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Happiness, street vendors, and negotiations......

Few days back I was watching a documentary series, "India's Frontier Trains". The three-part series was on trains connecting India with its neighbours - Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. Yes, there is a train connection between India and Nepal, and that train is the only functioning train for the whole of Nepal.

In the episode on the train between India and Bangladesh, the program documented a life of a chocolate seller inside the train. He boards the train in the Bangladesh side of the route. A sole bread winner for a family of four, he earns by selling chocolates in the train.

He faces a perennial problem: because of hot weather conditions, his chocolates melt. In those hot days, his earnings are meager. A basic cooling device like this costs seventeen pounds and he couldn't afford that.

What moved me was the insensitive nature of some passengers in haggling with this struggling chocolate seller. They would force down the price by 10 pence or more (which is more tha…
Recent posts

Being hopeless....

Three months back when my mom was visiting me, she experience heart palpitations for two consecutive nights. Worried I called my cardiologist friend who asked us to visit him in the government hospital on that day as it was a non-OPD (out patients day) duty for him. Apparently non-OPD days are less crowded. As we sat waiting, we saw many worried parents bringing their just born babies to treat serious heart problems. What struck me were the faces of these parents - a feeling of hopelessness. This was their last hope to treat their infants in a state-run hospital as they don't  have money to take them elsewhere.

Fortunately, the staff at this government hospital were treating patients sympathetically. I hoped the patients would have got the best of treatment available. In comparison, patients were treated as cattle herds at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), India's premier hospital. To get an cardio OPD appointment, you will have stand in the line from 5 PM …

Life’s lessons from people around us……

On a day when Indira Nooyi, head of Pepsi, was in the news with her frank comments on women and career (though it's not the first time she said this), I was thinking of many unsung heroes that we see every day. We not only ignore them but also miss out on opportunities to learn from them. Couple of incidents come to my memory. A friend was admitted in a state-run hospital recently, and the patient next to him was a frail looking mother of four children. She has been in hospital for more than three months. She was so weak that someone has to help her to do the basic stuff. My friend was saying the couple from Bihar were probably from a very poor background, "The way the husband took care of his wife was amazing. He fed her with great patience, and took care of her needs. Probably my mom would have taken care of me like that."
Pretty much sure the family would have slipped back into poverty with this illness though the treatment in a state-run hospital is almost free with …

With no choice and voice….

Last Sunday I took a friend of mine to the emergency gynecology ward in one of Delhi's private mission hospitals. It was a lean day with not much of activity and I was chatting with my friend's husband, it was then I noticed a pregnant women walking in along with two of her relations. They have been referred to this hospital by the nearby government hospital as the private hospital would take better care of her. The reason: the estimated weight of the baby she was carrying was grossly under-weight, measuring only 1.2 kgs even after nine months of pregnancy. She was in great discomfort as her membrane broke, and sat next to me in a wooden bench.
In the meantime, I saw a lady doctor talking angrily out of frustration with relations of this pregnant lady, including her husband. With little knowledge of Hindi, I couldn't follow the conversation. Another friend had come by this time, and also a senior doctor was summoned by the lady doctor who first talked to pregnant lady'…

Be a democrat in US, but root for BJP in India

Before I say anything I would like to disclose my knowledge of political affairs in India. I had lot of assumptions and predictions for this just concluded elections, and none of them came true. So I am not going to talk politics and waste time. But this election season reminded me of a funny incident when I was a student in Arizona State University (ASU) in 2004.
As a thumb rule, I discuss politics only with close friends. So my flat mates in Phoenix had no idea about my political likes and dislikes. So on the day when BJP lost the elections, one of my flat mates – who used to hate George Bush and an active supporter of Democrats – saw me in that morning, and said, "What John, people have done this" in a disappointed tone.
He saw no contradiction whatsoever in supporting democrats in US and at the same time supporting BJP in India. It was after that I started noticing Indian students in US, and people who got their jobs in US recently, most of them exhibited this kind of du…

See oneself in some other’s shoes

Seven or eight years back, while waiting for a pointless editorial meeting to begin, a colleague of mine narrated a horror story of how his family had to literally run away in a single day from their ancestral property in Kashmir. Even now, they haven't returned and their house is occupied by people whom were not given permission and they don't pay any rent. Until then, this event in Kashmir was a fact that resided in my mind, but when I heard it from my former colleague, I put myself in his shoes and truly felt the anguish his family would have felt.
In the last three or four months, I have taken the opportunity of reading and watching stuff related to 1984 anti-Sikh riots and 2002 Gujarat riots. Reading many of the first person accounts made me shudder that the slaughter happened at the very city where I am living right now (1984 riots). Friends and neighbors turned into butchers, and strangers protected families. In both these riots- based on eyewitness accounts as narrate…

SUBURBS AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

Had a chance to visit three cities in Texas in eight days, so my observations in all probability be superficial but nevertheless it's useful to highlight some of the things I observed. 
Design of cities - in all the three cities - Austin, Houston and Dallas - the broad design of city is a concentrated downtown where all official and commercial establishment are located and residential places are spread out miles apart. The suburbs are connected via wide road networks that transport people mainly via car, usually just one occupant. Austin is trying to develop residential accommodation in downtown though. This is accompanied by near complete lack of public transport. 
For example I was staying at my friend's place in a Houston suburb, and I had to travel 5.9 miles to catch the only available bus from that place to downtown. Though people talked about traffic jam but I generally found that travel time is less than a minute a mile. My friend in Dallas picked me from Dallas downtow…