Monthly Archives: November 2008

This is the first time I was made to feel like Jews


As a Christian, I occasionally remind my Jewish friends that I owe my faith to them. Indian tradition maintains that a few years after Christ’s death, one of his apostles, Thomas (‘the Doubter’), sailed to Kerala to share the Good News with his co-religionists. Jews have lived in India for thousands of years, perhaps arriving on a mission from the court of King Solomon to trade in ‘elephant’s tooth, peacocks and apes’. The Jews of Cochin are said to have been less than receptive to Thomas’s message, though he did make many other converts. 

India’s ancient Jewish history, evidence of the country’s tolerance for people of all faiths, has long been a source of pride for us. But an even greater cause for satisfaction has been the fact that Indian Jews have never faced persecution. Indian Jews have flourished, and nowhere is that more evident than in Mumbai. Some of the city’s best-known landmarks, including Flora Fountain, have been built with donations from Jewish philanthropists who grew prosperous on trade and manufacturing. Most notable among them were the Sassoons, a family from Iraq. Their name is etched in plaques in at least four schools, a magnificent library, a dockyard and at least two of the city’s nine synagogues.

A more chilling reminder of the city’s role as a sanctuary for Jews is to be found on another set of marble tablets in a cemetery in Chinchpokli in Central Mumbai. One wall bears memorials to people who died in faraway concentration camps such as Auschwitz. It was donated by friends and relatives who found refuge here. Many of these exiles had arrived in India because of the intervention of Jawaharlal Nehru. “Few people can withhold their deep sympathy from the Jews for the long centuries of most terrible oppression to which they have been subjected all over Europe,” Nehru wrote, as he lobbied the British government to allow Eastern European Jews into India. “Fewer still can repress their indignation at the barbarities and racial suppression of Jews which the Nazis have indulged in during the last few years.”

Many of the exiles soon became an important part of Mumbai society, serving as catalysts for the modern Indian art scene. Rudolf von Leyden, Walter Langhammer, and Emanuel Schlesinger had brought with them full-colour reproductions of European masters and a world of ideas and discussion. They proved vital in helping the Mumbai artists discover a new way of seeing. These ideas found expression on canvas when painters such as M.F. Husain, F.N. Souza, and K.H. Ara founded the Progressive Artists Movement in 1947, bound together by the desire to find a new way to depict the stories of their newly independent nation.

Despite the significance of the contributions of the Baghdadis or the European exiles, the Jewish community that has left the deepest impression on the city are the Bene Israelis, who believe their ancestors were shipwrecked just south of Mumbai in 175 B.C.E. Centuries later, many of them migrated to Mumbai, where they built a synagogue in 1796.

Perhaps the best-known member of the community was Nissim Ezekiel, one of the pioneers of Indian poetry in English. My favorite of his poems is ‘Island,’ a tribute to my home city. The first stanza says, “Unsuitable for song as well as sense/ the island flowers into slums/ and skyscrapers, reflecting/ precisely the growth of my mind./ I am here to find my way in it.”

Though thousands of Indian Jews have emigrated to Israel over the years, many of those who stayed behind have an ambiguous relationship with the country that offers them the Right of Return. Among them is my friend Robin David, the author of City of Fear, a gem of a memoir that describes the horrors he witnessed as a reporter during the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat in 2002. He also explains his frustration with Israel, a country to which he has attempted to emigrate three times, only to return. “I realised that the Promised Land was not my country,” he writes. “Even the strong fragrance of spices, wafting in from the Arab market through the yellowing Jerusalem sandstone, did not help. Just like Teen Darwaza [in Ahmedabad], but not quite home.”

There’s another aspect to the relationship that goes unnoticed by most Indians. Each year, an estimated 20,000 Israelis take their vacations in India after finishing their three-year compulsory military service stints. Their 15,000-shekel bonuses go much further in India and, as one Israeli told me recently, “It’s nice to be in a place where you don’t always have to watch your back.” The beaches of Goa and the slopes of Kulu and Manali rank high on the visitors’ itineraries. The massive numbers of Israelis in the subcontinent prompted the Brooklyn-based Lubavitcher sect to open its first Indian mission centre — known around the world as Chabad Houses — in Pune in 2000.

Two years ago, I travelled to Pune to interview Rabbi Betzalel Kupchick, who ran the centre. By offering his hundreds of Jewish visitors a year free meals and the chance to chat in Hebrew, Rabbi Kupchick believed he was opening an opportunity for dialogue. “There are many ways that God brings people to Him,” he told me patiently. “Here, without the pressure of family and society, Israelis are more open-minded. Often, this is their first exposure to spiritual things. When they’re come to India, they’re searching.”

