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

 

Plastic Kills

Baba

Baba

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.

Blogging

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.

Ranked # 1 on Tripadvisor

I got my tourist guide license four years ago and I was really confused about how I was going to work. My elder brother works for an Italian tour company, my cousin is also an Italian speaking tourist guide and I have grown up in a city where tourism is very important part of economy. Everyone was giving me different suggestions but most of them recommended me to visit some travel agencies with my CV and ask for work because this is the traditional way of getting work in tourism industry for tour guides. I was already blogging and I had developed a sense of finding right customers online so I was not really if I needed to contact travel agencies and in any case I was upset with usual travel agency’s practices like forced shopping and considering the guest only as a person whom you don’t think about meeting again in future.

I had already met with so many western people way before I got my license so I already had a sense about what western tourists want. And in any case my work as a translator or research assistant gave me the best practical knowledge possible, which a lot of guides miss, about western culture. So I decided to work in the same way I was already doing by promoting my business online. My friend Lane from Seattle helped a lot by putting up a website for my tour business. In the beginning it was not working at all and I realized that only having a website was not enough and I needed some kind of advertisement. In the beginning I used platforms like google business or craigslist but it was not really working well, I was still not getting enough work.

During the tour guide training program, we were taught that as per a survey organized by some International travel agency if a tourist is happy with the services of the travel agent then he is likely to tell about his experience to around 5 people but if he is upset then he is likely to share his experience with around 13 people which means there is no margin for error in this tourism business. I started working keeping this idea in my mind that I don’t have any rights to do anything which my guest doesn’t feel comfortable with. I was meeting with a lot of people through different online travel forums and just tried to perform my best. During this time so many people wrote about my services on online travel forums like Lonely Planet Thorn Tree and Indiamike.

Indiamike got me a lot of business and I was really happy with it. A few months ago Tripadvisor contacted me and they provided me a space on their website. Most probably some of my guests had asked Tripadvisor to list me on their website. I had heard about Tripadvisor so many times and everyone said that it was very big and so many people use it. I was really excited to be listed on Tripadvisor. Tripadvisor asked me to ask my guests to share their reviews about my services. It took me only four months and now I am ranked 1 on Varanasi page. I don’t know how it will change my business but I have noticed one thing that so many people contact me. It is a very big responsibility for me to carry on the same quality but I try my best.

I am also considering training other people so that we can work together with more than one group a day. In fact I tried it during last tourist season and it worked very well. I know that this coming tourist season will be much more busier than the last one and I need to be more prepared to handle the traffic. And keeping this idea in my mind I have already made contacts with other government approved tourist guides, have given them a sense about my style of work and they all have agreed on working with me. The biggest worry for me about hiring other guides was if they would ask my guests to go shopping with them as they usually do with their guests. I told them that I don’t do it in my business : I ask for more rather than stealing or cheating my guests.

All of the guides whom I met they also believed in me and said that if they get good salary then why they would take their guests for shopping. I have promised them extra money and just by getting this extra money they were all happy to take my guests without shopping. Everything is working very well so far and I am really excited for next tourist season. My tripadvisor page is here.

Rapes and women rights in India

Woman rights have always been a very issue in India ever since it was affected by invaders. And now the situation has become worse. If we look at India before invaders came, we see that India was a very liberal society with woman and men both having equal rights. But as soon as invaders came, they changed Indian society completely. They implemented so many rules to keep women behind curtain which kind of separated them from the society and caused serious discrimination against them and now these practices have become part of life in India. I travel a lot across India and as a person interested in human behavior, I try never to miss any opportunity of talking with people, doesn’t matter what subject.
Every once in a while I encounter in such conversations where people are talking about girls and just listening to them gives me a sense about how do they see woman, even who are their family. People react in seriously strange way when talking about woman. Three of my friends have daughters and I still remember that when I spoke to them first time after their baby was born, all of them told me somehow the same thing that were happy EVEN if the baby was a girl. I mean if someone becomes a parent then naturally they are happy and there is no need of mentioning whether they got a girl or boy. I could easily see that they were so happy, just as any new parent, but at the same time they were depressed also. There was definitely something missing out of their happiness.

