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A fashion or an urge

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Dr. S.L. Marbaniang
Some people become restless and uneasy when they have nothing to do. So they try to develop certain habits in order to divert their attention. One of these is smoking. Other justify that smoking  helps in concentration, especially when they are alone with none around to share the problem. What may seem as a harmless exercise in the initial stage, continuous practice will lead to addiction.
A certain category of people smoke to exhibit their manly characteristics. Many of the younger group or even minors are in this category. Some just resort to smoking to imitate their parents and older relatives. Quite a few presume that smoking is a fashion. This usually is the case with smokers who came from different   background. They do not mind spending a good amount of their pocket money because to them smoking is an outward form of manifestation of   who they are and, therefore, count a lot in the society.
These are false pretensions but many fail to heed the premonition that smoking is a hazardous habit which, in the long run, is a very difficult one to do away with. The matter is not simple and does not end here only. The  worse case is with respect to passive smokers, that is, people who are in the presence of active smokers but who themselves do not smoke at all. These categories of the population are known as second hand smokers (SHSs).
There are plenty of debates and discussions on the after effects of tobacco use. It has been proved that many of the diseases and deaths in the world could have been prevented if people stop smoking. Lung cancer, heart diseases and other illness are caused by tobacco use. Every year about 5.4 million people throughout the world are its victims. More than 80 percent of all these deaths take place in developing world. For every two users of tobacco, one will meet a fatal end.
In India, the figures are very discouraging. The number of fatalities due to tobacco related diseases every year stands at 8-9lakhs, which is more than 2,200 per day. The highest number of oral cancer cases in the world is in India, and about 90 percent of all these incidents is due to tobacco related use. Almost 50 percent of all cancers in India are due to tobacco use.

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Architecture

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Dr. S.L. Marbaniang

The Government of Meghalaya has recently agreed to allow buildings to be raised to higher heights in urban areas. The conditions laid down with regard to safety measures have been specifically laid down, one of it being provision for parking of vehicles, especially in case of shopping complexes. Everything has to be properly designed and planned with the help of qualified architects.

The decision of the Government has drawn wide criticism for many quarters. Shillong city, or for that matter the whole state itself, lies in a seismic zone with the probability of an earthquake of high intensity occurring at any time. The recent tragic incident at Somdei, Tokyo in Japan were tens of thousands of its citizens have perished with many more missing. Fortunately, however the incident occurred at day time. The intensity was one of the most severe, at 8.9 Richter scale. The matter was further compounded by tsunami which carried away buildings, ships, trains, bridges, etc. to oblivion. Nuclear reactors have leaked which may cause impending disaster. Lives of countless people, especially officers, scientists, and staff of these reactors are in great danger, who try to prevent from explosion and hence more deadly consequences.

Japan used to experience frequent earthquakes and tremors. So houses are well planned and generally made of wood or bamboos with tiled roofs. However, in cities and towns, the mode of living has changed drastically. To accommodate the increasing population, as well as the booming industries, apartment houses have replaced the small homes, due to shortage of land and space. Bamboo furniture and accessories have given way to modern appliances made of steel and other materials. The people are very courteous, polite and friendly. When they bid the guests farewell, they usually make formal bows, saying “Sayonara”, which means “Good-by”. At the same time, members of the family will tell the guests repeatedly, ‘Mata dozo”, which means “Come again”.

In brief, these hospitable and hard-working people have always been prepared for earthquake. This time, however, the magnitude was unforeseen and the tsunami that accompanied it was beyond expectation. During the Second World War, the country which allied itself with the Axis Powers of Germany and Italy was greatly devastated. To break the pride and valour of the Japanese people and to expedite ending of the war, the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in which hundreds of thousands of people perished and many suffered from the after-effects of radiation. But their indomitable spirit and dogged determination, together with generous American aid, put Japan on the World map of the more developed nations. This time too they will once again rise from the ashes.

