Thursday, October 27, 2005

Building an Intestine

So I was browsing through the archives of the New England Journal of Medicine and came across this article on the importance of commensal microflora, the bacteria that live in symbiosis within our intestine. Apparently,

commensal bacteria interact with the intestinal surface and, to some degree, trigger TLR signaling. Surprisingly, this interaction is actually required to maintain the architectural integrity of the intestinal surface. Thus, it seems that the epithelium and resident immune cells do not simply tolerate commensal bacteria but are dependent on them.

TLRs are toll-like receptors on the cells of the innate immune system that recognise signals from intestinal bacteria. Commensal bacteria secrete TLR ligands such as lipopolysaccharide and lipoteichoic acid, which interact in the normal intestine with a population of surface TLRs. The resultant basal signaling, which is normally ongoing, enhances the ability of the epithelial surface to withstand injury while also priming the surface for enhanced repair responses.

Wow. Who'd have thought . . .

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Blog Quake Day

Please donate.

You can also give to:

- APPNA (Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America)
6414 S. Cass Avenue
Westmont, IL 60559
Phone: 630-968-8585 or 630-968-8606

Memo: Earthquake Fund 2005

More on APPNA relief efforts here.

Bilquis Edhi Relief Foundation
45-11 National St.
Corona, NY 11368

Phone: (718) 639-5120 and (718) 639-0633

For more information on giving to the Edhi Foundation, please read this.

- For more information on relief efforts/earthquake updates, please go to this excellent blog. Wikipedia also has a database of articles/resources.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Earthquake Survival Tips

Read this

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Safe Driving

I just got back from my friend's house. Earlier this morning, his younger brother had a very bad car accident. Swerving at high speed to avoid crashing into another car, Umair drove straight into a tree. Thankfully, he sustained only minor injuries and after a short stay in the ER was sent home to nurse a black eye. The car is completely mashed up.

I see a lot of young drivers here in Lahore who, caught up in a teenaged hormonal frenzy, endanger their own lives as well as the lives of others. I'm not sure what to say to them because I think even they know what they're doing is wrong. That's why it's so much fun. The thrill lies in breaking rules and being yourself. Or so they think. And there are easier things than trying to wrestle the stupidity of a teenage boy. I know. I used to be one. But now, as an adult, I realise that, in spite of their stupidity, I have a responsibility towards those younger than me. I know now that I have to pre-empt their moronic schemes and find ways to divert their attention, to prevent them from getting hurt. So I guess I'm going to ask all those who read this to please not let your teenagers have free reign over the car until you are convinced that they are safe drivers. In most countries, a good way of ensuring this is to make them take a driving test and earn a license. In Pakistan, however, that's not much of an option since corruption and carelessness render those rules redundant. In these circumstances, it's up to individual responsibility.

Protect your teenagers. They may be idiots but they're yours.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Memory Of My Father

Every old man I see

Reminds me of my father
When he had fallen in love with death
One time when sheaves were gathered.
That man I saw in Gardner Street
Stumbled on the kerb was one,
He stared at me half-eyed,
I might have been his son.
And I remember the musician
Faltering over his fiddle
In Bayswater, London,
He too set me the riddle.
Every old man I see
In October-coloured weather
Seems to say to me:
"I was once your father."

- Patrick Kavanagh

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Information on giving to the Edhi Foundation

Boltan Market Mithadar, Karachi
Tel: +92-21 225225, 226442, 226057, 744864

Donations are to be given only at Edhi Welfare Centers.

For the sake of security of your donation, for any donation exceeding
Rs.2000/- please donate in the form of a cheque/ bank draft /pay order
in the name of Abdul Sattar Edhi Foundation, Account no.640,
Muslim Commercial Bank, Bombay Bazar branch, Karachi or send your
donation directly to the head office.

In cities where there are branches of Muslim Commercial Bank,
you can also deposit directly into the Foundation's accounts in
these branches.

Please call Edhi’s international offices for international banking/wire
details for donation purposes.

