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Pissing My Days Away


Water Fasting

An amazing 10 day hunger game that helped me lose 5 kilos 

Q: Is there a cure-all treatment for high blood pressure, migraines, pains, arthritis, and, oh ya, fatness

A: A strict diet of absolutely nothing but H2O helped me lose 5 kilos in just 7 days.

Water1The Gandhi (Mahatma that is) reminded us to always “chew our water”. I’d  always put him down as a bit of a loony till I packed my bags and hopped into my friend Jessy’s car at the crack of dawn for an extraordinary journey that would put me to a diet of…guess what…nothing but pure H2O. 

Day zero of a 10 day personal discovery of the power of water.

indian-mapIt was 10am, the effects of early morning were only just wearing off, when I woke up and realised I was in a car with a driver next to me and PK at the back with ol Jess. Everyone slightly tentative behind a false bonhomie – understandable, as we were all leaving our comfort zones and heading into the bleak world of foodlessness. We stoically whizzed down Mysore Road, took a left at Srirangapatnam, blurred past the flapping avian life of Ranganthithu Bird Sanctuary, without even a glance at the neat hedges skirting the coffee estates of Coorg, we entered the Brahmagiri Wildlife sanctuary into Gods Own Country of potholes and sullen locals. It was early evening when we eventually reached our destination in the foothills of the Western ghats – Prathyasha, the detox nature cure centre ( Our home for the next 10 days.

Mahatma Gandhi would have sobbed into his dhoti.

Anyone, however spiritually evolved, would baulk at the thought of 7 or 10 days of life without as much as a morsel passing their lips. A life dedicated to a daily morning insertion of a sharp nozzle into ones behind from an enema kit. And the rest of the day filled with the loud clang of a jug of water being placed on the bedside table. For company you have the deafening sound of a large quartz clock ticking away on a wall in front of your bed. Very daunting at best.

Prathyasha, a wellness centre without the whorehouse comforts of a spa. 

This nature cure centre in Alakode is run by a tall avuncular retired State Bank employee Dr Sukumaran, who made a career shift late in life after figuring bankers are essentially wankers. The dusty ledgers he had to pointlessly lift and fill up every day was doing nothing for his asthma. So off he went and got himself a degree in Naturopathy from Dharmastala in Karnataka. For a man who doesn’t know a word of any other language but Malayalam this must have been quite an achievement.

Prathyasha,  ‘doctor’ Sukumaran is in.

On entering his office one quickly realises there were going to be no expensive scans or blood tests here. Sukumaran quietly tells you (in Malayalam) to throw away all your medicines, ideas and medical reports;  and instead prods you with a pocket sized metal nail and asks you to yell when it pains. Based on which point of prodding your screams start he figures which area of your body needs help. Thankfully my aches and pains were relatively minor, so all Sukumaran got from me was a light ‘ouch’. After filling in a very basic form and hopping on to the weighing scale, I was led off to the rooms upstairs. Mine was a single with attached loo, a fan, a bed, basic mattress, pillow and the all-important nail crudely driven into the wall to hang the all-important enema gizmo on.

Food, a recreational drug for the mouth. 

Oil, butter, ghee, booze, samosas, aloo tikki, masala vada, prawn pepper fry, burgers and French fries. We eat this for years. And years. We eat, and eat, and fucking eat, what isn’t good for us. Food, salt, sugar, and fat, combined with chemicals in processed foods, trick the brain in the same way as cocaine, and the brain flushes our bodies with dopamine, perhaps the most blissful, and addictive, homemade chemical we have. Over time too much of this toxic stuff overloads our livers and kidneys, whose job it is to get rid of waste. As this material accumulates in our system, it can lead to inflammation and all sorts of sicknesses. 

Day 1 : The withdrawals.

As the body begins to realise its favourite fix is not forthcoming, it begins retaliating by going into a sulk. Life without food is headaches and restlessness. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t read. Music—even soft, ridiculously washy music—seemed jarring. These withdrawal symptoms (headache, dizziness, pain in back, abdomen) of fasting is a result of the absence of regular poisons into the body like tea, coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, spices, mustard and other stimulating processed foods we use to suppress or ‘smother’ all uncomfortable feeling. The only way of dealing with this is to go ‘horizontal’ by curling up in bed with a cover and trying to sleep it off.

