VOICE OF ASIA 1
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MAGH holds candlelight vigil for missing Rice University student Reny Jose, asks for answers
Rev. Fr. Roy A. Thomas President ICECH addressing the gathering. by Shobana Muratee
ISSOURI CITY, TX March 31 2014 – Houston’s Malayalee community is looking for answers and solutions to missing teen Reny Jose of Harris County Sheriff’s Ofﬁce ofﬁcials, elected ofﬁcials, MAGH members and community leaders who spoke at the occasion. Photos by reﬂectionmediausa.com Rice University whose search nears a month this week. In the recent months, the Indian American com- tary, (MAGH) said, “It is indeed an and universities.” munity has been grieving the loss of alarming situation and time for us to Sophia Kumbanattel, sister of Stanmissing and dead youth: Pravin Var- work together and take action as a ly Babu, gave a touching account of ughese, 19, Southern Illinois Univer- caring concern community.” her brother and the loss that her famsity student was found dead on February 18; 31-year-old Stanly Babu Kumbanattel was robbed and shot dead in Houston on March 11, Jasmine Joseph, 22, NYIT student was found dead in her car on March 12, and Reny Jose, the Rice University student who went missing in Panama City Beach on March 3, still untraceable. Prayers, condolences and a candlelight vigil went out to the teens and their family members at the condolence convention organized by the Malayalee Association of Greater Houston (MAGH) in Stafford. Candle Light Vigil L-R: Surendran Koran, K. Surendran , Attorney at Law, Secretary MAGH, Addressing a gath- George Jose, (Reny Jose’s father), Mark Hanna, Chief of the Narcotics and Gang Division of the ering of nearly 200 Fort BendCounty District Attorneys Ofﬁce and Ken Mathew, Councilman, City of Stafford, TX. people, George Jose father of Reny Jose, Thomas Varkey, President MAGH, ily is going through. who ﬂew in to attend the meeting said, “The only thing we can do is thanked the host of high ranking poOther prominent community leadget answers from the students who lice ofﬁcials, elected ofﬁcials and ers who spoke on the occasion were were with him.” Of the 22 students leaders of the community for their Koshy Thomas, publisher, Voice of who were with him, 16 of them had support at such critical time. A booth Asia, had helped with organizing the left before any police ofﬁcer ques- was set up by Harris County Sher- meet, Alex Madathithazham, Presitioned them, he told the gathering. iff’s ofﬁce to hand out information dent Knanaya Society, Jay Raman, Later, speaking to KPRC LOCAL 2, on IWatch, Internet Safety for Teens KHS Youth representative and Joy he said, “I felt there was some kind and other such programs. Thumpaman. Elected ofﬁcials presof foul play that happened here.” Rev. Roy Thomas, President ent were Ron Reynolds, State RepreGeorge says he believes they have ICECH, who was instrumental in sentative for District 27, Councilmen not told investigators all of the in- putting together the meeting said, Harish Jajoo, City of Sugar Land, Ken formation they know. “I want to get “While some may attribute these Mathew, City of Stafford, and Robin an answer from the kids. The same recent events to the breakdown of Elackatt, Missouri City Councilman. as my wife and my daughter, they all family structure or the poor choices Emcees of the event were Ashley want an answer,” Jose said. Reny is of youth, the families and friends of supposed to be graduating May 17th those who have died and the family Mathew, Joanne John, Joshni John, READ REPORT ON PAGE 5 Serena Thomas and Merina Thomas. of this year. of Reny Jose will tell you a different Kennedy Joseph, Treasurer, MAGH Speaking on behalf of the Malaya- story. These were good children in proposed a vote of thanks. lee community, K Surendran, Secre- good standing with their community
BAPS Hosts 7th Annual Women’s Conference: Lead from Within
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OP-ED/COMMENTARY/ANALYSIS by Margaret Chan
Publisher: Associate Publisher: Editor-in-Chief: Austin Correspondent: Print & Media Marketing: Marketing: Production: Office Manager:
Koshy Thomas Sherly Philip Shobana Muratee Sherine Thomas Jacob David Susan Pothanikat AR Vadlamani Priyan Mathew
Columnists: Legal: Richard M. Alderman Legal: Sharlene Sharmila Richards Legal: Yasmin Kutty Medical: Sabina K. Cherian, MD Medical: Kesavan Shan, MD Research: Prof. Meenakshi Bhattacharjee Health Insurance: Sudhir Mathuria Astrology: Hardik Vyas
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For the latest on South Asia and Community stories Visit our website www.VoiceofAsiaOnline.com Voice of Asia (USPS 010-215) (ISSN#10705058) is published every Friday (for a subscription rate of $30 per year) by Free Press LLC, 8303 SW Freeway, Suite # 325, Houston, TX 77074. Tel: 713-774-5140. Fax: 713774-5143. Periodical postage paid at Houston, Texas. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Voice of Asia, 8303 SW Freeway, Suite # 325, Houston, TX 77074 It is the policy of Voice of Asia to publish letters to the editor which evidence a variety of viewpoints. The opinions expressed in any particular letter to the editor are not necessarily those of the management. Voice of Asia welcomes letters in reply to issues raised in letters to editor. In as much letters to the editor are not articles written or researched by members of Voice of Asia, it is not the policy of the Voice of Asia to perform any investigation or conﬁrmation of any facts or allegations contained in letters to the editor. Moreover, Voice of Asia reserves the right to edit letters to the editor as necessary to correct errors of fact, punctuation, spelling and to comply with space constraints. - The Publisher
veryone loves a success story, especially one of this magnitude. By not having a single polio case for over three years now, India has shown the world that there is no such thing as impossible.
FRIDAY, April 4, 2014
Polio has gone from India but the danger is still there
India is now free of a virus that killed and crippled children for centuries. Many critics believed that this day would never come, that the polio virus was too ﬁrmly entrenched and that India would never be poliofree. The naysayers, however, missed one decisive factor: the power of India’s determination to achieve the impossible. From half of the world’s polio burden in 2009, India saw its last case on January 13, 2011. How did India do this? First, the government ownership of the eradication initiative, at union, state, and district levels, was decisive, as were the crores of rupees put into the effort by the government. Secondly, India worked together seamlessly with its international partners including Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Thirdly, with the support of WHO, India built a worldclass surveillance system that surpasses the globally recommended standards and indicators. This was a game-changer in the ﬁght against polio and a critical component of its success.
Children with polio at the Amar Jyoti Research Centre, Delhi, India. Photo: WHO/P. Virot. efforts were needed to improve awareness and acceptance of the polio vaccine by all sections of the community. All of this is reﬂected in the sheer scale of the polio programme. Sample a few statistics. Each nation-wide polio campaign involves the vaccination of nearly 170 million children in more than 225 million households by an army of 2.3
million vaccinators. However, the polio-free status of every country remains under threat as long as the polio virus is still circulating anywhere in the world. India, however, is fully aware of the need to safeguard its magniﬁcent achievement. Importantly, the country is using the legacy of its polio suc-
cess to intensify routine immunisation, with special emphasis on reaching the under-served and marginalised people. Margaret Chan is directorgeneral, World Health Organization The views expressed by the author are personal. Courtesy: Hindustan Times
In 1997, WHO, in collaboration with the Indian government, established the National Polio Surveillance Project to provide technical support in high-risk areas for polio surveillance and mass polio vaccination campaigns. Fourthly, constant research produced evidence for the ﬁnetuning of strategies. Fifthly, the vast army of vaccinators and frontline workers, working in extremely harsh situations, not only delivered but went beyond the call of duty. Sixthly, it needed innovative and creative strategies to beat a very stubborn virus, be it the strategy to reach the underserved people, areas hard to reach or migrant populations. Special communication strategies and social mobilisation
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VOICE OF ASIA 3
FRIDAY, April 4, 2014
Second Front Page
Friday, April 4, 2014
Houstonian NRIs champion Vote for India mega campaign in support of NaMo and BJP by Ritesh Seal
the day was reached when Ritesh Seal, Houston media coordinator of GIBV and Dharminder Dargan, an enthusiastic GIBV volunteer, put forwarded two fold live demonstration in the form of conversational drama whereby they re-enacted the conversation between a Houston volunteer and two prospective voters in India, a 19-year-old man and a 60-year-old woman, coaxing both of them to vote for NaMo.
OUSTON, (Date: 4/1/2014) With more than 20 volunteers ready to go to motherland India and 6+ in addition to them already in India, it almost seems like Houston is just another Indian city working tirelessly create a strong, stable and secure Bharat by paving the way for Narendra Modi be the next PM of India and leveraging his dynamic and decisive leadership that India desperately needs at present.
Anand Bhattad, the main coordinator of today’s event and an avid GIBV volunteer, ﬁrst mesmerized the audience with his emotional speech followed by demonstrating a live call to an Indian voter in India and convincing him to vote for BJP. One of the catchy phrases came from Achalesh Amar, Houston city coordinator of GIBV, whereby he rightfully mentioned ‘Houston, we have a problem. Right from NASA to NaMo, Houston has been entrusted with providing solutions for mission critical projects. GIBV Houston is providing the backbone for the reference calling and constituency focused calling efforts to help NaMo team achieve mission 272+’.
