Tuesday, March 4, 2008

5 Traits of a Brilliant Team Leader

Some people are born leaders. Wherever they go, they don the hat of the leader. However, most people succeed as team leaders not because they are destined to but because they are determined to. What does it take to be an effective team leader?

Open communication channels

Poor communication skills can be the kiss of death for a team leader.

  • ~ If you are not precise and clear about what you expect from your team members, you will not get the crisp action and results you want
  • Make sure your team knows that you are approachable and you consider them worthy of your time.
  • ~ Every member of the team has strengths required to make the team successful. So, each should be treated with the same respect.
  • ~ An informal atmosphere is an added advantage.

Anticipate problems

It is up to the team leader to be farsighted, anticipate problems that may plague the team in the future and take preventive measures. Effective problem solving requires discipline and organisation.

    • ~ An effective rule for managing issues is: When you hear it, write about it. This ensures that all related details are recorded and can be subsequently reviewed. Each issue can then be prioritised and attended to accordingly.
    • ~ Townsend states, 'An important task of a manager is to reduce his people's excuses for failure.' These excuses later on take the form of issues or problems.

Be helpful, not forceful

Gone are the days where the command and control format applied. Leadership as of today is all about guiding -- not ruling. People management skills are a pre-requisite for anybody aspiring to be a team leader.

      • ~ You need to gauge your team members accurately. It is only by understanding their individual work preferences, core competencies, motivation levels, areas of improvement and strengths that you will be in a position to assign them tasks accordingly.
      • ~ If one of your team members is finding it difficult to meet his deadline, get a colleague, who is relatively free, to chip in. Two brains are better than one.

Your team members will definitely appreciate your sense of solidarity and respect you more for saving the day for them.

Trust is the key

No relationship is long-lasting or worthwhile if trust is missing. This holds equally true for the team leader and team member relationship.

~ The first thing a team leader needs to get straight is that his team will not trust him because he considers himself to be trustworthy.

Anyone who has ever walked a corporate corridor knows that trusting the wrong person has led to many an executive's downfall in the long run.

He needs to trust his team members before they trust him. It works both ways.

        • ~ As the team leader is the connection between the team and the higher management, he needs to work in tandem with both parties to obtain a full commitment from the management in support of the team's programme.
        • It is his responsibility to ensure his team members are making maximum use of the resources and the support provided. He needs to earn the trust of both parties to meet his objectives.
        • Betrayal of trust leads to an inevitable downfall.

Show the way

Meetings, issues, firefighting and meeting deadlines sometimes makes the team leader put mentoring of team members on the backburner.

However, today's executive is no longer lured by just the job guarantee factor or a fat paycheque. More than anything else, he is looking for professional growth.

~ Building and supporting a career development atmosphere is paramount. By empowering your team members, you empower yourself. You need not then micro-manage your employees and can concentrate on matters that merit your time and attention.

The investment in making sure that every team member is ascending his personal learning curve pays great dividends. Not only does it boost their confidence, the team members become increasingly valuable to the organisation.

          • ~ Team members need feedback on a regular basis, not just during the annual appraisals. They need to be made aware of their performance levels and be given an opportunity to discuss their needs for growth and development. Recognition of efforts is essential for lifting the executives' spirits and strengthening their sense of commitmen t.
          • Likewise, the executives must be told -- firmly but gently -- about their areas of improvements as well as shown ways and means of working on them. Quality needs to be inspired, not dictated.
          • ~ Set high standards for yourself and your team will follow suit. Your example will always be emulated. Nothing inspires a team member more than seeing his boss hard at work.

An Excellent Poem On MOTHER - - (Don't Miss It)

Good morning friends…start your day reading this...Really heart touching…

I was a just-born and she was Twenty-Five,
Though we were we, we were one.
I would cry out in Latin and she would respond in Greek,
I would learn nothing but she never got tired to teach.

I was surrounded by monsters eager to pull my cheek,
but they would vanish the moment i was wet and weep.
She would come running and hold me in her arms,
as if i had won the contest of the charms.

Now I was able to walk and chew,
hey, i was two.
I and she could now understand each other,
i was her everything and she needed no other.

I would try to walk and fall down,
But knowing she was with me, the fear of getting hurt was now gone.
We still could not converse that effectively,
But she would understand my needs so easily.

I could now roam about free,
because now i have turned three.
I was ready to join a new world,
my academic life was now gonna mould.

She would dress me as best as a prince,
but when i would come back, she would need at least an hour to rinse.
I was now able to talk,
I was a ferry and she was my dock.

I still remember the child, whose shirt I had tore,
Hey buddy, i have turned four.
I now came home a little late,
Nevertheless finding her waiting at the gate.
She would hug me and carry me in her arms,
it felt like flying through the farms.
We now did the homework together,
i would spoil the home and she used to work.

Years passed and now i was fifteen, and with each year i would forget to
I wouldn't care for what she said, because now i had become mean.
She would ask me to study for a good future,
but i was busy in a different culture.
Now i had many shes in my life,
i dreamed of having one of them as my wife.

I changed a lot which she did not teach,
She would try to hug me but i was out of reach.
She still waited for me at the gate,
but i would look at her with utmost hate.
She would be awake till late in the night,
because i wasn't home, i was in a fight.
She had so much to scold, but she never did say,
hoping to find me better the next day.
Time went on and now i am grown,
lost in the world of my own.

I and she, between us have a river,
I have left her for my career.
When i was young, for me, she sacrificed her ambitions,
but i don't care, i now have my own mission.
I am not with her now, i am in a different city,
she is so old now but i don't even pity.

She needs me now but i am nowhere to find,
in the race for appraisal, i have become blind.
In a few years from now, i will be two,
there will be in my life someone new.
Then i'll forget even to bother,
i am her son and she my Mother.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Attitude of Life....!

I am so happy to have a job, even though it stinks..

I am glad there's sunshine outside and not rain..

I am relieved to know that finals are almost over..

I am loved and know it and that is the best feeling in the world!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Refresher on email Etiquettes

Here are some points on email etiquettes that will definitely help.

1) The font of mail should be Verdana and font size should be 9.5 or 10.

2) The mail should have a Pyramid Structure i.e. it should contain:
* Situation: What's the current situation is
* Action items: What you expect from the reader of the mail to-do
* Information: The information you want to give to the reader
* Conclusion: Conclude with a Thank You.

3) For writing use only Black or Blue color. For highlighting purpose make the word bold. Avoid using Red color as Red signifies danger, so use it when urgent.

4) For greetings in mail:
* For Americans: use Hi
* For Europeans: use Hello
* For Asians: use Dear

To be more formal we could use Dear Mr. /Ms. followed by Last name or Full name. We should not use Dear Mr. /Ms. followed by First name alone.

5) We should not put '/' in greetings like Hi X/Y. Instead we should say Hi X and Y.

6) We should not use 'Thanks and Regards'. Instead we should say:

Thank you

7) For requesting something we should not use can, instead we should use could.

8) We should not write 'Please find the attached file' because the reader does not have to find or search for the file in the mail it's already there. So instead we should write
'The file has been attached for your reference'.

9) We should not use sentences like 'As per your mail' because 'per' is used only with units like per Kg etc. Instead we should write 'According to your mail'.

10) We should use parallel structure. Parallelism enables readers to read documents more efficiently. For e.g . The analysis will include planning, organizing, dividing and assessment
(Instead assessment we should write Assessing) of turnaround functions.

11) In our mails we often write 'Please revert back'. Instead we should only write 'Please revert'.

12) For the Signature in mail, if we are sending to people in our company only then we should not write our company name in the signature because they already know that we are part of the same company but if we are sending mail to an external party like client etc then we should write our company name in the signature because there we have to brand our company name in front of others.

Mysooru Dasara

Mysore Dasara is a Royal Festival Celebrating victory of Truth over Evil. Legend has it that the Goddess Chamundeeswari or Durga slew the demon Mahishasuran on Vijayadashami day. Dasara is a 10-day festival in the region culminating on Vijayadashami or tenth day. The day marks the successful conclusion of the preceding nine days. Vijayadashami is also a day of victory of the King and his subjects, be it in a battle or day-to-day governance. On tenth day a grand spectacular Procession is held which starts from Mysore Palace and ends in Bannimantap.

In Karnataka, Dasara is observed as State festival - Nadahabba, because of the celebration of the festival is steered by the Royal Family of Mysore. The royal family of Mysore performs special Pooja on the occasion of Dasara. During Dasara, the entire City is gaily decorated and illuminated. The Palace and other important buildings are illuminated. Cultural programmes by famous artists are arranged in the Palace along with Sports, Wrestling, Poet's meet, Food Festival, Film Festival witnessed by a large number of people.

Here are a few glimpses of Dasara captured during Dasara 2007.

Palace Illumination seen from Chamundi Hills

C Ashwath performing live in Yuva Dasara

Traditional Doll Exhibition

Nandi Dhwaja (Signaling the start of procession)

Royal Elephants


DoLLu kuNitha



Dasara Procession

Here comes the Golden Ambari

Wish one and all a veryHappy Dasarra!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What is Cybercrime....?


What is cybercrime? When did it all start? Who is involved? Why do they do it? Too many people are still in the dark about the nature and even existence of cybercrime. As this is a relatively new and rapidly progressing trend, society and the law have yet to catch up. It is essential, therefore, to have an idea about the who, what and why of cybercrime before getting into the depths and details of the how.


Cybercrime has had a short but highly eventful history. Apart from being an interesting study by itself, observing the history of cybercrime would also give the individual and society the opportunity to avoid the mistakes made in the past. Appropriate action can also be taken in the future.

The Cybercriminal

Who commits cybercrime? From behind the anonymous veil of the computer screen, the computer criminal operates in stealth. Anyone, of course, could be a cybercriminal but there are certain characteristics to look out for. Just as in the real world, building up a proper profile of the cybercriminal will make it easier to trace and apprehend him or her.

The Victim

Apart from having a cybercriminal profile, it is also essential to have a cybervictim profile. Only then will unsuspecting people who fit this profile be aware of the grave danger they may be in every time they switch on their computer.


A little knowledge is a very bad thing, far worse than total ignorance. Many people who have been newly introduced to cyberspace have formed false or unjustified opinions about the who and what of cybercrime, leading to graver than expected consequences. It is time to come face to face with what we tend to think is true but actually is not.


If you want to know exactly what is the meaning a particular technical word related to cybercrime, do not bother consulting the dictionary as many of the words found here are very new to the English language. Some can hardly be considered English words but it is necessary to know what they mean nonetheless.

Know The world Beside You… Be Carefull!!!

Health Around The World

In this article I’ll highlight some countries from A - Z and share share some interesting health facts about each country. Important health habits are taking place across the world 24 hours a day. The major focus is at Diet, Exercise, and Health Habits.

A - Australia

Dieting - Eating habits are similar to the United States. Fruits and vegetables grow year round. Take out food and fast food are very popular. There is a trend to eat lighter foods such as salads, seafood, and fresh vegetables. The main meal of the day is in the evening. It is called dinner but may also be called tea. A snack before bedtime is called supper

Recreation - People of all ages enjoy football, soccer, rugby, cricket, basketball, cycling, bush hiking, tennis, lawn bowling, and swimming. Netball which is similar to basketball is taught to girls and is very popular. Their most popular sport is fishing, which is also important to their economy.

Health Facts - There is health care provided and about two-thirds of the hospitals are public. The infant mortality rate is 7 per 1000 and life expectancy is 75 to 81 years.

B - Brazil

Dieting - Breakfast consists of coffee with milk, fruit, bread with marmalade. Lunch is the main meal and often includes beans, rice, meat, salad, potatoes, bread, and fruit. Dinner often includes a bowl of soup with bread. In Rio de Janeiro the favorite food is black beans with beef, pork, sausage, and sometimes even a pig's ear, feet, and tail.

Recreation - The national sport is futebol (soccer). Brazil's soccer teams are among the finest in the world. Some cities close their businesses for soccer games. The famous soccer player Pele' came from Brazil. Brazil has many fine beaches, so boating, fishing, and swimming are also very popular.

Health Facts - Excellent health care is available in the big cities to those who can afford it. However, other areas are rarely equipped with adequate facilities. Sanitation can be a problem in certain areas. The infant mortality rate is 57 per 1000 and the life expectancy is 64 to 69 years.

C- Canada

Dieting - Canada is a multicultural heritage, a variety of foods and dietary habits are represented, especially in Toronto and Ottawa. Some of the popular foods are wild rice, smoked fish, beef, ethnic dishes, Pacific salmon, and a variety of foods similar to those in the United States. Grains are more common inland and seafood is more popular on the coast.

Recreation - Ice hockey is the most popular sport. However, there are also high interests in boating, fishing, swimming, baseball, football, basketball, skiing, hunting, horseback riding, lacrosse, soccer, rugby, and curling. In curling, two four-person- teams slide a large stone over ice toward a target.

Health Facts - Canadians enjoy very good health in general. Their infant mortality rate is 7 per 1000 and their life expectancy is 75 to 82. Hospitals and quality of care is excellent.

D- Denmark

Diet - Breakfast consists of coffee or tea, pastries or rolls, cheese, eggs or cereal, and milk. For lunch, the Danes enjoy traditional open faced sandwiches. Pumpernickel bread is the bread used for the sandwiches. Staple foods include pork roast, fish, beans, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, fresh veggies, and breads. For Dinner, Danes enjoy and Danish hamburger with gravy, white potatoes, pickled red beets, and a salad.

Recreation - Soccer is the most popular. They also enjoy handball, badminton, swimming, sailing, rowing, and jogging. Among women, gymnastics, handball, horseback riding, and badminton are popular.

Health Facts - Their health care is provided and paid for through their taxes. Their infant mortality rate is 7 per 1000 and their life expectancy is 73 to 79 years. Medicine is available at a low cost but few can get it free.

E – England

Dites - A full traditional breakfast consists of bacon, sausages, grilled or fried tomatoes, mushrooms, eggs, and bread fried in oil. Fewer people are heating such a heavy meal at breakfast and instead are eating lighter variations. The British eat a variety of European and ethnic foods such as poultry and pasta dishes. Fast-food has also become very popular. Traditional English dishes include roast beef and yorkshire pudding

Recreation - Soccer and rugby are the most popular sports. Also, horse racing and cricket are common sports. Modern lawn tennis was first played in England and modern boxing rules came from the country. Other favorite forms of recreation include badminton, sailing, swimming, snooker, darts, and squash.

Health Facts - Britains health service provides on the basis of taxation. Quality of care is excellent. The country struggles with the cost of health care. Infant mortality rate is 7 per 1000 and life expectancy is 77 years.

F - Finland

Dieting - Finnish cuisine has been influenced by many cultures, from French to Russian, but it includes a wide variety of Finnish specialities using fish and seafood, wild game, and vegetables. Reindeer steak is a traditional speciality, as is salmon. Wild berries are popular in desserts and liqueurs. Potatoes, cheese and a finish buffet are also popular. Rye bread open sandwiches are popular.

Recreation - General fitness is important to Finns, whose favorite hobbies include fishing, hunting, camping, and other sporting activities. Ice fishing is important on winter weekends. Favorite sports include skiing, track-and -field, basketball, finnish baseball, ice hockey, cycling, and boating activities. Golf is gaining popularity; some even play on the ice in the winter.

Health - Finland takes great pride in its health program. It is funded by national and local taxes. Finland has one of the lowest infant mortality rate of 5 per 1000 and it life expectancy is 73-80 years. Finland has one of the world's highest doctor-patient and nurse-patient ratios.

G - Germany

Diets - Regional dishes vary among Germans such as potatoes, noodles, dumplings, sauces, vegetables, cakes, and pastries. Pork is a popular meat, along with beef, and to a lesser extent chicken. Lamb is widely available in the north. Fish is popular in North Sea areas such as Hamburg. Every region has it's own type of sausage. Breakfasts consists of rolls, marmalade, and coffee. The main meal is served during the mid day and a lighter meal is served around dinner which would consist of an open faced sandwich.

Recreation - Germans enjoy hiking, skiing, swimming, cycling, touring in cars, and playing tennis. Soccer is the most popular sport and millions belong to soccer clubs. Germany's team traditionally participate in world cup competition.

Health - Medical care is provided free or at minimal cost to all citizens. Private doctors practice, but most people have access to care in hospitals and clinics. When workers become ill, they receive up to six weeks of full pay while they recover. Germany's infant mortality rate is 6 per 1000 and their life expectancy is 73 to 79 years.

H - Honduras

Diet - Beans, corn, tortillas, and rice are the staple foods. Bananas, pineapples, mangoes, citrus fruits, coconuts, melons, avocados, potatoes, and yams are the most common fruits and vegetables. Special dishes include tapado, mondongo, nacatamales, and torrejas. Some restaurants in major cities serve pizza, hamburgers and other North American dishes.

Recreation - Soccer is the most popular sport. Young boys play the game almost anytime, anywhere, and professional competition is available as well. Girls are likely to play basketball. Boys and men in rural areas enjoy playing card and dice games. Wealthy Hondurans enjoy cycle races, baseball, golf, tennis, and swimming

Health - Various health challenges face Honduras, which is in the yellow fever endemic zone. Malaria is prevalent below 3,00 feet, and rabies, typhoid, hepatitis, parasites, and dysentery, as well as intestinal disease, present problems for the population. About 50 percent of the children suffer from malnutrition. Many villagers must walk hours to reach a health facility. The infant mortality rate is 43 per 1000 and the life expectancy is 66-71 years.

I – Ireland

Diet -As an agricultural country, Ireland produces many fresh vegetables. Fresh dairy products, breads, and seafood are also widely available. Potatoes are a staple food. Apples, oranges, and pears have long been integral to the Irish diet but are now being joined by a wider variety of fruits that have become available since Ireland joined the European Union . Smoked salmon is considered an Irish specialty, as are Irish stew and Irish lamb. Tea is the most common drink. Breakfast usually are large, including such foods as bacon and eggs. The main meats eaten for dinner include chicken, pork, beef, and mutton.

Recreation-The Irish are sports oriented, and most weekends include some sporting activities for the family or individual. Popular sports include the two national pastimes: Gaelic football and hurling , Hurling is played on a soccer-type field with wooden sticks and a small leather ball. Gaelic football is played with a round ball and seems like a cross between soccer and basketball. Players can touch the ball with their hands, but they cannot pick it up from the ground. The ball is punched, not thrown, and it can be kicked. Teams score for getting the ball into a soccer-type net but can also make points for putting it over the top of the goal. Soccer, rugby, sailing, cycling, golf, and horse racing are also favorite activities. Ireland's national soccer team competed in the 1994 World Cup. Fishing is also a common recreational activity, featuring mainly trout and salmon fishing.

Ireland's music industry is flourishing and has a strong international reputation. Contemporary rock often mixes elements of tradional folk music to create a unique style popular throughout the world. When strictly tradional music is played, one or more of the following instruments is usually involved: fiddle, guitar, banjo, tin whistle, button accordion, concertina, and harp.

Health--Ireland's population is generally healthy. Well-equipped public medical clinics are located throughout Ireland. Care in public medical clinics are located throughout Ireland. Care in public hospitals is provided at government cost. Many people choose to go to private doctors and facilities to avoid the waiting lists and other inconveniences of the public system. Long-term medical services are free to persons with infectious diseases and to children suffering from certain conditions. The infant mortality rate is 7 per 1,000. Life expectancy averages between 73 and 79 years.

J - Jamica

Diet--Jamaican food is generally very spicy. Breatkast usually includes akee and salt fish, the national dish. Other favorites include rice and peas or beans, stews, and various types of fish. Fish may be eaten at least twice a week. Curries are popular. Curried goat is a common meal. Most meals are served with rice and peas (red beans) and may also include boiled green bananas or fried dumplings . A typical salad includes cabbage and carrots. Vegetables (yams, green peppers,etc,) and fruits (mangoes, bananas, papaya, pineapple, oranges ,grapefruit, tomatoes) play an important role in the diet. Fruit is plentiful and one or more types is usually in season. Jerk is a favorite of Jamaicans and visitors alike. It is a spicy hot piece of barbecued pork or chicken, roasted in open pits or on makeshift grills. Jerk is often served with a bland, harddough bread. Bammy (cassava/manioc bread) is a standard food; it is still prepared in the style of the Arawak Indians. Bammy with fried fish is a frequent combination, as is festival (fried dough) with fish. Many enjoy Indian and Chinese dishes. Drinks made from boiled roots, herbal teas, fruit juices, and a variety of alcoholic beverages are common. Coffee and tea are popular; all hot drinks are customarily called tea (coffee, cocoa, green tea, etc.) Beer and white rum are especially popular. Women usually do not drink alcohol in public.

Recreation--Cricket and football (soccer) are the most popular sports in Jamaica. Dominoes is the favorite indoor game. Many also enjoy table tennis, field hockey, tennis, and athletics (track and field). Girls play netball in school. Music of all types,theater, and dancing are popular activities. Comedies written and performed in Patois are popular. Young Jamaicans enjoy reggae, Social Calypso (SOCA), and dance hall music. The latter incorporates elements of reggae, disco, and rap. SOCA is popular during Carnival, a grand springtime festival involving parades, costumes, and parties. A frequent pastime is listening outside of rum bars to prerecorded music from stereo systems.

People attend discos, community centers, and clubs. Other leisure activities include going to movies and enjoying spectator sports, such as boxing or team competitions. Various festivals, community events, and church activities provide entertainment and recreation. Jamaicans also take advantage of the many outdoor activities their island offers

Health--Most large towns or cities have a hospital. Medical clinics are community based and are available across Jamaica. The public health-care system covers basic care for all citizens at no or low cost. Fees might be required in some cases or for more complicated care. Private facilities are available. Kingston and resort areas have doctors available 24 hours a day. Facilities and care are generally of high quality. Piped water is safe to drink.. The infant mortality rate is 16 per 1,000. Life expectancy has risen in recent years to between 72 and 77 years.

K – Kenya

Diet--The most common meats in Kenya are goat, beef,lamb, chicken, and fish. Milk, ugali (a stiff dough made from cornmeal, millet, or sorghum), uji (porridge made from ugali ingredients), red bean stew, kitumbua (fried bread), githeri (corn and beans), and chapati (a flat bread) are staple foods. Popular fruits include pineapples, mangoes, oranges. bananas, and papaya. Also common are sweet potatoes and avocados.

Recreation--Soccer is the most popular team sport. Soccer leagues exist throughout the nation. Highly organized, although poorly equipped, leagues even operate in the poorest areas. They give urban youth a chance to develop discipline, teamwork, and physical skills. Track-and-field activities join soccer as the national sports. Kenya has produced some world-famous runners and other athletes. Many people enjoy wrestling, tug-of-war, and a tradional pebble or seed board game (sometimes called bao or ajua). The Kenyan National Theater offers drama, concerts, and dance programs. Homemade drums and guitars commonly accompany dancing in rural areas. Storytelling, riddles, and proverbs are popular.

Health--About three-fourths of all Kenyans have access to basic health care. Rural Kenyans continue to rely on traditional healing methods, but progress has been made in providing them with medical facilities, better sanitation, and other social services. Infant mortality rates have dropped and life expectancy has risen since the 1980s. The current infant mortality rate is 74 per 1,000; life expectancy averages 52 years. The internal refugee problem and ethnic violence threaten progress in these areas. Diseases are less prevalent in the highlands than in low-lying areas, where the climate is less temperate and services less available.

L – Lebanon

Diet-- The main meal of the day is eaten between noon and 3;00p.m. This meal may last two or more hours. Specialties include various meat stews and some vegetarian dishes. A traditional meal for special occasions is the meza. It can be eaten at home or in a restaurant. A large group of people gather for this four-to five-hour event. Several dishes (maybe 20 or more) are all places on the table; each person takes small portions from the dishes as often as desired. Arak, a traditional strong liquor, is served with Middle-Eastern (not European) foods, except among devout Muslims. Kibbeh is a popular beef dish that can be bakes, fried, or eaten raw.

Recreation-- Soccer is the most popular Lebanese sport. People also enjoy swimming at the beaches in the summer. Movies are well attended. Skiing is a popular winter sport. One of the most common leisure activities is simply visiting friends and relatives. This is a common practice throughout the Arab world.. Neglecting relationships by not visiting regularly constitutes improper social behavior. It is also an insult to the persons not being visited

The Lebanese enjoy the cultural arts. Before the war, Beirut was a center for cosmopolitan Arabic culture. Music, literature, and other arts and entertainment are again part of the urban lifestyle. Night clubs and restaurants are popular evening destinations.

Health--Good medical care is generally available to all citizens, especially in urban areas. Public facilities exist, but people usually choose to pay more for higher quality care in private clinics and hospitals. Houses usually have two water systems;one for the kitchen that is chlorinated and safe to drink and one for the rest of the house that is not potable. The infant mortality rate is 38 per 1,000. Life expectancy averages between 67 and 73 years.

M – Mexico

Diet--While the early urban breakfast is often light, many rural people ear more substantial food (e,g, hot cereal). The main meal consists of soup, meat or fish, salad, and potatoes. Pastries or ice cream are eaten for a late-afternoon snack. Bread, dairy products, and canned fish are plentiful. Most foods are readily available. Some common dishes include pierogi (stuffed dumplings; stuffings vary); uszka (a kind of ravioli), bigos (sausage, mushrooms, pickled cabbage), braised pork and cabbage, poppy seed desserts, and cheesecake. People purchase bread several times a week, sometimes even daily. Only those who live far from a store eat bread that is more than two days old. Pork is more popular than beef. With the switch to a market economy, more food is available in greater variety, but prices are high and many families spend much of their income on food.

Recreation-- Soccer is popular, but Poles also participate in track-and-field events, cycling, table tennis, skiing, basketball, volleyball, and various individual sports. Bridge is a favorite card game. Attending cultural events and visiting friends are common recreational activities. Poland has a rich heritage in music, art, dancing (e.g., the polka), and literature. Frederic Chopin (1810-48) is Poland's best known musician. His most popular pieces include the "Mazurek" and the "Polonais." Fame also extends to other areas, such as science (Copernicus and Marie Curie were Poles) and politics (King Jan III Sobieski broke the Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683).

Health--The government provides health care to all citizens. Facilities generally are accessible but are not up to Western standards. The poor economy has forces hospitals and other clinics to cut some services, to ask patients for donations, and to solicit help from family members in caring for patients. Private care in doctors' offices is better, but one must pay for it. The infant mortality rate is 12 per 1,000. Life expectancy averages 73 years.

N – Netherlands

Diet--Staple foods of Mexico include corn, beans, and chiles. They are combined with spices, vegetables, and meats or fish in the daily meals. Of course, different foods are eaten in different parts of the country, but some are common throughout the nation. For example, cornmeal or flour tortillas are eaten everywhere, either alone as bread or as part of the meal. Some common foods include frijoles refritos (refried beans), torta (hollow roll stuffed with meat or cheeses), quesadilla (tortilla baked with cheese), mole (spicy sauce), taco (folded tortilla filled with meat, cheese, and onions), and many others. Two popular soups are pozole (vegetable soup with pork) and birria (goat soup), enchiladas are tortillas with chicken inside, covered with a hot sauce. Enfrijoladas are chicken-filled tortillas covered with a bean sauce and cheese. Many names of Mexican food and Mexican restaurants are popular in the United States, but many Mexicans doubt the authenticity of U.S.produced Mexican food.

Recreation--Futbol (soccer) is the most popular sport in Mexico. Mexico's national soccer team competed in the 1994 World Cup. The sport that draws the next highest number of spectators is the bullfight. Jai alai, a fast moving type of handball, is both a spectator and participation sport. Other participation sports include baseball, basketball, tennis, golf, and volleyball. Mexicans enjoy their own form of rodeo called charreada, which is often accompanied by a fair-like atmosphere. The people's love for music and dancing is evident in the many recreational activities that involve both. Daylong fiestas and weeklong festivals nearly always include a mariachi band or other type of musical group playing for dancing or just listening. Fireworks, feasts, and bullfights are also common festival activities. Watching television is a favorite leisure activity, especially in urban areas.

Health--Medical facilities are good in large cities, but facilities are limited in rural areas. Sanitation is a problem in some regions. The infant mortality rate is 27 per 1,000, and life expectancy ranges from 70-77 years.

O - No Country

P – Poland

Diet--Bread or toast with jelly, Dutch cheese or meats, and coffee or tea are the most common foods fir a Dutch breakfast. The most popular breads include multi-grain and dark-grain varieties. Most people, especially children , eat something sweet on their bread for breakfast or lunch. Typical are chocolate sprinkles (Hagelslag) or chocolate spread. Children often et hot cereal for breakfast. Krentebollen (raisin rolls) are also a favorite. Open-faced sandwiches are common for lunch, as is kroket (a deep -fried sausage). The main meal usually consists of potatoes and gravy with seasonal vegetables and meat or fish. Typical dishes include herring, smoked eel, pea soup, pofferjes (small puffed pancakes served on special occasions), and hutspot (mashed potatoes with carrots and onions).

Dutch pastries are world famous. Favorite snacks include fries (eaten with mayonnaise, not ketchup), stroopwafels (syrup waffles), and Dutch licorice (many varieties). Restaurants in larger towns offer a wide variety of cuisine, and Indonesian food had become an established part of the Dutch diet. Eating out is a special affair and is not as common as in the United States. Most families continue to eat most meals in the home.

Recreation--The most popular sport is soccer. The Netherland's national soccer team competed in the 1994 World Cup. Tennis, field hockey, swimming, sailing, ice-skating, wind surfing, basketball, badminton, and many other sports are also enjoyed. Many Dutch participate in cycling; nearly every person old enough to ride a bicycle has one. Bike paths(Fietspaden) run throughout the country. A few Dutch ride in competition, but most ride for their health and for transportation. People ride to work, to go shopping, for fun, or just to get around town. A visitor could easily tour the entire country on a bicycle. People participate in sports through clubs. Games are organized locally, regionally, or nationally depending on the level of the players. Each sport has a national association that oversees its organization.

Some people enjoy korfbal, a sport played on a grass field (or indoors) that combines some principles of soccer and basketball. A ball must pass through a basket high above the players heads for points to be scored. Men and women play together in teams of twelve or eight. Some people in Frieslandplay Kaatsen, a team sport similar to baseball: players hit a small soft ball with the hand. Poles were traditionally used for jumping over ditches, and pole vaulting (for distance, not height) is popular in the north. It is called Fiereljeppen In years when the ice is hard enough, a day-long ice skating race takes place on a route that encompasses Friesland's 11 main towns and involves going across some parts of the sea. As many as 80,000 people participate.

The Dutch and tourists alike take advantage of sandy beaches on the North Sea, although it is windy and the water is often cold. Discos are popular gathering places for young people. Most people also enjoy drams, music, and art. There are more than six hundred museums in the Netherlands, and with good reason; some of the world's most famous artists are Dutch, including Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh.

Health--Medical facilities are excellent and subsidized by the government. For persons earning less than a specified amount, the government coordinates insurance and health care. Those making over the specified amount are required to have private insurance. The government also provides unemployment and disability benefits. The average life expectancy for the Dutch is 78 years. The infant mortality rate is 6 per 1,000.

Q - No Country

R – Russia

Diet--Although food is plentiful, many products are expensive or available only in hard-currency markets. For the common person, this means fruits and vegetables are difficult to come by. Hence, menus consist mainly of bread, meat, dairy products, and potatoes. To improve the diet, a growing number of people in urban areas are growing vegetable gardens on plots near the city. People on fixed and limited incomes (mainly the elderly) eat more bread than anything else. Common Russian foods include borsch (cabbage soup with beets), pirozhki (a stuffed roll), golubzi (stuffed cabbage leaves baked with tomato sauce and eaten with sour cream), and shi (soup with sour cabbage). Borsch is still one of the most popular foods in the country. Its ingredients (potatoes, cabbages, carrots, beets, and onions) almost complete the list of vegetables used in everyday life. Pork, sausage, chicken, and cheeses are popular, but they are often very expensive. Russians prefer tea to coffee. Mineral water, juice, and soda are readily available at high prices. Russians drink far more vodka than wine.

Recreation--Russians have little leisure time because of the hours they devote to getting food, working extra jobs, or taking care of their households. Urban Russians spend their spare time at their dachas (country cottages), if they have them, relaxing and growing fruits and vegetables for the winter. There are relatively few nightclubs, and entertainment usually ends by 11;00p.m. Even Moscow is essentially dark and quiet after that hour.

The country's favorite sport is soccer. Russia's national soccer team competed in the 1994 World Cup. Winter sports such as ice skating, hockey, and cross-country skiing are particularly popular in Russia. Watching television is the most common way to spend extra time. Gathering mushrooms is a favorite summer activity. Russia has a grand and abiding heritage in cultural arts. The people highly appreciate theaters and movies, but these are available only in big cities. Rural people can watch movies at dvorets kultury (palaces of culture), which serve as community recreation centers.

Health--Medical care is free, but the quality of service is poor. Doctors are highly trained and qualified but lack modern equipment and medicine to adequately treat their patients. Private clinics provide better care but are expensive. The infant mortality rate is 26 per 1,000. Life expectancy ranges from 64 to 74 years. Common major diseases are alcoholism, cancer, diabetes, and heart ailments. Diphtheria, dysentery, and other intestinal maladies are spreading.

S – Sweden

Diet--The Swedish diet, as with other parts of society, has changed over the years. Health concerns have affected eating patterns in much the same way they have in other industrialized countries. Once heavy in meat, fish, and cheese, the diet now includes many fresh vegetables and fruits. Common foods include potatoes (eaten a few times a week), cheeses of many types, seafoods, and other fresh foods. For breakfast, one might eat fil (a kind of yogurt), knackebrod (crisp bread) with margarine, and coffee. Open-face sandwiches (smorgasar) are also popular. Some favorite main-meal dishes include Kottbullar med kokt potatis, brun sas och lingonsylt (meatballs with brown sauce, boiled potatoes and lingonberry jam); Stekt falukorv med senap och potatis (fried slices of thick German sausage with mustard and boiled or fried potatoes); and grilled lax med spenat, citron och potatis eller ris(grilled slices of salmon with spinach, slices of lemon, and potatoes or rice).

The smorgasbord is a lavish buffet eaten on special occasions or at parties. It is not an everyday meal. A smorgasbord includes warm and cold dishes, meat, fish, and desserts. Many families have a special type of smorgasbord on Christmas Eve.

Recreation - Swedes are sports enthusiasts. Popular sports include soccer, skiing tennis, golf, swimming, ice hockey, bandy, and orienteering races (using a map and compass to cross an area). Sweden's national soccer team competed in the 1994 World Cup. Bandy is a game related to hockey and believed to be its prototype. Skating and other winter sports are common. Even more popular than sports are activities such as hiking, fishing and bird-watching. The Swedes love nature and spend as much time as possible outdoors. For many, the ideal is owning a summer cottage for weekends and vacations. Sweden's mountains and fells are popular destinations.
Favorite leisure activities also include reading, attending cultural events such as the theater or concerts, and watching movies and television. Most people have a great interest in music, whether modern or traditional. Singing in choirs is by far Sweden's most popular hobby, with 1.5 million participants.

Health--All Swedes are covered by national health insurance. The government pays nearly all fees incurred for medical care. At least 85 percent of day-care costs are also covered. Dental fees are shared by the individual. While basic health care is readily available, elective surgery must often wait several months before being approved. In response to public demand, private health-care options are now more widely available, as are private child-care facilities. The government pays an ill person's wages for an extended period. Parents share a total of 12 months leave when a child is born. The infant mortality rate is one of the lowest in the world at 6 per 1,000. Swedes can expect to live between 75 and 81 years.

T – Turkey

Diet--Turkish cuisine is among the finest in the world. Lamb and rice are served with many meals. Seafood is more abundant along the coast. The famous kahve (Turkish coffee), a thick brew served in very small cups, is served with nearly every meal. Breakfast is usually light, consisting of tea, white cheese, bread, butter, marmalade or honey, and olives. The main meal of the day is eaten in the evening and may consist of several courses. Turkish cuisine is famous for many things, among them the meze, a tray or table of hor d'oeuvres, including stuffed grape leaves, salads, shrimp, and a variety of other items. There are also many unique Turkish soups. Shish kebabs (chunks of Lamb on a skewer) are the favorite, as are vegetables prepared in olive oil. Rice pilav is common. Turkish desserts are famously sweet, including baklava (syrup dipped pastry) and muhallebi (milk pudding). The most popular drink next to coffee is raki, a drink made of fermented grapes (not a wine).

Recreation--The most popular sport for both spectators and participants is soccer, which was introduced by the British in the 19th century. Volleyball, basketball, cycling, grease wrestling, traditional wrestling, swimming, and a variety of other sports are also enjoyed. Picnics are common family activities. August is the month for most vacations. During their leisure time, urban residents may watch television, eat out, visit others, or attend movies. Woman often do volunteer work. Rural women visit one another in their homes or watch television. Men throughout the country gather at teahouses (like cafes) so socialize. When at home, they also watch television. Folk dancing and other cultural arts are popular.

Health--The government provides basic health care, but it is not sufficient to meet the country's needs. Urban facilities are generally modern and adequate, but rural facilities are not as well equipped..Besides public health care, institutions such as the military, state owned enterprises, etc., provide care to their personnel. Reform measures have been introduced to address the most serious problems, including a relatively high infant mortality rate (46 per 1000) attributed to poor education about child care and the lack of family planning. The government seeks to reduce the figure to fewer than 30 by the year 2000 through improved child immunizations, prenatal care, education, and other programs. Life expectancy averages 72 years.

U - U.S.A.

Diet--It is difficult to name a national dish. The abundance of fast-food restaurants in the United States seems to indicate that the national foods are hamburgers, french fries, pizza, and chicken. While these foods are popular among most segments of the population, they reflect a busy lifestyle as much as preference. Americans eat beef pork, chicken, and other fowl in fairly large quantities, although eating habits have changed with health concerns. Fresh vegetables and fruits are available year-round. Americans consume large amounts of candy, ice cream, and other sweets. Most Americans will readily try any food, and culture easily adapts to new tastes.

Recreation--Baseball, basketball, and American football are the most popular spectator and participation sports. Public schools provide team sports for the youth. Professional sports are an important part of the culture. Americans also enjoy soccer, cycling, jogging, and aerobic exercising. Leisure activities include watching television, going to movies, picnicking, attending music concerts, and traveling.

Health--The health problems facing Americans are different than those in some other countries in that sedentary lifestyle and risky physical behavior are the two greatest causes of adult health problems. Most people must have private insurance to receive medical care without paying very high prices. The health network is extensive and modern, except in some rural areas. The United States is the only industrialized country in the world without a national (public) health-care system. Each state has its own regulations regarding health care, and there are some national standards as well. Public and private reform movements are changing how health care is provided and paid for. The United States is a world leader in medical research and training. The infant mortality rate is 8 per 1,000. Life expectancy ranges from 73 to 80 years.

V – Vietnam

Diet--White rice is eaten with every meal. A fermented fish sauce called nuoc mam is the main seasoning used for flavoring dishes or dipping food. The main meal includes rice, a salty dish (such as thit kho, pork cooked in fish broth), a vegetable dish (such as rau luoc, boiled vegetable ), and soup. Canh ca (fish and vegetable soup) is the most popular. Abundant local fruits include watermelon, papaya, bananas, and citrus fruits.

Recreation--Vietnamese men enjoy team sports such as volleyball and soccer. Badminton, table tennis, swimming, and tennis are popular in cities. Only young, unmarried women tend to engage in sports. Urban people of all ages like to get out early in the morning to jog, do tai chi or yoga, or exercise. Men play Chinese checkers in their leisure time. Rural people have less leisure but spend it in the company of friends and relatives. Traditional music is played on a variety of stringed instruments, such as dan tranh (multiple-string) dan bau )single-string), and dan vong (modified guitar). Rural people love traditional opera; cai luong in the south and hat cheo in the north.

Health--Vietnam's health-care system offers free or low-cost medical care to all people, but facilities are often inadequate, especially in rural areas. Every commune has a clinic, but it may lack modern medicine for other supplies. Traditional healing and natural medicines play an important role in health care. People grow herbs and use local raw materials to make medicine. Malnutrition affects a large proportion of rural children. Vietnam's infant mortality rate is 42 per 1,000; life expectancy ranges from 64 to 68 years.

W - West Bank of Gaza

Diet--The main meal is eaten at midday or in the afternoon, rather than in the evening. Spicy food, such a qedra (a rice dish) is typical. Falafel (filled pocket bread) is popular. Other well liked foods are stuffed grape leaves and spiced rice with nuts. Turkish coffee, tea, and fruit juice are common. Observant Muslims do not eat pork or drink alcohol.

Recreation--Soccer and basketball are the most popular sports among Palestinian Arabs. Playing cards, attending movies, and visiting friends are common activities. Camping is becoming a favorite way to spend leisure time. Gazan families enjoy having a barbecue on the beach. In fact, families often go to the beach in the evening to play, drink sodas, and relax. Adults love to socialize at coffeehouses or cafes, and many people attend performances of the cultural arts when possible. Many new cafes are being built, especially in Gaza.

Health--Health conditions are better in the West Bank than in Gaza. However, hospital and medical care are difficult to obtain in either region. Facilities that do exist are often inadequate. Health care is therefore another priority of the new Palestinian government.
The United Nations sponsors some medical care programs. The infant mortality rate is much higher in these areas than in the State of Israel. In Gaza it is 31 per 1,000, while in the West Bank it is 30 per 1,000. Life expectancy ranges from 66 to 71 years, depending on gender and territory.

Y - No Country

Z – Zimbabwe

Diet--Sadza, a stiff porridge made from maize (cornmeal), is the staple food of most Zimbabweans and is served at nearly every meal. Various local vegetables serve as a garnish, and meat is eaten when available. In the cities, people tend to eat a more Western diet, including meat and potatoes or rice instead of sadza. Locally grown fruits, such as mangoes, bananas, melons, guavas, and papayas (pawpaws), are enjoyed at various times of the year. Tea is popular with meals and in the office, Zimbabwe's rich agricultural land usually produces enough food to feed the nation adequately, although the recent drought caused widespread hunger and suffering.

Recreation--Soccer is the favorite sport, but tennis, boxing, rugby, cricket, polo, bowling, field hockey, squash, golf, and horse racing are enthusiastically pursued by various segments of the population. Naturally, income and location help determine one's recreational activities. Swimming in open-air pools is a favorite pastime, but swimming in rivers and lakes is dangerous due to bilharzia (a parasite that has been carried in African rivers for centuries and infects the liver). People also enjoy watching television and going to movies.

Health--Towns and cities usually have good plumbing and sanitation systems. Rural areas often lack these, although improvements during the 1980s were substantial. The malarial mosquito has been eradicated in some areas but is still active in others. Yellow fever and other diseases are also widespread. All basic health services are free to the poor. People often turn to traditional healers for help with certain types of illnesses. The quality and availability of medical facilities varies between cities and rural areas. Clinics may be available but are usually underequipped. The infant mortality rate is 73 per 1,000. Life expectancy ranges from 41 to 45 years.