The Pain Handbook by Dr. Rajat Chauhan

Dr. Rajat Chauhan is a respected figure amongst the Indian running community, and the wider, international community of ultra-runners. A doctor who runs ultra-marathons. A specialist in pain management who has conceptualised and organized one of the world’s toughest ultra marathons, the high altitude “La Ultra” in the Indian Himalayas.

But more than anything else, Dr. Chauhan is respected as a man who speaks his mind candidly, and who believes firmly in plain-speaking and no-nonsense explanations.

Dr. Chauhan’s book “The Pain Handbook, A non-surgical way to managing back, neck and knee pain” is a master class in the art of his famed plain-speaking, and throughout this excellent and very readable book, the author strives to explain medical issues in the simplest lay-person-friendly terms.

Dr. Chauhan is a firm believer in the importance of people taking control of their own lives and their own bodies, and of investing in their own health, and not just passively accepting what a doctor says.

In the opening pages of this book, he makes the point forcibly:

“You need this book because you or your loved ones are suffering from pain. Stop outsourcing your problems. You need to solve them yourself. I will help you do it, but you have to participate proactively…It’s your job to be better informed rather than blaming the “experts” years later.”

There you have it: the good doctor’s mission statement. He will help. But you the reader/patient have to participate proactively.

Throughout his book, Dr. Chauhan exhorts his readers to question the doctors they consult, to think, to inform themselves, and above all to move, and to keep moving:

“To do justice to your body, you owe it to yourself to understand it better. It is of no interest to any other party to educate you. It is a waste of time for them.

What’s in it for the healthcare industry to educate you better and reduce their revenues? So, the onus is on you. It’s your body. Know it better.”

Through an entertaining combination of medical information, a little history, case studies and illustrated exercises, Dr. Chauhan tackles three areas of injury and pain management that especially concern him – the back, the neck and the knee.

Our increasingly computer-driven lifestyle, our penchant for video games over outside games, our reluctance to exercise and keep fit, these are the evils of modern society which the author wants us to be aware of and to learn how to handle them.

For the author, moving is a mantra, as is consciously taking control of one’s body and, if needs be, the pain that has possibly driven you to read this book. We need to move our bodies, and we need to be able to articulate our pain and fears:

“You aren’t born a piece of furniture. You moved to be born and you were born to move. More importantly, you can feel and think. There is something that initiates your movement…When you start looking at yourself as a piece of furniture, you cannot blame the doctors for doing the same. You have ceased to exist as an intelligent human being who moves and has feelings, too.”

This book is a great read – the furthest thing from a dry medical handbook you could ever imagine. It is lively, thought-provoking, full of advice and exercises, and above all, it is easy to read. Never once does the author try and blind us with science. Rather he speaks in a friendly, down-to-earth way, admonishing us a little, but always ready with pointers and advice.

For anyone who has had an injury, or who wishes to be better informed about their body, and the need to exercise and keep potential injuries at bay, this book is a must-read.

And now, if you want to order this excellent book, nothing could be easier.  Simply click on the link below:

“How it works” THE HUSBAND – a Ladybird Book

For Christmas, I was given 2 of the brilliant Ladybird books for grown ups –  here’s one of the reviews – and so it was with great pleasure that I accepted a friend’s thoughtful gift for my husband when I was in London recently.

Though, actually, having read this handy manual “How it works The Husband” it is probably more useful for me, The Wife.

The mission statement of these grown up Ladybird books is worth revisiting – probably because, as grown ups, we have all completely forgotten reading this the first time round:

“This delightful book is the latest in the series of Ladybird books which have been specially planned to help grown-ups with the world about them.

The large clear script, the careful choice of words, the frequent repetition and the thoughtful matching of text with pictures all enable grown-ups to think they have taught themselves to cope. The subject of the book will greatly appeal to grown-ups.”

Couldn’t agree more.

And now let’s see what I have learned about how husbands work.

Well, I’ve learned this.

Nah, actually, knew it already…

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Ah yes.  All that reading about Real Things…

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I absolutely love the wholesome images in these grown up Ladybird books, that remind me SO much of my childhood reading, but now combined with the off-the-wall captions.

Like this gem:

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Love the pom-pom-poming older husband.  #justsaying.

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This extract, below, sums up perfectly the brilliant combo of images and oh-so-simple words and sentences, the hallmark of Ladybird books.

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You need this book, now don’t you?

Righty-ho, here we go –  order it right now (before you forget)

THE LADYBIRD BOOK OF MINDFULNESS

This was another Christmas present from my clever sister, who clearly knows her older sibling oh-so-well.  After tackling midlife crisis, I now have a brilliant Ladybird book to guide me through the tricky waters of mindfulness:

“Mindfulness is the skill of thinking you are doing something when you are doing nothing.”

(Ouch, Jane, is there a hidden message here?)

Love the skewering of our middle-aged pretensions:

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I also love (& humour me here, folks) the sheer Englishness of these books.

The dotty text, the wholesome illustrations, the deliberate throw-back to our childhood books, the tweaking of our nostalgia –  oh the whole thing is too clever and such light-hearted fun.

Meet my favourite mindful character…

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If you wish – mindfully of course – to buy this book, couldn’t be easier.

Just click on the link below.

THE LADYBIRD BOOK OF THE MID-LIFE CRISIS

What a brilliant Christmas present The Ladybird Book of The Mid-Life Crisis is, and one that shows how well my sister knows me 🙂

I laughed out loud reading this utterly brilliant spoof on the classic Ladybird Books, books published by Penguin Ladybird Books themselves.

