FOOD AS MEDICINE OR MEDICINE AS FOOD?

By Tara Narayan

IN today’s mega sick times we must try to remember that originally food has always been medicine to stay alive and kicking! Those who knew that food is medicine lived longer than the others even in the old days. Even mainstream medicine Allopathy started off with the wisdom of vishvaguru Hippocratus to perceive food as medicine and not so much drugs natural or synthetic…alas, we see all around us today how food has ceased to be medicine and drugs have taken over healthcare or medicare stories to do with the gamut of illnesses and diseases which plague humankind increasingly. Chronic degenerative diseases outnumber infectious diseases with bacteria and viruses taking control of a patient’s homeostasis or wellbeing.
I am saying no to drugs but how much do they save, cure and paroling life? More and more research is on the move to come up with more and more drugs to keep humans living forever if they can afford them!
THE ironic or flip side is we’re living on food which is not organically cultivated, we are not eating freshly prepared or cooked routinely, our lifestyles determine what we put in our mouth while on the run, chasing job assignments. We also forget to drink and eat enough and when we remember we turn to maybe an aerated coloured chilled drink which does not quench thirst for water, and eat a pizza dotted with veggies or meaty ingredients, even MacDonalds have cut down on their veggies and greens in their famous burgers. Are you living on junk food day in and day out? Don’t be surprised then if you testify with anaemia or malnutrition – your body dehydrated and emaciated, your immune system so down that bacteria and viruses can easily set up home in your body to slowly drag your vitality down.
Truly it is said that we are only what we drink and eat! Check your drinking and eating habits today so that tomorrow you don’t find yourself with some failure or another in body beautiful…high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stiff joints, arthritis, etcetera. I have seen it so often how senior citizens court ill-health courtesy lack of a maintenance diet, badly fitted dentures, and so many other little, little things which make a difference for the better or for the worse.
ALL WEEK long I’ve been to-ing and fro-ing for a patient at the GMC I have finally tired of observing patients in a public hospital ward, most of them bed-ridden, dependent on dialysis twice a week before they kidneys have packed up…there are other patients who have survived a stroke, heart attack, cataract operation, tuberculosis and so on. All want to live, few want to be gone with the wind! Some are alone, family members may come and go; for most caretakers or caregivers are unaffordable with their fancy charges of Rs1,000 per 12 hour shift, plus food billing.
MOST of the freelance caregivers who neither wear uniform nor know anything about medicines or how bedridden patients have to treated gently and slowly when pouring water or some beverage into their mouth while they’re partially raised; most cannot change a messed-up diaper easily and make the patient feel clean anew. Most do not how to give a patient a sponge-bath without making the bed sheets wet! Most are busy recharging their phones and someone or another is forever calling them. Whole motley collection of family members are dedicated to caretaking of patients in hospitals and homes of elderly folk all, all alone; with children abroad and who keep in touch over the phone with their parents or grandparents.
Clearly, some order is necessary. Caretakers must be registered with the hospital they’re doing duty for however long, their names, addresses and contact numbers confirmed; also it helps if they wear uniforms and are strictly restricted to attending to one patient in a ward; reportedly, some of them charge for just changing diapers for several patients in same or different wards and the biggest worry for nursing staff is “they carry infection from one patient to another!” The hospital should also lay down the minimum rate of charges on which they may be permitted to attach themselves to a patient in a ward who needs a caretaker or caregiver.
Currently while patients are frustrated, their caretakers play the field! Some are not above bullying and threatening vulnerable and rundown patients, very often ignoring pleas to even get a drink of water – so busy they are chatting over their mobile phones. Patients may wait.

`MISHRA PEDA’-KI-DRY FRUIT KULFI AT IFFI COURTYARD!