Fasting is the best appetiser available.

Water fasting allows the body to rest, detoxify, and to heal. During fasting the body moves into the same kind of detoxification cycle that it normally enters during sleep. It uses its vital energy during a fast, not for digesting food, but for cleansing the body of accumulated toxins and healing any parts of it that are ill. As a fast progresses the body consumes everything that it can that is not essential to bodily functioning. This includes bacteria, viruses, fibroid tumors, waste products in the blood, any build up around the joints, and stored fat. 

Day 2 : The enema.

“What’s the difference between an enema and a rose? The rose goes in your button hole.”

Any form of travel normally blocks me up and disrupts my morning dump. And the sight of the enema kit all nicely packed in plastic just helped exacerbate that feeling by making my backside clench shut with a vice like grip. After hours of agonising whether to insert or not-to-insert, my throbbing headache made the decision for me. P5Surprisingly the unsightly act of bending a bit and thrusting the coconut oil smeared nozzle into oneself wasn’t as traumatic as I thought, and no, it didn’t hurt one bit. It clenses the lower intestine and creates peristalsis which leads to rumblings and a 100 metre dash for the loo. Enemas help in avoiding the re-absorption of waste matter thrown into the colon and removes the waste instead.

Day 3 : Massages and mud packs.

By now it gets better. Actually it noticeably gets pretty serene. The thought of food is far away and one leaps out of bed bright, energetic, unreasonably cheerful. The mind is clearer and ones mouth actually begins to taste sweet. After the ritual enema, days are filled with the ‘slap-slap’ sound of someone beating a beached whale with a hockey stick. This is the massage therapy that literally bangs all the fat out of you. It’s followed by tit-freezing mud packs and a localised pounding with two cloth pouches called ‘kiri’. By the end of the day ones quite bushed and hits the sack and out like a light by 10.

Fasting is a biological process and belongs to the world of life. Animals do it all the time. A sick or wounded animal uses fasting to repair and rejuvenate. He rests and fasts while licking his wound. You notice, animals also fast while hibernating. To humans it is mind-body care that’s a means of restoring health. Fasting is a preventive program that can slow down ageing by removing the accumulation of damage. 

Day 4 : “Doing nothing, intelligently.” 

By now the mind is much clearer and I even experience vivid dreams in the night. Something I could never do earlier. Fasters have a heightened sense of smell, and I could easily smell rain long before it arrived. The torrential downpours that show up like clockwork every evening drench the greenery and suffuse the whole landscape with a glow that transmits happiness all around. That’s why for best results of a fast, one needs, calm, comfort and cheerful surroundings. Prathyasha lets one relax and take life easy, get a lot of fresh air, sunshine and yoga – it’s as far removed from our modern, high-caloric civilisation as possible.

The body shifts from one fuel source to another during fasting. Normally the primary form of energy the body uses for energy is glucose, a type of sugar. Most of this is extracted or converted from the food we eat. Throughout the day, the liver stores excess sugar in a special form called glycogen that it can call on as energy levels fall between meals. Once the liver’s stores of glycogen are gone, the body begins to shift over to what is called ketosis or ketone production – the use of fatty acids as fuel instead of glucose. Or fat attack.

Days 5-7 : Bed, boredom, bathroom. 

In between the many trips to the loo for yet another pee, one gets this feeling that something profoundly necessary is happening inside you. Old Philippus Paracelsus, M.D. (1493-1541), a Swiss physician and alchemist, considered a father of Western medicine put it well when he said, “Fasting is the greatest remedy, the physician within”. And he’s right, I’ve already lost four kilos, and the knees are surprisingly pain-free. But still, the day’s stretch on interminably. Fasting can be a lonely experience, and I was really fortunate to have plenty of company to play cards, chat and go on short walks with.

The abundance of food, greater wealth, shorter working hours, easy mobility and labour-saving devices have led to obesity. In reality, all these man-made things should mean we need LESS food. Freedom from food enables one to discover undreamt depths of the meaning to life.

Days 7-10 : After fasting one will look at food as medicine. 

