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Cancer treatment in India

Healthcare services are in terrible condition in India and especially at government hospitals. I know that the situation is not same everywhere but its same more or less everywhere in this country. Government hospitals have either no facilities or they are super corrupt and private hospitals are so expensive that a regular person can not afford them. I know several people who have paid for vaccines or medicines at government hospitals which is supposed to be free. If I just have to talk about hospitals in Varanasi, which is the biggest center for health care services in entire Purvanchal (Eastern Uttar Pradesh which includes 17 districts), very big portion of Bihar state and Madhya Pradesh is full of patients all the time.

There are several government and private hospitals in Varanasi with Sir Sundar Lal Hospital at Banaras Hindu University or BHU being the biggest one. And even at this hospital seeing serious patients sleeping on the floor under open sky, doctors being not available or treatment being evil is never ever a big deal. I have heard of so many complaints where people say their patients just died because of bad services at BHU. In fact I have also personally experienced similar kind of behavior when I was there with a patient of four years whose head was broken, he was bleeding so hard and there was no doctor in the emergency ward. And when treatment started they did not have stitches. Anyways, it is still the biggest hospital of eastern UP and very big hope for a lot of people.

My most recent encounter with this hospital was when my mother noticed a small lump in her breast. We contacted a few doctors at some private hospitals or at doctor’s personal clinic and different ones had different opinion. But most of them said that it might be beginning stage of breast cancer and they will have to remove the whole breast which will be followed by radiation therapy and chemo might also be needed. It was a huge shock for me to hear that someone might be suffering with cancer in my family. Although my mother was absolutely fine with no pain in body or she just did not have any problem at all. I contacted many people and every one suggested me to at least see some doctors at BHU. We contacted oncology department at BHU and they advised FNAC test with mammography x-ray.

The results showed that my mother was suffering from first or second stage of cancer. I had no idea what to do. I was talking with many people, different ones had different opinions but most of them said that I should follow what doctors say at BHU. There is another cancer research hospital run by Indian Railways which is also kind of very famous in the area. A lot of people advised me to see the doctors there but I always had one thing in my mind I won’t start any treatment before getting advise of doctors at Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai. Tata Memorial Hospital is most probably the most famous cancer hospital in India. My mind had almost stopped working, I did not know what to do and there was a time when I thought that lets see what the doctors say at Railway hospital and I was preparing to go there.

At the same moment a friend of mine came at home and I told him that I was thinking to see the doctors at Railway Hospital today and then go to Mumbai tomorrow to see the doctors at Tata Memorial. But then he told me that if I am already planning to see the doctors at Tata Memorial why to even waste a day. Why not go there today. I also thought that I should not waste a day and I immediately arranged to travel to Mumbai. I have a few friends (I was expecting help especially from Alok and Yogesh) living in Mumbai and I informed them my mother’s situation and in fact one of them happened to know a doctor personally at TMC. Somehow Mr. Arun Pathak, who is like my elder brother and he is a social worker and a politician in Varanasi, also heard about my situation and immediately arranged my stay in Mumbai at an apartment which he had rented for himself.

When I arrived in Mumbai Yogesh came to pick me up from the airport and dropped me at his place. At the same time Mr. Pathak wanted me to stay at his place which was the biggest luxury possible in a city like Mumbai where hundreds of thousands of people have to sleep on the street but I had two apartments to live there. I spent a few nights at Mr. Pathak’s place. I arrived in Mumbai without my mother and went to TMC but unfortunately the doctor my friend knew was basically dealing with mouth cancer. So we could not see him. Anyways, everything seemed super organized at TMC. I was really amazed by hospital management: everything seemed to be working in order, staffs were very helpful, all the services were computerized, things working very smoothly, it seemed like a hospital which had some sense of hospital management and care for patients.

They looked at the FNAC and mammography report and asked me if I would like to get treatment started at TMC or if I just needed advise. I don’t know why but I said that I need the treatment. There were two categories of registration – general patients and private patients. If I get registered under general patients category then the cost of the treatment was going to be ten times cheaper than if I get registered under private patient category. They mentioned it clearly at that same moment that there won’t be any discrimination or different in treatment whether I get treatment under general patient category or private patient category. The only different would be of the rooms. The rooms of patients under general category are basically shared basis whereas rooms for patients under private category are private. Doctors are same, treatment is same…everything same but some luxury.

They provide bed only when the treatment is happening like during surgery or when chemo is being given for two three hours. Rest of the time the patients have to take care of themselves and I literally saw hundreds of people sleeping on the street outside the hotel who were there go get treatment. Those people would go to the hospital whenever it was needed otherwise street was their home for rest of the times. Sometimes they just live on the street for the entire duration of the treatment which might be even six-seven months or even more. The hospital also gave me an idea about the cost of the treatment immediately which was around 30,000 if I get treatment under general category or around 2,50,000 if I get treatment under private patient. I thought for a while and chose the private category.

My mother had always lived a very relaxed life and I did not want her to be in any kind of stress. Although the cost of the treatment was out of my budget because it was not only about paying for the treatment but I knew that traveling between Mumbai and Varanasi and other expenses were also going to be there. But I still made the decision of getting the treatment under private category. They registered me and sent me to the breast cancer department. There was a very big line but again everything was very well organized so it was not a big deal because at least I knew what was happening. Finally my number came, I was really scared because I did not know what the doctor was going to tell me, and finally entered in a room where I saw a lady doctor waiting for me.

There was something really good that they see only one patient at a time and give proper time otherwise at BHU there is one doctor surrounded by hundreds of patients and you just don’t know whats happening. The doctors saw all the reports and stared asking some questions related with my mother which I did not know. I asked her if she would like to talk with her on phone but she denied. Anyways, I called my mother on phone and tried to answer her questions. The doctor said that she would like to see the patient and without meeting the patient it won’t be possible for her to say anything. She said that in some case doctors might advise or give some suggestions but in case of breast cancer it is necessary to see the patient personally because it is necessary to feel the lump and size of breasts also matter which they need to see. Finally I arranged my mother to come to Mumbai and brought her to the hospital after a couple of days.

The doctors looked at all the reports, examined my mother personally and advised a few blood tests with biopsy. They said that FNAC was not enough and biopsy test was also needed. And in any case they were not going to rely on BHU test reports if we wanted the treatment there. So actually they advised so many different blood tests and during the same time they also advised us to meet with the radiation therapy doctor. We saw the radiation therapy doctor also, she also looked at the lump and said we had two options- either have the full breast removal followed by chemo and radiation therapy or just get the lump removed followed by the chemo radiation. I did not know what to do and I asked her for some time. We contacted some other doctors and all of them suggested us that let the doctor make the decision. During this time we got biopsy and other tests done.

And when we went to see the doctor again they said that a surgery will be performed and since the lump was not so big it is also possible to just remove the lump and not the entire breast. They again gave us an opportunity to get the surgery done at TMC, have medical protocol prepared by the doctors at TMC but have rest of the treatment like chemo followed by other doctors at BHU because it could have been easier for us. When doctor gave us this option my mother was also present there who immediately refused it because she had also seen the condition at BHU. She wanted to get the treatment at TMC only. By this time everything was almost clear but there was only suspicion regarding chemo cycles. The doctors said that final decision will be made after the surgery is done because the number of chemo cycles are decided based on the reports of lymph nodes checkup which are done during and post surgery.

They gave us two options- either we get surgery done at TMC after three months because there were already so many patients in line or we get the surgery done within a week at their another research center located in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai. This other center is also run by the same team but only the location was different. It was around 40 KMs from the old hospital. This new center of TMC was opened in Kharghar in the year 2002 and it was called Advanced Center for Treatment, Research & Education in Cancer. I was still a bit confused and did not want to miss any opportunity of taking advice of as many people as people. One of my friends relatives in Mumbai suggested me to see the doctors at a charitable hospital located in Mumbai called Millat Hospital.

I decided to at least see the doctors at Millat and see what they say. When I met with the doctor there, he also said that surgery will  be done, chemo will  be needed with radiation therapy. But they did not have radiation therapy available at Millat. Finally we made a decision that we will get all the treatments done at TMC only. We contacted the doctors at TMC and agreed on getting the surgery done at Kharghar center. They prepared all the papers and transferred the case at Kharghar center. At first I went to Kharghar with a friend of Yogesh named Ashish who always a very big help. The biggest benefit of having Ashish was that he used to have his own pathology which meant he had some knowledge of medical field and other than that he was also a Marathi which means he could speak local language which is always a very big help.

And in any case it is very hard to find people like Ashish who are always willing to help others. He was not only helping to me but whoever wanted. I noticed him several times just going to unknown people at the hospital and asking them if they needed some help. Anyways, the doctors at Kharghar center said that they could perform the surgery in next four days. They gave me a date and asked me to bring the patient the evening before of surgery and get her admitted at the hospital. Finally I arrived at the hospital the evening before, doctors checked my mother and then the biggest blunder happened. They did not have any private room available, which the patients registered under private category are supposed to get. It was not possible for me to travel back home then return back at the hospital the next day at 7 AM because the traffic in Mumbai was crazy.

They asked me to sleep at the hospital guesthouse which is basically lodging facility patients getting treatment under general category which did not seem to be a big issue and we thought that we will sleep overnight there. After all it was only about a night but once we arrived at the guesthouse room I said to myself that it was not the place where my mother could sleep. The biggest problem was that there were eight beds at a distance of hardly two feet from each other in one room and all of them had patients whose surgery was already performed. Most of them had either mouth or throat cancer and would was visible. I had full sympathy for the patients but I did not want my mother to be scared of surgery or be stressful the night before her surgery.

I think they should keep the pre-surgery patients separated from post surgery patients because the cancer wounds are very scary and it might scare the patients going to get surgery. The other problem, which was the biggest, was that the windows of the room were kept closed intentionally so that already sick patients do not feel cold. There was terrible smell of medicine without any ventilation in the room. I saw at my mother’s face, she did not say even a single word but I knew that she was not comfortable at all. I immediately decided that I was not going to stay there over night. Fortunately I had another friend from Varanasi who was in Mumbai those days and he had a relative living somewhere in Kharghar. I called him and explained the situation at the hospital and finally he arranged for us to sleep overnight at his relative’s place which was happened to be hardly 10 minutes drive from the hospital. It was such a big help.

Anyways, I could not sleep the whole night because I was tense about the surgery the next day. I was just laying down and thinking about the next day and suddenly I noticed the sunlight. I prepared myself and we headed for the hospital. The doctors did some basic tests and asked us to wait outside the surgery room. During this time different doctors and nurses were coming, asking us different questions and one of them asked us what patient has eaten or drank since morning. My mother had nothing other than a tea but when I informed her about it, she asked milk tea? I said and then they said that we have to wait for another four hours minimum because the tea my mother had contained milk which is a solid food product as per their science. And if there is any food in the stomach then it can cause serious respiratory problems during the surgery.

Actually the doctors had advised my mother the evening before to not eat anything after walking up on the day of surgery but we did not think that milk could also be a problem. The doctors sent me to deposit the surgery fee which was kind of unexpected. They asked me to deposit 50,000 immediately. I had around 20,000 in cash with me and hardly 40,000 in the bank account. The worse thing was that sometimes ATMs do not allow to withdraw more than 25,000 a day. Anyways, somehow it worked, I had money and I deposited it. By the time I returned back at the surgery room, my mother was already inside the operation theater. The doctors had told me that there are two kinds of radiation therapy- internal and external. Internal radiation therapy can be given in case if the lymph nodes are not infected with cancer cells and they might at least put a tube inside the breast during surgery for internal radiation if the case was in favor.

In case if the lymph nodes are also infected then only external radiation was the possibility. The doctors told me that they take a tiny peace of flesh from the lymph node and send it for testing while the surgery is going on, which is basically just a quick checkup, which only gives a quick sense whether lymph nodes are infected or not. The final treatment is planned only after the detailed report which might take up to a week.  The doctors had also said that the final decision about whether to remove the whole breast or just the lump will also be made during the surgery after seeing the level of infection. I think it was the most tense moment of my life when I was sitting outside the operation theater waiting to hear anything regarding what was going on inside. Suddenly a doctor came and said that they have sent the lymph node samples to the lab and the result will come soon and they will inform us.

And then another doctor came and he said that there was no need to remove the whole breast because lump was not so big and the infection was also not serious but the internal radiation was not possible because there was some infection in the lymph nodes. They also said that in such case chemo might be needed, 90%, the final decision will be made once the detailed report has come. By this time my elder brother, Chandan, also arrived from Delhi which was actually a very big psychological support for me otherwise I was going crazy. Chandan is a very matured man and deal such situations better than me. Finally the surgery was finished and I they brought my mother outside the operation theater but she was still kept on the other side of a glass door. I saw her sleeping, actually she was fainted due to anesthesia. Now they asked us to bring some medicine from the dispensary.

Something that I liked about this hospital a lot is that there was no cheating. They make a smart card for all of the patients, when doctors prescribe any medicine then the data is  automatically entered into the smart card. Money is also deposited in advance in the smart card. You just go to the dispensary, put the smart card on a card reader, the people at the counter know what medicine to give, money is also automatically deducted from the smart card, very nice system. Otherwise at BHU it is a very famous scam, and everyone is aware of it, that the doctors give you a list of medicine the evening before of surgery but the real drama starts while the surgery is going on. Different nurses and staffs come, give you a peace of paper and ask you to bring more medicines. They pretend to be in hurry and very serious which is nothing other than an emotional blackmailing.