With ‘Houston for NaMo’ in heart, 200+ Houstonian NRIs and volunteers under the platform of GIBV (Global India for Bharat Vikas) came together at India House on 29th March as part of the bigger ‘Vote for India’ campaign jointly organized by various institutions over 100+ locations in USA. From Modi’s inspirational speeches especially his ‘My idea of India’ vision to a live phone dial to an enthusiastic Indian voter in India pitching the notion of voting for Modi to felicitation of volunteers going to India with traditional ‘aarti’ and blessings from elders, myriad programs kept the audience captivated to the stage and kept the motivational spirits at zenith. The central theme of making reference calls to India to our friends and relatives coupled with calling focused constituencies within India to strategic group of people via techno sites like justdial was pitched on myriad occasions to boost up the motivation to do a bit for our motherland. It’s a good time to pitch in the fact that today’s program was a gala culmination of series of events where over 600+ volunteers in the past 10 weeks have tirelessly made 11,000 calls to friends and families in India urging them with to vote for NaMo and BJP in addition to hosting various events and 2 to 3 ‘Chai Pe Charchas’ every week. To put in simplest perspective, Houston NRI volunteers can proudly claim to have connected to 30,000+ Indian voters and channelized them to vote for BJP to restore the golden luster that our ‘Sone ki Chidiya’ motherland has lost over historical misrule.
GIBV volunteers and supporters at the ‘Vote for India’ event held on March 29, 2014. Below: A section of the guests who attended the event. Photos by Kunal Deshmukh.
Dr. Rajni Sarin, co-convener of Overseas Friends of BJP (Global), visiting from New Delhi, spoke on the BJP platform and the growing support for the party among the youth. Ramesh Bhutada of Houston, who inspired and encouraged the Houston team to embark on the “NaMo for PM” campaign, said the outcome of this election will decide India’s path for the next few decades. “Our common cause is a strong India. This is the moment to pay our debt to our motherland,” Bhutada said. The event culminated with each and every motivated volunteer fully realized the fact that India is at crossroads and they all need to do their bit for their motherland. With NaMo’s motivational songs and speeches played in various times during the event and at lunch, the crowd vowed to pick up the phone, call known people in India and then go on to dial general Indian voters in focused constituencies with the sole objective to maximize the vote share for NaMo and fulﬁll mission 300+ for BJP and India.
Right from the start, the audience gave a rousing round of applause when Gitesh Desai, GIBV National Coordinator, revealed the realistic opinion polls of a clear BJP victory by various mainstream media and then went off to concoct a light ‘shayari’ (two liner in Hindi purporting the sentiments of the lyrics) sarcastically indicating the poor governance of present party. The pinnacle of
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Long-time Houstonian Dilip Mehta and Meena Shah shared their views and explained why Houstonians should show interest in Indian politics. “We need to do it for the betterment of India. This is a crucial election. If we miss it this time, India will be go down the drain,” Mehta said.
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VOICE OF ASIA 4
FRIDAY, April 4, 2014
On a tight budget, minimize your costs in a divorce
The People’s Lawyer www.peopleslawyer.net
By Yasmin Kutty, Divorce Attorney, www.kuttylawﬁrm.com
Richard M. Alderman Interim Dean of the Law Center
Debt Collector cannot take your tax refund Q. We just got a call from a debt collector saying that if I did not promptly pay, he would garnish my tax refund from the IRS. My wife and I have been counting on this money to pay some other expenses. We have been paying the debt collector all we can afford. Can the debt collector do this? A. The debt collector cannot garnish your federal tax refund from the IRS. Tax refunds may only be taken in very limited circumstances. For example, a refund may be taken for a debt owed to the federal government, a debt owed to a state, or a debt for past-due child support. A private creditor may not garnish your tax return. In fact, threatening to garnish your tax refund probably violates state and federal debt collection laws. Under these laws, a debt collector is prohibited from making threats to take legal action he has no right to take. I suggest you let the debt collector know that you know your legal rights and continue to pay what you can afford. Q. I have a question about medical law in the state of Texas. I was under the impression that people can’t be sued in Texas for outstanding medical bills or have it count against their credit report score, if they are making an attempt to pay. Have the laws changed or am I mistaken? A. The law has not changed, and you are mistaken. Debts arising from medical care are not treated differently from debts arising from any other obligation. Whether you owe a credit card bill, a hospital bill or a doctor’s bill, the collection procedures are the same and the information stays on your credit report for the same seven-year period. Q. I am 67 years old. I don’t pay property taxes because of my exemptions. Someone just told me that when I die my estate would have to pay all the back taxes, plus interest. Is this true?
Yasmin Kutty Often times in a consult, a potential client will confess he or she is experiencing ﬁnancial hardship and cannot afford a divorce. Both contested and uncontested divorces are costly. However, you can save some time and money if you have a lowconﬂict and straightforward case, by obtaining a child support order from the Ofﬁce of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division prior to ﬁling for divorce. The ofﬁce cannot assist with the divorce but can assist with obtaining a child support order which is called a “Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship” (SAPCR). In the State of Texas, a party can go to their local ﬁeld ofﬁce at the Ofﬁce of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division and request services to initiate a child support or-
der for “free”. The location of the ﬁeld ofﬁce is determined by your zip code. The phone numbers are listed on the ofﬁcial Attorney General website at www.oag.state.tx.us. The Attorney General’s Ofﬁce can assist with establishing paternity, setting child support, custody and visitation. The ofﬁce cannot customize the orders in any way and if the parties cannot reach an agreement the case will be ﬁled in court. At that juncture, parties may need to hire their own attorneys or represent themselves in court. However, once the parties reach an agreement or the judge makes a ruling the order will be ﬁnal and is fully enforceable. Next, a party can then take the SAPCR order to a divorce lawyer and ﬁle for divorce. The only issues left to ﬁnalize would be the division of marital assets and liabilities. The SAPCR can then be attached and referenced in the ﬁnal decree of divorce. This step will save a party time and money because the issues
of paternity, child support, custody and visitation will all have been addressed in the SAPCR. This is a viable option when you have a simple case and are on a tight budget. The downside is that the Child Support Division cannot customize the order to suit the parties’ needs. You are better off hiring an attorney if you need a customized visitation schedule, have a contentious relationship, custody is being contested, or where the parties cannot agree on any major issue such as the child support amount. Finally, the option to use the Child Support Division is not available if a private divorce action is already pending. You need to open up a case with their ofﬁce prior to taking any legal action. Once you obtain your SAPCR, go see a family law attorney to assist you in ﬁling for your divorce.
A. It is not true; your estate will not owe any taxes. Your question, however, points out the difference between a tax “exemption” and a tax “deferment.” Under the property tax system, you pay taxes based on the value of your property. Some portion of that value is “exempt” and no taxes are due on that portion. The amount of the exemption increases at age 65. In your case, there are no taxes due because the amount of the exemption is greater than the value of your property. On the other hand, if you owe taxes even when the exemption is applied, you have the right to “defer” the taxes when you reach age 65. This means that you do not have to pay when the taxes are assessed. The taxes, however, are still owed. Taxes, plus interest, must be paid when you die or sell the property. If you had your taxes deferred, your estate would have to pay the taxes plus interest after your death. Q. I sold my used car to someone. The buyer has now come back and threatened to sue me because I did not disclose some major problems with the car. She says that I violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. What is this law? Does it apply to me? I am not a business. A. The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act is our state’s consumer protection law. It applies to any consumer, including most small businesses. Under this law, any seller can be liable if the seller misleads or deceives the buyer, or fails to disclose material information. A seller who acts “knowingly,” may be liable for up to three times the buyer’s damages. The Deceptive Trade Practices Act is designed to protect consumers anytime they buy or lease anything. It applies to all sellers, from the largest businesses to an individual. If you knew about serious problems with the car and didn’t tell the buyer so he would buy it, you probably have violated this law. I suggest you try to resolve the problem, before the buyer considers a lawsuit. Do you want to know a lot more about your legal rights? Will you be in Houston this Saturday, April 5th? That’s when the Center for Consumer Law at the University of Houston Law Center will present the latest session of the People’s Law School. This free program is your chance to learn more about your legal rights, and get help with basic legal problems. As more than 50,000 people have learned, knowing your legal rights can help avoid problems and resolve disputes. The program is free, but you must register in advance. To register or get more information, go to www.peopleslawyer.net. I look forward to seeing you this Saturday.
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VOICE OF ASIA 5
FRIDAY, April 4, 2014
BAPS Hosts 7th Annual Womenâ€™s Conference: Lead from Within
One of the distinguished speakers at the Womenâ€™s Conference held at the BAPS, at Stafford, TX.