USA Edhi international Foundation.
42-07 National street
Corona, New York, 11368 U.S.A.
Tel: (718)(639-5120)

United Kingdom
United Kingdom Edhi International Foundation,
7 Shakespeare road,
Finchley, Central London N3 IXE,
United Kingdom.

Tel:(081) 346-9232, (081) 349-0296

Abdul Sattar Edhi Foundation
257 Risebrough Circt
Markham, ON L3R 3J3

Phone: (905) 940-1453

Japan Edhi International Foundation,
RM 101 COPO Nikkei, 1-25 4-Chome,
Minami-ohi Shinagawa -KU-Tokyo 140 Japan.

Australia Abdul Sattar Edhi International Foundation,
Level 20, Picadly tower,
133, Castle reagh street, Sydney 2000,
Tel: 02-264-6499, 03-3767-7282
Fax: 03-3764-4395, 02-264-7337

Bangladesh Edhi International Foundation Inc,
2/2 Purana palton, 3rd Floor,
Dhaka - 1000

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Earthquake Update

BBC reports more than 19,000 casualties so far. Most of the damage has been in rural areas, in small towns and villages. Our cook, who is from Bagh, left immediately to find out if his family was alright. We got a call from him last night. His brother's family had all died. Their bodies were lying under the rubble, waiting to be evacuated. Baba couldn't go ahead because the roads were all blocked from landslides. Mamu tells me about sixty per cent of the immigrant worker population in Lahore have gone back to their villages. Towards the earthquake, in search of loved ones.

Please donate generously to relief efforts. Here are some links for organisations doing relief work in Pakistan. If our Indian friends could share some links where donations to people affected in India and Kashmir can be made, I'd be grateful. Funds can be sent by check or credit card to:

A P P N A (Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America)
6414 S. Cass Avenue
Westmont, IL 60559
Phone: 630-968-8585 or 630-968-8606

Memo: Earthquake Fund 2005

and . . .

Bilquis Edhi Relief Foundation

45-11 National St.
Corona, NY 11368

Phone: (718) 639-5120 and (718) 639-0633

For those within Pakistan, I think the best place to leave your donations would be with the Edhi foundation.

If you're in Islamabad, AMAL is collecting clothes and medicines for delivery to the disaster areas. The drop-off point for donations is the AMAL office located at #7, St.62, G-6/4, Islamabad. In case of questions you can contact Nighat Rizvi (0300-400-3175), Imran Rizvi (0300-855-1208) and Mehrunnisa Yusuf (0300-500-2657). Please donate the following items:

  • Clothes, shoes
  • Dry food items such as lentils, sugar, milk, water etc.
  • Basic medicines and medical supplies
  • Blankets and pillows
  • Tents

Thank you. And please remember those affected in your prayers.

Update: Sujatha points to this website (South Asia Quake Help) which lists phone numbers for Red Cross/Red Crescent contacts in the main South Asian cities and information for those wishing to donate.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


We just had an earthquake scare here in Lahore. I was asleep and the tremors woke me up. It was as if a child were jumping up and down on the mattress. At first I thought I was dreaming but then I felt the excitement below me, in the ground, the rumbling and shaking. We all scrambled outside and I noticed the dog's water-bowl was upset. And the cars were wobbling back and forth. It was terrifying.

Update: we've been watching the news and apparently this was one of the most powerful earthquakes ever to occur in Pakistan with the epicentre just outside Islamabad. Geologists scored it 7.6 on the Richter scale. Reuters has details.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Nanas Say the Darndest Things

When she was younger, my cousin Maliha used to have a tutor come to her house and help her with schoolwork. Being a bright and spirited child, she hated this and tried her best to get out of the situation. One day, however, the tutor showed up earlier than usual and Nana came to call her.

"Nana, unko keh dain Maliha ghar main nahin hai! (Nana, please tell him Maliha's gone out!)" she pleaded with our grandfather who, glutton that he is for his children's happiness, went downstairs and sincerely informed the tutor, "Master sahab, Maliha keh rahi hai wo ghar main nahin hai. (Sir, Maliha says she's gone out.)"

The man looked at him, smiled and left.

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