Into the Lion’s Den

August 28, 2008

Don’t go, I was told. Don’t – under any circumstances – go. He will grill you, he will bake you, he will boil you. He will tear you limb from limb and feed you to the wolves. At the very least, he will reduce you to tears. In the worst case, he will completely destroy you and several of your future unborn generations.

They were not talking about a meeting with Lord Voldemort – only the friendly neighbourhood income tax officer. There were some questionable (objectionable?) transactions in my tax return of some years ago, and I had been summoned for a hearing.

All the dire warnings notwithstanding, I was determined to go. I wanted my tax consultant to represent me (these folks know the rules and guidelines, so they can hold their own – or so I hope; that’s what I pay them for anyway), but I wanted to be present at the hearing too.

There were several good (and not so good) reasons for my obstinacy. The first and strongest was that nobody knew the facts of the case as well as I did. My current taxman was not the one who handled that year’s tax return and he had only the vaguest notion of the transactions in question.

Then, everyone told me that a demand for an under-the-table payment was inevitable and inescapable, even if there was absolutely nothing wrong with my tax return. This I wanted to avoid at any cost and I felt I’d be in a better position to do so if I were present in person. More realistic and less idealistic persons such as tax consultants tend to take a less adamant stance on the payment or nonpayment of bribes.

Finally – the not-so-good reason for being there in person – was simply because I wanted to face the lion in his den; I didn’t want to chicken out, specially not on account of being a woman, or because I might be reduced to tears.

So, I went. I went determined to face the onslaught, retain my composure, and hold back the tears, if any, till I was safely home again.

And, as has happened so often in the past, I came back pleasantly surprised, relieved, and with my faith in human nature vindicated yet again.

The ITO (Income Tax Officer) saw us on time, and even had my file on his table. He went through the return methodically and patiently. He did not once try to badger me or insinuate any wrong-doing but was matter-of-fact and efficient. He looked through all the supporting documents, asked for and accepted my explanations on a number of points, demanded a couple of clarifications that we have to get back to him on, then updated his notes of the case in a neutral and factual tone and got me to sign everything. It took a little under two hours. It was as straightforward as a corporate audit and there was not a hint of any expectation of payment of any kind.

I don’t know whether this particular ITO is specially honest or corrupt. But he hasn’t made any demands of me yet, and it looks like he might not. This might be because my paperwork is exceptionally watertight, or it might be because the system is not quite as rotten as everyone says it is. We have too few experiences of this sort, to draw any real conclusions. All I can say based on this one and only experience is that, it was not nearly as bad as I was told it would be. All the same, I cannot be too sure of anything till the judgment is passed and the case closed. Let’s hope that happens soon.


Birthday Photos

August 27, 2008

I don’t know where the photos of the cakes are… but here are photos of the twins all dressed up for the Sunday evening party, and on Monday (birthday) morning, exploring their new tricycle, still in their nightclothes.

Pretty in Pink

Pretty in Pink

Mrini driving, Tara pillion on the new barbie tricycle

Mrini driving, Tara pillion on the new barbie tricycle

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Harmful Effects of Artificial Sweeteners

August 27, 2008

This article was forwarded to me via email. Since I generally abstain from forwarding emails, and since my blog stats tell me that I get an average of 30-odd page views a day (can that possibly be true?) I figure I might as well post this here, with all the usual disclaimers: I don’t know if this is true, or to what extent this might be true. Since I don’t use artificial sweeteners in any form, I don’t plan to investigate this, but if you do, you might want to. Or at least, keep this in mind.


SWEET POISON!
A MUST READ!
In October of 2001, my sister started getting very sick. She had stomach spasms and she was having a hard time getting around. Walking was a major chore.

It took everything she had just to get out of bed; she was in so much pain.

By March 2002, she had undergone several tissue and muscle biopsies and was on 24 various prescription medications.

The doctors could not determine what was wrong with her. She was in so much pain, and so sick she just knew she was dying.

She put her house, bank accounts, life insurance, etc., in her oldest daughter’s name, and made sure that her younger children were to be taken care of.

She also wanted her last hooray, so she planned a trip to Florida (basically in a wheelchair) for March 22nd.

On March 19 I called her to ask how her most recent tests went, and she said they didn’t find anything on the test, but they believe she had MS.

I recalled an article a friend of mine e-mailed to me and I asked my sister if she drank diet soda?

She told me that she did.

As a matter of fact, she was getting ready to crack one open that moment..

I told her not to open it, and to stop drinking the diet soda! I e-mailed her the article my friend, a lawyer, had sent.

My sister called me within 32 hours after our phone conversation and told me she had stopped drinking the diet soda AND she could walk! The muscle spasms went away. She said she didn’t feel 100% but, she sure felt a lot better.

She told me she was going to her doctor with this article and would call me when she got home.

