A Peace Which Crowned Her Life

“She had looked for his coming as warriors come,
With the clash of arms and the bugle’s call;
But he came instead with a stealthy tread,
Which she did not hear at all.

She had thought how his armor would blaze in the sun,
As he rode like a prince to claim his bride:
In the sweet dim light of the falling night
She found him at her side.

She had dreamed how the gaze of his strange, bold eye
Would wake her heart to a sudden glow:
She found in his face the familiar grace
Of a friend she used to know.

She had dreamed how his coming would stir her soul,
As the ocean is stirred by the wild storm’s strife:
He brought her the balm of a heavenly calm,
And a peace which crowned her life.” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Love has been the most favorite topic of poets and artists for centuries. A lot has been written and depicted about love in the form of romantic poems, novels, and various art forms from paintings to sculptures and from buildings to monuments.

Even today, when technology has changed the world and spread its feet in all spheres of life, love is intangible and innocent. Love is a feeling, an action, a connection that is free of social and cultural boundaries.

People love to read about love and romance. This reason is just enough to explain the popularity and demand of some of the great classic love stories from Wuthering heights to Casablanca.

Though a lot has been written about love time to time, I personally feel that there is very less reading available for those who want to explore the intricacies of modern-age romance.

Modern-age love stories set in the background of different cities, internationally, are rare to find. Book “Still the Love Blooms” allows the readers to slowly unfold the petals of blooming love in different parts of the world, from the most developed and enriched nations to the most poor and war-stricken developing countries of the world.

All About Ukraine Russia Conflict

The relationship between Russia and Ukraine witnessed a series of ups and downs with situations ranging from complex tensions and hostility to cooperation and mutual agreements. However, the terms were fairly cooperative under President’s Victor Yanukovych office from Feb 2010 to Feb 2014, after which the relations between 2 ethnic kins underwent a series of drastic events leading to massive destruction and mass desolation.

It is believed that the present day Ukraine crisis is an inflamed outcome of decade’s old conflict between the 2 countries that searched its roots back in the month of November of year 2013, when the pro-Russian president of Ukraine Mr. Victor Yanukovych rejected the integration agreement with EU and expressed his willingness to have closer ties with Russia. This resulted in an organized mass protest by Euromaidans who wanted Ukraine-Europe relations to be stronger for better cultural and economic reforms. They accused Yanukovych a corrupt autocrat and blamed him of obeying Russia’s orders and nothing but merely a puppet of Putin’s hands.

The peaceful protest turned violent when president Yanukovych deployed armed forces against the protestors. Euromaidan movement gained momentum culminating into February 2014 Ukraine revolution that resulted into the ousting of President Yankovych to Russia.

Following the removal of Yankovych, unrest developed in the eastern regions of Ukraine mainly in Donestk and Luhansk oblasts from where Yankovych gathered most of the support. Pro-Russian rebels took control of the Crimea resulting in Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula. Fighting started in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian forces and the pro-Russian insurgents demanding for autonomy of the Donbass region. The rebels lost most of the territory to the Ukrainian forces until the invasion of Russian military into the eastern region of the country backing pro-Russian insurgents against the Ukrainian forces. Proxy war that started between Russia backed rebels and Ukrainian armed troops destructed and devastated the entire Donbass region to the hilt leaving many civilians homeless, without food and even water. Many fled their houses to either Russia or to the western region of Ukraine because the unsuccessful implication of the shaky ceasefire that had been signed between the representatives of 2 countries in Belarus failed to stop the ongoing violent conflict and massive artillery use from both the sides confining civilians to live under the threats of constant shelling and bombardments of their residential areas and towns.

With the revival of the ceasefire agreement and with implication of new truce treaty, though least effective, Ukrainian troops retreated from the conflict zone, and the entire eastern Ukraine was considered to be under complete control of Pro-Russian separatists.

The most recent development in the Ukraine crisis is that the 2 important European allies of Ukrainian Government, France and Germany, have asked Mr. Petro Poroshenko, Ukrainian president at present, to ensure partial self rule for the pro-Russian separatist east with efforts of bringing the ongoing conflict to its climax.

Yemen Crisis

The ongoing war between the Northern Shia rebels and the forces loyal to the exiled government of Yemen has forced the country to reach the verge of famine. According to UN, there are about 13 million people in the country that are in urgent need of help.

