Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Deepavali celebrations

" Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya " (from darkness unto light)
'Diwali', also called Deepavali or festival of ligths, is the abstraction of the Sanskrit word Deepavali - 'Deep' means diya (small pots made from clay) or light and 'Avali', means a row - meaning a row of diyas or array of lamps. Thus placing small diyas, candles & lamps inside and around the home marks the festival of lights.

It is traditionally known as the "festival of lights", for the common practice is to light small oil lamps (called diyas) and place them around the home, in courtyards, gardens, verandahs, on the walls built around the home and also on the roof tops. In cities, especially, candles are substituted for diyas; and among the riches, candles are made to substitute for fashionable and classy neon lights. The celebration of the festival is customarily accompanied by the exchange of sweets and the explosion of fireworks. Diwali is an occasion for cheerfulness and togetherness. This is an occasion for young and the old, men and women, rich and poor - for everyone to celebrate. Irrespective of their religious and economic background, the festival is celebrated throughout the country to ward off the darkness and welcome light into life as light is always associated with hope for the future Diwali is celebrated 20 days after Dussera, on Amavasya - the 15th day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu month of Ashwin (Aasho) (Oct/ Nov) every year.

While Diwali is popularly known as the "festival of lights", the most significant spiritual meaning is "the awareness of the inner light".

Central to Hindu philosophy is the assertion that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman. Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Dipavali is the celebration of this inner light, in particular the knowing of which outshines all darkness (removes all obstacles and dispels all ignorance), awakening the individual to one's true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With the realization of the Atman comes universal compassion, love, and the awareness of the oneness of all things (higher knowledge). This brings Ananda (inner joy or peace).

Diwali celebrates this through festive fireworks, lights, flowers, sharing of sweets, and worship. While the story behind Dipavali varies from region to region, the essence is the same - to rejoice in the inner light (Atman) or the underlying reality of all things (Brahman).
Five days

The First day is called Dhanteras or Dhantryaodashi, which falls on the thirteenth day of the month of Ashwin. The word "Dhan" means wealth. This day has great importance for rich community. It is believed that sixteen year old son of King Hima according to his horoscope was doomed to die on the fourth day of his marriage by a snake-bite .So, on that particular fourth day of his marriage his worried wife lighted innumerable lamps all over the place and laid all the ornaments and lots of gold and silver coins in a big heap at the entrance of her husband's boudoir. And she went on telling stories and singing songs through the night. When Yam-the god of death arrived there in the guise of a Serpent the dazzle of those brilliant lights blinded his eyes and he could not enter the Prince's chamber. So he climbed on the heap of the ornaments and coins and sat their whole night listening to the melodious songs. In the morning he quietly went away. Thus the wife saved her husband and since then this day of Dhanteras came to be known as the day of "Yamadeepdaan" and lamps are kept burning throughout the night in reverential adoration to Yam, the god of Death.
On the first evening of Diwali, many Hindus light a single lamp, a diya, and place in front of the house. The first day is of great importance to the rich community of India Houses and Business premises are renovated and decorated. Entrances are made colorful with lovely traditional motifs of Rangoli designs to welcome Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. To indicate her long-awaited arrival, small footprints are drawn with rice flour and vermilion powder all over the houses. Lamps are kept burning all through the nights. Believing this day to be auspicious women purchase some gold or silver or at least one or two new utensils.
The Second day is called Narka-Chaturdashi or Chhoti Diwali that falls on the fourteenth day of the month of Ashwin.

The legend related to this day is about the King Bali of the nether world that mighty power had become a threat to the gods. In order to curb his powers Lord Vishnu in the guise of a small boy visited him and begged him to give him only that much land which he could cover with his three steps. Known for his philanthropy King Bali proudly granted him his wish. So with his first step Lord Vishnu covered the entire heaven and with the second steps the earth and asked Bali where to keep his third step. Bali offered his head and putting his foot on his head Vishnu pushed him down to the underworld. But for his generosity Lord Vishnu allowed him to return to earth once a year to light millions of lamps to dispel the darkness and ignorance and spread the radiance of love and wisdom. This is a day when Hindus arise earlier than usual. The men, especially, will rub their bodies with perfumed oils before bathing. Afterwards, clean clothes are worn; some people wear new ones. In the morning and in the evening, mixes of bright and loud fireworks are set off in an atmosphere of joyful fun and noise. Houses are lit with oil lamps in evening. This creates an enchanting magical atmosphere.

