of intent is to pull the pin out of a grenade.

3. "My ex used to ... "

Anything you say with the words "my ex" in it will be held against you in a court of law, as it should. Of course it's natural to compare your girlfriends, but keep it to yourself. There are inside thoughts and outside thoughts. This belongs firmly to the former category.

4. "You always do that"

One sure way to escalate a minor tiff into a nuclear showdown is to use words like "never" and "always." They're too sweeping to be true, so you'll not only upset her, but also give her the opportunity to prove you wrong and seize the higher ground. And it tends to drag every other argument you've had into your present one, which is like rehashing all the worst parts of your relationship all at once.

5. "You sound just like your mother"

Don't compare her to her mother. Or her sister, for that matter. You don't know those people like she does, and you don't know the full complexity of their relationships. And anyway, everyone wants an independent identity, separate and distinct from their family members.

6. "Yeah, she's hot"

Chances are she lured you in with an innocent question, like, "Do you think she's cute?" shrugging her shoulders like it wouldn't matter either way. But don't be fooled. You must lie quickly and reflexively. Whether it's a girl in a magazine, a Facebook friend, a waitress -- whoever -- the answer is always no. In fact, you win extra points for casually finding fault in her the closer you look. Watch your girlfriend light up as you say, "Is it me, or is her nose a bit weird?"

7. "What's up with your hair?"

Her hair looks great and it suits her perfectly. She's allowed to have a bad hair day, but you're not allowed to notice. For girls, hair isn't just hair.

8. "Relax"

The thing about "relax" is it dramatically reduces the chances of her relaxing. The same goes for "chill" and "calm down." Here's an alternative: "I can see how you would feel that way." It takes a Zen master to actually use it in the heat of combat, but it's there if you need it.

9. "Is this your time of the month?"

Even if it is, you're not to mention it. Your role is to pretend that her menstrual cycle has no effect on her tendency to shriek and stamp and then burst into tears for no reason whatsoever. In this matter, you must occupy the high ground and show pity. Indulge her delusion that she is not in fact deranged by hormones and that she's making a valid point. The moment will pass.

10. "I love you"

I know what you're thinking. This is supposed to be the magic pill, the cure-all, the instant fix. But the thing about the L word is that it sends women into a heightened sense of awareness. As soon as they hear it, they can tell whether or not you mean it. Misuse the force and it may destroy you. Or as the saying goes, if you play with fire, you might get slapped in the middle of a restaurant.

Content courtesy: Men's Life Today, Global

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Stories of memories in the river of life

Book Review: Fragments of Riversong
Author: Farah Ghuznavi
Publisher: Daily Star Books
Pages: 126

Bangladeshi author Farah Ghuznavi's debut book, 'Fragments of Riversong'- is a collection of short stories that reflect on the trials and tribulations of the people living in a post-war Bangladesh.

What triggered Farah to come out with this anthology is the absolute necessity to bring to readers a fresh yet original perspective on the modern day Bangladesh. "I wrote Fragments of Riversong in the hope of providing readers with a more authentic and nuanced picture of (her) my country as it is today. I wanted to go beyond the typical stereotypes of poverty and disaster, which are only part of the picture, to understanding better the beauty, chaos and contradictions that make up modern Bangladesh. So, Fragments of Riversong features a variety of characters and situations: from a street child who unexpectedly finds his life intersecting with those of a nouveau riche housewife and a middle-class teenager, to a young man who returns to his village in order to deal with a bereavement, to a successful architect who reluctantly becomes the temporary guardian of her two young nieces, and a number of others", explains the author.

Past in present: Where's home
The author poignantly brings out the unfailing faith of her characters who are helplessly trying to piece together the fragments of an irretrievable past. In 'The Homecoming', for instance, it is only when the protagonist stares at the "shattered mosaic" his father had once supervised the laying of for days; that the bitter truth of the war hits him hard. The first story in the collection, 'Getting There', revolves around a similar theme of making sense of a 'home'. Laila and Shaheen are complete antithesis to each other. If one is subservient, docile and obedient, the other is a rebel with a freewheeling attitude who refuses to be led by rules. Laila despises to be compared to her 'miss goody two-shoes' sister and thinks Shaheen incapable of being an independent thinker. However, things change when Shaheen meets with an accident and Laila; an architect from Dhaka, makes a return from Chittagong to the Bangladeshi capital with her two nieces. As an aunt, Laila develops a meaningful, yet an unexpected friendship with one of her nieces. During this journey, Laila gets to know her sister in a way she had never known before. Anecdotes that her niece shares about Shaheen leave Laila confused and also, a tad guilty.

