Sunday, July 29, 2012

Medical Tourism - A free service

“Medical Tourism is yet another growing business where people travel from one place to another for medical services”

To be precise medical tourism is defined as an act of traveling abroad to receive medical, dental and cosmetic care. It is also known as Medical Travel, Health Tourism, Surgical Tourism, Health Travel, Medical Outsourcing and Medical Value Travel. Significantly lower costs for best practice care are usually the primary motivation in medical tourism although some medical tourists go abroad for immediate availability of procedures and for treatments that are not available in their home country.
In Nepal Proficient Travel (P.)Ltd has started this new service to facilitate the outbound medical tourists.

Shweta Shahi, Medical Branch Organizational Director, Proficient Travel (P.) Ltd says, “Medical Tourism is all about service and catering the needs of our clients. We help people who need our assistance, we manage their travel from the starting point to the end with in comfort and relaxation that too FREE of cost. It’s very incontinent to travel abroad with no preparation and at times it can be hectic. With our service, we have devised a mechanism that works to be effective and efficient. Our services starts from the point of you showing interests till the time your  travel trip is over in between this we provide free service from beginning consultation to trip management to doctor’s appointments to accommodation and supervision.  We do everything for you.”

How did it start?
India is famous for its world class medical services and facilities. Due to its low cost services people from all over the world come here for treatments. Medical tourism started as goodwill. We use to assist our friends and families. What we realized was when you travel abroad you have loads and loads of tension you don’t want to be occupied with unnecessary tension of managing your needs and helping others the network was set up, we knew what, when and how to do it? Perhaps, reality is Medical tourism is a huge business in India and like said when there is a demand there is a supply.

What are the services?
The services basically include pick up, supervision, fixing appointments, accommodation and any other services that the client wants. Once you come to our office in Kathmandu with your reports. We consult the doctors and hospitals and give you a detail report and we manage your trip.  All the services mentioned above are for FREE. We do not charge the client except for personal requests. 

 Is it free or does it has any hidden cost? 
Yes, the services are FREE except if you have some personal request only then we charge nominal cost. Medical tourism is a booming business in India, patients have to pay their bills to the hospitals and if you are getting this service and facilities for free with us then I think it’s a great opportunity to be hassle free. If anyone needs our service one can contact us and we start the consultation process from Nepal.
Future Prospective:
We want to adapt this service to the organization level , as there is no cost involved and people can go for their medical travel with ease. Reality of today when you go out for medical purpose you have loads and loads of tension regarding accommodation, food, appoints and we take care of all those things so that you can focus on the treatment with ease.  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Eating habits in Kathmandu

If you look at the eating habits of kathmanduties, 20 years ago, then you will know  there was nothing like today. You would just find small restaurants or so called Chiya pasal (tea shop). These small tea shops were located in petite streets coroners that would cater few items on their menus like chiura-masu, tea, boiled eggs, and momos. These small restaurants were hard to find and when you found one, they were hardly busy. People then, were not in a habit of eating outside they rarely went outside for dinning.

But now times have changed; people today seem to enjoy the luxury of eating and dinning highlighting on the three C’s–comfort, convenience and choice.  As a cluster of few shops turn into a shopping arcade and malls, the definition and style of eating habit has also changed with a wide variety of cuisine and style of eating habits. From the international franchise of KFC to the local restaurant of Newa Lahana(Kirtipur) people have become foodie and lavished.

Today it’s not just about eating it’s spending your hard earned money to the comfort of what you want. The concept of eating or dinning outside has grown so much that it has adapted an industry that is loud and clear about its presence and identity.  Likewise with the growing concept the importance of incorporating a restaurant in any commercial complex is a high priority. With the competition of malls and shopping complexes the restaurant industry has also gone to the level. Initially serving just a few local dishes, has now become a haven for food lovers with an astounding variety of local as well as international cuisine. This has been necessitated by the increasing tourists coming into Nepal from all over the world. Walk through Thamel and you will find restaurants serving Thai, Indian, Tibetan, Greek, Japanese, Mexican, Italian cuisine and the list goes on. These are unique places that are hygienic and convenient, which provide good choice of local and international cuisine at a very affordable price. The retailers are constantly setting the standard for superior quality. A lot of them even fly in their chefs or even use the natural ingredients from around the world, in order to maintain the taste and aroma.

Kathmandu is taken over by restaurants where you can hardly miss a street without a small eating place or restaurant.  They have actually gone from these roadside restaurants to fully air-conditioned restaurants with special focus on service and quality. Whether it is a fast food restaurant or a family style restaurant, in every shopping arcade you have a wide variety of eateries to choose from.