The Third day of the festival of Diwali is the most important day of Lakshmi-Puja, which is entirely devoted to the propitiation of Goddess Lakshmi.
This day is also known by the name of "Chopada-Puja". The day of Lakshmi-Puja falls on the dark night of Amavasya. Lakshmi represents good fortune, wealth and beauty. Hindus invite the goddess to enter their homes and bless them with good health, happiness and good fortune. Diyas are lit to welcome the goddess into the homes and lives of the worshippers. Even poor people who cannot afford the oil to light too many diyas will make sure that at least a single diya is lit so that Lakshmi may bless them. Pictures of Lakshmi show her either standing or sitting on a Lotus flower. Another way of welcoming the goddess Lakshmi into people's homes is by drawing Rangoli patterns on the floor of the entrance of each house. A Rangoli is a sign of welcome. Some Hindus draw one daily as a way of welcoming guests. On the day of Diwali, the whole house is lighted with oil lamps. In addition to the lighting the fa├žade and the sides of the house, one lamp is always placed in areas which are dark. For Hindus who are in business and trade, the settling of accounts marks this day. This is another reason why the goddess Lakshmi is so important during this festival. She is worshipped in the hope that in the new 'Financial year' of trading, she will bring prosperity.

Birth of Lakshmi: According to the Puranas, the goddess of Wealth, Prosperity and Luck Lakshmi was born from the churning of the Milk Ocean, along with other magical beings and objects including Amrita, Kamadhenu, Chintamani, Halahal and others.

The Fourth day is called Padwa or Varsha Pratipada that marks the coronation of King Vikramaditya and Vikaram-Samvat was started from this Padwa day. Govardhan-Puja is also performed in the North on this day.

As per Vishnu-Puran, the people of Gokul used to celebrate a festival in honour of Lord Indra and worshipped him after the end of every monsoon season. But one particular year the young Krishna stopped them from offering prayers to Lord Indra who in terrific anger sent a deluge to submerge Gokul. But Krishna saved his Gokul by lifting up the Govardhan Mountain and holding it over the people as an umbrella. This day is also observed as Annakoot meaning mountain of food. In temples especially in Mathura and Nathadwara, the deities are given milkbath, dressed in shining attires with ornaments of dazzling diamonds, pearls, rubies and other precious stones. After the prayers and traditional worship innumerable varieties of delicious sweets are offered to the deities as "Bhog" and then the devotees approach and take Prasad. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped in every Hindu household. In many Hindu homes it is a custom for the wife to put the red tilak on the forehead of her husband, garland him and do his "Aarathi" with a prayer for his long life. In appreciation of all the tender care that the wife showers on him, the husband gives her a costly gift. This Gudi Padwa is symbolic of love and devotion between the wife and husband. On this day newly married daughters with their husbands are invited for special meals and given presents. Diwali celebration is a very happy occasion for all.

The Fifth and final day of Diwali Festival is known by the name of "Bhaiya-Dooj" This day is
observed as a symbol of love between sisters and brothers. It is believed that on this day Yamraj -the god of death visited his sister Yami and she put the auspicious till on his forehead, they ate talked and enjoyed together and exchanged special gifts as a token of their love for each other and Yamraj announced that anyone who receives tilak from his sister on this day will never be thrown. Since then it became imperative for the brother to go to his sister's house to celebrate Bhaiya Dooj.

Some Beliefs about Diwali.

The Defeat of Narkasur by Lord Krishna:Lord Vishnu in his 8th incarnation as Krishna destroyed the demon Narkasura, who was causing great unhappiness amongst the people of the world. Narkasura was believed to be a demon of filth, covered in dirt. He used to kidnap beautiful young women and force them to live with him. Eventually, their cries for rescue were heard by Vishnu, who came in the form of Krishna . First, Krishna had to fight with a five-headed monster who guarded the demon's home. Narkasura hoped that his death might bring joy to others. Krishna granted his request and the women were freed. For Hindus, this story is a reminder that good can still come out of evil.