The compliments of others who came to visit the baby at the hospitals were also very strange. They would come and ask if it was a male or female baby and as soon as they heard that it was a female baby, they would go like : Oh, but its not a problem, now the world has changed and girls are also doing so many nice things. These kind of compliments easily showed that the people already had an idea in their mind that the parents were not so happy. Noticing such behavior raise serious question of gender issues in India. We heard about Damini rape case in December last year and I noticed how big news it had become. Everyone was talking about it, people were protesting on the streets, media had nothing else to talk about other than this rape case, our politicians got a news subject to talk about : the party in power was promising some serious step and the opposition party also got an issue to make the other party look down.

I was wondering why everyone was so serious about this particular case when such things have been happening and will happen, because I don’t have any hope from the government at all and police is cent-percent corrupt, in future as well??? What about other Daminis who were also raped and murdered in the past? There has not been a single day ever since Damini was raped when some other girl was not raped in such or worse condition somewhere in India, including several in Delhi itself. It is my daily routine to read newspaper as soon as I wake up and I never find my newspaper not talking about some rape case somewhere in India. Reports are same more or less everyday that a girl was raped and thrown somewhere in either half naked or fully nude condition:  when family went to the police asking them to register a complaint police did not register the complaint: but when media got involved, police registered the complaint: ministers also promised something etc.

I have read several articles saying police itself raped someone inside the police station. I also read an article about a 40 years old woman who was raped by 3 men. When she went to the police station, the Police did not register her complain. When media heard about the issue and contacted to the SSP (Senior Superintendent of Police), the SSP himself said on camera that this woman was lying. She was too old get raped. In fact he asked media why someone would rape her if she is already over 40??? I was like what the hell is this? We all know it very well that it is very complicated for a person to get their complain registered and police does it all the time because once they register the complain they have to solve it also and Police never have time to solve any problem, they are always busy either relaxing, making fake reports, taking bribe or planning to torture someone without any reason but having such kind of excuse from a very responsible and senior police officer??? Later the SSP was suspended but I know that he will be back soon.

Last year an IAS officer tried to rape a 16 year old girl on a running train. Under pressure of other people traveling on the train, police had to register a complain but the very next day media reported that several ministers and other big officers either went to the police station or made a phone call asking police to take the complain back. But since the issue had already been noticed by media, police could not do anything and case was still going on. Finally last week I read another article in the news paper saying that the District Magistrate case was closed in the lack of evidence. The District Magistrate never spent a night in the prison and the case was also finalized only within a few months otherwise India has got most number of legal cases pending in the whole world and usually it takes years for a case to get finalized.

Another horrible case, I would say the worse one is of Sonali Mukharjee, a girl from Dhanbad, Jharkhand (Previously was part of Bihar state). Three boys from her neighborhood attacked her with acid while she was sleeping on her roof top in 2003 and the boys who attacked her are out of prison having fun or planning to attack another Sonali and no one talks about her. The only mistake Sonali did that she refused love proposal of a boy and that’s all. He attacked her with his two other friends and threw acid on her face. Sonali’s story is that she belonged to a poor family. Her father was a security guard at some residential building which means not more than Rs. 5-6000 of income per month. Her mother was a house wife and she had a younger sister as well.

Sonali was so smart in studies that her school had given her life-long scholarship, she was so popular in her school and her parents were so proud their daughter. She was also a National Cadet Corps cadet. In 2003, almost one and half months prior to the incident, three alleged assailants – Tapas Mitra, and his two friends Sanjay Paswan and Bhrahmadev Hajra – told her that she was a Ghamandi (arrogant) person and they would teach her a lesson. Her father later complained to the families of the three men. On 22 April, when she was asleep on the roof of her house, she was attacked with acid and left with a burnt face and other severe injuries. Her sister was also injured in the incident. She was studying sociology honours in a Dhanbad women’s college and also juggling a job with a private firm when the horrific incident occurred.