Mumbai’s Jewish community doesn’t have much to do with the Israeli visitors. The ultra-orthodox leanings of the Lubavitchers have been regarded with some suspicion by liberal Indian Jews. That divide disappeared on Wednesday night. When I spoke to Robin David on the phone on Friday, he was still trying to make sense of it all. “The Indian Jewish identity is the only one that hasn’t been created by persecution,” he said. “We’ve never felt scared. This is the first time we’ve been made to feel like Jews.”

That, to me, has been among the most tragic casualties of this terrorist attack. In a barrage of grenades and bullets, a part of the Indian dream that’s 2,500 years old has now been buried in a pile of bloody concrete shards.

By Naresh Fernandes 
Editor of Time Out Mumbai


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Multiple joys: Three gynecologists — and moms — are personal experts on twins and triplets

Talk about multitasking. Of the eight female obstetrician-gynecologists who deliver babies at Sutter Roseville Medical Center in Roseville, California, three are the mothers of multiples.


Dr. Amy Riley’s triplets, Julia, Vivian and Alec are now four years old. Dr. Anna Almonte’s twin daughters, Katherine and Elizabeth, are 6. And Dr. Jackie Ho gave birth to the babies of the group – twins Marissa and Ellie Ow – on May 16.

Even more impressive, all three doctors have older children as well. Clearly, they’re well versed in the art of juggling the demands of home and family and a busy career.


“People will say, ‘I can’t imagine,’ ” Riley says. “But I can’t imagine anything else.”

For their patients, they set an encouraging example. Riley, Almonte and Ho understand the reassurance implicit in their care of nervous expectant mothers overwhelmed with the idea of carrying, delivering and raising multiples.

“I’m very encouraging about twins,” says Almonte, 37, who immigrated from Ukraine a dozen years ago. “I always say, ‘It’s double trouble, but it’s a double joy.’ “


According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, the twin birth rate – more than 32 per 1,000 births – has increased 42 percent since 1990 and 70 percent since 1980, in large part the result of delayed childbearing. Beginning in their 30s, women are more likely to conceive twins naturally – and even more so when fertility treatments are involved.


In contrast, the birth rate for triplets and other multiples has declined slightly in recent years, the CDC says, following American Society of Reproductive Medicine recommendations limiting the number of embryos transferred during fertility procedures.


“When I was pregnant with my twins, I had four other couples at the same time in my practice carrying twins,” says Ho, 39, herself a twin. See? Twins, once a relative rarity, seem like they’re everywhere these days. Scratch the surface of most elementary schools and you’ll find a few sets of multiples.


And as Cindy Camarena, president of a California Moms of Multiples club, likes to say, when people see twins, they smile. Something about doubled- and even tripled-up siblings, whether identical or fraternal, still delights us.


For the record, Ho and Almonte both conceived their twin daughters the old-fashioned way, without the assistance of reproductive technology. “It was nothing but nature,” says Almonte.


On the other hand, when Riley and her husband, Damon, decided it was time to expand their family beyond their first daughter, Brenna, now 10, they struggled for several years. “Then one cycle with in-vitro fertilization, and there were three more kids,” says Amy Riley, who lives in Roseville. “It was like winning the lottery after four years of infertility.”


Carrying multiple babies comes with multiple risks, including preterm labor and toxemia. As expectant ob-gyns, the doctors knew more about those risks than most pregnant women.


“I think knowledge is always good,” says Ho, whose oldest daughter, Caroline, is 8. “When I found out I was having twins, I was very happy but at the same time worried about potential complications. “I was as excited as I could be, but I thought, ‘Am I going to end up having a C-section? Am I going to be able to take them home with me from the hospital, or will I have to leave them in the (neonatal intensive care unit)?’ “The extra knowledge caused extra concerns. But I also knew what to watch out for.”


And what do the twins and triplets watch out for? Often as not, each other.

“When there are three,” says Riley, “they learn to be more patient than other kids are. They all yell, ‘Mom,’ at the same time, but there’s only one mom. So they help each other out. And they’re very good at sharing.” “You teach your kids to be independent,” Almonte says. “They entertain each other.” Riley nods. “We had to constantly entertain our older daughter,” she says. “But these guys entertain each other.”


Meanwhile, Ho and her husband, Dr. Randy Ow, an ear, nose and throat specialist, make a point of devoting one night each week to their oldest daughter so she won’t feel overlooked in their newly twin-centered Roseville, Calif., household. “Life is good,” Ho says. “I have a very understanding husband. I’m still trying to be there as much as I can for my patients. When I leave work, I’m 100 percent with my kids. They keep us very busy, nonstop.

“We’re so happy with them.”


