Where do you answer Nature’s call?

What do you do when you have to answer Nature’s call? No, you do not wonder how Nature managed to get your number and call you up on the cell. Nature’s call is when you feel the urge go to the toilet. Typically this would mean you going to the toilet to empty yourself, but there are so many people who have no toilet to go to. Which is why they end up urinating and defecating in the open near some roads, fields, or vast open lands.

Based on the joint estimates done by WHO and UNICEF in 2010, 15 percent of the people in the world defecate in the open because they don’t have access to a toilet. Indians make up 60% of these numbers. These are people who are exposed on to unhealthy, and unsanitary conditions on a daily basis. This impacts not just their own health but the health of the babies born in such areas. This impacts the future of our nation.

2.4 million children die under the age of 5 in India every year. 20%-25% of these are on account of diarrhea. The relationship to sanitation however has been made clear. If you look at India’s Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC), then Infant Mortality Rate reduced by 4 infants per 1000. This clearly shows that with better sanitation and access to toilets, more children will live to fulfil their lives. Not just that, children who lived the first year of their lives in areas with better sanitation grew taller.

How does poor sanitation and lack of toilets affect health? It is simple. Defecating in the open can cause fecal matter to mix with the river’s water supply. The same water that will be then used in their homes for washing, drinking, and cooking. Not all people go to isolated fields or river banks to defecate. Children in particular are known to defecate near their houses. This causes an influx of flies and other germs in the vicinity of the home. On account on poor sanitation, the same hands that were used to clean or remove fecal matter may not be clean enough to prepare food, or wash clothes, and can lead to transmission of diseases.

This leads to a direct impact on the economy of the nation as well. Due to the lack of proper sanitation India faces a loss of 2.4 trillion INR every year, or a per capita loss of 2180 INR. Out of this, the largest chunk of 1.74 billion INR is spent on health (checkups, treatment, medicines and such). Of this, the poorer families suffer the most. Sometimes they lack the necessary funds to treat the illness of their children, or must suffer wage loss while they do so.

Sanitation and toilets are the basic rights of everyone. It is also something that we take for granted most of the time. Something that is as basic as a toilet or latrine is actually something that is out of reach for a large population of this country. This lack of facilities is not only affecting their daily lives by having them go away from their house to defecate, but also leads to many diseases. The severity is such that many children will not live beyond the age of 5. It cannot be stressed enough that it serves as a fundamental right of all citizens.

For my research on this, I mainly used two papers at the Indian Sanitation Portal and the Water and Sanitation Program.

Domex, HUL’s flagship sanitation brand, currently runs the Domex Toilet Academy (DTA) programme. Domex Toilet Academy was launched on 19th November 2013. It aims to become a sustainable and long-term solution to provide sanitation that benefits the local community and helps stimulate the local economy. The Toilet Academy makes toilets accessible and affordable, while promoting the benefits of clean toilets & good hygiene. Our effort has resulted in bringing the change in the villages of Maharashtra and Orissa and we aim to build 24000 toilets by 2015 in rural areas faced with the problem of open defecation.

You can bring about the change in the lives of millions of kids, thereby showing your support for the Domex Initiative. All you need to do is “click” on the “Contribute Tab” on www.domex.in and Domex will contribute Rs.5 on your behalf to eradicate open defecation, thereby helping kids like Babli live a dignified life.

Written for the ‘Toilet for Babli’ at Indiblogger. 

Where do you answer Nature’s call?

30 Days 30 Letters: Apology Note

Dear Readers,

It has been obvious for quite some time now that I have not posted a new entry for the 30 Days 30 Letter prompt. Due to some reasons (that include my own lack of proper planning when it came to this prompt) and conflicts, I was not able to post letters while the original schedule ran. It so happens that now I am not able to bring myself to write more posts for this, even though said conflicts or reasons do not remain. There is a sense of disconnect, and after some deliberation I have decided to that I will not post instead of doing a half ass job of it.

