Doctor Zhivago passes away

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Egyptian-born film legend OMAR SHARIF, captivated audiences for more than half a century, but will always be remembered as the eponymous DOCTOR ZHIVAGO.

Born Michel Demitri Shalhoub on the 10th of April, 1932 in Alexandria to parents of Syrian and Lebanese extraction, he was raised a Catholic.  He had a degree in Mathematics and Physics from Cairo University.
He joined his father’s lumber business, but the acting bug had taken hold while he was studying, and in 1954 he made his silver screen debut in the Egyptian film SIRAA FIL-WADI ( The Blazing Sun).  The movie’s romantic intrigue was echoed off-screen as he married the leading lady, renowned actress —- FATEN HAMAMA, converting to Islam and renaming himself —— OMAR SHARIF.
Known for his debonair style, raffish good looks and often mischievous “joie de vivre”, Sharif also gained worldwide fame as a bridge player.  He began acting in the 1950s and his most high-profile roles were in the 1960s when he won an Oscar nomination for “Lawrence of Arabia” and Golden Globes for the same film and for Dr. Zhivago.
Sharif played the hero in the epic adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s novel of tortured passions during the Russian Revolution, with his real-life son, Tarek, playing his younger self.  The actor was fluent in Arabic, English, French, Greek, Italian and Spanish.  He went on to star in many films and television productions, including alongside Barbra Streisand in 1968’s FUNNY GIRL.  But he never again scaled the heights of critical acclaim as in his work with David Lean.  Sharif kept working over the following decades, often in television movies, and in later years became equally renowned for his prowess as a ridge player and owner of thoroughbred horses.  He co-wrote a syndicated bridge newspaper column in the 1970s and 1980s, and wrote several books and licensed his name to the computer game OMAR SHARIF BRIDGE.
Sharif made something of a comeback in 2003 in the title role of the French film MONSIEUR IBRAHIM, playing an elderly Muslim shopkeeper.  The performance won him a best actor award at the Venice Film Festival, and the best actor CESAR, France’s equivalent of an Oscar.
Here’s a list of some of his movies : Mackenna’s Gold (1969) ; The Appointment (1969) ; The Last Valley ( 1970); The Tamarind Seed (1974) ; the Horsemen (1971) ; The Baltimore Bullet ( 1980) ; Top Secret (1984) ; Heaven Before I Die (1997) and One Night With The King (2006) ; Behold A Pale Horse (1964).  In his later years he continued making movies and television films, including “I Forgot To Tell You ” (2009) and “Rock The Casbah” (2013).
Truly a wonderful, wonderful actor.  Rest In Peace.
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Benefits of essential oils

Want to de-stress yourself at home without going to the spa ?  Essential oils are here to give you a similar soothing experience.  Extracted from various flowers and plants, these body oils help to unwind both physically and mentally.  Some of these oils have anti-microbial, antiseptic, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.  BT talks to aroma therapists to know more about the ” benefits of essential oils”.
Naushad, an aroma therapist at a spa in Bengaluru, says, ” Body oils help the skin glow.  Lavender, eucalyptus and cinnamon oils are used as stress-busters.  The aroma of these oils improves blood circulation and also improves the texture of the skin.  A combination of lemon and rosemary oils and anti-cellulite oils helps to reduce body fat”.
Ajay, another essential oils expert, says,” Extra virgin olive oil contains a good amount of minerals, which are good for hot oil massage.  It helps to reduce body pain.  Harmony oil, made from flower and leaf extracts, is also good for mental health”.
So, how often should one go for massage and what should be the ideal duration of the therapy ?  “People who have a


Aromatherapy


sedentary lifestyle should go for aroma therapy at least once in a week, while for others once in every 15  days or a month is good enough,” Ajay adds.

LAVENDER : Lavender oil as the quality of providing good sleep and helps to improve your nervous system.  This oil also helps to remove dandruff, and tackle eczema and hair loss.
CINNAMON : Cinnamon oil is rich I manganese, iron and calcium.  It improves brain function, purifies blood and helps to ward off diabetes.  Application of the oil on the body during winter nights keeps us warm and protects us from cold, cough and breathing problems.  As other oils, this oil is also used as room fresheners.
EUCALYPTUS : This oil helps to keep respiratory infections, body pain, wounds, burns and ulcers at bay.  It is also used in toothpastes, cough drops and lozenges.  It is beneficial for mental health and used in many medicines.
OLIVE : Olive oil is considered good for dry skin.  It brings out the skin’s natural texture and acts as a conditioner for the hair and nails.  The oil is rich in Vitamin E and A, which also helps to regenerate skin cells.  It can be used as body lotion, eye makeup remover, lip scrub as well used as used in homemade face packs.  Aroma therapists mix olive and lavender oils for a cooling effect in summers.
ANTI-CELLULITE : Regular massage with this oil helps to remove toxins from the body.  It burns fat and reduces cellulite.  The different varieties of this oils include hazelnut, juniper, citrus and jojoba.
——————Vikram.Kapoor@timesgroup.com. and Tessa Adeline Nelson.

