Friday, November 4, 2011

15 Hypoallergenic pets for would-be pet owners

The original article was published in Pets Clan on 11th October, 2011.
Are you one of the many people who sneeze, wheeze or have rashes just being around a dog or a cat? You love animals and dream of keeping pets but you cannot because you are allergic. Well, there is good news for you. And it is hypoallergenic pets. ‘Hypoallergenic’ literally means ‘below normal’ or ’slightly allergenic’. Several furry animals cause allergies in humans because of the presence of allergies causing proteins not only in their fur but also in their saliva, urine, mucous and dander. Hypoallergenic animals also produce allergens. But they typically produce fewer allergens when compared to their relatives due to their type of coat, absence of fur or absence of certain genes which produce the allergenic protein. However, until genetically engineered, no animal can be 100% hypoallergenic. Here is a list of 15 breeds of dogs and cats that fall in the natural hypoallergenic pets category:

1. American Hairless Terrier
This dog breed is a dream come true for dog lovers who are allergic. It has no body fur and no body dander. Many people with allergies are known to co-habitat peacefully with the American Hairless Terriers. It is a loving and an alert dog.

2. Bedlington Terrier
The Bedlington Terrier is a pretty short haired dog. It has a curly and wooly coat of fur, with an extra mop of fur on its head. It sheds little to no hair and needs regular clipping. It is a cheerful family dog.

3. Bichon Frise 
The Bichon Frise is a cute little dog which is popularly known as the ‘powder puff’ dog. It has a soft silky undercoat and a more coarse and curly outer coat. It looks dainty but is very sturdy. The Bichon is a fluffy white dog which loves human company. By nature it is independent and self assured.

4. Chinese Crested
The Chinese Crested breed of dogs have two versions. One version is hairless with hair only on its head, feet and tail. The other version, called powder-puff, has a soft fur of coat over its entire body. The coat color may be solid, mixed or spotted all over.

5. Devon Rex cat
The Devon Rex cat has an elfin face and big ears. Its coat can vary from thin fur, suede type to loose curls. It is a good choice for allergic cat lovers.

6. Irish Water Spaniel
The Irish Water Spaniel is the largest of all spaniels. It has a curly coat and needs regular trimming and grooming. Its feet are webbed and has a dense undercoat which insulates it from cold in water. It is a spirited and devoted dog.

7. Kerry Blue Terrier
The Kerry Blue Terrier is a medium sized muscular dog, with small dark eyes. The coat is wavy, soft and dense. It is animated, comical and playful and are known to make people laugh. It is protective and loves sports.

8. Labradoodle
The Labradoodle is a cross-bred between a labrador retriever and a poodle. But a litter of labradoodle puppies may have varying poodle coats. It is a popular choice among pet owners with allergies.

9. Maltese
The Maltese is a small and hardy dog with silky long fur. It has a single layer of silky fur which is white or ivory in color. It needs regular brushing. It is a lively dog. It is also bold and good at learning tricks.

10. Poodle
The size of the Poodle can vary from medium to large. It is a graceful, good natured and proud dog. It is listed among the most intelligent dog breeds in the world.

11. Portuguese Water dog
The Portuguese Water dog is a medium sized muscular dog. Its feet is webbed which aids in swimming. It is animated, playful and loyal. It absolutely loves water.

12. Schnauzers
The size of the Schnauzers breed of dogs can be miniature, standard or giant. It has a soft undercoat and the outer coat is wiry, hard and dense. It is a wonderful guard and watch dog.

13. Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier has a long silky coat. It is a strong and agile dog. It is good guard dog and is a great companion for children.

14. Sphynx
The Sphynx is a hairless breed of cat which may have little hair on its nose, tail and toes. But, it still produces dander.

15. Xoloitzcuintli
The Xoloitzcuintli or Xolo comes in three sizes, toy, standard and large. This dog can be either be hairless or coated. The Xolo is a very intelligent, alert and loving dog.

5 Ways to prevent baldness

The original article was published in Beauty Ramp on 13th October, 2011.


Receding hairline

Hair loss and a receding hairline is one of the most common problem among both men and women. Hair loss may be a hereditary problem, or may also be caused to due stress, health problems and even lack of proper hair care. Whatever may be the cause of hair loss, following a simple regime of care, hygiene and appropriate food can help to prevent hair loss to a certain extent. Prevention is always better than cure. Here are five simple ways that can help you prevent hair loss. 


1. Getting enough sleep 
Insufficient sleep leads to stress, which in turn leads to hair loss. While we sleep, our hair grows strong and long. Today’s modern and hectic lifestyle hardly allow us the ideal eight hour sleep every night. Plus most of us have minor or major insomniac problems. But if you want to prevent your hair from falling, try and get the daily eight hours of sleep. If you have sleeping problems, you can try meditation before going to bed. Having a shower before hitting the bed can also be useful.


