Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Rocket Singh - A Film Review

This film review did not come sooner because one's thoughts at the end of the film were very personal. The review comes now because one read that not many people are getting into the theaters to see the film. Word of mouth is now necessary.

Films are about story telling. For people like me, the existence of a "story" is critical to the existence of a film. So when a film comes along that really has a story, and a gripping one at that, told well and crisply, with no added songs for masala and no cosmetic love interest with little to do (the love interest still looks super cute though), one is quite impressed.
Though Shimit Amin has done the hugely popular Chak De India, i m more impressed with this script, because it is not overly simplistic.

Ranbir Singh, oops Kapoor, gets into the role so completely that you forget the actor and remember only the character. Sure, the casting is right, but that's still no mean feat for an actor.
Notable Mention must be made of Prem Chopra. As Ranbir's grandfather, he has a screen presence that is impossible to miss. You come away thinking of his character as much as the lead actor's character. When one sees these superlative actors on screen, one realises the meaning of "well simmered. mellow yet strong." They are a treat.

I will not go into the story, because that will spoil the surprise for the average viewer. But if you have drudged to that SME office, day after day, if you remember your first job, and if you have gone to office parties, you will identify with the film at some level. You will want to relive all that through Rocket Singh (no, the character is not actually called Rocket Singh, nor is he a super salesman. Thats the surprise element of the film.)

The editing is relative. Most places, the tightness of the film delights, and at other times, one wishes the editor had prevailed a bit more on the director. But one thing on which the film has got it all right, is the Art Direction. Not one wrong set, not one wrong color.. if you have ever been in such an office, you will know the setting rightaway. The big offices, the small offices, the houses, the outdoor locations.. everything! It was a pleasure to see no more dream sequences. :-)

In short, go watch the film. In a theater. This film is sooo worth it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Your Favorite poems tag..

So, which are your favorite poems?
Asked this question to a friend in Truth , and here is her answer:
1. Where the mind is without fear... Rabindranath Tagore
2. Home they brought her warrior dead - Tennyson
3. Main Parauna from my blog..(blush blush)
....
What's ur answer???

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

River, My Guru - Aripirla Viswam

I picked up this book, self published by the author, at Walden, Hyderabad, on 5th April, 1995.

The poems were too sad to be published, but i personally rate it as one of the best books i have ever read. Over the next few posts, i will be posting poetry from this book. Hope you like it..

The moment
man think
Of answers
He is caught
In the nest of conceit
Woven with the fabrics of ignorance.

The journey of life
Is from Question to Question
From agony to agony
From experience to experience
For all of them
Are the Jewels in the Crown of Quest.
- From the title poem "River, My guru"

**********************************

Original One Liner of the day..

Ventilation is part of Meditation...

Thursday, December 03, 2009

I am hidden

in my favorite pieces.

A vase

A dress

A bedsheet

Pieces of poetry

Favorite Toys...

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Bhopal, India - Dec 2, 1984

That was a dark year for India.. and i was so caught up with the riots, that the Bhopal Gas Tragedy did not register as strongly as it should have. Until i read this post - today, and realised the sheer criminal stupidity of what has happened, and has been allowed to be condoned.

In India, we believe in the Law of Karma. Stories like this explain why our bureaucrats and politicians are always rich, and never happy, or healthy..

http://www.anindianmuslim.com/2009/12/horrors-of-bhopal-gas-tragedy-1984.html

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Main ki karna
Tera harpha phad ke
Poori chithhi likhni hai

Tere naa de pehle akhar to
Mere putt da naa vi hai
Tainu nahi pata, onnu vi nahi..
Te onnu vi nahi,
Jida o putt hai..

Tere naa da kajjal pauna
te onnu rijhauna
Jaddon o meriyaan akhaan chumme,
tainu laama paina..

Khasmaan daan kanjarpan
Ik bas tan daa
Saadi Roohaan di bewafai
Na kise phadni
Na koi saza...

Inspired by a Punjabi story.

@kj and hb: (and others wanting to read this piece..)
The translation below is more literal..

What will i do?
Take a letter of the alphabet
from you
and write my whole correspondence
from it..

The first letter of your name
is also the first letter
of my son's name
You do not know it
My son does not know it
Neither does the man
who fathered that son.

i think of you as
i line my eyes with kohl
And then, i work
on charming someone else
As he kisses my eyes,
the joke's on you..

Men, can only commit adultery of one kind
- the physical one..
We, the women,
can be disloyal from the soul..
A betrayl
that no one can discover
or punish.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

you were made
to impregnate the earth

i was made
to seed the clouds

Sunday, November 08, 2009

ये भी होगा वो मुझे दिल से भुला देगा मगर
यूँ भी होगा ख़ुद उसी में इक खला रह जाएगा...

- चित्रा सिंह , same ghazal - Tu Nahi to...
How much we hope!! :-)

Another sher from a Chitra Singh Ghazal: (i dont know the name of the poet though)
पहले रग रग से मेरी खून निचोडा उस ने
अब ये कहता हैं के रंगत ही मेरी फीकी हैं...
does anyone remember the mukhda of this ghazal??

Thursday, November 05, 2009

दर्द की सारी तहें , और सारे गुज़रे हादसे
सब धुंआ हों जायेंगे, इक फाकिया रह जाएगा...


From the song "Tu nahi to.." - Arth, sung by Chitra Singh.

I thought these lines pretty much sum up the 1984 story for me...

The next post has the other sher from this ghazal that i like a lot..

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Reports on 1984 massacres - compiled

Reports, those useless things that are compiled by other people to tell everyone else what everyone already knows.. however, if you, like me, are trying to understand the pic in the kaleidoscope, here it is:
http://www.nov1984.org/who-are-the-guilty/
http://www.sikhspectrum.com/112005/1984.htm
http://www.massviolence.org/The-1984-Anti-Sikhs-pogroms-in-New-Dehli?cs=print

And 2 press reports that i bumped into while preparing for this series:
http://www.thehindu.com/fline/fl2218/stories/20050909004302600.htm
http://nitawriter.wordpress.com/2007/10/05/justice-denied-to-sikhs/

Monday, November 02, 2009

First Person Accounts of what Happened in 1984..

As you can deduce, for every day of the massacre, I am putting up a post. Just my way of reminding that justice is due yet.

One of the first accounts i read was from Mai, and its an account that chilled me to the bone.. go read it, here:
http://roadtokhalistan.blogspot.com/2007/08/our-stories-from-1984.html

And at this website, the third video is totally heartrending, though the first and the second deserve a dekko too.. go only if you really want to hear these stories from the people who went through them....
http://www.nov1984.org/
Here is the link to the third video:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7316718150045451781&hl=en#

And some more relevant accounts here:
http://ibnlive.in.com/videos/54715/after-jasbir-another-84-riots-witness-surfaces.html

Caution: These accounts are disturbing. Don't go if you don't want to.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Story that i always wanted to read..

All through these years, as I have done my own personal coping with the events of 1984( you really only see a riot when you see it as a victim), i've wondered about the other children who survived.. what happened to them? How did they cope ? Financially, Emotionally, otherwise?

Here, finally, is a photo essay that focuses on just that - children who were survivors of 1984 - and how they coped.. what happened to their lives after those 5 days? After the Earth was shaken enough, could they ever rise from the dust...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sanjayausta/sets/72157622636127218/

Do read. Its a very interesting factual story that completely cuts out the emotional crap.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

send me a little
madness
in a tiny envelope
i donated mine
to charity..

they were very parched
in the house of Sanity...

Monday, October 19, 2009

तेरी चुप्पी, मेरी चुप्पी से
गहरी कैसे ...
तेरी तन्हाई, मेरी तन्हाई से भी
सूनी क्यूँ है?

Why is ur silence
deeper than mine
Why is your loneliness
even more alone than mine?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

खामोशी का हासिल भी , इक लम्बी सी खामोशी हैं,
मेरी बात सुनी भी उसने, अपनी बात सुनाई भी...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Review of What's Your Rashee..

Sanjeev Kumar had Naya Din Nayee Raat, Kamal Hassan had Dashavatar, and PC has What's your Rashee.. EXCEPT , that PC has not quite learnt her craft enough to be 12 different people - yet.

The story has potential, but lacks the punch required to make it a full feature film. The logic of seeing one girl from each Raashi does not quite... come across.

Harman Baweja has a freshness to his presence that is quite nice. He also, to my humble eyes, appears to be an actor to watch out for. PC is a good performer and a not so good actress. Meaning, she has screen presence, but she does not quite impress as an actress. 12 roles is soooo beyond her current prowess as an actress, that i am surprised she overestimated herself.

The other actors barely get any screen time. Even the characteristics of each raashi dont quite make it to the screen, only the 12 looks of Priyanka. The makeup and the costumes deserve special mention. It is not easy to create 12 different looks for a single person, but the effort is very commendable.

To Ashutosh Gowarikar : Forget about what my rashee is dude, what's your point???

If the idea is to make a slapstick comedy with some socially relevant content thrown in, the socially relevant content works, the pointless comedy does not. Sure, there are guys who want to decide their shaadi on the basis of 12 raashis, but Harman Baweja looks too intelligent to be one of them. And so do we.

Final Rating: Nah. Does not work.

Friday, September 25, 2009

ऐसे ही..

आँख से दूर ना हों, दिल से उतर जाएगा
वक्त का क्या हैं, बदलता हैं बदल जाएगा
************************
मैं पल दो पल का शायर हूँ, पल दो पल मेरी कहानी हैं,
पल दो पल मेरी हस्ती हैं पल दो पल मेरी जवानी हैं

कल और आयेंगे नगमों की खिलती कलियाँ चुनने वाले
मुझ से बेहतर कहने वाले तूम से बेहतर सुनाने वाले।
कल कोई मुझ को याद करे, क्यूँ कोई मुझ को याद करे,
मसरूफ ज़माना मेरे लिए , क्यूँ वक्त अपना बरबाद करे॥

Monday, September 21, 2009

Review of Dil Bole Hadippa

The ingredients were there, the setting was perfect. And yet, the meal was not. That’s how a chef would describe this film.