Musical performances by young artists was a part of the Conference
hat is leadership? Society ascribes leadership in politics, religion, communities, sports, etc. based on actions, achievement, and at times, popularity. Typically, we limit our view of â€œleadersâ€? to people in position of power: CEOs, politicians, athletes, and perhaps community leaders. There are leaders who have a strong work ethic and who win and accomplish major tasks; but are they lifeâ€™s leaders? Are their characters worth emulating? True leadership is rooted in a personâ€™s character, in their actions, and in the examples they set. But are those the only leaders? Everyone has the potential to be a leader in his or her own right. What about people who give their best every day to care for their communities, schools, and homes? Are they not leaders as well? In fact, do we recognize ourselves as leaders? Should we? To recognize the unparalleled leaders we know and admire, to acknowledge the leaders amongst us, and to enrich the leaders within us, BAPS
hosted a Womenâ€™s Conference themed â€œLead from Withinâ€? at 10 centers across North America on March 22, 2014. Over 430 attendeesâ€™ women gathered at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Flushing, NY to participate in this annual event, now observing its seventh year. The conference is inspired by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the ďŹ fth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, in an effort to highlight the empowering role of women in todayâ€™s society and also to ensure their spiritual growth as it will help them sail smoothly through lifeâ€™s vagaries. Mrs. Tracey Edwards, Vice President of Verizon NY and Councilwoman of Town of Huntington, graced the event in Flushing, NY with her presence. She conveyed the message to â€œLead from Withinâ€? through her personal outtakes and stories as a wife, a daughter and most importantly, a mother. The audience took inspiration from her accounts and realized how they faced similar challenges in their
lives. They understood that the choices they made every day make them true leaders. In the opening dialogue, Ms. Reena Patel, Financial research, led an energetic and interactive exchange to identify who they consider to be leaders and why. Her talk then asked of the audience, are we not leaders when we take charge of a task or project at work, in educating our children, when we care for aging parents, when we make everyday decisions impacting our careers, homes, and families? Truth is, everyone is a leader in their own way, as they take charge of their lives and are unwavering in their vision for themselves and their families. But what makes a good leader? How can we grow as leaders? The conference proceeded to discuss leadership essentials that would make a good leader. Ms. Aditi Bhagat, emphasized the need to understand oneâ€™s self, oneâ€™s belief system, oneâ€™s values, and oneâ€™s spirituality. Her talk focused on the need for a connection with oneâ€™s conscience as it plays an im-
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portant role in day-to-day actions. When we have a ďŹ rm understanding of who we are, the values we hold in esteem, the beliefs that guide our choices, we have a solid spiritual foundation. One that is essential in leadership as it speaks to our qualities, to our character. The conference aimed at portraying real life accounts of people who have not only cultivated but also strengthened their leadership qualities with spirituality. In delivering the closing talk of the conference, Ms. Kavita Patel, third year Dental student at NYU, shared fundamental qualities exempliďŹ ed by leaders she looks to emulate. She expressed her admiration for Mahatma Gandhi, his perseverance, and the personal sacriďŹ ce he made in the cause for independence. She spoke of her ultimate role model, her guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj; conveying touching examples from his life exemplifying sacriďŹ ce humility, stillness, and courage. In closing, she emphasized how his examples provide courage and stability in lifeâ€™s challenging
situations, guide her in everyday interactions and choices; and how that enables her to be an effective, poised leader in all her roles. Sharing her thoughts on the conference, Ms. Trudy Fitzsimmons, stated, the Conference was eye opening. It takes lot of courage to go out and speak about leadership and today the way young speakers delivered the clear message, That leadership does not come with the manual, we all have within us to accomplished. Mrs Shushma Kotawala, Diamond merchant, stated, as women we lead in many ways in our life, we wear many hats and all of those hats are very important in our life, today we learnt how to manage every rolls and every challenges we come across. After the conference, attendees also enjoyed the opportunity to network and share their perspective on the talks of the day. The younger members of the audience took notice of their own belief system and gained conďŹ dence in their ability to lead in their
pursuits. Others recognized their strengths, contributions, and recognized themselves as leaders, some for the very ďŹ rst time. About BAPS The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a worldwide socio-spiritual organization in Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, is dedicated to community service, peace and harmony. Motivated by Hindu principles, BAPS strives to care for the world by caring for societies, families and individuals. Through a number of social and spiritual activities, BAPS endeavors to produce better citizens of tomorrow who have pride in their roots and their rich Hindu culture. Its 9,000 international centers, including more than 5,000 youth centers, support these activities of character building. Under the guidance and leadership of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, BAPS aspires to build a community that is morally, ethically and spiritually pure, and free of addictions. About Pramukh Swami Maharaj His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the ďŹ fth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, has inspired millions of people across the world to lead a God-centered, morally pure life. As the present leader of BAPS, Pramukh Swami Maharaj travels from village to village, continent to continent, emphasizing the importance of family harmony, community service and spiritual progress. His compassion for humanity, universal wisdom and striking simplicity has touched many around the world. More pictures and video of the event available on http:// www.baps.org/News/2014/ BAPS-Womens-Conference6017.aspx For more details, please visit www.baps.org
VOICE OF ASIA 9
FRIDAY, April 4, 2014
Chitram – A Portrait of India to be presented by EYS
Chitram – A Portrait of India’ – a grand multimedia musical theater production will be performed at the Cullen Performance Hall, The University of Houston on Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 6:30PM. Chitram promises to be a spectacular performance. The Indian American community of Greater Houston is engaged in bringing this production to life under the leadership of the award-winning visionary composer and artistic director Kanniks Kannikeswaran of Cincinnati, Ohio. Chitram premiered in 2005. This will be the 10th performance of Chitram in the United States. What is Chitram? “It is an eighty-minute theater production that tells the story of India’s cultural history using choral music, dances and powerful visuals”, says the composer Kanniks Kannikeswaran who has several other such productions and recordings to his credit. Chitram will be performed by a cast of over 90 singers and dancers all from the Greater Houston area. Chitram has touched and moved large audiences in various venues in Ohio, Michigan and Florida, Toronto and Minnesota and has been hailed as a ‘must see’ for those who want to learn more about India. A thirty-member Indian community choir is at the core of this production. They will be performing an original music score that cuts across cultural traditions. The entire music is choreographed to multimedia and multi-genre dances from various parts of India. This choir is accompanied by an ensemble of Indian and Western instruments. Dance forms and choreographers will include Bharatnatyam (Dr. Ratna Kumar, Padmini Chari), Odissi (Ms. Supradipta Datta), Kathak (Ms.
Uma Nagarseth), Folk (Ms. Pallabita Bhuyan) and Yoga (Dr. Shiram Sarvottam). Kanniks Kannikeswaran (www.kanniks.com) is a rare visionary composer who has successfully built bridges across diverse cultures through his path-breaking creations. Producing a performance on this scale from a distance, is nothing new to Kanniks, who had his magnum opus ‘Shanti – A Journey of Peace’ performed by the Lehigh Valley community ﬁrst in 2006 and 2008 and then by the Houston community in 2010. Kanniks has also worked thrice with the National University of Singapore in remotely producing such major creations. His new work ‘Sharad’ was performed at The Hague in 2013. Kanniks is hailed as a pioneer of the Indian American choral movement; he has founded many Indian diaspora community choirs throughout the United States. His choir won two silver medals in the just concluded World Choir Games – the Olymics of Choir Music. Kanniks also teaches Indian Music Theory and History at the University of Cincinnati as an Adjunct Faculty Member. He is the recipient of several awards such as the Ohio Heritage Fellowship and the McKnight Fellowship. 2014 marks the 20th year since his ﬁrst choral production and the 10th year since the premiere of his magnum opus ‘Shanti – A Journey of Peace’. Proceeds from Chitram will beneﬁt EYS (Education, Youth, Service), an initiative of the Hindu Temple of The Woodlands. EYS’s mission is to educate children in Indian teachings; instill Indian culture, heritage and values in youth; and provide service to the community including senior care. For tickets contact Prabhakar Centala at 281-450-9227 or Kiran Emmi at 281-844-3420.
TCA Houston elects 2014 EC, hosts Ugadhi on April 12 Houston Telugu Cultural Association (HTCA) has elected new Executive Committee for the year 2014-2015. TCA Houston is happy to announce and introduce the newly formed 2014 Executive Committee. Maruthi Reddy Chintaparthi has been elected as TCA President for the year 2014-2015. The newly elected TCA 2014 Executive Committee consists of: President - Maruthi Reddy Chintaparthi General Secretary - Raj Rentala Treasurer- Mallikarjuna Rao Gattamneni Cultural Secretary 1 - Jyothi Pakeru Cultural Secretary 2 - Prasad Maragani Web & Communications Secretary - Suman Mangu Literary Secretary- Pallavi Chilappagari Houston Telugu Cultural Association (HTCA) cordially invites ALL for “UGADHI” (Telugu New Year) festival celebration in a grand style on April 12th, 2014; 3:00 PM onwards at Sri Meenakshi temple, Pearland. Please see the HCA Ugadhi ﬂyer for more details.
