Paint the Town Yellow: The Tale of Turmeric

I grew up with turmeric, we are old friends. Old yellow buddies. Besties with benefits.

Turmeric (Curcumina longa) is a bright yellow plant rhizome that grows underground and is related to ginger. Obviously ginger is the less successful of the cousins.

The face behind tumeric’s success is curcumin, an anti-inflammatory compound. In Indian cuisine, turmeric dates back thousands of years as does its use in traditional Ayurvedic medicine.

I became introduced to turmeric by my astute mother, a new-age renegade who ate quinoa a decade before anyone else did. She used turmeric regularly in her daily Indian cooking: a spoonful in every shak (Indian vegetable dish) she made.

Most importantly, I have become bosom buddies with turmeric through anecdotal stories and clinical trials boasting the benefits of this yellow powder which has potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties.  I am here to share the news!

Long-term ingestion of curcumin (from turmeric) has been associated with….

decreased cholesterol

improvement in inflammatory bowel disease

healing of eczema and psoriasis affecting skin

reduced risk of cancer (colon, prostate, etc)

relief for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions

relief of pain associated with osteoarthritis

protection against neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease

a healthy liver

fighting infections through anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties

possible prevention of type II diabetes

Please be aware that bioavailability of turmeric (proportion of turmeric that stays in your body) is enhanced when you simultaneously ingest piperine (a component of black pepper). So always cook turmeric with black pepper!

Paint the town yellow with turmeric!

Thank You Note

This past year has been the most devastating of my life, but when I see you in this picture, I can’t help but smile. I miss you. I miss your goofy laugh. I miss your patience and unconditional kindness. I miss the joy on your face from the simple things in life. I miss the calming effect of your hugs and the depth of your knowledge. Although you were clearly an extraordinary person, you never recognized the hidden gems within yourself. (Who else can spin a basketball on the tip of his finger, whistle the tune of a song, and fix any type of computer/tech issue, all at the same time?!)

For so many years, I tried to influence you with my narrow and uptight view of what life should be. Now you have convinced me to live freely and creatively, liberated from societal expectations. Your morality and quest for authenticity have taught me to search for meaning in my life, and your inner struggles have taught me to accept support from loved ones. You have given me the courage to quit my job as a pathologist and take time off to change careers. Most importantly, you have inspired me to live with purpose and happiness. My dear brother Neil, for this final gift, I thank you.

In Loving Memory of Neil Patel (August 5th, 1987 – July 16th, 2014)



Aura, rise

Aura, go

Swing your starry scarf

into the night

Leap ahead

Dance in waves but

leave your patience


You may wander off

and lose control

but your grit will remain


Your eyes may close

Your smile may cement

but your love will remain


Aura, see

Aura, go

Be wild in the streets


When your soul hurts

follow the crumbs

and you will find

your home

in the light.

Circus Indian Weddings

This is prime wedding season for Indian-American couples. The calendar from Memorial Day to Labor Day is packed with extravagant weddings, not to mention those scheduled for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. As unlucky guests, we are asked to sacrifice three-day weekends to attend weddings of people we barely know, suffering through forgettable events we can barely tolerate.

Traditionally, Gujarati people in India had arranged marriages with people from neighboring villages and didn’t have to travel too far for weddings. Today, most Indian couples in America meet online or are introduced by friends/family. Through technology and increased air travel, geographic distance no longer limits a couple from having a courtship. In parallel with long-distance relationships, guests are asked to travel far distances to attend these weddings (Chicago, Los Angeles, Cancun, and South Africa). Yep, there go my life savings and all my reward miles!

Parents of the couple often invite hundreds of their friends and family to their children’s weddings. 1st cousins, 2nd cousins, great uncles, nieces, and more. The bride and groom (being gregarious, social butterflies of course) also invite a gaggle of friends. Everyone is pressured to attend the wedding, through an invisible yet powerful peer pressure system.  It doesn’t matter if you use up all your vacation and sick days at work, the wedding of your 3rd cousin (once removed) is paramount.

Indian weddings don’t last hours, they last days. On average three days! Multiple events, such as the “welcome dinner”, mehndi/sangeet night, garba night, puja/vidhi ceremony, wedding ceremony, and reception, are what uninterested guests have the pleasure of looking forward to. Yes ladies, get ready to pack five different Indian outfits into your carry-on suitcase! From Google Earth, an Indian wedding looks like hundreds and hundreds of brown ants being weighed down by gaudy Indian outfits.  Summer beach weddings are the worst. Why don’t you try being fried alive by the sun while wearing a blanket-like sari?

Tragically, Indian-Americans have come to see the wedding reception as a way to boast their status is society. The bride is covered with gold and diamonds; the decorations are elaborate; there is always a chocolate fountain.  The latest trend in California is to hire belly dancers and acrobats to entertain guests at the reception.  Along with the traditional elephant or horse at the wedding baraat, the entire wedding starts to resemble a circus show (sans the peanuts)!

Yes, the open bar and dancing are fun! But what else is? Guests don’t even get a chance to speak to the bride and groom (they are sitting on a plush sofa on a stage, for cryin’ out loud!) Most guests don’t understand the Sanskrit verses the pundit chants during the Hindu wedding ceremony. Heck, I can’t even understand the long, drawn-out speeches at the reception, which are in English!

Indian-American couples, it’s time for you to stop being selfish and make a drastic change.  Indian weddings are overly expensive, waste precious resources, and put a financial burden on guests who aren’t millionaires. The average price of a large Indian wedding weekend is $90,000 to $100,000. Imagine what you can do with that money! You can build a school in India; you can buy a house; you can donate the money to support any cause in the world. Causes like vaccinations for children, basic education for young girls, mosquito nets for malaria-stricken areas, and financial assistance after devastating earthquakes. The list goes on and on.

Wake up and smell the air pollution. This world is not being improved by a wasteful wedding. In 10 years, the guests will never remember the exact flowers, food, fireworks, or party favors from your wedding. They will remember if you made a difference.

Be the change.