Well, she called me, and said her doctor was amazed!

He is going to call all of his MS patients to find out if they consumed artificial sweeteners of any kind.

In a nutshell, she was being poisoned by the Aspartame in the diet soda….and literally dying a slow and miserable death.

When she got to Florida March 22, all she had to take was one pill, and that was a pill for the Aspartame poisoning!
She is well on her way to a complete recovery.

And she is walking!
No wheelchair!

This article saved her life.

If it says ‘SUGAR FREE’ on the label;
DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!

I have spent several days lecturing at the WORLD ENVIRONMENTAL CONFERENCE on ‘ASPARTAME,’ marketed as ‘Nutra Sweet,’ ‘Equal,’ and ‘Spoonful.’

In the keynote address by the EPA, it was announced that in the United States in 2001 there is an epidemic of multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus.
It was difficult to determine exactly what toxin was causing this to be rampant.

I stood up and said that I was there to lecture on exactly that subject..

I will explain why Aspartame is so dangerous:

When the temperature of this sweetener exceeds 86 degrees F, the wood alcohol in ASPARTAME converts to formaldehyde and then to formic acid, which in turn causes metabolic acidosis. Formic acid is the poison found in the sting of fire ants.
The methanol toxicity mimics, among other conditions, multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus.

Many people were being diagnosed in error.

Although multiple sclerosis is not a death sentence, Methanol toxicity is!

Systemic lupus has become almost as rampant as multiple sclerosis, especially with Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi drinkers.

The victim usually does not know that the Aspartame is the culprit. He or she continues its use; irritating the lupus to such a degree that it may become a life-threatening condition.

We have seen patients with systemic lupus become asymptotic, once taken off diet sodas.

In cases of those diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, most of the symptoms disappear. We’ve seen many cases where vision loss returned and hearing loss improved markedly.

This also applies to cases of tinnitus and fibromyalgia. During a lecture, I said, ‘If you are using ASPARTAME (Nutra Sweet, Equal, Spoonful, etc) and you suf fer from fibromyalgia symptoms, spasms, shooting, pains, numbness in your legs, cramps,
vertigo, dizziness, headaches, tinnitus,
joint pain, unexplainable depression, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, blurred vision, or memory loss you probably have ASPARTAME poisoning!’
People were jumping up during the lecture saying, ‘I have some of these symptoms. Is it reversible?’
Yes!
Yes!
Yes!

STOP drinking diet sodas and be alert for Aspartame on food labels!

Many products are fortified with it!

This is a serious problem.

Dr. Espart (one of my speakers) remarked that so many people seem to be symptomatic for MS and during his recent visit to a hospice; a nurse stated that six of her friends, who were heavy Diet Coke addicts, had all been diagnosed with MS. This is beyond coincidence!

Diet soda is NOT a diet product! It is a chemically altered, multiple SODIUM (salt) and ASPARTAME containing product that actually makes you crave carbohydrates.

It is far more likely to make you GAIN weight!

These products also contain formaldehyde, which stores in the fat cells, particularly in the hips and thighs. Formaldehyde is an absolute toxin and is used primarily to preserve ’tissue specimens.’

Many products we use every day contain this chemical but we SHOULD NOT store it IN our body!

Dr. H. J. Roberts stated in his lectures that once free of the ‘diet products’ and with no significant increase in exercise; his patients lost an average of 19 pounds over a trial period.

Aspartame is especially dangerous for diabetics.

We found that some physicians believed that they had a patient with retinopathy; in fact, they had symptoms caused by Aspartame.

The Aspartame drives the blood sugar out of control.

Thus, diabetics may suffer acute memory loss due to the fact that aspartic acid and phenylalanine are NEUROTOXIC when taken without the other amino acids necessary for a good balance.

Treating diabetes is all about BALANCE.
Especially with diabetics, the Aspartame passes the blood/brain barrier and it then deteriorates the neurons of the brain; causing various levels of brain damage, seizures,
Depression, Manic depression,
Panic attacks, Uncontrollable anger and rage.

Consumption of Aspartame causes these same symptoms in non-diabetics as well.

Documentation and observation also reveal that thousands of children diagnosed with ADD and ADHD have had complete turnarounds in their behavior when these chemicals have been removed from their diet.

So called ‘behavior modification prescription drugs’ (Ritalin and others) are no longer needed.

Truth be told, they were never NEEDED in the first place!

Most of these children were being ‘poisoned’ on a daily basis with the very foods that were ‘better for them than sugar.’

It is also suspected that the Aspartame in thousands of pallets of Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi consumed by men and women fighting in the Gulf War, may be partially to blame for the well-known Gulf War Syndrome.

Dr. Roberts warns that it can cause birth defects, i.e. mental retardation, if taken at the time of conception and during early pregnancy.