Challenging weakness, emerging strong
One of the noticeable strengths in Farah's stories is her characters' power of resilience. They might appear to be vulnerable at first, resigning to their fates without contest but by the time you finish reading the story, the protagonist becomes a role model, an inspirational figure. 'Escaping the Mirror' is one such story of a woman who lashes out at her parents years later. She condemns her parents' dismissive attitude toward a young girl's repeated cries against the slow, subtle, over-the-years sexual harassment at the hands of the family chauffeur. The tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza factory forms the backdrop of 'Big Mother'- a story in which a woman gathers herself to start afresh in the United States after her husband gets killed in the deadliest garment-factory accident.

Expressing anger
For Farah, writing fiction is more of a political act, a tool that helps her voice the 'unspeakable', that which is deliberately hidden and brushed under the carpet. In one of her earlier interviews, the author explains how outrage and anger forced her to write against the varied forms of injustice, exploitation and violence rampant in society. A news report on the death of a certain child domestic worker at the hands of her employer unsettled the author's mind to an extent that she wrote her first short story from the perspective of the child worker, the victim who is otherwise, more often than not silenced in a world of muscle power and tyranny.

A new beginning
'The Assessment', 'Waiting for the Storm' and 'The Mosquito Net Confessions' are among the other 12 short stories in the volume that question the normative, defy prejudices and hail the alternative voice which is progressive, non-judgmental and liberated. This book is about respecting and celebrating all choices we have a right to make in life.

(Originally published on April 18, 2014)

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Why your kid won't sit still

A five-year-old finds it difficult to sit still for long in class. Next door, a six-year old has difficulty staying focused. Parents of both children, `doctorised' by Google, have made their diagnoses: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Their teachers seem to agree. But, according to child counsellors, the two children are being, well, children.

Child psychiatrist and psychotherapist Dr Zirak Marker says, ADHD and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are "among the most overdiagnosed syndromes of the last decade". "We all `saw' a huge rise in the symptoms. I'd see five cases of alleged ADHD cases a week," he says of the condition that has to do with significant challenges of attention and acting impulsively that are not appropriate with a person's age. Often, parents and teachers would want to give a `label' to a condition where the child was unable to sit. But, not every over-active or restless child has ADHD.

Experts across the world would agree with Marker. Symptoms of hyperactivity are usually apparent in most young preschoolers and are nearly always present before the age of seven.Dr Richard House, child psychologist and editor of Too Much, Too Soon?, puts the blame on modern educational methods. "Modern educational thinking is making fundamental errors in children's early development, which then (not surprisingly) generates behavioural disturbances -these get misdiagnosed as `medical problems' for which the child is assumed to require medical treatment."


In a recent blog, Angela Hanscom, a paediatric occupational therapist from New Hampshire, said there's only one reason why more kids have attention issues these days: They're not getting enough movement.

"Recess times have shortened due to increasing educational demands, and children rarely play outdoors due to parental fears, liability issues and the hectic schedules of modern-day society. Children are not moving nearly enough, and it is really starting to become a problem," writes Hanscom, who runs TimberNook, a nature-based development programme designed to foster creativity and independent play outdoors.

House argues that hyper-competitive modern life is creating environments that are precisely the opposite of those that children need -early cognitive learning, drastic reduction in free imaginative play, less time spent in nature.Obsessive hours of doodling behind a computer screen and fiddling on iPads and cell phones is making matters worse.

In his book, The Role of Play in Human Development, Anthony Pellegrini, emeritus professor of educational psychology at the University of Minnesota, questions if we are depriving our children of normal, non-competitive forms of social play. And if yes, is the incidence of ADHD, aggression and delinquency symptomatic of a society that has forgotten how to play?


Across the world, too many schools are clamping down on breaks while choosing to focus on reading, writing and arithmetic. This is based on the belief that eliminating play time will lead to a rise in academic achievement.

But nothing could be farther from the truth.

University of Illinois psychology professor and Beckman Institute director Arthur Kramer led a 2010 study that found an association between physical fitness and the brain in nine and 10-year-old children. "Regular physical activity can influence both, brain structure and function in children," Kramer says.

How does exercise benefit a child's brain? Dr John Ratey, the co-author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, writes that the brain produces a protein called BDNF, or brain-derived neurotropic factor, when the body is moving. "This protein helps build nerve-cell connections and the stronger these connections (as a result of continued physical activity), the easier it is for children to understand and retain information."