Yash Raj Films, good performers. What else do you need?
Apparently, that small little thing called a “Story”.

The other thing that irritated me about this film was the stereotyping of the Punjabi culture. Especially because it came from the people who brought to the screen, one of the best, most subtle depictions of a Punjabi house - in DDLJ.
Rani and Shahid are just not “Punjabi” enough – or perhaps it was a problem of characterization. Obviously, making women in Punjabi hinterland wear Bihari “lehngas” did not help either.

Notes to Yash Raj Films:

  • The theme of “Videsh Vs Desh ki mitti in a Punjabi village” has been done to death. Please!
  • The story of videshi, well to do ladka falling in love with a village belle is ALSO done to death.
  • Not all Punjab villages are caricatures of blue, red and orange.
  • Some of the art direction was VERY flawed. I can point out hajaar mistakes, but let's start with the Baisakhi vaala mela.
  • The theme of girls being as good as boys was superb!! Rani’s dialogue at the end, was great because it was brief and hit home.
  • The moment of the film? When Rani Mukherjee looks at Shahid, midway through the song, and realizes that she is falling in love with him.
  • Shahid is not an actor who usually disappoints in the acting dept. This was a rare occasion. The accent, which was an obvious accessory, was missing. The usual screen presence was also not entirely there. But what was missing the most was the chemistry between the lead pair. Except in moments. When we see Shahid, we only miss Shahrukh Khan that much more..
  • Rani is a fantastic performer and in this film, she has done her best. Expressions, body language, “look” – u name it. This is a Rani we have never seen before. And yet, we do not think Vira Kaur at the end of the film. Looking at her only makes us miss Simran that much more (note – Simran, not Kajol.)
  • Rakhi Sawant is the surprise package of the film. She is really good.
  • The Costumes! Someone please tell the designer that even in dream world, Punjabi women wear Salwar Kameez and Punjabi men wear the Lungi, at least sometimes. Just like clothes made the character of Veer in Love Aaj Kal, the characters in this film are slaughtered by their designer wear.
  • The spoof on Shahrukh and Salman was superb!

The film has its gloriously funny moments. That is the biggest reason to see the film. If Rani's Bikini dance is any part of your inspiration, save your money. Its hazed out and really nothing exemplary.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Why exams are a GOOD Idea..

Exams are dead. Long live the Exams.

When one sees what we are doing to the “exam system” – one can only think of this:
  • An idea is not responsible for its abuse.
  • It is not the thief who is punished, but the one that gets caught.

I will divide this post into 2 sections. In the first, the advantages of exams as an idea. In the second, lets talk about the things that we are doing wrong, and the exams get blamed.

Part I: Why exams are good
1. Exams instill a sense of achievement that is absolute. They are not relative. In the grading system, it is all relative to the performance of others. Which means that the need to sabotage the performance of others is inbuilt into the system. Further, the reward for sabotaging the performance of even one more student, is high enough to be tempting. Goodbye collaborative studies. I do not want anyone to know how much I know. Goodbye to Maggies shared in overnight study sessions.


2. Exams make us get close to our books in a way few other things can.

3. Year end exams force us to remember a wide variety of subjects, over a huge curriculum. And Viola! We can do it too!! At that age, when the brain is still learning fast, children and young people need a wide variety of subjects, and a certain progression of challenges. That is what is provided by quarterly, half yearly and annual exams.

4. More than anything else, exams taught us to handle pressure and to come out unscathed. The achievent was not so much in topping exams as it was in getting through them.. we always knew we'll make it, of course, but the sheer sense of achievement and celebration that gave us. Later, when we were preparing for other, more difficult pressure situations, both academically and in life, it helped to have experience.

Part II: Things that we do wrong, and the exams get blamed.
1. Rote Learning.
We force our children to rote learn so they do better in exams. We forget to tell them to understand what is written in the book, and then not memorise. I had an aunt who made me do that. She forced me to read the chapter and understand what was written. The reward was tempting too – do this and you will never have to memorise a thing. You don’t have to memorise something you understand.
For us, homework takes priority over everything else. My aunt wrote in my homework book (no kidding, she actually did that):
“Writing all these answers will leave her with no time to read and understand the chapter. I am making her do that. Tomorrow, you can ask her the questions in class, and let me know if she doesn’t manage.”
The teacher understood.
How many of us force our children to take that long winded path through understanding? The short cut through guide books, model papers and tuitions is so much simpler.
Just for the record, I have never had to spend time or money on a single guide book. Not once.

2. Constant Comparison. The need to do better than the others does not come from the exam system. As mentioned above, the exam system does not even compare one child to another. We do that. It comes from homes of parents who want to believe they have given birth to Superman merged with Barbie. We are the ones comparing even more than the children themselves.
When there is a suicide of a student, the cause is perhaps the level of acceptance and expectation in the circle of the child, NOT the exams by themselves. Changing it to grade will not change the level of expectations.

3. Inability to share the learning experience. Remember the time when you would learn and your mother would ask you questions thereafter? When your mother would make your model paper for you? When your father would come home and check your report card and discuss it with you? In those days, parents shared the learning experience with the child. Their studies got revised as they constantly complained “What he is doing in Class 4, we never touched till Class 7.” Hear those complaints any more ? I don’t. Parents and children are talking a lot more, but its not in the language of a shared learning experience. And its not just about books. If the child goes dancing, parents drop them and pick them up, but they don’t practice the moves with their children. This means that , as parents, we do not know what the child is expected to learn, and how s/he is doing it.

4. Higher Teacher – Student ratios. There are just so many more children! Teachers were always a harried and underpaid class of professionals, but the current ratios are incredible. Add to that the advances in course content and we have a potboiler! We just need fewer kids in schools. For which, we just need to have fewer kids around. Does no one find it disgusting that we have the youngest population in the world – meaning that in the last 25 years, we have bred with a vengeance. As soon as the government stopped talking “Population control” , we started creating the population. STOP. NOW. Exams are not responsible for creating herds where clutches alone can be sustained.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What made my day today..

This.. http://dilbert.com/most_popular/

and This: http://dilbert.com/blog/entry/inappropriate_witticisms/
Some of those things are sooo not funny (Open mouth. Insert foot. Run for cover on foot 2)
तू बुरा ना माने तो मैं कहूं, तेरा शुक्रिया के दिया सुकून
जो बढे तो बढ़ के बने जूनून, मुझे वो खलिश भी ज़रूर दे...
- Jawed Akhtar

And some super quotes heard from people around:
  • Zero tolerance..which shud be in offices and factories...we are implementing it in life!!!
  • Pink glasses - looking at life through an optimistic perspective॥
- Heard from a colleague.

I close my eyes to the world... and then open my world to you...!
- Yam of Maddening Silences. My favorite person in the world!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The new Esha Website is up!!


Yes.. the new site is now up!! I think its totally totally cool!!

A Vote of Thanks


A BIG thanks to Aditi for calling up one fine day and volunteering to design this site for free.. then, for excusing my delays, and for coming up with such a winner.. hats off to you!


To Nisha, for taking time out of being a mother of two adorable daughters and her house, to maintain Esha’s website. For volunteering to do it and doing it consistently all these months..

This is the second time that something really BIG has happened for Esha with zero contribution from me.
Please do go to the site, and tell me what you think.. http://www.braillecards.org/ AM WAITING TO HEAR!!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

A Logic Puzzle

Beird Waker, the celebrated poet, finally won a Booker for his thirteenth anthology of poems. In the post event party, you are in the circle surrounding the poet when Miss Gee, another guest, asks him innocently, “Do you actually remember the order in which your books were published?” This one liner sends the poet into a monologue:

“Aah, let’s see.. I got the Booker for "Figments", which, as you know, is my thirteenth book.. but the first was a book called "Candy Floss", which, if I may say so, appears rather puerile when I read it now.. "Bubbles" was right after "Silence", but way before "Kingdom" . "Horsecarts" was after "Durian" but before "Kingdom" again. "Echo" and "Reverberations" were next to each other. "Mindreading" came just after "Reverberations" and just before "Glenfiddich", but even Glenfiddich was before "Kingdom" for sure.

"Oppression" was my bestseller, but sadly it wasn’t the first book. I wish it was, it came a close second, but by then the market already had a perception about me.

"Elephant Song" and "Echo" had 2 books between them. "Silence" and "Elephant Song" had as many books between them as did "Bubbles" and "Durian". But, "Bubbles" was definitely published before "Elephant Song".”

Can you help the much bewildered Miss Gee with the correct order of the books?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Assortment of favorites..

हंसी अक्सर कई ज़ख्मों के टाँके खोल देती हैं ...

It is much better to grow things on land than to blast things out of it.

नज़्म कभी कागज़ को देखे
और यूँ मुंह मोडे
ज्यूँ कागज़ पराया मर्द होता हैं॥
(Amrita Pritam)

Grass is nature's way of saying "Hi!"

The only way out of pain is through it. The only road to Dawn passes through the night.

दिन और रात के हाथों नापी एक उमरिया ...
साँस की डोरी छोटी पड़ गयी, लम्बी आस डगरिया ॥

We are such little men when the stars come out.

Do you ever get the feeling that Life is a party...
... and our invitations got lost in the mail? (From an old Archies card)

The opposite of song and laughter is seriousness... seriousness is illness.. I have not seen a serious tree, a serious bird, a serious sunrise. I have not seen a serious starry night.