2. Take a regular shower 
Excess sebum on your scalp is one of the major cause behind hair fall. Sebum is the oil secreted by our skin cells. Excess sebum on the scalp allows the hair shafts to get filled with dirt which eventually leads to hair fall. So having a daily shower to get rid of the excess sebum on your scalp will prevent hair loss. Use a good conditioner after shampooing your hair to keep your scalp clean.


3. Consume more proteins 
Hair is composed of keratin, which is a type of protein. In order to supplement it, we need to consume protein foods. Consuming protein rich foods like oatmeal, eggs, lean meats, legumes, whole grain breads, cottage cheese, almonds and nuts nourishes hair and prevents hair loss. You can also have cod liver oil supplement to ensure strengthening your hair.


4. Go for a scalp massage 
Massaging your scalp will increase blood circulation and help to make your hair stronger at their roots. You can go for a hot oil massage before hair wash, which will improve your hair quality and prevent hair loss. Even a simple massage using your finger tips for just five minutes everyday gives visible results in reducing hair loss.

5. Avoid cosmetic products
Popular hair styling products are mostly chemicals which makes your hair look great but at the cost of hair loss and poor hair quality. Avoid hair styling products as much as you can and try using natural hair products like aloe-vera gel. Such natural products will not only make your hair look good but will also improve your hair quality and prevent hair loss.

10 interesting and unusual facts about Cyprus

This article was published in Europe Euphoria on 29th October, 2011.

Cyprus


Cyprus, officially known as the Republic of Cyprus, is a beautiful historic Eurasian island nation. It is located in the the Eastern Mediterranean. It lies on the east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. Cyprus is known as the birth place of Aphrodite and famously called the “the playground of the Gods”. It is one of the safest places to live in as crime rate is very low in the island. Although Cyprus is a hot spot tourist destination, it has a few unusual facts which are rarely known to the outside world. Here is a list of 10 such unusual ’secret’ facts about Cyprus.


1. Hidden Venetian Bridges

Venetian bridge


The Venetians ruled Cyprus from 1489 to 1571. The Venetians built the old camel trail so as to aid the extraction of anything valuation that they could lay their hands upon on the island. The hidden bridges were a part of this camel trail and are three in number. They are the Eleia bridge, the Roudias bridge, and the Kelefos bridge.


2. Rock Formations in Troodoos

Troodoos Mountains


In geological terms, Cyprus is an ophiolite, and it rose out of the sea more than 20 million years. The rock formations in the mountains of Troodoos are very well preserved ophiolite complex. The mountain rocks has no fault and is a geologists’ dream come true. But again, you can admire and savor the sparkling colors of the rock formations even if you are not a geologist.


3. Cyprus Cats

Cyprus and cats


Do not let the cute looks of the Cyprus cats fool you of their age. Archaeological evidence shows that Cyprus has the oldest known history of keeping cats. In 2004, a 9500 year old grave site with carefully inferred remains of a human and a cat were found in Cyprus. This shows that cats had a special place in human lives in Cyprus since a very long time.

4. Origins of Perfume

Lavender- an aromatic herb


Perfume is known to originate in Cyprus. Archaeologist discovered perfumes in alabaster bottles, scented with aromatic herbs like bay, coriander, lavender and rosemary. The bottles were found in an enormous underground cave and are believed to be produced in large scale.


5. Kleftiko’s Secret

Kleftiko


Kleftiko is a Cypriot delicacy of slowly roasted lamb. The name ‘Kleftiko’ derived from the word ‘kleftis’ meaning ‘robber’. It is said that poor men used to steal meat and cook them in sealed underground ovens in the mountains.The sealed ovens kept the tantalizing aroma of the meat a secret. In the modern times, keftiko refers to to the Cypriot earthenware household oven.


6. Usage of Hot Chillies

Hot Chillies


Strangely, none of the Cypriot traditional delicacies use hot chillies as one of the ingredients. Cyprus is so near to the middle east and hot chillies could be easily cultivated in the Mediterranean sun. Pastourma, a hot and spicy loukanika sausage, is the only dish that is known to use chillies.


7. Unspoilt West

West Cyprus


The western part of the island of Cyprus, near Polis and Latchi, are very far from the mad tourist crowd. It is completely unspoilt and there are not much people around, there are no traffic lights. If you are looking for some peace and tranquility then you should probably head to the west.


8. The story of the Pine forests

Kyrenia mountains


The famous forests of Troodoos and Kyrenia mountains were eroded systematically with each passing century. The forests were depleted for the cause of ship building and fuel smelting. When Winston Churchil was a junior minister in the early 1900’s, he commissioned a reforestation program to replace the invaluable majestic forests. Make it a point to spend at least a day in the cool shadows of the forests and reminiscence in the soothing scent of the cedar, pine and eucalyptus trees. 


