A Crappy Affair

World toilet day
The UN has declared Nov.19th as the world Toilet day.
We have lived and grown up with toilets, of course during our younger days when we travelled we never used public toilets since we were worried about hygiene with the advent of pay toilets those are taken care off too.
The impact of open defection never really struck in, after all at school we were thought that one method of seed dispersion was undigested seeds in the faecal matter.
At the medical school the impact of water borne disease and zoonosis kind of seeped in.
Last year when I went with the Banega Swach Bharat drive of NDTV I realized the greater impact of it, there was a man who wanted toilets constructed because he wife died when she slipped as she went out the fields. Gone were the days people looked at costing, the issue that the public presented was know how, they knew they needed toilets, they wanted the toilets too, the issue was how would the sewage handle it self they did not want it let loose into the fields and rivers as it would cause contamination. The knowledge partners organized by NDTV addressed this fundamental issue.
maybe if a year back somebody told me that the international toilet day was linked with equality, dignity and gender violence and sanitation I would have rolled with laughter. But the exposure a year ago and working with the migrant workers have really opened my eyes to something larger.
I heard stories of villagers who want to send their daughters to school but the fact that there were no toilets and the trees had been cut off to widen the roads made them aware of the desperate need for toilets and trees.
On the flip side were elders who were psychologically comfortable doing their daily rituals in the open environment so they had bowel constriction when they had to use the toilets. Interestingly the resource person suggested roofless toilets and planting of trees, or keeping flower pots.
When we are dealing with the migrant labour and informal work force things take a different turn. In a supermarket or a mall there are staff toilets and toilets for the public, but in a village market, or construction site we have neither.
Some village markets have now come up with pay toilets but construction sites are still open. The workers have nowhere to ease themselves through their 10hrs of working. Neither do they have access to potable water unless they are carrying it.
It is easy to say that India as a nation has no sense of hygiene/dignity/whatever, to a certain extent yes, but if we do not provide the toilets where on earth are the people to go, they have to ease themselves so they will go into the shrubs if they are available or go in the open.
An year back I met a company that dealt with portable toilets, when we asked them why were these not used in places where temporary toilets were required, we were told
• Their initial costing is high
• They were western toilets and Indians were not comfortable using it.
By the way the company has come up with an Indian model this year. The waste was dealt with chemically so there was no odour emitted.
The sanitation maintenance people on the Indian railway have another thing to say. Yes, the train toilets are public places. The Indian railway has recently shifted to bio-cleansing toilet units, they put up signage’s to tell people not to throw their diapers, the sanitary towels and tissues down the toilet , yet people do so, particularly in the first class section which is supposed to occupied by the more educated aware citizens as opposed to the plebiscites of the sleeper class.
The international toilet day would be a great point to start an awareness drive, and toilet training—yes I use it deliberately because we need to learn how to use a public toilet, keep it clean and conserve resources.

world Thinking Day

Everywhere you go today…you will find a busy guide..work or play we lead the way…jai jai for the girl guides.

There would weeks of preparation, and we would all be hyper excited about going to the Jamboree, never mind it meant 3-4 days of no bathing, sleeping in terrible school rooms, in makeshift beds, but it meant we made new friends.

That was February 22nd which we just called the Scouts and Guides day to commemorate the birthday days of Lord Robert Baden Powell the 2nd Boer war hero and his wife Lady Olave Baden-Powell, the couple who started Scouts and Guides.  I was a President guide and the word “Be Prepared ” seemed so relevant.

This has now morphed into the world thinking day since the world meet in 1999, and the scouts and guides reach out to their brethren around the world to know each other a little better. Well whether they succeed or not is another story. But that is the basic purpose.

One of the great things for us was to be a president guide, and that entailed, earning badges, and a badge was given when met some criteria, when I look back it is just become a check list, like okay one nursing  badge we are supposed to nurse the sick for at least 36 hrs. We worked at the hospital though. The singers badge was one prayer, one bhavageete,  etc. etc. we just learnt up those songs presented it to a examiner who was more pre-occupied with gossiping with the guide teacher and we were given the badge.

So the world thinking day, has come up with a thinking day badge that can be sewed on to the sleeve.

The theme this year is very simple it , “Grow.” So how does one get the badge—

  • Make new friends by identifying a group in your community that does not have access to girl guiding or girl scouting, and invite them to participate at your world thinking day celebration.
  • Share the fun of being a girl guide/scout with your friends by solving the mystery of the missing seeds of change. Go on a treasure hunt or a guide tracking signs exercise.
  • Plant a tree once the missing seeds are located, and mark the beginning of a new friendship.

When I decided to share this on my blog I began researching various quotes from the Baden-Powell’s I found out, that the movement though began as scouts for the Boer war, it also was to inculcate a sense of observation, and inclusion, which we have lost in this great sisterhood of badge collection.

World Social Justice day

February 20th is the designated as the world day of social justice by UN, the theme this year being Preventing Conflict And Sustaining Peace Through Good Work.

