Wednesday, March 20, 2013

ADDICTION - part 2

In this post, would like to share a very in-depth response received to my earlier 'write up' on the subject.  My young friend  BhaiYousuf Rangoonwala is currently Brand Partner (Planning) BBH - Mumbai. 

It is my good fortune to know Yousuf from his growing up years, and he has written with fervor and truth. His 'write up' makes us realize the problem of addiction from different perspective. How our young Proffesionals, working in very  challenging and competitive environment, over come peer pressures, how difficult it is for them, and yet there are thousands, who have said NO to addiction in any form. Believe me friends, it is really very very difficult.

This post of mine is a humble tribute to all those young friends, who have shown courage and determination. It is on account of their upbringing in accordance with the tenets of our DEEN - their 'ohibboka ya Moulaya' elixir instilled from young age by their Parents. I salute all those Parents who have always been vigilant, aware and given their growing children advice with love and compassion. Parents who have been role models. 

So please read and reflect on what this young Proffesional has shared, hope many like him will come forward, overcome their inhibitions and thereby help many of their mumineen brethren. 


Thanks for putting up such a thoughtful post uncle. Really well-written. Some points I'd like to add-

A very critical point you mentioned is the feeling of euphoria that nicotine induces. One must ask, why is the euphoria needed? And why is its unnatural induction through nicotine harmful?

In the manifold answers to these questions lies the core of the problem - low self-esteem and the inability to cope with failure, limitation and mistakes. If you notice, most smokers cite stress as the reason to consume a cigarette and the likes. The stress is the result of a lack of belief that things can go wrong in this world, we all can make mistakes and we must not fear making them. The problem is compounded when there is a fear of reprimand for for even the smallest of errors.

Hence, to deny limitation, failure and mistakes whether it be in relationships, at work, at home or any other aspect in life, people want euphoria. They want to deny that they could have made a mistake, that the mistake will have consequences which must be faced and that they are limited and imperfect. They essentially want to deny the basic tenets of being human.

The dangers of such induced euphoria are, of course, shuddering - one suffers from low self-esteem because of not being brave enough to admit mistakes and associates a feeling of being a loser or failure with the actual mistake or failure. This causes fear. And fear clouds thinking. Hence, in the search for control, people can't see beyond the craving that you mentioned.

The euphoria also induces feelings of magnitude and, hence, megalomania in severe cases and a high sense of arrogance and narcissism in most. It also reflects self-hatred and, hence, a lack of compassion. You'll notice that people who smoke are harsh on others for even the smallest of mistakes, they are highly intolerant of change or difference and so low is their self-esteem that they believe they are limitless. They get angry easily and avoid getting emotional even for the right reasons.

Because the euphoria is short-lived but it tampers with the brain's natural ability to deal with change, failure, loss of control, etc, smokers find it hard to accept reality and have delusions. Delusions don't necessarily have to be of a hallucinatory nature. But they reek of fantasy - the constant need to prove intelligence, knowledge, superiority and rank: these are symptoms of fantasy as an escape from the humility of reality. And, hence, smokers keep craving for a smoke because they get jittery and nervous about the unknown, what's going to happen. How on earth can one expect smokers to believe in God? They believe they are always in control or need to be in control and can dictate the proceedings of their own life and can make anything happen. When things don't go according to plan, it's always others' fault and that everyone else is stupid.

A tendency that has also been noticed (although this is more with druggies, artists, alcoholics) is the development of maladaptive perfectionism  which is a negative obsession with perfection. Smokers can't live in chaos. The irony is they think they are intelligent when errors, chaos, imperfection, bravery, compassion, faith and vulnerability are essentials for being creative and intelligent. Striving for excellence is very different from being obsessed with being perfect

I work in advertising, so I know this problem inside out because a lot of people in our business smoke and drink. They cover up for their mistakes through these addictions. They think making mistakes is bad and that they can't make them. They think smoking and drinking is part of being cool and creative. That's utter rubbish. Research has long proven that invulnerability or the inability to deal with mistakes and failure is the first and biggest deterrent to creativity. I've also noticed that the ones in our business who don't smoke or drink are actually the ones who are the best writers and artists. they are ready to keep trying, don't quit easily even if their work is rejected by clients or their bosses and are genuinely nice people.