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Allergy shots, Immunotherapy and Pregnancy


Immunotherapy is like a vaccination against your allergies. Vaccine shots are to prevent infections; immunotherapy shots are to prevent allergies. However, the two work in opposite ways. Vaccinations prime the immune system to help the body react swiftly if the disease is encountered again, whereas immunotherapy dulls the reaction to allergens.

picture-36In the long term, allergy shots can minimize the need for antihistamines or other allergy

medications. Immunotherapy builds up your tolerance to specific allergens, so your body won’t overreact to them.

Immunotherapy shots are used for most airborne allergens, including tree, grass, and weed pollens, dust mites, and animal allergens. Immunotherapy shots can also be used to prevent severe sting reactions from honeybees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, or fire ants.

How does it work?

Your allergist will first confirm what you’re allergic to with allergy testing. Next, he or she will inject small amounts of allergens over the course of many months, periodically increasing the amount of allergens injected. After receiving each shot, you will need to stay in the doctor’s office for 20-30 minutes to see if you react adversely. Also, your allergist will ask you how you felt after getting the previous shot.

picture-46The injection schedule depends on the individual. Generally, 1-2 shots are given weekly in the beginning during the “dose building” stage. They eventually taper off to monthly “maintenance” shots. For some people, it may take up to 12 months to reach the maintenance dose.

Immunotherapy during Pregnancy:


Allergy shots (or allergen immunotherapy) can be safely continued during pregnancy if a woman has not had any serious reactions to the shots previously, but it is not advised that women begin shots or increase the dose of their shots while pregnant. This is because allergic reactions to the shots, which are uncommon but can be dangerous, occur more often during the initial, buildup stage, when the dose is being increased. A severe allergic reaction could cause low blood pressure in the mother, and the baby might not get enough oxygen for a few minutes. In addition, the treatment for a severe allergic reaction — which is epinephrine — could temporarily reduce the blood supply to the baby. So rather than taking these risks, allergists avoid beginning or increasing allergy shots during pregnancy, an approach accepted by professional allergy and obstetrical societies. There is some preliminary evidence that mothers who get allergy shots while they are pregnant may lower their baby’s risk of being allergic, but more study is needed before this can be considered fact.


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has issued new guidelines in the management of asthma symptoms in pregnant women, saying that “ it is safer for both fetus and mother for pregnant asthmatic women to continue to use their asthma medication in the lowest dose possible to manage symptoms during their pregnancy.”

Regarding allergy immunotherapy shots, the recommendation is as follows:

Women who already use immunotherapy (allergy shots) at or near maintenance level to improve asthma symptoms may continue getting shots during pregnancy. However, women should not begin immunotherapy during pregnancy. Allergy shots are typically given with lower doses of serum to start and then are gradually increased to higher levels. These escalating doses may cause anaphylaxis during pregnancy, which has been associated with maternal and fetal death.

A discussion of the risks and benefits of continuing allergy shots during pregnancy should be had between the patient and allergist, with input from the patient’s obstetrician, before deciding on a treatment regimen.






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Shame on Us!

Vote out this incompetent weak, government and speak out against these impotent corrupt politicians!
Vote for zero tolerance against Pakistan and any other hostile neighbour.picture-45
Stop this drama of Indo-Pak friendship tours/talks.. anything…boycott everything Pakistani….hurt their economy so their bankrupt government does not sponsor ISI/terrorism.picture-56
Look at Israel… 4 million citizens with 40 million hostile neighbours but no one dares pick up a fight with them..
Don’t believe anything politicians say from across the border.
Start with convincing our pseudo-wanna-be-politicos like Mahesh Bhatt & co to stop all these pseudo-friendship tours to hostile neighbouring countries… their states kill and maim us repeatedly and we go wagging our domesticated tails to get patted on our backs by these masters of ISI…
If Javed Jaffrey is not happy staying in India, he should be free to go settle in Pakistan. And please stop lighting candles at the Gateway of India. We have been doing this after every terrorist attack on Mumbai.

Shame on us!

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Couple Celebrate Their Miracle Baby

A mother has become the first in Britain to have a successful pregnancy after receiving a double organ transplant.

Emma Smith, 37, from Little Wymondley gave birth to healthy 6lb baby Oliver at the end of last month despite having a donor pancreas and kidney. 

It is extremely rare because anti-rejection drugs, which must be taken for life, can cause infertility or complications during pregnancy. 

Ms Smith, who lives with her boyfriend Steve, said: “After my transplants I did wonder if I would ever be able to have kids. When I found out it was a complete surprise. The suppressants lower fertility and it is very rare to get pregnant and to go on to have a birth without complications. 

“They didn’t have any data about being pregnant on the drugs I was on, but they didn’t want to take the risk of changing them and damaging my organs so they kept me on the same drugs and monitored me very carefully. 

“I’m thinking of having another baby now. This one has gone so well, I’m quite reassured about it. 

“I hope it shows other people who have had a transplant that they can have children – if it gives them hope then that’s great.” 