Of course this duo word coined in 1850 does mean equal distribution of resources and opportunities in which outside factors that categorize people becomes irrelevant. Since 2007 the UN-General assembly has been recognizing February 20th as the day of social justice. This day is promoting efforts to tackle issues such as poverty, exclusion and unemployment.

The social development aimed at social justice, solidarity, harmony and equality within and among countries lot of there is also pledging of equitable distribution of income and greater access to resources through equity and equality and opportunity for all.

If you were to go through the UN-site there is a whole hoard of hot air, and high sounding ideas, ideals and talk, but at the grassroots I wonder how this pans out… the migrant labour who comes constructs the road, their families living in temporary shanties with no toilets, when they do use the open spaces the educated elite coming down on them hard… is that social justice?

People having to leave their homes in search of menial jobs are that social justice? Young adults trained with skill sets that cannot be applicable, so either they do engineering and work as bank clerks, or they migrate elsewhere disturbing the ecology of the society they migrate into is that social justice?

We confuse “growth” and “development” displace indigenous communities from their legitimate space like the fisher folk of Bambolim beach… the once common resource like the bay and beach has now become exclusive to the five star hotels and this encroachment is this social justice?

If we could train people for the jobs available, people take care of the sick and poor in their own communities probably we would come somewhere near social justice.

Actually all this social justice is a little wonked, I mean the issue we are really talking about here is the great economic divide. Which has been created by greed… we call progress and growth well growth could be good or bad let’s not go there now but progress should mean for the better here is where we get confused,  trees and settlements destroyed is called progress because we have better roads to drive…at faster speeds? Is it social justice that we destroy environment, we displace people we create population, we guzzle gas  to me a world or equality would mean no just a liveable open world for homosapiens but also for the animals, and birds, with our trees and river beds being clean and intact.

At the end of the day equality is not treating everyone the same way it is attending to the different needs equally.

Hey It’s SAD

Feb. 15th, is a  SAD day in the shadow of its more commercially successful sibling.

Are you Wondering  what SAD is all about…No it is not about depression, nor is it about loneliness. well it is Singles Awareness Day.

With the world and all the business world focusing on romantic love, its many hues, people who are single are not just left out, they are also singled  to be guillotined or whatever it is that the French created.

Being single is not a  state of does not mean that one is like the uncle from Christmas Carols or Rapenzel in her tower. The SAD is about acknowledging and honouring the choice to be single, it about celebrating life, and sharing moments and gifts with other single friends, there are no strings attached here.

Originally this was also slated to be on the 14th of February but it turned out to be quite depressive, so the next day became the choice. People, of course volunteer to participate in social and community causes, exchange greetings and gifts.

So if you are single it is your day.

Hera can you hear?

World marriage day

And Hera is goddess of marriage and family.

The second Sunday of the month of February is significant in the catholic calendar as it is the day world marriage day, before you conclude like I did, that is it is the day that the world gets married, well it is meant to create the family, the commemoration is about honouring the father and mother as the base unit of the family.

The fat Indian wedding is so focused on the wedding, and once the wedding is over, suddenly we realize holy matrimony is not about union, but about transforming a two thinking individuals, with identity, into this nebulous image of Husband and wife, everyone remotely connected become stake holders and begin to advice and manipulate the couple. The couple have no chance but to go their individual way.

In a way I really appreciate the Agha Khani’s and the Catholic Church that runs pre-marital counselling. The feminist in me might rebel at the patriarchal leaning of it all, but it is a difficult dialogue that has to be held.

It starts with simple understanding of what we are committing ourselves to that I think in the Indian scenario is the first thing parents ask.  Life goals like what would you like to achieve in the future…involvement with the community… do you do it as a couple or separately?

I remember this friend of mine, who was a brilliant surgeon, she married another brilliant surgeon and every time a challenge came up, it she who was expected to compromise on her career, I have resented it that I am expected to put my work on the burner because something needs  be done.

Most marriages are in a mess as the couples do not explicitly voice their expectations. Despite of what the extended family I have heard people get scandalous when couples are to talk money, well if you are going for a traditional Indian wedding then salaries, are we comfortable with the difference, how do we expect to be supported emotionally, financially, what are your concepts of fun and how much of space would we like to have for friends and other activities, these are things that need to be looked into.

When niece Soundarya got married, since her husband and she both have good jobs and it keeps them busy, they decided to hire a cook, it no doubt upset both the sets of parents but they were clear that they didn’t want additional stress, Soundarya hates cooking, so on Sunday’s her husband cooks.

Then there was the issue of where would they live. Like the eminent Bangalore lawyer Puthige Ramesh says in his experiences many marriage break because of the altered dynamics a marriage causes, when his son got married he suggested that the new couple stayed on their own but since his son and daughter-in-law decided that they wanted to stay together in the joint family being part of all the traditions that are followed, since the decision was made by the young couple they are quite happy making whatever adjustments have to be made.

The question of celebrating festivals, and taking holidays were very informally but definitely settled within the structure that way everybody is comfortable. Not that there are no arguments, or discussions, but the basic channel for dialogue is open and flowing.