Post fast one feels light, energetic, cheerful with clear skin where the whites of the eyes look Photoshopped. I felt reborn. On my first morning among the eaters, down five kilos, it took me an hour to drink my juice. In the afternoon it was oranges and watermelon. The next day just salads. This weaning back process took three days. Now food is suddenly meant to be well chewed and enjoyed. Another thing to note, is after breaking a fast (safely and carefully), you’ll find that your bowel movements behave as if they’re on steroids.

Bottom line : I’m a user. I do food.

Once back in the big bad world controlling food intake is the biggest challenge, especially for a person like me who can get addicted to anything nice. That’s why a diet required to sustain the tremendous effects of a fast is rigorously difficult and, for many, probably unrealistic. Fasting is not the main event but just a tool to get you to radically change the way you eat. For now, I’m going to see if that old, sad approach called moderation has any sway here. It’s never worked for me before. I tend to want my tandoori chicken and your whole family’s tandoori too. Wish me luck.

PS: This 10 day trip, my holiday to health was probably the most sensible thing I’ve ever done. Tomorrow if I see the fat and sloth building up or feel the pain coming back, seizing my knee joints, I know now that I won’t be reaching for pills. Particularly when a slug of water and doing nothing at all seems to work so much better.

Things to remember when going to Prathyasha in Allakod, Kannur District : 

  • Don’t expect anything fancy. These guys have no concept of ‘Hospitality’, but they are kind, helpful and polite. A place for the spiritually aware.
  • Ask for Single Room No. 10 or Family Room No. 15.
  • Pack 4 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of jeans, 2 white shirts, 6 t-shirts, 2 good towels, 4 thin towels (called ‘thorts’ in Malayalam), 2 sleeping shorts, a water bottle, mug, Surf (half kg pack), 2 medium soap, toothpaste, Gillette foam (small), small coconut oil with small dish, decent rubber chappals, watch, playing cards, Uno (or some card games), a home pillow is a good idea, a yoga mat if possible, 2 books, iPad, phone (BSNL works best), the all-important enema kit and shikakai powder are provided.
  • The main man’s name is Mr Sukumaran; the son is Vimal, Tulisi is the major domo, the male masseurs name is Jeetu.
  • Treatment in Prathyasha is based on a branch of science called Natural Hygiene which is the practice of self-healing without drugs; but by fasting, diet control, massage, exercise, fresh air, sunshine and yoga.
  • October-February is a good time. Average cost works out to about 1K (US$ 20) a day.
  • Distance from Bangalore: 360 kms.
  • Nearest airport – Calicut
  • Nearest railhead – Kannur

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WhatsApp proves why advertising sucks and the mobile phone rocks

WhatsApp’s founders Brian Acton, left, and Jan Koum at their office in California.
WhatsApp, the messaging app, which lets people send text messages and share photos and other stuff without incurring charges from telecom firms has vowed never to sell advertising on their site. It collects no information about users beyond their phone numbers. So you’re right to wonder why it was just acquired by the world’s second-largest mobile advertising company.

On Wednesday, Feb 19, Facebook announced its largest acquisition ever, saying it would pay at least $16 billion for WhatsApp’s text messaging application with 450 million users around the world who pay little or no money for it. The one lakh crore price tag is the most ever paid for a venture-capital-backed company. It also means Facebook believes WhatsApp is worth over $42 per user, making the company more valuable than household names like Southwest Airlines, Sony, American Airlines, Ralph Lauren, Marriot International and Campbell Soup.

Most of all, the deal emphasises that these are early days in the transition from personal computers to mobile phones. The lack of real estate on a mobile phone means less advertising, more relevant content and the viral nature of its appeal is how WhatsApp has reached 450 million users (72% active) without spending a penny on marketing.

The obscene price tag is also the price Facebook is paying for neglecting the mobile phone market and sees this acquisition as the easy way to hop onto the bandwagon and lead the way for the world once more.

The mobile phone is the future, but happens to advertising?

Jan Koum the ex-Ukrainian boss of WhatsApp, has a well-known aversion to collecting people’s data and plastering advertising over his app, Here’s what he had to say in his blog a few years ago –

“When we sat down to start our own thing together three years ago we wanted to make something that wasn’t just another ad clearinghouse. We wanted to spend our time building a service people wanted to use because it worked and saved them money and made their lives better in a small way. We knew that we could charge people directly if we could do all those things. We knew we could do what most people aim to do every day: avoid ads.