So, active kids tend to experience better cognitive performance and focus, have more rapid reaction time, and are likely to perform better at school. They learn to be more social, gain

friendships, and sleep well, a crucial element in mental development.


Rajani Pattabhiraman, principal of EuroSchool in Thane, says: "We have found that kids are doubly attentive when they come to class refreshed. Therefore, the day's time-table is designed in such a way that classes are interspersed with skating, taekwondo, dance or craft. Why just kids; even you and I can't do the same thing day in and out."

A study conducted in North Carolina evaluated the effects of a classroom-based programme that gave students 10-minute breaks for organised physical activity between classes. Researchers found breaks improved ontask behaviour and made students "more focused and ready to learn."

A tiny Nordic nation has known this secret for decades. On a regular school day, students and teachers in Finland take a 15-minute break after every 45 minutes of class. Students head outdoors to play and chit-chat with friends; teachers go to the lounge and unwind.

Tim Walker, an American teacher in Helsinki, questioned the Finnish practice of giving 15-minute breaks each hour. But he became a convert after he saw the difference it made to his students. On his blog, Taught by Finland, he writes: "I no longer saw feetdragging, zombie-like kids in my classroom... my Finnish students would -without fail -enter the classroom with a bounce in their steps [and] were more focused during lessons."

Pellegrini, who also authored Recess: Its Role in Education and Development, is another firm believer in the "break" approach. In a series of experiments to explore the relationship between recess timing and attentiveness, he found students were less attentive when the break was delayed.


During the course of her research, Hanscom found that a majority of children surveyed had poor core strength and balance."When compared to kids from the early 1980s, only one out of 12 children had normal strength and balance," she says.

The restricted movement pattern means that many children are walking around with an underdeveloped vestibular (balance) system. "In order to develop a strong balance system, children need to move their bodies in all directions, for hours at a time. They need to do this more than just once a week in order to reap the benefits," she writes. This means that once-a-week football practice doesn't count. For minds prepared to learn, children must have bodies that are geared up to acquire knowledge. If the sensory system isn't working well, sitting and paying attention is a tough task. A child's body displays a natural reaction -fidgeting -so as to get the movement the body needs to "turn the brain on." Instead, teachers ask them to sit still and pay attention, putting their brain into sleep mode.

In India, most schools, owing to long hours, often have two recesses -a short one of 15 minutes and a long one of 30-45 minutes. However, between catching up with friends and finishing the snack, there's hardly any time to play.

Can schools consider extending recesses? Teachers and principals are unwilling to get into this debate, with completion of course work a primary worry. At Garodia International in Mumbai, its co-ordinator Meeta Sampat, says, they have a 15-minute and 30-minute break together with 5-minute breaks after every class. But five minutes is only enough to glug down water and put away books.


Pelligrini's research found that the recess lost value when break times were "teacher directed". In Finland, children get to decide how they spend their break time. "Free play gives students the opportunity to develop social competence. During these times, they not only rest and recharge -they also learn to cooperate, communicate, and compromise, skills they need to succeed aca demically as well as in life," Walker says.

House's suggestion may horrify Indian helicopter parents, but she insists that until age six, a child's physical development should take precedence over cognitive learning. "Physical development needs to occur first, because if cognitive, quasi-formal learning is engaged with prematurely, this can actually interfere with the child's overall holistic development," she warns.

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Review: Smart Kolkata — The Restaurant

I get rather excited when recommendations draw me to a restaurant. "You'll like it," I was told last week which reminded me of a foodie friend who suggested the same place sometime back.

Smart Kolkata — The Restaurant, tucked in a most unlikely spot of south Kolkata, is a mash-up of European-Calcutta-of-the-yore meets local Chinese flavours spiced up with some modern-day setting. We arrive for a weekday dinner, to a restaurant almost only to ourselves.

Decor: Our enthusiasm is momentarily sapped by the location of the restaurant. We missed it at first glance. Thank God for the GPS system, which insistently keeps urging us to take a U-turn and head back. However, the cordial welcome by the staff who sweeps over in zest to show us in and then coolly leads us into the tiny parlour leading through two other open sections, helps us relax. The puny space is actually livened up by walls of framed Hollywood posters, oversized photographs, good ol' retro sound and proper table cloths.