Austerities of Shakti: According to the Skanda Purana, the goddess Shakti observed 21 days of austerity starting from ashtami of shukla paksha (eighth day of the waxing period of moon) to get half of the body of Shiva.
This vrata (austerity) is known as kedhara vrata. Deepavali is the completion day of this austerity. This is the day Lord Shiva accepted Shakti into the left half of the form and appeared as Ardhanarishvara. The ardent devotees observe this 21 days vrata by making a kalasha with 21 threads on it and 21 types of offerings for 35 days. The final day is celebrated as kedhara gauri vrata.

Why do people play cards on Diwali?

It is believed that goddess Parvati played dice with her husband, Lord Shiv on this day and she decreed that whosoever gambled on Diwali night would prosper throughout the ensuring year.This tradition of playing cards- flash and rummy with stakes on this particular day continues even to day.

The message of Deepawali

According to the Vedic culture, the message of Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya (from darkness unto light) is given through the festival of Deepawali to all peoples of the world. During the night of Deepawali the myriads of little clay lamps (dias) seem to silently send forth Deepawali messages: Come let us remove darkness from the face of the earth. This is not the work to be done by one dia or by one individual. It requires collective effort. In the diffusion of light the question of high and low is forgotten. This is the lesson taught by both small and big dias.

The second message of the burning dias is to destroy the difference between rich and poor- the destruction of discrimination based on poverty and wealth. The burning dia, whether in a palatial bungalow or in a grass hut, is a symbol of this unity. The wall of separation based on economic status cannot prevent the penetration and spread of the light of the dia.

The third message of the burning diias of Deepawali is to kindle the extinguished lights of our neighbours. Let us find out what is needed- whether there is a shortage of wick or oil- and just by a little help the neighbour’s lamps can be lit. One dia can light several others. A little charity can bring joy to countless others.

The row of lamps teach yet another lesson and that is of unity as exemplified in Satyam, Shivam Sundaram- Truth, Joy and Beauty.

The lights of Deepavali are displayed at the entrance doors, by the walls of houses, in the streets and lanes. This means that the inner spiritual light of the individual must be reflected outside. Passersby may thereby be prevented from stumbling on their way to reach their destination.
The lights of the dias on earth beckon the lights in the firmaments to descend upon earth and establish the heavenly kingdom of God for the welfare of the human race.

Feeding empty stomachs, lighting blown-out dias and providing cheer and joy amongst the downtrodden is to enter the true spirit of Deepavali. This is the true prayer to Lakshmi Devi.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Barcelona is the capital city of the autonomous community of Catalonia in the Kingdom of Spain.

Barcelona is the capital city of the autonomous community of
Catalonia in the Kingdom of Spain.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

'German Bakery'

"What’s in a name?", said William Shakespeare. A lot apparently, if you own a bakery and name it German Bakery. The name 'German Bakery' has become a brand in itself, which is why you will find a lot of food joints christened German Bakery at various places in India. 

According to an article in The Hindu, the first German Bakery was set up in 1985 at Anjuna beach in Goa by a German named Klaus Goodzet and Ram Gopal Karkee. Later, they set up India’s second German Bakery at Koregaon Park, near Osho Ashram, Pune. That was the last branch of German Bakery - they never expanded their operations to any other city. Hence the fact that the various German Bakery outlets in India are not even remotely related to each other.
But don't get disheartened. Even if they aren't related to each other, all the German Bakery outlets in India are standouts in their own way and live up to the name created by the first two German Bakeries. Take a look at 9 of the best German bakeries in India.

1. German Bakery, Anjuna, Goa 

9 German Bakeries You Have To Visit At Least Once In Your Life
This German Bakery is also known as the original German Bakery as it was the first German bakery in India. It is a must-visit if you are in Goa and globetrotters swear by it. Tucked away in a secluded corner of Anjuna, German Bakery, Goa, is a quintessential example of Goa's susegad hippie culture.
Surrounded by trees, this place is like a secret garden offering organically grown food and fresh juices. It's also popular for live music and performance art, especially on Wednesdays.
Must haves: The pasta with prawns, Penne Alla Tirisina in seafood tomato and  Avocado Prawn Pasta Cocktail, "Black Forest cherry-torte" aka German Black Forest cake. avocado sandwich teamed up with tiramisu and lemon cheese cake
Word of caution for first time visitors: Try not to rely on Google maps to find this place, It's better you ask the locals for the address. (Like we said, 'secret garden')