The plan now is that I will write the pending letters and save them in my drafts, to be posted only when I have completed the whole bunch. This is not the first time I have failed at completing a blog prompt, and I do not want to repeat it.

I plan to resume normal posts soon.

30 Days 30 Letters: Apology Note

Dear Tejaswee

Dear Tejaswee,
One of the few letters that I have been absolutely certain about writing since I read about the challenge, is this one. It is truly sad that we didn’t talk while you were still alive. It’s not that I didn’t know that you existed, I did read bits about on your mother’s blog and that was all of it. I know that there are many of us who would love to have known you from before, and it makes me wonder. Would you like have been different had so many different people been your friends? Would it be different enough, for you to have been here right now, causing me to write this letter to someone else entirely?

I still remember that night when I got the call from Shail Di. I was walking back to my desk from the office canteen when I answered her phone. Something about that call made me feel anxious, and I wondered if something had happened to someone I know. She told me in a very broken tone that you had passed away. Back then, a bunch of us were following your updates on your mom’s Google Buzz. I knew that you had not been well, and were later admitted to the hospital with Dengue. We had hoped that you would recover.

It is after this call that I started reading your blog. There are still times when I find myself reading your blog, knowing that there will be no new posts, but still chuckling at the ones that you had written. One of my fondest posts, is actually from your mom’s blog. She wrote about how you wanted something ‘nice’ to eat which would also be something unhealthy. She tried to offer all sorts of ‘healthy’ stuff like milk instead. Mothers, I know :P But you got it right, the unhealthy foods taste so yum. I want to high-five you for that.

Has anyone told you that animals love you? While pets do love their family members, what you shared with Proton and Sher Khan was just marvelous. One look at the lot of you together, and it is obvious that there is a special bond. A part of me is a little bit jealous too, seeing the way Sher Khan bonded with you. Isn’t he such an adorable cat?

The letter that you wrote to your future daughter, is one of the most beautiful pieces that I have ever read. It has such a free flow of emotions to it. I think why this letter is special, is the fact that you wrote it when you were a teenager yourself on the cusp of adulthood yourself. You wrote it in a manner that made one relate to their own life, and what they would like to have from someone older than them at such a point in their life.

You wanted to adopt a girl. It was your one resolution that you knew wouldn’t be broken. Now, a girl has a loving family because of you. A family where she will be loved and cherished as much as you were. Your legacy :)

Love,
Hrishikesh

Tejaswee Rao is the daughter of IHM. Fondly called TJ by friends, she died from complications as a result of Dengue. You can read the posts she wrote at her lovely blog. This letter was written as part of the 30 days 30 letters prompt: A letter to A Deceased person you wish you could talk to.

Dear Tejaswee

Dear (Ex) Roomie

Dear (Ex) Roomie,

While I’ve had many roommates over the years, you were the last one I shared an apartment with. It was an odd turn of events that I spoke to a common friend about wanting to shift to a different part of the city because I didn’t want to live alone, when we didn’t even know that we existed. Two meetings later, we had moved in together because we were looking for a new place. What followed was years of companionship and endless talks.

In spite of our initial observations of each other, it wasn’t difficult to start talking. Once we got on talking, one topic would lead to another and we would end up forgetting what we had started off in the first place. While it is rare to have this with someone, it is rarer to have it on for the amount of time we did. And I can say this from my experience of having gone through roommates. Compound to this the fact of our wide difference of beliefs and you have got some interesting conversations.

Of course I put up a lot with you because you routinely got me chocolates, the cookies from Karachi Bakery, jawbreakers and those big lollipops with swirls in them. I also like to think that you put with me because you were basking in the awesomeness that is me. There might be a difference of opinion on your part about that, but then that is ok. You must be confused by all the awesomeness that I speak of :P

I fondly remember the nights we spent at Barista. Sometimes they would have loads of conversations while we sat on the ledge outside with our backs to the glass, and the other times we would spend time inside with hot chocolate by your side, and latte by mine; reading our own books instead.

