I wanted to say Thank You for attending or supporting this year’s Annual Aquarius Charity Affair. I am truly grateful and genuinely amazed that over 600 people attended the event throughout the night! From all the bar sales, donation box, and my personal donation, we raised about $3000! That’s amazing! This will improve many children’s lives that has leukemia, fund water well drilling equipment in ourder to give clean drinking water to the poverty regions of Africa, and help fund SAMAR to help them organize multiple bone marrow drives – do you know how rare it is to find South Asian matches?! It’s kind people like you that shows so much love and support that inspires me to do as much as I can to make a difference in this world through the entertainment industry. Even though this is not my “day job,” you guys motivate me to spend as much time in improving and growing “The Urban Nerd” brand. Once again, thank you!
I want to thank all the people who helped me out, especially my sponsors to make this year’s Aquarius Charity Affair the best one so far.
I want to thank Shaadi.com, Luv the World Clothing, Luxemi, and Convey Clothing – without these wonderful companies, this event would not have been as successful as it was. Please check out their websites. Everyone knows about Shaadi.com – (all you single people out there!), and Luv the World Clothing and Convey Clothing have an amazing collection of clothes, t-shirts, and accessories. They have a great sense of fashion design, and for those who always see me sporting Convey gear – well now you can get them too! What’s amazing about these two clothing companies is that portion of their sales go to different causes and charity funds. This is the reason why I am a HUGE supporter for both brands. Also, check out Luxemi – they have an incredible taste in design when it comes to South Asian jewelry and fashion.
I want to thank Parul “The Cake Designer” Patel, for catering all those delicious cupcakes. Did you know those cupcakes were all EGGLESS!?!? Amazing, right? Also, she was the one who designed the Birthday cake as well, and I just recently had a slice of it not so long ago, and wow, it tasted amazing. Heck, I even preserved and froze a slice, acting like it was a piece of a wedding cake – that’s how good it was. Check her out at: TheCakeDesigner.com. I also want to thank Laurentino’s Pasticceria Caffe for providing all the Chocolate Covered Strawberries for the night, and also want to thank Kyotofu for providing their award winning cupcakes for the VIP room.
I want to say thanks to Manny Singh and the whole Indus Tuesdays team for booking Hudson Terrace as the venue for the event. I want to thank all the DJs for providing the amazing music: DJ Insomnia, DJ Bornswift, DJ Flawless (“Waseem Stark”). Special thanks to the photographers: Julian and Gene.
I want to say thanks to all the people that celebrated their Birthdays at the event (Tina, Maneesh, Neha, Farhan, Sabrina, Monty, Nimesh, Sam, Shazia). I want to thank my Event Planner, Rhea Ghosh, who took half my stress away for this event. If you ever need an event planner, I highly recommend her. I want to thank all the people who also helped out on the day of the event: Sarah, Nirav, Dhaval (for handling and running the Bone Marrow Drive), Akash and Omar.
The raffles were not announced at the party, so I will be contacting each of the names were picked from the raffle box for the giveaways. Thanks for everyone that donated and registered at the bone marrow drive in order to do the raffle! Also, Shaadi.com has given us a promo code to give out to everyone who supported the event – Use Promo Code: “JAN1512” for a 15% discount when signing up for their matrimonial services.
Wow! So it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything. Figured I would write something that has been on my mind.
So about 6 years ago, I would have a get together and celebrate my birthday with a group of friends, and all of my friends would ask me what I would want for my birthday, and at the point in life – I really didn’t want anything nor need anything, so I would tell my friends to go donate to a certain charity, and my friends did just that. The year after, when it was the beginning of January, same question arose, and then it occurred to me – why not just have a charity party. A close friend of mine from Harvard, Maneesh, who happens to have his birthday the day before mine agreed with me to throw a big bash. Now each year, this bash has grown larger and larger in size, and now this year – it happens to be only 2 days away (wow – that’s close by..*getting nervous*) – happens to be the largest we’ve ever done.