2. German Bakery, Pune

9 German Bakeries You Have To Visit At Least Once In Your Life
Located in the plush neighborhood of Koregaon Park near Osho gardens, German Bakery Pune left its infamous blast incident far behind and came out in an all new avatar in 2013. The management of the bakery changed from the previous owner to Mr. Kunal Udane. "For me, just starting the bakery again after the blast was the main aim," says Udane. He has also opened new branches of the bakery at Law College Road and Lonavala. This place is a common hangout for students due to a lot of colleges in the area including Film and Television Institute of India.
Must haves: Fish and chips, kheema pav

3. German Bakery, Lonavala 

9 German Bakeries You Have To Visit At Least Once In Your Life
Located on the old Mumbai-Pune highway, opposite Kumar Resort, this one's a perfect place for tourists from Pune and Mumbai who end up at Lonavala for a quick outing.
"The idea was to cater to our patrons in Mumbai. Lonavala gets a lot of visitors from Mumbai and Pune, so we thought the location was perfect," shares Udane, who opened this bakery on 14th February 2015. He adds, "The blast in Pune happened on 13th February, so the idea to open another branch on 14th February was to send a message across of love and positive spirit."
Udane is also planning to expand to other cities, so keep your fingers crossed, guys - you might have the original German Bakery in your city soon!
The menu here is similar to German Bakery Pune, but the only addition here is that there is alcohol available.
Must haves: Moongilicious - a cocktail made with coffee, chili garlic fish

4. German Bakery, Kasol

9 German Bakeries You Have To Visit At Least Once In Your Life
This one is also known as the Moon Dance Cafe due to the cafe connected to it. The cafe and bakery have a lot of Israeli food items; Kasol is also known as mini-Israel as most hotels, restaurants and local business banners and boards are in Hebrew, and almost all locals can speak the language. It is a common sight to see Israelis roaming the streets all year long. Moon Dance, just west of the bridge, stands tall among the many traveler restaurants serving similar 'three Is' (Italian/Israeli/Indian) menus for its great baked goods, strong coffee and excellent value breakfasts in the sunny courtyard.
They have both indoor and outdoor seating with great music, making the place a perfect trippers' paradise.
Must haves: Au gratin, hummus, French toast, cinnamon roll, apple crumble pie, crepes, falafel and shakshuka.

5. German Bakery, Leh

9 German Bakeries You Have To Visit At Least Once In Your Life
This one was started in 1992 by Mr. Singh and a German named Norman. Mr. Norman taught bread making to Singh's head chef and went his way leaving Singh to run the cafe. Since then, Mr. Singh has been running the bakery and it has managed to gain a lot of popularity among locals and tourists in Leh.
The bakery gets its name Pumpernickel from a type of rye bread which is the specialty of this bakery. It is heavy and slightly sweet and takes three days to bake. Since it’s very nutritious and remains fresh for days, people going on hikes and treks take this bread with them.
The only sad part about this bakery is that it only opens from the June through to mid September when the tourist season is on.

6. German Bakery, Panckula, Chandigarh

9 German Bakeries You Have To Visit At Least Once In Your Life
This one is the most underrated among the other German Bakeries in the country. Set up from a small shop in the crowded market street at Sector 15, it is quite popular for its takeaways. Don't judge the bakery by its humble appearance - although the bakery has no frills, it stands out for its taste and pricing.
German Bakery, Panchkula, is right adjacent to two schools, so students make for the majority of customers here. This is another reason why German Bakery has played smart with its pricing and menu. Almost all the snacks here range between Rs 10 - Rs 50. No wonder it's a popular joint for students to pig out at. Although there isn’t any seating area, they have put high round tables outside the shop where you can stand and eat.
Must haves: Aloo Patties, Pizzas, Paneer Kulcha, Grilled Sandwiches, Choco-Chip and Truffle Puddings, dry cakes and muffins.

