Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The 5 Smallest Countries in the World

1. Vatican City

Size: 0.17 sq. mi. (0.44 km²)
Population: 783 (2005 census)
Location: Rome, Italy.

The size of a golf course, the Vatican City [ wiki | official website ] is the smallest country in the world. It's basically a walled enclave inside of Rome, Italy. It's so small that the entire country does not have a single street address.

The Vatican City may be small, but it is very powerful. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See, or the seat of the Catholic Church (basically its central government), which has over 1 billion people (about 1 in 6 people on the planet) as constituents.

The Vatican City was created in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty (which was signed by one of history's most repressive dictators, Benito Mussolini) and is ruled by the Pope, basically a non-hereditary, elected monarch who rules with absolute authority (he's the legislative, executive and judiciary all rolled into one) - indeed, the Pope is the only absolute monarch in Europe.

Another unique thing about the smallest country in the world is that it has no permanent citizens. Citizenship of the Vatican City is conferred upon those who work at the Vatican (as well as their spouses and children) and is revoked when they stop working there.

The Vatican City is guarded by the smallest and oldest regular army in the world, the Swiss Guard [wiki]. It was originally made up of Swiss mercenaries in 1506, now the army (also personal bodyguards of the Pope) number 100, all of which are Catholic unmarried male Swiss citizens. The Swiss Guard's Renaissance- style uniform was commonly attributed as to have been designed by Michelangelo - this was actually incorrect: the large "skirt" pants were a common style during the Renaissance. Only their uniforms seem antiquated: most of the Swiss Guards carry pistols and submachine-guns.

The official languages of the Vatican City are Latin and Italian. In fact, its ATMs are the only ones in the world that offer services in Latin! And here you thought that Latin is a dead language…

For a country that has no street address, the Vatican City has a very efficient post office: an international mail dropped in the Vatican will get there faster than one dropped in Italy just a few hundred yard away - in fact, there is more mail sent annually per inhabitant from this country (7,200 mails per person) than anywhere else in the world.

The Vatican City has a country code top level domain of .va - currently there are only 9 publicly known .va domains [wiki]. It also has a radio broadcasting service, called Vatican Radio [wiki], which was set up by Guglielmo Marconi (the Father of Radio) himself!

The country's economy is unique: it is the only non-commercial economy in the world. Instead, the Vatican City is supported financially by contributions of Catholics worldwide (called Peter's Pence - hey, even the Pope accepts credit cards !), the sale of postage stamps and publications, and tourism.

Lastly, as an ecclesiastical paradise, the Vatican City has no taxes.

2. Monaco

Size: 0.8 sq. mi. (1.96 km²)
Population: 35,657 (2006 estimate)
Location: French Riviera on the Mediterranean

Monaco [ wiki | official website ] is the second smallest country on Earth (it's roughly the size of New York's Central Park), yet it's the most densely populated (23,660 people per km²).

Actually, Monaco used to be much smaller than it is now - about 100 acres were reclaimed from the sea and added to its land size. At the narrowest, Monaco is only 382 yards wide!

The Principality of Monaco, its formal name, means that the territory is ruled by a prince. For the last seven centuries, Monaco was ruled by princes of the Grimaldi family from Genoa. (The whole thing started one night in 1297 when Fran├žois Grimaldi disguised himself as a monk and led a small army to conquer the fortress guarding the Rock of Monaco. The coat of arms of the Grimaldi bears the image of monks with swords!) Now, the Prince shares legislative authority with a National Council.

In 1861, Monaco relinquished half of its territory to France in exchange for cash and independence. When the reigning prince realized that most of Monaco's natural resources were on the land that got bartered away, he decided to bet the whole economy on … what else, gambling (see, casinos aren't only for American Indians, it's a time-tested, universal solution!)
And so began Monte Carlo [wiki], a region of Monaco well known for its glamorous casinos (a setting for Ian Fleming's first James Bond Novel Casino Royale [wiki]) and its Formula One Grand Prix.