People have no idea what these medicines are for and its a very human thing that nobody would question those nurses. Families want to do their best by having faith on the doctors and other staffs but in fact they are cheated and looted. Later all those medicines are sold. And its not only the case at BHU but at all the other government and private hospitals in Varanasi and in other cities. Two years ago one of my friends father needed a heart surgery and the nurses at BHU told us that they had all the medicines available with them at the hospital which they were willing to sale for half the printed rate. This is how they use those extra medicines that they get from the patients family while the surgery was going on. Luckily there was no such system at TMC.

Finally we brought all the medicines for my mother and by this time she was already shifted to ICU. The doctors kept my mother under observation for 24 hours and then discharged her from the hospital and advised to see the doctors at the old center of TMC in Mumbai after a week. They had also implanted a surgical drain to drain out the fluid of the wound and we were supposed to have a written record of how much fluid was drained everyday. She was taking medicines, getting better everyday and finally the surgical drain was also taken out after fifteen days or so.

My mother was called at the hospital the very next day of the surgery for a physical exercise training session. In my opinion it was not only for physical exercise but it was also to boost up the moral of the patients through psychological training. They taught some physical exercises to my mother and other than that there were a few volunteers who shared their stories and I think that was very important. They were basically telling all the positiveness about their treatment which helps a lot to prepare the patients for the treatment. By this time the detailed report of lymph node test was also available and doctors had an idea about the treatment. They advised us several other tests which also included whole body bone scan and CT scan.

There is always a very big line for any service at TMC because they have patients have from over India, in fact from out of India as well. Hence the line for bone scan and CT scan was also very big. We got the date for bone scan after five days but nearest date available for CT scan was after 18 days. There was a possibility of getting these tests done at some other hospital but we did not want any excuse so decided to get the test done only at TMC. And in any case my mother was on other medicines and it was not urgent to get those tests done. Finally both of the tests were done, we contacted the doctors again, they looked at the reports and prepared the final medical protocol.

They advised eight cycles of chemo therapy (with two different medicines, four each) at an interval of every twenty days and twenty cycles of radiation therapy with Linear accelerator technology. They have advised five sittings of radiation therapy each week which means it will take around one month. After planning the medical protocol they again asked us if we would like to continue the treatment at BHU but again my mother refused it. By this time she was scared of BHU because during these days she met so many other patients who came from either Bihar or eastern UP (where we come from) and most of them had similar stories that they got their first treatment in their own cities of Bihar or other cities of eastern UP, the doctors immediately removed both breasts, gave several chemos and finally said that the situation was not under their control and they should see the doctors at BHU. And when these patients went to BHU then their case was refereed to TMC.

The other option for us to get treatment away from Mumbai was Delhi because my elder brother lives there. Mumabi was not a big problem for us but it is always the best to live with the family. So we were looking for options where my mother could stay with the family while getting treatment. My elder brother, Chandan, contacted AIIMS in New Delhi but there was a very big problem that the line to get treatment was very big, our number would have come after six months or so. Another thing was that the doctors and other staffs at AIIMS, whom my brother knew personally, said that they did not understand the reason behind bring the patient from TMC to AIIMS when it was possible to get treatment there. They said that TMC is so better than AIIMS that when any case is out of their control then they send their own patients at TMC.

They said that the best thing with TMC is their huge research data which in fact no other hospital in this country has. The other option of getting treatment in Delhi was at some private hospital. Chandan contacted a very big private hospital near to his home called Dharamshila Hospital in Noida. We were shocked to hear that the treatment there was around ten times more expensive than at TMC. The cost of chemo medicines at TMC was around 8,000 each but the cost of the same medicine at Dharamshila was around 60,000 each + other expenses like room charges, doctors fee etc. The cost of radiation therapy at TMC was around 25000 but the cost of the same radiation therapy at Dharamshila was around 2,00,000. Many people told us that these private hospitals always tell you less amount, if they are asking for 7,00,000 then their total final bill would never ever be less than one million.

It was insane, how come someone could be this selfish. Anyways, after reviewing everything we realized that TMC was the best option possible for us and we decided to get proceed with the treatment there only. Anyways, we contacted the doctors again at TMC and informed them about our decision but I still had suspicion in my mind about how chemo would react on my mother’s body who was 67 years old. I asked the doctors about it and just like any other time they gave me proper time and explained everything. They said that age does not matter in getting chemo. The thing which matters the most is the general health of the patient and my mother was perfectly fit. She did not even have diabetes or high / low blood pressure. The doctor said that sometimes they give chemo to even 80 years old person if he is fit and sometimes they can not give chemo to even a twenty years old one if he has health issues.

It was very relaxed feeling to hear getting chemo was not a complicated issue in my mother’s case. Finally they gave all of the dates for chemo and radiation. The date of first chemo came, we arrived at the hospital, deposited the money and proceeded with the medical procedure. The first thing that happens on the day of chemo is a blood test which is called CBC (complete blood count) which is basically a general test that gives information about the cells in the blood. Just like any other service at TMC, the result of this test also takes around 4 hours and we have to meet with the doctors who examine the blood test and then approve getting chemo. After getting approval of the doctors we had to go to the ward where they give chemo. Here the process was not so long, it took around an hour of waiting so that they could prepare the medicine.

In most of the cases chemo is given as an infusion into a vein and my mother’s chemo was also given by inserting a tube with a needle into a vein in her arms. The first chemo was kind of fast, it took hardly 30 minutes and now the doctors asked us to take patients back home. They advised us to see them back after a week. They said that the most common side affects of the medicine given to my mother were upset stomach, vomiting, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, headache and hair loos. They also gave her medicines for upset stomach but advised to not start it if it was needed. Since it was the first chemo they wanted to see how her body was reacting. The first twenty hours were absolutely fine, she was just like any other day but then she felt some problems which were not so big. A little bit of stomach ache sometimes and cramps.

When we saw the doctors after a week they said that was a very normal side affect and there was nothing to worry about. She also started to feel better everyday and finally we brought her back to Varanasi after a week. We did it only because we wanted to her to live close to her friends and family rather than getting bored with my friends in Mumbai. Other side affects were gone but one thing was constant- loosing the hair and the speed was really rapid. We also had to change her diet completely. The doctors advised us to give food full of fiber mostly. We sent her back to Mumabi again a day before the next chemo. The next chemo was also done last the first one. CBD first, then doctors approval and then chemo. But this time my mother made a mistake because of some confusion. She did not take the medicine which was given to her for upset stomach. She was taking some other medicine and the result was serious upset stomach with ache and nausea. 

She was living with my friends and I was in Varanasi because my friends had told me that they would take care of her and I did not need to be present in Mumbai. Actually I make most of my by working in tourism which is a seasonal business in Varanasi and my friends advised me to at least work so there is no problem in finance hence I had sent my mother alone to Mumbai and was hoping my friends to take care of her. Our plan was that she would go to Mumbai, get chemo with help of my friends and then return back to Varanasi after three-four days. Suddenly she called on the third day after getting chemo that she was not feeling good at all. She had serious cramps in her stomach all the time. I went to Mumbai the very next day, spoke someone at the call center of TMC and they asked me if she was taking both of the medicines. I asked my mother the same and she said that she took only one of them.

She had left the one which was good in case of upset stomach. Those people at TMC advised me to give her that medicine. She took the medicine that night and she was absolutely fine the next day. So the whole mistake was that she did not take the proper medicine. After getting second chemo we could easily see how she was loosing her hair very fast. Finally four cycles of first medicine were completed in total of twelve weeks (each chemo is given at an interval of three weeks) and we realized that she does not feel anything abnormal for first twenty four hours, everything stays normal but the she starts getting side affects which could be avoided if post chemo medicines are taken properly. She was a bit sick for a few days and then she was fine, she traveled between Mumbai and Varanasi during the gap between two chemos. In fact she also went to Delhi and Pune once so traveling and staying away from Mumabi was a good decision.

And finally the fifth chemo came when the medicine was going to be changed. I was again worried this time as I did not know how her body would react to this different medicine. Rest of the procedure was same but since the medicine was different, it also took longer than the first four ones. The first four ones hardly took 30 minutes each but the fifth one took almost two hours. They said that the quantity of medicine is same but this one is given slowly. The side affect of this medicine was also different and since it was a different medicine the doctors asked bring the patient back at hospital after a week for followup which means we could not bring her to Varanasi this time.

The doctor said that the side affect of this medicine would be mostly pain in the muscles and it was exactly the same. My mother did not feel any problems with her stomach but felt serious pain in her body, mostly in the legs, around 24 hours after the medicine was given. Since they wanted to see the side affects they did not gave any medicine. They said if there is any problem bring the patient immediately to the hospital. And this pain was so strong that my friends had to bring my mother at the hospital only on the third day after chemo. They again gave two different pills and it was all right. She is getting her sixth chemo today in Mumbai and I hope that it will be all right. Now there are two more chemos left and then radiation therapy will start from 29th of February.

My mother first noticed the lump in her breast sometime in the last week of July and I went to Mumbai on the 12th of August. Its already 11th of January today and my whole experience dealing with this situation was sometimes full of anger, sadness, hopelessness, confusion, weakness, stress and sometimes it was full of hope, satisfaction and strength. I was hopeless, angry, sad and confused until I was in Varanasi consulting BHU or other doctors in my city but I was full of hope and satisfied as soon as I arrived at TMC. The only time I was not comfortable at TMC was when they asked me to sleep at their guesthouse in Kharghar the evening before surgery. The helping behavior of my friends, especially Yogesh, Ashish, Alok and Babu,  gave me so much strength that really helped me and my family to deal with this hard time. Mr. Arun Pathk’s generosity of providing his apartment in Mumbai and his cousin (Sandeep) welcoming and helping nature was also huge help for me.

I will never ever forget all the help of my friends. In Hindu philosophy we have a belief that owe something to someone but can not repay in this life then you do it in your next life and I am sure that I can not repay my friends in this life for sure, especially to Yogesh. Maybe I will have to be reborn, maybe more than once, to repay only my friends. Since the treatment is still going on, the article does not finish here. I will be keep writing experience of dealing with this situation and my only intention behind writing this post is that others might also get benefited otherwise I usually never write about my personal stories. But I have advise for anyone seeking cancer treatment that if you do not have money to go to really big private hospitals then don’t waste your time, just go to TMC and they will take care you. There is no one better than them.


कैंसर का ईलाज

मैंने कई बार सोचा की मुझे हिंदी में भी कुछ लेख लिखना चाहिए लेकिन पता नहीं क्यों मैं ये काम कभी नहीं कर पाया I अन्ततः मुझे एक ऐसा सुनहरा अवसर मिला है, जिसे असल में मैं अवसर से ज्यादा अपना दायित्व समझता हूँ, जब मैं अपने आपको ये लेख लिखने से रोक नहीं सका I इस लेख के द्वारा मैं कैंसर के ईलाज सम्बन्धी अपना अनुभव साझा करना चाहता हूँ I असल में मेरी माता जी को ब्रैस्ट कैंसर (स्तन का कैंसर) है जिसका ईलाज अगस्त २०१५ से निरंतर चल रहा है. इस दौरान मैंने बनारस में बी एच यू से लगाये दिल्ली के एम्स, बम्बई के टाटा मेमोरियल एवं इनके अलावा कई और सरकारी और प्राइवेट अस्पतालों का चक्कर काटा I अन्ततः मुझे एक सही दिशा मिली और मेरी माता जी का ईलाज आज सफलतापूर्वक चल रहा है I इस लेख को लिखने के पीछे मेरा केवल एक ही मक्सद है की जिस तरह मैं परेशान हुआ, और मुझे ये भी मालूम है की हज़ारों लाखों लोग मेरी तरह है, वैसा किसी और को परेशान न होना पड़े I

मुझे पता है की आज प्रतिदिन कैंसर से पीड़ित रोगियों की संख्या बढती जा रही है और हमारे देश भारत में, ख़ास कर के, उत्तर प्रदेश और बिहार जैसे राज्यों में इस रोग के ईलाज की कोई समुचित व्यवस्था नहीं है I मेरी माता जी से सर्वप्रथम जुलाई में अपने छाती के उपरी हिस्से में एक छोटी सी गाँठ को महसूस किया I उनको न कोई दर्द था और न ही कोई दूसरी परेशानी I हम लोगों ने सोचा की शायद कोई साधारण सी दिक्कात होगी और हमने उन्हें एक महिला के डॉक्टर के पास भेजा I उस महिला डॉक्टर ने बोला की हमे    बी एच यू में कैंसर विभाग में दिखाना चाहिए I जैसा की हम सब लोग जानते हैं की बी एच यू पूरी तरह से दुर्व्यवस्था से भरा हुआ हॉस्पिटल है इसलिए हम वहां नहीं जाना चाहते थे I बी एच यू  के ही एक रिटायर डॉक्टर है जिनका नाम है डॉक्टर शुक्ला, हमने उनको पहले दिखाना उचित समझा I डॉक्टर शुक्ला ने बोला की हमलोगों को पहले मेमोग्राफी नाम का एक एक्स-रे करना पड़ेगा जिससे की गाँठ की सही स्थिति का पता चल पायेगा I