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VOICE OF ASIA 13
FRIDAY, April 4, 2014
Friday, April 4, 2014
Section 2 Page 13
Experts warn over Nigerian ‘viagra’ drinks carried out on the drinks. But reports indicate they could be harmful. Most have not been tested or approved by Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) regulator and accreditation can be faked by unscrupulous distributors. “We therefore cannot vouch for their efﬁcacy,” said the agency’s spokesman, Abubakar Jimoh. “We are really concerned about the distribution of these illicit drugs and we are trying our best to put it in check.” Health professionals warned that possible side effects could include anaemia, increased risk of cancer and stroke, cirrhosis and reduced fertility,
The so-called ‘viagra’ drinks sell for about $2 (1.4 euros).
by Aderogba OBISESAN
AGOS, March 27, 2014 (AFP) - Nike Ajibade and three of her colleagues sit on a Lagos pavement with small plastic bottles of liquids tucked inside weather-beaten plastic buckets. The hidden bottles of so-called ‘viagra’ drinks sell for about $2 (1.4 euros) and are much sought-after for their supposed aphrodisiac qualities. But medical professionals warn that rather than enhancing sexual prowess, regular users could be putting their long-term health at risk. “Sales are high because of good patronage,” Ajibade, 27, told AFP. “Most of my customers are manual labourers who need to boost their energy in bed after a hard day’s job under mostly inclement weather.” Hundreds of hawkers ply the bustling streets of Lagos and other Nigerian towns and cities selling such “viagra” drinks, despite their unknown and untested effects on the male sex drive. “They are creating health problems for themselves,” warned the dean of the University of Lagos’ faculty of pharmacy, Olukemi Odukoya. “Unknown to them, some of these liquids have chemical substances which can cause liver or kidney problems, which are very expensive and difﬁcult to manage.” - A promise of sexual potency Viagra, taken to treat erectile dysfunction, costs between $5 and $11 per little blue pill in Nigeria -- way beyond the means of most people who live on just $2 a day.
As a result, that creates a ready market for cheaper, apparent alternatives. Besides the locally produced $2 bottles, others are imported, including so-called Alomo bitters which come from Ghana. The Ghanian liquid is a blend of rich medicinal herbs and roots that are believed to cure back pains and piles but are considered an aphrodisiac in Nigeria. Bootleg versions of the drink -with 42 percent alcoholic content -are available in the local market for about $4 for a 750 millilitre bottle. Such drinks -- all with names promising a nirvana of sexual potency -- ﬂood the Nigerian market every day, mostly via the country’s porous borders and seaports or past ofﬁcials who turn a blind eye. “I feel high and alright each time I have sex after consuming ‘koboko’ (horse whip) or ‘kondo’ (baton) drinks and my partner gives me a feeling of satisfaction,” said one young motor mechanic after buying a bottle. Similar “aphrodisiac” drinks are found in other West African countries such as Togo and Benin under names such “XXL”, “Rox” and “Atomic”, ﬁnding a ready market of young male consumers. There is no ofﬁcial control and medical warnings against their consumption are regularly ignored. - Unknown health risks A senior lecturer in clinical pharmacy studies at the University of Lagos, Aderemi Williams, said no known scientiﬁc studies have been
by Kerry SHERIDAN
eing married makes for a healthy heart, while being divorced or widowed is linked to higher rates of cardiovascular disease, according to a study of 3.5 million people released Friday. The study is the largest of its kind to show how heart health is linked to marital status, and was presented at the American College of Cardiology conference. “These ﬁndings certainly shouldn’t drive people to get married, but it’s important to know that decisions regarding who one is with, why, and why not may have important implications for vascular health,” said lead author Carlos Alviar, cardiology fellow at New York University Langone Medical Center. People who were divorced had a higher likelihood of any vascular disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm, coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular disease when compared to single people, according to the study. Widowers showed slightly higher odds of any vascular disease and coronary artery disease, also when compared to people who had never
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“If they were good, we would have them on our hospital shelves, dispensaries and pharmacies,” said pharmacist Kunle Abifarin. “And I am sure that most of them are not formally approved by the regulatory agencies.” - Fertility problems Nigeria has a wider problem with fake and adulterated drugs, with ofﬁcials estimating that more than 70 percent of medication is bogus. NAFDAC has arrested and prosecuted dozens of suspected dealers in counterfeit drugs and herbal products, destroyed seized goods and closed shops and warehouses where they were distributed, said Jimoh.
One University of Lagos clinical pharmacist said that instead of enhancing libido, regular drinkers of liquid aphrodisiacs may be risking their future fertility -- and even life. “They (consumers of the drinks) are only courting cheap death and creating employment for grave diggers,” he added on condition of anonymity. But Moruf Adeyemi, 29, a mechanic in the run-down Lagos district of Obalende, is unperturbed about the potential risks -- and is convinced that they aid his performance in bed. “Each of us has to die somehow. I don’t believe the consumption of these sex-enhancing drinks has any side-effects,” he said. “My wife commends my performance in bed when I take them and that gives me joy.”
Marriage is healthy for the heart: study
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“The study demonstrates that other risk factors, such as smoking and obesity, hypertension, diabetes and being sedentary also increases with being divorced or widowed, said Suzanne Steinbaum, director, women and heart disease, at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
In this group, marriage was linked to a 12 percent lower odds of any heart or artery disease. Among those aged 51 to 60 there were seven percent lower odds of heart disease, and four percent among those 61 and older. The patients in the study came from a US database of 3.5 million people who paid $100 to be part of a screening program. Participants came from all 50 states from 2003 to 2008. Since those involved were paid participants, they might not represent the general population, study authors noted. Also, there were low numbers of minorities included.
“As married people are more likely to help each other stay healthy, by making sure their spouse eats well, exercises, takes medications and helps in attending doctors appointments, married people tend to have less risk for heart disease,” added Steinbaum, who was not involved in the study.
And while the study found that marriage made for a healthier heart, one thing the research could not measure was the health of the marriages.
Researchers were surprised to see that the health association was strongest in people under age 50.
“Of course, it’s true that not all marriages are created equal, but we would expect the size of this study population to account for variations in good and bad marriages,” Alviar said.
“The association between marriage and a lower likelihood of vascular disease is stronger among younger subjects, which we didn’t anticipate,”
Perhaps further research could shed light on how changing life events impact heart disease, he added.
VOICE OF ASIA 14
FRIDAY, April 4, 2014
New T–2 Mumbai International Airport by Fakhruddin Sabir AIA, LEED AP, Architect, Houston, Texas. have been travelling alone on planes since I was quite young, as an unaccompanied minor. Flying was always exciting, a sincere pleasure. In the heightened alertness of youth, I observed and soaked in my surroundings in great detail. I clearly remember the tranquil hospitality of the Maharaja Lounge and then the sounds of Sitar ﬁlling the aircraft as I settled into my seat. The little motifs of Indian elephants, peacocks and statues etched on the wall coverings around the window and the crisp Saris of the lovely air hostesses as they welcomed us with folded hands and a graceful ‘Namaste’. The most vivid memory I have of a fascinating airport is none other than the beautiful Terminal designed by Minoru Yamasaki for the Dhahran International Airport in the 60’s. The light ﬁltering through the colored etched glass into the serene space under the lofty arched ceilings was an experience that I still cherish. But it was not until recently, after travelling through most airports of the east and the west over the last few decades, that I once again felt the same sense of pure inspiration and awe; a feeling of absolute joy & pride and a sense of arrival. I had just landed at the T2 - Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India. And as I entered the Immigration Hall I felt as if we were all being greeted with a thousand shimmering ‘Diyas’ – oil lamps while soft sitar music ﬁlled the air. The scale of the space was breath taking and the impact of the interior was awe inspiring. How brilliantly GVK & SOM architects had achieved to impart the traditional cultural expereince of greeting a traveller through the architecture of the space
Images of the interior of the new T2 Mumbai International Airport
was commendable. The huge wall of ‘Diyas’ was achieved by ﬂoor to ceiling curtains of stainless steel wire mesh with thousands of ﬂame shaped holes that glittered as the light from behind shined throught it. What a breathtaking sight it was and even more so if you are attuned to the language of architecture. Even the 3 km long ‘Art’ walk from the arrival gate to the immigration hall is nothing short of a museum of indian art and culture. Titled ‘Jaya Hey’, it offers a glimpse into India’s rich cultural heritage through murals & various indigenous art forms. By now I was in a state of heightened alertness of my youth and braced myself as the beautiful airport continued
to unfold one space and feature after another. The most amazing part of the experience was noticing these huge white trunks rising from the ﬂoor and penetrating through the upper ﬂoors and appearing to terminate into a huge canopy above. These were the main trunks of the structure – 30 in all spaced 64m apart, holding up the massive roof canopy above this 4 story vertical airport. As I followed this massive trunk to the very top at the departures ﬂoor, I felt that I had arrived in this huge space under the shade of a massive grove of ancient white Banyan trees; and light was ﬁltering through their leaves; and the branches were all interconnected and the vines wrapped neatly around the trunk and went all
the way down to the ground level. The overwhelming presence of these tree-like structures also brought to mind the story of Rabindranath Tagore taking his students outdoors to study under the canopy of the Banyan Tree. As I began gazing into the neat fractal geometry of the canopies and the white light piercing through each opening, I began to see the white peacock feathers, and then the whole canopy suddenly became a plume of a white peacock dancing in the rain. And then all of 30 of them with their wings spread out to greet the traveler to this ancient land of great cultures & heritage that is on the cusp of its greatest ﬂight into the future. Driving away as you are leaving the airport or approaching it as you arrive -
The large sweeping roof canopy hovering on the columns is quite iconic while it covers the entire passenger drop off protecting travelers and their guests from the Mumbai weather. A thin veil of a 50-foot-tall glass cable-stayed wall - the longest in the world - continues the soaring space through to the check-in hall inside. The transparent facade allows accompanying wellwishers, to remain outside of the terminal due to Indian aviation regulations, to watch as their friends and family continue to the check-in hall and out of sight before they depart. The departure gates lounge is steeped in warmth and hospitality not unlike the outpouring emotions of the loved ones they are leaving behind. The warmth of the
space comes from its brilliantly designed interior architecture. The lighting, the colors, the materials and the subtle allegory is all infused into a perfect blend to create the experience. The richness of wood planks on the ceiling, the feather motif perforated back-lit walls and the Brazilian St. Celcilia granite ﬂoors create a perfect setting for ﬂag &spice inspired furniture in saffron, green & red pepper. The space gets its ambient lighting from large peacock feather shaped skylights that are high in the ceilings, while the seating areas are intimately lit by a multitude of low hanging chandeliers inspired by the quintessentially Indian Lotus ﬂower. SOM Architects partner Roger Duffy has right fully said “ By subtly incorporating regional patterns and textures at all scales, T- 2 resonates with a sense of place and serves as a spectacular symbol for Mumbai and India.” T- 2 has demonstrated the potential for a modern airport to view tradition anew. Just as the terminal celebrates a new global, high-tech identity for Mumbai, the structure is imbued with responses to the local setting, history, and culture. The prevalence of local art and culture, coupled with the use of warm colors and elegant accents, elevates the ambience of the terminal beyond the typical, often cold & unimaginative airport experience. The T-2 Bollywood Airport is a true testament to the imagination & the will of a people of a young & free nation. GVK describes it as the ‘Mother of all challenges’ where the absolute success was the only option. The GVK/SOM Team of mortals has given India a Mumbai Airport that will be the pride and joy of many generations to come. Author, Fakhruddin Sabir AIA is a practicing Architect in Houston, Texas and a former associate at SOM Architects, Los Angeles, USA.