Where there are no Can's, we ought to cling to Might's.

There are no moulds in God's workshop. (Moi!)

As usual, the most favorite at the end (Amrita Pritam):
रिश्ते हमारे पास कोई वारंटी नही लाते, ना ही रिश्तों पर शर्त होती हैं, न कोई contract. हम नही जानते की रिश्ते आज हैं, कल होंगे या नही। आज के रिश्ते की खूंटी पर हम कल का कोई सपना नही टांगते । पर सपने फिर भी कमीज़ की तरह रिश्तों के गले में आ पड़ते हैं। और जब हम रिश्ते की लाश को नहलाते हैं, तो बहुत सारे आंसू, उस कमीज़ को उतारते हुए निकलते हैं॥
Come, Life, Let's talk.

You and I
have shared
such a love-hate relationship.
We should enjoy talking
while the love phase is on.
Tomorrow, one of us may hate the other again.

Why were you so unjust to me, Life?
Was it because
I never betrayed
what you were doing to me?

Why did I hate you , Life?
When you gave me
everything a person
could possibly need?

Why were we so unfair to each other, Life?

Why did i always want to get rid of you?
Why did you never come to me?
Why did I live so little,
and breathe so much, Life?

See, there is so much
that we can discuss
- perhaps to mutual benefit.
Come, Life, Let's talk....

Friday, August 28, 2009

Assorted poetry..

You can take one out of poetry, but you can't take poetry out of one.. here, then, is the incorrigible return to poetry Don't recollect the names of poets, except where indicated..

गीता हूँ कुरान हूँ मैं,
मुझ को पढ़ इंसान हूँ मैं॥

मुझ को थकने नही देता ये ज़रूरत का पहाड़,
मेरे बच्चे, मुझे बूढा नही होने देते॥

मेरी आँखें लगी हैं आसमानों पर
सूना हैं आसमानों पर खुदा हैं।

मुझ को यकीन हैं, सच कहती थी, जो भी अम्मी कहती थी,
जब मेरे बचपन के दिन थे, चाँद पे परियां रहती थी॥ (जावेद अख्तर)

And my fave piece:

मुलायम गर्म समझौते की चादर,
ये चादर मैंने बरसों में बुनी हैं
कहीं भी सच के गुल बूटां नही हैं,
कहीं भी झूठ का टांका नही हैं॥

इसी से मैं भी तन ढाक लूंगी अपना
इसी से तुम भी मुतमईन रहोगे
ना खुश रहोगे, ना उदास रहोगे॥

इसी को तान कर बन जाएगा घर
बिछा लेंगे तो खिल उठेगा आँगन॥

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

When you hear something good, its time to share..

What amazes me is the sheer amount of good work going on around us – like the river Saraswati.. quiet, underground, relentless..

This post is about Aavishkaar..

Here it is in their own words:
The firm provides micro-equity funding (Rs. 10 lacs to Rs. 2 Crore), approximately USD $20 thousand to USD $500 thousand) and operational and strategic support to commercially viable companies increasing income in or providing goods and services to rural or semi-urban India.

Here are the key words: (aka, why i loved the concept)

Equity : This is important. This means that the enterprise being invested in, is not put under the strain of an interest burden. This also means that the entrepreneur gets access to money without being bound to a payout schedule. When working capital is marginal, this can be an important feature.

Operational and Strategic Support: This part, me likes best. Micro entrepreneurs have the feel of the ground, but not enough support in terms of operational efficiency or Strategy formulation. In these areas, a support at the right time can mean the difference between a creature surviving from day to day, and an organisation planning its growth deliberately, firmly, surely.

Income: Anything that generates income at the micro level, in the rural and semi urban areas, is good. Simply because it creates livelihood without displacement.

Read more on their website : www.aavishkaar.org

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Punjab before Partition - III

Before starting this post, I have to thank you for commenting on the previous post to say that there was social contact among the 3 communities. That was very heartening. I used to always wonder how people could live in the same village, and not have social contact with each other!
Continuing from the previous post, the other things that come to mind about that period:
  • It was considered an insult to the other party if you asked for a contract to be put in writing, or counted your change or money after receiving it from someone. "Zubaan" was so important that anything that could mean not trusting the person was taken as an insult. Till date, my grandparents do not count their change as they leave the counter.
  • At least in Sikh homes, the "gaddi" passed from the husband to the wife, not to the son. Perhaps only in some families... i am not so sure of this one, but all my grandparents were adamant about this.
  • Though alcohol was a common vice, the use of tobacco was frowned upon big time. In my house, even paan and supaari are forbidden.
  • Khuaaon jawaaiaan vangoo, te koho kasaiyaan vangoo: (Feed them like they are your sons in law, and make them work like a bull) Everyone, including women and children, were expected to participate in the tough physical labour, irrespective of the size of their land holding. If you cannot go to the field, you can always thresh grain in the courtyard, milk the cows and prepare their hay for them...
  • Daughters did not do any of the following: Wash dishes, sweep, touch anyone's feet. Daughters were exempt. Sons, on the other hand, were expected to twist their back into a "pairi pauna" at every sighting of an elder.. :-) What's more, on some auspicious days, all the male relatives were supposed to touch their daughters' feet.
  • "Dheeyaan sabdiyaan saanjhiyaan" : Your son is your son, but a daughter is everyone's daughter. Everyone was expected to protect the daughter. At a girl's wedding, everyone from the village was expected to contribute. A daughter's wedding was the village's wedding.
  • Eve teasing was not allowed: I know this sounds incredible in this day and age, but the average Punjabi was angered a lot by a man trying to "insult" a dhee-behan (daughter or sister). It was considered perfectly ok to physically hurt boys who were indulging in eve teasing, to drag them to their house and to make their parents apologise for making such ill mannered boys. There was a huge sense of community based protection of girls. This crime came right next to lying, which was the most heinous crime.
  • Wealth, in general, was not to be "showed off". If anything, it must be concealed. The motive was simple - one did not want to be conspicuous to the thieves through obvious consumption. My family on both sides, would get gold jewelry made and then, once a patila (a sort of cooking vessel) was filled, it would be buried under the floor. Having kachcha floors helped a lot. They were instructed to wear simple clothes, and the houses were not made elaborate either. Sounds very "un" punjabi? To me, all the showing off feels the same way.. :-)

Will wait for a lot more comments.. Please keep them coming..

Friday, August 21, 2009

Punjab Before Partition - II

In the last post, one wrote about things learnt from grandparents, and thank you to all of you who contributed your own.

This part deals with things one knows about the socio economic strucure of the time. The source is again, family and literature of the period. Some of these snippets may be true only for some regions.. like the last time, please do add whatever u know.. without thinking too much. Am hoping that someday, there will be another curious child who will google to find out what Punjab was like before partition.. and will get some information..this is to help that searcher.. and me.
  • Saanjha Chulha: This was a reality. There was a common tandoor where the women went to make "rotis" - especially for dinner. Tandoors were typically not made inside the house.


  • Silver jewelry, bright colors and salma sitaare: Were all for the Muslims. Hindu girls did not wear any of this. Sequins were called "Salmaa sitaare" - and were absolutely forbidden on the dresses of Hindu-Sikh girls. As was any form of gold -silver embellishment. This group wore Phulkari, Crochet work, and , at most, kinaari(a sort of golden border) for festive occasions. Unmarried girls were not allowed to wear any makeup or good clothes. The Sindhis wore diamond jewelry.


  • Religion based segregation: There was the Hindu-Sikh part of the village and the Muslim part of the village. The segregation was complete - there was a separate well, separate lands, separate parts of the village. Usually, even the occupations were different. They did not share food or water . Not much social contact either. However, the "caste" based panchayats are a novelty. Because of the preponderance of Sikhs , the caste system was not too pronounced. (The Sikhs, theoretically, do not believe in caste)


  • The Sindhis were the traditional money lenders in this part of the world. Because they were into moneylending and the Punjabis were into borrowing, there was little love lost between these 2 communities. however, they could do without each other and thus was born a generation of jokes about the other community.


  • Marriage with the family: It was considered scandalous to ask to see the girl before marriage. The marriages were fixed by the respective elders (always male) and were solemnised before the groom(or anyone on the groom's side) ever set eyes on the bride. As for the groom, if the elders of the house, when they go to finalise the alliance, happen to meet the boy, it is fine. There was never any demand to see the boy.


  • Multan, Jhang and Punjab: Few of us know that Multan, Jhang, Punjab and Sindh were closely related provinces, each with its own dialect. Jhangi and Multani were separate dialects, albeit related to Punjabi.


  • The Eastern Punjabis: were considered not as good looking, lazy and manipulative. It was said that Ambarsar (Amritsar) onwards, only cunning ruled, not the sweat on the brow.. and that one must not trust the "zubaan" as much.. how can one fight perceptions!! In hindsight, they appear so ridiculous, yet i wonder about our perpetually judgemental perceptions today.


  • Hard Work was revered. One who works hard, tells the truth, and does not flash his/her wealth, was considered "good."

What do you remember? Please post comments.. Thank you!

वो एक बात , जो थी फ़क्त आप ही के लिए,
वो एक बात कह ना सके आप ही से हम!


बात कहने की हमेशा भूले,
लाख अंगुश्त पर धागा बांधा॥

Oh, to be 16, and in love..

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Punjab before Partition

I grew up with my grandparents.. who were from Western Punjab.. the values i grew up with are very different from the Punjabis that one sees around today.. for a long time now, i have been wondering.. searched the history and anthropology books, and literature about the era.. to get an idea of the social structure at the time.. relied heavily on inputs from both sets of grandparents.. and came up with not much.
This, then, is an attempt to chronicle what the Punjab was like before Partition.. what was the socio-economic structure, and how was the value system different. Please, please add to this list if you can.. and i will be very grateful.