मेमोग्राफी करने के बाद जब हमलोग वापस डॉक्टर शुक्ला के पास गए तो उन्होंने हमे दो विकल्प दिया- या तो हम बी एच यू  में ऑपरेशन करा लें और वही पर किमो भी कराये या तो वो किसी प्राइवेट हॉस्पिटल में अपने संरक्षण में ऑपरेशन करवाएंगे और बी एच यू  में किमो I उनके कहने का साफ़ मतलब था की ये केस कैंसर का हो सकता है I कैंसर नाम का शब्द सुन कर ही हम लोग अन्दर से एकदम डर गए थे, समझ में नहीं आ रहा था की क्या किया जाए I इसी बीच हमारे एक पडोसी, जो की बी एच यू के कई डॉक्टरों को व्यक्तिगत रूप से जानते थे, मदद के लिए आगे आये I उन्होंने हमे बी एच यू के कैंसर विभाग में कई डॉक्टरों से मिलवाया I बी एच यू के डॉक्टर लोगों ने कुछ एक टेस्ट कराने के लिए कहा जिनमे से एक था FNAC I ये टेस्ट कैंसर के सेल्स की जानकारी प्राप्त करने के लिए किया जाता है I FNAC के रिपोर्ट में ये बात स्पष्ठ हो गयी की मेरी माता जी को शरुआती दौर का कैंसर था I ये सुन कर तो मेरी रूह काँप गयी, मुझे कुछ नहीं समझ में आ रहा था की आगे क्या किया जाये I

बी एच यू के डॉक्टर्स का कहना था की हो सकता है दोनों छातियों को पूरी तरह से निकालना पड़े और उसके बाद किमो और रेडिएशन (जिसको हम देसी भाषा में सेकाई भी कहते है) करना पड़े I मुझे अभी भी इस बात पे विश्वास नहीं हो रहा था की मेरे परिवार में किसी को कैंसर हुआ है I मैंने बनारस में कई और प्राइवेट डॉक्टर्स से संपर्क किया लेकिन लगभग सभी के सभी एक ही बात कहते थे I बनारस में कैंसर के ईलाज से सम्बंधित बी एच यू के बाद यदि किसी दूसरे हॉस्पिटल का नाम यदि कोई जानता है तो वो है रेलवे का कैंसर हॉस्पिटल I मुझसे कई लोगों ने बोला की मुझे एक बार वहाँ के डॉक्टर्स से भी मिलना चाहिए I लेकिन एक नाम जो मेरे दिमाग में हमेशा से था वो था मुंबई का टाटा मेमोरियल हॉस्पिटल I मैंने ये निर्णय ले लिया था की चाहे कुछ भी हो जाये हम बिना टाटा मेमोरियल के डॉक्टर्स से सलाह लिए बिना कोई ईलाज नहीं शुरू करेंगे I एक दिन मैं रेलवे हॉस्पिटल जाने की तैयारी कर रहा था की तभी मेरा एक मित्र आया माता जी का हाल-चाल पूछने के लिए और मैंने उसे बताया की आज मैं रेलवे के हॉस्पिटल जा रहा हूँ I

मैंने उसे टाटा मेमोरियल जाने के संभावनाओं के बारे में भी बताया I उसने मुझसे पुछा की टाटा कब जाना चाहते हो, मैंने बोला कल I तब उसने बोला की अगर कल जाना चाहते तो आज ही क्यों नहीं, एक दिन व्यर्थ करने का क्या मतलब? मुझे उसकी बात बहुत सही लगी और मैं तुरंत मुंबई चला गया I मुंबई में मेरे कुछ बचपन के दोस्त, अलोक और योगेश, रहते है और मैं उन्ही लोगों के भरोसे मुंबई जाने वाला था I मैंने उनलोगों को फ़ोन किया और उन्होंने भी बोला की तुरंत चले आओ I मुंबई पहुचने के बाद योगेश ने बोला की वो व्यक्तिगत रूप से किसी डॉक्टर को टाटा में जानता है और मुझे उनसे मिलवायेगा I अन्ततः मैं टाटा मेमोरियल हॉस्पिटल पंहुचा और वहां पहुचने के बाद मुझे मालूम चला की जिस डॉक्टर को मेरा मित्र जानता था वो मुह के कैंसर के डॉक्टर थे तो इसलिए मेरा उनसे मिलने का कोई औचित्य नहीं था I खैर, टाटा मेमोरियल शुरू से ही जबरदस्त व्यवस्थित हॉस्पिटल लगा I असल में मैंने कभी भी उस तरह का हॉस्पिटल नहीं देखा था I

सब कुछ निहायत व्यवस्थित था, लोग एक दूसरे का मदद करने वाले थे, अगर आप किसी को कुछ बोले तो लोग सुनाने को तैयार थे नहीं तो अगर कोई बी एच यू चला जाए तो जैसे लगता है की हम वह भीख मांगने गए हो I टाटा मेमोरियल की दो इमारतें हैं- एक पुरानी जहाँ आज कल ज्यादातर टेस्ट वगैरह होते है और दूसरी है नयी इमारत जहाँ पर ज्यादातर OPD हैं I मैं इमारत में था और वहां सर्वप्रथम मैं पूछ-ताछ काउंटर पे गया I उन्होंने ने बी एच यू की सारी रिपोर्ट्स देखीं और मुझसे पुछा की क्या मैं केवल डॉक्टर से सलाह लेना चाहता हूँ या मुझे टाटा में ही ईलाज भी करवाना है I शुरू में मैंने बोला की मैं केवल सलाह लेना चाहता हूँ तो मेरा पंजीकरण करके मुझे ब्रैस्ट कैंसर विभाग में डॉक्टर के पास सलाह लेने के लिए भेज दिया जिसका फीस पंद्रह सौ रुपया था I OPD में बहुत ज्यादा भीड़ थी लेकिन चूँकि सब कुछ व्यवस्थित था इस वजह से कोई बहुत ज्यादा परेशानी नहीं हुई I

शायद दो-तीन घंटे बाद मेरा नंबर आया और जब मैं डॉक्टर के कमरे में गया तो वह मेरे और डॉक्टर के अलावा और कोई नहीं था I ये बात मुझे बहुत अच्छी लगी नहीं तो बी एच यू और दूसरे सरकारी हॉस्पिटल में हमेशा डॉक्टर्स के अगल बगल चिड़ियाघर सरीखा माहौल रहता है I वहां मौजूद महिला डॉक्टर ने बी एच यू के सारे रिपोर्ट्स को देखा और फिर मेरी माता जी के जीवन के बारे में कई सवाल पूछने लगी I उनमे से कई का उत्तर मुझे नहीं मालूम था तो मैंने तुरंत बनारस फ़ोन कर के उन प्रशनो का जवाब देने का कोशिश किया I अन्ततः डॉक्टर ने मुझसे बोला की मुझे माता जी को मुंबई बुलाना ही पड़ेगा I डॉक्टर का ये कहना था की कुछ परिस्थियों में डॉक्टर केवल रिपोर्ट के आधार पर सलाह दे सकते हैं लेकिन यदि महिलाओं में छाती का कैंसर है तो मरीज को देखना आवश्यक हो जाता है क्योकि डॉक्टर को गाँठ को छु कर महसूस करना जरूरी होता है इसके अलावा स्तन का आकार देखना भी बहुत जरूरी होता है I

मैंने अपनी माता जी को अगले दिन ही मुंबई बुला लिया और उसके अगले दिन टाटा लेकर गया I डॉक्टर ने मेरी माता जी का परिक्षण किया जिसके बाद उन्होंने बोला की इसमें ऑपरेशन तो करना ही पड़ेगा और आगे का ईलाज कुछ टेस्ट हो जाने के बाद पता चलेगा I उन्होंने मुझे दो विकल्प दिए- या तो मैं टाटा मेमोरियल, लोअर परेल में तीन-चार महीने बाद ऑपरेशन कराऊं और या नहीं तो टाटा मेमोरियल का ही एक दूसरा सेण्टर, जो की नवी मुंबई के खार घर इलाके में है, वहां अगले हफ्ते ही करा लूं I वह डॉक्टर्स ने कहा की दोनों सेण्टर एक ही है, दोनों के डॉक्टर्स एक ही है केवल जगह अलग अलग है I उनका कहना था की लोअर परेल में भीड़ ज्यादा होने के कारण एक नया सेण्टर २००२ में नवी मुंबई में भी शुरू किया गया है I शुरुआत में मुझे ये बात समझ में नहीं आई लेकिन बाद में इन्टरनेट पर रिसर्च करने के बाद और कई दूसरे लोगों से पूछने के बाद ये बात तो साफ़ हो गया की दोनों सेण्टर एक ही है I

चूँकि अब ये बात स्पष्ठ हो चुकी थी की हमलोगों को सारा ईलाज टाटा में ही कराना था इसलिए वहां रजिस्ट्रेशन कराना भी जरूरी था I सर्वप्रथम मैं पूछ-ताछ काउंटर पे गया जहाँ उन्होंने मुझे ईलाज और उससे सम्बंधित सभी खर्चों के बारे में जानकारी दिया I टाटा में मरीजो का दो श्रेणियों में पंजीकरण किया जाता है – १- जनरल और २- प्राइवेट I जनरल और प्राइवेट मरीजों का ईलाज एकदम एक ही तरीके से बिना किसी भेदभाव के किया जाता है लेकिन सुविधाओं में और खर्च में अंतर होता है I यदि कोई प्राइवेट श्रेणी में अपना पंजीकरण करता है तो उसका ईलाज जनरल श्रेणी वाले मरीज से तकरीबन दस गुना महंगा होगा I असल में टाटा मेमोरियल में भारत सरकार के परमाणु उर्जा विभाग के द्वारा सब्सिडी प्रदान की जाती है जो की प्राइवेट श्रेणी के अंतर्गत आने वाले मरीजों को नहीं मिलती है I उन्होंने बताया की अगर मैं मरीज का पंजीकरण जनरल श्रेणी में करूँगा तो ईलाज का खर्च तकरीबन ३०,००० रुपया होगा और अगर मैं प्राइवेट श्रेणी में पंजीकरण करूँगा तो ईलाज का खर्च तकरीबन २,५०,००० रुपया होगा I

मैंने बहुत सोचने के बाद माता जी का पंजीकरण प्राइवेट श्रेणी में करा दिया I मुझे मालूम था की मेरे लिए ये बहुत बड़ा खर्चा होगा लेकिन फिर भी मैंने यही रास्ता चुना I टाटा हॉस्पिटल के हाल में कई एटीएम सी दिखने वाली मशीन थी जो असल में पंजीकरण करने वाली मशीन थी और सभी लोगों को उस मशीन में अपने से मरीज के सम्बंधित जानकारी डालना जरूरी था I जानकारी डालने के बाद मशीन एक पंजीकरण नंबर दे देती है जिसको ले कर वह काउंटर पर मरीज के साथ जाना होता है और उसी नंबर के आधार पर मरीज का पंजीकरण किया जाता है I सारी जानकारी पूछने के बाद हमलोगों को एक स्मार्ट कार्ड दिया गया जिसे हमेशा साथ में रखना जरूरी होता है चूँकि इसी स्मार्ट कार्ड में मरीज के बारे में सारी जानकारी होती है और इसी स्मार्ट कार्ड में ईलाज का सारा पैसा भी जमा किया जाता है I

इसी बीच ऑपरेशन के डॉक्टर ने हमसे कई टेस्ट कराने के लिए कहा जिनमे से कुछ टेस्ट पहले ही बी एच यू में किये जा चुके थे जिसका रिपोर्ट हमारे पास था लेकिन टाटा के डॉक्टर्स ने बोला की अगर हम टाटा में ईलाज कराना चाहते है तो हमे वहां फिर से सारा टेस्ट कराना पड़ेगा I वो लोग बी एच यू के टेस्ट रिपोर्ट से संतुस्ट नहीं थे और मुझे लगता है की बी एच यू की दुर्व्यवस्था को देखते हुए कोई भी वहां की किसी रिपोर्ट से संतुष्ट नहीं होगा I हम लोगों ने दोबारा से सारा टेस्ट टाटा में करवाया और रिपोर्ट आने के बाद डॉक्टर से मिल कर खारघर वाले सेण्टर में अगले सप्ताह का ऑपरेशन का डेट ले लिया I ऑपरेशन से पहले मुझे केवल एक बार खारघर जा के वह के डॉक्टर्स से मिलना था जो मैं शायद अगले दिन ही कर लिया I वह के डॉक्टर्स ने मुझसे बोला की ऑपरेशन के एक दिन पहले मरीज को भर्ती करा देना I मुझसे ये भी बताया गया की मरीज को ऑपरेशन के बाद किमो और रेडिएशन देना पड़ सकता है जिसकी सही जानकारी ऑपरेशन के बाद पता चलेगी I