The new restaurant business has adopted creativity and marketing as its new tool where they look trendy and sassy with ideal locations and food selection. With the changing times and increasing competition, restaurant operators cannot afford to rest on their menu only. They realize that it is vital that they constantly review the eating trends where concepts are being upgraded on regular basis. Cultural programs, gazals, karaoke, variety of contests, video gaming arcade, are only a few attractions to draw customers. Continuous effort is made to ensure a strong image in these outlets. It is the retailers’ responsibility to conjure up ideas on how best to attract and capture the ever-growing traffic of food connoisseurs.

Traditional Beliefs of Culture and Gods

From the rich tradition to the high cultural values, Nepal holds cure to the every ailment within its profound way of beliefs and prayers. For instance if you have a toothache, you can nail a coin on the large wooden head at Bangemuda get relief from your toothache. If you have pimples then visit the serpent god near the General Post Office and get relieved. If it's an earache the visit the Ear Healing God at Kupondole and your prayers will be heard. It’s shocking but its true and it’s not just beliefs but still today it is practised in most of the Newar community people.

With high values of art, craft, and folklore, the Newars are known for their cultural achievements. They are responsible for much of the physical and spiritual beauty that envelopes the Valley. According to the traditional values, from the Gods and goddesses to the ghosts and evil spirits, and the movements of the planets everything works within the lives making it possible to predict and see future.

It is also believed that when physical ailment strikes, the wrath of divinities, the influence of evil spirits, or astrological influences are thought to be the cause.

Looking at the healing methods, the Newars of the valley practiced both preventive and curative methods. Preventive practices include revering deities, satisfying evil spirits before problems begin, and worshipping ancestral gods in order to restore astrological balance. For example, once a year, usually around the time of their birthdays, Newars take their Jata to an astrologer. The Jata is a birth chart. If it is written in the stars that a misfortune might befall the person, the astrologer prescribes offerings the person should make to deities in order to avert the misfortune. Once an illness strikes a cure must be found. Herbal medicines and satisfying the appropriate deities, ghosts, or evil spirits are advised to the patient. There at least four major types of faith healing.

In Divine healing the tantric priest treats the patient by driving the evil spirits from the body where the Divine spirit is transferred to holy water or rice through mantras, (holy words). The priest then blows on the water or rice at intervals of several seconds and then feeds the water or rice to the patient. He also uses a groom or peacock feathers, to brush away the pain. The process continues till the time the patient recovers. The healer may also advise propitiation to certain deities, ghosts, or spirits. He does not charge a fee but accepts voluntary remuneration.

In case of skin diseases such as rashes or pimples on the body, the healer reasons it to be caused by the spiritual bite of a nag, or serpent god. There are three different serpent gods that cause different kinds of problems.
If the Jal Nag is the cause, the patient has an artist draw four lions on the body, enclosing the pimples. The pimples are cured after the painting, perhaps as a result of the natural dyes used in the paint. If there is a burning sensation or pain it is thought to be caused by the Mi Nag strikes. Mi means fire. The Mi Nag is propitiated at a well, water spout, pond, or other water site. The Ghori Nag, which causes pimples that itch, is also revered at a water site.
The practitioners of Muni, or saint, healing are known as Baidyas and Kabirajs, they use herbal medicine. After observing physical symptoms and performing simple pathological examinations, herbal or ayurvedic medicines are prescribed. On the second day of the Tihar festival those who practice this form of medicine worship Dhanawantari, one of the incarnations of Vishnu and guru to the practitioners.

Another most popular ailment is the Ghost healing. When people are possessed by evil spirits and experience physical or mental suffering as a result then the priest are called to drain the spirit out. The symptoms are obvious where the priest prescribes offerings to the ghost or evil spirit in getting it out of the body. Evil spirits have often been blamed for causing appendicitis and encephalitis leading to sudden death.

The people are so use to the tradition that they have developed special methods for treatment of specific problems, and in some cases the sufferer need not perform the actual worship. There have even been cases in which people living abroad have called a friend or family member in Kathmandu to nail a coin on the god.