I would strongly recommend watching the TEDTalk of Dr Brene Brown on the "Power of Vulnerability" and "Listening to Shame" for those who want to quit this habit, recover their lost self-esteem and lead normal and happy lives. Be brave. Quit smoking.

Also, Dr Jitendra Nagpal - head of psychiatry and addiction resolution in children and young adults specialist at AIIMS Delhi is an authority on this. I had met him as part of my interest in understanding how children think and personality development. He told me that addiction is a trap, because it makes you feel you've done nothing wrong, it reduces your ability to cope with mistakes. You feel you're getting over loss and failure yet what it is actually doing is dragging you further into it.

One last point, an addiction and religious affinity map of the world will reveal that atheism, religious discontent and discord, debt, weapons and breakdown of family structures and destruction of values for a harmonious society and, most importantly, depression, is directly proportional to places where alcohol and tobacco addiction and drugs consumption is high. The USA (barring the mid west) and parts of Europe are a prime example.

Creativity has a lot to do with failure etc so these areas and addiction have long been an interest of mine. Because, after all, I am also human and it often perplexed me that my habits and what I had been taught seemed to be quite the opposite of what the so-called creative people used to practice and preach. I was caught in a moral dilemma - excelling at one's work is also a virtue and one must do what it takes, yet we'd been told to abstain from such habits.

Often, I would also feel compelled to take to alcohol because I thought that would make me cool or more creative, but somehow I resisted it. maybe it was Moula TUS that came to my rescue. Over the years, as I forayed into understanding logic and imagination and creativity and the idea of being because these subjects seemed to be inseparable from my work, I realized that all along, I had been on the right path and that the source and the true king of all logic, creativity, knowledge, lateral thinking and imagination is our Aqa Moula TUS.

Low self-esteem is the cause of most problems on earth and we must consider ourselves SERIOUSLY LUCKY that Aqa Moula and his dawat work so hard (yet make it look effortless) to keep us from straying into the dungeons and abysses of shame, suffering and that nagging feeling that " I am not good enough, loved enough, smart enough, rich enough, etc".

Khuda behve moula TUS ni umr shareef ne qayamat na din lag daraaz karjo. Ameen

Yousuf Mohammadbhai Rangoonwala -  Mumbai

E Mail:,bbh-india-brings-in-yousuf-rangoonwala.aspx

References and sources for the above write up:

Dr Brene Brown's TEDTalk "The power of vulnerability" and "Listening to shame"

Castro, J.R.; Rice, K.G. (2003, February 9), "Perfectionism and ethnicity: implications for depressive symptoms and self-reported academic achievement", Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology

Melissa Jackson, (2004, June 19). "Why perfect is not always best". BBC News.

Martin P (2008). Sex, Drugs & Chocolate: The Science of Pleasure. London: Fourth Estate

Conversations with Dr Jitendra Nagpal, Head of Psychiatry (specialist in addiction resolution and mental health development in children and young adults) at Moolchand Fortis Hospital and Consultant Psychiatrist at AIIMS.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


ADDICTION in any form is harmful to the individual and the society at large. Addiction to power, addiction to self,  addiction to be 'always right' etc: but in this post I will be talking about addiction to Nicotine (cigar rates, chewing tobacco, zarda, kaat, kheni  etc:) the harmful effects of which are well documented and also well known to the addicts, but sadly very hard to overcome.

A'li Qdr Muffadal Moula Saifuddin (TUS) has given a clarion call, has started a 'mauhim' in earnest to free the community of the growing menace of nicotine use, and within a short span of time, positive results are being witnessed. Not in the distant past, the community has freed it self from the clutches of 'interest' and now is the time to rise up and help each other, in what ever way possible, to free the festering underbelly of the community with the immense harm of nicotine use.