I started planning this all the way back in October, knowing that I wanted to do something bigger and different, and was trying to figure out how can I top last years (I did it at Belmont Lounge). I’ve been only living in NYC for a little over a year, but I was confident that I knew enough people in order for the word to spread (plus being known for the viral Kati Roll Parody video was a plus!). My expenses were high, and I was really close to just paying everything out of pocket, until a friend told me that – the event is large enough to get sponsors. With all the planning, logistics, catering, sponsors, guest lists, design, etc. – I knew I needed help and I needed an amazing event planner. Luckily, I found an amazing person, Rhea Ghosh, who if it wasn’t for her – this event would not have really happened the way I wanted it to be. Usually, I give everyone a chance to prove themselves as an asset to me in regards to anything “Urban Nerd” related, and she really, really proved herself. She did an amazing job, and I highly recommend her if you need an event planned from anywhere in getting sponsors to fund your event to marketing strategy.
Another thing that has been on my mind is that the feedback I have received was unimaginable. In the beginning I was worried that we wouldn’t get enough people, but we have over 780 RSVPs (including waitlists) all thanks to everyone spreading the word about it (my wonderful friends in the entertainment industry – Melanie Kannokada, Payal Kadakia, Rohan Sheth from MTV, Jay Dabhi, DJ Insomnia, DJ Bornswift, DJ Karma, DJ Flawless (aka Waseem Stark), and of course the whole UrbanAsian.com Crew! Also, really big thanks to Dhaval Bhanusali, he organized the whole SAMAR bone marrow drive for the event, and definitely got the whole AAPI community involved. He also helped out on small things here and there that is actually crucially important to the event. Now I have to figure out how is everyone going to get in when the venue only holds 500 people…LOL!
Another thing, this event would not have happened if it wasn’t for the sponsors who believed in the event! Special thanks goes out to: Shaadi.com, Luv The World, Luxemi, and Convey. Also, a very special thanks to the Indus Tuesdays Team, especially Manny Singh. If it wasn’t for him – I wouldn’t have been able to book such an amazing venue.
Wow – I can’t believe it’s two days away. I’m nervous, but also anxious and excited. I’m not sure people realize how hard it is to throw a massive free party, and all the planning that is involved with it, but in the end I hope we raise a lot of money for the charities, so it will be worth it. =)
I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted up anything fun and new on this website or on Youtube, but I promise you that there’s a lot that I have been working on, and it’s all in the works. In the end, I want to still be the same person that had the mentality of doing this to only send out a positive message to the world and to raise awareness of certain global issues.
A lot has happened in my life ever since I released the “Kati Roll” music video, and became an official TV Host for UrbanAsian.com, including having my own show on there. I’ve been getting scripts for short films, tons of new comedy video skits, offers from off-broadway plays/shows (Bollywood Wedding was one of them), new music remake ideas, and much more. Meantime, I’ve been trying to balance my personal life in regards to friends, family, and work, with work being my #1 Priority. I’ve been also working on my new startup, which has nothing to do with the entertainment industry, which has been taking a good amount of my time. In the end, regardless, I WILL FIND THE TIME to release everything that I have, and try to work on my new video project.
The first thing I will be releasing on Youtube are “The Adventures of Sam Hasan & The Urban Nerd” episodes. Basically, these are behind the scene footages of Sam Hasan and I – just randomly goofing off, having fun, singing, beatboxing, making music, etc. You get to see us in our raw form, which I know you will enjoy.
The second project that I will start working on would be my dance choreo/freestyle videos on Youtube. For those who don’t know, I have a PASSION for dance, especially Hip-Hop. I used to breakdance and was part of multiple crews awhile back until I just didn’t have time to compete or showcase any of my dance talents. Recently, a good friend said I should just record myself when I go to the dance studio and post it on Youtube, and I thought it wasn’t a bad idea. So look out for that soon!
In the meantime, I just want to wish everyone Happy Holidays, and want you to remember that it only takes one simple act of random kindness to make a difference in this world of ours. Let us be the inspiration, and I hope this video makes you realize that.