FOR the first two days IFFI delegates were going around the INOX courtyard hunting for food to eat! Remember most of our film delegates are from down south India which is film crazy (they comprise at least 70% delegates) and they seek some decent veggie and non-veggie bites of the desi kind and not fast foods. But in recent years IFFI organizers think only films should be food and if any other food is required there’s the Rs70 samosa at the INOX cafeteria counter in the foyer, and Rs150-Rs300 sandwiches, potato wedges, ridiculously large tubs of flavoured popcorn.
Wednesday morning though I saw some interesting highlights or sidelights. My kulfi-loving friend Gauri bought a group of us the Mishra Peda stall’s kulfi at the IFFI Courtyard (dolled up for the 54th International Film Festival of India from November 20 to 28 this year) and I reluctantly ate it. At the same time warning her that all the sugar will make us more thirsty than ever for the rest of the day. We all know refined sugar is an industrial carcinogen to be found in most all the high-glycemic food we eat to grow fat, fatter, obese, courting futuristic degenerative diseases. But Gauri was not going to listen, I warned her in vain! Media people survive on terrible junk food. She said eat, and I ate with the melting yellow kulfi dripping onto my creamy white kurta – never again. Why do I succumb to the temptation of eating what I don’t even like, forget about love.
The INOX courtyard is done up prettily but in the afternoon a couple of hours it is impossible to park oneself in the hot sun, the gazebo-styled seating arrangements impractical. Delegates mostly look for light bites of the Indian kind (I mean most of us from India and love our desi khana) and remember a huge section of the delegates are students coming to learn film-making from the master classes offered. They don’t have big money for fancy jazzed up eats if you know what I mean! The Big Peda folk are retailing usual range of samosa- kachori and you may feast on their boxes of various sweets if you wish. The one chilli masala vada-pau I ate left my tummy miserable the next day!
But I’ve taken a shine to the Goanfest juices, shakes and eats but where was the toast to slather their Caramel Cashew Butter on to enjoy?! Next stall the Wakao Eats boys were retailing jackfruit eats like Wakao burger (“a plant-powered masterpiece where tender jackfruit meets a perfectly grilled patty,” Rs250), Wakao Biryani (“tantalizing vegetarian twist to the classic dish where the meaty texture of jackfruit mingles with fragrant basmati rice and aromatic spices,” Rs300), etcetera. The beer bar is there and Kanchan Sharma has this lovely TKYO Bakehouse high-bar set-up offering who has put up a TKYO Bakehouse café where you may step in and order for a thirst-quenching “lemon soda” (Rs150) and be left thirsting more than ever! But the menu lists some sophisticated eats like avocado cream cheese roll, asparagus tempura…crispy veg, coleslaw, ham and cheese, coleslaw with chicken, chilli cheese toast and more, in the range of 100 to Rs500. Sorry, the lemons soda I ordered was without any thrills or chills in it. The place will probably smarten up in service give a day or two; except that few delegates like to sit in hothouse atmosphere within, they prefer the sunshine outside!
At the newly refurbished Kala Academy canteen a Naik caterer is offering a veg thali for Rs80 and a fish thali for Rs150 and a young delegate from Kerala shared that food in Goa is too expensive. Well, I replied, this is Goa and IFFI is all about making money from top down to bottoms up nowadays. Even well-known seasoned millionaire yesteryear filmmakers are seeking public funding from our generous Union Minister of Information & Broadcasting Anurag Singh Thakur, for what? To make films to entertain us regardless of whether we are entertained or not! Real life paisa feko, tamasha dekho entertainment is there for all of us to take cognisance of or not.
Still, I’m not grumbling too much because I’ve been an ardent IFFIgoer for 20 years now and although I don’t care much for all the art and craft mela entertainment added on with every IFFI, I still enjoy seeing some of the best films of the world on the big screen when IFFI is in town. The films from abroad are less self-indulgent, I find Indian films tend to be rambling, confused and too noisy and loud with today’s digitally forced technology makeovers. Most of these intense blockbusters make me deaf, dumb and blind, and stoned!
Please forgive me, I find most of today’s blockbusters so supersaturated with dazzling technology and incredibly forced storytelling. There are a few exquisite exceptions, of course. Treat all this by way of food for thought this IFFI week in capital town Panaji!

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