Food: You need to be a local to go with the humour in this menu. Each section has a weird header; while some make sense, others give us the shivers, literally! We skip the boring Chinese selection and stick to the continental classics, except the juicy chicken drumstick (`200) for starters. Our choice includes wild mushroom soup (`105), deep fried corn n jalapenos (`145), cheese chilli toast (`140) followed by baked fish (`475), lamb goulash (`425), grilled chicken with chipolata (`400), chocolate crepe with ice cream (`140) and tutty fruity (`90).

Plus & minus: The corn n jalapeno cigars jumpstart things for us. The pulped up corn and spicy jalapenos are rolled and deep-fried to give a salty crunch on the outside. The wild mushroom soup comes smooth and silky, with bits of mushrooms scooped up with cream and bits of thyme in each mouthful. The Chinese chicken drumsticks is a bit of a bummer — saucy outside, but way overdone and bone-dry inside, bereft of all juices. The cheese toasts are attention grabbers, best smothered with smoky, spicy, cheesy topping.

The baked basa fish is cradled in a bed of rice, showered with clouds of stringy mozzarella, making it less creamy on the palate. The lamb goulash is a flavourful baby potatoes and lamb gravy dish instead of a stew, buried again in rice. The grilled chicken is tender, with a brown comforting sauciness, served with a generous helping of grilled sausages and assortment of veggies. We end with a huge helping of the sweet and sticky ice cream-wrapped chocolate crepe and a dainty helping of canned fruits and ice cream tutty fruity, but, alas no tall glass here.

FOOD: 2.5

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Skip the suds: Try dry shampoo

Written By kom nampultig on Selasa, 30 September 2014 | 18.48

Called the busy girl's miracle product, dry shampoo is being touted as an alternative to suds (soap, lather, foam). It's not practical to wash your hair every day.

Also, washing your hair daily would rinse away beneficial oils that keep your mane supple and healthy. For those in between times, dry shampoo is a great option. You can use it after a trip to the gym, a long day of travel or if you don't have access to a bathroom. Available in a powder form and in spray cans, dry shampoo gives your hair the appearance of being clean, since it absorbs oils that make the hair dirty. Find the washing routine that works for you, whether it's three times a week or less, and use dry shampoo every day in between.

How to use use it right
Always use dry shampoo on dry, greasy hair. If you try to apply it on wet hair, it will get clumpy, and look messy. Don't rub dry shampoo on your scalp; if it's in a powder form, sprinkle it on the hair. If you're using a spray, hold it several inches away from your head, so that you don't spray it directly on your scalp. Wait for a few minutes and then comb or blow dry into your desired hairstyle.

Dos & don'ts

Avoid using dry shampoo more than twice in a row. Be sure to wash your hair with a regular shampoo after using the dry shampoo twice. Since the latter doesn't clean flakes and other debris from your hair, don't use it in place of a regular shampoo.

After spraying or sprinkling the product, wait for 3-4 minutes, to allow it to absorb oil and impurities.Comb your hair and brush out the excess powder.

Never rub dry shampoo on your scalp, as it can clog the skin pores. It can also lead to dryness and itching.

(Inputs by beauty experts Shahnaz Husain and Tisha Kapur Khurana)

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Restaurant review: Crazy Noodles (Asian), Pune

It's great to see original food concepts targeted at family dining other than the horrendous fast food chains which are high on value for money and 'zip zap' but low on nutrition. So here we have Crazy Noodles, (now two in the city) which is a notch above fast food but caters to the same clientele. It is a symphony of green and pink with huge attractive food imagery on the walls and nice clean, contemporary decor and lovely white crockery. The prices are a above fast food but still very reasonable for a family outing.

Portions are very generous and the colourful menu is well thought out and well explained. Start off with soups and salads; the crispy noodle salad with black pepper mayo is quite a winner, though you have to eat it quite fast before the noodles get soggy. The soups though were very good - crazy noodle, lemon coriander and sweet corn. Dimsums were disappointing and a tad undercooked and bland but the 'medley of mushrooms' platter was outstanding, perfectly tossed button and Chinese mushrooms in light soy and garlic.

There are some interesting variations on the traditional 'teppan' which is a hot plate on which things are tossed like teriyaki chicken. Try the miso cheese teppan with interesting vegetables like bak choy. Mains are all about noodles....we skipped the Thai curries and run of the mill Chinese chicken dishes (hot garlic, chilli chicken, kung pao) and headed straight for the noodles - large bowls of freshly tossed combinations with veggies and sauces. The Japanese soya butter is excellent for children and anyone who does not want to indulge in too much spice but for a crazy experience go for the crazy ramen, a sumo sized bowl of noodles in a spicy broth.