Just like that the social trend of parents teaching their young once tradition and culture has been phenomenal, which grooms and conditions the beliefs and habits.  For example if a child hasn't begun to speak by the age of two, they take him to Kamal Binayak in Bhaktapur and pray for the child's healthy development. A chronically sick child will be taken to Harati Ajima at Swayambhu where the mother goddess is propitiated to help the child recover. Sitala Ajima, another form of the goddess, is worshipped when children have smallpox. These mother goddesses exist in almost all major Newar settlements in the Valley.
Similarly, a patient who suffers blood loss is asked to worship Kumari (the living goddess) for his healing process. Rato Machhendranath in Chobar is visited when the patient has to undergo an operation. Patients worship Seto Machhendranath at Janabahal in Kathmandu by lighting 108 wick lamps; this is thought to ensure a healthy life. When an illness has lasted a long time they worship Bijeswari, Mahankal, or Sankata.
When nausea strikes, it's caused by an evil spirit. A family member takes a handful of rice, touches it on the forehead of the sick person three times, pulls a hair from the head and a thread from the clothes of the sick person, and then takes the rice outside and throws it in all directions. The patient then washes his hands, feet, and mouth before speaking with anyone. If he does not do this, his nausea will be transferred to the first person he talks to.
The use of a medium is another important method of healing. Mediums are possessed by a deity. Most are women. All are revered as deities while they are possessed. A bird sacrifice may be made to some mediums. Those who claim healing powers or the ability to foretell events charge their clients.
After washing in the morning the medium prepares herself to conduct rituals. They take up their position, call the divine spirit, and begin work. Clients ask questions. The medium answers the questions and prescribes the course of action necessary to solve their problems. Some mediums may be possessed by a variety of divinities. Others have a divine throne on which they sit at the time of possession. Other family members may support the medium by chanting hymns to the deity, playing religious music, or collecting devotees' offerings.

The popularity of the Modern medical have threatened the traditional healing practices but still people visit and  use traditional herbal medicines as part of their daily lives. The belief of the people has been predominating the practise process where nailing a coin at the toothache god is far less expensive than visiting a dentist.  May be the rich traditional values of the people is limited but it cannot be justified to the level of competing against the modern medicine.  The values of the people have been prolonging in the static way where people are comfortable in justifying it within their lifestyle and certainly it highlight the saying  it is the belief that cures not the medicine.

Seto Gumba (Druk Amitabh Mountain) - A Panoramic Kaleidoscope

Located in the midst of vivid terrain and lush GREEN valley, Seto Gumba (Druk Amitabh Mountain) or white monastery is a heaven to witness the sunrise and sunset. Just located on the outskirts of Kathmandu, the Seto Gumba is a panoramic kaleidoscope of colors and rich culture that showcases the valley in the most spectacular way. Druk Amitabha Mountain was initially dedicated to Amitabha Buddha. It was supposed to be build in Boudhanath but due to the issues and objection by the civil aviation the idea was dropped from there and was shift to the current place.  The Druk Amitabha Mountain is home to Druk Gawa Khilwa Nunnery where more than 300 nuns ranging from 6 to 60 live and practice Buddhism. They come here from remote places in Tibet, Ladakh, Lahaul, Bhutan and Sikkim where every day, their life starts from 3 AM till 11 PM.  The Druk Amitabha Mountain is also a center for spiritual practice with a multi-purpose pillar-free assembly hall capacity of 2000 people.

 Looking at it from a traveler’s point of view Seto Gumba is bliss of astounding natural rejuvenation that searches excitement as well as calmness. Endorsed with a rich Tibetan culture and architecture, it splurges vivid colors in the murals, statue and paintings professing Buddhism and its techniques.

One can get nostalgic in the presence of finding and seeing the explicit environment that melds you in its presence. Winds shouting out loud and the music of scenic views and panoramic existence makes you think of the values of life.  You are just stalled to witness and spend time watching and admiring the art and craft where it’s relaxing as well as rejuvenating. 

Most important the smell of instant sticks, sounds and prayer flags gives you the essence of peace, patience, and calmness. The more interesting are the visuals that overlook the valley in a synchronizing way of contouring the old cultural heritage with the increasing encroachment of the concrete jungle. You can just admire the beauty to the vagueness of valley scattered below.

The abstraction of the valley can be well judged from there that looks colorful, glossy and glamorous. Regarding food and beverages, the white monastery has a well facilitated and clean restaurant that serves decent food items with a catered service.  Low priced and healthy, one can really enjoy the taste and price to the optimum level. It also has a souvenir shop and eventually a guesthouse with about 27 rooms. With no registration fee Seto Gumba is worth spending time. At times when the weather is clear and if luck is on your side you can even see the mountain range smiling telling you the epic stories. 

For directions you can take any bus to Sita Paila and then to IchanguNarayan, which is readily available from any place in the valley. Its takes about 1 hr and 20 min car drive from core of Kathmandu valley to head White Monastery. Once you get there within minutes you can see the edifice standing tall in a small hill. From the top, the spectacular view of Swayoumbhu Nath and Kathmandu city looks beautiful to its own presence. The growing concrete Jungle with houses scattered everywhere seems exciting as well as enthralling where it looks like a picturesque shot. 