Though the fighting is over, Saudi-led coalition airstrikes is still on targeting the Houthi bastions in the northern regions of the country. But how it all started and how one of the oldest centers of human civilization in the Near East transformed into a blood-engrossed land of killed human bodies.

Weak unstable government, economic difficulties, marginalization, corruption, and exhaustion of the resources led to rebellious uprising against the government of Yemen in the year 2004. Years’ old contention resurfaced in the form of a violent conflict between forces allying to President Hadi and Zaidi Shia rebels, the Houthis.

The conflict continued for several months with massive killings of civilians, Yemen army personnel, and Houthis until Houthi rebels took a siege of president Hadi’s house compelling him to run away to Aden to save his life. After gaining strength from his supporters and allies, Hadi declared Aden as the temporary capital of Yemen while the Houthis kept on approaching towards the South of Yemen to reach Aden.

In an interim, Al-Qaeda established its base in Yemen after the downfall of its supreme leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Based on the ideology of strict radical Sunni Islam, Al-Qaeda opposed Houthis, and launched several terror attacks and bombings in the country that further fueled the ongoing conflict between the 2 sects.

Even after encountering several terror attacks, ambushes, and skirmishes with Al-Qaeda of Arabian Peninsula and allied forces of Hadi, Houthis forced their way to Hadi’s provisional capital Aden. Hadi had to abscond again to hide under the cover of Saudi Arabia.

Hadi pledged for Saudi intervention in Yemen to solve the ongoing political and religious crisis of the country that led to military intervention by Saudia Arabia in company with 8 other Arab states and with logistic support from the US.

Massive bombing and military operations by Saudi-led forces, terror attacks by Al-Qaeda, and the ongoing war between the Houthi rebels and the Yemen army as well as Hadi supporters led to a state of complete disorder and utter chaos in Yemen. This provided an ultimate battleground for the Islamic State affiliated extremist groups to establish their bases in Yemen and conduct terror attacks both against the militia and the innocent civilians.

On April 21st 2015, Saudi bombing crusade ended with the proposal of “Operation Restoring Hope” to end the war; however, airstrike didn’t stop against Hauthi bastions and war continued in Aden.

Yemen chaos resulted in massive destruction of the already depleting natural resources transforming the highly fertile land of Yemen to a desolated, war-torn piece of earth. Once known as Arabic Felix which means happy or fortunate Arabia, the country drastically hit by hunger and famine leaving approximately 20 million Yemenis to be food deprived.

Is Greece on the Verge of Fresh Elections?

The infamous debt crisis of Greece is years old and dates back to the year 2008 when the world’s worst recession hit the country. Bearing the brunt of stringent austerity measures proposed by its international creditors, the country had been facing tough economic reforms in exchange of heavy bailout packages since 2010. Bleak possibilities of Greece exiting from the Eurozone loomed larger resulting in more tough economic reforms over the period of time. Rising pension cuts, hike in taxes, job cuts, and overgrowing unemployment rate compelled the peace loving and friendly Greeks to take the roads of all major cities leading to massive protests, civil disobedience, violence, and riots.

Demonstrations and violent agitations against the ruling party and the proposed austerity led to early legislative elections in the beginning of year 2015. Anti-austerity party Syriza wins the elections and forms a collision government with Mr. Alexis Tsipras as the head of the newly formed government.

Deliberate attempts to avoid the likelihood of Greece going out of Euro forced the country’s newly elected Prime Minister to accept even tougher economic reforms proposed by the Troika. Anti-austerity party Syriza had to kneel down in front of country’s international creditors causing rift among the party members. The party that had formed government in the early 2015 elections with full majority is divided between the rebels of the left wing and the rest of the party.

Split between his own MPs and rising discrimination among the party members have compelled Mr. Tsipras to decide stepping down, calling for snap elections in attempts of garnering public support for the consented 3 year long bailout program.

Heavy rounds of meetings would take place to decide the fate of Greece’s new governance, and there are high chances that the meetings would end up with the announcement of new election date. Greeks have to return to the polling stations once again to choose their new government. Four months ahead of the year end, Greece finds itself again at the brink of fresh elections. somewhere in the midst of September 2015.

With the opinion poll survey suggesting Syriza again emerging as a single largest party, there are high prospects of Mr. Alexis Tsipras repeating his term. There is also a likelihood of Mr. Tsipras forming a new coalition boycotting the leftist rebels if his party wins the majority.

In the fallout of tough economic reforms and election after election, the Greeks once known for their high quality of life all over the would have to undergo a roller coaster ride once again after the implementation of new bailout program.