Children are especially at risk for neurological disorders and should NEVER be given artificial sweeteners.

There are many different case histories to relate of children suffering grand mal seizures and other neurological disturbances talking about a plague of neurological diseases directly caused by the use of this dead ly poison.’

Herein lies the problem:

There were Congressional Hearings when Aspartame was included in 100 different products and strong objection was made concerning its use. Since this initial hearing, there have been two subsequent hearings, and still nothing has been done. The drug and chemical lobbies have very deep pockets.

Sadly, MONSANTO’S patent on Aspartame has EXPIRED! There are now over 5,000 products on the market that contain this deadly chemical and there will be thousands more introduced. Everybody wants a ‘piece of the Aspartame pie.’

I assure you that MONSANTO, the creator of Aspartame, knows how deadly it is..

And isn’t it ironic that MONSANTO funds, among others, the American Diabetes Association, the American Dietetic Association and the Conference of the American College of Physicians?

This has been recently exposed in the New York Times. These [organizations] cannot criticize any additives or convey their link to MONSANTO because they take money from the food industry and are required to endorse their products.

Senator Howard Metzenbaum wrote and presented a bill that would require label warnings on products containing Aspartame, especially regarding pregnant women, children and infants.

The bill would also institute independent studies on the known dangers and the problems existing in the general population regarding seizures, changes in brain chemistry, neurological changes and behavioral symptoms.

The bill was killed.

It is known that the powerful drug and chemical lobbies are responsible for this, letting loose the hounds of disease and death on an unsuspecting and uninformed public. Well, you’re informed now! ”


…And The Twins Turn Two. Twice.

August 26, 2008

I take it back. I said it would be chaos, but I take it back. Unconditionally and unabashedly. The Sunday night drinks and dinner party was an unqualified success. We had nine families on the guest list. One was out of town (sorely missed) another was down with viral (sad, but inevitable in this weather; one family out of ten could be considered better than par) and a third said they would come early (ugh! We were scurrying around till the last moment as usual) and then never showed up at all and without a word of explanation either.

So we had six families apart from us, which meant 10 kids. As soon as the number of kids reached critical mass (four) things picked up pace and went rapidly out of control, with decibels exceeding safe limits and toys, gifts and associated litter exceeding total available floor space.

It was chaos, but the good sort of chaos. Children were screaming, but mostly with laughter. Adults were relaxing, mostly with drinks. The food arrived on time, and was not just enough, but roughly double of what was required. The cakes were cut at 8.30 and were not just enough, but quite delicious to boot. I had made the Best Ever Fudge Cake, a recipe I found in a book about two decades ago and have made only 3-4 times since. It really is the best ever, though it’s a long and complicated cake to make. The second cake was vanilla with chocolate butter icing. (I suppose there are photos somewhere, but I was too busy to notice whether anyone was shooting and if so who.)

Dinner was served at 9.30, but all the kids were having too much fun to be bothered with food. They were (forcibly) carted off at 10.30, while they were still having a whale of a time, by parents who were worried about the next day being a working/pre-school/daycare day and about the potential adverse consequences of kids being up late, in most cases way past their usual bedtime.

We put the twins to bed at almost 11, and spent an hour trying to restore some parts of the house. Then we went to bed, slept a few hours, got up, and geared up for the twins’ birthday.

Their gifts included a pretty pink tricycle, a small electronic keyboard, pretty pink frocks, and two identical car seats that we somehow managed to get and install over Saturday and Sunday.

We all spent the morning unwrapping the previous evening’s gifts, and gobbling large chunks of leftover cake. The next thing we knew, it was 3 p.m. And we hadn’t done a thing for the tea-party. Amit was despatched post haste to obtain cakes and patties, while I replenished the balloon stock (oh, yeah, we had streamers and balloons all over the living room; inspiration, motivation, and implementation were provided by Amit, while lung power for the balloons was almost entirely mine), dressed the kids and self, laid out paper plates and crisps and generally tried to organise a party sort of atmosphere.

This second, smaller party was almost as loud and swinging as the first, despite that all kids bar one were younger than the twins. Nobody did serious bodily harm to anybody else and apparently a good time was had by all. It was past 7 when return gifts were handed out and the party dispersed, leaving behind a scene of complete and total destruction and devastation. The second in two days.

Well, the twins only turn two once in their lives. And thank goodness for that! Next year, it will be different. And no, there won’t be three parties. No way. No. NO!


The Dieting Saga

August 21, 2008

I started dieting in all earnestness almost four months ago. That’s a long time to sustain a diet, and I’ve naturally slipped back into my usual dieting mode – eating whatever I please and just hoping I somehow lose weight.

Only, this time, it seems to be working.

I hate it when I can’t understand why things happen, but this time, should I be complaining? Really? No, not really. Just wondering aloud.