In other words, this is authorised taking the mickey.

I don’t think I’ve looked at a Ladybird book in – what – 20 odd years, since my now adult children devoured them in their primary school days, pretty much the way I did as a child.  As a family, we all grew up on the wholesome Ladybird books.

Read the publisher’s mission statement :

“This delightful book is the latest in the series of Ladybird books which have been specially planned to help grown-ups with the world about them.

The large clear script, the careful choice of words, the frequent repetition and the thoughtful matching of text with pictures all enable grown-ups to think they have taught themselves to cope. The subject of the book will greatly appeal to grown-ups.”

What is so fab about these new grown-up books is that they look and feel exactly the same as the originals.  Only the content is, well, somewhat different.

Take the first page, for example :

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The cast of sad middle-aged folk in the book is hilarious, none more so than Nick:

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Great fun.

Funny trip down memory lane.

And if you were not lucky, as I was, to get one of these for Xmas, go on, be grown up about it and buy yourself one!

Just click on the link below:

And if you’ll excuse me, now I’m off to do some adult colouring, like Sally.

RUNNING AND LIVING by Rahul Salim Verghese

What a nice book this is, and written by such a nice, unassuming man, too.

In the interests of full disclosure, I know Rahul a little socially, and, of course, “professionally,” through the runs he organises in and around Delhi, where I live.

“Running and Living” is an easy book to read, in the sense that it is written in a chatty, relaxed style, almost as though you were sitting talking to the author himself.

A relatively late convert to running (but not as late as me, Rahul.  I beat you soundly on that score!) Rahul is one of the lucky people in this world who has followed his dream and his new-found passion.  After 25 years, he stepped calmly off the corporate treadmill, and headed straight for a different world.  The world of running.  He started a company “Running and living”, which uses running as a marketing platform for brands, and his company now organises many races around India.

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I read this book in one long, happy sitting, but it is the kind of book that you can dip in and out of – there are chapters about motivation, about the myriad health benefits of running, and also about Rahul’s own experiences, about which he is endearingly frank and honest about his failures.

The chapter detailing the Everest marathon is thrilling stuff.

There are quotations, motivational messages and –  yaay! –  a training plan for running a marathon.

I am a total, unconditional convert to running, but I am sure that any non-runners reading this will easily be persuaded to lace up their shoes and head out for that first, wonderful run.  Just read about the health benefits, and I guarantee you that you will be out there, running.

Why don’t you check all this out for yourself, and order this book now, by clicking on one of the links below:

Published just a few days ago, in summer 2015, the paperback costs Rs399.

THINNER DINNER by SHUBHRA KRISHNAN

I was the perfect choice to review this book, though I say so myself.

I seriously need to lose weight.

I cannot cook to save my life.  Really & truly.

I usually avoid cookery books like the plague.  Have never knowingly sat down & read a cookery book.  Before this one, that is.

And so when I say I love this book, you know I am speaking the absolute truth.

Intrigued by the title, and inspired by New Year’s resolutions to shed those extra kilos, I found the author’s cheerful style and honest self-truths about her own weight refreshing.  The book is an easy, entertaining read, combining tips and recipes and general observations about food.

Divided into 14 chapters, the author starts off her quest for slimming but tasty food with that ultimate Indian comfort food, dal-chawal (lentils and rice, for non-Hindi speakers) sharing a recipe of Shahnaz Husain which peps up the dal in a brilliant way.

Tried it, and it is delicious.

Chapter 2 tackles soups, under the title “Life is too short for bland soup” and Shubhra Krishnan shares all kinds of tips using spices which (in her own words) “sex up soups.”  It’s that kind of book.

Salads, bread, rotis, vegetables, paneer, potatoes, rice, pasta, pizza –  there isn’t an aspect of a meal that the author doesn’t discuss and analyse in her irrepressibly cheerful style.  Never once does she make you feel you have to cut down completely on the good things in life.  Rather she tweaks old favourites, and gives you ample scope to eat well, with taste and comfort and –  for this is essentially an Indian cook book – lots of spice.

As the blurb on the back cover says ” Learn smart ways to shave off those calories” –  and that is exactly the approach Shubhra Krishnan takes.  You eat pretty much as you usually do, but by dint of substituting leaner foods, and adding and tweaking the use of spices, the final result is less calorific.

The book is visually pleasing with nicely styled food photos, plus drawings and cartoons.  The recipes are written as though they are on torn-off pages of a notebook –  a nice touch – and the author takes you stage by stage through the recipes, in simple, layman’s terms.  Perfect for the culinary-challenged, like me.

So, for example, a recipe for Rosemary Roast Potatoes which the author disarmingly admits “is a dish that takes my breath away, along with my adjectives” has a photo + recipe + stage by stage instructions + extra hints as to how you can jazz the recipe up further.

She starts her chapter on rice with a beautiful quotation from a Japanese chef :

“Rice…is beautiful when it grows, precision rows of sparkling green stalks shooting up to reach the hot summer sun.  It is beautiful when harvested, autumn golden sheaves piled on diked, patchwork paddies.”

Then she wryly adds :

“The Dietician’s Opinion : Rice is fattening. Sigh.”

She shares great pasta recipes, includes pizza and dessert recipes.

Seriously, how can you not love a cookery book like this ?

Published by westland ltd (with a small W) the book costs Rs 395.  Although it is very much an Indian cook-book, it is not exclusively an Indian cook book.  Readers who might not be familiar with Indian food will not be put off at all by the recipes –  the whole approach is inclusive.

If you feel like buying the book, after reading this review, then just click on the link below.  Couldn’t be easier !

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