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   What's eating you?
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
23 Jul 2010

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Bathroom Safari

The harrowing tales of adventures with parasites of varying shapes and sizes makes disgusting but compelling reading. It's a paean on frightening parasites that may give psychogenic itch. What else can reading about leeches, tapeworms and flukes lead unto? Eugene Kaplan, distinguished professor of ecology and conservation (emeritus) at Hofstra University, stays comical as he narrates the bizarre tales of contracting every possible parasitic infection during his travels across continents.

What's Eating You is about thirty distinct parasites that have fed on the author. Kaplan describes how he 'gave birth' to a parasite the size and thickness of a pencil while working in Israel, and how drinking contaminated water caused a three-foot-long worm to burst from his arm. It is parasitology writing at its best: informative, beautifully illustrated and hugely entertaining guide through the many forms and relationships that parasites and hosts embody.

Kaplan has written a seriously scientific publication that is pacy but embodies a style of its own. Else, the section captions could not have been awfully smelly. 'A Peek into the Anus - of My Child' and 'The Defecating Scandinavian' could make one feel yuck but the author marvels at the biological ingenuity of the parasites as these infect humans. There is a fish tapeworm that can grow up to forty feet long, and specifically targets elderly Jewish women.

Without doubt, Kaplan is a master raconteur who makes a grisly subject engrossing as well as entertaining. If it were not Kaplan one would not have developed a fascination for blood-sucking leeches. One of the many reasons why the Americans lost the war in Vietnam had to do with leeches feasting on US soldiers. The book demonstrates how wonderfully compelling teacher Kaplan is, wandering 'through field and feces' to get infected for finding subjects to study.

What's Eating you? People and Parasites
by Eugene H. Kaplan, Princeton University Press, Princeton & Oxford, 302 pages, US$26.95

 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

Lead View
People, Partition and the Pain
By Rina Mukherji
15 Aug 2013

Dr Jayanti Basu's book analyzes the complex feelings of hatred and longing for the homeland that have contributed to shaping the personalities of a generation of people who were forced to ..
Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

A Journey in the Future of Water

Spoiling Tibet

On Western Terrorism
Devinder Sharma
Carmen Miranda
Pandurang Hegde
Sudhirendar Sharma
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