In the US, a lot of the communication is done via email and short messages are made via Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts or Skype (on Computer).

Whereas, in my experience in India, people use Whatsapp or SMS or Facebook Messenger (on phone).


(image stolen from the web)

People in India are  not used to detailed messages via email, and prefer short bursts of messages via Whatsapp.

In fact, I had never used Whatsapp in the US and only started using it in India.

Whatsapp is useful to broadcast pics quickly (ala Instagram) and for quick messages (ala SMS), whereas FB Messenger competes with email really.

Thus, there are a lot of differences in how people communicate in the US when compared to India.

The main factor is that people in the US tend to use computers and tablets more and prefer to keep their messengers or whatever open in a browser tab in the background (though with smartphones, that market is rapidly changing), whereas people in India mainly use Smartphones and hence phone programs like Whatsapp tend to be popular.

Another big issue is that people in the US are used to voicemail, and so never really take a phonecall and let it go to voicemail, whereas in our attention-deficit world, people in India have rude interruptions in real life, and scramble to take that call.


Also, there is a difference in talking.

I was used for people to patiently wait for me to finish what I was saying, in the US, but, in India, people interrupt you before you cam finish your sentence, And people assume they know what you are saying and will explain or debate whatever before you can finish saying what you wanted to.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sound pollution in analysis of a few…

As you might know, sound pollution is very high in India.

Sound or noise pollution causes not only discomfort, but also adverse physical effects, including hypertension, anxiety, etc.

(Image found on the web)


So, I want to take few of those nuisances in India and analyze the reasons….

These are the nuisances I chose:


1. Honking

This is a nuisance everywhere in the country, be it bikes and scooter or cars, etc.

Vehicles are constantly honking their horns, as if they have a magical power to clear the road.

I have no explanation of why this honking happens. Maybe, it is a cultural thing where a person has to honk. Given a horn button, it has to be pressed for some reason.

This is a nuisance for bystanders, but they have come to accept it and it does not seem like a nuisance to then anymore.


Underlying cause: culture?


2. Reverse car horns

In India, putting a vehicle in reverse-gear starts this annoying sound, which is supposed to alert people behind the vehicle.

I don’t really understand the purpose of these and it seems to be related to a population issue, whereby a  pedestrian need not be alert and a reverse-horn will alert them?


Underlying cause: population?


3. LPG (cooking gas) delivery vehicles

This is a perfect example where capitalism disregards nuisance and the assault on the ears.

In India, cooking gas is not piped and so has to be delivered.

There are gas agencies that deliver the cooking gas.

These agencies obviously want to maximize their profits and use the cheapest means to deliver the gas.

There is lot of environmental damage in making the delivery containers, but that is whole different issue.

Anyway, to deliver the gas, agencies use rickety, noisy 4-stroke rickshaws that create quite a racket.


Underlying cause: capitalism?

Posted in healthcare, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Industrial agriculture and monoculture


Developed countries have something known as industrial agriculture (or farming) is used to raise large quantities of a crop.

Thanks to our consumerist culture, large quantities of a product are consumed and many times, in case of a food item, this places a massive demand on crop production.

This leads to a phenomenon known as industrial agriculture, where a farm is huge and only machines can harvest such quantities.

This is slowly happening in developing countries too.

This type of farming is leading to monoculture (a single crop), because farmers want to maximize their yield of a particular type and also there is an overhead for sorting, etc., and also the investment required is reduced because now a harvester for crop B is not required..

The problem with monoculture is that it promotes massive use of pesticides, and 1  pest or a disease can wreck the whole crop.
Also, farmers plant what’s good for their wallet, and not necessarily for you, the consumer and so you are forced to eat something that the industry forces you to.
Also, we would consume a lot of chemicals.

The flip side of this is polyculture, where there are small farms with a number of crops, which theoretically would use less pesticide because 1 crop’s pest might kill another crop’s pest.
This might be more natural and sustainable farming.