Part 1: Within the family learning that is incompatible with our society today

Chaaude to vadda doonga: The deep one is better than the wide one.. my grandmother used to say this every time she saw someone show off. She always maintained that wealth and jewelry should be kept under wraps and one must appear as simple as possible to all outward appearences. Makeup was absolutely forbidden for unmarried girls. Synthetic clothes, clothes with silver or golden decorations were all considered "Miraasi" - not worthy of a person from a noble family. "Clothes maketh the man" was not taken to mean "Good Clothes" :-)

Man neeva te matt uchhi: We thought, as kids, that we were super intelligent. Some of the adults agreed too. But at home, we were taught to never speak unless spoken to, to never show off our knowledge or intellect, to always remember that someone is wiser than us, and therefore to be humble at all times.

There is no such thing as a small lie: In my house, you could kill and be forgiven. But you could not lie and hope to be forgiven. There was no such thing as a small lie. Lies were detested in the family and still is the BIGGEST crime.. being a family with roots in farming and trading, we were always told that the "zubaan" is very important, and if a person cannot trust you for a small thing, fat chance that they will trust you for a big thing.

Can you remember anything from that era? Anything at all that will help us understand the people who lived in those times.. the people who survived the partition and lived to thrive in an alien country that was far from kind to them.. they were very special people.. i am always amazed at what the refugees could achieve post partition..

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Review of LUCK- the movie

There is a spelling mistake in the name of the film. The "L" should be replaced by a "Y".
In addition to which, the movie is SICK. But afterwards, i was thinking.. like the film shows fictitious mutilation of the physical body, reality shows today show mutilation of personal lives and breaking up of real families.. so which one is more yuck - a fictitious murdering, or massacre of the personal lives of real people.. ?

Friday, August 07, 2009

An I Told You So post...

About an year or so ago, I did a post and saved it to drafts. That is where it stayed. It never saw the light of day because I am not an economist.

The post said something like this: (it was about farmer suicides)
**************************************
At this point, unless the government intervenes with long term, root level reforms in the agricultural sector in general and in the agricultural marketing channels in particular, one of the following two will happen:

1. Farmers will be forced to increase the prices of the produce to a point where common food items are beyond the reach of the poor, exposing them to malnutrition in addition to poor sanitation and even more poor medical care. This will inevitably result in an epidemic of some sort. It will only be a matter of time before disease spreads from the poor to the not so poor. In effect, we are looking at a volcano of disease and malnutrition.

2. More and more farmers will commit suicide or sell their lands for commercial development, or convert to cash crops. This will lead to a real and artificially created scarcity of basic foodstuff. That means an unmanageable increase in the prices of basic food stuff. If the government considers a Band Aid treatment at that time, we will be forced to import (and pay high prices for) basic food items. These will be placed out of the reach of the common man, leading to the same malnutrition induced disease epidemic as in Option 1.
****************************************************
Why did I not post this then? Because I m not an economist. I am just a lowly blogger. If I can foresee this, then surely the wise policy makers at the Central Secretariat can see this too. Surely they will not let this happen.

And why is this being posted now? Because we are at Step1 of that epidemic. It’s a chance in a million, but someone might google for increase in price of food items. And land here.

What is my proposed solution?

It’s a four pronged approach –
1. Reducing the Cost of Production:

High Yield seeds have to be made available for less. We cannot allow the Monsantos of the world to make profit while we stop the next step in the chain – the farmer, from making more profit.

Cost of Labour has to go down – NREGS has ensured that the cost and availability of farm labour is impacted. The same scheme can be converted – each farmer may be given “Coupons” of labour units. He gives these coupons to the NREGS beneficiaries in return for farm labour. But that means 2 contact points with the government and twice the corruption. So an ideal situation would be to release some labour from NREGS towards farm labour. Meaning, if a person is eligible for and employable as farm labour, he must not be covered under NREGS. Let NREGS be for people who cannot otherwise obtain employment. Not for displacement of labour. And definitely not for displacement that is detrimental to the core agricultural sector.

Consolidation of Assets: During the Nehru era, some work was done in this direction and one read about with great pride and wonder. Now, the same idea must be implemented, but using the social entrepreneurs and the social structures of the agrarian society. Joint farming, sharing of equipment..

2. Improving the Marketing Channels: The produce has to be out of the farmer’s hands as soon as possible. A quick turnaround time on the capital invested means a shorter debt cycle for the farmer, and also more crops per year. If the farmer’s energy is wasted wondering when someone will buy that produce, he will not be preparing the field for the next crop for that long.

But that does not have to mean that the farmer is forced to sell his produce cheap, just because he cannot afford to hold on to it. The Marketing channels have to be driven by business, and the government has to regulate it tightly. Though the co-operative marketing and the regulated markets are in place, they are means of exploitation because the buyer’s cartel fixes a price in the morning and forces the farmers to sell at that price or hold, knowing fully well that the farmers cannot hold.

Obviously, a prime requisite for this to work, is the creation of cold storage and pest proof warehouses where the farmers can stock their produce if required. Once farmers get the power to hold, the need to hold will vanish.

Also, a portal where the farmers can see the prices at other places and sell their produce online is an idea whose time has come. In the past, this was attempted but we did not have enough internet penetration to get the volumes. Now, with e-choupals, we can achieve the penetration required.

3. The Supply Chain : Both the supply chain to the farmers and from the farmers. In Punjab, this summer, there was a government order indicating that sarkari offices will close early so that the power can be diverted to the fields. Never mind that the state still did not have enough power to save its crops. The same goes for water. We should think of canals more than borewells. Borewells need power.

4. Easy and reasonable credit /micro credit and Crop Insurance : Small farmers can do very well with micro credit. Medium and Big farmers need access to reliable credit on easy terms. This credit and its terms means the difference between a farmer who is alive and one who has committed suicide. Also, the availability of crop insurance is a must if we have to prevent farmer suicides. The only way to ensure crop insurance is to make it a mandatory requirement for all life and non life insurers to have a certain percentage of their portfolio as crop insurance. I believe that the micro credit and credit instituations should get this insurance to cover their loans. That will reduce their NPAs(Non Performing Assets) and also prevent farmer suicides in the event of a crop failure.

It is still not too late. The government should at least wake up now and start root level reforms and start them on a warfooting. Unless, of course, the vote bankers want that malnutrition induced mass epidemic.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

How to be a Service Consumer

Its not easy being a service provider. It is even more difficult being a service consumer. You can prove a thing not working right. How do you prove service deficiency in a largely nebulous world of service? How do you fight arbit charges, rules that make no sense.. and levies that should not be there in the first place?

This is a brief guide to being a service consumer.
  • A small pencil is better than a long memory.

Write, write, write. Do NOT accept verbal "assurances" from your service provider. Do not sign anything that is contrary to what is being orally promised to you. Assert your right to not sign. Assert your right to have an offering in writing. Do not pay up unless that concession, or provision, is given to you in writing. Please also check for the wonderful rider "This is not a legally binding document."

This tip is most handy when we are talking abt services like banking, shares brokerage, property, medicine, tourism et al.

  • Complain to the highest possible authority.

If things are not working out, do not just switch. You do yourself and others a favor when you complain. The entire banking industry con happens because people do not complain. The day service consumers start complaining, the quality of services will have to come up. Please lodge formal complaints. Most service providers dread the word "Formal Complaint". BUT, complain ONLY to the highest possible authority at that level. In a store, that would be the store manager. At a call center, that would be the shift supervisor. In banking, that would be the head of the division. In a hospital, the CEO. Do NOT, talk to anyone in the middle. This ensures that people talk to you with an open mind, without being primmed by their juniors with half baked information.

  • Corollary : Laud good work

The natural corollary to being a cribber is to be a praiser as well. When you encounter good work, make sure you put it down in writing, and send it to the highest possible authority. Ask the service provider who it should go to, to help their appraisals. Then send it to that person and to the highest possible authority.

  • Do not believe that you are dumb.

A lot of "knowledge" industries are based on convincing the client that s/he is dumb and is incapable of doing the job without "expert" help. A lot of that selling is BS. Financial Planning is not rocket science. Law is not rocket science. Even rocket science is easy. The first thing you should do with a service provider who is trying to scare you, is get rid of them.

Let's take an example. My son was not well. The doctor prescribed him an antibiotic. 2 hours after the antibiotic, his condition had worsened. He had rashes all over his body and his mouth was full of mouth ulcers and inflammation. I told the doctor rightaway that this is an allergic reaction to the medicine and we need to change the antibiotic. The doctor convinced me that that is not the case. 3 days later, with absolute deterioration in Ishaan's condition, the doctor changed the antibiotic, started an anti allergy medication. In the process, my son developed an allergy to one of the best, most used anti biotics, and went through pain that one cannot describe. His ped is a good doctor. He usually does not make mistakes. But he did not know much better than the person going through this.

  • Corollary: Ask questions and speak up.

If you are not as dumb as the other person would like you to believe, it is obvious that you should ask all the "dumb" questions and speak up your opinion. This is especially true of services where the person is empowered to take a decision on your behalf - your doctor, lawyer, property dealer, financial planner et al. Do not let them bully you into a decision that you are not convinced about.

Here is an example of "questions" - this is to a hot shot financial planner:

WA(wealth advisor) : Madam, SIP is the best way to invest in mutual funds.

me: Why?

