Posts filed under ‘Me & Media’

The Book-Keeper

Books mean different things to different people. To some it’s about intellect, to others it means to have bestsellers on their bed-side, more for the sake of being able to talk about it the next day, for some it is even a mean to find ‘inner peace’, boost self confidence et al. It is equally amazing and intriguing that a ‘Book’ could have its own unique meaning for each one of us.

To me it is all and only about comfort that comes from the subject of the book, be it history, chick-lit, mythology, fiction, psychology, classics and of course for the child in me ‘fables, Enid Blyton, R.K Naryanan and Uncle Pai’s Amar Chitra Katha collection J

A mixed bag of books

If in Bangalore do visit Higgin Bothams on MG Road, they have the most impressive children’s book section

.Uncle Pai's collection

 

January 25, 2014 at 10:34 pm 1 comment

Shopping for Home-Grown Brands

Weekends are for shopping!  Ask any homemaker {single, double, nuclear or joint family}, the needs and wants may differ, but the agenda is common to all; ‘stock-up’ the kitchen, fill-up the shelves, re-fill the refrigerator.

Last Sunday, while the purpose of my escapade to the market remained the same, the way to accomplish it was different and turned out to be an experience I would like to repeat each time. I decided to pick up products that are of an Indian make.

Think to yourself for a minute, how tough can it be to ensure that whatever goes into your shopping basket, be it a pack of detergent, a carton of oats or a bar of chocolate is of an Indian brand? In short, the idea is to ‘Buy Indian’!


Branche_FMCG_Retail_400px

Sounds laughably easy? I thought so too! But it isn’t so.  But it isn’t because before picking-up any product you have to cross check and be sure it’s not just made in India but a Home Grown Brand.  Basically it means leave behind your habit of grabbing and loading products in the cart.

For instance, I am a big Kellogg fan and always purchase a mix of museli, chocos, fruit loops, et al. Now can you think of any Indian brand which offers the same variety? There is one plain, inexpensive brand of cornflakes by Mohan Meakins which many of us grew-up eating until international brands took over the market and this humble packet was pushed to the corner. However, milk, curd and dairy products are easiest on the list to strike off thanks to the White Revolution in India and the fact that we are the largest milk producing (and consuming) nation in the world. For biscuits, sweets, small bites and snacks, home grown brands like Parle-G, Britannia, etc. offer enough options to spoil you silly.

Shopping list is yours, goods in the basket are for your consumption, what you pick is ultimately your choice; do you want to willingly make a compromise? Perhaps, No. Is it worth a try, of course it is!

Why should you attempt an effort like this, which would complicate the whole shopping affair?

  • It will help you focus more on the product, its purpose than the brands you choose
  • You consciously stop paying price incurred by the brand on its marketing expenses
  • Support our economy and small Indian producers
  • Gandhi on our currency so be Gandhian in the way we buy
  • It is FUN! Break away from your heavily influenced shopper’s mindset

Try this the next time you step out with your shopping bag and you will see the picture of the Mahatma on your money notes smile back at you!

PS: Now I have the freedom to choose accompaniments that go in my bowl of cornflakes, a bit of chocolate sauce, nuts, dried/ fresh fruits or a little drizzle of Roohafza, it’s both desi & delicious.

October 21, 2013 at 1:11 pm 3 comments

Arian needs your help!

Mucopolysaccharidoses II… don’t know the meaning of this word and finding it hard to pronounce? Imagine the plight of 11 year old Arian Chowdhury who is suffering from this extremely rare genetic disorder also called the Hunter’s Syndrome. Fortunately, treatment is unavailable; unfortunately it’s beyond his parents to afford it.

Hunter’s Syndrome is caused by mutation that leads to deposition of biomolecules in cells and as cells get progressively clogged, organs begin to fail, causing death. There around 2000 people reportedly afflicted with Hunter Syndrome in different part of the world of these approximately 500 are in the United States, 30 in Canada, 2 in New Zealand, few in various countries and  Arian here in India. It is an awfully painful and life threatening condition for which the only available treatment is Enzyme Replacement Therapy.

While this therapy can prove to be highly beneficial for Hunter Syndrome patients it is extremely expensive and one of the costliest drugs ever developed. This medicine is the only hope for Arian now. Developed by Shire Human Genetic Therapies Ltd, the drug is not yet available in India however with prior permission from Drug Controller General of India it can be imported as it is a life-saving drug.