In 1918, with France for military protection - the treaty, however, also stipulated that Monaco would lose its independence (and become French) should the reigning Grimaldi prince died without leaving a male heir! When Prince Rainier III took over, he was a bachelor and most Monegasques (that means people of Monaco) were gloomy about the country's future. However, he ended up marrying Hollywood actress Grace Kelly [wiki] - the marriage not only produced a male heir, it also helped burnish Monaco's image as a glamorous place to be for the wealthy. (Monaco can rest easy now, a new treaty with France stated that the Principality will remain independent even without a male heir).

For a long time, Monaco had no income taxes and was a tax haven for wealthy foreigners and international corporations. This caused a unique thing about Monaco's population: most of its residents are not native - in fact, only about 1 in 5 people are native Monegasques. After a long dispute with France, Monaco started to impose income taxes on all of its residents who are not born there. Its natural citizens are forbidden from entering casinos, but to make up for it, they do not have to pay any income taxes.

3. Nauru

Size: 8 sq. mi (21 km²)
Population: 13,005 (2005 estimate)
Location: Western Pacific Ocean

Nauru [ wiki ] is the world's smallest island nation, the smallest independent republic, and the only republic in the world without an official capital.

Nauru only has one significant source of income: phosphates from thousands of years' worth of guano or bird droppings. This proved to be both a boon and a bane for Nauruans - for a long time, its residents enjoyed a relatively high level of income as the country exported its phosphate like there's no tomorrow.

The government employed 95% of Nauruans, and lavished free medical care and schooling for its citizens. Most didn't take advantage of this offer: only one-third of children went on to secondary school. The adults didn't really work, either - office hours were flexible and the most popular pastime was drinking beer and driving the 20-minute circuit around the island. For a while, Nauru was a paradise - for a brief moment in 1970s, Nauruans were even amongst the richest people on the planet.

Nothing lasts forever and sure enough, Nauru's phosphate reserves soon dried up and left 90% of the island as a barren, jagged mining wasteland. Wasteful investments (like buying hotels only to leave them to rot) and gross incompetence by the government (former presidents used to commandeer Air Nauru's planes for holidays, leaving paying customers stranded on the tarmac!) didn't help either.

As if that's not bad enough, Nauru is also beset by obesity problem. Decades of leisurely lifestyle and high consumption of alcohol and fatty foods have left as many as 9 out of 10 people overweight! Nauru also has the world's highest level of type 2 diabetes - over 40% of its population is affected.

So now, Nauruans are poverty-stricken and fat - but they are trying to turn things around. With no natural resource left, in the 1990s, Nauru decided to become a tax haven and offered passports to foreign nationals for a fee. This attracted the wrong kind of money (but a lot of it): the Russian mafia funneled over $70 billion to the tiny island nation. Things got so bad that most big banks refused to handle transactions involving Nauru because of money laundering problems.

This led Nauru to another extraordinary money-making scheme: it became a detention camp for people applying for asylum to Australia!

4. Tuvalu

Size: 9 sq. mi. (26 km²)
Population: 10,441 (2005 estimate)
Location: South Pacific

Tuvalu [ wiki ] is basically a chain of low-lying coral islands, with its highest elevation being 16 feet or 5 meters above seal level. With total land area of just 9 square miles, Tuvalu is not only a teeny tiny island in the Pacific Ocean, it may not even exist in the next 50 years if sea level continue to rise (a controversial claim, nonetheless there were evacuation plans to New Zealand and other Pacific Islands). Even if the sea level does not rise, other problems such as population growth and coastal erosion still make Tuvalu a very vulnerable country.

During World War II, thousands of American troops were stationed on the islands of Tuvalu and the island became an Allied base . Airfields were quickly constructed and after the war, abandoned. In fact, today rusting wrecks can be found on the islands, a constant reminder of its role in the War.

Today, Tuvalu also derives income from renting out its Internet country code top-level domain .tv , as it is the abbreviation of the word 'television' . This scheme got off to a rocky start (the original company who tried to do it failed to raise the necessary funds), but finally proved to be the largest source of income for the country.

5. San Marino

Size: 24 sq. mi. (61 km²)
Population: 28,117 (2005 estimate)
Location: North-central Italy near the Adriatic coast.

With the formal name of The Most Serene Republic of San Marino [ wiki ], it's not surprising that San Marino has got lots of charms. Founded in AD 301 by a Christian stonecutter named (what else) Marino (or Marinus, depending on who you ask), who along with a small group of Christians, was seeking escape from religious persecution, San Marino is the world's oldest republic.