अन्ततः ऑपरेशन के एक दिन पहले हमलोग खारघर पहुच गए, डॉक्टर ने कुछ थोडा बहुत चेकअप किया और बोला की कल सुबह सात बजे हॉस्पिटल आने के लिए I डॉक्टर ने ये भी बोला की ऑपरेशन वाले दिन सुबह कुछ भी नहीं खाना है, पेय पदार्थ ले सकते हैं I सब कुछ ठीक था लेकिन तभी एक बहुत बड़ी दिक्क़त हो गयी की हॉस्पिटल में प्राइवेट वार्ड में कोई भी बेड या कमरा खाली नहीं था I डॉक्टर्स ने बोला की हमलोगों को जनरल वार्ड के गेस्ट हाउस में रात बितानी होगी I सुनने में ये कोई बड़ी बात नहीं थी लेकिन जब हम लोग गेस्ट हाउस में पहुचे तो वहां का नज़ारा देख कर मेरा तो होश ही उड़ गया I वहां पर पहले से ही काफी ऐसे मरीज थे जिनका ऑपरेशन हो चुका था, अभी उनका घाव खुला हुआ था और एक कमरे में आठ बेड लगे हुए थे I सबसे बड़ी दिक्क़त ये थी की उस कमरे की खिड़कियाँ भी बंद की गयी थी ताकि मरीजों को ठंढ न लगे जिसके वजह से कमरे में अजीब तरह की बदबू और घुटन हो रही थी I

वो नज़ारा देख कर कोई भी डर सकता था और मैं ये नहीं चाहता था की मेरी माता जी को भी ऑपरेशन के पहले किसी तरह कोई डर हो I मैंने तुरंत निर्णय किया की मैं किसी हालत में वह रात नहीं गुजारूँगा I भाग्यवश मेरा एक दूसरा बनारस का दोस्त, बाबु, भी उस समय मुंबई में ही था और उसके एक रिश्तेदार खारघर में ही कहीं रहते थे जिनके बारे में बाबु ने मुझे बताया था I मैंने तुरंत बाबु कोई फोन किया और बाबु भी खारघर आ गया और हमलोगों को अपने रिश्तेदार के घर ले गया I भगवान की दया से इन रिश्तेदार का घर भी हॉस्पिटल से ज्यादा दूर नहीं था I उस रात मैं सो नहीं पाया था, रात भर सोचते हुए ही गुजर गया, सूर्योदय हुआ और हमलोग तैयार होकर हॉस्पिटल पहुच गए I डॉक्टर्स ने मुझे पहले ही बताया था की रेडिएशन की जरूरत पड़ सकती है I रेडिएशन भी दो तरह से होता है – १- अंदरूनी रेडिएशन और दूसरा बाहरी रेडिएशन I

अंदरूनी रेडिएशन में डॉक्टर्स ऑपरेशन के समय ही स्तन में एक ट्यूब डाल देते है जिसके सहारे रेडिएशन दिया जाता है लेकिन इसकी संभावना का पता ऑपरेशन के समय ही पड़ता है I असल में हर किसी को बगल में (कांख ) में लसिका गाँठ होती है, जिसे अंग्रेजी में लिम्फ नोड कहते है, और अगर लिम्फ नोड में कैंसर का इन्फेक्शन नहीं हो तो इस परिस्थिति में ट्यूब के द्वारा अंदरूनी रेडिएशन किया जा सकता है और अगर लिम्फ नोड में इन्फेक्शन हो तो इस परिस्थिति में अंदरूनी रेडिएशन की संभावना नहीं होती है और इस इन्फेक्शन का पता केवल ऑपरेशन के दौरान ही चलता है I डॉक्टर्स ने ये भी हमलोगों को बताया था की केवल गाँठ निकालेंगे या पूरा स्तन ये भी ऑपरेशन के समय ही पता चलेगा I खैर, एक हमलोग अपनी बारी का इंतज़ार कर ही रहे थे की तबतक एक डॉक्टर आये और मुझसे बोले की अपने स्मार्ट कार्ड में पैसा डलवा दीजिये I

मैं अपनी माता जी को ऑपरेशन थिएटर के बाहर छोड़ कर कार्ड में पैसा डलवाने चल गया I यहाँ एक और दिक्क़त हुई, मुझे अंदाज़ नहीं था की कितने पैसों की जरूरत पड़ेगी I मेरे पास जेब में शायद २०,००० रूपये थे और बैंक अकाउंट में ३५-४०,००० I मुझसे तुरंत ५०,००० जमा करने के लिए कहा गया और सबसे बड़ी दिक्क़त ये थी की सभी एटीएम एक दिन में २५,००० से ज्यादा रूपये नहीं देते हैं I खैर किसी तरह से मैंने पैसा जमा कर दिया और जब वापस ऑपरेशन थिएटर गया तो मेरी माता जी को पहले ही अन्दर ले जाया चुका था I थोड़ी देर बाद एक डॉक्टर आये और बोले की मेरे माता जी के लिम्फ नोड में इन्फेक्शन है जिसके वजह से अंदरूनी रेडिएशन नहीं हो सकता है I डॉक्टर ने ये भी बताया की चूँकि गाँठ बहुत बड़ी नहीं थी इस वजह से पूरा स्तन हटाये बिना ही ऑपरेशन किया गया है जो सुन के मुझे काफी अच्छा लगा I

डॉक्टर्स ने मेरी माता जी को केवल एक रात हॉस्पिटल में रखा और उसके बाद घर वापस जाने की छुट्टी दे दी I उन्होंने बोला की आगे का सारा ईलाज टाटा मेमोरियल के लोअर परेल वाले हॉस्पिटल में होगा I उनलोगों ने ऑपरेशन के दौरान ही पेट में एक नली लगा दी थी जो एक छोटे से डब्बे से जुडी हुई थी और इस नाली से हमेशा थोडा थोडा खून के रंग का तरल पदार्थ निकलता रहता था I डॉक्टर्स ने हमलोगों से बोला की जितना भी तरल निकलेगा उसे हमे एक जगह लिख कर रखना है और डॉक्टर को दिखाना है I ऑपरेशन के अगले दिन ही हमे लोअर परेल वाले हॉस्पिटल जाने के लिए भी बोला गया जहाँ एक व्यायाम से सम्बंधित कार्यशाला में मरीज को ले कर जाना था I ये कार्यशाला प्रतिदिन हॉस्पिटल में आयोजित की जाती है लेकिन उसमे वही लोग भाग ले सकते हैं जिनका ऑपरेशन हुआ हो I वो कार्यशाला मुझे शारीरिक व्यायाम से ज्यादा मनोवैज्ञानिक व्यायाम की लगी I

वहां व्यायाम के बारे में बताने वाले कुछ डॉक्टर थे जिन्होंने ऑपरेशन होने के बाद करने वाले व्यायाम के बारे में बताया I उन्होंने ये भी बोला की ऑपरेशन के बाद व्यायाम बहुत ज्यादा जरूरी है नहीं तो ऑपरेशन की अगल बगल वाली नसों में तनाव हो सकता है जो की आगे चल कर बहुत घातक हो सकता है I डॉक्टर्स के अलावा वहां कुछ एक लोग ऐसे भी थे जो अपने कैंसर का ईलाज करा कर साधारण जीवन व्यतीत कर रहे थे I उनलोगों ने भी अपने अनुभवों को मरीजों के साथ साझा किया जिससे की मरीजों का मनोबल बढ़ सके और मुझे व्यक्तिगत रूप से ये बात बहुत ही अच्छी और जरूरी लगी I इसी बीच डॉक्टर्स ने किमो शुरू करने के पहले होने वाले जांचों को लिख दिया जिसमे बोन स्कैन (पूरे शरीर के हड्डी का स्कैन) और सी टी स्कैन भी शामिल था I बाकी और जांचो की तरह ही इनदोनो जांचो के लिए बहुत लम्बी लाइन थी I बोन स्कैन के लिए एक सप्ताह और सी टी स्कैन के लिए पंद्रह दिन बाद का नंबर मिला जो की बहुत बड़ी मुश्किल नहीं थी क्योकि किसी हालत में भी किमो जल शुरू होने वाला नहीं था I

अगर हमलोग चाहते तो बाहर भी दोनों जांच करा सकते थे लेकिन हम लोगों ने टाटा मेमोरियल में ही जांच कराना उचित समझा I इस दौरान ऑपरेशन के वक़्त डॉक्टर्स ने घाव के पास से तरल पदार्थ निकालने के लिए जो नाली लगायी थी वो भी निकाल दी गयी I अबतक सारी रिपोर्ट्स भी आ चुकी थी जिसमे लगभग पंद्रह दिन लगा I अन्ततः हमलोग डॉक्टर्स के पास फिर गए और उन्होंने सारी रिपोर्ट्स का अध्ययन करने के बाद हमे बताया की मेरी माता जी को आठ बार किमो लगेगा जो की हर 21 दिन के अंतर पर दिया जायेगा I किमो एक विशेष प्रकार की दवा होती है जो की कैंसर के रोग में मरीजों को दी जाती है I अलग अलग मरीजों को उनके रोग एवं स्वास्थ के हिसाब से अलग तरह की दवा दी जाती है I मेरी माता जी को दो अलग तरह का किमो दिया जाना था, शरुआत के चार किमो अलग और अंत के चार किमो अलग I मैंने किमो के बारे में कई किस्से सुने थे जिसे लेकर मैं डरा हुआ था I असल में मुझे कोई भी किस्सा याद नहीं था फिर भी मैं बहुत डरा हुआ था I

मेरा सबसे बड़ा दर मेरी माता जी की उम्र को लेकर था I मैंने डॉक्टर से पुछा की क्या एक ६७ साल की महिला को किमो देना सुरक्षित होगा? और डॉक्टर ने बोला की किमो का किसी व्यक्ति के उम्र से कोई लेना देना नहीं होता है, सब कुछ निर्भर करता है व्यक्ति के स्वास्थ पर I अगर व्यक्ति स्वस्थ है तो 80 साल के बुजुर्ग को भी किमो दिया जाता है और अगर व्यक्ति अस्वस्थ है तो 20 साल के नौजवान को भी किमो नहीं दे सकते है और चूँकि मेरी मेरी माता जी का स्वास्थ बिलकुल ठीक था, उनको सुगर या ब्लड प्रेशर तक नहीं था, इसलिए किमो देने में कोई दिक्क़त नहीं है I ये सुनकर हमलोगों को काफी तस्सली हुई I किमो के डॉक्टर्स से हमलोगों को रेडिएशन के डॉक्टर से भी मिलने को बोला I रेडिएशन के डॉक्टर्स ने हमको बताया की किमो ख़त्म होने के बाद 20 रेडिएशन भी देना पड़ेगा जो की हफ्ते में 5 दिन होगा I

सभी कुछ निर्धारित होने के बाद डॉक्टर्स ने हमको दो विकल्प दिए- या तो हमलोग किमो और रेडिएशन दोनों टाटा मेमोरियल में ही कराये या तो वो सारा कुछ तैयार कर देंगे और आगे का किमो हम बी एच यू में ले सकते हैं जिसे सुनते ही मेरी माता जी ने डॉक्टर से हाँथ जोड़ कर बोला की वो टाटा छोड़ कर कहीं नहीं जाना चाहती है और डॉक्टर लोग हंस कर बोले की वही लोग सारा ईलाज करेंगे I और वैसे भी मेरी माता जी का रेडिएशन बी एच यू में नहीं हो पता क्यों की रेडिएशन की मशीन भी कुछ अलग अलग तरह की होती है और जो रेडिएशन मेरी माता जी को दिया जाने वाला था वो बी एच यू में उपलब्ध नहीं था I मेरी माता जी को दिया जाने वाला रेडिएशन का नाम था लिनिअर एकसेलरेटर I ये सुविधा हिंदुस्तान में केवल गिने चुने हॉस्पिटल्स में ही उपलब्ध है I

मेरी माता जी इधर बीच बी एच यू से इस वजह से और ज्यादा डर गयी थी क्योकि टाटा मेमोरियल जाते जाते उनकी मुलाकात कई ऐसे लोगों से हुई जो की उत्तर प्रदेश और बिहार के रहने वाले थे I उनसभी लोगों ने शुरू में अपना ईलाज अपने शहरों में कराया था लेकिन वहां के डॉक्टर्स और हॉस्पिटल ने पूरा केस बिगाड़ दिया जिसके बाद वो बी एच यू गए लेकिन चूँकि हालत पहले ही बहुत ज्यादा ख़राब हो चुकी थी इस वजह से बी एच यू ने भी टाटा मेमोरियल केस भेज दिया I मैं खुद कई ऐसे लोगों से मिला जो हिन्दुस्तान के अलग अलग कोनों से आये हुए थे लेकिन उन सबकी कहानी एक ही थी की उनके शहर के डॉक्टर्स ने सारा केस बिगाड़ दिया I खैर, रेडिएशन के डॉक्टर्स ने ही किमो और रेडिएशन के बाद होने वाले सामान्य दुष्प्रभावों के बारे में भी बता दिया I उन्होंने ने बोला की किमो का प्रभाव अलग अलग व्यक्तियों पर अलग अलग हो सकता है लेकिन जो सबसे सामान्य दुष्प्रभाव है उनमे शरीर में दर्द, पेट से सम्बंधित दिक्क़तें, उलटी होना या महसूस होना और  बाल झाड़ना आम बात है I

