Saturday, February 20, 2016

I love you my T cells, my death angels!

I have been suffering from various auto immune disorders for many years.The trouble with auto immune disorders is that apart from the pain and suffering of the disease the treatments themselves cause more suffering. One wonders whether to get treated or just let the disease take its toll.

Considering the population, there are very few rheumatologists in the country. Then there are those who are MDs in other fields but add Rheumatologist to their qualifications. The worst part is once you start the treatment which is often with steroids, there is no going back, no way of confirming if the dicision was a wise one or was there another choice, all tests will prove false after you start the treatment.

Take the case of Giant Cell Arteritis. It is so painful that your head is on the verge of exploding, you are literally pulling your hair out, want to bang your head on the wall, press the offending temporal artery tight with your aching hand. Your vision is blurred, your eyes tired and in pain, you can increase the font size and try and glean some knowledge out of the net. But are you in a fit state to understand much?

You find a Rheumatologist who might or might not be an an MD in the field. You think this time you are in a city unlike the last time, so you are not going to have any doubts about being  misdiagnosed. But the friendly doctor does not so much as palpitate the offending artery. He gives the verdict, 'Temporal Arteritis' that is the other name for dear old G C A, but he does not write the diagnosis on your prescription. Can you protest and ask to go for tests? He is so sure and frankly, you too are due to the text book symptoms. You are half dead with pain, he offers you the relief of the steroid injection and the daily dose of steroids to follow.

You know, your goose is cooked. You will no longer be the same person. You have fought 11 years to regain your lost self of 47kg which had become 70 Kgs and you were almost half way through. Now this? You know your stomach will become a bottomless pit demanding more food. Even if you fill it with oilfree, sugarfree, low cal stuff, still you would bloat. You would dream of eating cellulose, thermocol so that you don't gain weight.

What are you going to do? You go for the injection, the drip and the chance to stop that throbbing on your head. The doctor does not enlighten you, does not explain the consequences or the choices if any that you can make. You went to him because you are under a combined attack of viruses, allergies, possible bacterial infection and ofcourse your own little immune system and its T cells. Apart from a pain crazed head you have a fever, a runny nose that uses two packs of tissues a day, a sore throat that does not allow you to even swallow your own saliva. You surely are in no position to refuse the cure that he is offering. You accept the quick cure. In a few hours your head is not throbbing,but you know this is your last day as you, at least in the physical sense. What do you do?

Stay up the night like me and wait to bloat till you can't recognise yourself, wait for your osteoporosis to worsen, be open to easy infections.

Uff, Ghughuti, you sure are doomed. Doomed, if you take the medicines and doubly doomed if you don,t. Forget the pain, not taking steroids may cost you your vision or you may have a stroke.
I love you my T cells, for not differenciating between me, my own body, its cells and intruders. You were meant to protect me and not attack me, my joints, tissues and blood vessels, silly you!

Mired Mirage

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

'I allow'

The man who says, 'I allow my wife/ daughter/ daughter in law to work/study/shop/play/dance/sing/wear what she wants/go where she wants to go etc' is more dangerous than the man who says 'I don't allow'. In the case of the latter we know what we are getting into and if we are sensible, we mantain a healthy distance of a mile or two.

But in the case of the former, 'the benevolent master of all that He surveys', one tends to get fooled unless one understands the connotation of 'I allow'. The two words ' I allow' define any relationship, the master and the slave, the subjugater and the subjugated. Always be wary of the 'I allow' variety of men (as well as women who can make or break your life, like a mother in law, mother, sister in law or a matriarch). They are injurious to your life and liberty, happiness and survival in general.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bringing Up Children The Nor Way? No Way, Norway!