7. Appetite German Bakery, Delhi 

9 German Bakeries You Have To Visit At Least Once In Your Life
Located in the busy market place of Paharganj near Delhi railway station, this one is a home away from home for Delhites. It's a favorite among locals and tourists who stay in the hotels in the vicinity of the bakery. Thus, just like other bakeries around the country, you'll see a lot of foreigners hanging around.
They not only serve exquisite dishes and bakery products but have also kept in mind the local taste and have a typical North Indian lunch and dinner menu as well.
This makes for a perfect place to devour your butter chicken followed by tasty desserts.
Another reason this place stands out is high speed wifi - yes, that's very important nowadays. So one can just sit with their laptop sipping on Honey Ginger Lemon Tea (the most popular item here) and spend some quite time.
Must haves: Honey Ginger Lemon Tea, Chicken carbona, Chicken steam momo, Mexican Lasagna, Dutch truffle.

8. German Bakery, Tamil Nadu

9 German Bakeries You Have To Visit At Least Once In Your Life
Located in the quaint little town of Mahabalipuram, this one's your secret portal from the south to Nepal. The moment you step into Namaste Restaurant and German Bakery, you'll be transported to the snow-clad mountains of Nepal due to its ambience. There are statues of Nepali gods, the Nepal flag hangs, paintings, and a Nepalese staff, which gives you the feeling that you are in a cafe in Nepal.
The bakery is located very close to the roads but due to barely any traffic, the honks don't really bother you when your gorging on your delicacies.
Must haves: Apple Strudel, Lemon Cake, Cinnamon Roll and Masala Chai.

9. German Bakery, Rishikesh

9 German Bakeries You Have To Visit At Least Once In Your Life
Located at the Laxman Jhula, you can see the scenic view of the holy Ganges and the Rishikesh temple from here. The bakery is a part of  a cafe called Devraj Coffee Corner which is often filled with pilgrims and foreigners enjoying their treats.
It's a haven for all those who cannot adjust with the local food - you get all the food items here which make you miss home a little less. Apart from that, the bakery is one of the few places where locals sneak in to feast on the sinful pastries.
Must haves: Iced coffee, Lasagna, avocado salad and crepes.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

7 Exercises to Help Alleviate Knee Pain

7 Exercises to Help Alleviate Knee Pain

If your knees are giving you problems when getting out of bed, you are not alone. Statistics show that nearly 50 million Americans feel the same way. In fact, knees are the most commonly injured joints in the body - which shouldn't come as much of a surprise, considering their everyday use, causing wear and tear. Simply walking up the stairs, for example, puts pressure on the knee joints equating to four times your body weight. But, it's never too late to alleviate knee pain. Just as a rusty door hinge can revert to its original glory with care and maintenance, your knees can be trouble free too.
knee pain
The key lies in exercising muscles surrounding the knee joints - the quadriceps (front thigh muscle), the hamstrings (back thigh muscles), the abductors (outside thigh muscles) and the adductor (inside thigh muscles). Exercising the muscles around your knee will keep them strong and less susceptible to injury. Exercising often, will also help keep your joints from stiffening, providing you with needed support, making movement easier and therefore reducing pain.
The following, simple exercises will both help you stretch and strengthen the knee area.
Straight-Leg Raise (Lying)
Knee Pain
Here's How: Bend one leg at the knee, keeping the other leg straight. Lift the foot just off the floor and hold it for a slow count of 5, then lower. Repeat 5 times with each leg. For effective results, repeat this exercise in the morning and at night. You may also do so in bed.
Step Ups
Knee Pain
Here's How: Start at the bottom step of a staircase. Lift your left foot up on the above stair. Bring it back by your right foot. Then lower your right foot, bringing it back to neutral. Repeat, this time raising your right foot to the above stair, back to neutral, then lowering you left foot. Hold onto the banister if necessary and continue to repeat this exercise until you tire.