अलग अलग किमो भी अलग अलग प्रभाव करता है लेकिन ये सारी दिक्क़तें किमो ख़त्म होने के बाद धीर धीर ठीक हो जाती है, बाल भी दोबारा से २-३ महीने बाद से वापस आने लगते हैं I डॉक्टर्स ने मुझे बताया की पूरा ईलाज होने में तकरीबन 6 महीने का वक़्त लगेगा जो की मेरे लिए बहुत आसान नहीं था I मेरा बड़ा भाई दिल्ली में रहता है और हमलोगों ने सोचा की यदि संभव हो तो आगे का ईलाज दिल्ली में भी करा सकते हैं, इसलिए हमने डॉक्टर्स से 2 दिन का समय माँगा और इस बीच मेरा बड़ा भाई दिल्ली के एम्स हॉस्पिटल में भी संपर्क किया I एम्स में किमो के लिए तकरीबन 6 महीने की लाइन थी और एम्स के डॉक्टरों ने हमसे बोला की यदि हम टाटा मेमोरियल छोड़ कर एम्स में ईलाज कराएँगे तो शायद ये उनके जीवन का पहला ऐसा केस होगा होगा I वहां के डॉक्टर्स का कहना था की जब कोई केस उनसे नहीं संभल पाता है तब वो टाटा मेमोरियल की मदद लेते हैं और यदि हमारे पास रहने की व्यवस्था हो तो हमे टाटा मेमोरियल में ही ईलाज कराना चाहिए I

फिर हमने सोचा की दिल्ली के ही किसी प्राइवेट हॉस्पिटल में भी संपर्क किया जाये तो हमलोगों ने नॉएडा के एक बहुत प्रसिद्ध हॉस्पिटल, जिसका नाम धरमशिला हॉस्पिटल है, में संपर्क किया I वहां का खर्च सुन कर हमलोगों के होश ही उड़ गए, वहां हर एक चीज़ टाटा मेमोरियल से लगभग दस गुना ज्यादा महंगा था I जो किमो की दावा टाटा में 6-8000 रूपये की थी वही किमो वहां 80,000 रूपये की थी, जो रेडिएशन टाटा में तकरीबन 20-25,000 रूपये में होता उसी रेडिएशन का धरमशिला में 2,50,000 रूपये माँगा जा रहा था I अन्ततः हमलोगों ने निर्णय किया की सारा ईलाज टाटा में ही कराएँगे I हमलोग फिर से टाटा गए और वहां किमो का डेट ले लिए I हमलोगों को किमो के दिन जल्दी सुबह बुलाया गया था क्योकि किमो के दिन सुबह एक खून का साधारण सा जांच होता है जिसको सी बी सी (कॉमन ब्लड काउंट) बोलते हैं, इस टेस्ट के द्वारा खून में सेल्स का पता लगाया जाता है I

टाटा में इसकी रिपोर्ट आने में तकरीबन 4-5 घंटे का समय लग जाता है, फिर उसके बाद वो रिपोर्ट ले कर किमो के डॉक्टर के पास जाना होता है और अगर रिपोर्ट सही है तो वो किमो के लिए लिख देते हैं I फिर उसके बाद टाटा की पांचवी मंजिल पे जाना होता है जहा किमो चढ़ाया जाता है I वहां पर भी नंबर लगाना होता है, टाटा में सोमवार को बहुत ज्यादा भीड़ होती है क्योकि इमरजेंसी को छोड़ कर हॉस्पिटल शनिवार और रविवार को बंद रहता है, फिर भी 2-3 घंटे में नंबर आ ही जाता है I चूँकि अलग अलग मरीजों को उनके रोग के हिसाब से अलग अलग किमो दिया जाता है इसलिए किमो के विभाग में पंजीकरण कराने के बाद दावा लेने के लिए लाइन में लगना पड़ता है और यही ज्यादा समय लगता है I जब दवाई तैयार हो जाती है तो उसको एक मरीज को नसों में चढ़ाया जाता है (जैसे साधारण पानी या खून चढाते हैं ) I

अलग अलग किमो को चढाने में लगने वाला समय भी अलग अलग दवा पर निर्भर करता है I मेरी माता जी को शुरू में जो किमो चढ़ाया गया उसमे केवल 30 से 45 मिनट लगता था I किमो चढ़ने के तुरंत बाद मरीज को घर भेज दिया जाता है लेकिन किमो के बाद होने वाली परेशानियों ( जैसे सर दर्द, उलटी, बुखार, शरीर दर्द इत्यादि ) के लिए डॉक्टर कुछ दावा भी देते है I मेरी माता जी को शुरुआत के 24 घंटो तक कुछ भी अलग महसूस नहीं हुआ लेकिन उसके बाद किमो का प्रभाव समझ में आया I उनके पेट में मरोड़ सा होने लगा, हल्का बुखार भी हो गया और कब्ज भी हुआ लेकिन जब उन्होंने डॉक्टर के द्वारा दी हुई दवाओं को लिया तो ये सारी दिक्क़तें ख़त्म होने लगी I साधारणतयः उनको ये दिक्क़तें किमो के 3-4 दिनों तक रहती है और उसके बाद धीरे धीरे सब कुछ ठीक हो जाता है, लेकिन तभी तक अगले किमो का भी दिन आ जाता है I

खैर शुरुआत के चारो किमो ठीक से बीत गया और इस बीच मेरी माता जी किमो लेने के बाद बनारस आ जाती थी और किमो एक दिन पहले फिर मुंबई पहुच जाती थी I पांचवे किमो से दूसरी दवा दी जाने वाली थी और डॉक्टर्स ने हमे बताया की इस किमो में पेट से सम्बंधित कोई ख़ास दिक्क़त नहीं होती है लेकिन शरीर में दर्द इस किमो का बहुत ही साधारण सा दुष्प्रभाव है और ठीक ऐसा ही हुआ भी I जब मेरी माता जी को पांचवा किमो चढ़ाया गया उसके 24 घंटो बाद उनको पूरे शरीर में जबरदस्त दर्द होना शुरू हुआ, ये दर्द कमर से नीचे बहुत ज्यादा था I अन्ततः हमको उन्हें टाटा के इमरजेंसी वार्ड में ले जाना पड़ा जहाँ डॉक्टरों ने कुछ दवा दिया जिससे दर्द धीरे धीरे ठीक हो गया I मेरे माता जी का ईलाज अभी भी चल रहा है, तीन किमो बाकी है और उसके बाद रेडिएशन थेरेपी, पूरा इलाज अप्रैल में ख़त्म होगा और मैं उसके बारे में भी आगे लिखूंगा I

ये लेख लिखने मेरा एक ही मकसद था की यदि किसी को टाटा हॉस्पिटल या कैंसर ईलाज से सम्बंधित कोई जानकारी चाहिए हो तो वो मेरे अनुभव के आधार पर पर अपने ईलाज के बारे में कोई निर्णय ले सके और मुझे उम्मीद है की ये पोस्ट कुछ लोगों की मदद जरूर करेगा I लेकिन एक बात मैं सभी लोगों से बोलना चाहूँगा की यदि आप किसी का भी कैंसर का ईलाज करना चाहते है, और अगर आपके यहाँ अच्छा हॉस्पिटल नहीं है, तो अपना समय मत व्यर्थ कीजिये I सीधा टाटा मेमोरियल जाइए और वो लोग आपका ईलाज करेंगे I कई हॉस्पिटल भटकने के बाद मेरा एक मद है की टाटा मेमोरियल में जो लोग काम करते है वो सच में भगवान् से कम नहीं है I हो सकता है आपको मुंबई में रहने खाने की दिक्क़त होगी लेकिन जीवन से ज्यादा महत्त्वपूर्ण कुछ नहीं होता और एक बात हमसभी लोग जानते हैं की कैंसर का ईलाज जितना जल्दी शुरू हो उतने बेहतर तरह से आदमी ठीक होता है I जय हिन्द I


What should be the requirement to become a Police?

What kind of Police do we all want- honest, educated, helping and polite, right? But when we think about Indian police, UP police for sure, the first thing we think about them is their cruelty, corruption, no sentiments for people and no politeness at all. I don’t know any person who would ever like to go to the Police station because of their such qualities. In fact nobody has any faith in them. There is no work done at any Police station without taking bribe. Even if someone wants to register a complaint they have to pay a bribe. I read so many articles in the news paper when media reports about how they do not even register the complaints for even serious crimes like rape or murder.

It happens all the time and everyone is very well aware of it but it has become so much part of the system that people expect for such kind of behavior by Police. The only thing UP Police is expert in is how to torture people and loot their money. I think the biggest reason behind it is bad governance and this is the reason why the condition of UP Police is getting worse and worse everyday. There are two political parties which have been ruling the state of Uttar Pradesh for long time. One of them is Bahujan Samaj Party and the other one is Samajwadi Party. Bahujan Samaj Party does the caste based politics all the time but policing is better during their time. They are good in controlling the criminals but no difference when it comes to control the Police.

Samajwadi Party is the worse political party ruling the state of UP in my lifetime. They do the politics of religion and caste both. During their times Muslims and Yadavs (a Hindu caste) can do anything they want. As soon as Samajwai Party comes in power they immediately put only Yadavs and Muslims on all of the higher rank jobs in the state does not matter whether they deserve it or not. They also recruit a lot of Police but they are also either Yadav or Muslims. They do all these things only to get attention of their vote bank which is enough to keep them in power. Police reform is a very big issue and everyone wants to see honest and helping police and I think it will be the biggest gift for us if anyone can make it possible.

But it seems like these political parties like Samajwadi Party want to make the situation worse. Its impossible to believe but the Chief Minsiter of Uttar Pradesh Mr. Akhilesh Yadav announced that there won’t be any written exams for Police recruitment in the state. He believes that only physical test along with the marks in tenth and twelfth class is enough. I was shocked to hear it. I believe that whatever Police does is because of political pressure and their training but still education is needed. And the situation becomes more horrible when a government like Samajwadi Party makes such announcement which is known for allowing cheating in the exams. The whole of nation knows how the percentage of students passing the tenth and twelfth grade exams increase dramatically as soon as they come in power.

In fact a lot of people from other states come to UP to pass tenth and twelfth grade exams during the Samajwadi Party rule because cheating happens openly and it is also very common practice that students won’t even participate in the exams, they just give some money to the school or the teachers and they will arrange someone to write the exam for them. One of my friends who was living in Mumbai literally came to Varanasi to pass tenth grade exams because he tried it three times but not succeed but now when he heard that Samajwadi Party is back in power, he came to UP and got his tenth grade certificate. In his case he went for the first two tests but then the teachers came to him saying that why he tortures his fingers and mind by writing the paper, they had another option of having someone else write his papers for a few hundred rupees.

He liked this idea, just gave some money to the teacher and was sitting at home watching TV and passed the exams. UP government wants to recruit Police on the basis of merit and I wonder what does merit mean if everyone is openly cheating the exams??? It scares me to think what will happen in future when we will have such uneducated Policemen? The situation is already horrible but future seems more dark. I still remember when I was talking with a friend who is a Policeman in The Netherlands and he said that the general impression of Police in his country is that Police is friend but here they are already our enemy. I think that an educated enemy is thousand time better than an uneducated enemy and its very sad UP government wants to create a whole force of uneducated enemies to torture us.

I think if they want to solve the problems then they should better end the system of interviews because that is the place where major corruption starts. The people wanting a job in the Police have to bribe the officers taking their interview and if they get a job after bribing a huge amount of money then they will be needing it back as well. And who will repay it? We the regular people ! I don’t have any hope from people like Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav or Akhilesh Yadav who have been ruling the state for long time. The only way to get some relief is by kicking them off the power completely but it seems very very hard because of the vote bank politics. Muslims and Yadav will still vote for Samajwaadi Party and all people coming from lower castes will still vote for Mayawati does not matter if they can bring any change in their lives. But I never loose hope, I still hope that people of UP will not forget corrupt and communal governance of Samajwaadi Party and will throw them out of power in the next elections of 2017. Jai Hind.

My car accident, Police and Insurance company

I had bought a car in September 2014 for my business purpose which had an accident in May 2015. The car was going to airport, with guests in it, when an over speed bus hit it from the back. The street from Varanasi city to the airport is a two lane highway and an over speed bus which was trying to take over the car hit it and my car came right in the middle of the street and a motorbike coming from the front hit the car from front. The accident was so serious that the lady sitting on the back seat of the motorbike, which hit the from front, hit the front windshield of the car from her head and broke it. She did not have any serious injury but the person driving the bike had serious injuries and he was admitted in a hospital.

The driver who was driving the bus left the bus on the street and ran away from there so I never got to see him. The bus did not only hit my car but it also ran over another motorbike. The motorbike driver somehow survived, actually he reached right under the bus so did not get any injury but his bike was damaged completely. The trunk and hood of my car were completely damaged. The accident also caused some mechanical problems in the car. Luckily nothing happened to the car driver and guests sitting in my car. I was at home when the accident happened and the driver, Mr. Sanjay, informed me about it. The accident spot was around 20 KMs from home so it took me almost an hour to reach there. During this time the Police came and sent my car and the bus to the Police station.

