Monday, August 27, 2012

Living Beyond 100 Years

   Living a long, healthy and active life is something that is cherished by senior citizens.  The average life of Malaysians has over the years increased with women having a longer avearge life at 76 and men at 72.  However, reports have indicated that more and more seniors are achieving an age in excess of 100 (see The Star 26/8/2012 above) .  The oldest person in the world is known to have reached the age of 122 years. The communities that are said to have a large proportion of very old people are in Okinawa, Japan and the Hunza Valley in Pakistan. Living to a ripe old age is one thing but the overriding consideration is the state of health, mobility and contribution of very old people.  I recollected a case where a friend of mine in Sabah posted a photo of his dad celebrating his 91st birthday.  I congratulated him and told him that he has the gene for long life. He rebutted back and said 'what for?'.  That got me thinking. Yes my friend in some way is correct.  What if a person has a long life but he is sickly, bedridden, immobile, need to be cared for.  He could be a burden to his children, strain his financial resources, cause emotional stress.  However if one lives a healthy, active life, he can continue to contribute to his family, his community and a role model to young generations.
   2.  My healthy, active and producive formula for long life has been guided by the many books and articles that I have read on longevity. Among them are:
         i. The Tao of Health, Sex and Longevity by Daniel Reid. Simon& Schuster, London. 1989
         ii.The New Anti-Aging Revolution by Dr R. Goldman&Dr R. Klatz. Advantage Quest,
             Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. 2007.
         iii. Long Life Prescriptions by Sari Harrar and Debra Gordon. Reader's Digest. 2008
         iv. How A Man Stays Young by The Editors of Men's Health Magazine. Rodale Press.1993.

   3.  Basically as the above report indicates, genetic factor play an important influence in achieving long life. Other important factors include regular proper exercises; appropriate food and nutrition; active involevement in community work; close relationship with family and friends; spirituality; interesting hobbies such as gardening; reading and writing; pleasure trips; active sex life; listening to music; life filled with LOVE, KINDNESS and COMPASSION.       

Important Lessons for the Young Generation

    I was attracted by the column 'Your 10 Questions' which appeared in The Star dated Aug. 25, 2012 featuring Tan Chade-Meng, author of the book 'Search Inside Yourself.  In responding to the questions from readers of the newspaper, Tan shared insights on a few aspects related to HAPPINESS, a topic close to my heart.  Tan confessed that his childhood and youth periods were unhappy and on attaining the age of an adult, 21, a transformation within came with his study and practice of Mindfulness Meditation, which train through his heart and mind, to attain peace of mind and happiness.  Tan is a Buddhist and when posed with the question whether the religion has a big impact on him, his response was that it was SPIRITUALITY i.e looking within oneself and by looking within, the look is extended beyond self, that has a big influence on him.  Religion, to Tan, is the belief in one or more gods and that not all people are religious but everybody can be spiritual.
   He acknowledged that KINDNESS is a sustainable source of happinees and he listed the following three important lessons that the young generations should take note of:
             a.  be HEALTHY by learning to how to take care of your body,
             b.  be HAPPY by learning how to take care of the mind,
             c.  be COMPASSIONATE by learning how to take care of others
   Touching about LOVE and its importance to successful living, he quoted Warren Buffet
             'Basically when you get to my age, you'll measure your success
              in life by how many of the people you want to love do actually
              love you. If you get to my age in life and nobody think well of
              you, I don't care how big your bank balance is, your life is a

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Friendship Journey to Iran: April 25 to May 5, 2008