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Attractive red vegetables

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Dr. S.L. Marbaniang
When the Spanish explorers landed in South America, they became inquisitive at the reddish-looking fruit which the Incas and the Aztecs relished. In fact, the so called fruit is a member of the vegetable kingdom which is rich in vitamins A and C. Its scientific name is lycoperiscon  esculentum which literally means “wolf peach fit for eating”.
Finding the tomato vegetable to be tasty and delicious, the Spanish explorers on going back home took some of the seeds with them to Spain. From there it spread to other parts of European Countries, including Great Britain. When the English colonists settled in the New England States of Eastern United States (U.S), they carried tomato seeds. Soon tomatoes began to be grown all along their settlements in the Atlantic coast. The sad experience that Europeans had with potato crops was the same with the case of tomatoes. They ate different parts of potato plant except the tubers which grow underneath the soil. They were found to be bitter and quite poisonous. Consequently, potatoes and later tomatoes too were initially planted as a decorative and ornamental vegetables. Like tomato, potato also was an original plant of the New World. Thinking and assuming that tomato was similar to potato in taste and quality, the earlier Europeans grew it only out of curiosity.
Tomato spread to different countries of Europe. Nobody tried to popular the crop as a food value. It was left to the Italians to discover the food value of tomato. Later on, the Italian chefs made several preparations from tomato, both as a food complementary and as an appetizer. Tomato juice was a later product. By the middle of the 19th century, tomato was a popular and standard item of the Italian food.
The original tomatoes were very small in size. They were very unsavoury in taste and they were quite acidic. They looked like marbles to be played with. However, the curiousity and experiment by earlier growers led to the improvement of the crops so that they became bigger, delicious and tempting. They also became rounder, juicer and more tasty. Enterprising farmers, by virtue of their experience and knowledge, have improved greatly the yield, flavour, and shape. They have developed varieties that can resist cracking and fight off diseases such as wilt and leaf fungus. Scientists have produced varieties that can withstand cold climate and these are grown well in the hills and plateau of Meghalaya. The warm regions of the state are also home to other varieties.
Like potato, within a few years, tomato became a popular vegetable item in different parts of the world. Various types of preparation in any form are derived, depending on the expertise of the chefs and housewives. So the crop that originates in the southern part of the New World found its way into the gardens if the Old World and finally reached back in the New World on its northern part. Tomato can be served raw, stewed, baked, fried, or in meat dishes. It can be made into soups, juices, pickle, sauces, and paste.

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Asthma

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Dr. S.L. Marbaniang
According to the findings of National Family Health Survey (NFHS) part 1 which was conducted during 1992-93, Meghalaya ranked a very high with regard to asthma disease. People afflicted with asthma find difficulties in breathing and tend to be suffocated. At times, it seems as if  patients might lost their life. It is a pathetic scene to witness asthma patients struggling desperately to get their breath. This case is worse if parents find that their children experience breathing problems because wheezing sound is a symptom of asthma.
People who are allergic to any cause will firstly experience difficulty in breathing which, if untreated and not taken care of right since the initial stage, may escalate and create complication afterwards. The cause of allergy may be due to breathing in which dust, pollens, animal hair, and feathers are taken along. These enter through the nostrils and also affect the system. Allergy may also arise when food taken is not suitable to the digestive system. It is for people themselves to detect and to, therefore, know which food is good and which food is not.
Some people are allergic to pork. This means that if they consume pork, then they develop rashes all over the body followed by breathing trouble. Others are allergic to some other food items. Hence, it is important to be well-aware of the dangers that await if and when wrong food is consumed. During such experience, the reaction of the unsuitable food will be felt first in the air passage. It will become so narrow that the victim will find it very hard to breathe. The sufferer wheezes and coughs. The condition is worse when it concerns children. When children are attacked with asthma, they become weak and helpless. Their face turns pale and transforms into blue colour.
Asthma may also attack the persons who are very tired or unhappy or upset. Psychological effects cause the small bronchial passage in the lungs to become swollen with inflammation, partially blocked by phlegm. The narrowness in the air passage may also be caused because the muscles surrounding the air tubes become tight. What emanates at the time of breathing is the sorrowful wheezing sound.
Parents have to take good care of their children right from the infancy stage if they detect or suspect any symptom of asthma. Babies may have the wheezing sound at the time of breathing which may become noisy as they grow up. Once medical attention is obtained, they will grow up normally. The small air tubes expand thus allowing normal breathing devoid of any possible wheezy signs.
Sometimes asthma is caused by toughing something which irritates the skin. Chemicals, cosmetics, soaps, dyes, fabrics, and fur may cause an allergic rash. Poison ivy rash is a common allergy that people may develop. Asthma may also be hereditary.

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As pure as the lilies

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Dr. S.L. Marbaniang
Most often, in course of discussion or during a sermon, when the term “lilies” is mentioned it connotes purity. That’s why, the phrase, “as pure as the lilies”, is obtained and used. Lilies also signify whiteness. Accordingly, another related phrase, “as white as the lilies”, is analogously used.
The importance and the beauty of the lilies has also been mentioned in the Bible, according to the Gospel of Matthew (6:28-29): “And as for clothing, why are you anxious? Consider how the lilies of the field grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of these”.
Factually and interestingly, not all lilies are white. Some of these popular varieties are the red Japanese lilies, the non-white meadow lilies which may be yellow or orange flowers. Tiger lilies are spotted. the regal lilies of China, which grow up to eight feet in height, are white on the inside, purplish on the outside, and yellow at the base. Nevertheless, lilies are the oldest of all garden flowers and their popularity has never dimmed throughout the year. The pure white Easter lilies are the most prominent.
In the Northern Hemisphere, lilies grow wild and their colours and sizes vary from region to region, depending on climate and environment. Many hybrids and varieties have been developed from them. Tulips add hyacinths also belong to the lily family. Though tulips are the natives of Eastern Mediterranean, yet their name is of Persian origin which means “turban”.

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