VOICE OF ASIA 15
Friday, April 4, 2014
Section 2 Page 15
FRIDAY, April 4, 2014
Indian-origin teen tells US how to save iLead - Houston’s Inter$400 million by just changing font faith Youth Program pages from documents on the Government Printing Ofﬁce website and got similar results that changing the font would save money. Suvir’s ﬁndings have been published in the Journal for Emerging Investigators (JEI), a publication founded by a group of Harvard students in 2011 that provides a platform for the work of middle school and high school students. One of the journal’s founders Sarah Fankhauser said that of the nearly 200 submissions they have received since 2011, Suvir’s project stood out. “We were so impressed. We really could really see the real-world application in Suvir’s paper,” Fankhauser was quoted as saying. Suvir Mirchandani,
EW YORK - A 14-year-old Indian-origin boy has come up with a unique plan that could help the US save nearly $400 million a year by merely changing the font used on ofﬁcial documents. Suvir Mirchandani, a student in a Pittsburgh-area middle school, claimed that if the federal government used the Garamond font exclusively it could save about $136 million per year, nearly 30 per cent less than the estimated $467 million dollars it spends annually on ink. An additional $234 million could be saved annually if state governments also implemented the change. Suvir said the idea came to him when he was trying to think of ways to cut waste and save money as part of a science fair project at his school, CNN reported. The youngster noticed that he was getting a lot more handouts than he did in elementary school and decided to ﬁgure out if he could minimise use of paper and ink.
While recycling paper was one way to save money and conserve resources, Suvir said little attention had been paid to the ink used on the papers. “Ink is two times more expensive than French perfume by volume,” he said, adding that he then decided to focus his project on ﬁnding ways to cut down the cost of ink. As part of his experiment, he collected random samples of teachers’ handouts and focused on the most commonly used characters such as e, t, a, o and r. He noted how often each character was used in different fonts like Garamond, Times New Roman, Century Gothic and Comic Sans and then measured how much ink was used for each letter, using an ink coverage software. From his analysis, Suvir ﬁgured out that by using the Garamond font with its thinner strokes, his school district could reduce its ink consumption by 24 per cent and in turn save as much as $21,000 annually. He repeated his tests on ﬁve sample
JEI challenged the teenager to apply his project to a larger scale, preferably the federal government, to determine how much real savings his idea could generate. The government has an annual printing expenditure of $1.8 billion and implementing Suvir’s idea on such a massive scale was more challenging than a school science project, the CNN report said. Media and public relations manager at the Government Printing Ofﬁce Gary Somerset described Suvir’s idea as “remarkable” but said it was concentrating on saving money by publishing documents online instead of hard copies. “They can’t convert everything to a digital format,” Suvir said. “Not everyone is able to access information online. Some things still have to be printed. I recognise it’s difﬁcult to change someone’s behavior,” he said. But “I deﬁnitely would love to see some actual changes and I’d be happy to go as far as possible to make that change possible,” he said. (PTI).
Lead is Houston’s premier interfaith youth leadership program. Participants are a selected and diverse group of outstanding young leaders who come together to learn from successful faith, business and civic leaders. The iLead program offers high school students a distinctive combination of networking and university level discourse with their peers, as well as, unprecedented access to Houston’s premier leaders from the business, civil service and faith communities. Once a student successfully completes our program they will be an “iLeader,” otherwise known as an effective, dynamic individual equipped with the tools, life skills and relationships to positively impact a global world. Mission Statement: The iLead program’s mission is to cultivate conﬁdent, respectful and engaged leaders who embrace their own faith traditions and embody effective multicultural leadership skills in their personal and professional lives. The iLead program is an innovative approach for youth leadership. Successful candidates will be a select group of high school students in the 10th grade or above from diverse backgrounds and faith traditions. iLead student leaders will embark on a journey of self-discovery through three areas: • Religious & Spiritual Understanding – Respect is our key phrase. We embrace respect for one’s own sincerely held beliefs and his or her own religious tradition. We facilitate understanding the beliefs of others through dialogue and research
with one’s peers of different faiths. Lastly, we challenge our students to explore constructive interactions with others while not compromising their own beliefs. • Business Ethics & Leadership – We create interaction between Houston’s business leaders and iLead students on issues of philanthropy, community service and ethics. We aim to demonstrate how one’s values and beliefs can be integrated into professional life. • Civic Engagement – We will facilitate discussions between students and leaders from the government sector and non-proﬁt organizations, who are informed by their faith and who engage in the public sphere. (iLead is a non-partisan program, the issues or topics that will be explored will provide a balanced and respectful approach) The 2014-15 program components include: • iLead’s orientation during the ﬁrst week of August 2014 • iLead’s day trip to the capital building in Austin • iLead Scheduled Sessions: See our 2014-15 program schedule Program Fees: 2014-15 fees are $500.00 due from the applicant, $500.00 due from the applicant’s sponsoring congregation, faith community or community organization. IM will invest the remaining program costs. Need based ﬁnancial assistance is available. Signiﬁcant ﬁnancial support for the iLead Program is provided by The Eleanor and Frank Freed Foundation.
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VOICE OF ASIA 17
FRIDAY, April 4, 2014
Morocco’s movie ‘Mecca’ seeks return to glory days by Omar BROUKSY
“Tifoutout can look like the architecture of ancient Jerusalem,” he says. “But there is little value in that any more.”
UARZAZATE, March 27, 2014 (AFP) - Ouarzazate in southern Morocco was once dubbed the “Mecca” of the ﬁlm industry for its studio facilities and the stark beauty of its locations, with many Hollywood blockbusters shot there.
- Diversity of locations “Even when a ﬁlm-making company does arrive, it ﬁxes the bit it’s interested in, gives the tribe ﬁve or six hundred euros and then leaves again,” he says.
“Laurence of Arabia” (1962, Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif), “The Sheltering Sky” (1990, Debra Winger, John Malkovich), “Kundun” (1997, Martin Scorcese), “Gladiator” (1999, Russell Crowe, Oliver Reed) and “Babel” (2006, Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett)...
Most of the movie income has gone on “building a mosque and irrigation ditches.” Ouarzazate’s fortunes contrast with the boom Morocco’s own, heavily state-funded movie industry is enjoying, with 22 feature ﬁlms made in the past year, compared with around ﬁve a decade ago.
All of them feature scenes shot at Ouarzazate, which lies at the foot of the scenic High Atlas Mountains. But that was then and this is now. Its ﬁlm industry is in the doldrums, needing fresh winds to get it moving again.
Celebrated recent productions include “God’s Horses” by the French director of Moroccan origin Nabil Ayouch, which won a prize at Cannes in 2012.
The famous town lost its appeal to international ﬁlm-makers as economic crisis and the turmoil of the Arab Spring swept across the region. As the North African winter ends, and some snow still graces the mountain peaks, a small group of people attends a casting call at Studio Atlas, one of the town’s largest. Ouarzazate’s lengthy affair with showbiz has life in it yet. “I began going to the cinema in 1967,” says Larbi Agrou, who was in “Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra” in 2000. “For the past three or four years there’s no longer been a rush by producers to get their ﬁlms shot. “Most people who work in ﬁlms here also have other trades to keep them going -- farmers, blacksmiths, carpenters. But without tourism and the cinema, Ouarzazate would be dead,” he says. - ‘More crows than ﬁlm-makers’ Agrou says the ﬁrst encouraging signs of a revival appeared last year, and that 2014 “is starting rather well”. Ouarzazate is known for attracting big-budget historic epics with large casts, and already Nicole Kidman and Tom Hanks have visited since the be-
People ride on camels through the Morrocan desert between Er Rachidia and Ouarzazate, southern Morocco, on January 3, 2006 (AFP Photo/Damien Meyer)
ginning of the year. “Let’s hope it lasts,” says Aziz, another hopeful at the casting call, rubbing his hands. “There are already four ﬁlms in production here.” And that means work for hundreds of people in Ouarzazate. In 2005 alone, mega-productions such as “Indigenes” (Days of Glory) by Rachid Bouchareb, and Robert Dornhelm’s “The Ten Commandments” were ﬁlmed there. Fast forward to 2010, the year the Arab Spring broke out with an uprising to oust a dictator in Tunisia, and nothing on a similar scale was shot at Ouarzazate between then and last year. A major factor behind that, according to Moroccan ﬁlm critic Adil Semmar, was the rising insurance costs caused by security problems in the region, notably after the Arab Spring uprisings.