I tried the famous, 'thukpa' a dish originally from Tibet. It lacked the fire and brimstone of the original but was fresh and quite zesty. For the non adventurous you have American chop suey and chow mein as well as interesting fried rice combinations. Do try the mocktails; cinnamon sparkle and green hornet were great. Don't come to Crazy Noodles expecting a gourmet experience but do come if you have a group of kids to entertain with diverse palates and hearty appetites. Even when the menu does say 'spicy', it isn't stomach wrenching at all and there are plenty of sauces you can add if you want that kind of experience. A great option while you are mall shopping. Quick and cheerful.

Plus and Minus: Fresh and feisty, great option for kids but a bit repetitive on the choice of vegetables

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High cholesterol linked to breast cancer

In a significant discovery, scientists have found a link between high blood cholesterol and breast cancer in a study of more than one million patients over a 14 year time period in Britain.

"Our preliminary study suggests that women with high cholesterol in their blood may be at a greater risk of getting breast cancer," said Rahul Potluri, founder of the Algorithm for Comorbidities, Associations, Length of stay and Mortality (ACALM) study.

It raises the possibility of preventing breast cancer with statins, which lowers cholesterol, he added.

The researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of more than one million patients across Britain between 2000 and 2013.

There were 664,159 women and of these, 22,938 had hyperlipidaemia and 9,312 had breast cancer.

Some 530 women with hyperlipidaemia developed breast cancer.

The researchers found that having hyperlipidaemia increased the risk of breast cancer by 1.64 times.

"We found that women with high cholesterol had a significantly greater chance of developing breast cancer. This was an observational study so we can't conclude that high cholesterol causes breast cancer but the strength of this association warrants further investigation," Potluri said.

The research was presented Friday at "Frontiers in CardioVascular Biology (FCVB) 2014" seminar in Barcelona, Spain.

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How to organise a family get-together

Here's how you can plan well

To organise a family get-together, these are a few things that you need to keep in mind.

Invite your relatives
To begin with, you have to first make a list of all the members in your family. After you're done making a list, make sure to call everyone personally and invite them on the date you plan to hold the get-together.

Select a venue
If you think that conducting a get-together in your house is a bit of difficult, look out for an alternate venue. It can either be a banquet hall that you can book for the entire day or a relative's place. But make sure that you have a venue at hand so that it does not become difficult for you as well as your family members in the end.

Organise food and drinks
This is a huge responsibility. Organising food and drinks is not simple, if you have lot of family members. More often than not, people usually cook themselves if there are fewer members. But if you have more than 10 members in your family, it'll be best if you can hire a caterer.

Delegate responsibilities
It is not easy to plan the whole get-together on your own. Thus, ask your relatives to help you out with this. You can assign one to take care of the food and drinks, the other can look out for a venue etc.

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Book Review: Kaw Caw Silly point

Title: Kaw Caw Silly point: A Wonky look at Contemporary India
Author: M.K. Kaw
Publisher: Konark Publishers
Pages: 270
Price: Rs.250

This is a funny and serious book at the same time. Maharaj Krishen Kaw joined the IAS in 1964 and retired in 2001 after holding many senior posts. He was a scholar in his own right, a declining breed in the civil services, and he knew how to wield his pen. "Kaw Caw", his monthly column in 'Naad', the mouthpiece of the All India Kashmir Samaj, was a huge hit. This is an anthology of his best pieces.

Kaw is an insider and knows the establishment truly well. In pieces packed with wit and humour, Kaw deals with serious subjects, sharing with us his understanding of all that is wrong in today's India. He hops from one subject to another with equal ease: Corruption, Mayawati's elephants, Anna Hazare, Robert Vadra, Air India, Narendra Modi, Kashmiri Pandits (his community), marriage, computers and Internet, Delhi Jal Board... and what have you.

Kaw is, of course, not always - or wholly - right. His understanding of Modi, for instance, is clearly at loggerhead with what majority India thought. Kaw felt that Modi's "image of a modern nation builder may come crashing into the dust if the accusations levelled by his enemies and erstwhile colleagues and subordinates come home to roost". Kaw calls Modi an infant compared to Manmohan Singh and says the former Gujarat chief minister lacks knowledge of the big subjects: South Asia, Kashmir, nuclear policy et al. Modi has, however, proved to be a far different persona from what Kaw thought. Just shows that even if you are sincere, you can go wrong.

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