Sunday, September 16, 2018

Creativity in the medical field: My brother's inventions

Creativity in all its forms can better our lives in so many ways. It's not only the satisfaction it gives us, but also the ability to enhance other people's lives, whether we are into arts, music, writing or science. Happy to share that my dear brother, the bio-medical engineering mind in the family, has saved lives through his inventions.

Click on this link to see video and the article that I copied below:

GAINESVILLE, Fla., (WCJB) -- There's a first time for everything, but if you've ever had a medical procedure, you might find yourself hoping it's not the doctor's first time with a patient.
A UF professor has helped create medical simulators so students can practice on a human-like subject before seeing you in the doctor's office.
On this Tech Tuesday, TV20 sat down with the UF professor to learn how his technology has helped save lives.
"Every clinician...doctor, nurse...they will always have a first patient," Samsun Lampotang, the inventor of the simulators, "Which they will do something for the first time, and generally, you and I as patients, don't want to be that first patient."
Dr. Lampotang from UF saw this issue time and time again as he went through med school and became a professor...no matter how well a student did, there were scenarios they wouldn't see sometimes for years into their medical practice.
"An anesthesia resident may spend four years ins anesthesia, and never see a rare case, because they are so rare they will not occur in the four years he or she is training, but when they leave and practice for 30 years, they will probable deal with encountering that rare event which sometimes can be fatal," he continued.
Lampotang decided to change that.
"With a simulator, we can make the experience something at will, so that should they encounter it in real life, 
they will see that pattern and they will remember, 'I've seen this before,' and they will initiate the appropriate 
response, pretty much automatically."
Lampotang and a team of doctors have created around 20 simulators -- which have arguably saved thousands 
of lives across the world.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Authors' Afternoon with Jean Marc Ah-Sen

Inviting all book lovers and writers to meet our talented guest author, Jean Marc Ah-Sen, and to chat with him about his writing, and his book, Grand Menteur.

It was chosen as one of the best 100 books in 2015 by the Globe and Mail. The list can be viewed here: The Globe100 - The best books of 2015. You can also read a sample online at amazon's kindle store by clicking "look inside" on amazon's Grand Menteur page,

Come by to hear more about street-gangs and the criminal world. It will be a thrilling afternoon.




Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Self-acceptance

Sharing this photo I took a few years ago in Mauritius. It reminds me that when we feel insignificant against the immensity of nature's splendour, it is easier to find perspective within ourselves. The meditative atmosphere is conducive to a deeper understanding of our capacity to love and accept ourselves and others as they are. It is an inner journey each of us has to take alone. It may not be easy at times. This article is a good reminder of how to practice self-acceptance.

When we can focus on the positive in us and in all situations, it is easier to accept the negative and work on them in a more constructive manner. I wrote this haiku to say it in simpler words.


In all negatives
you can discover the gift
of positive strength

Sunday, August 12, 2018

BIg City Blues

Went through a long, exhausting cold. Yes, of all things in the middle of summer. My body was too drained of energy to accomplish much, and yet my imagination kept churning at hyper speed with depressing thoughts on my health, city pollution, deceptive people, the violence in our world, making sleep a fidgety affair.


Grateful for the support of caring friends, and the creative resources that helped me out of the funk. I exorcised the wretchedness out of my system, and poured the chaos into Big City Blues, a photo montage, and poem about my feelings for this beloved, yet maligned city. I feel cleansed, and hopeful. If my art moves you, please write to me ...




Big City Blues

city lights glare
hard edges everywhere
streetcars screeching
cars spitting fumes
frantic rushing
vitriolic swearing
coldness of a stare
saps the heart bare
you crave the softness
of rolling hills
cool mists of waves
scents of wild flowers
that smell of hope
you taste its warmth
aware, so aware
of those who care



Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Authors' Afternoon with Ken Becker

Inviting you to chat with our guest author, Ken Becker, brilliant writer and journalist, who will discuss his memoir, The Expat Files: My Life in Journalism. He was a regular contributor to Maclean's magazine, a writer and producer for CBC News, and a journalism teacher at Humber College in Toronto. His op-ed pieces have been published in the Washington Post, the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. His amazing stories will make this an afternoon to remember.

You can read a short sample of his book on amazon by clicking on Look Inside.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

I caught a bad cold a few days ago and I ended up watching movies and documentaries in between sleeping and resting. This documentary resonates, especially at a time when we keep being pushed into insatiable consumerism by corporate advertising, and society in general. 

Minimalism is one way of getting out of the superficial consumer rut and getting in touch with our true selves. In this documentary, Dan Harris. explains that we keep wanting more because we're wired to "hunt". Since we don't need to hunt like caveman anymore, we now hunt for things to better our lives.

We're told by our governments to buy goods to keep the economy rolling so our countries can prosper. But corporations seem to gain the most in this, hence the extreme gap between rich and poor. So, why make prosperity the main goal in our lives? What about aiming for a sensible economy that is not fed by useless goods but the betterment of people's well-being?

I'm all for minimalism although I do want some minimum comfort in my home and I'm not planning to live with items that fit into a few bags. But I do feel lighter when I get rid of things I don't need. Owning less frees the mind. Try it and you'll see what I mean.

