May 19, 2010

Blind Men and the Elephant

Posted in Children tagged , , , , , , , at 6:51 am by Liliana

Everyone holds a piece of the puzzle

Everyone holds a piece of the puzzle

I remember when my children were little they went through a period when they wanted me to read them only one book. Again and again and again.

It was a colorful, richly illustrated allegory based on an ancient Indian fable.

This is how the story went.

In a remote village in India, a number of blind men lived in a house together. They mostly got along, but sometimes they argued about the world around them. Each man felt he understood the nature of things better than the others.

One day, a mysterious traveler passed through their little village. The blind men offered him hospitality, and in return the traveler told them about a glorious and magical animal – an elephant. He hadn’t seen an elephant himself,  but he had heard that this animal was the wonder of the world. The blind men were intrigued. It was their greatest wish to touch an elephant and to understand what this glorious being was like.

Years passed. The men didn’t forget the elephant. In fact, as time went on their desire to touch this wonderful being grew greater and greater. And then, one day, their wish was fulfilled. A  caravan of merchants was passing near the village and the news spread quickly that an elephant was heading their convoy. The blind men sent word inquiring if they could visit the caravan and touch the elephant. The gracious merchants were pleased to grant their wish and invited them over for tea.

The blind men spent the entire day dressing in their finest clothes, preparing for the  meeting. In the afternoon, their guides took them to the field where the caravan was resting. They were well received. They had tea with the merchants and were then allowed to inspect the glorious elephant. It was a day full of excitement.

By evening they were back at their house. Tired from the drama of the day, they sat down for supper. Sitting around a large table, they started discussing and comparing their experiences. One man said, “Elephants are so interesting but I had no idea they were a huge long trunk!” “What”, said another man,” an elephant is not a trunk. An elephant is a giant ear.” “No, said another, an elephant is a huge leg.” “A huge head.” “A huge eye.” “A tail!”

Every man had touched one part of the elephant and thought that was the entire animal. Their servant’s little son, sitting near them heard them arguing. He had never seen the elephant himself, but while listening to them he had an idea.  “Maybe the elephant is the huge trunk, a giant ear a huge leg, an eye, and a tail, too.” The blind men stopped talking and listened to the boy. And they realized that he was right.

The glory of the elephant was in their willingness to share and combine their visions, and experience the elephant through each other’s eyes. Everyone held a piece of the puzzle.

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April 9, 2010

Spices for Your Mind

Posted in Cancer, Food, Health, News, Recipes, Traditions tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:32 am by Liliana

Healthy and Delicious Spices

Healthy and Delicious Spices

I read an interesting article in the May/June edition of the AARP magazine. It noted new scientific research that shows how certain spices help keep your brain healthy and young. Why not try to use them more frequently? If nothing else, your recipes will taste delicious!

  • Turmeric – this is the spice that gives curry its intense yellow color. People in India eat large amounts of it and the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease there is one fourth the US rate. A study at the University of California, Los Angeles, showed that turmeric broke up brain plaques and protein build-up in mice. Add it to stews, soups or sautéed vegetables.
  • Saffron – A study done at the University of Tehran in 2007 discovered that eating this delicate spice twice a day works as well as most anti-depressants in treating mild to moderate depression. Add half a teaspoon to water when cooking rice, add to stews and soups.
  • Ginger – a recent study discovered that ginger helps with migraine prevention.  Make tea by grating three teaspoons of ginger into one cup of boiling water. Steep for ten minutes, strain and drink.
  • Garlic – long known to help keep your heart healthy, a 2007 study in the journal Cancer noted  that garlic might also help with brain cancer. Add garlic to salads, soups, stews, sautées, and anything you like.
  • Cinnamon – a recent study found that cinnamon regulates blood sugar levels, which helps you stay focused and speeds up the rate at which your brain processes visual cues. Add cinnamon to oatmeal, cookies, or any baking dish.