9. Halloumi

Halloumi


Halloumi is the traditional white cheese of Cyprus and is popularly known as the ’squeeky cheese’ by the visitors. Halloumi is commonly known to be of Greek origin. But that is wrong. It is of Cyprus origin and had been produced by the island for centuries. It is a semi-hard and prepared from milk (cow’s, sheep’s or goat’s) and rolled in wild mint.


10. The Mansoura Bay

Far from the madding crowd


Tourists crowds have literally spoiled most of the Cyprus beaches. If you really need to be away from the madding crowd in Cyprus then run away to the Mansoura Bay. This delightful bay is tucked away in the border on the Turkish side. Do not forget the small tavern there serving the most freshest fish ever. Additionally, more than 45 Cypriot beached had been acknowledged for their cleanliness and safety and awarded the EU Blue flag.

10 Amazing places to see in Saudi Arabia

This article was published in Awesome Asia on 29th September, 2011.


 Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the second largest Arab country and the largest in the middle east. The kingdom’s terrains consists of the Arabian desert, semi desert and shrub-lands. Apart from being known for having the world’s largest oil reserves, the country is mainly known as the cradle of Islam. The major tourists attractions of the country revolves around Mecca and Medina, the two historically rich cities and also the pilgrimage sites for the Muslims. There are many other places in the country that are worth seeing but are lesser known to the people outside. Here is a list of 10 best places to see in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


1. Mecca

Mecca


Mecca is the holy city of the Muslims. The Holy Qur’an recommends all able-bodied Muslims to go on a spiritual pilgrimage to Mecca once in their lifetime. Thousands of Muslims from around the world visit Mecca every year. The rectangular brick building called the Kaaba is said to be built by Ibrahim and his son Ismail. The great mosque of Al-Haram is close by and the place had been considered holy from pre-Islamic times.


2. Medina

Al-Masjid al-Nabawi


Medina is another holy place for the Muslims. Masjid al-Qiblatain in this holy city is a major attraction for Muslims from all over the world. This mosque embodies the culture of Saudi Arabia. Another mosque in the city, Al-Masjid al-Nabawi, is considered to be the second holiest mosque in the world. This mosque was originally built by the Prophet himself and later various Islamic rulers raised it to its present form.


3. Madain Saleh

Madain Saleh


Madain Saleh is a site of historic importance and is located in north-west Saudi Arabia. Madain Saleh was designed by the Nabataeans and is famous for its Madain Saleh cemetery. The cemetery houses 131 tombs and Armanic inscriptions adorns 45 of those. The cemetery looks spectacular against the sandy backdrop in the soft sun rays during sunrise and sunset. Many Arabs believe that the cemetery was the place where Prophet Salih and the Thamudian people resided.


4. Al Musmak Castle

Al Musmak Castle


The Al Musmak Castle is presently a museum and a heritage center. It is situated in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia. The Ministry of Education had a major role in converting this fort into a museum. The main things to see inside the castle are the mosque, the sitting place or saloon, the watch towers, the well and the gate of the palace.


5. Habalah

Habalah


Habalah was originally a village and now a gorgeous tourist destination. Habalah literally means ‘hanging village’. The village sits atop a cliff, which is a thousand feet high and cannot be accessed by roads. The village is deserted in present day and the empty houses have become a tourist destination. The village is connected by cable car. When the village was inhabited, there used to be a rope hung from an iron stand above by way of which food and other amenities were supplied to the dwellers. The carved doorways of the houses are amazing and the view of the valley from the cliff top is spectacular.


6. The Empty Quarter

Oryx


The Empty Quarter is the largest sea of sand on Earth. The sand dunes here are of the size of a huge ship. It is the home to the beautiful Arab animal, the oryx.


7. City of Old Diriyah

City of Old Diriyah


The City of Old Diriyah or Ad’Diriyah is a witness to the Kingdom’s rich historical past. The city is considered as one of the alluring tourist sites in the country. The city is full of palaces and mosques. Also, a major Islamic reform movement took place here during 1745. The Saud Palace, the Salwa Place and Turaif Bath House are the major attractions in this old city.


8. Dumat Ul Jandal

Dumat Ul Jandal


Saudi Arabia has been a home to exotic and ancient civilizations. The ruined city of Dumat Ul Jandal is a witness to this. One can learn about interesting aspects of the Sumerian civilization in this city. In the Assyrian records, the city is mentioned as ‘Adamatu’.


9. Mount Uhud

Mount Uhud


The famous Battle of Uhud was fought on this site on March 23, 625 CE. Mount Uhud extends from west to east and covers seven kilometers in length and three kilometers in breadth.