After arriving at the Police station I first asked Mr. Sanjay and he said no one other than the bike driver. I tried to get some information about him but it was not easy. Finally I went to see my car and suddenly I noticed that LED screen for rear view was missing. I asked Mr. Sanjay what happened to it and he was also surprised to see that it was not there. I went to see the back camera and it was also missing. Now I checked my car and noticed that all of the external car accessories (some wires, mobile charger etc) + a few CDs, jump drives, my glasses and a few documents were also missing. While we were just talking about it suddenly a person standing next to us said that he had seen Police taking everything out of my car and carrying it to the Police station. This gentleman had a shop next to the Police station.

Now I was kind of relaxed that at least all of those stuffs were with Police. After inspecting the car we went to the Police station and asked for all of those stuffs. Two Police officers present there said that they did not know anything about it. I went back to that person who had seen Police taking everything and asked him it again. He said that he was cent percent sure that a Policeman took everything and kept it inside the Police station. He in fact knew the name of that Police officer as well. He said that the Policeman who took everything was Mr. Sonkar. Now we returned back to the Police station and asked them where was Mr. Sonkar and they sent me to a small house which was right behind the Police station.

We went there, knocked the door and a person wearing shorts opened the door. I asked him if Mr. Sonkar was there and he said that he himself was Mr. Sonkar. I asked him about my car accessories and he said that he had kept them in safe at the Police station. He sent me back to the Police station and asked me to take help of other Policemen there. I returned back to the Police station and told them that Mr. Sonkar has kept everything in a safe. They opened all of the safes in front of me but found nothing. Now they sent me back to Mr. Sonkar. We again knocked the door and this time Mr. Sonkar got angry on us. He was angry because he was taking a nap, while on duty, and we were disturbing him.

We requested him to give our stuffs back and he said that he did not know anything about it and locked the door again. Now we were waiting for him at the Police station, he showed up again after two hours but his response was still the same. He said that he had kept everything in the safe and if it is not there then it means somebody stole it and he was not responsible for it. It made me really angry but I could not do anything. I was talking about it with another Police officer there and after a while he also confirmed that Mr. Sonkar had taken everything to his room. I was angry and sad both and told that Policeman that I was relaxed when I first heard that all the accessories were with the Police because I knew that everything was in safe hands and then the response of that Police officer literally shocked me. He laughed and said that who told you that Police is not thief.

I did not know what to say so I just gave up. During this time I also called the New India Assurance insurance office in Delhi and gave me contact number of someone Mr. Singh in Varanasi. I called Mr. Singh and he said that first try to take the car Police and then call him. I also asked him if I should register an FIR with the Police and he said that if we register an FIR then the process will be longer to better settle everything on mutual consent. He said that if the case is registered then there will be hearings for months at the court and I won’t get my car back until the hearing is finished. So I told the Police station that I did not want an FIR to be lodged but they said that they won’t give my car back until and unless they have not heard that the bike driver admitted in the hospital is safe.

Their excuse was that in case if something happens to that driver or if they register a case from their side then the case has to be registered. So now the only option I has was to wait. Finally after a week I got a phone call from the owner of the bus who said that the bike driver was safe and he also wanted to settle the case without registering any complaint. I agreed on meeting with him at the Police station the next day. When I arrived at the Police station he was already present there, there was someone from the family of that bike driver as well and we all wrote a letter to Police saying that we did not want the case to be registered and finally I got me my car back.

Now I called Mr. Singh, Insurance officer, again and he said that just bring your car to any authorized Maruti dealer and leave it there. They will repair it and we will pay for it. The shop where I had bought the car was AGR Automobiles in Varanasi so I just brought my car there. They took some pics of my car, did some documentation work and said that it will take them around 10 days to repair my car which sounded absolutely fine. They also said that they did not have all the parts available so it might take 3-4 days more. Now I started going everyday to the service center and everyday they had a new excuse but one thing was common everyday that they have already ordered the parts but they don’t have it yet and they are already overworking.

It took them almost two months just to get the parts and more than three weeks to repair my car. It was very frustrating but there was not even a place where I could complaint about it. The car was ready and it was the time to settle the bill. I was supposed to pay only a processing fee of Rs. 1,000 but I was given a bill of Rs. 35,000. When I asked them why the bill was so big they said that the insurance does not cover any fiber parts, scratches and some other smaller parts but still the bill seemed so big. I also notice that the insurance company was paying only Rs. 31,000 which did not seem fair at all. I bought the insurance but insurance company was paying less than the customer??

They asked me to contact Insurance company and their excuse was such a nonsense. They said that in case of accidents spot photography (photography of the car at the place where accident happened) is necessary which was not done hence I have to pay more. I asked them why did not they do spot photography and they said because I did not ask them to do so. I was like what the fuck is this, how come you can expect me to tell you your job? It was your job and you should have done it but they just did not want to hear anything. I called Mr. Singh and he was also telling the same thing. I reminded him about what he had said when I spoke with him the first time but he completely denied it, in fact he started shouting at me.

I told him that I will take the case to consumer forum court and he said do whatever you want but we won’t pay even a single ruppe more than the amount already sanctioned. It clearly seemed like he had already done such thing several times and he had no threat of consumer court at all. I had already lost a lot of business and money due to this car accident and I did not have any money left but now I had two options- either I spend more money on going to the court, wait for endless time for judgement to come (India has most number of legal cases pending in the whole world) or pay the money he wanted and start my business again. I contacted many people from different fields such as insurance, travel agents, lawyers and all of them told me that these things happen all the time, there was nothing new what happened with me.

I thought a lot and again surrender before the corrupt Police, government and judiciary. I borrowed some money from my friends and family and paid the amount they wanted so that at least my living starts. This whole experience was so horrible that I changed that insurance company and still think what kind of justice is there or if it is really possible for a normal person like me to get justice? I know that corruption is everywhere in India but UP and Bihar always tops the list. Police should be more responsible than government because they are the ones whom people like me deal with but it is more than 100% corrupt in UP and it becomes worse as soon as Samajwadi Party comes in power. Police stole all my car accessories, Maruti took almost three months to repair my car and Insurance company did not pay…and still I can’t think of any place where I can complaint about them.

After going through this experience it reminded me of a very famous Bollywood movie dialogue when Nana Patekar says सौ में से अस्सी बेईमान, फिर भी मेरा देश महान (80 out of 100 are cheaters but still my country is great) ! I have a hope from the central government but I know that it won’t be easy for them to finish this corruption soon because the political parties which have ruled India destroyed this country so much that corruption has become part of the system and depending on different states sometimes there is some help and sometimes no help at all. Jai Hind.

A Journalist burnt alive, is there any freedom of expression in Uttar Pradesh?

What could be worse punishment for writing against a minister in Uttar Pradesh? Must not be anything because constitution of India gives us freedom of speech and expression but Uttar Pradesh Minister of Dairy Development Mr. Rammutri Verma hated it so much that he ordered the local police to set Mr. Jagendra Singh, a journalist from Saharanpur, on fire and kill him only because he wrote against him on his personal facebook page. Policing, bad governance and vandalism of ministers and ruling party members is nothing new for Uttar Pradesh but situation becomes worse as soon as Samajwadi Party comes in power. The whole party is full of bullshit, the only thing they do is caste and religion based politics to stay in power somehow.

The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Mr. Akhilesh Yadav distributes free laptops but his own website is still under construction even after his three years in office. His father and chairperson of Samajwadi Party Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav claims that women are super safe under his party’s rule but when asked about rapes he says that “boys are boys and they make mistakes sometimes” . These are the people who are ruling the state so I never hope for anything else from them but situation seems really horrible when we hear about incidents like Mr. Singh’s murder and it becomes more horrible when such criminals are not even arrested. What was his fault? Media was pressurizing the Samajwadi Party to take action against the minister but they wanted to prove it as a suicide whereas Mr. Singh’s statement was recorded on camera while he was dying in this hospital. Here is his statement-

He clearly says in the video that Police came and they first started to beat him asking why does he write against the Minister Verma and finally burnt him up. Even after this statement the Samajwadi Party never admitted that their Minister and Police was involved in this murder. In fact his son also explained the whole thing on TV, his son also said that now he was getting threats from the Minister, they were also offering him money but the administration did not take any action against Minister Verma, they did not even register any Police complaint against him. Finally they just suspended two Policemen and that’s all. I know that people of Uttar Pradesh have made a huge mistake by choosing such criminals to run the state but I do have a hope that they will take revenge of all the sins Samajwadis have been doing in 2017 when we have our next elections. Jai Hind.

Amarnath Yatra 2013

Indian Army welcomes the Yatris

Indian Army welcomes the Yatris

I first tried to visit Amarnath in 2010 but could not as the Police stopped us by entering in the Kashmir valley area by saying that the weather was not good and it was not possible to drive on high mountains. Later we learnt that weather was not the issue but the problem was locals of Anantnag and Kashmir valley area attacking the pilgrims. We were literally shocked and sad to hear that we were not allowed to travel in our country and people of our own country hate us. After that incident I had promised myself that I won’t go to Kashmir ever until the India-Pakistan and Kashmir issue is solved. But the only next year I made a road trip to Leh via Kashmir valley, talked with people and learnt a lot.

Viccky, Chintu, Driver and I (Left to right)

Viccky, Chintu, Driver and I (Left to right)

That experienced changed my view and motivated me to plan another trip so that I could experience and learn more about the people living in that area, their issues and problems. My friends were planning a trip to Amarnath in June this year and I immediately subscribed to it with so much excitement and hope to learn and experience more Kashmir. The Supreme Court of India was very strict this year with number of visitors and their health condition. The Supreme court made it mandatory for every pilgrim to go through necessary health checkup and proper registration because more than 250 people had died during the Yatra in 2012. Because of ecological concerns of the Amarnath glacier, the court also ordered to limit the number of visitors at 7500 per day.

Baltal Basecamp

Baltal Basecamp

We applied for our registration and health checkup in Varanasi. We had to go through the health checkup at first at our government district hospital. The procedure was insane as it involved a lot of bureaucracy and that same crazy behavior of government officers. The health checkup included three tests : A general blood test, orthopedic test and a very mysterious naked body checkup:) I call it mysterious because the doctor did not tell me why he wanted to see me naked. hahaha. Anyways, the blood test was fine but the orthopedist was so busy on phone that he did not perform proper checkup instead just stamped the paper saying that everything was all right.

Rates for tents

Rates for tents

That naked body test was so funny. There were all aged people in the line everyone was either laughing or kind of upset coming out of the doctor’s room. I also had the same experience when I came out of the room. The doctor asked me to stand about ten meters away from him, take of my pants and then cough. When I asked him what was this test for, he just looked at me with anger and asked me to do my business. Most probably he wanted to check hernia, I am not sure. Anyways, after getting the health certificate we had to go to Punjab National Bank because this bank was authorized by Amarnath Shrine Board to make the registration. There was a fee of Rs. 30 to get the registration but it was all right.

We wanted to go on Yatra through Pahalgam checkpoint but it was already full for sever

Helipad at Baltal

Helipad at Baltal

al days so we got permission from Baltal checkpoint. Most of the people prefer to start the yatra from Pahalgam as the route to Amarnath cave is very steep from Baltal side. Anyways, we got our so called health certificate and registration paper without going through proper health checkup. We started our trip from Varanasi by taking a train to Jammu. It was a 28 hours train ride hence we decided to stay over night in Jammu and take a rest. We started our journey again the next morning and our plan was to reach Baltal base camp by the same evening.

Beautiful nature

Beautiful nature

It was kind of surprising to see the number of Police and Army here and there but its quite normal in Jammu and Kashmir. Anyways, another shocking thing was police checking on the way to Baltal, We were stopped several times on the way, even in Srinagar where they wanted to see our registration certificate, check our bags etc. It was still 3 hours for sun to set and we were hardly 2 hours away from base camp and suddenly our vehicle was stopped and asked to park in an Army base camp. Once we entered in the base camp, we saw minimum of 200 other vehicles of such people like us who wanted to go on Amarnath yatra. We asked others about why they were stopping the yatris but nobody knew the answer.



Even Army people did not want to tell anything. They had arranged free water, tea and snacks but we needed an answer. Finally we asked an Army guy who looked from South India and he said that people from Anantnag area were attacking the vehicles of pilgrims therefore for security reasons the vehicles were stopped. He also mentioned that the traffic will be allowed again once the security is arranged on the street. It was so sad to hear such thing but what to do. We were waiting at that Army camp for two hours and finally heard that now we could start again. The fleet was guarded by Indian Army and they were with us until we crossed the sensitive area.

Pilgrims on the way to the Holy cave

Pilgrims on the way to the Holy cave

But it took a lot of time and we were stopped again around 70 KMs from the base camp and we had to spend a night at another Indian Army camp. There was a huge langar setup by someone from Lucknow. I had heard a lot about langars enroute to the cave but it was the first time when I saw one and I was really impressed. They had almost all of the food I can buy in my city, they were offering free blankets, hot water and several other services and everything was free of cost. Anyways, I did not eat there as the line was also huge. We hired a tent for Rs. 700 and spent the night there. The tent was small but there was nothing better than it. There were only 4-5 restrooms for maybe 5000 people so we did not take a risk and started our journey early in the morning time the next day.