WA: Because madam, you are only committing a fixed amount to the SIP, so if the NAV goes up, u end up buying fewer units and if the price goes down, you end up buying more units, which is the way it should be.

me: If i dont use SIP, all i have to do is compare each month and put the money in a good investment instrument (not ncessarily a MF) that is available at that time. If ur fund is performing well,sure i can put the money there every month. But if you are not, i have the flexibility to take that money elsewhere. If you take that flexibility away from me, and still sell to me only on market price, with no bonus units, no other benfits, how is that good for the customer? The only person for whom this is good, is the fund manager, who is assured of a certain infusion every month, irrespective of his performance. Where is the customer's benefit in this?

WA: Silent.

What are your strategies for getting good service.. ?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Thanks in advance..

If you're a regular reader, you probably answered these questions a little while ago. Be an angel, and answer them again please.. its important for you to answer now if you answered the last time..
And if you didn't see these questions before, they're a novelty and you'll be tempted to answer them now..
So either way.. please do answer these questions in the comments section, and i'll be eternally grateful. :-)
1. In India, is it possible to get Braille on your visiting cards? Yes/No
2. Do you know of an organisation called Esha – People for the blind? Yes/No
3. Would you like to/have u visited the Esha website?

Thank you!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Esha- People for the Blind

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you have been subjected to Esha at least once.


Esha is an initiative that works towards employment for the visually disabled. What sets it apart is that Esha does not make contract workers - we are in the business of creating blind entrepreneurs. All our sevice offerings are such that they can be best delivered by a blind professional. In addition, we groom the person to take on additional responsibility for the other aspects of running a service setup independently.

The current service offerings of Esha are:
1. Braille enabled visiting cards - our flagship product. Your regular visiting card, gets a distinct identity with a few raised dots.. Braille.

2. Theater Workshops - These versatile workshops help in sensitisation, team building and a general good time. They are available for office teams, teachers, others in a work environment. Personally, methinks the ppl who benefit most from these workshops are kids - gives them a total change of perspective that is VERY good for their general life coping skills.

3. Tactile Maps - These, alongwith the braille enabled visiting cards, are the quick fixes that get you brownie points with very little effort. For a visitor to see your braille enabled cards, and then to see tactile maps being available.. is very impressive. They don't have to know it took less than 2 hours of one person's time to get it all in place.

4. Accessibility Audits: These are for the really involved. Any facility - public or private, can get an audit to figure out how well a blind person would fare in your space.. its an eye opener. But the real eye opener is the simple steps that come in the report. Imperceptible changes that make one realise how easy it is to make a space accessible for everyone.

5. Braille Greeting Cards - Any card with braille added to it, or a special card made all in braille with words of your choice.. perhaps even an embossed image.. they're fun things to send to a blind school on the New year.. or on the birthday of a child.. The Blind never get greeting cards.

So, thats about Esha. To know more, go to www.braillecards.org

And if you are interested in partnering with Esha for your corporate social responsibility initiatives, contact Esha at esha_braille@yahoo.com

The Esha blog is here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bimal Roy Birth Centenary

July 12th was Bimal Roy's Birth Centenary..



If you dont already know about Bimal Roy, he was among the most brilliant filmmakers we have seen in the industry. His films (with popcorn) still make better watching than most of the current films. He could entertain and sensitise.. of course, his times were times of idealist cinema.. and he was a cut above..

The birth centenary is a good time to bring out that popcorn.. and treat yourself to some of the best cinema Indian celluloid has seen.. here is the pick-list:
  • Do Beegha Zameen - Inarguably, one of the finest movies ever made.. unfortunately, as relevant today as when it was made..

  • Yahudi - One of his most under rated films..

  • Bandini - Watch this one to see Nutan and to see what a good actress can do with a well crafted character..

  • Madhumati - One of Vaijyanthi Mala's best performances..

  • Devdas (The Dilip Kumar one)

  • Sujata - Who can forget that super romantic.. Jalte hain jis ke liye.. teri aankhon ke diye.. and the untouchability message for which this film is celebrated. However, my favorite part of the film is the song "Bachpan ke din.." for the juxtaposition it presents ... without sermonising..
To see a complete list of his films and to know more, go here.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Film Review - New York

In the year 1996, a film called Maachis was released. In the year 2o09, New York was released. The former was classic Gulzar - great poetry et al, the latter is classic Yash Raj Films - great visuals, glamour galore et al. The former was set in Punjab of the 1980s, the latter in New York of the 2000s. The differences end there.. now for the similarities:

Both these films deal with the process by which a terrorist is born. The process is simple - overzealous law enforcement officials who over-do the "interrogation" , and do it on the wrong people, in a way that strips a person of his basic dignity, and makes him want to "get back" at the "people who did this to me" .

Both the films present this truth in a very hard hitting, effective way.. the subject, sensitive as it is, is handled delicately, yet with an underlying strength that adds resilience to the story telling.

The rest of the review is ONLY about New York.

If you think good looking people cannot act, watch this film. These are three superlative performances.. each bettering the others.. but a special mention must be made of John Abraham.. it takes a lot of courage to give the shots that this movie needed.. and he has done them all par excellence.. after this film, he is an actor in my book..

Katrina Kaif can act.. it was a tall order to match up to the screen presence of the other two, and at some places, she beats them to it.

Neil Nitin Mukesh has already proved himself as an actor. With this film, he leaves absolutely no doubt in anyone's mind about his versatility and screen presence. John Abraham is a good looking person who can also act well. Neil Nitin Mukesh is an actor who also happens to look good.

Irrfan Khan needs no more eulogy. His performance remains great as ever. Perhaps he should give vesatility a chance now:-)

Like all YRF films, the visuals are a treat.. there isnt one bland moment in the film.. the editing is perfect.

The story is full of surprises, gripping yet warm.

Some surprises that the film flung at yours truly:
  • Neil Nitin Mukesh's voice is a lot like his grandfather - Mukesh.
  • There is third degree even in the human rights aware Amareeka, and no one can do anything about it.

And just as i was thinking of all the questions that the film throws at you, this post came along on Indscribe's blog.. and this one on Soul in Exile's blog ..you must watch the film and then read the posts.. will cost you a night's sweet dreams..

Good Night.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Do you know this?

In India, is it possible to get Braille on your visiting cards? Yes/No
Do you know of an organisation called Esha – People for the blind? Yes/No

Please post your answers in the comments section.

Palkon pe chalte chalte.. पलकों पे चलते चलते जब ऊंघने लगती हैं

पलकों पे चलते चलते जब ऊंघने लगती हैं ,
सो जा आँखें सोती हैं तो उड़ने लगती हैं,
सौंधे से आकाश पे नीले बाजरे बहते हैं,
पांखी जैसी आँखें सपने चुगने लगती हैं ॥

पिघली हुई हैं, गीली चांदनी, कच्ची रात का सपना आए,
थोड़ी सी जागी, थोड़ी सी सोयी, नींद में कोई अपना आए
नींद में हल्की खुशबुएँ सी घुलने लगती हैं...

आंखों से कहना , लोरी में रहना, रातों का कोई छोर नही,
तेरे तो और भी होंगे सपने, मेरा तो कोई और नही ...
बोलती आँखें नींद में सपने सुनने लगती हैं ....

My all time favorite lullaby.. and one that works on Ishaan too.. :-)
Film: Daayra, Lyricist: Gulzar, Singer: Yesudas, Music: Anand-Milind.

Rough Translation:
When eyes sleep, they fly..
They are there for the picking, blue and lovely,
Eyes, pick the floating dreams like birds pick grain..

The moonlight.. molten and spilled all around me..
I dream of a moist night..
A little awake, a little asleep,
and a dear face comes to mind..
All my sleep is scented that moment..

Eyes, stay in the lullaby, for the night is endless,
You must have other dreams, but you are all I have..
Eyes that speak so, listen to dreams in the night..

yes, i know thats a really bad translation.. but what can one say? Am sorry.. please help if u can..

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Remember this when you next think "Kuchh nahi hoga"

On the 26th of June, the Kingfisher Leh-Delhi flight was cancelled. Kingfisher forgot to inform all the "guests" who checked out of their hotels, with kids as young as 1.5-2 years old, and got to the airport, only to realise that there is no flight. There was no problem with the weather. The problem was a "technical snag" which means their plane broke down and they did not think of a replacement at all.
So there it was, a bunch of over 200 people (it was a full flight) , with their baggage, outside the Leh terminal, in the blistering sun, because they were denied entry into the airport terminal. These people had connecting trains/flights, had checked out of their hotel. Some of them were unwell and were looking forward to being in the pressurised container to help ease the mountain sickness.
There is only one ATM in Leh, and that one was not working. Which meant that these people were there - with no accomodation (in this season, if you check out, fat chance that you will get that room again without a prior reservation) , no cash, not too well, and in the hot sun. No explanations either.
Happens all the time, and the airline expected them to whine for a while and then go try and find hotels or whatever. The airline maintained that they are a budget airline and there will be no help at all - no acco, no alternative flight, not even an attempt to help.
EXCEPT that in this case, the passengers did not let up. They kept at it, kept asking the airline staff for reasons, for alternatives, and kept asking for the Kingfisher Airport manager to step out to tell them what's happening. Finally, the airport manager came out. He had not expected this. Passengers are expected to whine, give galis, and then go away. 2 hours later, they were still around, asking him why no alternative plane was arranged if the airline knew at 4 a.m. that the plane will not take off from Delhi.. and other very relevant questions. The Airport manager went back in, accompanied by some passengers. The airline finally agreed to give refunds, and very few passengers took that refund. The others stayed on, asking for the alternative aircraft.

When a young child showed obvious signs of illness in the hot sun, the father put him on the airport door and insisted that the terminal be opened for women and children at least. It was opened, because all the other passengers stood behind that family.

A little later, the airport manager finally managed to get an alternative aircraft for the stranded passengers. Yes, they did. And the "budget airline" also magically managed to get tea and breakfast for people who literally, hadnt had a sip of water since morning. In Leh, that can be very destructive.