Ah, the great Nor Way! A way of bringing up children that appears neither to help the children nor the parents, yet, it is the way, the Nor Way! It plucks children from a mother’s breast and a kindergarten they run probably all to spot that child with the slightest difference. They have decided what is normal and any behaviour that deviates from that is abnormal and must be made normal by removing from the parental influence into the waiting arms of foster parents. Those foster parents, of course, must have the best parenting skills on this earth.
What are those best parenting skills? I really have no idea. How can I? I am only the mother of offspring who have grown up to be good human beings and also a scientist and a manager and who are loving and caring and stay in regular touch with me by calling me almost every day and share most of their joys and sorrows. This contact of the daughters with their mother too must be pretty abnormal in many societies and could be ground for thinking that my children should have been taken away from me and put in foster care.
Well, I too am guilty of the four sins that Sagarika and Anurup Bhattacharya are and many more .
Sin No. 1 Feeding my children with hands/fingers. I did that on so many occasions and never once thought it was a crime. The worst part is that I knew of the so called correct practices, had studied them in my Child Psychology and Child Care classes. I had not only read but also owned that book on Child Care by Dr Spock, yet, I decided not to follow him. 
Sin No. 2 Children sleeping with parents.  In spite of there being separate rooms and beds for the children we allowed the children to sleep with us as a treat on special occasions.
Sin No. 3 Erratic behavior of child in school.  Haha, I distinctly remember the vivid description given  by my daughters of the incidence when my elder daughter  all of seven years found her three year old younger sister crying in her KG class and grabbed her hand and took her to her class. How could she let her little sister cry! That they mostly topped their classes and were leaders and went on to represent their schools and be school prefect etc  is another matter. But as far as erratic behaviour  is concerned, yes, many a times.
Sin No.4 Four month old baby did not look at the mother. Well, we never put them to this test. But I do remember an even more interesting case. Had I been in Norway, I am sure my child would not have been allowed with me another minute. My husband had been transferred to Mumbai. My fifteen months old daughter and I were staying with my parents in Pune till he found a flat to rent in Mumbai. My daughter was very attached to her father (which does not automatically mean that she was not attached to me) and cried for him every night. When he managed to rent a flat and we were finally going to Mumbai by train, she was very happy and excited. As our station was nearing my husband started arranging our luggage and went near the door to look for a porter. My daughter thought he was again leaving us and started screaming. She just wanted to get off my lap and run to him. Anyone looking for finding faults in my parenting skills and those not even looking out for them would have thought I had kidnapped my daughter.
Well, these four were similar to the sins of Sagarika and Anurup. Mine must have been 400. My  daughter refused to sleep and I never could follow Dr Spock and put her in her bed in a separate room and let her cry herself to sleep. I carried her in my arms the whole night and sang lullabies.    When she refused to eat I roamed about the house with her in my arms and a bowl of her food and feeding her while singing songs for her. However wrong that method might have been in the eyes of various cultures, it worked for both her and I, she was healthy and happy and we are both happy enjoying the best relationship a mother and daughter can hope to have.
We in India and probably in most parts of the world have parents and children who are individuals. We are not made in factories and are not uniform like peas in a pod. We don’t really go by a book alone while raising our children and go by what we have learnt in our society and by common sense. That might not be good enough for Norway, so I suggest they should just tell people from other cultures with different value systems and ways of bringing up children to just pack up and go home and not kidnap their babies, especially when neither the babies nor the parents are their citizens.
Norway has a program to ensure the welfare of its children. Any parent who does not come up to its exacting standard is not allowed to keep the child and such children are handed over to foster parents or institutes to bring up. I am very sure that the idea behind this must have been very good and idealistic. But as usually happens in most cases, the system becomes greater than the people it was created to serve. The state must be spending a great deal of money and effort on running this foster care system. Would it not be better if a small part of it was spent on educating and helping the biological parents to become the kind of parents the state wants them to be. It would save both the parents and children a lot of heartache.
It is possible that Sagarika is not the ideal ‘ Norway’ mother. Maybe, not even an ideal mother in any other way. Yet, if she was breast feeding her baby, there could not be any better feed for her baby than her mother’s milk. Or has that country come up with some better feed? Can there be a warmer place than a mother’s arms?
They say Sagarika shouted at the police station so she is not capable of looking after her children. What is wrong in a distressed mother screaming at her tormentors? She seems docile to me. If someone had tried to snatch my child from my arms, they would have had to almost chop my arms off to get at my child.
This whole saga of children being snatched from their parents is very sad. The intentions might be great but we all know that unless the parents are absolute sadists or suffering from dangerous incurable mental health disorders, there is no reason to take children away from them. Norway has to show some proof that children brought up in foster homes do better in life than those brought up in their biological families. I have only found (on the net and it could be wrong) what
Research on children and young people in foster care

“According to Egelund (2009) and Backe-Hansen (2010) there is no Nordic/British research with strong enough methodology that can predict outcomes of out-of-home placements. Clausen and Kristofersen (2008) have found that young Norwegian adults with care careers (both foster homes and residential care) have severe problems after the transition to adult life. They face a larger risk than their peers to have low income and no higher education. They are more likely to suffer various illnesses and die in a young age. They also are convicted of crimes more often than their peers who have not been in care.