Its history belies its simple motto: "Liberty." Indeed, San Marino was such a good neighbor that it was hardly ever conquered by larger enemies (it was briefly conquered in the 1500s and the 1700s, for like a month each). Even when Napoleon gobbled most of Europe, he left San Marino alone, saying it was a model republic!

San Marino takes its government seriously:
for such a tiny country, San Marino has a very complex government structure, based on a constitution written in 1600. The country is ruled by an elected Council of 60, who appoints 2 captain regents (from opposing political parties, no less) to administer governmental affairs for six-month term. Talk about preserving liberties through division of authority!

Before World War II, San Marino was amongst the poorest countries in Europe. Today, with more than 3 million tourists visiting every year (half of San Marino's income is derived from tourism), the people of San Marino are amongst the world's richest people.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hookah is as hazardous as cigarette

As cigarette bans have proliferated in recent years, hookah lounges have become a popular alternative, in part because the flavoured smoke is believed to be less harmful than cigarette smoke.

But research suggests otherwise.

It is true that in hookahs, also known as water pipes, the smoke is often flavoured and filtered through water. The problem is that people who use hookahs typically inhale far more smoke than cigarette smokers, exposing them to potentially higher levels of nicotine, carbon monoxide and other chemicals. Most studies show that small water pipes produce the highest levels of carbon monoxide, followed by cigarettes and then large water pipes. One extensive report on hookahs was published in 2005 by the World Health Organisation.

It found that in a single smoking session, cigarette smokers typically took 8 to 12 puffs and inhaled 0.5 to 0.6 litres of smoke over five to seven minutes. In contrast, hookah smokers may take 50 to 200 puffs of up to a litre of smoke each during a single session. “The water pipe smoker may therefore inhale as much smoke during one session as a cigarette smoker would inhale consuming 100 or more cigarettes,”

Cholesterol tests at 15 months of age may prevent heart disease later in life

Astudy has revealed that children of 15 months of age should have their cholesterol levels tested to prevent heart disease later in life. Familial hypercholesterolaemia, meaning high cholesterol running in families, affects about two in every 1000 people and causes very high levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad cholesterol’ in the blood. And high cholesterol carries a higher risk of death from coronary heart disease.

According to the study, if the treatment is done when the level of cholesterol is low, the risk reduces substantially, but there is uncertainty over what screening strategy is likely to be effective.

So, keeping this factor in mind researchers at Barts and the London Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry investigated published studies on total and LDL cholesterol in people with and without familial hypercholesterolaemia to determine the efficiency of screening and the best age to do this. The researchers identified 13 studies involving 1,907 cases and 16,221 controls and found that the screening was most effective if done in early childhood (1-9 years).

88 per cent of affected individuals were detected when the screening was done, while screening newborns and young adults was less effective. Looking at the result of the analysis, researchers suggested that children should be screened at about 15 months of age and it can be done when they visit their general practice for routine vaccinations.

Apples during pregnancy help lower asthma, wheezing risk in kids

Eating an apple a day during pregnancy will not only kept the doctor away for expecting mums, but it can also help lower the risk of their kids developing asthma and wheezing. The finding is based on a study published in the September issue of the journal Thorax in which researchers found that when women ate apples during pregnancy, their offspring tended to have a significantly lower risk of asthma and wheezing when they reached the age of five.

As a part of their study, the researchers followed 1253 motherchild pairs and studied their dietary intake. The study also backs up the findings of an earlier study published in the European Respiratory Journal in June this year that found a link between apple juice consumption and a reduction in wheezing among children.

Among children who experienced what was characterised as “current wheeze” (where the child had wheezing or whistling in the chest in the last 12 months), there was a significant, dose response association between consumption of apple juice and a reduced incidence of the wheezing.

The researchers found that drinking apple juice made from concentrate and consumption of bananas one or more times a day (compared to drinking apple juice or eating bananas less than once a month) was directly associated with improvement of wheezing occurrences.

Authors of the Thorax paper suggest that apples help kids because they have a powerful phytochemical content, which includes flavonoids, isoflavonoids, and phenolic acids.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Bubbly and why it sparkles

All Champagne is sparkling, but not all sparkling wine is champagne — even if it’s from a place with that name!