Force Feeding – A Legalized Torture

The prisoner looked pale and weak. He hadn’t had anything in the past several weeks. A security personals team arrived, and he was dragged from his cell to the prisoners’ medical ward. There, he was strapped onto a chair. Two of the security personals restrained his head. A medical professional came forward and tried to insert a thin tube through the prisoner’s nose into his stomach. The prisoner resisted the insertion of the tube shaking up his shackled extremities but to no avail. The tube was set in place, and nutrients were forcefully injected into his stomach. After an hour or so of forceful tube feeds, he was unchained and dragged to the cell where there was no water or plumbing facilities. He was dropped on the floor of the dry cell. Succumbing to the exhaustion of the forceful ingestion of nutrients, his vision blurred. He felt weak and devastated, couldn’t resist him from dozing off.

How it feels when someone feeds you forcibly against your wish. Isn’t the biggest torture to forcefully insert a tube through someone’s nose or mouth and make him ingest essential nutrients through the tube to keep him alive? While the entire medical fraternity from World Medical Association to Red Cross has condemned force feeding time and again, the crude treatment of hunger-struck prison inmates is still unabated in the darkness of the detention centers behind the iron rails. Be it a case of Guantanamo Bay prisoners or Indian civil right activist Irom Sharmila, force feeding has been unethically practiced across the globe.

Forcefully inserting the tube into the patient’s esophagus through nose could be dangerous and fatal if the patient is adamantly rejecting the entire procedure. The tube could end up landing in his lungs through the trachea, undetected; the feeding solution could fill the lungs leading to pneumonia, respiratory failure, or even death. Moreover, the antiemetics that are administered before forcefully injecting the nutrients into human body have debilitating side effects and if taken in a long run could lead to neurological disorders.

It has been recognized by the World’s Medical Association as well as by the UN that a prisoner in his usual state of mind is free to express his emotions and anger by nonviolent means and hunger strike is a form of freedom of expression. It has also been communicated that feeding a prisoner against his wish is unethical, and it is the extremes of human cruelty and should not be practiced.

Recently, the Israeli parliament has also passed a much controversial bill related to force feeding the prisoners who are on the brink after long-standing hunger strikes. Though the force feedings are done in extreme circumstances to save the prisoner’s life, they are seen as yet another form of torture and tyranny.

Who are the Masai?

The sun was at its full gleam. The parched desert beds were hot enough to burn feet. A barefoot woman emerged out of a small dome shaped house, made up of cow dung, in the midst of the desert. Wearing a red wrap and countless beaded necklaces, she giggled with other ladies standing outside the house under the canopy of hot blazing sun challenging the scorching heat and the emptiness of the lunar landscape of east Africa. Fetching their heads with empty water cans with the help of ropes, they made their way to the pit dug in a nearby dried up riverbed.

The women belong to the indigenous mysterious tribe of Africa, the Maasai. Living along the borders of Kenya and Tanzania, the Maasai tribe of east Africa is known for its rich cultural heritage and its semi-nomadic pastoral lifestyle. Defying the modern-age technological advancements and western culture influences, the tribe still follows its age-old tradition of living. Cattle are the utmost worth for the tribe. It is for the sake of their animals that they keep on wandering across the rugged terrains of deserts in search of water and fodder.

The entire continent of Africa has been dealing with severe water scarcity problems due to impending droughts. The reasons are many, but deforestation could be the major cause of prevailing drought and the infamous famine of African horn. The conditions are worse in remote areas and villages and the most affected are the pastoral tribes of Africa inhabiting the arid and semiarid regions of the country where water is a wealth and the cattle are god. Due to poor rainfall, prevailing scarcity of water, government negligence, and administrative loopholes, the indigenous tribes of Africa are losing their animals.

Dependent on their livestock for daily meal in the form of meat, milk, and blood, they are compelled to combine various other forms of livelihood along with their pastoral activities to survive on the toughest terrains of earth in extreme climatic conditions.

The effects of ongoing deforestation and illegal poaching practices combined with marginalization by the local administration may be the leading cause of extinction of the tribe’s ancient culture and tradition in the near future. But for now, they are keeping their heads high challenging the adverse circumstances and the bleakness of the environment. Emerging as true warrior tribes of Africa, they are committed to keep their stone-age traditions intact despite all odds of life.