Also, monoculture could deplete soil and more fertilizer is required, whereas otherwise manure or other crops could fix the soil with nitrates.

As industrial farming increases, big corporations will buy out poor farmers, because the farmers do not have the capital required to invest in big machinery, big land, etc.

Unfortunately, this changes the landscape of agriculture.

This is not restricted to  farming, and can also have political ramifications that lead to the farmers lose income and work and elect a populist government which promises to keep out corporations and immigrants, and also big corporations lobby the government.

Posted in food, living, plants | Leave a comment

Your microbiome (part 1)

You might have heard about the human microbiome. The microbiome consists of the micro-organisms that are in or on a human body. Things like bacteria, viruses, amoeba, etc.
Everybody is talking about this now, and new research shows that many conditions can be a result of issues with the microbiome.
Theoretically, the number of micro-organisms outnumber human cells by 10:1 (actually it’s more like 7:1, but most places say 10:1).
This leads to a philosophical qs – are you you OR are you your bacteria?

That is why many items in a market will have a probiotic or prebiotic branding, but that may be a marketing gimmick. Most bacteria need anaerobic environments (i.e. env without oxygen).

Many years ago, I had blogged about this –/2012/06/26/describing-you-as-your-bacteria/

I also paid to get my microbiome tested from a company in San Francisco. this was many years ago, and since then these kind of services have sprung up all over.The idea of the testing is to generate a microbiome profile (as in what their species are)., so then it could be compared with other people – the idea being to highlight differences. This was all 5 years ago, so the field would have grown by now.
Anyway, the company is called uBiome at
The co-founder is Zachary Apte a PhD from UCSF.

So, what are the practical uses of all this?
– Researchers think that instead of hospitals being sterile places, they could be sprayed with good bacteria, in order to overwhelm the bad bacteria.
– Many liquid soaps and hand-washes contain a chemical called Triclosan, which kills all bacteria. Just today, I read that the FDA in the US (which regulates food and drugs, etc.) ordered removing a few chemicals from soap.
– The microbiome also can affect allergies (that is another post).
– The microbiome could show that antibiotics can be bad for you, because they kill all bacteria (both good and bad).
– Knowing about the microbiome can greatly affect dental health, which helped me a lot. Many years ago, I greatly reduced my sugar intake, and ever since, I have not had cavities or any scales/tartar/deposits on my teeth.

That is why the field of microbiology is so important right now.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wild sparrows in urban India


These are some observations about house sparrows (chimnya in Marathi) in Pune, India, and I am sure that it applies to many urban areas too…

I think there are 5 factors affecting small birds and reducing their numbers.

These might be eating sparrow chicks and eggs. I am trying to find this out, but this information is not easy to come by.

Crows are very smart and can outwit other birds easily, and they are very social and operate in packs.

Also, I think they are quite territorial.


Pigeons also could affect small birds, and there could be two factors there.

There are a lot of pigeons in urban areas and buildings (so much so, that they are a menace) and they might not leave any place for sparrows, etc. to perch.

Also, they would eat any food lying around, so sparrows won’t get any food.


I don’t know if you know this, but cuckoos are egg parasites. They lay their eggs in other bird’s nests and even though a sparrow egg might be much smaller than a cuckoo egg, birds do not see the size. They will nurture whatever comes out of the egg.

Also, a strange behavior is that a cuckoo egg hatches earlier and the first thing the cuckoo chick does is put out the other eggs out of the nest.
So, it destroys the other eggs.

Traditionally, cuckoos are revered by people. They have a sweet voice and so people like them.

All these factors have led to exploding numbers of cuckoos.

And they are very noisy.
They have become a nuisance.
That is why I might dislike cuckoos so much.


Habitat loss
This is a cause for the loss of wildlife, in general.

At first, I used to think that humans scare sparrows away.

But then, my grandmother and many old people, in earlier times, would feed sparrows by throwing grains for them.
The sparrows were afraid of humans (of course), but did not avoid them totally.