Finally, about 4.5 hours after the scheduled departure of that plane, the alternative flight took off. Full marks to Jet Airways for everything. Kingfisher managed the check in queue that was allowed entry into the airport check in area, and that was a nightmare. However, from there, Jet took over and was one impressed! Queues rationalised, staff holding children so parents could check in fast, staff helping women and children to the seated area so the queues are shorter and check in faster. There are days when Jet behaves like the new IC. That day, however, one saw a glimpse of the old Jet Airways again. Thank you Jet, and no thanks to Kingfisher.

But the moral of the story is, remember that if you stick together, you CAN force even the mighty to do what they should have done right in the first place. This is the first time in all one's life, that i saw people power at work. Remember this post when you feel helpless again. All one needs to do is stick together. :-) To more such days!

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Ladakh Diary - Day 6

This was the last day of our stay. We were soo looking forward to going back to terra firma where we may breathe again without worrying about breathlessness. Lots of tourists, domestic and foreign, come here and get unwell. The hotel manager was very used to taking guests to the Civil Hospital. But i did not find this mentioned in any online travelogue. Please do remember that anyone can get sick there. its not related to ur past performance in the hills at all.

Also, please dont get confident if you get through the first 72 hours. Mountain sickness can strike at any time. And it can get serious very fast.

On this day, one saw, for the first time, PEOPLE POWER at work. More on that in the next post.

The Ladakh Diary - Day 5

The mighty yet tranquil Indus - a river to love
On this day, The Other was not well and decided to stay at the hotel. He did not want a hospital visit.
I really wanted to visit Pathhar Sahib, so went on the Srinagar route.

There are some spots on this route - The Sangam, the Rafting, Hall of Fame, Magnetic Hill, Pathhar Sahib.


Sangam: The Indus meets the Zanksar at this point. The Indus is a lovely river.. blue, and tranquil even close to its source.. it gets muddy in the monsoon, but at this point, it was peace personified. The Sangam is an interesting place, but that river has touched me like no other has.
But notice the stone on the riverside. Even after centuries, these stones are not rounded like the other rivers. They are sharp - so sharp that you cannot walk there barefeet. BIG surprise, and one is still thinking of this.. why?

Magnet Hill: If you leave your car at this point, the car goes uphill without gear. The hill opposite to the spot is supposed to be a huge magnet. it takes about 5 minutes here.

Pathhar Sahib: Attached to a legend about Guru Nanak, its an important place for the Sikhs. For the others, its another tourist place. What impressed about the place was that the whole place was manned by army people who run all time tea, warm water to drink, cold water and food at lunch. It was a very clean Gurudwara and everyone was very affable. This was a special experience too.

The Ladakh Diary - Day 4


On this day, the Other went to see Lake Pangong, and I went to see the Sindhu Darshan Festival. After the lovely experience of Day 3, I did not want to attempt 17,500 feet. However, the doctor on a visit to the hotel (to see another unwell patient) checked my saturation level and at 88%, cleared a local trip.

What happened at the Sindhu Darshan festival was another story altogether. The first part of the day was dedicated to speeches by politicians and other important people. Then started the cultural festival. I just wanted to sit by the river, so went there by default.

At the river, one was apalled to see plastic floating everywhere.. people oblivious to the Seven Ups and the Aquafinas that they were surrendering to the holy river. So one got cleaning up and soon another lady joined in. Within that hour, we pulled out almost 1.5 kilos of plastic waste from 50 metres of the river stretch. But the remarkable part is what happened next.

Yours truly went looking for a dustbin. The first person in saffron whom i asked directed me to a side that had ice cream vendors and the like. I asked the vendor "Where is the dustbin?" "Just throw it here." I asked him "Is there no dustbin in the entire venue?" He stopped pulling out the icecream long enough to say that there isnt. Then, i went right to the podium, and asked for someone from the organising committee. A distinguished looking person said "Bataiye" so i asked "Sir, dustbin kahaan hai?" (Sir, where is the dustbin?) No kidding, the person looked at me as if I'd asked for a piece of the moon. He just stared for a while and then said "Aap ko dustbin kyun chahiye?" So i told him that we have abt 1.5 kilos of waste waiting for a dustbin. He understood this was a "environment vaali" and said "Mangva dete hain" .
To cut a long story short, i waited next to his seat for abt 1 hour, almost in a Gandhi style dharna. I was told that the dustbin is on its way from Leh, and Thank you for letting us know we missed placing the dustbins.

This was the second day of the 3 day Sindhu Darshan festival, with more pilgrims than you can count, and NO ONE THOUGHT OF THE DUSTBINS!

The Other liked the Pangong lake and realised that its a salt water lake, AFTER getting there. but its 9 hours in the car for about an hour of being at the lake. No tourist brochure tells you that.

Also, we found out that its possible to get mountain sickness later in your stay, because the next day, The Other got up not so bright and positively unwell.

The Ladakh Diary - Day 3

This was the day we took a trip to the Civil Hospital.
As it happened, yours truly had a case of oedema and was sent to the hospital for a checkup. Though we were expecting some degree of mountain sickness, we weren’t quite prepared for this. I was admitted on the spot and the doctor said “Under observation till 6 p.m. and then we will see.” They did not even let me go back to the hotel to grab a book! So there it was, a day when we should have been at the Tsomiriri lake, we were at the Sonam Norbu Memorial Hospital. It has really committed nurses and good doctors. The manager of the hotel came with us to make sure all went well with us. There was no place in the “tourist ward” which meant I stayed in the standard “Casualty Ward” with the oxygen pinned in. The Other was there throughout, and I felt bad for ruining his holiday. Finally, at about 5, he came back to the hotel and I got out at 6 myself. Back at the hotel, I felt much better, but that room doesn’t do much to promote one’s health, so I stayed clear out of it.
At night, the rooms get warm enough, so it was easy to manage at night.

The Ladakh Diary - Day 2


Disclaimer: This series is being done only for the benefit of junta planning a holiday to this destination. This is just our experience. Take it or leave it, or skip it.

Day 2:
We decided to start with the palaces and monastries in the Hemis Monastry segment. This trip also gave me first hand exposure to the Tibetan refugees. And the incredible wealth of the monastries. Mentally, I calculated the power and the wealth lying there, and gaped in open shock. I had no idea!!

On another note, at one place, much to our delight, the lamas were practicing the lama dance and we had such a great time watching them.

We also covered all the 3 palaces – Shey, Stok and Leh. Leh palace – the oldest and the best by far. THAT, is a piece of history, and VERY intriguing. Unlike other palaces, this one has no public gallery, private quarters et al. There are no guides, no printed material to guide one through the maze. But this, if anything, is the most intriguing part of Leh, if history is any interest of yours.

The Ladakh Diary - Day 1


This is a detailed diary being written for the benefit of junta planning a holiday to Leh - Ladakh.

You can easily skip the entire series if Leh is not on ur interest antenna.
Day 1:

We got to the airport and then to the hotel. As the taxi drove into the small guest house kind of a place, we visibly groaned. Small just about describes it. The two other guests who had arrived with us were also very disappointed. One of them asked for his money back and the other couple just left. Sure, the staff was very nice and all that, and the hotel has history attached to it, as we later found out. But if its one thing, its HUGELY overpriced. And just like a guest house, hot water is only available in the mornings and evenings. Great website, and maybe if it didn’t over promise, so many ppl wouldn’t ask for a refund. I could go on and on about the hotel, but lets leave it at that.

Day 1 was spent acclimatizing. Which basically meant sitting and reading in the hotel garden. There were some books in the hotel office and I picked up one of them.

Later in the day, we did a round of all the other hotels that we’d considered from Delhi. Here is our feedback:

Our criteria:
1. Distance from hustle, bustle, main roads and crowds. ( we wanted it far)
2. Running hot and cold water.
3. Some comfort would be nice. Electricity backup especially.
4. Warm rooms and decent view.
5. Service and warmth.

Hotel The Grand Dragon: Its situated pat on the main road, and is comfort itself. The rooms look good, the service looks ok, and we have kind of decided on this hotel for our next visit.

Hotel Namgyal Palace: Again pat on the main road, no one’s dream come true. The fittings are cheap and we basically did not like a lot about it. The website gives you views from the rooms, but does not tell you that some of the rooms open into a public patio and that the front of the hotel is on the main road.

Hotel Omasila: Pat in the middle of the market, smaller than a guest house. Am sure that the service is great, because the hotel has got great reviews from people who stayed there.

Hotel Cho palace: We saw this hotel on the fourth day, but since the reviews of all hotels are here, will add this here too. The fittings are not cheap. In fact, the rooms are very well appointed. The service looks ok and the pricing is very attractive. In short, after the Grand Dragon, this will be our second choice. And “Hotel” Shambhala, just doesn’t make the cut of a hotel. This one is on the Airport Road, so while it may not be as crowded as a main road, it is not entirely isolated. However, the village Skara is a very nice place.

Hotel Shambhala: Hugely overpriced. It IS located off the main road. Mr. Wangchook, the manager is warmth personified and was very nice to us and the other guests throughout our stay. He basically made it worth the while to stay there. We decided to continue with Shambhala for the rest of the trip, for its location and for its staff. Really warm, nice people. The hotel itself is not too well fitted. Amenities like running hot and cold water all the time, or power backup, or good rooms that dont look like a budget acco, or Wifi that is reliable, or newspaper every morning, or even a decent view, must not be expected here. What you will get, however, is no noise, clean air, a small garden that is enough for the 25 rooms, some view from the terrace, great staff (and not so great service and food).

End of Day 1.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tat Tvam asi.. sah aham asmi.. aham Brahma Asmi.