The cost of the drug is the only factor that has not yet made it possible for Arian to receive the treatment as a weekly dose costs over 2 lakhs. Considering that the therapy is to be administered on a regular and on a long term basis, the expense is estimated to run into several lakhs, probably close to a Crore annually.

 Arian is not seeking financial aid, only a minute of your time to sign-up & support his plea addressed to the Union Health Minster of India.

To join  his fight for survival and right to quality life and treatment, click & register http://change.org/arian

Arian

Want to take this beyond signing-up the plea?  Please contact his father Sib Sankar Chowdhury @ +91 9831361116. You can also drop in a line to me in case you need more details about his medical history and case details

September 13, 2013 at 11:47 am 1 comment

Basking in the Blog’s Glory!

Some of you may have read it already, and for others here is a copy of the article that was recently published in Hindustan Times, HT City about the blog! Basically this once upon a time anonymous blog now has a face which happens to be mine.

Fishing for ideas in Kerala. Trip courtesy Vasundhra Sarovar Premiere

Fishing for ideas in Kerala. Trip courtesy Vasundhra Sarovar Premiere

My love for Delhi is no secret and there’s more than one reason that keeps it alive {despite the badly behaved men, rich- spoilt brats and beggars} . Colleagues here in Bombay fondly talk about the city’s food, greenery, chilly winters and warm afternoons. How about telling me what makes the city tick-click & happening for you.

PS: Going to be in Delhi again this weekend and looking forward to another fun-filled trip and some interesting experiences that I could perhaps share with you all.

September 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm 4 comments

A Hospital Stay is No Holiday

Open Magazine recently did a story on the emergence of luxury hospitals in India,  having worked in the healthcare sector long enough I know the story is not new and nor are the players in the private healthcare space who have created this niche. Think about it; when you sick or a family member is sick and I mean really unwell that need of the hour is beyond a family physician, how you prioritize your treatment options:

  • Figure out which specialist to consult

Or

  • Which hospital has the most comfortable mattress

 

  •  A hospital that offers high quality services, clean hygienic room and surroundings with round the clock attending doctors and medical staff

Or

  •  A hospital with cozy Coffee Shop and a plush lounge area with a Spa

 

  • Ask family and friends how they would rate a X hospital in terms of medical facilities based on past experience

Or

Ask family and friends how they would rate X hospital based on the grand repertoire of F&B menu they have for the “clients”

When I was a teenager and visited Indraparastha Apollo Hospital for the first time that was it! I declared if anything was to happen to me, it should only be this hospital where I should be admitted. Alas! I am not a teenager anymore; hospital is a place where one is out of need not choice! Even if I have a family member admitted last thought on my mind would be to avail spa services over pacing up and down in the waiting area or sitting by the beside of the patient.

Of course it’s a feel good factor, the ambience, services everything adds to cheer. Analjeet Singh, Founder Max Healthcare introduced an innovative idea of setting-up coffee shops in the lobbies so that anyone who steps in smells Coffee beans and not phenol. Simple logic of ‘First Impression’ but does it last?

Oddly, it doesn’t because, you still have to wait for your turn to meet the doc despite an appointment and paying a steep consultation fee. You do end-up spending extra 500 (on an average) on Coffee or food and no matter how nice, beautiful and pretty a hospital maybe, you want to exist it as soon as you can. After all a hospital is not a social hangout zone and never will be.

The business of healthcare is exciting and interests me to check out a new one. It makes me happy to work in one but I so wish we de-clutter the science of curing and the touch of care. Remember the logic, keep it simple silly! It works each time.

I would rather have polite staff (read my post on Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi), speedy processes, an attentive nurse checking on my patient, counseling family on the diagnosis and condition of the patient, explaining the nature of tests, et al than worrying about what to serve for lunch (if he can eat at all).

On one hand you have Fortis Memorial Research Institute (Gurgaon); the newest medicity equipped with Theatre, Spa, Shopping Arcade and an Art Gallery and on other hand the same group has a hospital in Mumbai which has slum right across and kids defecating in open. So much for a view from the window or hygiene in the vicinity, it would be an appreciative initiative if the hospital built a few public loos for the slum dwellers to use. Why should they do it? It makes a good story which means lots of positive PR, the hospital earns Goodwill, will be seen as a healthcare provider offering access to basic amenities to the poor and helping in improving the area too.

Insurance pays then what reason I have to complain if luxury comes as part of the package with the hospital visit? Well I’d rather choose to spend and unwind with a holiday where one can enjoy stress-free indulgence.