The Swiss village of Champagne lies on the border with France, around 400 kilometers from the more famous winegrowing region of the same name. Although the two Champagnes share a name, they have been locked in a bitter 30-year struggle over the right to use it on their locally produced wine. Recently, the bigger Champagne won, chalking up yet another victory against those who would usurp its identity as a premium brand.

Although Switzerland’s Champagne has existed since the ninth century, the European Court of Justice ruled last week that its wine would have to be given a new name rather than infringe on the billion-dollar prestige of France’s Champagne region, reports Forbes. According to village Mayor Marc-Andre Cornu, the Swiss vintners lost on a technicality.
The story goes back to 1974, when France and Switzerland picked the names of wine regions, or ‘appellations,’ that they wanted to protect almost as copyrighted brands.

Naturally, France signed up its world-famous ‘Champagne,’ but Switzerland ignored its identically named tiny village in favour of more established names such as ‘Bonvillars’ and ‘Corcelles.’ In India, there’s no such confusion as there’s a big price distinction between Champagne and the Indian sparkling wines.

The trend exits here now, but the numbers are not as big as they could be, according to Amaan Kidwai, food and beverage manager of a leading five-star hotel. “Most of our guests prefer sparkling wines — they are a cheaper version and are easily affordable,” he says.

At the hotel’s sold-out Sunday brunches is offered a crisp, dry German sparkling wine and Kidwai reports that over 50 per cent of the brunchers opt for it over beer and other spirits. “We finish over 18 bottles over Sunday afternoon,” he says, “There are more people opting for Champagne and sparkling wine these days, either during celebratory functions or as an aperitif.” While the Indian wines, which retail at about Rs 500, sell at Rs 2,000 in the hotel, they also have a few takers for champagne — Moet et Chandon at Rs 3,000 for the small bottle, Rs 8,000 for Taittinger and Rs 12,000 for the premium Dom Perignon.

Personal stylist Manjusha Maheshwari is a long-time fan of Champagne, and admits Veuve Clicquot is a favourite. “Of course if I had a choice I would opt for Champagne over sparkling wine. If I don’t I’ll settle for the Indian sparkling,” she says, “I like the bubbly feeling, the taste and I love the qualities it represents.”

All About Controlling Acidity

Acidity is usually manifested as a burning sensation in the digestive tract. The reason is that a high concentration of digestive enzymes and acids are forming in the tract. The main reason for this is irregular meal times. If the gap between meals is very long then the acid collects in the empty stomach and sometimes rises in the esophagus making a burning sensation come up towards the throat.

The first rule is not to keep the body empty of food or water early in the morning. When you wake up, drink two large glasses or one litre of warm water to clear the tract and then some warm milk or milky coffee/tea. The coffee and tea are best avoided if the acidity is severe. An hour later breakfast may be eaten. If breakfast is eaten at 8 am, follow it with fresh fruit and plenty of water by 11 am. This may be followed by lunch at 1 pm. The gap to dinner is another 7-8 hours so it’s best to have a 4 pm snack of a glass of milk and two Marie biscuits and a 6 pm snack of a fruit. Dinner should be between 7-9 pm and if you stay up late then you may have another fruit or a cup of warm milk so you don’t sleep on an empty stomach. Some food causes more irritation then others. Green chillies and other spices like chilly powder increases the burning sensation and must be strictly controlled. Very sour foods like citric fruit, lime juice and too much tamarind or tomato may also increase the irritation. It’s not just spicy foods that cause a problem but also very rich fatty foods, as fats take 6-8 hours to get digested and the enzymes and acids of this digestion are lying in the tract for such a long duration and this causes irritation.

Pickles and coconut chutney are bad for acidity so should be banned for a month or two till you get some relief. These two are not only spicy but also very high in fat. All deep-fried snacks and papads should also be avoided. Also oily non-veg dishes like fried mutton and beef are dangerous because of the fat in them.