In science as we know it, there are living things and non living things.

What are the characteristics of living beings?
1. They grow.
2. They eat/consume .
3. They excrete.
4. They grow old.
5. They die.
6. They are born.

There are creatures that hibernate for centuries. Some hibernate for months. During this period, they do not eat or excrete. So, partial fulfilling of these conditions could still qualify as living, right?

Consider the human hair. It meets all the conditions above. Is the hair on our body a living thing?
Consider the things in our house. On a bad day, we find that things get misplaced more often. They are tired at the end of the day. They are better in the mornings.. even the air around us talks.

Can you imagine the difference in our perspective if we were to treat everything as if it were alive, like us? A part of the same Brahma ?

Tat tvam asi, means, you are That.

Sah Aham Asmi, means I am That.

Aham Brahma asmi, means, I am the Supreme Knowledge. I am the Brahma.

Between them, these three lines unite every living thing with each other, and with the Supreme Creator.

तत त्वम असि.
स: अहम अस्मि.
अहम ब्रह्मास्मि.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Why i prefer "Blind" to "Visually Challenged"

This has been a long topic of discussion.
In general, words do not mean negative or positive. Over time, we load words with negative or positive connotations. Then, when the negative impression becomes difficult to handle, we simply replace the word with a new one, and start loading that new word with the negative connotation! How cool is that?!

What we should be doing instead, is getting rid of that negative connotation in our HEADS! For instance, take the word "blind" - its a statement of fact. Someone who cannot see. Thats all there is to it. I love this word. Being blind means i am different, not that i am in any way less or more than the next person. I dont have eyes that see as perfectly as the next person. I may have other gifts or talents.

Over a period of time, what do we do? Make "blind" a bad word, and come up with gems like "Visually disabled" and "visually challenged" . NOW it becomes a problem. disability means "the lack of ability" Challenge means.. well, challenge. Not being able to see is a statement of fact. I much prefer it to these euphemisms. We do not need euphimisms, we need to get rid of that bias in the head!
Whenever i talk to people about Esha, and mention that our beneficiaries are blind professionals, the person sometimes corrects me politely, "you mean you work with visually challenged people" In the same polite vein, i answer "No, i mean i work with people who cannot see. They are neither challenged nor disabled. The only challenge we have is that the rest of the world finds it a problem to accept them as they are."
And that, really, is my problem with euphimisms. To be deaf-mute is a factual state. To be termed challenged because of that, is really a function of an environment that makes it challenging. NOT a function of whether i am comfortable with the rest of my senses.

The rest of us do not hear or smell as well as a dog, and a dog would find us horribly challenged. But the dog is too polite to say that. And we do not think we are inadequate in any way. So why should the blind or the mute be made to feel that they are inadequate?

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Indus Valley Quiz

Yes, i am into creating quizzes these days. You can also attempt this quiz online and check your score here.

Please post your responses in the comments. Enjoy!

#1 Which of the following was not a city in the Indus Valley civilisation?

A. Mohenjodaro

B. Harappa

C. Tunis

D. Dholavira

E. Lothal

#2 The civilisation was literate - True/False?

#3 Mohenjodaro, in the local language, means "the mound of the living." - True/False?

#4 Harappa was a port city with international trade. - True/False?

#5 Which of the following is not a remarkable feature of the civilisation?

A. International trade

B. Planned cities with drainage and water supply

C. Literacy

D. Earliest known dock found in the world

E. Use of iron

#6 Which of the following is NOT a well known piece of art excavated from the towns of the civilisation?

A. Dancing Girl - Bronze

B. Priest King - Terracotta

C. Drunk Woman - Sandstone

#7 The houses of the civilisation used burnt bricks for construction, much like our times. - True/False?

#8 The Swastika can be found among the motifs in the Indus Valley script. - True/False?

#9 The use of wells in this civilisation is established.- True/False?

#10 Barley is among the known crops of the region.- True/False?

Attempting VBAC? Read this first aka Rashmi's Horror Story

This post is inspired by this horror story. Do read:
http://vijayashankar.wordpress.com/2009/06/04/all-about-wockhardt-bannerghatta-road-bangalore/

The no. of things that were done wrong in this case is way too many to be listed at one place.

If you want to help, please talk to Wockhardt and ask them for explanations. Like a pest. Again and again. If you are considering Wockhardt for a procedure yourself, DON'T, and tell them why you are not coming.

This is murder, because the child was ready to be born and by all indications, was a healthy child raring to start his innings in the world. More than Rashmi, I am worried about their older child. What is it like, to be 4 years old, and waiting with mixed emotions, for a new child to come into the family, and then to find a mutilated mother instead?

After the hugely popular Mad Momma blogged about it, within hours, Wockhardt responded on her site with their version of the story. Thank you MM!!

Without going into the details, lets just say that i read the hospital's response VERY carefully. And found holes aplenty in it. Read it for yourself.

I have written a detailed post on my experience with similar circumstances on Ishaan's blog. You may want to read that if you are considering making a decision about now.

Edited to Add on 17.06.2009:
Wockhardt Hospitals – End of Episode

Wockhardt has said that everything they did in Rashmi’s case was right and that they will do the exact same thing for the next person who comes in. Do I want the “next person” who comes in, to be someone I know.. ? Take a wild guess..

To me, that is the end of episode. There will be no more questions to Wockhardt. The decision is made.
If I know you as a friend, I will not let u go to Wockhardt. Not even for a small splinter of a cut. If you do go, don’t tell me. If you lose your child, I will blame you for it.

Nobody wants to take even a 1% chance with their baby. If you are among the people who do not mind taking that chance, don’t look to me for sympathy when it ends badly.

Rashmi was asked to pay 2.2 lakhs for her dead child. That is excellent burial money for a child that was healthy and raring to be born. All that was to be done was to bring him from inside the uterus to outside.The heart aches as I write this.. because I’m thinking of Ishaan.. of how, at the end, I used to talk to him as if he was outside the womb already..

If you are considering Wockhardt for medical tourism, you will do it with the knowledge that when things go wrong, you will be alone in a foreign country, with no one to help you, your body damaged and your money gone. If all of us together could not even get an independent enquiry for Rashmi’s case, what do you think your options are?

End of post and end of discussion. Please don't spam this space any more. The discussion route was open, but as soon as someone chose the spamming and personal abuse method, that route has been closed.

PS: In case you do not want to link hop, here is the whole story of Rashmi:

A Small Note… and a Request
I hardly know Rashmi. In the 30-odd days since I met her, I have grown to admire her courage and strength of conviction.
As many of you know, I have grown up around doctors, and tend to shy away from lending credence to “hospital horror stories”. As you also know, I tend to be a very unemotional person. And very hard to convince.
So it’s taken me a little over a month to agree to post this. A month in which I myself have presented the medical facts to several leading gynaecologists; met the medical services director of Wockhardt in an attempt to convince the hospital to conduct an unbiased investigation; done a lot of independent reading and research of my own. My conclusion: THIS IS JUST PLAIN WRONG.
Please do your bit to see that as many people as possible read it. Circulate it via email, via Facebook, and any other means you can think of. Talk about it. If it can help prevent even one more incident like this, it will have done its job. Hopefully, someone, somewhere will lend their voice to Rashmi’s.
Thanks.–RegardsVijayashankar
——————————–****************************___________________&&&&&&&&&
Rashmi’s Story
My name is Rashmi B.T. I am 35 years old, married to an air force officer, Vivek, and have a four year old son, Dhruv, delivered by emergency Cesarean section in 2004. On March 4th, 2009, my life was changed unalterably. I lost a baby that I had carried inside me, completely healthy, for a full 41 weeks.
I understand that doctors are human, that mistakes happen. However, I have come to believe that what happened to me could have been prevented if the doctor and the hospital had provided the most basic level of care and expertise. What’s worse, they refuse to take steps to prevent someone else going through the same nightmare, simply because they want to protect themselves from the possibility of litigation – something I am not interested in unless it is the only way to force them to change their protocols.
The Beginning
In June 2008, Vivek and I learnt that we were expecting our second child. The pregnancy was uneventful. I was healthy and fit. Every prenatal visit and test showed that the baby was healthy and developing well. During my 35th week, I decided to consult Dr. Latha Venkataraman at The Nest, Wockhardt’s Bannerghatta Road maternity facility to see me through the rest of my pregnancy.
Despite the fact that I had already undergone a C-section, she urged me to opt for a V-BAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Section) or in layman’s terms, a normal delivery. She brushed aside my concerns, telling me that a second C-section would be six times more risky and assuring me that a V-BAC would be less risky and almost pain-free.
My due date was estimated as 26 Feb 2009. I visited Dr. Latha on 28 Feb. She wrote on my record: “delivery will be attended by Dr. Latha/Dr. Prabha.” Since I had neither met, heard of, nor been examined by Dr. Prabha before, I was concerned. Dr. Latha explained that Dr. Prabha Ramakrishna is another consultant at Wockhardt, and that it was a hospital requirement for her to write both their names down as possible attending doctors for my labor/delivery. However, she assured me that it was just a formality, and that she would be the one to attend to me when I went into labor.
On 3 March, I visited Dr. Latha again. Since I was so far past my due date, I requested that a scan be done to check on the baby.
When I called her to read out the results of the report, she did not want to know anything other than the liquor content, though I specifically asked her if there was any other information she would require from the scan. She told me I could either wait for labor to start or choose a day to come in and have my labor induced.
The Nightmare Begins
I went into labor at 2am on 4 March, and got admitted to the hospital at 5.15am.
By 7.45 am, I was experiencing contractions less than a minute apart. Dr. Latha came and did a quick examination. I was shifted to the labor ward at 8am where I remained until 1.50p.m., under the sole care of nurse Savitha. Dr. Latha was not present at all.
A junior doctor, Dr. Shirley, was available intermittently. She spent most of the time on her cell phone, talking to her husband. She was keen to see him before he left on an 11-day vacation. A Dr. Chetna substituted for her while when she went to see her husband off.
There was no other doctor present. Dr. Prabha was called each time the fetal heart rate fell (this happened a couple of times). She was seeing outpatients and attending two other deliveries simultaneously, so she was only able to come to the labor ward to see me four times, for less than 5 minutes each time.
At 10am, I was given Syntocinon, a drug used to enhance labor; the dosage was increased at 10.45am. At 12.30, there was vaginal bleeding, and the nurse phoned Dr. Prabha, who advised her to “keep a watch”. The bleeding reduced, but I began to feel pain of increasing intensity during contractions. Dr. Shirley reappeared at 1.00 p.m., examined me vaginally and announced that I was almost fully dilated and would deliver by 1.30pm. I complained several times of excruciating pain but was told that it was normal. At 1.30pm, Dr. Prabha came in and was told by Dr. Shirley that I was fully dilated and would deliver any minute. Despite that, Dr. Prabha breezed off to visit another patient in the OPD.
I felt no urge whatsoever to push, yet was asked to do so. The stirrup on the delivery table kept breaking off – I was told that this is a recurring problem that “needed attention”. At 1.50 pm, the fetal heart rate dropped to 80 beats per minute. Dr. Prabha was called again. She checked the fetal heart rate on the CTG, explained that this was normal when the baby was passing through the birth canal, and asked me to hold my breath and push hard. I felt no sensation in my cervical area, but felt intense pain tearing my stomach apart. I felt like my baby had rolled into my stomach and could see its body pushing up against my ribcage. I was screaming, pointing at my stomach, and telling them that my stomach was hurting, and there was no urge to push. But she told me to “push, push harder”. I then heard Dr. Prabha saying “Get the OT ready”. She told my husband that she was going to attempt to deliver by forceps – if that was unsuccessful, she’d have to do a Caesarian.
The OT wasn’t on standby, wasn’t ready. I was numb with pain. They wanted me to get up and move to the operation table. I couldn’t move. They eventually slid something under my back and I pushed myself on to the OT table, as there was no transfer stretcher available. I complained of severe shoulder and chest pain. No one paid me any attention; everyone was busy preparing the OT, and the anesthetist was attempting to top up my epidural. The fetal heart rate was never monitored in the OT. Dr. Prabha unsuccessfully attempted a forceps delivery at 2.20 p.m., and then cut me open. I heard a deafening sucking sound, after which I must have passed out.Later, I learnt that my uterus had ruptured along the scar of my previous Caeserian section. My baby was found floating in my abdomen. He had no heartbeat and he wasn’t breathing. He had been deprived of oxygen for a long time – 43 minutes. They “resuscitated” my son and put him on a ventilator.
When I opened my eyes I saw Dr. Latha leave, followed by Dr. Prabha. Dr. Shirley was suturing me while laughing and talking with another nurse. I felt reassured that my baby was okay, even though I had neither seen nor heard him.“Don’t Worry, You Can Conceive Again”At 3.30pm, a nurse struggled to take my BP reading; the BP apparatus wasn’t working and had to be replaced. Dr. Latha met Vivek at the NICU and told him that the baby was doing fine and had to be kept under observation. She also told him that my scar had ruptured, but said that I was okay. At 4.30 pm, my husband repeatedly begged the nurses to give me pain relief. I was then shifted to the ward.
At 9.30 pm the neonatologist told Vivek that the baby had been deprived of oxygen for over 40 minutes, possibly resulting in “some extent” of brain damage. This was the first inkling we had that something had gone wrong.
The next morning, I was given a sponge bath at 6am. I then lay unattended until 2.30 p.m., when Dr. Prabha, Dr. Latha, and Dr. Prakash (the neonatologist) saw me for the first time after the operation. Dr. Latha unceremoniously ripped the dressing off my wound without using any gel or spirit, and pronounced the wound clean.
We were told that our baby would be kept under observation for another 24 hours. Later that night Dr. Latha came in at 9.50pm. Her only words to me: “Don’t worry, you can conceive again. Your uterus is intact.”“Do Japa and Tapa To Get Better”"None of the consultants saw me on 6 March. That night, my milk came in, and my breasts became swollen and painful. I asked in vain for assistance. After repeatedly begging for help, I sent Dr. Latha a text message at noon on 7 March. At 4pm, a nurse told me that the doctor had instructed them to use a breast pump to relieve my pain – however, since the hospital didn’t have one, I would have to go and buy one.
Dr. Latha finally visited me at 7.30 pm. She confessed that she was unaware that there had been a 43 minute delay in performing my C-section. She also admitted that instructions delivered over the phone could never substitute for personal supervision. She said, and again I quote, “Do some pranayama, japa, and tapa to help you get better.”
Throughout my stay, nurses didn’t know what medication I had been prescribed. They kept asking me what medication I was to be given. They had to be repeatedly reminded to give me medication.
For the next 13 days, Arnav was in the NICU on a ventilator. Throughout that time, he was completely reliant on ventilator support, his eyes were dilated and non-responsive to light, and there was no sign of movement. After a week, the neonatologist asked me to express milk and said they would feed the baby with a pipe inserted from his nose to the stomach. I did this for the next six days.
On 16 March, we decided to let Arnav go. We requested that he be removed from life support.
“We Would Do Exactly The Same For The Next Patient Who Walks In”Vivek and I wanted to learn what had gone wrong with such a healthy pregnancy. Basic reading indicated that scar rupture is a well-known risk when you attempt to deliver vaginally after a first C-section, and must therefore be monitored very closely by a doctor if attempted at all.
We met with the hospital administration and the doctors. All we wanted was an explanation. To hear the words, “I made an error in judgment”. Instead, we were met with a wall of defensiveness. Dr. Latha said that despite knowing the outcome, she would take exactly the same steps with the next patient who walked through her door.
I decided to get a second opinion. And then a third, and a fourth, and a fifth. Three of Bangalore’s best-known gynaecologists (and other doctors too) categorically stated that given my age (35), the estimated weight of the baby (> 4 kilos), and the duration of gestation (>40 weeks), a vaginal birth should never have been attempted, and scar rupture was a logical, obvious outcome.
All reading I have done has backed this up. Even a layperson’s book like “What to expect when you are expecting” (pages 363-364) says that abdominal pain during a V-BAC indicates a scar rupture and outlines the procedure for safe delivery of the baby. Given that I was complaining of excruciating abdominal pain, shoulder pain and chest pain, the doctor should have known my scar was rupturing. I should never have been asked to push; it exacerbated the rupture. Nor should I have been given a drug that intensified my contractions. By Dr. Prabha’s own admission, she did not know about the rupture until she opened me up.
Several doctors have also told us that keeping Arnav on the ventilator for 13 days was an exercise in futility from the first. At no point were we told that he would never survive if taken off the ventilator – had we known that, we would never have subjected him, or ourselves to two weeks of anguish. All we were told was that he “might be” brain damaged to “some extent” but they couldn’t predict how bad it would be.
A Brick Wall of Defensiveness; Discrepancies Galore
When I attempted to engage with the hospital to ask them to change their protocol of treatment based on an unbiased review conducted with the inputs of external gynecologists, I was met with a brick wall of defensiveness. They refused to conduct a fair, transparent investigation, claiming that their internal investigation showed that they had done everything right and that losing the baby was “my destiny”. Dr. Latha went so far as to say that since I am educated, I should have been better informed about the procedure.
I don’t want to sue them for money. I just want them to change their policies and protocols so that this doesn’t happen to someone else. I have been hitting a brick wall for two months, and feel that the only way to make them pay attention is to tell my story to people.
There are many discrepancies and attempts to cover up the hospital’s inefficiency (to name a few: baby’s weight recorded as 3Kg despite the fact that he was never weighed; post-facto note of fetal heart rate as 180bpm despite the fact that the heart rate was never monitored in the OT; discharge summary says “live term baby extracted” even though Arnav had no heartbeat or respiration at birth; half-hour discrepancy between CTG trace and labor room clock). I asked questions to which I was given ludicrous answers (Eg: Our pediatrician is very experienced, so he can guess the weight of any baby just by looking at it).
We were charged approximately Rs. 2,20,000 by Wockhardt. Of this, we found over Rs. 7000 billed for things that had never been done (spinal anesthetic, an extra day of room rent, food not consumed). We subsequently found more extraneous charges, amongst them an amount billed for tests that were performed on 18 March, two days after Arnav’s death.
My Story Has Just Begun…
My uterus is still healing. My back still hurts from the trauma. And my heart aches for Arnav, the baby I will never hold.
More than that, I am filled with the fear that this will happen again. After all, Dr. Latha says she would “do exactly the same again” even though she knows the outcome. And the hospital agrees that she – and they – did everything right.
Wockhardt delivers approximately 80 babies each month. With BP machines that don’t work, a delivery room stirrup that’s falling off and that has “needed to be fixed for a while”, nurses who don’t know what medication they are supposed to administer, and one (yes ONE) OT dedicated to emergency deliveries. That OT wasn’t ready when I needed it. What guarantee do you have that it will be ready when you need it? Sure, they claim to have nine other OTs in the hospital – but if they are all as woefully unprepared as the one I was in, my story could be yours.
I want them to change their policies, and I won’t give up until they do.
Thank you for reading.

Disclaimer: Rashmi's story is as received from the source mentioned above. The views in this post are obviously purely personal views (like all other posts on this blog). They are not a specialist's opinion. The source of Wockhardt's response is also as indicated in the link.