Minimalism can help us focus on more important things. like meaningful connections with people and communities that are inclusive and respectful of others, which would result in less anger and violence in this world. 




Here's a preview of the documentary. You can watch it on Netflix.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Books I chose for Scope Magazine

Happy to share these pages from Scope Magazine, a publication in Mauritius. Thanks to the editor, Khalid Atchia for asking me to write about four of my favourite books. I chose the ones that influenced me as a teenager. It was neat to go back in time, and recall the impressions they left on me. The editor's notes on the books are below mine.

We have all been affected by books. They touch our emotional core, sharpen our critical thinking, open new worlds to us and overall enrich our lives. I'd love to hear your comments on the ones that impacted you most.





Sunday, July 22, 2018

Over-giving in relationships

People who are overly generous often amaze us with the extent of their giving. But what are the deeper implications of over-giving in relationships?

Generosity is natural for many of us as it feels good to help others. Over-giving however is different. This article explains the difference: How to know if you're a generous person or an over-giver

I'm intrigued by the emotional make-up of people who over-give, and did some research for the short story I'm writing. This article and the quotes below shed some light on this topic:
Being too generous could hurt your relationships

... over-givers and people pleasers go hand in hand. Over-givers use gifts as a way to gain and keep friends, because they think they need to be overly generous to be liked ... Most commonly, people who give too much are suffering from low self-esteem ... They think they have to rely on giving to be seen in a positive light ...

In my short story, a woman showers the man she's fallen for with expensive gifts, and devotes her time to gain his love. He is not physically attracted to her, but is taken by her generosity. Her over-giving works but at what price?  He cheats on her throughout their relationship ...

Just a teaser for you, readers. You will have a chance to dive into the emotional turmoil of these characters when my collection of short stories gets published. Writing is sometimes akin to acting but with words only. I need to get into the inner world of my characters, feel their conflicts deeply, to be able to relate the stories from their perspectives. Oscar Wilde in his 1889 essay The Decay of Lying, said, "Life imitates art far more than art imitates life." Does it matter which is more than the other? Life and art imitate each other interchangeably when you're an artist.













Thursday, July 19, 2018

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise

I recently watched this documentary on Maya Angelou's life, and I'm sharing it with you as I'm so awed by her expressiveness, honesty, amazing courage, and indomitable spirit.  We need positive leaders of her calibre to speak up, and inspire us to make this world a better one, especially at a time when we are being bullied by an American President who keeps lying blatantly, and stirring hostility.


Click on this link to see the full documentary: 

This poem of hers, which is also the title of the documentary moves me very deeply as it expresses so intensely the inner strength of the human spirit. When we're put down by others, lied to, and treated inhumanely, and have the courage to not let the horrors of others' meanness drag us down, we can rise above all the negativity, flourish, and inspire others to do good. What an empowering message of hope.


Still I Rise


You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.


Monday, July 16, 2018

John Lorinc is back at the Authors' Afternoon

By popular demand, John Lorinc is back with his new book The Ward Uncovered. 

Inviting you to drop by and chat with this award-winning Toronto journalist and editor
who has contributed to The Globe and Mail and Spacing Magazine, among many publications.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Dependency in Relationships



In the short story I'm currently writing, I explore the theme of dependency in a relationship that appears to be loving, but is fraught with emotional manipulation and dishonesty. Is it love or attachment that keeps this couple together?

As usual, my writing propels me to share some thoughts and advice from my research, which I hope can help those who are in such situations.

Many of us have loved to a point that we don't even realize we're in a toxic relationship until something drastic happens to open our eyes.

Sometimes, couples become dependent on each other, making it difficult to move on. It's especially sad for those who keep forgiving their partners, believing it's love when often, it is an unhealthy attachment that stems from low self-esteem. This can lead to problems in physical health as this article explains: The hidden health hazards of toxic relationships

For those who want to make it work, it takes two and a lot more work needs to come from the person who hurt the other one most. Some advice on the importance of owning up to it all, and being honest about why it happened:
7 steps in rebuilding trust in a relationship

If this fails, here's advice on how to leave, grow from it, and love yourself again:
Letting go of a relationship that is not healthy

Monday, July 02, 2018

Interview with the Mauritian Magazine Prions

Interview with Françoise Yaw Kan Tong - Mootoosamy in the June issue of the Mauritian magazine Prions. We talked about my work, my diverse cultural backgrounds, and among many other things, what prayer means to me. I thought I might offend the magazine as I'm not a religious person even though I grew up Catholic, but Prions seems very open to different ideas. For example, I cannot comply to organized religion. And I've never been able to see god as a person. For me, it's an abstraction, a spiritual force that expresses itself as love. So, a prayer is a spiritual communication with the love within us. I truly believe religion is not necessary to lead a life guided by love, honesty, and kindness.