You might suffer from acidity if you drink an inadequate quantity of water. All those who have an acidity problem must drink at least three litres of water daily. Buttermilk also has a soothing effect on the digestive tract. But cigarettes, tobacco and paan can increase acidity. Stress and tension also increase the production of acids, so if the stress is still severe then the acidity will continue. Untreated acidity could lead to the formation of peptic ulcers in the digestive tract. Walking helps relieve stress and this may help reduce acid formation. So combine walk and water in your life for the best results.

Monday, September 10, 2007

5 Signs You Are On Autopilot

I was on autopilot for many years. Sure, I was traveling through life with my eyes open and my hands on the wheel. But it seemed as if I was heading toward some pre-determined destination that had been chosen for me by others. In addition, it seemed that whenever I turned the wheel to guide me toward this destination, that there was no conscious thought behind my actions.

Are you on autopilot? Admittedly this can be a tough question to answer. First, it is always hard to be brutally honest with oneself. If you realize that you are traveling through life on autopilot, you may just need to make some big changes. Second, how can you tell if you are? Personally, I believe the best method is to look for particular signs. The following are 5 signs that are either relevant to my life or the lives of some close friends of mine.

1. You know exactly where you will be in 5 years (and it depresses you!)

In many circumstances, knowing where you will be in 5 years time is a good thing as it is a sign that you have direction, goals, and purpose. But if you know exactly where you will be, and it depresses you, it is time to wake up, grab control of the wheel, and change course. I have a few friends who studied accounting at university and yet hated the idea of becoming an accountant. Fast forward 5 years to the present and guess what? They are accountants, and they hate it.

2. Your career is what your parents wanted you to do
Many of us make decisions, whether consciously or unconsciously, to please other people (eg our parents). If you are happy with your choice of career then there is probably nothing wrong with this. But it may be worth looking in the mirror and asking yourself a few tough questions. For example, am I really happy with my choice of career? Am I doing this because it is what I want to do? Or am I doing this to please someone else?

3. You went straight from school to college to work

Have you ever taken some time out to explore the world, find new interests that you never knew existed, or just get to know yourself better? One piece of advice I was given by my parents was this: finish your study (ie school and college) first and then travel. Was this good advice? Maybe. Maybe not. The scary thing for them was that I would take off midway through my university course and then, upon return, would no longer want to complete it. In my opinion, if someone returns home after travel and is not compelled to finish their study, it is a fairly good sign that it does not reflect their calling.

4. You did well in school and automatically chose a college course that was the hard to gain acceptance into (eg medicine or law)

I did quite well at school. Whilst I was not eligible to study medicine or law, I could basically do whatever else I chose. I remember feeling that because I had a relatively high score, I should choose a course that required a high score for entry. The problem with this attitude is that I automatically discarded a number of other potential career paths because I felt I was above them.

5. Your interests and/ or hobbies are all the same as from when you were a child

Once again, this is not necessarily a bad thing. But consider this example from my life: I began playing tennis from a young age, and played competitively at a fairly high level for a number of years. At 21, I decided I wasn't having fun anymore and stopped playing. In retrospect, I should have made this decision much earlier as by the time I quit I had not been enjoying myself for approximately 3 years.

Why hadn't I quit earlier? I believe it was because I started playing from such an early age and just didn't know any different. Putting away the tennis racquet, though, was one of the best decisions I have ever made (although, as a side-note, these days I enjoy playing on a social basis). I started to spend time pursuing other interests that had lied dormant because tennis had consumed my life.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Four Stages of Life

Monday, September 03, 2007

Some body

somebody is very proud of you.
somebody is thinking of you.
somebody is caring about you.
somebody misses you.
somebody wants to talk to you.
somebody wants to be with you.
somebody hopes you are not in trouble.
somebody is thankful for the support you have provided.
somebody wants to hold your hand.
somebody hopes everything turns out all right.
somebody wants you to be happy.
somebody want you to find him/her.
somebody wants to give you a gift.
somebody wants to hug you.
somebody thinks you ARE a gift.
somebody admires your strength.
somebody wants to protect you.
somebody can't wait to see you.
somebody loves you for who you are.
somebody treasures your spirit.
somebody is glad that you are their friend.
somebody want to get to know you better.
somebody wants to be near you.
somebody wants you to know they are there for you.
somebody would do anything for you.
somebody want to share their dreams with you.
somebody is alive because of you.
somebody needs your support.
somebody will cry when they read this.
somebody needs you to have faith in them.
somebody trusts you.
somebody hears a song that reminds them of you.