I think a few things are working for me now, that have never worked the same way before. Due to being homebound, I’m eating homemade food at least 18-19 meals a week (considering 3 meals a day, which is the norm). While working, I used to eat in the office cafeteria at least a couple of times a week, and eat out on weekends quite a bit. And I used to snack on coffee and biscuits from time to time.

I still snack in the early evening hours, but I’m trying to snack less, and on less unhealthy foods. It helps that there’s very little access to unhealthy food, compared to the office environment, where you only have to stroll down to the cafeteria.

My caffeine intake has reduced dramatically of late – it was too closely associated with my nightmarish episode of gastroenteritis to seem very appetizing even now – and my lactose tolerance has improved noticeably, so that I’m now getting quite a regular inflow of dairy products. I’m not sure why that – or either of those, actually – should help me lose weight, though.

I was always one for skipping breakfast, but now I haven’t done that for months, maybe years. And because of that, and also because of the twins having to have their meals at more or less regular intervals, I’m eating my meals at very regular and sensible times during the day. So I’m usually not starved by mealtime, and I’m also not eating meals when I’m not hungry, just because it is mealtime. I think I used to do a lot of both of those when my eating hours were less regular.

And I have managed to switch from eating white rice at every opportunity to eating red rice as much as possible. I don’t like it much, but I’m surviving.

Plus, I’ve managed to keep up at least a modicum of exercise most days of the week, illnesses, travel, and other vagaries of life notwithstanding.

My biggest problem is, and has been for a very long time, perhaps has always been, that food is one of my best friends. If I’m bored, I want food; if I’m stressed, I want food; if I’m depressed, I want food; if I’m happy, I certainly want food – and drink; if I’m reading a book, I want food; if I’m watching TV, I want food; if I’m home alone, I want food; if I’m meeting friends, I want food. Food, in short, is a vital ingredient of every mood and every phase of life. And when I say “food” you know what kind of food I’m talking about, right? Yeah, all that kind of food.

Once you’re reduced to eating only homemade food – and only healthy homemade food at that (an important qualifier, considering that I’m quite capable of cooking up some extremely delicious and extremely unhealthy homemade food) – food no longer serves any of these functions. It’s just food – something to keep you from starving. In fact, once it’s healthy and homemade, I’m not even sure it qualifies as food any more, it’s just stuff, something to chew.

So perhaps, another reason why this is working for me now when it hasn’t many times before, is that the kids are keeping me busy. Too busy to do much about getting to all that sort of food that isn’t stuff, the sort of food that used to be my best friend.

I suppose that’s a good thing.

But, if dieting deprives me of one of my best friends, food, you have to wonder: Why, exactly, am I doing this to myself?

Partly, of course, it’s simply so I can be slim and sexy; there’s that little blue dress I want to be able to fit into again. I want to look young, or at least, not old, as I approach 35 – and not being overweight has a lot to do with that. Plus, to a lesser degree, I want to be healthy; I enjoy tennis and trekking, and both of these activities are so much easier if you are the right weight, not carrying around several kilos extra.

So clich├ęd, isn’t it – wanting to look young and sexy and to be healthy?

But there’s more to it than that.

It has to do with my self-image – with how I see myself, what I see myself becoming, and what I’d like to be. As a stay-at-home mom who’s given up her job/career, I can see my world being centered around my kids to the exclusion of all else. This, in itself, is not a bad thing. But I don’t want to see myself turning into the kind of mom who only thinks of meals, servants, and the cost of groceries, and has no interests outside of home and hearth. The kind of person who never goes anywhere, never does anything, and never has anything to say for herself. That’s the kind of person who is usually way overweight, dresses sloppily, doesn’t spend time or money on herself and doesn’t really give a damn. Ok, that’s a stereotype, but it’s not a stereotype I want to fit into. Ever. Maybe that’s not a bad way to be, that woman might be happy, content… but that’s not who I want to be.

I have always seen myself as an energetic person with too many irons in the fire and always struggling a bit to keep them all going, but managing all right – apart from the occasional crisis. I’m the kind of person who is a little too padded to be slim, a little too dishevelled to be well-groomed, way too casual to be sexy, but way too busy to be fat. I think that’s the way I’ve always been, and that’s the way I’d like to be even as a mom, even as a stay-at-home mom. I don’t see being a SAHM as an excuse to be fat and lazy – I see it as a damn good reason not to be.

So, I’m determined: I’m going to lose weight, or die trying.


Misty Violet in the Showroom

August 20, 2008

This is a better photo, taken in the Honda showroom.

Misty V in the Honda showroom

Misty V in the Honda showroom


Misty Violet Photo

August 20, 2008

Finally! Here it is…

Our new Honda Civic in Misty Violet - isn't she sexy?

Our new Honda Civic in Misty Violet

That old rattletrap standing next to it is nothing to do with us.


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