Two years after Prerana and Manish got married Manish’s younger brother Dhanesh got married, the first thing Dhanesh’s mother told her new daughter-in-law was I hope you won’t have children before Prerana does, five years down the line,  Dhanesh and his wife have a kid, while Prerana and Manish had decided not have children right before they were married. Again in the Indian scenario it is the elders who suggest when the couple should have kids, who should be the gynaecologist. Etc. but it is an essential conversation that should happen, do the couple want to have kids if so how many, what age difference etc. etc.

The Money talk… somehow we assume this is a dirty talk, Manish again gives his pay check to his wife, while Dhanish’s wife is clueless about his earning, well both are extremes, savings, investments, joint accounts all these are conversations that are essential to sustain a marriage.

Parents, parents-in-law how much time will the couple spend with them, most women of my generation do have the grouse that the husband does not spend time with her family, while she is expected to  put his family first, having said that, I have noticed a shifting trend like my friend from Harmony builders in Bangalore she designed the senior citizen’s habitat for Bangalore city  http://www.harmonyarchitects.com,  well she had both her parents and her parents-in-law living with her. While my friend Sonia has relocated to Goa to be with her parents, and her husband is Calcutta with his parents. These are the challenges of today’s life.

Gender expectations, when B.V.Karnath got involved with the other actress and there was that fire episode, everyone blamed Prema for focusing on her career, but is it fair that Prema should give up? This is a conversation that has to be had, I still resent having to give up the project director’s post for IFA  because Mr.D did not believe in relocating to Bangalore, or a long distance marriage. Yet most weekends I am alone, this brings me to next unspoken but the most important aspect of marriage that is the erotica. Hopefully today’s youngsters are more sensible, but our generation, we did not give time for ourselves even in the context of being parents, or being with in-laws it is essential that the couple do put a side gizmo free, people free time just for themselves. Else when the empty nest happens, there are just two flatmates cohabitating with legal sanction.

The man in the wedding sherwani and the man you try to make conversation with after a decade or two of marriage are totally different, and sometimes just not acceptable, that is when we land up  connecting  http://www.vandanashah.com/services.html or look at the nearest Guruji.

Then there are even more difficult dialogues, like spirituality, extramarital affairs, and conflict resolution… where we could probably take a logical decision, but when the moment arises we are totally illogical.

At the end of the day, it about the journey that begins with the wedding,  we need to ensure that there are spaces in the togetherness, and letting the winds of heavens dance in between, love is essential but not a bondage, a sea between the shores of the soul is needed, we need to fill one another’s cup but not drink from the other’s, we could share the loaf, but not pounce on the same loaf, we need to walk together

It is not about surrender and blend, it is about covalence. Whether one changes ones name or not is irrelevant, but whether one finds a partner who is with us through thick and thin is relevant.

Phew I did what I hate the most I actually delivered a sermon…

a little clarity

Viraaj came to me as he was feeling dissatisfied and he did not have the energy to complete what he was doing, and he did not enjoy his subject etc. etc. I took him through a trance and what came up was he was confident with his work.

As we went deeper he had a sense of being pushed into this situation, it turned out he was feeling angry and frustrated,  on clearing various unwanted energy cache and belief system,  he had this very clear vision of what he wanted to achieve in this life, he also realized that while he wanted some comfort in life, there was some stress he was not willing to take, this allowed him to create a vision board and plan of action for himself

This sorted him out and over the past year and a half he has moved along the territory where he wanted to go.

The technique I used here along with hypnotherapy is a technique called the ego state identification..

Through my dental practice I have had patients whose parents cribbed about their kids not doing well, not being consistent in their efforts or in results. I used to empathize. Often I wondered what was the issue.

The issue usual that explains all is the lack of confidence.

Most workshops and self help books are about confidence what I feel sometimes we fail to figure is that what is required is not confidence but clarity.

Once I started practising hypnotherapy full time, I figured that self acceptance to an achievement varied from person to person.

There was a kid, who wanted to do medicine, and I asked him why he said he wanted the kind of adulation his uncle had, people looked up to doctors, doctors saved lives, the devil in me thought” does that mean that you would like to play god.” I didn’t ask that though.

What he was telling me was he wanted recognition, and to him it came as thank you cards from patients, the current medical school scenario is such that the adulation that he looks for may not come by, for another person success meant having his own TV show.

At the end of the day I realized what was required was clarity, once there is clarity we can navigate through crowds without bumping or prodding into anyone, but when there is no clarity it becomes another story.

Interestingly that moment of clarity just pops up out of nowhere, many a times take my patient into the trance and ask them to have a conversation with their higher self, then comes an amazing clarity of what is the purpose of this life, and it comes with even more clarity how can they put their existing skills to achieve that purpose.

What happens when we are able to shed the social, parental and conditioned wrappings, is we get to see our purpose very clearly, this allows us to set the intent of where we would like to go. It also gives us the clarity, courage and determination to follow our dreams, we often find toxic people who lack clarity in their lives discouraging us, suddenly as we begin to live in integrity with our truth, peace becomes inevitable and success becomes a given.