Emma was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 11 and had to have daily injections of insulin. Because of the disease her organs deteriorated until it was necessary to have the transplants five years ago. 

She gave birth at St Mary’s Hospital, London, under the care of leading surgeon Professor Nadey Hakim. 

Prof Hakim said: “It’s special because the fact of having had a transplant you need to be on anti-rejection therapy. Any medication could be detrimental to the foetus and these are very potent drugs. 

“With this little small baby we had to be very careful to have just enough medication on board so the baby doesn’t get damaged. 

“It should encourage patients who’ve had transplants to have a normal life – people will not say ‘I’ve had a transplant I can’t get pregnant’.

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Bariatric Surgery Before Pregnancy Benefits Moms, Babies

picture-35Women who get pregnant after having weight-loss surgery have a lower risk of maternal and newborn complications than pregnant women who are obese, according to U.S. researchers who analyzed 75 studies.

Data from those studies showed that bariatric surgery in the United States increased by 800 percent between 1998 and 2005 (from 12,480 to 113,500). Women accounted for 83 percent of procedures among patients ages 18 to 45. Between 2003 and 2005, more than 50,000 women in this age group had inpatient bariatric surgery each year, which accounted for 49 percent of all bariatric surgeries.

The review authors found that pregnant women who’d had bariatric surgery had lower maternal complication rates than obese women, including gestational diabetes (0 percent vs. 22.1 percent) and preeclampsia (0 percent vs. 3.1 percent). In addition, maternal weight gain was reduced in women who’d had bariatric surgery.picture-25

Newborn outcomes among women who’d had laparoscopic adjustable band surgery were similar or better than outcomes among obese women: premature delivery, 7.7 percent vs. 7.1 percent; low birth weight, 7.7 percent vs. 10.6 percent; overly large body (macrosomia), 7.7 percent vs. 14.6 percent.

The findings were published in the Nov. 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Research is needed to better delineate the extent to which surgery and subsequent weight loss improve fertility and pregnancy outcomes,” the review authors wrote. “Optimizing success for contraception and producing healthy neonates following surgery will require a multidisciplinary effort by surgeons, primary care physicians, reproductive fertility specialists, obstetricians, and patients.”

Having bariatric surgery during childbearing years may change a woman’s fertility following weight loss, alter nutritional requirements during pregnancy, or impact contraception, the researchers noted.

Complications of Bariatric surgery:

Early complications of these operations can include bleeding, infection, leaks from the site where the intestines are sewn together, and blood clots in the legs that can progress to the lungs and heart.

Examples of complications that may occur later include malnutrition, especially in patients who do not take their prescribed vitamins and minerals. In some cases, if the malnutrition is not addressed promptly, diseases such as pellagra, beri beri, and kwashiorkor may occur along with permanent damage to the nervous system. Other late complications include strictures (narrowing of the sites where the intestine is joined) and hernias.

Two kinds of hernias may occur after a patient has bariatric surgery. An incisional hernia is a weakness that sticks out from the abdominal wall’s fascia (connective tissue) and may cause a blockage in the bowel. An internal hernia occurs when the small bowel is displaced into pockets in the lining of the abdomen. These pockets are created when the intestines are sewn together. Internal hernias are considered more dangerous than incisional ones and need prompt attention to avoid serious complications.

Research indicates that about 10 percent of patients who undergo bariatric surgery may have unsatisfactory weight loss or regain much of the weight that they lost. Some behaviors such as frequent snacking on high-calorie foods or lack of exercise can contribute to inadequate weight loss. Technical problems that may occur with the operation, like a stretched pouch or separated stitches, may also contribute to inadequate weight loss.

Some patients may also require emotional support to help them through the postoperative changes in body image and personal relationships.


Bariatric surgery may be the next step for people who remain severely obese after trying nonsurgical approaches, especially if they have an obesity-related disease. Surgery to produce weight loss is a serious undertaking. Anyone thinking about undergoing this type of operation should understand what it involves. Answers to the following questions may help you decide whether weight-loss surgery is right for you.

Is surgery for you?

Are you:

– Unlikely to lose weight or keep it off over the long-term with     nonsurgical measures?

– Well informed about the surgical procedure and the effects of treatment?

-Determined to lose weight and improve your health?

– Aware of how your life may change after the operation (adjustment to the side effects of the operation, including the need to chew food well and inability to eat large meals)?

– Aware of the potential risk for serious complications, dietary restrictions, and occasional failures?

– Committed to lifelong healthy eating and physical activity habits, medical follow-up, and vitamin/mineral supplementation?

Remember: There are no guarantees for any method, including surgery, to produce and maintain weight loss. Success is possible only with maximum cooperation and commitment to behavioral change and medical follow-up—and this cooperation and commitment must be carried out for the rest of your life.


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God’s Smile From The Skies


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