Despite these statistics, it is widely assumed that foster care has a very positive impact on children and young people at the time of placement and while they are staying in the foster home. Some of the problems they face in independent life may be more rooted in their problematic family histories before they came into care, while some problems too may be related to insufficient support and other forms of follow-up assistance after they have left care.”
 If this is true than why should parents and children go through this trauma of a separation?  Separation could be justified if a very large percentage of children brought up in foster care did extremely well in life, much better than those raised in their biological or troubled homes.     
says this about the approval process foster parents…….
“Approval process
Child welfare services in Norway are required to approve every new foster home. In order to avoid possible favoritism, the child welfare services in a district other than the one where the placement is to occur are required to make the final approval. This approval process is much concerned with insuring the foster parent’s general ability to bring up children as well as the suitability of the foster home for each child in question. In Norway great emphasis is placed on the needs of the individual child as a guide for the choice of the foster home. The question of matching is considered an important one and special consideration is given to the child’s ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background. A central guiding principle is that the child welfare services should have the best interest of the child in mind. The Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs has issued guidelines stressing that if someone is related through kinship with the child or in other ways has a close relationship with the child, they should be looked upon as the preferred choice – if they are judged as qualified in terms of the aforementioned criteria. The biological parents of the child should always be invited to give their opinion when the foster home is chosen. If the child is 7 years old or older, her/his feelings about the placement are by law to be elicited.

The child welfare services in charge of a placement offer specialized training for new foster parents in what is called the Pride training program. This is a course based on ten three-hour sessions. In addition the workers of the child welfare services make four visits to the proposed foster home for each child.”
Why would they talk about favouritism unless people had something to gain from becoming foster parents? Had it been a selfless service there would not have been any mention of favouritism.
If Child Welfare Services could provide ten three hours training sessions to future foster parents why can they not provide the same to the biological parents?
“The social services even advertise for foster parents to take on a foster child at a salary of over NOK 300.000 per year (approx. 40.000 Euros). Additional remuneration per extra child, often plus tax free “expense coverage” plus paid vacation on the Mediterranean, etc.
Recently foster parents have also had the monthly child benefit put at their disposal. The child benefit for a child not living with its parents was previously to be saved up in a bank account for the child, to be given over to the child at 18, or when it was allowed to move back to its parents.”
If this is true then there is something very wrong somewhere. All I can say is that parents of minors must think more than twice before they decide to immigrate to a country where your child is no longer yours. No amount of money, opportunity or the promise of good life is worth it. We must read the fine print with a very good magnifying glass before we decide to go and live in another country.
Mired Mirage

PS: Even if the children are reunited with their parents or grandparents the children Abhigyan and Eshvarya must have forgotten their parents, their mother tongue and all things connected with their culture. I hope Sagarika and Anurup Bhattacharya had the sense to become more fluent in Norvegian language  because now that must be the only language they would be able to connect with their children in.
Mired Mirage

Friday, December 03, 2010

Churidar Pajamas

Churidar Pajamas
My elder daughter, hence forth referred to as Eldau, bought some lovely babyish kurtas, so cute that I would have gladly traded my hard earned silver on my head for the coal on any ones head and the mounds of gradually accumulated fat for a flat as a washing board tummy! She wore one of them with an old pair of tailor stitched pajamas and the ill fitting pajamas promptly made a churrr… sound and tore. It seemed as if the pajamas had decided to give me a hint of how the fitting ought to have been. It looked as if a triangular piece of cloth was missing!

A churidar pajama is a piece of art as well as science and if one saw the making of it one would marvel at the ingenuity of the person who first invented it. If I were a churidar wearing person, I would take off my hat, if I wore or owned one, and salute the guy or the gal who invented it. As it is, I do admire that person every time I see a churidar or think about it, which is about once in two years, but considering my age, it would make it about 27 times in my life, give or take 2 or 3, since I probably admired nothing but myself and my mom as a baby and young child.

A churidar is all about diagonals. Nowhere else would diagonals hold such pride of place other than in pipings (these are stuff found on the edges of necks in blouses and kurtas.) as they do in a churidar. A churidar pajama is an almost skin tight thing and it fits so beautifully only because of the elasticity accorded by the cloth cut and stitched diagonally. If the cloth had not been cut diagonally, no power on this earth could have succeeded in putting a pair of legs in the pajamas.