Another was “They are the Dogs” by director Hicham Lasri, which won a special jury prize for Arab features at the Dubai International Film Festival in December.
Morocco more expensive for big companies, so some ﬁlms were shot in places like Israel and Spain instead,” Semmar said. In an almost lunar landscape dotted with small oases, the imposing Tifoutout Studio, built by Italians in 1994, “is now a ruin,” says resident Said Soussou.
Abderrahman Drissi, deputy president of the Ouarzazate Film Commission, grouping representatives of the Moroccan Cinema Centre and the tourism ministry, believes the authorities have a responsibility “to save this beautiful plateau.”
Robert M Young’s 1995 ﬁlm “Solomon and Sheba” starring Halle Berry and Jimmy Smits was shot there, but the Italians then “sold it to our tribe when they left in 1997. Because of the crisis of recent years, some parts are dilapidated,” says another commentator, Mohamed Hbibi. “There are more crows here now than ﬁlm-makers.” With a decrepit wall as a backdrop, Soussou looks up at the ceiling of a half-destroyed dome that was used for David Betty’s TV movie “The Bible Project” in 2009.
Like most Moroccan ﬁlms, however, these are low-budget movies about the gritty realities of life in the North African country, with little need for expensive desert studios, says Semmar, the ﬁlm critic.
But he also remains optimistic about the future. Peter O’Toole on February 17, 1981 at Heathrow airport in London (AFP Photo/)
“It has made the cost of ﬁlming in
“The diversity of locations means it’s easy to sell to major producers,” he says.
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VOICE OF ASIA 18
Friday, April 4, 2014
Millions could go off blood pressure meds: US study
ASHINGTON, March 29, 2014 (AFP) - One in four American adults over 60 being treated for high blood pressure could go off their medication under recent guidelines issued in the United States, a study said Saturday.
The changes, which stirred controversy in the medical community, could mean nearly six million may no longer need drugs to control their blood pressure, Duke University researchers said in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“In this study, we wanted to determine the number of adults affected by these changes.”
The ﬁndings are the ﬁrst to analyze the impact of 2014 guidelines that raised blood pressure targets to 150/90, instead of the previous goal of 140/90, in adults age 60 and
“Raising the target in older adults is controversial, and not all experts agree with this new recommendation,” said lead author Ann Marie NavarBoggan, a cardiology fellow at the Duke University School of Medicine.
The guidelines were issued by the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. Analyzing 2005-2010 data on 16,000 people in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Preven-
tion, Duke researchers found the proportion of US adults considered eligible for hypertension treatment would dip from 40.6 percent under the old guidelines to 31.7 percent under the new ones. In addition, 13.5 million adults -- most of them over the age of 60 -- would no longer be considered in a danger zone. Of that group, 5.8 million adults would no longer need blood pressure pills. “The new guidelines do not address whether these adults should still be considered as having hypertension,” NavarBoggan said. “But they would no longer need medication to lower their blood pressure.”
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is a Global Epidemic among South Asians Dr. Kesavan Shan South Asians living in the U.S. have a 400-500% increase in serious coronary artery disease (blocked arteries supplying blood to the heart) compared to the general population. Studies have shown that the death rate from coronary artery disease is 46% higher in South Asian men than other races. The risk of death in South Asian women is even greater. Indeed, census data has reported that all ethnic minor-
ity women are living longer— except for South Asian women, who have one of the highest death rates from heart disease. Curiously, South Asians experience this significantly higher risk of lethal heart disease despite frequently having less “traditional” cardiovascular risk factors. In fact, many of the causes associated with increased risk of heart disease are less common among South Asians. For example, a large number of South Asians are life-long vegetarians (therefore, lower saturated fat intake), smoking is less common and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels are not appreciably worse than the rest of the population.
FRIDAY, April 4, 2014
Moreover, additional considerations such as average weight and body mass index (BMI) are not significantly higher in South Asians than in other races. So what causes this increased risk? Stay tuned. The current thinking on why South Asians are so vulnerable to coronary artery disease and the approaches to reducing the risk will be discussed in the next four articles in this newspaper column. Dr. Kesavan Shan is a cardiologist with Methodist Diagnostic Cardiology of Houston. To schedule an appointment, call 281.275.0331.
Heart attacks rise after clocks go forward: study
ASHINGTON, March 29, 2014 (AFP) - Turning the clocks forward an hour in the spring for daylight saving time is followed by a spike in heart attacks on the Monday afterward, said a US study Saturday. But when the clocks fall back and people gain an hour of sleep, there is a drop in heart attacks on Tuesday, said the research presented at the American College of Cardiology conference. The ﬁndings showed no change in the total number of heart attacks during the entire week following any clock change, indicating that the spike seen on Monday is leveled out in the days that follow. But knowing that a surge in patients can be expected in the emergency room could help doctors better prepare, said lead author Amneet Sandhu, cardiology fellow at the University of Colorado in Denver. “It may be that we as people are very sensitive to the loss of even one hour’s sleep,” Sandhu told reporters. “It may mean that people who are already vulnerable to heart disease may be at greater risk right after sudden time changes.” The study was based on a database of hospitals in Michigan. There was a 25 percent jump in the number of heart attacks occurring the Monday after the spring time change -- or a total of eight additional heart attacks -- and a 21 percent drop the Tuesday after the fall return to standard time. Monday is traditionally the day when most heart attacks occur, previous research has found. But by looking at hospital data over four consecutive years, researchers saw a consistent 34 percent increase in heart attacks from one week to the next at the spring time change.
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There were an average of 93 heart attacks the Monday before compared to 125 the week after the start of daylight saving time across those four years. Daylight saving time -- implemented to save energy during World War I -- is controversial and some believe it is not needed anymore. Sandhu said future research should compare the Michigan ﬁndings to heart attack trends in Hawaii and Arizona, which do not have daylight saving time.
Obama administration will allow more time to enroll in health care on federal marketplace
he Obama administration has decided to give extra time to Americans who say that they are unable to enroll in health plans through the federal insurance marketplace by the March 31 deadline. Federal ofﬁcials conﬁrmed last Tuesday evening that all consumers who have begun to apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, but who do not ﬁnish by Monday, will have until about mid-April to ask for an extension. Under the new rules, people will be able to qualify for an extension by checking a blue box on HealthCare.gov to indicate that they tried to enroll before the deadline. This method will rely on an honor system; the government will not try to determine whether the person is telling the truth. The rules, which will apply to the federal exchanges operating in three dozen states, will essentially create a large loophole even as White House ofﬁcials have repeatedly said that the March 31 deadline was ﬁrm. The extra time will not technically alter the deadline but will create a broad new category of people eligible for what’s known as a special enrollment period. The change, which the administration is scheduled to announce Wednesday, is supported by consumer advocates who want as many people as possible to gain insurance under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. But it’s likely to be criticized by Republicans who oppose the law and have denounced the way the administration is implementing it. Administration ofﬁcials said the accommodation is an attempt to prepare for a possible surge of people trying to sign up in the ﬁnal days before the deadline. Such a ﬂood could leave some people unable to get through the system. “We are . . . making sure that we will be ready to help consumers who may be in line by the deadline to complete enrollment — either online or over the phone,” said Julie Bataille, director of the ofﬁce of communications for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency overseeing the federal health-care exchange. The extra time will not be restricted, though, to people
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who wait until the last minute to try to sign up. Although no one will be asked why they need an extension, the idea is to help people whose applications have been held up because of the Web site’s technical problems, or who haven’t been able to get the system to calculate subsidies to help them pay for coverage. According to a Health and Human Services ofﬁcial, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about decisions that have not been made public, an exact time frame for this extension has not been set, and it will depend in part on how many people request it. Nor have ofﬁcials decided precisely how long people will have to select a health plan after they get the extra time. Starting in about mid-April, people will no longer be able to get extensions through HealthCare.gov. After that, consumers will be able to request one through one of the federally sponsored call centers nationwide. At that point, the grounds for an extension will become narrower, matching rules for special enrollment periods that have existed for the past few months. Those include people who have a new baby, are getting a divorce, lose a job with health insurance or had a technical problem signing up for coverage through HealthCare.gov. Once the narrower rules take effect, people will still be trusted to tell the truth about why they need more time — a method known as “selfattestation.” Don’t wait, call us to-day for prompt enrollment…… For prompt enrollment contact Sudhir Mathuria @ 713771-2900.
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VOICE OF ASIA 19
IIT-Delhi develops smart canes for visually impaired
HEALTH, TECH & SCIENCE
How the new Microsoft CEO is breaking from the past with ofﬁce for iPad by Aaron Pressman
be able to edit and create documents, she explained.