Wonderful Quotes for the Day!

Cute Flower Decoration

Someone always gets a new idea about how to present flowers...This one is unique!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Sea Shell Temple at China

"Friendship is the bridge between earth and heaven"





The Tip - How to Air Kiss

Popularised by Hollywood, air kissing is, by definition, to purse the lips as if you are kissing. It’s typically used on people that you are expected to be social with, but don’t really like. It’s also a great way to prevent smearing makeup, and helps keep diseases from spreading. For those you do like, the traditional kiss on the cheek will do just fine.

• Identify a person for whom an air kiss would be appropriate, preferably before they see you. Loudly say their name as if you are thrilled to see them. If you can’t remember their name, a term of endearment such as “darling” or “honey” can also be used. People around you should get the impression this is a dear, dear friend you haven’t seen in years. The more you can feign sincerity, the better.

• Lean toward them, leading with your cheek and tilting your head slightly, aiming for one side of their head. Purse your lips as if you were going to kiss them, but instead, kiss the air. A quiet kissing sound is fine, or a loud ‘MWAH’ sound is acceptable too, especially if you want others around you to know that an air kiss has taken place. Some people allow the cheeks to touch, but typically this is frowned upon due to the makeup smudging and disease spreading factors.

• Repeat on the other side of the person you are greeting. Anything less makes you look insincere, or worse, an amateur

5 sure shot turn-ons for women

In love but lost in the crowd? Are you yet another average Joe in her list of guys she knows? So what does it take to break the mould? Contrary to popular perception, it takes little to snatch the attention of the love of your life. Here are a few sure shot turn-ons that will have the woman of your dreams just begging for more of you!

• Get a sense of humour: Certainly something that rates very high in the priority list of most modern women. You might need to work on it a bit and in the process a few gaffes are not only forgiven but also expected. However beware of sexist or chauvinist jokes.

• A cup full of confidence and self-worth: Yes, if you need to be high on something, it’s definitely confidence. The moment you start cribbing about life or hurdles on your way to your goals, you’ve lost her. Get a vision. Women love that. They like to believe that they are a part of a bigger scheme of things. However be prepared for this to be a flash in the pan as with years it might also turn into a general crib that you don’t have enough time for her. But if a large part of the vision was for her benefit then rest assured things will turn out idyllic.

• Be brave: Remember all those scenes in films where the hero bashes up a villain and enters his love interest’s heart on a fast track? Well, it actually works. You might be extremely intelligent and sensitive but if you can’t don the mantle of a ‘knight in shining armour,’ you are as good as a goner. If you have to, pick your battles - even words will do in some situations- but never try to escape the situation.

• Compassion and sensitivity: Be kind to children, animals and the elderly. And there is no exception to this rule. Again, a foolproof step, this concern can safely be extended to the larger issues that plague the mankind including environment and poverty.

• Be in charge: A decisive man - in charge of his life, his career goals, his reactions and yet hopelessly in love – completes the elusive picture of a ‘perfect man’ that most women seek.

Well, these are the very essentials that will floor your girl. But don’t discount the importance of gifts and flowers- for a dash of spark to your now glowing persona. Get these basics in place and you are bang on your way to your woman’s heart

Perfect Table Manners

Worried about how to handle things at a formal sit-down dinner?

• Place your napkin on your lap. It is an old cliche but an excellent display of table manners. Getting the napkin off the table leaves room for other things and signals the wait staff that your seat is occupied for dinner, allowing them to get an accurate count of meals to be served at your table.

• Pass items around the table, when you are asked to pass the salt with the pepper and hand it to the person sitting next to you. Items such as salt and pepper or the breadbasket should be passed around the table, not across the table, clock wise. When one of these items is handed to you, help yourself and then pass it on.

• Eat on the left; drink on the right. Your bread and butter plate, salad plate, dessert bowl or other vessels meant for you to eat from will be located to the left of your place setting. Your water glass, wine glass and other glasses necessary for the meal can be found to the right of your place setting.