It’s of course ironical that we don’t share apartments now is the opposite of the reasons that I moved in, that I want to live alone now. When under the same roof, we would always run into each other even with different work timings. Now that it doesn’t happen, we will catch up with dinner sometime this week then.

 

Written for the 30 days 30 letters prompt: A letter to someone you don’t talk to as much as you’d like to

 

Dear (Ex) Roomie

Dear Bindu kun & Pixie

Dear Bindu kun,

I wrote a letter to you some time ago, because I had a brand new fountain pen and ink flowed from it so smoothly that I couldn’t help but write. Now that I am doing this blog challenge, I cannot help but write this as well.

We met as fellow members of a book group which I was inducted in to by my lovely sister after I had sent her a book. There are so many ways it could have not happened. It could have been a different book, or sent a different time, or perhaps she could have graduated to a Kindle sooner, or might have missed out her morning tea that day, but certain set of events took place in the right order, with the right people for me to have found you.

I have said this before, and I will say it again that I am in awe of you. How you are able to manage work, a family, consuming books with that voracious appetite of yours, and cook is beyond me at times. Particularly when I struggle with something like making Maggi on certain work days. While we are on the topic of food, the pictures of your weekend kitchen are just not fair. Nuh uh. How do you expect us to sit on this side of the screen, and look at all the delicious cakes you bake, and stews you simmer? The only silver lining is that we don’t have it as tough as your immediate neighbors who even have to manage with sounds and aroma of the food being prepared. Well boo-hooo for them.

Do you know that you’re the person who’ sent me the most number of books? I liked the irony of you having sent American Gods and Religion for Atheists together :P . Oh and the cake and cookies you sent around new year’s were absolutely yum. One of the few rare moments that my friends or colleagues were explicitly forbidden (and I saw to it) from having even a single bite of the load. I had it all for myself. My precious.

When we do meet, I am looking forward to your cooking the most. I want to take in the sights and sounds of you getting about to making food. I have always believed that cooking for someone, is converting your thoughts and feelings for them into something physical, and then sharing it with them. I am sure I would end up licking something shamelessly :D

Thank you for the food, the books, and the friendship.
Love,

Count Santulan

 

 

Dear Pixie,

For someone who got so involved in naming a rat snake that liked to say hi to the sister of mine, you don’t like the crawlies so much. But they’re so cute, no? Scuttling towards you just to say hi or hug you :P . Ok, I will digress from this topic lest you get tempted to want to punch me. Not that you don’t have reasons already :D

Someday, when I have saved enough money to, I would like to make a trip to your place. I would like to sleep in at your place at least once, so that I can wake up early and kick you awake, or just yank off the covers if I am feeling kind. On second thoughts, I might prod you with a stick instead so that you didn’t kick me when I do wake you up. Or we can let you sleep in peace if you’re willing to bribe me by making Akki roti and hot rasam. Yeah, that should work out real well :D

You’re another person who’s like family but we haven’t met in the flesh yet. Had we been in the same city, I would be eating a number of meals at your place. Or call in with ice cream at impromptu times, because ice cream.  Then you would tell me off on how so much ice cream is not good for me, and would end up eating half of it so that I don’t have to eat all of it. Such a generous soul you are :P

But seriously, you’re the person who genuinely cares about people in your life in a manner that is not over bearing, and makes one feel warm from the inside. When you do get here, I can dump a bunch of books at your place for you to read. Personal recommendations from my personal collection, that I think you’d like to read.

Thank you for sending me pictures of the creepy crawlies that you meet on your walks (and in turn creeping out your husband in the process). I promise to treat you to puffs and patisseries when we meet.

Love,

Hrishi

 

 

Written for the 30 Days 30 Letters prompt: A letter to someone you wish you could meet. Other bloggers can add their links to the linky below:


 

Dear Bindu kun & Pixie

Dear Gigi

Dear Gigi,

Before I get down to saying anything else, I must thank you for sending me a copy ‘Of Marriageable Age’. I had spent years looking for it, but was not able to find a copy of it. You cannot imagine the joy opening your package brought me, when I finally held the book in my hands. I haven’t gotten around to re-reading it yet, just like I have not read Hedgehog yet, but I will do so in due time and have full joy in doing so. The fact that chocolates came along made time stop for a moment.