But there were also some commonalities. Health spending has grown more quickly than GDP in the last decade in all of the member countries, except in Luxembourg.
And, Health at a Glance 2011 shows that obesity rates have doubled or even tripled in many countries since 1980. In more than half of OECD countries, 50 percent or more of the population is now overweight, if not obese. The obesity rate in the adult population is highest in the United States — rising from 15 percent in 1980 to 34 percent in 2008 — and lowest in Japan and South Korea, at 4 percent.
Graphic courtesy: OECD
The differences in cost of health care aren’t anything new. Frontline produced a documentary on the subject, “Sick Around the World” in 2008, which you can view here.
So what are some of the reasons that health care costs more in the United States? Are we healthier because of it?
PBS Newshour posed a few of these key questions to Matthias Rumpf from the OECD earlier this week. Answers were edited for space and clarity.
NEWSHOUR: From an international perspective, why are health care costs in the United States so much higher than any other OECD country?
MATTHIAS: High spending by the U.S. on health must either be because the price of healthcare is higher than in other countries, or else because it provides more health activities than other countries, or a combination of the two. Evidence suggests that both factors are important, but particularly prices. The same set of hospital interventions (including the normal delivery of a baby, a Caesarean section, a hip or knee replacement, etc.) cost 60 percent more in the United States than in a selection of other countries. Similarly, 50 high-selling pharmaceuticals cost 60 percent more in the United States than in Europe. But the United States also uses a lot of expensive diagnostic tests, such as MRI and CT scans, and performs a lot of interventions where it is not always clear-cut whether the procedure is necessary or not — tonsillectomies, knee replacements, and so on. On the other hand, perhaps surprisingly, the U.S. does not have many doctors relative to its population, not many hospital beds, and people do not spend long in hospital when they have to be admitted. Overall, therefore, high prices are the main reason for high health care spending in the United States.
NEWSHOUR: In which areas is the U.S. particularly lacking?
MATTHIAS: The primary care system — the network of family doctors and clinics that people can go to when they first think they have a health problem, and that can advise people on how to stay healthy — is underdeveloped in the United States. This is bad for people’s health, but also raises overall costs. For example, most people with diabetes, asthma or difficulties in breathing (COPD) should not need to be treated in hospital. They require monitoring, but this does not need to happen in hospitals, it is something that the primary care system should manage. It is far cheaper for a family doctor to check that people are following their treatment properly and that it is appropriate, than for things to go wrong and someone to be admitted to hospital as an emergency. Greater attention to the primary care system is urgently needed in the United States.
NEWSHOUR: Does the U.S. provide too much health care?
MATTHIAS: It is almost impossible to say this definitively. Only a physician can really judge the needs of his patients. However, there are reasons to be concerned. The number of tonsillectomies, knee replacements, hip replacements, coronary grafts, Caesarian sections, MRI and CT diagnostic tests and several other areas are much higher in the United States than in most other countries. These are procedures where it is not always definite that they should take place — it is up to the physician and the patient to decide what is best. In countries where there is a greater stress on controlling costs, and different tort law rules, there are fewer such interventions. It is probable that the medical culture in the United States is more likely to ‘do something’ than in other countries — yet overall health outcomes are not better in the United States.
NEWSHOUR: How do Americans compare with other nations in terms of general health?
MATTHIAS: The United States has the highest proportion of adults — 90 percent — reporting that they are in good health, far above the OECD average of 69 percent.
Yet, life expectancy is lower than the OECD average, at 78.2 years compared to 79.5, in 2009. This is despite the United States being a rich country and spending so much on health care. It also has a large rate of premature mortality — people dying before the age of 70 – at 50 percent higher than the OECD average for females, and 30 percent higher for males. Not all of this is due to the healthcare system of course. For instance, there is not much that the health care system can do to prevent deaths from traffic accidents or homicides.
