How Proza(i)c : Happiness in a Pill?

How Proza(i)c : Happiness in a Pill?

[Slide 1]How many of you recognize this pretty young thing? Quite recently , I came across a news article on Britney . She was prescribed Prozac at the tender age of 18 years. This singer, of stunning looks, abundant talent , world-wide fame and multi-million dollars in her kitty, was a nervous wreck just 2 years into her singing career. Hence she was prescribed Prozac for depression and panic attacks. I made an off-the-cuff remark that every American has probably been prescribed Prozac at some time in his or her life. And that America was a pill-popping country and Prozac and Americans were made for each other.

It was only later that I ruminated on my statement and asked myself “How much do I really know about Prozac, except that it is synonymous with modern American dysfunctional culture?” It was time I found out. Fellow ToastMasters and Guests, my topic for today is a little less poetic and lot more prosaic or should I say, a lot more Prozac![Slide 2]

[Slide 3] First, the boring technical details! Prozac is the trade name of the drug Fluoxetine. It is an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class. It was initially approved by the FDA to treat major depression but is now prescribed for OCD , bulimia nervosa and panic disorder as well. You may refer to the sheets provided for detailed explanations.

[Slide 4]How Is Prozac Taken?

Your physician will prescribe you Prozac to be taken orally, with or w/o food. Prozac makes you either sleepy or wakeful. So your doctor may tell you to take your dose in the morning or at night. You will show improvement in 1 to 2 weeks. You will feel the full benefit after several weeks.

How does Prozac Work?

[Slide 5] It seems that the chemical serotonin is a good chemical as long as it is kept away from the neurons and provided in more quantities to the brain. SSRI’s prevent the neurons in the brain from reabsorbing serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter. It transmits nerve signals to the brain. Once the nerve impulse has been transmitted, the serotonin is reabsorbed. The brain cells then receive the next impulse.

It is believed that in some people, serotonin is reabsorbed too quickly, preventing the transmission of nerve impulses. SSRIs block some of the receptors that reabsorb the serotonin, keeping more of the neurotransmitter available in the synapse for a longer period of time.

Over time, the number and sensitivity of serotonin receptors in the brain changes, and scientists believe that Prozac’s beneficial effect is due to these chemical changes in the brain.

[Slide 6] Now some history! Now, Prozac was not the first! But it is perceived as such, so much so that it is now synonymous with antidepressants. Prozac is officially a word in the English lexicon. The brand name Prozac was created by InterBrand. The name Prozac is antithetical with everything to do with anti-depressants – strong chemicals, side effects, and mood swings. Prozac was created by the pharmaceutical firm, Eli Lilly. Prozac was launched in 1987 and has achieved iconic status in popular American culture. How many of you are familiar with the book Prozac Nation and the movie of the same name? It outlines the life of a young working class woman and her struggle with depression.[Slide 7]

Newsweek says Prozac has become as familiar as Kleenex and as socially acceptable as Spring Water.

[Slide 8]Why is Prozac Popular With Patients?

1 > Prozac is FDA (Food & Drugs Administration) approved to treat not only depression but also bulimia nervosa (binging and purging) and obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. It has become a panacea for our times.

2> Now in the US the elderly are a critical demographic to be targeted by pharmaceutical companies. After all, younger patients are much healthier. Prozac is approved for use in older patients. Elderly patients have slower metabolisms and do not react to medications in the same way as younger adults. Prozac does not cause fainting and dizziness. This is good because, in elderly patients, falls result in broken hips.

3> Finally, never underestimate the power of a smart marketing and branding campaign! Prozac is as much a product of smart, focused marketing as of the laboratory.

[Slide 9]Criticisms of Prozac

Prozac does not work for everyone. Prozac , like most miracle drugs, has many side-effects.

One distressing side-effect is diminished sexual desire and performance.

Prozac’s breakdown products can stay in the patient’s blood stream for weeks after they stop taking the drug. These breakdown products when combined with certain medications may result in the sometimes fatal “serotonin syndrome” which includes a racing heart, high blood pressure, sweating and trembling. Cardiac arrest could occur because of serotonin syndrome.

But What’s Really, Really Dangerous?

Prozac is sometimes used by people to give themselves an edge. One such person says that, faced with looming deadlines and a dozen calls to return, she would find herself paralyzed. “I would be unable to focus,” she says. “I would end up waiting until the last moment to get things done.” Now that she’s on Prozac, she not only handles job pressures more gracefully but sports a more buoyant personality. She now finds herself able to get up and face audiences and make them laugh. She says “In the past, I might have wanted to do it. but I wouldn’t have done it without Prozac.” What an endorsement for Prozac!

So what gives?