Prescription Drug Overdose – What it is and how to avoid

Ruth was having trouble sleeping. Below average grades at school and a recent breakup with her 3-month old boyfriend could be the 2 major causes of her sudden insomnia. What did she do? Did she talk to her parents or friends or did she try any other way of letting the infuriation blow out.

She might have walked on the wet grass of her lawn to feel the coldness on her feet inhaling the relaxing breeze or pamper herself by getting a manicure done. No, she didn’t try any of these. Instead of that, she gained access to her mom’s anti-anxiety medication Xanax. After administering 2 pills in a go, she went to bed and stared in zero self pitying herself and seeking a quick refuge from the doldrums of life.

After a couple of minutes, the drug started working. She felt relaxed and calmed. Switching off the side lamp, she slumbered.

This is not Ruth’s case anymore; a majority of US population is dealing with the phenomenon of prescription drug abuse that is soon going to be categorized as an epidemic if the trend continues.

Be it dealing with mild to moderate headache or a simple back pain due to sudden jerk during a football match, poor grades at school, breakup with the boyfriend, or simply peer pressure, most of the young American kids and teenagers are relied on pills to cope up with the simplest issues of day to day life. Pop a pill and you will be alright, the young American generation has been trained rather hypnotized in such a way that easily available over the counter pain killers and many other prescription drugs used in the treatment of severe psychotic illnesses and mild to severe psychiatric disorders would help solve all the problems.

NSAIDs and opiates are the forms of medications that have been widely prescribed for simple to severe pain management while Zyprexa, Naproxen, Prozac, Diazepam and so more are some of the heavy antidepressants that are being administered by the folks for “just not feeling good” or simply “feeling low.” These are the medicines if taken in high quantities can lead to drug poisoning or even death.

The fatal outcome of the drug overdose is not new to the world. Time and again, the world had witnessed shocking and breaking news of death of their favorite celebrities due to prescription drug overdose. From yesteryears Divas Marilyn Monroe to posthumous Academy Award winner actor Heath Ledger to the biggest sensation of the music world Michael Jackson all had fallen prey to the lethal hands of prescription drug abuse.

The problem can be dealt only with free and open communication channels by letting the people know the debilitating side effects of these prescription medicines. In case of kids and teenagers, the issues can be addressed by the parents and the teachers who can advice them that the instant high and a sudden feeling of euphoria associated with the use of these drugs is mere a mirage, an unrealistic hope, that will soon vanish, and the side effects of the drug would linger much longer than the kick of a couple of minutes or hours. Open up and breathe. Go on a trek, talk to your friend, or just simply take a walk in your courtyard. Save yourself from falling into the deadly trap of lethal drugs instead of making yourself sickly dependent on the slow venom.

Chennai Floods 2015 – The Resilience

I still remember the crazy summer afternoons of Chennai when I used to gaze the city standing in the front balcony of my 3rd floor apartment flat located in the posh residential commune of Pallikarnai. Scorching fire spewing sun, parched and deserted streets, sun-bathed low and high rises of the hot and humid city of Chennai would often make me regret on my decision of moving along with my husband from Bangalore to Chennai when he switched his job in the year 2012.

But, now I am really thankful to God for what I have experienced and learned during my stay in the southern metro of India. It was during my 2 years of stay in the city when I got to know the undying spirit of Chennai which is unique in its own way.

The southernmost part of India where all the 4 seasons of the year are dominated by hot and humid summers, a city that has witnessed the tumultuous Tsunami in the year 2004 and where floods and cyclones have swathed the dwellings multiple times in the past, Chennai has always displayed its innate ability of resilience.

I didn’t feel surprise when on T.V. I saw an old woman floating over the waters to reach a safer patch of earth in the submerged city. I could notice that brief smile on her frazzled face overshadowing the effects of severe devastation caused by recent floods. It didn’t appear that the severity of rains and inundation in any way has knocked down the old lady’s capability of bouncing back. It’s just not the case of that old woman, one can notice several men, women, and children bravely coping up with the adversities caused by the rains that lashed the town to almost ruins a few days before.

It is this undying spirit of the citizens that keeps the city going. Though floods have shattered the lives of many of this ever smiling peculiarly distinct port city, it’s hard to find a single person belonging to the city complaining about anything. And, it’s the vibrancy, liveliness, and courage of the citizens that help the city shine again. Chennaites have proudly overcome the shadows of despair and hopelessness and are courageously fighting back. Chennai is live again. Salute to all Chennaites!