Well, when the pajamas gave way, Eldau handed them to me to mend. I am the mom of Eldau as you may have guessed and moms cannot be moms unless they do stuff for their kids even if the kids are post doctoral research scholars or themselves moms or even grandmoms. So, I promptly offered to not only mend the pajamas but also stitch another pair for her.

The cutting and stitching of a churidar is something that the best minds cannot remember without a draft. I am an old and forgetful person and without the required draft. All I remembered was the diagonals and the stitching of a bag. One has to make an envelope kind of thing and stitch a funny bag first so that the legs come all diagonally and hence elastic and there is no wastage of cloth. As I have already told you it’s an amazing art or science depending on which amazes you more. Or if voodoo amazes you better then it is a piece of superb voodoo.

When I decide to do something I always do it. That’s why I never decide to do anything worthwhile but only mundane stuff like pajamas. So here I was trying my hand at churidars on the sole basis of diagonals and no wastage formula. But the bag was an elusive thing so I decided to use my imagination and cut the pajamas thinking I was cutting them out of a bag and imagining where what would join. Believe me , I did not waste a cm of cloth! I imagined and cut and stitched and the pajamas are ready to be delivered. I am as proud of myself as a peahen. The only thing is that no peahen has ever had to possibly contend herself with fitting her Eldau into any pajamas, churidar or otherwise, in the long history of peahenhood.

I am all on tenterhooks till the Eldau says, ‘yeyyyyyyy,( or more likely, yubbyyyyyy…) they fitted.’ It would be extremely amazing if they fitted her and extremely amazingly hilarious if they did not! Anyway, I have mended her old pajamas and added the missing triangle piece of cloth that the tailor had forgotten. Now, that sure is some consolation. Wish me luck please. Tomorrow the Elsil( also known as elder son in law) comes and collects them for my Eldau.

Mired Mirage

Note: You could also wish Eldau luck, less for getting into the pajamas and more for managing to successfully get out of them. Don’t they say.’ the proof of pajamas is more in getting out of them than in getting into them?’ Or was it something about a pudding?

A guide to Hindi words:

Churidar= tight fitting pajamas worn in India and Pakistan
Kurta= shirt, here it refers to one worn with salwars and pajamas
Salwar= kind of trousers worn in India and Pakistan

Mired Mirage

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Systemic Hijack of Culture

In the last few years there has been a systemic attempt to hijack religion, culture and nationality in the name of ancient values in many parts of the world. It has happened in our neighbouring countries and frequently in our own country. Somehow, fortunately in India, so far, such attempts have been made and have usually died their natural death. But looking at other countries we cannot afford to be complacent.
Recently we had attacks on pub going women. Not much action has been taken against the perpetrators of this act. Nor has the society made sufficient show of their anger at the wanton act. Now a group of young women have started a campaign on their blog to collect pink underwear and send them to the perpetrators of these mindless acts of trying to subjugate people to their way of thinking through acts of force.
The idea of the whole campaign, The Pink Chaddi campaign, does not seem to go down well with people who don't understand the underlying purpose of it. The idea is to mock, to trivialize a section of society which wants to assume the role of guardians of society.
True, its also attention grabbing, but then the more people, specially the young, realise the dangers inherent in any sort of dicta being issued by any section of society, even when they are non violent,( in the case under discussion they were violent too! ) the better.
A number of articles have been written about the dangers of allowing other people to dictate our lives. I too wrote one, but did any of them serve the purpose? Absolutely not. So if this method serves the purpose, then what's wrong with it? It’s not hurting anyone. It’s just making people aware of the dangers of letting someone else takeover the reins of our lives.
Drinking or pubs might not be the ideal things in life. Any number of other activities might also injure us. Do we abdicate the responsibility of teaching what is right or wrong, moral or immoral to any self proclaimed guardians of our society and culture? Do we inculcate the sense of right and wrong in our own children when they are growing up and then not trust them when they are adults? Do we assume that our progeny would never become adults enough to make their own choices? The choice is our own and the time to make it is right now. Tomorrow will be too late. The whole world is reeling under these tendencies which manifest themselves very innocuously and by the time we will wake up it will be too late.
You can deal with a few alcoholics in society, you can deal with most other ills but once the right to choose has been frittered away, there is nothing more left to deal with except dealing with the business of survival itself. Cannot we see what is happening around in our neighbouring countries? When it starts it commences with simple values that many people in a society hold dear. So it is allowed to go on for a few years. By the time people realise that these are no longer their values that are being thrust upon them, the stranglehold of such groups is too strong to break free or to even protest.
If Indian culture or even the Indian way of life has survived so many invasions and centuries of foreign rule it is only because of the reason of our flexibility, adaptability and the non rigid nature of our religion and culture. Take that away and nothing worth cherishing will be left. Even a non believer was accepted in our fold. There are examples of debates being held on all kinds of issues including what was dharma, truth and the like. Most other societies had a holy book to tell them how to live. We believed in finding our own answers. If this special and distinct quality of the Indian way of life does not survive there is nothing left to distinguish Indian values from any other or one religion from the other. How can we, in the name of this culture or religion, do the very opposite of what we stand for?
Even if we go by our Constitution, which we should, I am sure the basic principle is of freedom without any discrimination. How and why are we discriminating or allowing anyone to discriminate between the sexes, age groups of adults? How can we assume to preach to adults? In case we do not consider young people to be adults even at the legal age of marriage or using their franchise then we ought to increase that age assuming Indian minds do not mature like the rest of the world's.