To start this, I’m going to go to my iPad…”
Nadella also made an appeal to IT professionals in big companies who may have been stressing out about the proliferation of devices employees are bringing from home and using for work. Microsoft plans to beef up its device management offerings to help IT departments manage all the “BYOD” activity, he said.
Satya Nadella kicked off his ﬁrst-ever product unveiling as Microsoft CEO with a fast-talking spiel that sounded nothing like either of his predecessors, Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates. And the new product he came to showcase represented perhaps the biggest break of all: the longawaited, long-rumored, long-delayed version of Microsoft Ofﬁce for the iPad.
A visually impaired man seen using the SmartCane
IT Delhi has developed a “smart cane” that helps the visually impaired detect above-the-knee obstructions from a distance of 3 metres. Using modern sensor technology, the “SmartCane” enables users to detect objects in the path from three metres away. It costs Rs 3,000 - a fraction of the price for similar products available in global markets. “This has huge implications not only for their safety but also for their dignity. The feeling of dependence often makes people feel vulnerable about unknown surroundings,” IIT’s Assistech co-founder Rohan Paul told PTI. He said the trials found that SmartCane checks the visually impaired from banging into protrusions and has helped them walk with security and conﬁdence. “Field test reports show that users moved independently and safely with self-conﬁdence using SmartCane,” he added. More than 300 people affected by blindness were involved in the development over the last eight years. Currently there are 150 users of SmartCane across the country. Assistech is IIT Delhi’s Lab which works on developing affordable assistive technology solutions for the visually impaired. It developed the technology for the cane. Joint development was undertaken along with Phoenix Medical Systems, Chennai and Saksham Charitable Trust, Delhi to make this product a reality. “We saw the difﬁculty of walking with the white cane, particularly when there are over hanging branches and raised signboards that cause injuries to the chest and face. Our objective was to develop a solution at an affordable cost that could increase the range of the white cane,” Paul said. Though similar products are available globally, they are expensive making it difﬁcult for people to buy them. “The average price point of navigation devices for the visually impaired is in the range of Rs 60,000-70,000. Our product however will cost only Rs 3,000 to ensure that people from all parts of the society can buy the product,” Paul said, adding that it includes training and distribution charges. According to the World Health Organisation, there are 37 million persons with blindness worldwide, of which about 90 per cent live in developing countries, including India. India has 12 million people affected by blindness, the largest for any country in the world (2011 census data). “I strongly believe role of organisations like IIT is to promote technology entrepreneurship so that the country develops a conﬁdence in making quality products not only for India but also for rest of the world,” IIT Delhi Department of Computer Science Deputy Director M Balakrishnan said. (Courtesy: PTI)
FRIDAY, April 4, 2014
Microsoft’s board named Nadella as CEO in February after a ﬁve-month search to replace Ballmer. Nadella said he asked Gates to spend more time at Microsoft to help him get the software giant back on track as the computing market shifts increasingly from desktop PCs and software programs to mobile devices and Internet-based cloud services.
As demonstrated by product manager Julia White, who started with the iPad quote above, the new versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint looked pretty amazing. “The iPad has a reputation for helping you look cool,” she said. “With Excel, it can make you look smart, too.” The entire app experience was refashioned to work with ﬁngers on a screen instead of a mouse and hardware keyboard. On Twitter, some declared that it looked better than even the latest PC version. Nadella, dressed in a brown polo shirt and jeans, started the event off with declarations of humility and a reference to the poet T.S. Eliot, quickly making clear that a new era had begun. “You should never cease from exploration, and at the end of your exploration, you should end up where you started and see the place with fresh eyes,” he said. The result of Nadella’s explo-
Satya Nadella seen in a brown polo shirt at the unveiling Microsoft Ofﬁce for the iPad. ration was a big policy shift. No longer will Microsoft restrict its best and most popular goodies to Windows. From now on, the company will seek to spread its software and services “across the web, all phones, all tablets, all PCs,” he said. To a large degree, that reﬂects on the failure of Nadella’s predecessor, Ballmer, to extend the dominance of Windows to portable devices. Windows software has minimal market share in both
smartphones and tablets, which are dominated by Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Microsoft investors have been excited about the new revenue an iPad version of Ofﬁce might bring in from the 1 billion customers already using other versions. Shares of Microsoft hit a 14-year high of $40.99 this week as anticipation grew about the iPad app. The shares traded down to $39.48 over the past two days amid a tough market overall for technology
stocks. White’s demo moved swiftly from an Apple iPad to a Samsung tablet to a giant-screen Perceptive Pixel monitor to a Windows PC. Anyone with an iPad will be able to download the new Ofﬁce apps for free from Apple’s iTunes Store starting Thursday, White said. The free versions allow you to read or present Ofﬁce ﬁles. But only those who have paid for an Ofﬁce 365 subscription, $99 a year for a typical consumer, will
The Windows operating system itself, the company’s cash cow for the past few decades, was almost an afterthought at Thursday’s event. Nadella said Microsoft would announce further innovations relating to Windows at a conference next week. The latest version, Windows 8, has been a critical and marketplace dud. Ballmer put almost all the company’s efforts into bolstering Windows, even holding back the Ofﬁce for iPad apps for years, according to some reports. As he left the stage, Nadella repeated his theme of the day: “There’s no holding back on anything.”
VOICE OF ASIA 21
FRIDAY, April 4, 2014
“The Husband’s Guide to Everything Baby” rapidly and hormone levels are rising, the body needs extra rest. It is your time to take care of things around the house so that mom can get some rest.
Sabina Cherian M.D. by Sabina Cherian M.D.
etting pregnant for the ﬁrst time is a joyous occasion, an exciting time full of wonder. However a lot of future dads feel a little lost and ignored during the whole process. Here is a guide on what to expect when they are expecting. 1) Fatigue. In the ﬁrst trimester the most common complaint for the mother is needing to sleep all the time. As the fetus inside is growing
2) Nausea & Vomiting. Some women have very minimal nausea in the morning that quickly resolves later in the day. Others have nausea and vomiting all day and need diet modiﬁcations and medications to get them through this difﬁcult period usually lasting till around 16 weeks. 3) Smells and cravings. There are certain smells that a pregnant woman will hate and they will vary with each pregnancy. Ask your partner if you should lay off the cologne or if the smell of coffee in the morning makes her sick. Offer to get her whatever she is craving when she is craving it. 4) Second trimester. This is the most pleasant time for pregnancy. Hormone levels have leveled off and the swelling and weight of the pregnancy has not hit her yet. Plan your
trips and special occasions ideally at this time. 5) Feeling loved. Make sure you tell your partner you love her and that you are affectionate towards her. Most women start to feel really awkward and unattractive as they waddle around in the third trimester and start being able not to see their feet. It is your job to always make her and the baby feel loved. 6) Talk to your baby. Your baby will recognize your voice and will respond to music and acoustic stimuli. Feel free to talk to and touch your partner’s belly. You will be very happy to see your baby responding to you right away when she/he enters the world. 7) Doctor’s visits. Come with your partner to her prenatal care visits. Feel free to ask questions during the visit so that your partner feels you are interested in her and the baby’s wellbeing. However, do not try to talk over her and ask too many questions. Your partner is the
Vasant Navratri begins in spring
center of attention so let her be. 8) Delivery time. Ask your partner if she wants to go to a birthing class with you. Ask her what she wants from you during her labor. Be a supportive advocate for her during labor. 9) Postpartum. She will be up every 2-3 hours for the ﬁrst couple of months after the baby’s birth. Take shifts with the baby-lighten her load. Look for signs of postpartum depression such as frequent crying spells, lack of bonding with the baby and withdrawal from friends and family. Sabina K. Cherian, MD was born in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in Houston Texas. She did her residency in Brooklyn, NY and resided on the east coast for the last 9 years. She practices obstetrics and gynecological surgery at Center for Women’s Health’s four ofﬁce locations in southwest Houston. She can be reached at 281-342-6962 private consultation or appointment.
oddess Durga ornamented with kumkum, bangles, ﬂowers, and jeweled attires; morning prayers accompanied by synchronized bells and the aroma of pure butter delicacies, it’s time to step into the festivities of Navratri! The word Navratri refers to the nine auspicious nights during which Goddess Durga is worshipped and most people observe fasts. It is celebrated twice a year, the beginning of
spring and at the beginning of autumn, which is considered as a sacred time to worship Goddess Durga. During these fasts people avoid eating meat, grains, alcohol, onion, garlic etc. From an Ayurvedic perspective, these foods attract and absorb negative energies and should be avoided during a seasonal change as our bodies tend to have low immunity around that time.
Huge abroad, Greek yoghurt almost unknown in Greece by Sophie MAKRIS ATHENS, March 26, 2014 (AFP) - It’s a global health fad with millions of fans in Europe and the United States, and yet in Greece, many people have never heard of “Greek yoghurt”. Equally surprising in an age when billions are spent on marketing, the term is basically a quirk of fate. “What is known abroad as ‘Greek yoghurt’ is called ‘straggisto’ (strained yoghurt) in Greece,” explained Prokopis Ploumbis, a cheesemaker in the rural outskirts of Athens. “The secret lies in the milk,” he adds.
