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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The trip 'Abroad'!

Ever since I read about Venice in my 5th grade English reading class at school, I dreamt each day of going to Italy. But as for me, as near as I could get to going abroad was accidentally stepping to the other side of Indo-Pakistan border. How I got there is a story I hold close to my heart!

‘Wagah border’ is the border between India and Pakistan, near Amritsar. India and Pakistan being one entity before 1947, this majestic road led us directly to Lahore! Alas for us, who have been second generation ‘migrants’ to India, will perhaps never see the beauty of ‘that’ place! But I can feel its beauty in the moist eyes of my grandparents who recollect their ‘good old days’!

It was a hot late afternoon and few visitors were seen near the border. We walked up to the magnificent Wagah border gates, where security guards had lined up. Their uniforms were bright in colour. Indians wore green and Pakistan’s uniform was black in colour. I couldn’t help but notice that height of guards from both the sides was extraordinary and they held a serious expression all the time. Did they ever talk to each other? I wondered. There were two flags fluttering in the wind on either side of the gates. Is that how you differentiate between two countries?

As we moved up towards the point-zero pillar or No man’s land area, my eyes remained fixed on the people of the other side! I had to find out what they actually looked like! Today, there were not many to be seen even ‘that’ side.

Just as we were about to return, my grandmother who had been reminiscing her old days, suddenly slipped. I rushed to get to her side. But before that, a young lad of about 17, caught her from getting hurt. He was from the ‘other’ side. We together helped her stand and regain her balance. The very moment we heard a whistle and some guards approached us. Lo and behold I had crossed the line!

Immediately I returned to my side and muttered a ‘Thank You’ under my breath to the boy. ‘Dhanyavaad ki kya zarurat hai Humshira?” (What is the need of a Thank You sister?) He said. We exchanged smiles! It was a smile exactly like my brother’s.

The routine evening parade began. The thumping of the feet and smart march-past by Guards on both sides drove frenzy in the small crowd! The guards saluted each other; flags were brought down and folded neatly. The gates were then closed!

Late evening, I returned home with warmth in my heart. The gates might get closed but the hearts can never till we keep doing what we are best at-being Human!  

As for my travel ‘Abroad’, Venice might as well be my destination one day. Back then, it would have remained a dream, but today we have Expedia where a click on would make my dream come true.

The Sugarcane hunt!

Summer holidays always came with their share of fun. Our father had spoiled us with visits to exotic locations every summer such as Shimla, Leh and Goa. So, when he told us we would be travelling to a village that summer; we both-brother and sister duo had a small heart attack! What would be the fun in the old undeveloped village? We were soon to find out! 

My grandmother’s elder brother along with his family stayed in a village known as ‘Malowaal’ in Punjab near Rajpura. There was a wedding in the family and hence our summer holidays would be ‘enjoyed’ there.
With no TV to watch and electricity hardly available for 6 hours a day, we got bored to the core! No attention was paid to our tantrums as we pleaded to be taken back to civilization; so we decided to make best of the situation! The duo slipped out of house early next morning to find some adventure.

The cold fresh air blew in our face as we rode the bicycle ‘borrowed’ from our ‘village cousins’. It was perhaps the first time that we had got up so early in the morning. We had finally become villagers! It was the time of the year when mustard flowers made all the fields yellow in colour; a perfect setting for shooting love scene of a bollywood movie! It was all out of a dream, nature could be so beautiful, we could never imagine! As we rode further, our eyes fell on the sugarcane crop at the side of the road. We exchanged glances!

Quickly getting down from the bicycle, and hiding it behind a nearby tree; we both entered the field. Just as we were about to pull out a ‘ganna’ (sugarcane), we saw a man with a ‘lathi’ (big wooden stick) coming towards us. He was tall, with only a dhoti tied to his waist. His large black moustache was curled up. Scared to death, we stood still. Even our limbs could not move; we prayed somehow we could fly! He approached us and asked our names. ‘We would be handed over to Police for stealing Gannas’ such thoughts crossed my mind! He held my brother’s hand and asked me to follow. Then at the other of the field, he stopped and pulled out two gannas. Handing them to us he said “Here, taste them, these would be ripe.” We both smiled confusingly! This man here was not handing us over to Police?

After we enjoyed fresh sugarcane early morning, he put our bicycle on his tractor and drove towards our home. The ride was nothing less than a royalty for us; we felt like King and Queen! In between we stopped over to get some freshly made ‘Gur’ (Jaggery) in the field. It was hot and so sweet; nothing like we had ever tasted before!

Till the time we reached home, our parents had gone berserk looking for us; while we had the time of our life in the lap of nature beautiful!

Rest of the holidays were spent jumping into the village pond every morning, plucking ripe sugarcane from the fields and listening to stories late at night! It was the best summer vacation we had; with the tall man with a moustache as our guide to all the wonderful secrets of the village!         

Monday, February 13, 2012

Kangaroo Mother Care!

Two tiny smiling faces greeted me, when I met my cousin in the Hospital after her delivery. She had twins! Both were pre-terms; unable to hold their excitement in the womb to see the world, I guess! It was a challenge to care for them; but the family supported completely. The concept of warmth to the baby was explained to her by the Doctor; and now both are doing well. The baby needs to be felt cared for!

Madhuri too had twin girls; one she had to bear the stigma of bearing girl child and two on top of that! She had completely no support and her children, although full terms were very weak. She failed to understand the reason and desperately wanted to find a remedy!

Skin To Skin Care is such a simple technique for weak infants to gain weight and be healthy! The message just needs to be shared.

There is no science in it, even YOU can help by simply joining “Million Moms Challenge” clicking at .This would help Moms around the world to CONNECT, COMMUNICATE and CONTRIBUTE!!!  

Make a Change!

My closest friend is pregnant. So I am ears to her woes with each increasing day! Puking in the morning, late night hot flushes and craving Golgappas (fried puffed up wheat or semolina balls filled with a sweet-sour tangy water; one of the most popular street food in India) at odd hours; while her hubby dear keeps on lecturing her about unhealthiness of it. (But ends up bringing it for her at the same time; he doesn’t want a child who comes with a watering mouth!) She had wanted to keep quiet about it until her ‘stomach starts to bulge’ to ward off the evil eye as told by her mom.

At the same time, Bimla, 4 months pregnant in a remote village of one of the blocks of Patna district of Bihar gets her first shot of Tetanus Toxiod; two compulsory shots to be taken by pregnant women for her safety against the dreaded disease, Tetanus. She had swelling in her hands and feet. Too shy to talk, this 17 year old was in great pain when she reached the health care centre. Her reluctant mother-in-law accompanied her; who didn’t want to take her to a doctor lest people come to know about her pregnancy!

Is there any difference between the situations of these two? Yes there sure is!

My friend has got her regular check ups done right from the time of positive detection; where as some of the precious moments of pregnancy have been lost in the latter case. The most difficult as well as challenging time has been faced by the young mother alone; afraid even to talk to her husband. She has borne the pain and depression all by herself. She craves knowledge about her baby and herself; but chooses to keep quiet in order to maintain peace at home.

Both are currently based in Bihar, but their lives are poles apart! These poles need to be brought together for a better tomorrow. Can YOU help her?

Of course! You can spread awareness and make a difference in many lives simply by joining “Million Moms Challenge” clicking at . CONNECT, COMMUNICATE and CONTRIBUTE!!!