I near to the Holy cave

I near to the Holy cave

We arrived at Baltal around 8 am and were planning to start trekking immediately but could not as our registration was valid for 3rd of July and we were in Baltal on the 1st. I was the only person in my whole ground who had not been to Amarnath  before and everyone was telling me that the date doesn’t matter, what matters is the registration certificate. Hence we were quite sure that we would get to go on the 1st even our registration was valid for the 3rd. But because of strict orders of the Supreme court all of the rules were properly followed, rarely happens in my world:) We tried our best by talking with Police but it seemed impossible for us to start trekking that day. So we started looking for a Langar to stay and luckily found one run by someone from my own city.

Super crowded near the cave

Super crowded near the cave

When they heard that we were from Varanasi they immediately offered us free sleeping arrangement with free food, hot water, clean and private washrooms… what else do you need, it was just awesome. We spent that day just wandering around, looking at different langars, talking with people, testing different food etc. Since our registration was valid for the 3rd and it was the 1st, we did not know what we were going to do the next day. Everything was so restricted that it was not even allowed to go further away from the base camp. We met with an Army guy the same evening who suggested us to reach at the entry gate at 4 am the next day. He said that if we can reach that early then there is a possibility that we will allowed for yatra even a day early.

The black is not clay, its dirty snow

The black is not clay, its dirty snow

We had two seriously fat guys in our group and they were having really hard time in walking. Walking on high altitude mountains was a serious problem for them. Everyone suggested them to take helicopter service which would reduce the journey by 6 KMs. I had also never sat on a helicopter so I also decided to go with them. The next morning all of my friends, excluding my two fat friends and me, left the camp 3.30 am and luckily they were allowed to start the yatra. We arrived at the helicopter station around 7 am bought our tickets but the process so crazy that it took us 7 hours to get our boarding pass. I am not joking, it literally took us 7 hours. The guys working at the ticket counter did not have a computer, they were managing all the data on register.

Local phone booth run by solar panel

Local phone booth run by solar panel

I could easily see that they were not trained at all and did not know what they were doing. The helicopters were standing and waiting for passengers and they could not sort out who to send in which helicopter. It was seriously frustrating and hilarious. Finally we boarded on the helicopter at 1.30 PM. It was a very short journey of 7-8 minutes but good enough to get a sense about this flying machine, I liked it. The helicopter left us at Panchtarni which was 6 Kms passing the cave on the other side (en route to Pahalgam). The walk to the cave was seriously steep and fat friends could not walk hence they got on a pony. There were more ponies than human which was a serious pane. The route was very steep and narrow and then thousands of ponies running continuously was just too much.

Indian army offering warm water to the pilgrims

Indian army offering warm water to the pilgrims

The dust and all the shit of ponies was kind of killing the experience but the nature was absolutely fantastic. Beautiful clean rivers, water falls, mountains, snow, green valleys, lakes…it was amazing experience to hike. I had to walk on snow at several place en route to the cave. Finally I reached at the cave but the line was huge. I had to spend around 3 hours in line and then I finally got inside the cave. Everyone in the line was talking about the holy pigeons. But different people had different stories. Some of them were saying that the real holy pigeon is white, another one was saying that the real one is always with its pair… Anyways, I got to see several, minimum of 10.

Security everywhere

Security everywhere

I was seriously excited about seeing the Shivalingam but at first I could not really understand where the lingam was because there was snow everywhere in the cave. Other people in the line showed me a 4 feet tall piece of snow and referred it as the lingam. They said that other pieces of snow represent Ganesha and Parvati. I paid my respect and came out of the cave. It rained continuously when I was line and since I was not wearing my shoes and had not eaten  anything since that morning, I felt affected by hypothermia. I was dizzy and felt seriously confused. I had never experience such physical condition before but I knew what it was.

Inside a langar

Inside a langar

I immediately tried to find a langar where they were offering hot Kheer. It was just like heaven to have found some food. I felt a lot better after having it. I also found my friends who had left early morning on foot. We decided to leave cave area and try to walk back as much as possible. We had decided to reach Seshnag by the night it did not work. The Indian army had closed the exit point at Panchtarni by 7 PM and it was not possible to go further. We rented a tent and spent night there. The next day we started walking back early in the morning time and reached Seshnag by 12. I know that we could have made it much more faster but I always to see the lake at Seshnag and spend some time there so we walked slowly, enjoyed the nature, talked with people…

Snow everywhere

Snow everywhere

We were only three friends who wanted to stay over night in Seshnag and rest proceeded  to Pahalgam the same day and arrived there by the evening. One of my friends brother in law, Mr. Amarpal Sharma who is a member of State Assembly in UP from Sahibabad, runs his own langar at Seshnag. We stayed at his langar overnight and it was a very big relief. They provided us private tent, comfortable bed and private clean washroom. We relaxed overnight there and the next day proceeded for Pahalgam. I had always wanted to visit Seshnag lake but I noticed that nobody was going down to the lake. Everyone just walked the lake on mountain and literally there was no one other than a few pony owners. We went down to the lake and it was amazing. The lake was crystal clear with blue water.

Beautiful nature

Beautiful nature

But my friend said that he had seen change in the color of the lake because all of the waste created by hundreds of tents at Seshnag is drained into the river. This was very sad to hear. I asked one of the pony owners if they drink water out of the pond and he said they used to but not anymore because of pollution in it. He also seemed very concerned about the pond dying. I don’t know when our governments will become serious about the dying nature, seems like they have learnt nothing by the Ganges. Anyways, we left the lake and started walking towards Pahalgam. We arrived there after three hours and then took a taxi back to Jammu. We were back in Jammu the same night around 3 AM. The yatra finished but it raised several questions to me :

1) Amarnath shrine board and Jammu Kashmir government’s attitude towards the yatra and pilgram.

2) Jammu and Kashmir state police behavior

3) Locals behavior and their feeling about yatris visiting their land

4) Threat to the environment in the name of religion and pilgrimage

5) Social harmony

Pilgrims and Ponnys

Pilgrims and Ponnys

Going back to point number one- Amarnath shrine board and Jammu Kashmir government’s attitude towards the yatra and pilgram. This was a very strange thing I noticed that the Amarnath shrine board and Jammu Kashmir government did not seem helpful at all. All the people run langars and pilgrims were complaining about the Shrine Board and Jammu and kashmir government. The people who run langars were saying that it was very easy for them to run their langar until last year when Indian Army was given responsibility to organize the yatra. But this year its state police and Shrine board organizing the yatra and they are trying to make it as complicated as possible for langars to survive.

Indian flag, just love it

Indian flag, just love it

They said that everyday and several times some officers from either the Shrine board or the government come, try to inspect their services and always say that something is not correct. It was really funny to hear that they had made it prohibited for langars to serve anything cooked in Desi Ghee and sweets like Gulab jamun. Their argument was that Desi ghee is very heavy and people can get heart attack by eating anything which is made of desi ghee. They were just trying somehow to disturb the langar runners. By law they had prohibited carrying any plastic and were literally each and every person’s pocket and bags to see if anyone was carrying anything that had plastic. I was really happy to see such action to protect environment but after a while I realized that this rule was only for pilgrims and not for the locals at all. Locals were openly selling plastic packaged food and other items and nobody was there to stop them.

Sheshnag Base camp, Himalayas & Sheshnag lake

Sheshnag Base camp, Himalayas & Sheshnag lake

Point number 2- Jammu Kashmir Police was so rude and cruel to the pilgrims that I never felt safe around them. They stopped us at several places on the way to the base camp to check our identity, luggage and our pockets in such a way that we were terrorists. The local drivers also informed us to be more careful when being checked by such officers because sometimes they already have some illegal items with themselves which they put in the luggage of passengers while checking their bags. Just looking at them was really horrifying experience. Once our vehicle was stopped on the way to the base camp and we were asked to just wait at a parking place where there were already more than a couple of hundreds of vehicle were waiting.

Indian Army medical camp for pilgrims

Indian Army medical camp for pilgrims

We had no idea why we all these vehicles were stopped so we tried to contact some police officers there but again they were so rude that it seemed like they wanted to kill us. Finally I saw an Army personal and contacted but his behavior was completely different, he was so polite and answered all of our questions and finally we learnt that we were stopped because the locals were attacking the vehicles of the pilgrims hence extra security was needed. Finally all of the vehicles were released in security of Indian army that helped us crossing the area where tension was. I also spoke with several Indian army guys regarding their view on Jammu and Kashmir police behavior and even Army guys said that if Indian army was not present in the valley then forget about locals even the police would kill the pilgrims. It was very very unhappy feeling to see state government behavior.

Sheshnag Lake

Sheshnag Lake

Point number 3- In my view most of the locals do not like pilgrims at all. They literally called us Indian and made fun of us wherever and whenever it was possible. I could easily see hate and anger on their face for me. The locals attacking the pilgrims is not a new situation at all in the valley area and I had read about it so many times but when I went through it personally then I realized how horrible the situation was. I once talked with a guy from Punjab who runs a restaurant during the tourist season and he told me half of the people of valley area support outsiders visiting their land half area completely against it. And even the half who support it are the ones who somehow make money out of tourism. If there was no money for them they won’t support it either.

Sheshnag Lake

Sheshnag Lake

One of the stops during the journey was Sheshnag which is named after a beautiful Himalayan lake Sheshnag Lake. Most of the people just stop here to take rest and then continue walking, nobody really goes close to the lake but I did. The lake was beautiful but again I experienced something which turned all of the joy to a sad experience. I went to visit the lake with my two friends Sonu and Kuvar. When we arrived, there were no other tourists but we saw a few locals (lets say 8 or 10 young boys) who were just hanging out having fun. As soon as they saw us, their behavior changed immediately. They started throwing stones towards us, were using abusive words, a few of them got naked so that we go fight with them. All of those guys were the once who make their living by renting their ponnys to the pilgrims, very sad and scary feeling. And it was not only at Sheshnag, we noticed similar or worse behavior everywhere in the valley area.

A dead ponny in the lake

A dead ponny in the lake

Point number 4- Because of no regulations environment is seriously harmed by the pilgrims. I saw garbage and plastic everywhere. The snow had turned black in the entire route used by the pilgrims. All of the camps discharge their entire waste, including raw sewage, directly to the nearest river or the pond. Sheshnag had minimum of 100-200 camps offering lodging and food to the pilgrims. I am sure that minimum of 4-5000 people were sleeping everyday in Sheshnag and entire waste was being directly discharged into the Sheshnag lake. I also spoke with a few locals of that area and they said until 10-15 years ago when the yatra was not so popular and the number pilgrims was also not much the primary source of their drinking water was the water coming from Sheshnag lake but its impossible for them to use that water anymore because of all the raw sewage and other waste in it which comes directly from the camps of the pilgrims.

It only looks clean, it has sewage in it

It only looks clean, it has sewage in it

And this situation was not only at the Sheshnag area but it was at all of the spots wherever camps are situated for the pilgrims. There was no waste management at all and imagine the waste created by hundred of thousands of people every year who do the yatra. There is no proper waste management anywhere in India and we are used to it but seeing such beautiful and sacred place going in the same condition like any other Indian cities was one of the most disappointing feeling for me. I had a chat regarding this issue with one of the camp owners and he said that their feeling is also the same like us and they are more than willing to provide whatever is required to make the situation better and have contacted the concerned departments and government but there is no help at all. I don’t know how long those glaciers will be able to survive and we need to understand that if those glaciers area not there there then even the Amarnath won’t be able to survive there at all because he is also made of snow.

Indian Army temple

Indian Army temple

Point number 4- It is my personal opinion that the best human feeling is the harmony with the people around us and worse situation is when there is attraction or harmony in people’s relationship. It was not my first visit to the valley area, definitely first time to Amarnath but I had been to Kashmir several times before, and I have realized one thing for sure that the people of Kashmir do not like the people who come from out of valley area. There are several groups with different demands. Some of them want to go with Pakistan, some of them want to have a free nation, some of them don’t like the pilgrims because they are non-Muslims and some of them want to convert everyone to Islam.

Water everywhere

Water everywhere

And this movement is so strong that they have no space for outsiders. They just hate anyone visiting their land. As an outsider, for themselves, I could not enjoy as much as I could have if they were welcoming to us. The biggest reason behind my travel is to talk with the locals and it was impossible to interact with locals in the valley area. In fact I was surrendered but only because they wanted to sell me something or were begging or cigarettes or candies. The poverty in the valley is so extreme that you might encounter with groups of people begging of chewing gum if you are chewing one or they will ask you get food from the pilgrims camps for them. Other than this they have no interest at all which was very sad feeling for me. If they can just maintain social harmony then their entire situation could change in one tourist season.

A waterfall

A waterfall

Kashmir is like a heaven for Indians and everyone wants to go there but just because such experience I had, not many people return back or recommend others to visit. Tourism can bring huge amount of money to the valley which could solve most of the biggest problems they are facing but just because of the bad information spread by the locals militants and other groups they have no respect at all for tourists. It is very unfortunate situation and someday Kashmir has to come over it otherwise they will be in the same condition for coming unlimited years as they are now- poor, violence, illiterate and overall seriously crazy. The great poet Amir Khusro wrote a poetry in Persian to describe the beauty of Kashmir in this way- “Agar firdaus bar ru-ye zamin ast, Hamin ast o hamin ast o hamin ast ” meaning “If there is a paradise on earth,It is this, it is this, it is this.”

Anyways, the nature was beautiful and the experience was once in a life time experience. I hope that someday there will  be peach and prosperity in Kashmir as well and the attitude of people will also be welcoming and they would also be proud of their Indian identity just like any other Indian citizen.