Knee Squats
Knee Pain
Here's How: Hold onto a chair. Squat down until your kneecap covers your big toe. Return to standing. When you are first starting, complete 10 repetitions. Then, as you improve, try to squat a little further, just be sure not to bend your knees beyond a right angle.
Leg Cross
Knee Pain
Here's How: Sit on the edge of your bed. Cross your ankles over and push your legs upwards, until your thigh muscles feel tense. Hold for 10 seconds, then relax. Switch your legs and repeat. Do 4 sets with each leg.
Leg Stretch
Knee Pain
Here's How: Sit on the floor, with your legs stretched out in front of you. Slowly bend one knee, until you feel a comfortable stretch. Hold for 5 seconds. Then straighten you leg as much as you can and hold for another 5 seconds. Repeat this exercise 10 times for each leg.
Straight-Leg Raise (Sitting)
Knee Pain
Here's How: Sit comfortably in a chair. Be aware of your posture. Straighten and raise one leg. Hold for a slow count to 10, then slowly lower your leg. Repeat 10 times with each leg. If over time you find this easy, try the exercise with light weights on your ankles, toes pointing towards you. Do this exercise every time you sit down.

Knee Pain
Here's How: Sit on a chair. Without using your hands for support, stand up, then sit back down. Ensure that each movement is slow and controlled. Repeat this exercise for a total of 1 minute. Over time, as you feel more comfortable, try to increase the number of sit/stands in 1 minute and try the exercise from a lower chair, or the bottom steps of a staircase.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

10 facts about blood you weren't aware of

10 facts about blood you weren't aware of

June 11, 2016 10:08 IST
Did you know that one pint of blood can save up to three lives?
World Blood Donor Day is on June 14.
Before you go ahead and make a positive contribution, there are some interesting facts you need to know about this life saver.
For example, did you know that our blood makes for seven per cent of our body weight?
The human blood is actually red and white blood cells floating in a yellow liquid called the 'blood plasma' which is made up of almost 90 per cent of water and takes up 55 per cent of the body volume.
The plasma also contains hormones, nutrients, carbon dioxide, dissolved proteins, electrolytes, and glucose.
The blood plasma acts mainly as a protein reserve and serves as the primary medium for excretion of carbon dioxide. It also helps transport white blood cells through the body for fighting infection(s).
The red protein content in the blood called haemoglobin is what actually makes the blood red in colour.
Here are some more fascinating facts that'll blow your mind:
1. One pint of blood can save up to three lives
Components of donated whole blood can be bifurcated and administered to patients as per their requirements. For instance, a patient suffering from thrombocytopenia, i.e. low platelet count that hinders blood clotting, needs only additional platelets.
Similarly, the plasma may be required by patients suffering from liver or kidney diseases for assisting appropriate fluid circulation in the body.
The requirement of both these patients can be satisfied from the whole blood of a single donor.
2. There is gold in blood
Your blood contains about 0.2 milligrams of blood that is spread all over the blood stream.
Though it has no nutritional value it is a permitted food additive used in chocolates and liquors in Europe and Switzerland.
Also due to its blood compatibility, gold is used as a medicine to control rheumatoid arthritis.
Alternative medical treatments like Ayurveda also use gold for treating infertility, muscular and sexual weaknesses.
3. 'O' for Universal
The red blood cells of blood type 'O' do not have any antigens on their membranes, i.e. virus, bacteria, fungi, and other non-living substances including toxins on their surface. Therefore, they are easily accepted by individuals of all other blood groups.
4. Coconut water a substitute for blood plasma
During emergencies, coconut water can be used for fluid replacement when IV hydration is not available due to its sterility and electrolytes.
5. White blood cells in the sky
Also known as blue-sky sprites, these are white dots which are visible to the eye only for a second and sometimes less.
Especially when you look up into the bright blue sky you see them swirling around in random formations.
These dots are nothing but white blood cells moving in the tiny blood vessels in the eye in front of the retina.
White blood cells are lesser in number than red blood cells and they do not absorb the blue light. Therefore, they create a visual gap in the blood vessels and become visible as tiny dots.
6. White blood cells form only 1 per cent of the total blood volume
It is remarkable how the small percentage of white blood cells makes a great difference to the immune system of an individual.
The increase in the count of these may be in response to infections or bone tumours.
If the rise is on account of a tumour or due to autoimmunity where the white cells do not distinguish between the good and the bad bacteria in the body and attack both.
7. The amazing red blood cells
These cells are made inside the bone marrow and circulate in the body for about 120 days.
They squeeze through the blood vessels delivering oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and also take carbon dioxide back to the lungs for excretion.
During the time of infection, the red blood cells assist the white blood cells by cracking the membranes of the pathogens, instantly killing them.