In the United States as in other countries, there are important disparities in health status across different population groups, defined by race or by socioeconomic status. For example, the life expectancy at age 25 for people with the lowest level of education compared with the highest level of education in the United States is 11-16 years less for men and 10-12 less for women. A range of interventions, including some related to the health care system and other broader measures of population health and prevention, are needed to reduce these disparities.
Infant mortality is another indicator that has traditionally been used to gauge both the performance of the health care system and broader socioeconomic factors. Rates are generally low in OECD countries. However the U.S. rate, at 6.5 deaths per 1000 live births, is well above the OECD average of 4.4.
NEWSHOUR: Has the U.S. always been more expensive in terms of health care? If not, when did things start changing?
MATTHIAS: Health expenditure as a share of GDP in the U.S. has always been higher than the OECD average, but the gap has widened a lot in recent decades. Some countries have had similar shares in the past — Canada in the 1960s — but since 1970, the U.S. has outstripped all other high-income OECD countries, with a five-fold increase in health spending per capita in real terms. Health expenditure as a share of GDP was 40 percent higher than the OECD average in 1970. It is now 80 percent higher.
NEWSHOUR: Can we learn from other countries that have brought down costs?
MATTHIAS: No countries have brought down costs — health care costs are rising everywhere (with the occasional year-to-year variation), so the real issue is whether other countries are providing good quality care at lower costs than the United States. A few things are common to the high-performing health systems:
An emphasis on primary care, to ensure that most care takes place outside of (expensive) hospitals
A system which encourages use of (cheaper) generic drugs, when there are alternatives to expensive brands
Tight regulations of prices and fees, for at least those services that are paid for by public programs
Adherence to clinical guidelines, so that excessive use of expensive diagnostics or unnecessary health care is prevented
It’s also important to note that talking about ‘the United States’ is misleading. Some of the health care provided in the United States has more in common with the ‘national health service’ model of national provision of integrated care — the Veterans Administration, for example. Some of the health care provided by the VA, and indeed in the private sector, is probably the best in the world. Some other health care is, however, poor. The variation is enormous, and talking about averages sometimes confuses people.
After all, many people in the United States probably think that publicly-owned and operated health care is necessarily unresponsive to people’s wishes and the staff are undermotivated.
This can indeed happen, but is far from being the general rule in many OECD countries, who have efficient, well-financed, responsive health care systems — but at much lower cost than in the United States.
NEWSHOUR: Are there any health care areas in which the U.S. system is faring better than other countries?
MATTHIAS: When we look at the quality of cancer care, the United States stands out as having excellent results. Screening rates for breast and cervical cancer are excellent, so problems can be diagnosed early on. Your chances of living five years after being diagnosed with breast cancer, or cervical cancer, or indeed several other cancers, are better in the United States than almost anywhere else in the world.
Who are you?
What questions are you wrestling with?
Where are you looking for your answers?
Are you satisfied with having a safe, secure and distinguished career?
Or is your greatest work waiting for you in the infinity of possibilities?
Do you hover above the chaos looking for your answers in patterns and trends?
Or do you need to be in ground level, walking through the problem?
I used to have this photo of the Parthenon when I was a child, and one day I scribbled all over it with a crayon – until recently, I realized that I covered it with rectangles within rectangles, retracing the Greek’s use of the golden ratio. Does that speak to the mathematicians in the need to understand beauty or to the child who had to tear it apart?
John von Neumann once said that in mathematics you don’t understand things you just get used to them. I wish I could have debated that point with him – because it seems to me that in mathematics, we find the power to refuse fate, and to understand the way things are, we give ourselves the means to change them.
Our ancestors’ stories belong to us now. Each of their signatures is a self-swallowing set, a name that short-hands a body of thought. A life’s work.
In the end, the question isn’t who you are. The question is: who did I turn out to be? Who am I to you? Are faded marks and scratches on the floor the only evidence I was here?
Or did some scribbled note, some fragment of a proof, infer to your perception of the world; even confirm it, cementing what you felt in your heart to be true – with the balance of left column to right.
What footprints have I left behind? Do they endure? Or has the ocean of discovery washed them away already?
How many lives have I touched? Have I touched yours?