Bharat Mata ki Jai, भारत माता की जय

Bharat Mata ki Jai, भारत माता की जय


Plastic Kills



We have always been hearing about how plastic is a serious threat for our planet but not many people seem serious about the issue. Especially in India where there is plastic just everywhere, even the blessings at temples are packed in plastic. Government does all the propaganda by making laws that plastic should be prohibited but nothing is implemented. Just like anyone else living in this country I am also affected by plastic but something happened a few days ago which just blew my mind. Actually I met with someone new in my life a few weeks ago and we became really good friends. A few weeks ago I was sitting at Assi crossing and suddenly a bullock came to me.

Baba with Rahul

Baba with Rahul

He was very cute, just came to me like we had known each other for long time and put his face over my lap. I started stroking him and he seemed very relaxed by me doing it. Suddenly a few of my other friends also came and the bullock behaved very friendly with them as well. We offered him some food but he didn’t seem to be very excited about eating it. Anyways, we named him the same evening and his name was Baba. Baba was with us for almost an hour and then we went back home. We saw Baba the next day at the same place where we met yesterday.

Now we noticed something strange in Baba’s body. His stomach looked kind of bigger than his size. We tried to touch it and it seemed very tight. We decided to ask someone who does dairy business if Baba’s stomach looked strange to him as well. Luckily there is a dairy businessman right at Assi crossing. We called him and asked about what he thought about Baba’s stomach. Based on his experience he said that Baba has eaten a lot of plastic and that’s why his growth has stopped, he doesn’t feel like eating, he is not happy and something is not done soon then he might die as well.

We had also noticed some problems that Baba seemed hungry but he could not eat. His seemed bigger in age than his physical growth. All of my friends were very sad to hear it and we decided to contact some doctor. A friend of mine who owns a cow contacted the doctor and doctor said if the plastic is in Baba’s body for long time then the only possible way to take it out is an operation. Baba’s was not in good shape at all, we noticed that he was becoming more and more skinny everyday. We were still discussing what to do with Baba and suddenly we saw his dead body by the corner of the street where we used to meet.

It was very sad to see him dead and I don’t really think that we will forget him ever. But by looking at what happened with Baba, we can easily imagine what is the condition of our animals in India, the country where each and every form of life is worshiped. Talking about Varanasi, this city had a tradition of setting up big containers at every corner of the alleys which would be filled with water and food by the locals of Varanasi so that street animals could stay happy and healthy but now the situation has become really worse that our street animals are dying by eating garbage which is mixed with plastic.

I have no hope from the government and I think the only way to solve this problem would be some initiative from the people themselves. But it also seems very complicated because whatever we get is always packed in plastic and it has to go somewhere. Usually people put their garbage on the street from where it should be collected by municipality. We also don’t have any system of separating the garbage and everything is mixed. I think the best thing would be use as less plastic as possible. I don’t know when things will change but I will try my best to change myself for sure. RIP Baba.

Baba Dead

Baba Dead

Police in Varanasi

Corruption is a very big issue in India nowadays and everyone is talking about it. Even we saw the result in Delhi state assembly elections how Aam Aadmi Party changed the government only on the issue of corruption. I was also very  excited after seeing the result of Delhi elections but sometimes such things happen which make me feel like there is just no way to kill corruption in this country. It was a friend’s wedding last week in Varanasi and I went to attend it. After the wedding was finished, all of my friends returned back home but one of them parked his motorbike right in front of his home on the main street which is very usual thing for a city like Varanasi where there is no parking space available anywhere.

It was 2.30 AM and I got a call on my mobile from the same friend saying that his bike was missing. He had called me seeking help to find that bike. We went together on the street asking people if someone saw our bike and a person told us that he had seen two policemen taking our bike. We went to the nearest police station and the police officer present there said that the bike was found unattended hence it is sent to big police station which was about a kilometer away from my place. Now we went to the big police station and found everyone asleep other than one person who was standing by the entrance.

We asked him about our bike and he confirmed that our bike was there but we needed to talk with the officer. We went to the officer and found him sleeping on his chair. We were trying to wake him up but he was in super sound sleep. Finally he woke up after our several attempts. We explained him our situation and he said that we would have to go to the court the next day, pay a fine of Rs. 10,000 and only then we will get our bike. We knew it very well that he was telling a lie. We requested him so much to give us our bike back and he finally agreed on doing so after talking with the policemen who had brought our bike from the street. He asked us to go on the street looking for those policemen.

We had no idea where to find him. We requested him to kindly confirm their location by talking with them on phone but the officer just didn’t want to help us. He always felt more interested in his sleep. Anyways, we decided to go back to the same location and luckily found those police guys. We explained them our situation and they were easy. They asked us to go back to the police station and have the officer talk with them. Now we went back to the police station and again found the officer sleeping. It was a serious pain to wake him up but the mission was successful, we were able to wake him up. Now he opened a register, looked at a few pages and found he page where he had written the bike number.

Now he asked for the bike registration paper which we did not have. The papers were with the friend who owned the bike. We tried calling him but he did not respond. We went to his home, woke him up and brought him to the police station with all the papers and asked us to wait. It was crazy to see that right in front of our eyes, he closed the register and again felt asleep asking us to wait. We just did not know what to do now. Now I laughed in anger and we started talking with each other like this is our great India, this is the system…things like that. The awake policemen who was listening to us told us that- now you are laughing too much but imagine what would have happened if a thief had stolen your bike.

I just did not know what to tell him but I told him that we are laughing only because our bike is secured with the police. Anyways, after waiting for 15-20 minutes we asked the awaken police to wake up the sleeping policeman, hahaha. Finally the officer woke up, again looked at the documents and now asked for Rs. 500. We all started looking at each other and asked him why he needed Rs. 500. As we asked this question to him, he got upset, closed the register and again went asleep by asking us to go to the court the next day. We knew it very well that if we go to the court then we will have to bribe to maybe 10 people because everything is super corrupt at the courts also.

It was already 4 AM and we had no hope other than bribing him. We finally gave him Rs. 500 and got our bike back. But when I think about the behavior of that police guy, it makes me feel like our police is formed to torture us and nothing else. The policeman had no interest in helping us, he was always trying to make the situation more complicated. He was very rude, corrupt, fat, lazy, sleepy and a bigger thief than regular thieves. And I have never ever met any policeman who was better than him. I have also not ever met any person who said that he ever found a helping policeman. I think it is definitely a need of the time to dismiss entire police system and bring new fresh people with a different training.

I have also heard that our police is trained in the same way as it was trained during the British Raj time. The police was trained to fight against locals those days and they are trained the same way even today also. Our political system never had any free time to make police system better because they are also involved in looting the country. I am sure that this problem could be solved by bringing new police act and using more technology but I don’t see any hope especially for my state of Uttar Pradesh where governments come in power by doing caste and religion based politics. I have always believed that Indian police is somehow responsible for each and every problem we have in this country and if things do not change soon then I can grantee that the dream of India of becoming super power we stay only a dream forever.

Untouchability/ Impurity

The idea of unaccountability has always been part of Hindu culture but it also changed the way everything changed over time. If we look at real idea of unaccountability then it is completely karma based and anyone can become untouchable or impure by doing certain karma at anytime in their lives but at present certain communities are considered 24 hours untouchable. The best examples in my city are the people who work at cremation sites.There is so huge discrimination against them that the community doesn’t seem to have any hope. Even they don’t consider themselves as someone who can even dream of changing their lives.

I still remember when I worked with CBC a few years ago on a documentary project which was about filming a young Doam (the caste of people who work at the cremation grounds) whose father was still involved in the cremation ground but the son was either studying computers or working at a multinational company and at one moment we thought that it was impossible to find someone in such condition because no family had ever sent their kids to the school. Anyways, something magic happened and we found an amazing person for our episode, in fact it was the best story of the series.

Something really in interesting happened with me last night which made me write this story and really made me think if there is any impact of education on Indian society or not? Are we still stuck with that crazy system of unaccountability/ impurity / discrimination of the basis of somebody’s caste? And the worse thing is that nobody wants to think about the real idea and just want to go with the present system. One of my friend’s father died yesterday and I went to the cremation ground with my two friends who are my age graduate living in so called educated Indian city.

Both of my friends were really concerned about getting touched by anyone at the cremation ground because it would have made them impure or untouchable. The idea of impurity associated with cremation says that whoever participates in the funeral becomes impure until they have taken a bath again. They were planning to keep a distance from all of the family members, even my friend. They warned me also to not get touched by anyone but I did not know how to make it happen. I was going to my friend father’s funeral and I knew that at least I was going to hug him or touch him to show my sorrow and support in this difficult time.

Anyways, I arrived at the cremation ground and saw my friend standing alone and looking at his father’s funeral. That feeling of seeing my friend was so strong to me that I could not stop myself by going close to him. My other friend’s, who were concerned about getting touched, also came with me. I was talking with my friend and suddenly I noticed that two other friends who had come with me were gone now. They were standing kind of 20 meters away from me. Suddenly the friend who father had died started crying and now I could not stop myself by putting my hand over his shoulder. We were standing like this for a while and then I went to my other friends and we returned back home.

But the most interesting experience for me when I started my motorbike to drive back home. It was the same motorbike I had used to reach at the cremation ground with two other friends but now they did not want to ride it. We were three on one motorbike with me being the driver and my other friends were asking each other to sit on the bike first so that they don’t touch me. Anyways, they also came on my bike and we all drove back together. The next day one of those friends came to me and said that he had to change his clothes and take a bath before entering in home only because I touched someone at the cremation ground and they got touched by me.

I thought about it a lot and was wondering if this idea of impurity is more important than showing your support to a friend who is facing a death of a family member? Anyways, I think I just did not do anything wrong, in fact I did not do anything, it was just my human feeling which made me touch that friend. I also want to respect traditions but definitely can’t compromise with my social duties.


I started to blog about six years ago and I have always enjoyed it so much. In fact blogging changed my whole life: it improved my writing, my thinking, increased my social networking and got me a lot of attention. In the beginning I was just writing about anything, even my guests staying at my guesthouse but later I took it more seriously and I started writing about social issues, tourism, corruption, politics etc. But now I have been going through really strange situation ever since my blog has gotten good ranking on google. I never paid any money or put any extra efforts to get good ranking on google, it all happened automatically and I was always so happy and proud of my blog.

But ever since I have been getting good ranking on my blog, I have also started to get threats from different people who are upset with my writings. It was the first time last year when I had to remove one of the posts I wrote about a very famous TV show filming in Varanasi. I just wrote about my views on how they contacted me first, wanted to offer me the assignment but when I asked my salary they said that they did not have a fancy budget to pay my salary. Later I introduced one of my friends to the team and he agreed on working with them. When the crew arrived in Varanasi, I was surprised to see how big budget they had. And finally the producer asked my friend to get him some empty receipts so that he can fill some crazy amount and get money for it.

It was a very strange experience for me because I had already worked with so many TV channels from all over the world and none of them ever asked for such thing. I finally wrote about it and it became a serious problem for me because the producer sitting in Mumbai office found my post way before the show was ever on TV. The crew started calling me several times a day and threatened me by saying that they know so many people in Varanasi, they will go to the court against me etc… Finally under pressure of the crew and my friend who worked with them, I had to remove that post and it was a very upsetting moment for me. It took me more than a few weeks to recover from that incident.

Anyways, something similar again happened with me last week. I wrote a post about a guesthouse in Varanasi based in my person experience about how stupid the guesthouse staff and owner were in dealing with their guests. Actually one of my groups was staying at this guesthouse in the year 2011 and I got a call from the guesthouse owner the same day the group arrived saying that I should tell my group that I can’t provide any services to my group. I was surprised to hear it and I asked him if he was sure what he was talking about and he said that if I provide any boat, taxi or tours to my guests then they would kick the group out of their hotel. The owner also suggested me some stupid excuses like I can tell my guests that I don’t know anything about Varanasi.

Anyways, I informed my group about it and they also talked with the hotel owner, they had a little fight but later everything was fixed. But the guesthouse owner had threatened me by saying that I am new in the industry, I don’t know the rules, I should not try to be so smart and he will see me. I decided to write about it on my blog and same thing happened what had happened with that TV group. They started calling me, sending me emails and such things. Finally I got a call last week from a dude in my neighborhood who asked me to remove that post. I thought a lot about whether I should remove that post or not and decided to ask the group what they thought. I was surprised to see that the same group was going to stay at that same guesthouse in their next trip to India.

They said that it is convenient for them to stay at the same place because it is the closest guesthouse to the building where they have all of their business in Varanasi. I was kind of upset after hearing this but thought what can I do if even the group is not supporting me. So finally I removed that post also. All these removal of my posts and similar incidences all across India have raised a serious question about whether I should still write about corruption or not. Recently a writer was arrested and sent to jail because he made a comment on Facebook about some politician. Where is the freedom of expression and freedom of speech? At a moment I had thought to take help of Police but later realized that Police is definitely more corrupt than any the camera crew or the guesthouse owner.

I don’t know if I will ever write about corruption issues on my city level because I feel threatened by these local mafias. I have a family and I need to think about them as well. And in any case I never feel like having enough time to become part of bullshit politics. Peace.