It is the search for a quick fix. Prozac and more recently Viagra. Though Prozac is currently licensed only for depression, doctors are prescribing it for gambling, obesity, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and [pause] fear of public speaking! (punch-line).

The bigger concern is drugs will become a substitute for fixing what’s wrong with one’s life. Unhappiness can have many causes. Unhappiness can drive personal change. Does a Prozac sedated patient have full control of his or her senses? Isn’t it possible that the feeling of false contentment will cause him or her to plateau both personally and professionally? Are unpleasant feelings really unwanted? Do we want to be so clinically desensitized? Still others find it unnatural to be shielded from their sorrows. They do not want their minds altered; they are afraid that they will live out their lives without a core understanding of how to live. This slide says it all [Slide 10]

Some little known facts about Prozac: “Ounce for ounce, Prozac is worth the same amount as heroin. The end-market value of a kilogram of Prozac is worth over $100,000 USA … it’s more expensive than cocaine.” Also hostile, aggressive cats and dogs are prescribed Prozac![Slide 11]

For every gushing fan of Prozac , there is an equally rabid critic. In fact, you may either feel that there is too much Prozac in the world! Or you may feel that there is not enough Prozac in it! So what are you, (pause) fan or critic? [Slide 12]

Over to you, ToastMaster!

1> The Slide Show :

2> Speech Glossary


For All The Times!

Tales For You And Me. Of You And Me. A mini-epic poem in free verse.

Disclaimer: The characters are fictional. Any resemblance to any person(s), dead or alive, is purely coincidental. The piece is a work of fiction and is the writer’s creation.

Magic For Maya

For All The Times - Project 6_html_1ebfe9b7

The coin rattles across the street,

It teeters at Maya’s feet,

as though by magic!

It was enough

for a cup of tea.

The tea-seller is unhappy.

His inventory is stale.

He throws in a cup-cake!

Gratis! For free!

The tea is fine

Better than most times.

And the cup-cake is saccharine!

Maya’s sweet tooth is sated by it.

Low-calorie tea!

How high society!” she thinks.

It is the best of times!

No Gym, Jim!


Jim’s steps are heavy,

Its been a weary day!

His boss was at his stomping best!

His laughing child yanks the door open.

The fees are due”, his wife tells Jim,

He has just enough,

For the fees.

Not for the new shoes he needs!

He’ll make do!

Jim’s now walks every evening,

From the station to home.

The exercise does him good!

Saves on doctor’s bills!

It is the best of times!

Burnt Ravi Is Blown!


Its the little, tiny things,

That Ravi’s so grateful for!

The small joys!

He’s burnt the big notes on the market!

Its his third trip to the cobbler!

And the same mocassins to be repaired!

Style is temporary!

Class is permanent!

He consoles himself!

He’s been skimping and saving,

To buy that snazzy watch!

The carburetor blows!

He’ll buy the watch next year!

It is the best of times!


Tim & May Do!

For All The Times - Project 6_html_3c683968

It’s just not on the cards,” Tim says.

The wedding’s off!

But we can still live on love and fresh air”,

with a glint in his eye.

May replies, “Yes, we can forget about saving”

And have a little, nay, loads of fun

Its the now and here that counts.”

Its now 3 months,

Since Tim last had a tete-a-tete with his wife,May.

She’s working the night-shift;

So all’s well that ends well, is it?

It is the best of times!

Shyam Reminisces!


Shyam’s back aches!

It’s all those extra home-deliveries!

The customers and their orders have shrunk.

But not the large grocery deliveries.

But the cart and Shyam survive!

Shyam’s cash ‘n’ carry is pushed

a bit farther every day.

Fresh customers for fresh vegetables

Can still be found.

Shyam reminisces about being the milkman.

He was known to all;

He had a certain standing.

In this age of tetra-paks,

His job was also well-packed.

It is the best of times!

Chloe Wishes!

Chloe wishes she had the time.

She’s working multiple jobs

Her lad can still afford private tuition!

From working to cooking to working,

Just no time for sleeping;

What’s the crowded seat on the train for, anyway?

Chloe hears her neighbor yell “Wake up!”

The station’s here.

Get off or you’ll be going back home”.

Chloe wishes she were!

It is the best of times!

Sam’s Sessions!


Sam and his pupil are busy;

It’s his student’s third session;

Business has been slow;

He usually has 5 – 6 students at a time.

So what’s the world come to?

There was a time when the Queen’s English opened all doors!

Now I can barely sight a porthole;

And my students can’t either, it seems!”

Yes, Sam was a Better English teacher!

It is the best of times!

Satish’s Gold!


Satish is very, very busy!

Work has piled up like crazy!

It’s suddenly apparent

That the cobbler is

worth his weight in gold!