No natural predators
Also, due to habitat loss and human activity, many of the natural predators like owls and hawks and kites , etc. of the above pests have disappeared, and so the pest birds have nothing to fear.

Phone signals and other factors
A common myth that I have heard in Pune, India is that cellphone signals affect birds.

While, I do not rule that out completely, science has yet to prove this, and for now, lets assume that there is no such effect.
Science is researching this, but so far, it has not found anything that we affect sparrows with signals.


In summary

With so much urban development, we have created a habitat loss for the sparrows and now they have no real places to build their nests and to breed.

A lot of the birds now are perching birds and are bigger in size, so they then fly up tall buildings and perch on terraces and parapets, etc..
So, they never need to come in human space.

Also, people are not aware that crows and cuckoos (and even pigeons) are pests and people ignore them; they even feed them and so then, their numbers increase.

Posted in living | Leave a comment


It is human (and natural) to procrastinate, and we all need a dose of that from time to time.
Strangely, it seems easier to procrastinate in the US than in India, although instinctively one might think it would be much easier to procrastinate in a developing country like India than the US.

I will touch on some points here.


In the US, a bill can be paid a month later or there is a lot of grace period, while in India a bill needs to be paid in 2 weeks or your utility or whatever item the bill is for is cut off. Reinstating is a big red-tape hassle, so you are always better off paying the bill.
This means that you cannot put off paying the bill in India.



Things online (for shopping) in India can be available in one moment and be out of stock and unavailable in the next moment, whereas I never experienced this in the US. That also means than item needs to be bought online in India whenever it is available because it may be unavailable the next time you shop. This is also true for brick and mortar or physical stores.



In India, there is no home-automation really, so one has to rely on a maid and other domestic help, which means that you have to work according to their timings and it is not easy to put things off for later.



In India and also some places in the US, timings are more important than the work done.
So, that means that you cannot work at weird hours, when you might be productive, but rather have to be present during work-hours.



Many places conform to the norms and work is usually 9-5 and you need to go to bed at xyz and your favorite TV programs are at 9pm or whatever time. That has changed now because of DVRs and the Internet

Posted in living | Leave a comment

Devices and Distractions

With the proliferation of devices nowadays, social, personal, business, etc. behavior has changed.

Mobile Devices blog

It used to be rude to interrupt a conversation by doing something else; nowadays it is perfectly normal to make a phone-call and talk or text in the middle of a conversation.
This problem is bigger in India, where voicemail is not available, and people feel the urge to accept a phone-call because the caller pays for it as opposed to going through your phone-calls later and calling those folks; that would be on the caller’s dime.

People nowadays think they can use their phone and do another task viz. all this is multitasking and neuroscience proves the brain cannot multitask; it can only do one task at a time, so that is what it does. In software there is a term for it called time-slicing, which is rapidly switching from 1 task to another to stimulate multi-tasking. So, it involves context-switching for one to get back to the task they were doing originally. This switching burns up glycogen (burns up energy in the brain), and so it is not recommended to multitask but to focus and to complete the task at hand.
Some neuroscientists say that it takes 20 minutes to get back (properly) to the task that you were doing.

Another factor is that people are distracted by social media, and are constantly using their device. Care needs to be taken to define what “using” means. Playing music or a podcast is not “using” as such, but texting or playing a game is.

Devices are a tool to help us to do what we are doing, but nowadays humans have become tools and social media kind of controls them.

People constantly need external input and stimulation, and they need to be comfortable with being alone and by themselves.
Spiritual reasons aside, this will happen to you in your old age, so it is better to practice this now.

A good exercise is to keep your phone or whatever device away from you for some time. People tend to get restless when this happens.

My recommendation to you is to decide what you want to do and use tools like social media to make it more efficient. Maybe, you need to promote your idea and social media is good for that.

It is but natural to want to know what friends and family are doing, so it is impossible to stay off of social media, but do not get carried away by it where you get more interested in other’s lives when your own life just passes you by.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment