Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fighting the virus

A usual weekday, the same daily grind, the same office and a workshop on HIV/AIDS. A team from Kolkata had come to capacity build us on HIV/AIDS. I knew everyone in the training hall except for one person sitting right next to me. He seemed to be a field level worker and I thought he must be a part of one our HIV/AIDS projects at the field supervisor level. But he was someone more than that.
The round of introductions began and while I was still wondering who this frail looking man was, he spoke out. Mohan (name changed) said he was a part of the Jharkhand Network of Positive People. This network is constituted by HIV positive people who have come together for advocacy of their rights as well as their affected family members. So this implied he was HIV positive. He added in this introduction that he would talk about his survival for existence towards the end of the training. Finally this part of the training came.
The confidence and ease of his discourse was truly impressive. He took us back to the year 1992 when he had migrated to Mumbai for work. He visited a brothel with friends and forgot about it as a passing event. Suddenly in 1997 he became very sick with stomach infection and had to go back home. He could never revert back to normal health after that. Frequent bouts of diarrhoea and vomiting marred his health. All medication failed. He became extremely weak and weighed around 30 kgs only. He once came across a newspaper article that mentioned the symptoms that he had and correlated it to the fatal virus HIV. That moment he recalled his brothel visit and was now sure that the virus had entered his body. Owing to the fear of being stigmatised he decided to keep this truth a secret and to never go for a blood test. But his family forcibly took him to one of the biggest hospitals in Ranchi. There he was tested positive.
His fears came true instantly. The staff of this so called reputed hospital instantly secluded him and along with his family he was thrown out in the middle of the night. His father was told that he may not see the light of the day. The fear of being ostracised by the society was already killing him. So once on the road madness engulfed him and he stoned his father and wife to go away and leave him to die. But poor people somehow brought him back to the village and arranged for medical care for him. But news of his positive status spread and his family was alienated from the community. Unable to get any medical help, he asked his family to get saline bottles which were badly needed to keep him going. He asked his wife to use her hair ribbon to block the blood flow and insert the saline needle in his hands. Soon she mastered this method and kept her husband going for another five years. His condition however did not improve.

He then came to know about a health centre of a NGO called Holy Cross running near his village. He went there for treatment and came in touch with the workers of a HIV/AIDS intervention called the ICHHAA Project. This was a turning point in his life and gave light to the lost hopes of his family. He came out of the AIDS stage and his CD4 count (white blood cells that give us immunity to infections) improved. Constant counselling, medication (Anti Retro Viral Therapy), capacity building on HIV/AIDS issues and policies and interaction with other PLWHAs (People Living With HIV/AIDS) has helped him regained his health and confidence to face the world. Today he is an active member and Secretary of the Jharkhand Network of Positive People (JNP+), a non-profit organisation registered under the Societies Registration Act.
Today there are several such PLHWAs who have come out in the open and declared their status, specially in Hazaribagh District of Jharkhand state where migration is the highest and so is the spread of this infection. People like Mohan are an inspiration for all who are fighting this virus and winning over it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The joy of my life has turned one!

Most mommies blog about their newborns, their activities and how they slowly and steadily climb the ladder of growth. I also think of including my little one’s activities in to my blog but 2 reasons always kept me from doing it.
I maintain his personal diary since the 1st month of his birth. So duplicating my writings does not make much sense to me.
Not many people would relish reading about the nitty gritties of my child’s development the way my family or close friends would do.
But now is a very special time in my life and a big milestone for Ansh (yes that’s my son’s name J). He turned one on October 30, 2008. We had been planning for his big day since a longtime. On the dday Ansh first went to the temple with his grandparents. He looked damn cute when he came backing wearing a lovely marigold garland :0
His birthday invitation was all emailed across the world and that too in style; courtesy his Kanupriya aunt. J She made a cutomised invite for him. Many friends called and told me that they loved it!
The party began at 7 pm. The guest list included family friends and colleagues of Ansh’s grandfather, dad, mom and aunt. Around 50 people came to the banquet hall near the station. The cake was a huge Mickey Mouse shaped pineapple flavoured one and the place was full of balloons.
Ansh loved these colourful objects and played a lot with them. He cut the cake but didn’t like the taste of it at all! Around 11 pm the party was over. Ansh came back with lots of blessings, good wishes and ofcourse gifts. The one that he liked the best was given by his nani nanu- a red car so that he could also drive around or rather paddle away on his own!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mirch masala!

Now I know what tempts the big wigs to abuse and manhandle the media! Not that I am celebrity or I know any of them. I live in a small town and work with a NGO as a researcher. One fine day this newspaper arrives and asks me if he could include me in one of his articles for which he needed to interview women in the development sector. I readily agreed and also handed him a snap of mine! He asked me about some memorable incidents of my childhood but I elaborated none and only talked about my work profile and qualifications. He thanked me and promised coming back with a copy of the printed article in “Hindustan”. Needless to say he never turned up. i also forgot about it after sometime. One fine day when I went home from office my mother in law told me that I was in the newspaper and I was surprised. As I was wondering my brother called up and his speech was taken over by laughter. I got irritated and was about to bang the phone when he asked me giggling “sis when did you cling to a rose bush?”..i asked what are you talking about? He told me don’t you know there is an article with your photo in this newspaper and its hilarious! Now my curiosity had no bounds and I asked him to relate the whole story to me. When he did that I didn’t know how to react but frankly speaking my laughter took over my surprise and disgust. Please read on…..

Now when you are done with your laughing bouts please think and sympathise with those celebrities who are linked up, blamed, tarnished, and spied upon and what not and they have to bear all that without reacting to it publicly. If they react, the reaction becomes bigger news & the 24 hour news channels have masala for almost 2-3 days round the clock! Like the above article which has no true facts besides the ones about my work, I am sure we all read lots of such on celebs with no fragment of truth.
Its high time the media becomes a little responsible and do their bit in spreading the “right message” and not look for “breaking news” while a man is setting himself on fire in front of the camera.

Friday, October 10, 2008


The bus stop near my house was where I took the school bus and this is where I met her for the first time. It was my first day in Class 12th and so was hers. What followed was a brief introductory conversation and then a friendship bond that has been going strong since the past 13 years. Here I am talking about the girl I mentioned in my previous blog.
The second time we met was in our colony where she had come to stay with her maternal aunt and uncle to study. I still remember she wore a pink skirt and top and my first impression of her was that of a very mature, pretty and soft spoken girl.

We had different subject combinations in the science stream and hence we were in different sections. From our first meeting to several subsequent meetings we always gelled in well though nature wise she was more like my sis. But still conversation flowed spontaneously and we could (and can) talk any thing under the sun. Our bond strengthened and so did our closeness with each other’s siblings and parents. In fact her mother and mine share the same birthday and are very much alike! Also she was born 2 days after me J

Besides complimenting each other on our clothes, achievements etc. we could always comfortably point out our shortcomings and this is actually what friendship is all about.

After class XII she went to BHU for graduation while I pursued it in my home town. Till then we kept in touch through letters and cards. (Internet was not common in those days). Then fate brought us together again. This time it was in BHU where she pursued MBA while I did my masters. She stood by me and I by her through several trying times in our lives.
Fate brought us together again at BHU itself. She enrolled there for MBA while I pursued MSc. Those were such beautiful days- our long strolls and chats after dinner, our cycling to the swimming pool in the morning, our visits to Lanka, our shoppings and visits to the famed Banaras ghats.

She was always very focussed and ambitious- these 2 traits completely lacking in me J she always advised me to make the right career and education moves and this is where I followed my heart and not my mind or anyone’s selfless advise.
So today she is climbing the ladder of success very fast while I am content with my job and life in a small town. Life goes on and we continue exchanging our happiness, worries and sorrows. I wonder how incomplete life would have been without this precious bonding.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The tricycle

A black and white pic. A tricycle. Two little sisters starting their journey of life..

....these vivid images flashed across my eyes when someone asked me to talk about my childhood memories. It was a newspaper reporter whose news peg was women of Jharkhand working in the social sector. For moment all I could think of was this pic and then one after the other images flashed across my eyes like they do in our very own "sabse tez" news channels! Me going to school wearing my grey uniform, sis and me enjoying nani's delicacies, my mommy making "pua" for me, sis's birthday cake, grand ma's jam, grand pa's lectures and the hustle bustle of a joint family.

Coming back to the picture (I wish I could put it up here but sadly I dont have a copy of it). This was taken probably when I was not more than 1.5 years old n my elder sis 2.5 years old. We were like inseparable twins wearing similar clothes most of the times. Sis was the "driver" while i was seated comfortably at the back probably after a "hearty" meal as I looked very stuffed :))

Sis was always the smarter and mature one and me the good and the funny girl:) Graduating from black & white pics to colored ones we bonded more and more though nature wise we were always poles apart. I remember going to "East & West" our montessari school where I had beaten up a boy as he had "harrassed" sis by eating her tiffin! Being a "mamma's baby" I used to start wailing "mummyyy mummmmyy"from the staircase itself once I was back from school while sis used to look at me annoyed! Strangely I can recollect that sis had started going to school (I was only 2 at that time) and I used to miss her like crazy at home(...dont know if anyone knows this but I used to even cry till she was back)! Then when I started going to school, this cry baby used to cry for momma :))

As we grew up our outlook to the world took its own shape with the circumstances and choices that we made. Slowly our world changed.....she went out to pursue her dreams while I stayed back waiting for my dreams to fall in place..Guess that was the first error I made in life. She was always there to tell me that I should rethink my decisions. I will not dwell in to the plus and minus of our decisions on this platform but there is one lesson she always tried to teach me - Assert yourself and always remember that it is YOU who is the most important.

Today we are lakhs of miles away and we have our own lives but the connection remains. I am a mother now but still feel like a baby when I talk to her with all the motherly advice coming from the other side of the phone line :)

.....there is another person whom I met later in life & like you she is also far away today. However we are far closer to each other than with any of the people who surround us all day..God really has an amazing way of telling us that he is there!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

lost it?

Everyday I think of updating my blog page but all i do is close the page after changing the layout and shuffling the elements. Seems like either my mind has become blank or it has lost the capability of logical thinking. My thoughts just run hay wire. I pick up the newspaper, read the headlines, then quickly shift to some other news item and within seconds I am done with the news reading for the day! Interestingly my job profile is that of a researcher- someone who is expected to read a lot, be updated and possess loads of "logical thinking"! I see none of these characteristics on the right track at the moment...

Now I am trying to get my mind to "focus" and "analyse" as to why this is happening-ummm...........a few reasons are coming to my mind.

  1. 9 months back god gifted me my precious new life - my son, Ansh. I read somewhere that lactating women have memory loss problems. They are absent minded and cant focus on things.
  2. I am sleep deprived! Dark circles around my eyes demand sleep sleep and more sleep..zzzzzzzzzz.............but mamma has to wait till the little one grows up :) Being half drowsy all day also dusnt let me focus!
  3. All my thoughts go in to thinking about ansh, ansh and ansh..leaves no space for absorbing the latest health research! lol... (I guess this is common to all mothers and that too the 1st timers!)
  4. Career wise I feel I am stagnated and my personal learning has stopped in my current organisation. This might be another reason of disillusionment.
  5. ummm.....Now I am gettin restless and want to wind up here!

Shall try and get back with more meaningful stuff! Till then wish me happy reading and medidating on my thoughts!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sitting all alone again I was reminded of a mail forwarded by a friend. It said dont wait for things to happen and dont think that one day everything will be all right. Live and enjoy today! This is something that I think about most of the time nowadays because it gave me a big realisation...Till now I have only lived on hope...hoping against hope that there is way to get things corrected and moulded your way. This is the biggest mistake anyone can make!!Everyone wants to mould everything around him including human beings to suit his/her comfort, failing to realise he/she has no right to do so. It just cant happen! This only leads to conflicts and worsening of the chances of "things to get fine"!

Life can never be prim and proper...yes it is for some but most of us have to live and be content with what we have. But understanding and incorporating this in our lives is the most difficult part!

While taking a shower in the morning the sound of a drilling machine digging deep down in search of water struck me..the hand shower i was using seemed to be such a simple day to day "utility gadget"!! A few days back my neighbour's well had dried up and they resorted to another deep boring to extract more ground water. This has become almost a routine incident. Every one around my house and for that matter we too have dugged deep into the earth and are extracting precious groundwater. There is no other way..the government does not have water to supply..and we need water for our day to day needs..
This thought process took me to another line of would this change our world in the coming years...Check this out -
1. There will be shower detecting squads hunting down those using them and fining them a hefty amount.
2. Using a cistern and flushing religiously would land you up in jail!
3. dry toilets and sand would be the rule of the day!!
4. Installing rain water harvesting systems at home would become mandatory and in case there is no rain one would have to migrate with bags and baggages to cherrapunji!
5. After every meal the plates will have to be "wiped" clean and not "washed" clean!!
6. westside, wills, provogue, allen solly, shoppers stop, etc etc will all launch a new range of Disposable clothes!!
Can you think of more??
Then add to this list ....:)

Deja Vu

Standing on my terrace and looking at people moving in their vehicles or on foot is a usual evening task..Suddenly a red maruti and a white ambassador missed a fatal collision and resulting in a road side fued...This sequence of rather irrelavant happenings gave me a feeling what we call "Deja Vu"!!!
It happens a number of times that a quick sequence of events seem to repeat themselves or may be happen for the 1st time in your life but you feel as if you have been a part of it...its not new to u!

I find this to be very intriquing specially when I relate it to beliefs like reincarnation. This feeling of Deja Vu always leaves me surprised and wondering whether what I am thinking and feeling is right. And the interesting part is that it has not happened once but several times since the time of my childhood I can recall!
Tell me do you sometimes feel the same? Do certain events/happenings make you feel that it is not happening for the 1st time and you have witnessed it before?

Monday, May 26, 2008

motherhood reckons!

I should have done this months back but as we say "better late than never", I would want to share how life has changed drastically in the past 1 year...
October 30, 4:36 am, a new ray of hope, a new joy, a new life comes in to my life..with blurred vision instilled by labour pain I saw the tiny life which was a part of me. Its feeble wails had filled the room with happiness.
Now I could see my mom who sat through with me all night, my husband, my mom in law..all in high spirits! Next day we went home and then started the sleepless nights..the little bundle of joy was weak and needed constant attention and feeding. He recognised me by my smell. When alone I would cuddle him and tell him how important he was to me and how he had filled the loneliness and emptiness in my life. I came to know how demanding motherhood can be- sleepless nights, forgetting oneself, forgoing all that you are used to eating, forgetting all your pain, doing things you never ever imagine yourself to be doing (in my case being absent from my sister's engagement though it was happening a stone's throw away). Sis forgive me for not being able to participate in the biggest event of your life the way I should have done..But you still remain one of the most important parts of my life and wish you all the happiness in the world.
Now without digressing from the issue, after the initial very tough months it was tiem to play, to talk and to see my baby growing fast that it has become difficult to catch up with him! he is goin to be 7 months old very soon. since the last 2-3 days he loves to talk "tata, dada" etc..!! he loves to sit alone int he front seat of the car with the seat belt on and to watch and scream at the fishes in the aquarium!