Be your own weatherman

Rains can be very unpredictable, and our met department is nothing to write home about when it comes to predictions.  So, when it comes to planning outings, we often rely on weather applications on our cell phones these days, not realising that the data is again from the met department.  But, it is quite easy to predict a storm.  Our forefathers would do it unerringly, without the help of any apps or weather forecasts.  Here’s how……………..
(1) LISTEN TO THE FROGS :  These amphibians just get a whole lot louder when stormy weather is on the way.  If you start noticing croaks, you might want to get your umbrella ready.
weather(2) TRUST YOUR NOSE :  Low pressure and high humidity allow fragrances to escape, which means things like the scent of flowers and grass will be stronger when it’s about to rain (sorry, city dwellers).  But, even if you do live in an urban area, you might notice a scent of ozone in the air —— lightening causes ozone to form and the storm’s downdrafts bring that smell to nose level.
(3) CHECK YOUR HAIR :  This surely isn’t news for anyone with humid-sensitive hair,  but when hair curls up or frizzes out, bring an umbrella to work that day.
(4) LOOK AT THE BIRDS :  Birds have the best vantage point (and something called the “PARATYMPANIC ORGAN”, that acts as a barometer).  When birds are soaring high in the sky, the skies are probably fair, whereas in storm systems, the falling pressure in the air is the source of fowl discomfort.  A crowded phone line is a good place to look if birds are staying low to the ground.  If you are at the seaside, keep an eye out for seagulls.  They’re rarely seen standing around or walking unless the weather on the water is bad.
(5) TRUST THAT OLD ADAGE :  “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.  Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning”, is actually fairly reliable, at least in places where weather systems come out of the west.  The effect is caused by low angle light shines on dirt and particles trapped by high barometric pressure.  High pressure occurs when the air mass is being pushed down so it’s hard for clouds to form, while low pressure allows the air mass to expand and clouds to form more easily.  So, a red sunset usually means that the cloud-free  high pressure system is coming towards you, while a red sunrise means the high pressure system has already passed and the rain is coming.

Soul soup

I was waiting at the bus stop, one evening, for mu usual 4 o’clock ride.  After a long exhausting day, I can only think of the refreshing shower with cold water once I reach home.
Since it was a Friday evening my thoughts went to the weekend movie plans with friends.  That is when I saw him.  He looked like a well-fed and pampered adolescent boy like me.  He was dressed like a boy from a well-to-do family. He was holding out a polythene bag and trying to convey something, through hand gestures, to a gentleman standing next to me.
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Although he had a confused look on his face, he reached into his pocket and took out a ten-rupee note and put it in the polythene bag.  I realised that the boy could not speak.  He then approached me with a smile.  Pointing at something on the other side of the road, he then held out the bag.  I could see some ten rupees and twenty notes in it.  Although I could not understand what he was trying to say or what he was pointing to, I thought he must have some genuine reason for asking money.  I too dropped in a twenty-rupee note.  He thanked me with a smile and went on to the next person.
Almost everyone present there gave him a ten rupee or twenty because he looked decent and I observed there were only 10s and 20s in his bag.  He thanked everyone with the same smile.  He then crossed the road.  All this while everyone was observing him.  He then took out a 20rupee note, from his own pocket, put it in the bag and gave the bag to a physically disadvantage woman sitting on the footpath on the opposite side of the road.  Even from  a distance I could see that her face lit up with absolute gratitude.  And then he walked away gracefully.
I was absolutely dumbstruck, so were the people around me.  These people who would have, at the most, given her a rupee or two, gave the boy at least a ten-rupee note.  And, as for me, I may not even have acknowledged her presence and may have been engrossed in my own thoughts.  The boy’s action gave every one of us something to think about the way we treat others who are less privileged than we are.
———— Avinash Vijjapu
 To give and then not to feel that one has given is the very best of all ways of giving.
—– Max Beerbohm.