Snow Leopard- The Stealth Hunter

Hiding in the existence of high altitude, wilderness and serenity, Snow leopard is one the most feared and endangered species.  These wild cats are well known for their reputation of stealth attack and precision.  Scientifically known as the “Uncia uncial” the snow leopard is found only in the mountainous region of central Asia and the Himalayas. The total number of this species is estimated to be from 4,510-7,350 all over. The snow leopard generally weighs from 35-55 kg (female: 35-40 kg, male: 45-55), and measures from 1.8-2.3 m in length from head to tail. The total potential snow leopard habitat is about 1,835,000 km 2 in 12 snow leopard range countries. In addition, some 600-700 animals survive in zoos around the world.

Their characteristics mainly includes short, broad muzzle, short fore limbs along with long hind limbs that provides agility in steep and rugged terrain. They have prominent dark grayish-black rosettes spots
with yellow fur on their body and a long tail that helps them to balance their way in high and rugged terrain and mountains. Likewise, they have big paws with sharp nails that help them in their attack.

Amid a definite reputation of stalker and killer, these big cats prey on availability. In wilderness they prey on wild sheep, wild goats’ deer, boars, and monkeys and other available animals, where due to lack of encroachment and lack of proper habitat these days they are found attacking domestic prey like sheep, goats, horses, and yak calves. The snow leopard-human conflict is one of the main threats to the species' survival because snow leopards are known to kill domestic animals. Encroachment of the snow leopard habitat continues due human civilization and confrontations are unavoidable.

Perhaps, their mating season starts from January to March and during that time they are found to be very aggressive and dominant. Most of the human confrontations are found in between the months where the animal doesn’t hesitate to attack. These big cats are hunted for their fur, bones, and other body parts that are used in oriental medicine. The open mountain boarder with china helps in poaching and smuggling that has been one of the prime problems in the conservation process
Likewise climate, change and global warming has also negatively impacted on the survival of snow leopards habitats which are highly risked with the melting snow line.

In Nepal, snow leopards are found in the northern region of Mustang, Mugu, Dolpo and Humla. They have been spotted in prominent conservation areas like Annapurna Conservation Area, Shey Phuksundo National Park , Kangchenjunga Conservation Area, Manaslu Conservation Area, Makalu Barun National Park , Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve, Sgarmatha National Park and Langtang National Park .
According to statistics the estimated population of snow leopard thrives from 350 to 500 in Nepal.

Snow Leopard has been listed as an endangered species by different international organization like IUCN and WWF where different efforts and protection programs are going on to save these big wild cats.. With high priority the Nepal, Government has listed the Snow Leopard as endangered species and under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (NPWC) Act 2029 (1973) any one found to be illegally poaching or involved in any act of killing the animal is ascribes penalties up to NRs 0.1 Million or 5 to 15 years in prison, or both, for poaching snow leopards and buying and selling its pelt and bones.

According to WWF Nepal, “Despite Nepal’s continual effort to save the snow leopard, its long-term viability is threatened by the conflict from livestock depredation and retaliatory killings, poaching, and loss of habitat because of high density of livestock in grazing areas. The snow leopard-human conflict is one of the main threats to its survival because it is known to kill sheep, goats, horses, and yak calves. Degradation of snow leopard habitat continues due to year-round grazing pressure following the closure of the Tibetan border some 30 years ago. As snow leopards are opportunistic predators, they often kill livestock because of high encounter rates and ineffective guarding by herders. Poaching is primarily associated with the trade in snow leopard pelts, bones, and body parts that are used in oriental medicine. As an illicit trans-border market exists between northern frontiers of Nepal and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, poaching has become lucrative.”

Similarly, the IUCN has also listed Snow Leopard as Endangered species  and the snow leopard is also protect under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1973.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Nepal the Land of ADVENTURE

Nestled in the lap of the Himalayas between India and China, Nepal offers a panorama of unparalleled beauty and geographical diversity. Though small in size, Nepal proffers a wide range of diversity both geographically and ethnically in flora & fauna, ethnic groups and various colorful festivals. Only in Nepal can adventure-seeking travelers raft through white waters of the valley's swift rivers, trek along snowy, mountainous trails, or ride through lush foliage on the backs of immense jungle elephants. Volunteer Nepal program offers volunteers the rewarding opportunity to teach English to local children, bring hope to the area's orphans, improve the conservation of this noble land, bring health and healing to the sick and disabled, and assist in work at Nepal's reverent Buddhist monasteries.