• Use one fork at a time. When several forks are part of the place setting, begin with the outside fork and work your way toward the center with each successive course. Use the same technique with the spoons. Forks or spoons set at the top of the place setting are for later courses, usually dessert. The wait staff should move those items into position at the left or right of the place setting when it is time for the appropriate course.

• Begin eating only once everyone is served. Think of it as a race; it would be unfair if anyone got a head start. And, of course, you may have heard it is rude to eat in front of someone. Wait until everyone has food, then begin eating.

• Butter your bread on the plate. Keep the bread on your plate while applying butter to it. Holding bread in the palm of your hand while buttering is a terrible breach of table manners.

• Leave your silverware at four o’clock to indicate you are finished. Think of your plate like the face of a clock. When you are finished eating, put your knife and fork together on the plate with the handles positioned where the number four would be. This is a signal to the wait staff that you are finished eating and your plate can be cleared away.

• Use your knife, never your fingers, to push food onto your fork.
Folding your napkin diagonally will help keep it from slipping off your lap.

• Never place dirty silverware on the tablecloth.

• Do not leave your spoon sticking out of the bowl or cup; instead, place it on the liner plate beneath the bowl or on the saucer.

• Do not speak with food in your mouth. Taking small bites will facilitate conversation during the meal.

Teens are junking sleep

Young people today are surviving on what experts call ‘junk sleep’.

ARECENT UK-based survey has found that teenagers hooked on TV or computer games get only four hours’ rest a night. This is because they secretly play video games or watch TV until the early hours of the morning. One in three secondary school pupils survives on short bursts of ‘junk sleep’ and turns up exhausted for lessons the next day, according to the survey.

Dr Chris Idzikowski, from the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, in a statement has said: “This is an incredibly worrying trend. What we are seeing is the emergence of ‘junk sleep’ — sleep that is of neither the length nor quality to feed the brain with the rest it needs to perform properly at school.”

Ninety-nine per cent of the teenagers surveyed said they had a TV, music system or phone in their bedroom while two-thirds claimed to have all three. More than half of the boys, aged 12 to 14, also had a games console in their room. A fifth of the boys in this age group admitted their quality of sleep was affected by leaving the TV or computer switched on.

The story’s not very different in Bangalore. “The biggest mistake most parents commit is to allow a TV in their teenager’s room,” says sleep therapist Salomi Nathan. “The bombardment of images on the eye agitates the senses and numbs the brain. It takes a while before sleep overcomes this state. Invariably, in the morning, if the TV is still on and the child is found sleeping, he or she hasn’t had over four hours of sleep.”

It’s the same with video games and playstations. Rahul Ashok, a 19-yearold, has a playstation in his bedroom that he hits post dinner. “I keep the volume down and often play through the night. I can do with 2-3 hours of sleep,” he says, but his grades are not something that he’ll talk about. He’s already flunked II PUC twice.

Having friends to stay for “sleepovers” on school nights also increases the risk of children missing out on proper rest. “Sleepovers and combined studies are common among high-schoolers, but the fact remains that the excitement levels at these meetings are so high that sleeping is the last thing they think of,” says Ratna Chandran, a parent.

Student counsellor Judy M says, “Students getting early relationships and experiencing the first twinges of romance also exhibit the same sleep patterns as those who are hooked to computers or games. Their hormones are raging and they are generally in a state of high excitement. They need assistance to focus and should be taught the importance of sleep.”

Another common device that keeps youngsters awake, according to most Bangalore parents, is the mobile phone. “They’re busy SMSing their friends late into the night and lights out means nothing to them,” says one parent.

The Sleep Council has warned that its results showed parents were being too lenient compared to previous generations by failing to impose a strict “lights out”. According to Salomi, “The onus finally rests with the parents to see that the youngsters get the required 8-9 hours of sleep. Poor quality sleep is linked to weight gain and underperformance at school. There is also evidence that a lack of sleep can increase cravings for sugary and high-fat foods.”

The Sleep Council, which promotes the importance of a good night’s rest to health, found that...

30 per cent of teenagers get only 4-7 hours sleep on a school night
25 per cent fall asleep more than once a week while watching the TV, listening to music or with other electrical items running
Only 10 per cent give any thought to the quality of their sleep
40 per cent admit they generally felt tired in the day
Related Posts with Thumbnails