Conversation avec Françoise Yaw Kan Tong - Mootoosamy pour le magazine mauricien Prions. On a parlé de mon travail, de ma diversité culturelle, et parmi bien d'autres choses, ce que la prière signifie pour moi. Je pensais que j'allais peut-être offenser le magazine car je ne suis pas religieuse même si j'ai été élevée catholique. Mais il semble que Prions est très ouvert à des idées différentes. Par exemple, je ne peux pas me conformer à la religion organisée. Et je n'ai jamais pu imaginer dieu sous la forme d'une personne, car pour moi, c'est une abstraction, une force qui est amour. Ainsi, la prière est une communication spirituelle avec l'amour qui est en nous. Je pense sincèrement que la religion n'est pas nécessaire pour mener sa vie avec amour, franchise, et bienveillance.



Saturday, June 23, 2018

Why don't facts change our minds?

This interesting article in the New Yorker explains why facts seem irrelevant to people whose minds are stuck in false beliefs. Research shows that even if people are exposed to undeniable facts, many still prefer to keep their skewed ideas. For example, Trump supporters, even if they often see television footage of Trump stating something in one and then stating the opposite in the next, will still believe he is honest because they are emotionally invested in him. Once people are tied to certain beliefs, even if they are shown facts that prove they are wrong, they will try any possible argument to prove they're right, because as the article explains:

... people experience genuine pleasure - a rush of dopamine - when processing information that supports their beliefs. "It feels good to 'stick to our guns' even if we are wrong," they observe.

Here's another article (with audio version) that explains why people believe in fake news, unproven conspiracy theories and why they don't want to change their views. It's a very interesting read on the psychology of human nature, which I've always find fascinating.

If people, including politicians and corporate marketers, litter our lives with lies to influence our emotions and gain our loyalty for their own benefits, what can we do so we don't allow ourselves to be manipulated?

It's of course important to read several sources of information that are backed up with data, reliable research, etc. But we can also take charge of our lives by being in touch with ourselves and understanding why we react in certain ways that seem to defy logic. Awareness is the first step towards overcoming bias, fears and insecurities that make us vulnerable to manipulators. When we are willing to work on ourselves, and open our mind, we build up the strength to make better choices for our personal growth.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Resilience


A photo I took on a beach in Mauritius inspired this motivational haiku.

I've been thinking of how difficult it is for some of us to move on. We've all been in situations in which we've felt victimized, and found it difficult to function. Certain situations are of course more traumatic than others. Some will get over them, and some won't. There are many reasons why some are stuck, but there's always hope.

Here are a couple of articles that will bring some light as to whether you are holding on to a victim mentality. They also offer advice about how to shift your attitude. It may take some work, but it's about having the courage to be truthful about who you are, having the resilience to make changes, and improve your relationship with yourself, and with others.

23 signs you're suffering from a victim mentality

Do you succumb to the victim mentality trap? Here's how to break free!  

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Authors' Afternoon with R. Daniel Lester

Another great Sunday meet up to look forward to with you, book lovers and writers. Our guest for the next Authors' Afternoon  is R. Daniel Lester, a neighbourhood author who writes mystery, crime and sci-fi novels and more ... Come by and chat with him about his award-nominated book, Dead Clown Blues, his other publications, and his journey as a writer.


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Illusion

I was gazing at the lake through the glass of a bus shelter. The light was such that the building behind me was reflected on the glass, resulting in this optical illusion I captured … and the poem below…



it was an illusion
a mysterious fusion
filled with wonder, elation
misleading, yet real
until my view shifted
and the magic was gone


Monday, May 14, 2018

Authors' Afternoon with Ann Walmsley

Inviting you to a meet-up at Stella's Café with award-winning journalist, Ann Walmsley to discuss her book, The Prison Book Club. I hope you will join us to hear about her brave journey into the men's prisons despite a violent mugging she experienced in UK a few years earlier. 

I had the privilege of being in the same writing group as Ann for over 10 years. Her mastery of non-fiction writing, precise and evocative, has always impressed me. It was amazing to see the creative process of The Prison Book Club as it grew from a few chapters to an award-winning book. I'm so proud of her achievements, and thrilled that she is participating in our Authors' Afternoon.



Thursday, May 10, 2018

Celebrating friendships and emotional maturity ...

Spring, with its fresh blossoms, is an enchanting time of new beginnings. As we shed our winter clothes and bounce lightly towards summer, I feel renewed, blessed to have caring friends who share similar values, and are open to honest and insightful discussions.

This desire to understand each other, and communicate clearly can only help relationships grow deeper. Every failure or setback offers opportunities to learn about others and ourselves. When we're willing to listen, empathize, and resolve conflicts in a constructive manner, without letting our egos get in the way, we are taking positive steps in bettering ourselves and others, and becoming emotionally mature.

It may not be easy to do so with those who won't talk things out, but react with anger and insults when faced with challenging situations. Here's an article that sheds some light on the importance of emotional intelligence in such cases.

And this one analyzes the reasons people tend to regress to childish behaviour, and offers advice on healing past unresolved wounds that made anger become a habit.

For those who have such issues, and are willing to work on them, it's a big stride towards healing and finding peace within. Caring friends and relatives encourage and support such growth.

Celebrating friendship with this haiku poem I wrote, and magnolia flowers I photographed at High Park. Wishing you a beautiful spring ...