This than is my humble effort in that direction. There are many families who may be having their loved ones, addicted to this menace. There may be friends, tanzeem members, co-workers, who I am sure very well know the immense harm they are bringing on themselves and their loved ones, by their addiction.

What I feel is that they - our fellow mumineen , need our empathy and understanding  and mere sermonizing and admonitions will not do. You are said to be  doing a disservice to your loved ones, friends and colleagues, if you merely sermonize, admonish and feel smug, that you have done or duty. Sorry no, you have to reach out, and in order to to do that, one  should first understand, why it is so hard to kick the habit ? What is nicotine ?  What are the causes for addictions ? What are the consequences ? What are the remedies and solutions ?

First and foremost the family / friend addict needs your empathy and understanding, and you must also feel that for his condition, you are also responsible in a sense. So this post of mine, is in that direction of understanding the addiction, and how best to overcome it.

Nicotine is addictive. It contains powerful chemicals such as carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. It is the prime cause of cancer, heart disease, blood sugar, Chronic Bronchitis, Respiratory failure, depression etc:

What it does ?

It causes changes in the brain , which induces a euphoric state of the mind. Here it is prudent to recall the Nashihat of Syedi Sadiq Ali Saheb : ' zahir ma halavat chhe, pan zehr chhe khufiya ma'. With recent scientific studies and many Research Papers published on the Net, it is no more 'khufiya' the addict also knows, that it is bringing harm to him and his family.

Nicotine is a psychoactive drug that produces dependence  Nicotine releases Dopamine, which stimulates sensation of pleasure, motivation and reward.  Nicotine levels drop relatively quickly, which causes the sense of craving.

When an addict tries to overcome the addiction, very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms are experienced, the addict feels depressed, irritated and unable to concentrate. So these are real issues, and they need our understanding and empathy.

So if one wants to reach out and do a singular service, one has to accept the fact that nicotine addiction is a hard nut to crack. But studies have shown, that it can be overcome, and there are thousands of success stories.

What is needed to overcome the addiction ?

We mumineen are blessed to have our beloved Aqa Moula (TUS) his doa mubaraka and his nazarat rahima and the world wide community awareness campaign initiated by his Mansoos A'li Qdr Muffadal Saifuddin Moula (TUS) is for ever there. What is needed is a firm resolve on the part of those addicted and the firm belief that 'we will overcome'

These are some of the other points.
1. Determination and inner strength.
2. Encouragement and understanding from the loved ones and community at large.
3. Healthy diet.
4. Adequate exercise. Tanzeem can start clubs, where physical activities are encouraged.
5. Homeopathic - Naturepathy - Herbal treatments.

According to Associate Proffesor of Medicine  Franck T Leone - " My patient are people who smoke, but they know they should stop. They describe feeling sad, angry and hopeless. They tell me it is frustrating and confusing, embarrassing and shameful. They are trapped between desperately - wanting to stop and desperately not wanting to stop. Their lives are literally on the line - they know it.

Nicotine works in that place of the brain, where survival instincts are born. The more a person wants to change - the more the instinct tells him - change is bad for you'

So my friends, if you  really want to 'reach out'  you have to first respect the problem, and also respect the people struggling to find a way out from it. Start working on solution based thinking 

Determination and inner strength can be achieved by meditation, mindfulness and deep breathing exercises. There are hundreds of resources on the Net. In my own family one of my sister, who is very much into alternate therapy, overcame the urge of chocolates, by being 'mindfulness' and being 'aware' at each stage, from opening of the chocolate wrapper, the twirling of chocolate in her mouth, the taste etc: It did surely work for her.

For effectively overcoming  the addiction, here are several other tested measures. 

Drink water at regular intervals. take cough drops or chewing gum in the initial stages only.

Understand that the craving last for not more than 5 minutes. So when the craving arises, find a distraction, move away from what ever you are doing, take a walk or call a friend or listen to soothing music. Laugh out loud -' mein tara sinkaja nahi avoo, mane uloo ghana waqt thi banavto rahyo, mari zeet chhe - tari haar chhe ......... go on and on - what ever works best for you.