And doesn’t Satish realize it!

With all the savings he’s accumulated,

He can afford and is buying a Nano!

It is the best of times!

And so it is,

Stories of men and women

Their lives, their dreams, their heart-aches

We live, We eat, We sleep, We die!

We love! Oh! We live to love!

And so it is, that the best

Is yet to come!

And so it is,

The best times are here! The best times are now!

And ,we dream! Oh! How we dream! We dream to love, of love, of peace, of joy!

For time is what we make it!

Life is what we make it!

Our lives are our time!

Make the best of them!


The slide-show is available at

Emceeing a ToastMaster Meet!

Today’s Theme is Cartoon/Comic Characters.

Good afternoon, Fellow Toastmasters and Guests, I hope you had an enjoyable week. Now, how many of us have watched cartoons or read comics as kids and as adults? Almost all of us! Today’s session is dedicated to all those comics, the cartoon characters and caricatures who have made our lives so much more enjoyable.

I still remember how as a kid , I would first turn to the comics section to catch up with the latest instalment in the Phantom or Mandrake comics. That first, followed by the sports news.

At one point of time, my brother and I were cutting out and building our own comic books using the instalments published in the daily newspaper.

In our heyday, Indrajal comics ruled the roost. Four different comics, Phantom, Mandrake, Flash Gordon and our very Indian martial arts expert Bahadur comprised the Indrajal series.Phantom and his skull cave, his 2 rings, one which marked you as a bad person and the other that brought you luck and Guran, his trusted aide. Also, Diana his fiancee and later Bride and their twins, Kit junior & Heloise. For the sake of continuity, all Phantoms from the 2nd generation onwards to the 22nd were named Kit.

Then there was Mandrake, the magician , his sidekick, Lothar the strongest man in the world and Mandrake’s Japanese cook, Hojo, a martial arts expert. And his beautiful partner and princess Narda. And there was Theron the grandmaster of magic and probably the oldest man in the world with the powers bestowed upon him by the magic cube. He was also Mandrake’s father!

I never quite got the hang of Flash Gordon possibly because for some reason those comics were not that popular and hence not that freely available. And Bahadur was of course the Indian equivalent of a super-hero, unarmed and always tackling the Chambal valley dacoits. Remember, this was the time, when dacoits still ruled Madhya Pradesh and Phoolan Devi was a living legend!

Later on , Indrajal comics added a few more characters like Garth, the supernatural hero, Rip Kirby, the brilliant detective but this was when Indrajal started declining and the lines of comics ended and coincidentally my school-days! My comics reading continued and does to this day! It was then that I discovered Asterix and Tintin and summer holidays were a laugh-riot all over again. Tintin’s pal Captain Haddock with his foul mouth and “Zillions of Blistering Barnacles” could not but provoke laughter. And then there was Obelix, Asterix’s partner in arms. Who can forget him and his beloved menhirs?

[Introduce the guests]

Before I forget myself , I now ask the guests to introduce themselves. Tell us something about yourselves, and also tell us who your favorite comic/cartoon character is and why?

I’m sure some of you must be wondering why I have not mentioned Diamond Comics. I was not that much of a fan of the Diamond Comics for 3 reasons, I found the story-lines very thin, not funny, and the English not quite there. I did however squeeze in time for Chandamama and Amar Chitra Katha, well, I guess you couldn’t go very wrong with mythology! No offense to any diamond comic fans but the only reason we were allowed to read comics was because it was to encourage

our reading and improve our English. Diamond Comics did not pass the litmus test!

Speaking of improving our English , brings me to the grammarian for today.

[Introduce the grammarian]

The other comics I loved reading were the then imported DC comics, these included Superman, Spider Man, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow , The Justice League and The Fantastic Four. And of course, the funnies, Archie Comics , and Laurel & Hardy.

And before I forget, The Western, Cowboy and Commando comics were favorites too!

Has someone been counting my ahs and/or uhs? We only count ahs and uhs here at Toastmasters, not the ‘oohs’!

Before we continue , let me introduce our ah-counter for today:

[Introduce the ah-counter]

And returning to comics! As kids, there were the British girlie comics such as Mandy, Debbie,Judy et al. You see I had to keep my sister happy too, else there’d be quite a row! These had quite different story lines and were quite enjoyable in their own right! But my priorities were always the Indrajal comics followed closely by Superman, Western/Cowboy and Commando comics.

Do you know whom you have to keep happy, as speakers? Our time-keeper of the day!

[Introduce the time-keeper]

And what about animated cartoons? The ones you watch on the telly or on the big screen! In those days, television programmes were a rationed item, with just 2 channels; I still remember Doordharshan 2 being announced with such fanfare!