Unusual food phobias

Strange are the ways the human mind works.  Sometimes, one can pet a tiger with ease, while at others, the mere thought of mushrooms on a plate or even eating with chopsticks can send shivers down your spine.  Food phobias can be as scary as fear of flying or heights.  Here’s looking at some of the UNUSUAL FOOD PHOBIAS.
There are a few phobias that could haunt meat eaters in their worst nightmares :
* ALEKTOROPHOBIA is the fear of chicken and, hence, even words like, ‘It tastes like chicken’ could be catastrophic for them.
* CARNOPHOBIA is the fear of meat in general.  These people try and avoid  even the sight of meat stalls.
* ICHTHYOPHOBIA is the fear of fish.  People suffering from this particular phobia cannot even look at aquariums, leave alone cooked fish.
food phobia*OSTRACONOPHOBIA  is the fear of shellfish.  While one would think shellfish allergy is scary, these people say that their fear is far worse.
If you thought meat phobias are scary, take a look at these:
*ALLUMPHOBIA is the fear of garlic.  These people try and stay away even from the smell and sight of garlic in a market or kitchen.
*LACHANOPHOBIA is the fear of vegetables.  While this would seem God-sent for children wanting to stay away from vegetables, it is a scary proposition in reality.
*MYCOPHOBIA is the fear of mushrooms.  These people get repulsed at the thought that mushrooms are fungi and grow on dirt.
And here are some bizarre phobias that relate to cooking and eating in general:
* CIBOPHOBIA is the fear of eating.  Now, think about the prospect of fighting every meal and getting over the fear every single time.  Scary, huh ?
* GEUMOPHOBIA is the fear of taste.  These people aren’t scared of food as such, but the thought of any new flavour scares them.
* PHAGOPHOBIA is the fear of swallowing.  This person would rather wish he had CIBOPHOBIA, considering he would never put the food in his mouth at all.
* MAGEIROCOPHOBIA is the fear of cooking.  Now that’s a convenient excuse for living off home delivery and eating out.
* CONSECOTALEOPHOBIA is the fear of eating with chopsticks.  They fear that the chopsticks could prove fatal to them, in some cases.
And, here there is something really bizarre ——–ARACHIBUTYROPHOBIA is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.  REALLY ?
———-Sunayana.Suresh@timesgroup.com.

Tall poppy syndrome

TALL POPPY SYNDROME ( a social phenomenon where those with more merit or success are disparaged and pulled down).  Some criticism is not bad, but when the habit of condemnation and fault-finding becomes a national pastime, we need to sound the danger bells.
A strange culture of criticism pervades life these days, where everyone is  a critic —— setting sights on errors and indiscretions, more than on achievements and triumphs.  Time was when you waited for that one movie or restaurant review from an established media reviewer.  Today, thanks to social media, self-appointed critics deluge you with opinions and ratings.
Everyone has a view on where PM Narendra Modi is going wrong and what his next step should be.  With eyes trained on indiscretions, we ignore achievements and recognition.
We have become a nation that loves having an opinion —– preferably negative —— and likes nothing better than sharing it.  And so, slowly the limelight has shifted from achievements and proud moments to the downfall and public disgrace of others.  In a terrible about-turn of the phrase ‘no news is good news’, today, we have come to a stage when ‘good news is no-news’.  The Media leads the charge, each TV channel watching out for “Breaking News” moments —— mostly censoring or condemning a perceived wrong move, a misdirected word or action or a wardrobe malfunction.  People invariably tweet negative stuff, easily adopting moral grandstands, because that is what attracts attention.
tall_poppy_syndromeEgged on by a trigger-happy audio-visual media, which shoots down and ridicules public figures for the slightest gaffe, we are stepping into a well-established culture of the TALL POPPY SYNDROME.  It is all very well for children to pull each other down under the keen pressure of performance, dismissing achievers as ‘nerds’ and ‘losers’.  It is even understandable when professionals do so in a dog-eats-dog world, where pulling down one may spell success for another.  —— Children today tune into news channel not for information, but to guffaw at people pulling each other down.  This is a veritable street fight delivered to you through television, and worse, viewers love it.  The more vitriolic the content, the higher the TRPs a programme delivers.
We have become a people waiting to pounce and denounce on social media.  Each one is a potential journalist or sleuth, waiting to be propelled to fame with the latest muck to hit the ceiling, hoping for a post to go viral.  And this attitude then spills over into real life.  A critical eye knows no limits.  Forgetting to praise the good work done, bosses pounce on little mistakes.  Spouses and friends don’t hold back judgement, parents lay it on thick.
Experience tells that positive strokes work far better than ridicule, especially public ridicule.  Today, we have the power to make or break people through exposes and sting operations.  But we also still retain the power to motivate and galvanise the good amongst us.  And in order to indulge one, we must not give up the other.
When we criticise, let us also stay attuned to the good in those we deride.  Everyone has some good in them.
——-vinitadawra.nangia@timesgroup.com.