Homeopathic remedies help to lessen anxiety, restlessness, and irritability. One has to consult a practicinor  for proper evaluation, as the treatment is fully symptom based. Some of the recommended medicine to kick the habit, are Nux Vomica - Avna Sativa which is made from wild oats, Carbo Animalis, Plantago etc: The doctor should explain to the addict, what each type of medicine will do. Understanding and awareness is the key to complete recovery.

Some of the herbal remedies are - Oats - Lobelia - Marsh mellows.

So it is not the end of the world for one who seriously wants to overcome addiction. Knowledge is Power. Addiction can be defeated, one deserves more from life than just being subdued by addition, and if our well organized community lends a helping hand, the goal of complete eradication of addiction from the community, similar to being completely free from the clutches of 'interest bearing transactions' will be surely achieved in the shortest possible time.

The difference for complete transformation from ILNESS to WELNESS is to substitute the suffering 'I' with the 'WE'  of compassion, friendship and altruism. Let us all join hands in this noble 'mauhim'  by advising , encouraging, motivating our brother addict, but most of all by empathizing. If compassion is there, miracles will surely happen.


Monday, March 11, 2013


Inspired by the 102 Milad Mubaraka initiative of planting trees and taking loving tender care of potted plants in our home and work places, our extended family spread across the continents, decided to have a family competition and every one participated by posting their potted plant pics on Whattsapp.

My niece Sarah Boriyawala's family from Dubai won hands down, leaving all of us far behind, so I have decided to dedicate this post to her efforts. These are a few of the pictures from her balcony and drawing room.


Sarah's family balcony is resplendent with organic Jalapenos,  Tomatoes, Spring onion, Ajwain, Pudina and Coriander. The plants need half hour of daily watering, and care has to be taken to weed out fungus and do the pruning once in a week. With a lot of information readily available on the Net, just the will to do, is needed.

Sarah's family won hands down, because the Builder has provided the flat owners with a stretch of soil, as an extension to the balcony, with an inlaid sprinkler system. So any one having such a facility, can easily maintain and carry out organic farming in their homes.

The indoor plants, need only to be watered once a week, but they bring nature right into our homes, and are so pleasing to the eyes. According to Bhen Sarah B plants add a sense of  beauty and serene calm and coolness. It is a good idea to have small pots of single colored flowers on the window sill, and side tables, they really brighten up the home and infuse a sense of  happiness.

If a family has young children prancing around the home, it makes practical and better sense to have colorful indoor plants, than expensive Swaroski crystals and artifacts, which have to be continuously guarded, and the young ones hushed away all the time.

In such families, I would suggest to start with bringing home 3 different varieties  of indoor plants, and make your little darling aware that one is Abba plant - the other one is Ammi plant and that one is my little darling's plant. Just see the magic work. From day one your child will start connecting with his plant. Both will grow in a very loving environment !!

Today's Indian Express carried an article titled ' Blossoms For All' about the Market Yard flower market at Pune. What I liked was the observation, that the difference with other whole sale markets,  contained in the sprawling Market Yard, is that the flower market with 'almost every hue of the rainbow on display, is a delight to all five senses'

Likewise, if one makes a little effort and brings home a few plants and tends it with loving care, the entire family will have a very enriching experience, each day. Petunias are popular and reliable flowering and ornamental plants. The blossoms of Petunia come in many colors. Moon flower grows and flowers quickly in warm tropical zones. Their fragrance and beautiful blooming makes them an excellent choice for hanging baskets.

 Plants are also are teacher, if one is observant, there is a lot to learn. In my earlier blog on Fate, I had posted a home video of a small plotted plant, which taught me a life lesson.

With rising health hazards on account of greater use of pesticides in commercial farming, health conscious people are turning towards organic farming. If one is blessed to have a small patch of green, a small organic farm in your own back yard is not a big deal.

Net provides a lot of information, and for fence sitters, sharing just two links out of hundreds available, to get started.

(Tips on Organic Gardening - Basic simple - it just needs your will and intention to start your small organic garden )