10. Rock Carving Site

Rock Carvings

The Rock Carving Site is a historical attraction in the kingdom. Shuwaymus is one such recently discovered site. The site tells that Saudi Arabia was not a desert since forever and undergone a plenty of climatic changes. The rock carvings depicts domestication of animals in early times.

10 Greek Islands that will mesmerize you

This article was published in Europe Euphoria on 26th September, 2011.

Greek Islands

Greece is a country full of mythology and classical beauty. Geographically it lies in within the European Union. The Greek mainland terrain is mountainous and peninsular. Based on definition, Greece consists of 1200 to 6000 islands, out of which only 227 are inhabited. The Greek islands are traditionally divided into three clusters - the Argo-Saronic Islands, the North Aegean islands and the Sporades islands. As there are 227 inhabited islands in Greece, it is difficult to choose which islands to visit and which to not. Each island have a story of its own. Still, to help you to make a choice, here are the 10 Greek islands which are exalting in their own rights. Apart from the amazing beaches and scenic beauty, almost all the islands offer a variety of water sports, including fishing and snorkeling.

1. Symi - the neoclassical
Symi

Mythology says, Symi got its name from the princess of Rhodes. The princess eloped to Symi with god Glaucus as her father did not approve of their marriage. The monastery of archangel Michael is one of the famous sites on the island. there is also the Castle of Knights and many churches of the Turkish origins. The beaches on Symi are somewhat stony but with amazing waters. do not forget to try the local wine and the dish called ‘mezedakia’.

2. Mykonos - the party island
Mykonos

The sandy beaches of Mykonos with the crystal clear waters is quite a pleasure. But Mykonos is more well known for its sophisticated night life, not only in Greece but also across the Mediterranean. The island offers a wide range of bars and night clubs where you can dance away the night. during the summer, Mykonos invides famous DJ’s from all over the world and amazing parties are organized.

3. Santorini - the promising view
Santorini

Santorini, in Aegean, is a place of spectacular sunsets over the Cyclades. You should definitely not miss the stunning sunset view in Oia. Santorini is absolutely a Greek cliche. The island used to be circular in ancient times. But there was a powerful volcanic eruption which caused the center of the island to sink. Most of the beaches in Santorini, like Perissa, Kamari and Paradise, has black sand. The island is also known for its gorgeous villages, some of which are perched on 300 meters high cliffs and offer stunning views. Oia, Fira and Finikia are of the villages which you can visit.

4. Farmakonisi - the uninhabited
Farmakonisi

The story goes that pirates had kidnapped a young Julius Caesar and held him captive on this island. Caesar considered the ransom demanded for his freedom was too meager and was infuriated. During his imprisonment, he promised that if was freed, he would kill all the island inhabitants. He made his family pay twice the ransom asked and later when he became a general, he kept his promise and crucified all the island dwellers. The island still remains practically uninhabited. The 2001 census recorded a population of 74 people only.

5. Tilos - the sanctuary of wildlife
Tilos

Tilos is a good getaway for campers. The island has rocky mountains, clear beaches and caves. It has also cool groves of fig, olive and walnut trees. The island once is known to have a population of the unique pygmy elephants. You find a lot of species of birds on the island all the year round.

6. Icaria - the rugged
Icaria

The island of Icaria is remotely isolated. Until few years ago, it had a reputation of being a hippy island. Icaria is probably best known for its underground spas which are fed by thermal underground springs, which are in turn heated by radiation. The island has a rugged terrain with unkempt villages. Icaria is more of a Greek holiday retreat rather than action.

7. Crete - a holiday delight
Crete

The island of Crete is a complete Greek holiday package. It has lofty mountains, beautiful sun kissed beaches, charming villages, hidden coves, gorgeous towns, exciting nightlife and tantalizing food. Crete was the star of one of the world’s greatest civilization, the Minoan civilization.

8. Corfu - for a holiday read
Corfu

The island of Corfu is treat for someone with a literary bend of mind. Apart from the regular Greek features life rocky mountains and sandy beaches, Corfu offers you Byzantine churches, Venetian fortresses, museums, pretty towns, traditional villages and lively resorts. Plus you can actually stay in the house where Lawrence Durrell wrote Prospero’s Cell.

9. Skyros - the new age holiday
Skyros

Skyros is a small picturesque island in the Sporades cluster. The island is lush green with trekking paths in pine forests and isolated beaches. The beaches of Skyros are organized and peaceful. The Skyros villages are absolutely lovely.

10. Gavdos - the undiscovered
Gavdos

Gavdos is Greece’s southernmost island and still very much like it was 40 years ago. the island is a tiny one, with only around 50 people on board all the year round. There are not many hotels available on the island. the only way to get to the island is by ferry.