No games. No ads. No gimmicks. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.

No one wakes up excited to see more advertising, no one goes to sleep thinking about the ads they’ll see tomorrow. We know people go to sleep excited about who they chatted with that day (and disappointed about who they didn’t). We want WhatsApp to be the product that keeps you awake… and that you reach for in the morning. No one jumps up from a nap and runs to see an advertisement.

Advertising isn’t just the disruption of aesthetics, it insults to your intelligence and the interrupts your train of thought. At every company that sells ads, a significant portion of their engineering team spends their day tuning data mining, writing better code to collect all your personal data, upgrading the servers that hold all the data and making sure it’s all being logged and collated and sliced and packaged and shipped out… And at the end of the day the result of it all is a slightly different advertising banner in your browser or on your mobile screen.

Remember, when advertising is involved you the user are the product.”


It’s estimated that Koum holds a 45% stake in the company, while Acton holds over 20%.

At WhatsApp, engineers spend all their time fixing bugs, adding new features and ironing out all the little intricacies in our task of bringing rich, affordable, reliable messaging to every phone in the world. That’s their product and that’s their passion. Data isn’t even in the picture. They are simply not interested in any of it. WhatsApp has just 32 software engineers, which means that each one supports some 14m users. And the volume of messages it is handling is said to be the equivalent of all the SMS messages transmitted by the world’s telecoms companies. WhatsApp transmits 18 billion messages a day, but doesn’t send any itself.

The future certainly belongs to the mobile phone and because they are so personal and private to the user that putting an advertisement there is not a good idea.

When people ask why WhatsApp charges for its service, the company says “Have you considered the alternative?”.

PostScript: Before founding WhatsApp, both Brian Acton and Jan Koum were actually turned down for jobs at Facebook.

3 Very Short Stories


I was a money lender in my last life. I took gold, jewels and sometimes even food from poor people when they were down and out. I once even refused a dying man money because the two candlesticks he came into my shop with were old and worthless. He begged me to think about it and said he’d come back the next day. In the evening I scraped the green paint from the candlestands to find they were solid gold underneath. I hurriedly stuck the green paint back and decided to give the old man a few rupees for them when he came the next day. He didn’t show up. Neither did he come the next day. Or the day after that. I melted down one candlestand and used the money to build myself a huge mansion. When I died, I was sent back as this parking meter because God thought taking money was what I was best at. Incidentally, the old man did return. He demanded his candlestands back. When I told him I just had one left, he used that to kill me.


I am about a hundred years old. I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in a small iron casting workshop run by a very old man. From there I was sent to the local park where I spent many summers under an old oak tree surrounded by squirrels, woodpeckers, mountain quail and grouse. I have seen murderers, lovers, beggars, old men, soldiers, priests, prostitutes and even one presidential candidate discussing his election strategy. Many years later the park made way for a large shopping mall and I was sent to Bangalore, India by the Rotary Club as a gift. Here too I’ve seen my share of murderers, thieves, ladies of ill repute, beggars, lovers, honest men, wise men, oafs, dolts, fools, atheletes and ofcourse the politician who discusses his evil intentions in great detail. One thing I can tell you for sure – people are the same wherever in the world you are. Another thing, always check for wet paint before you sit on a park bench.


When I think back and reflect on the amount of wine I’ve drunk I shudder with guilt. I’m sure I’ve imbibed enough to have made a thousand enemies, broken at least two hundred laws, rubbed up thousands of people the wrong way, hurt at least a hundred waiters, defaced ten kilometers of public property, pissed on thousands of walls, made many dozens of women blanch at the thought of me, dropped and broken thousands of glasses and driven scores of people off the road. But when I look at the crimson wine again I think of all the workers who earn their livelihood toiling hard in the fields just so the grape gets to a factory. I think of all the dreams that would be shattered, homes broken and educations ruined should I stop putting my lips around the rim of glass holding this juice of the earth. So I feel it’s better to let their lives bloom than me be selfish and worry about my bloated liver.

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