8. There are about 30 recognised blood types
The familiar 'ABO' system classifies the blood groups into A, B, AB and O categories.
This system is actually based on the pattern of the natural antigens (pathogen and non-living toxins) present on the cell membranes of the red blood cells.
Another known system for blood types is the Rh (short for Rhesus). It deals with 50 antigens the most predominant being the D antigen the presence or absence of which leads to a Rh+ or Rh- blood group classification.
There are over 30 epitopes contained in the D antigen. Variations in this D phenotype, arise when the epitopes are only weakly expressed ("weak D phenotype") or when some are missing ("partial D phenotype").
9. Blood-derived medication
Donated blood is not only used for blood replacement procedures like blood transfusions but is also used to make medication.
These medications are derived from human blood or frozen blood plasma extracted from blood and are used for treating blood clotting and immunity disorders.
Currently, the cost of technology and raw material (blood and blood plasma) used for creating these medications is extremely high.
Moreover, the multiple safety measures involved in the process also add to the cost. Hence, the number of patients receiving treatment from such medical drugs is small.
It also has to channel through the issues of unrestricted access to raw material and reimbursements, for securing its position into mainstream medication.
10. Apheresis: Donors need not donate whole blood
There is technology available through which only specific components of the blood may be collected and the remainder may be returned into the body.
This procedure uses centrifugation to separate the component of the blood and extract only what is required.
Blood is passed through an apparatus where the blood cells, platelets, blood plasma, etc. are separated by force. Then the required element(s) are extracted from the apparatus and the remaining blood is returned into the blood stream of the donor simultaneously.
In India, more than 38,000 blood donations are required every day.
A red blood cell transfusion requires about three pints of blood on an average. But as opposed to the 5 crore units of blood required only 80 lakh units are available.
The requirement of blood is ever more among cancer patients as their platelet count drops considerably during chemotherapy.
Apart from the clinical scarcity, a healthy blood flow is required in the human body as it is instrumental in carrying oxygen and food to the tissues while taking impurities away for excretion.
Many psychological and physiological factors contribute to the abnormal blood flow leading to problems of high blood pressure. Also, impurities are ingested into the blood through consumption of alcohol and recreational drugs.
Leading a healthy lifestyle is the only way you can keep blood-related issues at bay.
Blood is precious as it cannot be generated synthetically the only source of blood is that which is generated in the body.

Yoga or gym: What's best for your body?

Yoga or gym: What's best for your body?

Both these methods are loaded with equal benefits, which might make it tough for you to choose either one of them.
The World Health Organisation recommends 150 minutes of any moderate physical activity per week for individuals aged between 18 and 64 years of age.
Physical activities like yoga or gymming are high on the priority list of every health-conscious individual.
Yoga may keep you younger, while gymming on the other hand, may help in keeping you stronger.

Read on to find out what works best for you.

1. If you want to lose weight, hit the gym!

Intensive training or cardio-vascular exercises are particularly effective in shedding extra kilos as they keep your heart pumping fast, while also burning calories.
A single gymming session can be helpful in burning up to 3,500 calories in your body, which is equal to losing half a kilo of weight.
If you weigh 68 to 70 kilos, a 30-minute yoga regime can help you burn about 85 calories, whereas if you perform a moderate-intensity exercise routine of 30 minutes on an elliptical trainer , you may end up burning up to 340 calories.

2. If you want to gain strength, hit the gym!
Pull-up bars, barbells and other gym equipment are especially designed to build your physical strength.
Gym training requires muscle contractions and stretching, and if you perform them regularly, your muscles contract more efficiently and for a longer time, without injuring your tendons.
This also helps in increasing your endurance and energy levels, while building stamina.

3. If you want to gain composure and balance, practice yoga!
Yoga comprises sets of meditative postures or asanas that can help in relaxing your tired muscles and mind.
Unlike most exercise routines, yoga focuses more on achieving harmony of the mind, body and spirit, rather than just giving you a fitter frame.
Regular yoga practice can alter your body's physical and emotional response to stress, anxiety, depression and hypertension.