Sometimes it is funny, how facebook affects people. In this case, brought us together via common friends. While we are yet to meet in person, we have spoken so much that it would seem we’ve met so many times before, probably over coffee. You’d love that :D . For some reason, it seems so very natural to have developed this level of comfort with you.

You’re such a widely read person, and I understand that I am not the first person to tell you that, and will not be the last. I have a fondness for people who love to read, people who get absorbed in worlds that are not their own, and live the lives of others. It sort of makes you appreciate the things in life you wouldn’t otherwise.  Maybe someday I will get to read what you write. Not write in the book sense of manner, but scribbling and meanderings. They offer a much more insight into what goes in the mind of the writer, or so I think.

Some day, I imagine we will meet over pancakes, with some blueberries maybe. We could follow that up with a visit to the city museum. Remember the pictures that you had shared with me? It has such wonderful sights, and how the light plays with the carvings, shadows and stone playing with each other. I would definitely like to visit your favourite book store, and pick out a book for you. A nice hardback preferably. A book bought without any prior reading upon, except what the cover offers and the wonder of what the pages bring forth.

Perhaps when we meet, it will be like meeting an old friend after a long time. Maybe we will not just be internet friends.

Love,

H

 

Written for the 30 days 30 letters prompt: Your favorite internet friend. Others can add their links to the linky below:

Dear Gigi

Dear B

B is an entirely different person from D, whom I wrote to here. I will use B instead of her name for confidentiality reasons.

 

Dear B,

I remember writing a status update quite some time ago in which I was ‘A’ and you were ‘B’. The status was about how much A likes B among other people, and sometime later you addressed yourself as B in our chats. It wasn’t that I hadn’t expected you to get it, but your mentioning it in such a nonchalant manner made me smile.

I had expressed my feelings to you online in one of our chats, since you were in a different city. You replied that you love me like a friend. The feeling sunk in after I woke up the next morning and was having a bath. I felt a strange sense of frustration a punched the bucket of hot water really hard, which caused the hot water to spill over me. It brought an important realization to me, about me and you that made me laugh the very next moment. I had seen a bunch of guys, some of them my friends go from loving to hating someone in the snap of fingers because they had refused to reciprocate the feelings.

And here I was, doing the same. I realized that as much as it would seem natural, I couldn’t bring myself to hate you. I liked you because of who you are, and the fact that you were being yourself, only made you appreciate you even more. The idea that you don’t feel for somebody just because they feel the same for you, seemed so unnatural all of a sudden.

After all these days, I never find it uncomfortable talking with you. I still feel the urge to send you a picture of the yummy spicy paneer wrap from Goodies, when I pass it. I remember your reaction the first time I told you about it, and rubbed it in your face that you don’t have a Goodies café in your city. Well, it didn’t help that they would be out of the wrap for the next entire week whenever I would go to the café, so I am afraid of that happening again. :P

One of the fondest memories that I have was of when we had been to chocolate room. We talked, talked, and talked to no ends. We laughed so heartedly, I am surprised that no one asked us to tone it down. One of the few times when I lost track of what I had ordered, how hungry I was.

Many people do say what we have as you friendzoning me. I don’t understand why the term is used in such a derogatory manner. On the other hand, there were times when I worried that I had relationship-zoned you, put you in an awkward situation where someone you are great friends with, asks you out, and you have an awkward moment thinking of how to respond. If I could take it all back, then I would. However that would mean taking back some of the memories I have of us, and our conversations we have had since. I remember how we spoke the peace that comes from coming back home tired and just spend the night staring at the stars. The idea of it made you so happy.

Here’s to more conversations, and memories till we meet next time. It goes without saying that you have to get me chocolates.

 

Written for the 30 Days 30 Letters prompt: A letter to your Ex-boyfriend/girlfriend/love/crush. Other bloggers can the links to their posts in the linky below:

 

Dear B