Mired Mirage

PS:I wrote this article during the height of the pink chaddi controversy.I did not post it on my blog at that time due to some vague reasons. I don't even remember them now. :) The reason why i am posting it now is because someone pointed out to me this article which mentions a few Hindi blogs including mine regarding this topic.

Mired Mirage

Friday, January 16, 2009

Rachida Dati and Being A Woman

Being a woman is not easy. Being a working woman appears to be tough. Being a working woman who is in the public eye appears to be tougher. Rachida Dati, the French minister of justice is a brand new mother. There is nothing unusual about it. She is 43. That too is not unusual these days. Lots of women are having babies in their forties. What is unusual is her being back at office, attending meetings, just five days after delivering her baby by caesarean section. I for one can’t say how good that is for her health. If her obstetrician has allowed her and she feels fit enough, good for her. Who are we to intrude?
The trouble is that things that would not raise an eyebrow in case of men, tend to get everyone’s hackles up very often in case of women. (not that there could ever be a similar example of a man delivering a baby and joining work!) Sometimes, like in this case, one can’t even complain. What she has done, should justifiably be hers and her business alone. A lot of people could have been admiring her for her commitment to her work, her resilience, her will power. But here she appears to have generated a controversy. Women, specially the feminists, see this as an act of treason to their sex. They feel and rightly so, that her example could be used by employers to undermine the hard- fought and harder-won maternity rights.
A man could have a heart bypass, get a leg amputated, or donate a kidney and go to work any day he chose to and no one would bother to judge him. In Rachida’s case, the feminists would have been on her side had the traditionalists been sanctioning her for being a careless mother. But here are women, who want the right to choose more than anything else, denying Rachida the very same right! Does not seem right and yet, can they be blamed?
This act of the minister might not, though, lead to a law denying women the maternity leave; yet, it might change the expectations of the employers, especially in case of women occupying higher posts. They might expect another woman, high up on the corporate ladder to emulate her. But should that be her problem? Should that stop her from doing what she thinks is right? Or is it that she is doing this only out of a sense of insecurity? Is it that she feared that if she did not join office soon enough, she would lose her job? If a woman with her kind of powerful and prestigious job succumbs to such worries and pressures what would be the plight of her lesser sisters?
‘Sisters’ seems to be the keyword. It’s like preindependence India, when every Indian had to wear his/her nationalism in the form of khadi. The value of choice had to take a backseat when the more immediate one of independence was at stake. Perhaps what women expect from her is the same. Renounce the value of choice for the more immediate one of right to maternity benefits, the right to not to be penalized for being women and being mothers. Often women have to choose between motherhood and career.
Sisters, sisterhood… however sinister the implications of being put in a category, a class might be, yet women have to unite under a banner, which might as well be SISTERHOOD – a symbol of WOMEN OF THE WORLD.

Mired Mirage

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The latest nursery rhyme from Hyderabad

Here is the latest nursery rhyme from Hyderabad,India.

Raju Raju
Yes papa.

Cheating the shareholders?
No papa.

Telling lies?
No papa.

Open the company's balance sheet.
Ha ha ha !

Mired Mirage

PS: Inspired by the latest corporate fraud.

Mired Mirage