4. If you want to be flexible, practice yoga!
Inflexibility in your muscles and connective tissues can cause poor posture in your body, resulting in various aches and pains.
Yoga can increase your flexibility by loosening stiff muscles, which can eventually result in the disappearance of all bodily aches and pains.
The contraction and stretching of muscles in yoga asanas help in improving the functions of your immune system as well.
It also helps the lymphatic system of your body fight infections, destroy cancerous cells and dispose off toxic waste products, thereby keeping you fit and healthy. 

Prediction of the Future -- This is worth a read

Didn't think it was moving that quick! I've seen the changes coming for a good while now but didn't think I'd see it in my life time!

The Future Is Here!

In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide.  Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt.
What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 year - and most people don't see it coming. Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later you would never take pictures on paper film again?

Yet digital cameras were invented in 1975. The first ones only had 10,000 pixels, but followed Moore's law. So as with all exponential technologies, it was a disappointment for a long time, before it became way superior and got mainstream in only a few short years. It will now happen with Artificial Intelligence, health, autonomous and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture and jobs. Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution. Welcome to the Exponential Age.

Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.
Uber is just a software tool, they don't own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don't own any properties.

Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected. In the US, young lawyers already don't get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. So if you study law, stop immediately. There will be 90% less lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain. Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, 4 time more accurate than human nurses. Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.

Autonomous cars: In 2018 the first self driving cars will appear for the public. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You don't want to own a car anymore. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving. Our kids will never get a driver's licence and will never own a car. It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% less cars for that. We can transform former parking space into parks. 1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 100,000 km, with autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 10 million km. That will save a million lives each year.

Most car companies might become bankrupt. Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels. I spoke to a lot of engineers from Volkswagen and Audi; they are completely terrified of Tesla.

Insurance companies will have massive trouble because without accidents, the insurance will become 100x cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear. 
Real estate will change. Because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away to live in a more beautiful neighborhood.
Electric cars will become mainstream until 2020. Cities will be less noisy because all cars will run on electric. Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can only now see the impact. Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil. The price for solar will drop so much that all coal companies will be out of business by 2025.
With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter. We don't have scarce water in most places, we only have scarce drinking water. Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as he wants, for nearly no cost.

Health: The Tricorder X price will be announced this year. There will be companies who will build a medical device (called the "Tricorder" from Star Trek) that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample and you breath into it. It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease. It will be cheap, so in a few years everyone on this planet will have access to world class medicine, nearly for free.

3D printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster. All major shoe companies started 3D printing shoes. Spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amount of spare parts they used to have in the past.
At the end of this year, new smart phones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home. In China, they already 3D printed a complete 6-storey office building. By 2027, 10% of everything that's being produced will be 3D printed.

Business opportunities: If you think of a niche you want to go in, ask yourself: "in the future, do you think we will have that?" and if the answer is yes, how can you make that happen sooner? If it doesn't work with your phone, forget the idea. And any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed in to failure in the 21st century.

Work: 70-80% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years. There will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear if there will be enough new jobs in such a small time.

Agriculture: There will be a $100 agricultural robot in the future. Farmers in 3rd world countries can then become managers of their field instead of working all days on their fields. Aeroponics will need much less water. The first Petri dish produced veal is now available and will be cheaper than cow produced veal in 2018. Right now, 30% of all agricultural surfaces is used for cows. Imagine if we don't need that space anymore. There are several startups who will bring insect protein to the market shortly. It contains more protein than meat. It will be labeled as "alternative protein source" (because most people still reject the idea of eating insects).

There is an app called "moodies" which can already tell in which mood you are. Until 2020 there will be apps that can tell by your facial expressions if you are lying. Imagine a political debate where it's being displayed when they are telling the truth and when not.

Bitcoin will become mainstream this year and might even become the default reserve currency.

Longevity: Right now, the average life span increases by 3 months per year. Four years ago, the life span used to be 79 years, now it's 80 years. The increase itself is increasing and by 2036, there will be more that one year increase per year. So we all might live for a long long time, probably way more than 100.

Education: The cheapest smart phones are already at $10 in Africa and Asia. Until 2020, 70% of all humans will own a smart phone. That means, everyone has the same access to world class education. Every child can use Khan academy for everything a child learns at school in First World countries. We have already released our software in Indonesia and will release it in Arabic, Suaheli and Chinese this Summer, because I see an enormous potential. We will give the English app for free, so that children in Africa can become fluent in English within half a year.