Perhaps for the benefit of all, I should write a post on understanding the dynamics of your hospital visit or how to be a smart patient and caregiver. Your thoughts?

April 3, 2013 at 3:47 pm 1 comment

Perils of Early Puberty

Decades ago when child marriage was prevalent, parents married off their daughters at 8-10 years and kept her till she attained puberty. In other words once sexually active she was sent off to her husband’s place. This meant teenage pregnancies, many children, deaths during child birth. While it still happens in parts of the country but post Independence Govt. made many laws including Hindu Marriage Act and Muslim Marriage Laws. Perhaps because law is a lady they also made a few to check crime against women:

  • Child marriages is a criminal offence- She has to be 18 to marry
  • Sex with a girl below 18 even with her consent is termed as Rape

Delhi High Court ruling that a Muslim girl at 15 can marry if she has attained puberty is going to make things dirty for the girl child. The verdict was given for a case where a 16 yr old who married a boy of her choice and wants to live with him against her parents’ consent. The court has also instructed the couple and in-laws to appear before the Child Welfare Committee once in every six months till the girl attains majority. How I wish HC also told the in-laws to ensure she completes education and does not bear a child till she turns 18.  Why couldn’t they have restricted the verdict to this case only, why turn it into a ruling applicable to the community at large.

What if:

  • · A Muslim girl’s parents want to marry her off at 15 and it is imposed on her?
  • There is sex without consent in marriage and is forced?

Does it mean a Muslim girl:

  • Is physically and mentally mature at 15?
  • An early pregnancy will not pose risk to her health?

Who is responsible for:

  • Her education & career?
  • The husband decides to abandon her after an year or two?

Will law bridge the gap:

  • The permissible age for a boy to marry in India is 21. So her husband could be anywhere 6 or more years older than her.
  • More importantly, in each marriage where the girl is between 15-17 yrs will her husband and in laws expected to report to the nearby court reporting on the girl’s well being

On one hand the clerics and orthodox Muslim board welcome the decision. I hope the Supreme Court intervenes and issues a stay on the order. Else we will not even have words to say how sorry things will be…

Is this is not a compromise of her Fundamental Rights and Freedom? Are they not enough crime already happening against the girl child? In cases of baby Falak, Afreen what was the HC able to do which now it has gone ahead and given a clean slate to crush the already weak one?

June 7, 2012 at 11:02 pm 7 comments

The Whole Blood Story

Every time I hear an announcement on the radio or read a tweet ‘Urgently need units of a particular blood group, it scares me.  You too should be worried because if the blood hasn’t been tested for various infections like Hepatitis, HIV before transfusion then this life- saving process can prove to be dangerous.

Every authorized and registered blood bank has to conduct certain set of mandatory tests before blood can be issued. While most of you might be aware that blood is a carrier of many infections and can have immediate and long term affects. Did you know it’s mainly because of the White Blood Cells (WBC) contamination? And as per the Blood Safety Standards WBC content should be removed before transfusion.

Just like you would know a patient suffering from dengue may require transfusion of platelets, one of the blood components. In most cases, patients do not require whole blood. According to the International good clinical practices & National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), the blood should be separated into its various components (Packed red cell, platelets, granulocytes and CRYO- for hemophilic and coagulation protein deficiency).

Here is a check list to follow, share and keep in mind during emergency situations:

  • Procure the blood components from licensed and reputed blood banks only
  • Insist on blood component alternative rather than the whole blood
  • Insist on blood which has already been tested for safety, for e.g. NAT tested blood (Nucleic Acid Amplification Test) helps in ruling out HIV, Hepatitis B and C at genetic level
  • Maintain ambient transportation conditions for blood or its components-please ask the blood bank for special boxes made for the purpose of transporting blood from the bank to hospital
  • Under no circumstance opt for paid for professional donation
  • Do not insist on fresh blood, as it means the blood has not been tested for various safety parameters

Always remember, most hospitals have tie-ups with blood banks and in case they do not have a particular group in stock they will assist you in procuring it. A patient can’t be refused blood transfusion if his guardians are unable to source donors of the same group. Most banks only need replacement of the units irrespective of the blood group of the donors.

Hospitals and Blood Banks charge you a fee for the blood components as every unit has to undergo a series of tests to make it ‘Near Zero Infection Free’

Must I add, blood donation can save lives and more importantly help many sick patients especially Thalesemic kids. All healthy individuals with hemoglobin of 11 + can volunteer to donate blood, do it do it even if you are scared of a prick.

November 3, 2011 at 3:08 pm 10 comments

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