With Kamariah and our host, Dr Aziz
Dr Aziz and his lovely wife 
With Idris Abdul and Dr Zain
Photo of (from left) an Iranian friend, Dr Zain, Sdra Ali, Sdra Mohd Nor, Dr Azia
On a marshland, birdwatching trip
1.   Intoduction:  The Iranian connection was through a Ph D student at UPM who was under the supervision of  a Food Science professor whose husband, Mohd Noor,  is a friend.  I was introduced to the father of the student, Dr Abd Aziz Naghavand, who was formerly a lecturer at a University in Iran.  Dr Aziz , after retirement, is a businessman, explo- ring  possibilities of trading in palm oil. He invited us to visit Iran,  to look at the prospects of trading products from Iran that could be imported into Malaysia.  With this background we decided to visit the country on the dates.  The group was made up of five people – Sdra Mohd Nor Abdul, Sdra Dr. Zain, Sdra Ali, Kamariah (my wife) and I.  
2.   During the 8 days of the trip the following places of interest were visited.
      2.1    Tehran.  The capital is a sprawling big metropolis with a population of 14 million.  The traffic is chaotic with drivers not caring a hoot for road courtesy and traffic rules. We stayed at one of the apartment type accommodation with cooking facilities, in the centre of the city.
      2.2  Tehran Bazaar. It is a huge trading centre, with stalls selling practically everything under the sun – shoes, cloths, garments, handicrafts, all kinds of kitchen condiments and spices, books, cigarettes, nuts such as macademia and groundnuts and of course carpets, carpets  etc etc.  Within its compound, there are mosques and banks.  It is said that the traders in the bazaar, who are wealthy, wield considerable political influence and were key people involved in many of the political happenings such as the overthrow of Mossadegh.
       2.3  National Museum of Iran. The museum houses exhibits of its long and rich history. Iran existed as early as the 7th century BC when the first Persian Empire was established by the Achaemenids, who, among its well-known leaders was Cyrus 11.  Zoroastrianism, praying to the fire, was the religious belief. The second Persian Empire, known as the Sassanian Period, started in 224 AD by Ardeshir 1 and focussed its governance in developing small industries and encouraging trade.  The defeat of the Sassanians at the hands of  the Arabs saw the spread of Islam in Iran and the establishment the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphas.  The third Persian Empire existed from 1334 t0 1722 known as the Safavid Period. The Pahlavi dynasty started in 1921 with Shah Reza, who ousted the Qajar’s rule,  declaring himself the first shah of the Pahlavi line.  During the Pahlavi reign Iran went through a very turbulent period  with political and economic intriques. Shah Reza was removed and replaced by his son, Mohammed Reza.  He too made many unpopular actions such as being very pro-America and held a lavish celebration for the 2500th anniversary of the founding of the Persian Empire.  He too was ousted by an Islamic Revolution in 1979 that installed Ayatollah Khomeini as the Supreme Leader.
      2.4  The Holy Shrine of Imam Khomeini. The mausoleum is situated on the highway to Qom with its landmark four towers.  Imam Khomeini who passed away in 1989, was buried here and the burial was attended by an estimated 10 million people – considered the biggest ever crowd at a burial. The shrine is tucked in one one corner of a large empty hall .  The visit to the mausoleum was followed by stop at the nearby cemetery, Behesht-eZahra, the main resting place for the Iranians  who died in the Iran-Irag War (1980-1889).
       2.5  Noshahr and Chalus.  We visited this twin towns on the Caspian sea early in the trip. We were arranged to have a courtesy call on ayatollah, a local religious leader, followed by a briefing on the status of the town by an official of the town.
      2.6  Masuleh. We drove from Noshahr to Rasht and then through the mist shrouded valley to millennium old village of Masuleh.  It is stuck surrounded by mountains around it.  Its attraction is the unique irregular rows of houses stacked up, with the roof of one level forming the pathway for the level above.  It was at this remote village in Iran that the children, on being told that we are from Malaysia, responded “ Yes Dr Mahathir”.  Such was how our ex PM popular and known to the world particularly among the Muslims.
      2.7  Qom and Esfahan. We took the tourist bus to Esfahan and Qom is on the route.  Qom is Iran’s second holiest city after Mashhad and the home of  the Hzrat-e Masumeh shrine.  It has many madrasahs where Shiite scholars and students from all over the world come to study.  Esfahan is well-known for its beautiful Persian architectural masterpieces of buildings, mosques, bazaars and bridges. Among them that we saw during the two days there were Imam Square, the Imam Mosque and  Bazaar-e Bozorg.  The Imam Square is considered the second biggest  square after Tiananmen in the world. We saw many Iranian families sitting on the ground in the Square in the evening.  The Imam Mosque built from blue designed mosaic tiles was the creation of Shah Abbas 1.  Initial work on its construction began in 1611 and completed in 1929
General Observations. Iran has a long history with one of the earlier civilizations of the world.  To do justice to the country a few more visits need to be made to cover the western, central, eastern and the Persian Gulf parts. Tehran can serve as a base to visit the central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and  Armenia.  However, its main drawback to tourists is the absence of entertainmen