Yoghurt made from sheep’s milk has 6.5 percent natural fat, compared to around 2.0 percent in cow’s milk.
Creamy, rich in protein and low in fat, strained yoghurt made from cow’s milk is increasingly prized by healthconscious consumers, and it has beneﬁted from the growing popularity of the Mediterranean diet in the Western world. And yet, in terms of marketing, neither the Greek state nor any Greek company had sought to stamp a patent on the product, unlike feta cheese which is now a protected EU term. No court would have accorded protection for “Greek yoghurt” when the term is not even used in Greece. It therefore lay open for the taking. - Shepherding the crowds Sensing an opportunity, Turkish entrepreneur Hamdi Ulukaya was able to make a killing on the American market with his yoghurt company, named
Chobani, which comes from the Turkish word for shepherd. It is also similar to the Greek word for shepherd, and Chobani packages prominently call it ‘Greek yoghurt’ in the United States. Meanwhile the Greek company that ﬁrst broke open the US and European markets decades ago, Fage, features ‘Greek strained yoghurt’ in smaller type on its packages. In just seven years, Chobani’s ‘Greek yoghurt’ has become the best-selling yoghurt brand in the United States, and strained yoghurt now accounts for 35 percent of the US yoghurt market, from only four percent in 2008. “Because it was introduced in this country by a Greek company, they called it ‘Greek yoghurt.’ It doesn’t matter whether it’s Greek yoghurt or Turkish yoghurt, as long as it’s a good yoghurt,” Ulukaya told Fortune magazine in 2011. Fage fought back. “Fage is the one that made known to the world the creamy texture of Greek yoghurt, its protein concentration, its rich taste,” said the company’s commercial director Alexis Alexopoulos. However the 88-year-old Athens-based family company, which exports dairy products to 40 countries, eventually had to concede defeat in the United States. But it moved to protect its 95-percent share in the British market. In British courts, Fage based
its argument on the fact that unlike Chobani, its yoghurt is actually made in Greece, and won the case on appeal in January. Chobani now markets its yoghurt as ‘strained’ in Britain, and ‘Greek’ in the United States. Fage sells its product in Britain as “authentic Greek yoghurt”. - Cow or sheep? Strained yoghurt is also popular in Greece, where it also serves as a key ingredient for staple dishes like tzatziki dip. But for traditionalists, there is also a signiﬁcant yearning for non-strained and more fatty yoghurt made from sheep’s milk. Yoghurt made from sheep’s milk has 6.5 percent natural fat, compared to around 2.0 percent in cow’s milk. All over the country there are hundreds of traditional yoghurtmakers catering to the countryside or island markets. Many of these products are consumed locally and never reach the big supermarket chains in Athens. “Greek ewes graze in the mountains and receive no additives in their food,” said Ploumbis, the cheesemaker in Vilia, some 60 kilometres (37 miles) west of Athens. “The best milk comes in the spring. The animals eat hundreds of different plants, it’s an unimaginable richness,” he added, pointing to the valley around the sheep pens, covered in shrubs and almond trees in bloom.
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FRIDAY, April 4, 2014
Your Horoscope for the Week of April 4, 2014 by Hardik Vyas, Astrologer Cell : 832-298-9950
As per Indian Vedic Astrology the Moon sign is considered, in which every Rashi has control over certain letters, which are initials of your name. Whereas in Western system of Sun Sign, all the people born in one month belong to the same sign. For example, every year approximately around 21 of March to 20th April, the Sun is moving in the Aries Constellation. So all the people born in that month belong to the Sign of Aries. If you were born in between those two dates then you are a Aries born.
Aries (A,L,E) 21 March to 20 April
Libra (R,T) 23 Sept to 22 Oct
Realize, you need the love & attention of others. You’re disciplined enough to accomplish anything you want. Rid yourself of bad habits. Problems with older woman in your family may be alarming. You should do things that involve family reunions. Get yourself into projects that will enhance your appearance and help you change your self-image. Sudden events may change your life. Your ﬁrst impression must not inﬂuence your ﬁnal decision. Don’t show favoritism. Be careful not to manipulate a situation to your own liking.
You need to get out and meet some new people. You need to put some excitement back into your life. Emotional blackmail will get you into trouble. Don’t blame others for your own mistakes or unhappiness. New acquaintances will show interest in you if you are happy and positive about yourself. You need to make some personal changes in your life. Don’t be depressed. You need to concentrate on your creative projects and not worry so much about what other people are saying or doing.
Scorpio (N,Y)23 Oct to 21 Nov
Taurus (B,V,U) 21 April to 20 May Need to communicate clearly & effectively. A misunderstanding at this time may have big repercussions, which you would love to set right if only you could understand exactly what is going on! Being stubborn will only work against you. You will be in a position to help others. Give advice but hold back if they want cash. Get on with your life. New attitudes will develop through the company you keep. Take your time before making decisions. Re-direct any jangling nerves into some physical exercise if possible.
Go into new ventures with enthusiasm and an open mind. Stay put and work on the projects that don’t require a lot of travel or communication. Take things in stride. You are best to busy yourself with personal projects. You should be thinking about a career move. Someone you work for is probably trying to hold you back. Protect your reputation and prepare yourself for unexpected changes. It’s time to take a serious look at getting into shape before summer hits and you have to shed some of those layers of clothing you’ve been hiding under.
Sagittarius (BH,F,DH,TH) 22 Nov to 21 Dec
Gemini (K,CHH,GH) 21 May to 20 June High emotion & excitement, You could feel overwhelmed or overly sensitive, unable to make a move, but you can rise to ﬂy again, perhaps higher than ever before. Your motives could be challenged by those in authority. Keep your cool, don’t waste your effort, focus your energy on ﬁnalizing agreements, contracts, promises. Your rewards are long overdue. You will be able to achieve success, if you trust your gut feelings & remain loyal to your principles. Your universal appeal will help you dazzle even the dullest audience.
You may sense that there may be something missing from the mix. Your intuitive feeliUse discretion when discussing personal matters. You can avoid emotional issues with loved ones by being affectionate, fun loving and active. You’ll be able to make money if you investment in yourself. Your lover may not be sure of your intentions. Be discriminating when discussing work. You won’t be able to trust some of your colleagues or clients. Keep your ideas to yourself for the time being.
Capricorn (KH,J) 22 Dec to 20 Jan
Cancer (D,H) 21 June to 22 July Kind a mixture of energy from your emotional moods. Special feelings about traditions, relationships & a new interest in ﬁnancial opportunities will surface. You can start your own traditions, make plans, include everybody close to your heart. The support will give you the conﬁdence you lack. Try to remove excess stress wherever possible, your loved ones will notice the difference, if you do. You’re not a great fan of detail but you need to focus your time properly. You could feel frustrated, or even feel personally criticized.
Keep continuo your efforts to help others. It will be admired by onlookers. Someone you work with may be jealous of you. Keep your thoughts and intentions to yourself. Outdoor activities will be invigorating. Take care of your family responsibilities ﬁrst or include the ones you love in the events you attend. Don’t overspend on those unworthy of your generosity. You may want to look into the nature of an organization before you donate or join it. Your partner will not put up with your possessiveness. Expect to get into a heated discussion.
Aquarius (G,S,SH) 21 Jan to 19 Feb
Leo (M) 23 July to 22 August
Use your sense of timing & luck. Your universal appeal will make you very popular. You may ﬁnd yourself in the public eye. A simple observation can provoke a strong response. You’ll need to have emotional contact with others. Even though your friends tend to show off their assets, you must keep a close eye on your budget. Best not to discuss your future plans with one who lacks your vision & imagination. Don’t allow them to dampen your enthusiasm. Someone with whom you have almost nothing in common may come to your aid.
Virgo (P) 23 August to 22 September Emotional and personal situations that will drain your energy. Refuse to get dragged into the middle of an argument. Don’t take sides. Get out and socialize with colleagues. If you can combine some work with pleasure, you will gain respect and help from those in a position to help you get ahead. If you made a promise to your family, you must not renege. Put everything else on hold. Emotional problems with family members will be disheartening. You must listen rather than offer your opinions. Visit with friends who may be able to shed some light on your situation.
You need for a change of scenery. Travel for business or pleasure and you’ll break up the monotony. Use your ﬁnesse to get what you want. You’ll be surprised by the response you receive. Check out some of the courses offered in your community. You need to start learning new skills if you want to keep up with the never-ending technological changes at work. Don’t become involved in dubious ﬁnancial schemes. Extravagance could be your downfall. Excessiveness will result in minor illness.
Pisces (D,CH,Z) 20 Feb to 20 March
Concentrate on things you enjoy doing rather than just doing for others. You need a real break. Your colorful manner will attract attention. Use your energy in a constructive manner. The work you do around your home will be rewarding. Check out activities that offer a physical challenge. Now you’re ready to entertain. You must learn not to force your opinions on others. Participating in a challenging physical activity will help ease your tension and stress. You will be looking for a good ﬁght if things don’t go your way. Remember that you can’t make decisions for other people even if you did pay their way.
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FRIDAY, April 4, 2014
Published on Apr 3, 2014
Voice of Asia Newspaper has been reaching South Asian and Asian American families in Houston and surrounding cities in Texas since 1987. To...