The cartoons I then watched were He-Man and The Masters of The Universe & SpiderMan.

But the cartoon series that can still have me and my siblings smiling is Tom & Jerry.

Kudos to the makers of that series! Having so many variations of cat chase mouse and carrying them off so successfully. Quite like our Hindi movies with overgrown boys and girls running around trees singing duets!

And finally R K Laxman (You Said It) and his common man deserve special mention. His take on everyday Indian politics and how it affected the common man is a part of Indian political humor folklore! R K Laxman was called the Art Buchwald of India! Though we Indians would probably call Art the R K Laxman of the US!

R K Laxman’s common man was an observer of the Indian political spectrum , a silent observer!

We, at ToastMaster meets, also have an observer, a person we term the general evaluator. He remains silent for most part of the meet, keenly observing our proceedings.

Our general evaluator for today is

[Introduce the General Evaluator]

And now let us move on to the meat of the meeting, the prepared speakers:

Our first speaker for today

[Prepared Speakers Round]

A large round of applause to all our prepared speakers! Without their hard work and preparation, most of the meet is well, just dead meat!

We now move on to the butterflies, the round where all have butterflies in their stomach. Without further ado, I would like to call upon the Table Topics master to relieve me and conduct the club business:

Our Table Topics Master is:

[Introduce the table topics master]

[Table Topics Round]

Finally, we move on to the round of evaluations.

Our General Evaluator for today will conduct this round:

[Recall the GE]

[Evaluation Round]

And finally, we now come to the part, we are all waiting for. The award-giving or ribbons ceremony!

The items in contention are these 3 ribbons, one each for the best prepared speaker, the best TT speaker and the best evaluator!

And the winners are:

[Announce and award the ribbons]

[Close meet with announcements]

[Adjourn meet]

Blogged with the Flock Browser

To Be The Grammarian

So, you are the grammarian of the day!

What you need to do is to get in touch with the chosen
ToastMaster of the day and find out what the theme/topic of the day
is going to be! Your word for the day should be in sync with the
theme of the day!

If you are lucky or smart, you could find your word for the day
in the theme itself! But that is plumb lazy!

At the meet, you should have the WOD displayed prominently
somewhere for everyone to see! The pronunciation and usage of the
word and preferably its etymology should be provided to the members.

During the meet, you will note down both excellent and bad usage
of grammar in spoken English by the participants.

At the end of the meet, you will present your report to the
members, taking care not to embarrass members by just stating their
bloopers and not who committed them! Your report includes commendation for usage of the word of the day and specify the users.

If you are familiar with figures of speech and their usage,
these should be part of your presentation.

Contact your club officers for templates, if available, for this
role and any other role!

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Table Topics – Part 2

Table Topics are sometimes synchronized with the Theme/Topic of the Day.

The following is the text of a table topics session where the Theme of the Day was Nostalgia. I did not have too much time to fine tune these Table Topics. And most of them are quite long-winded. It is recommended that the topics be kept short and pithy!

Nostalgia is an ice cream. Your either have it before it melts or freeze it away for another day. Table topics are like ice cream . You have just 1 – 2: 30 minutes to make a point. Anything less than a minute and the audience feels short-changed. More than 2:30 minutes and they will feel overly full! Today’s table topics are designed to evoke nostalgia that is to remind you of the good old days when things were so much simpler. We sometimes forget that it was we who were so much simpler and the choices we made were simpler too. We were younger and less burdened. Maybe this is a call to restore simplicity in our lives. Life is not complicated; we are.

I would like to now call upon our first table topic participant:

Our first table topic participant is ________________

and his topic is ______________________________________________

Yahoo! Chahe koi mujhe junglee kahe! Don’t you love those 70’s Hindi movies? Or why not?

Does nostalgia still have you asking for a Thums Up? Not a coke or pepsi, but Thums Up?

Who in heaven is Rajesh Khanna?

From Johnnie Walker to Johnny Lever, whither our Hindi film comedians?

Nostalgic about comics , who was your favorite comic book character?

Nostalgic about villains turned heroes, Much before shah rukh, there was Vinod Khanna and Shatrughan Sinha. Whom do you prefer and why?

In this age of tetra pak milk, where is the milkman? And whatever happened to your milk-card?

From walkmans to ipods, are you still a moving jukebox?

Doordarshan and All India Radio. Does that give you a warm feeling or goose pimples?

Test cricket to one day to T20, who was your favorite childhood or old time cricketer and why?

From fancy to flight, do India’s open skies evoke nostalgia for when it was just the Maharajah and Indian Airlines and air travel was a luxury?

In these days of shopping malls and choice and more choice, do you feel that less is more and yearn for the days of yore?

The more things change, the more they remain the same. So what hasn’t changed for you?