Miss Mukherjee and her family were then forced to abandon their home in Dhanbad, and her mother slipped into depression. Her father Chandi Das Mukherjee said, ‘We appealed in the high court… Nothing happened. They were sent to jail but were released soon after… Now they are busy enjoying their lives.”The law against acid attackers needs to be made tougher. Otherwise we will have many more Sonalis. Police sources said that the victim and her family members are afraid since two of her attackers, Tapas Mitra and Sanjay Paswan, were released on bail six years ago. The third accused Brahmadev Hajra was let off as he was a juvenile at the time of crime. She also pleaded with the Indian authorities to help her find justice, or else allow her to die.

A report about Sonali asking for either justice or mercy killing:

Sonali appealing people to help her by signing a petition

After all these things Sonali never got justice and the criminals are enjoying their lives, maybe planning to attack another Sonali. I just don’t understand all these craziness and in fact it is increasing. More and more girls are raped everyday and different people have different opinion about it. I have talked with several people on this issue and most of them, over 90%, blame girl’s dressing and modern life style. Many people also blame poverty, illiteracy and even Internet. Neither of these sound genuine cause to me. If its girls dressing or modern life style which motivates people to rape them then what about that 5 years old girl who was raped brutally in Delhi and so many like her are raped every day in our society. We heard about her only because media paid attention otherwise I can guarantee that so many other kids are raped everyday but we never hear about them.

I have also heard of so many cases which took place in rich and highly educated families which clearly shows that this problem is not limited amongst poor or illiterate class. I went through a very interesting conversation about Damini rape case in January when I was traveling on a train from Pune to Varanasi. I was in non AC sleeper class which is mostly used by lower middle class families. All of the people around me where from Bihar who were working in Pune and now going back home on vacations. I heard them talking about how do they find people living in Pune so different than the people living in Bihar. They were saying that all of the young people of Pune waste their whole time with their partners because the parents have got a lot of money and kids don’t care about their future at all.

They were also saying that they see young couples kissing in public spaces or showing other form of PDAs which cause frustration amongst the people like themselves who come from other cities or states where they never see such thing happening. They said that Damini was also raped because of such reason. The people who raped her came from Bihar, and as per the people sitting on the train, it was not their fault that they raped Damini but it was Damini’s fault that she was out with her friends in midnight watching a movie. They were saying that the people who move to big cities to work always leave their wives back at home. And if they see such activities like kissing or something else then they also feel like having sex and since their wives are home, either they have quit their job to go back home or find someone in city where they are at that moment.

And definitely nobody would quit the job, instead rape someone in the city. It was a horrible communication but at the same time it showed the mind set of such people. PDAs is serious issue in India. I know that everyone wants to do it but they don’t because of the local culture. But its becoming more and more common which means more and more people are upset with it. I have heard several incidents when a couple was beaten only because they were found kissing. There is a park very close to my place and it has become kind of love nest amongst young people of my city. I know so many people living around the park area who say that every evening they hide somewhere behind the trees trying to find a couple kissing or doing something else and if anyone is found then they either throw stones at them or just jump in between and say that they also want to kiss the girl or just chase them away and later disturb the girl.

I have noticed if people find a couple kissing then they thinking that the girl wants to be kissed, just by anyone and hence they also deserve a kiss. I used to go sit behind the park every night with my friends, have some beer and enjoy the quietness. I noticed certain people who would come every day with a flash light and try to look everyone sitting here and there. It was a very strange thing to see same people every day and once I asked my friends from that neighborhood about those people and they said that these people basically try to find couples kissing or having sex. And if any couple is found doing anything other than talking then problem for them. These people threaten the couples and in some cases beat the boy, kick him out and then have sex with the girl. I have talked with so many people about what do they think about a couple kissing in a park or just at any other public space and most of them have really strange ideas.

I was once talking with one of my friends, who is my age and is a software engineer and he said that if a couple is beaten because they were found kissing in public then there is nothing wrong with it. He thinks that public places are open for all aged people and kissing is something very very sexual and private. In fact he  asked me how would I react if I see a couple kissing in a park where I am present with my family. I don’t know what would I do, most probably just not pay attention to them and let them enjoy their private moment. I have no idea what is the reason behind all these problems but rapes have made the situation worse and it seems like its not going to change soon. But if I have to make a guess about my society, I would say it’s the Police, government of India, late and corrupt judiciary, some cultural problems and regular sick mind which is causing all these problems.

Police is 100% corrupt and they never want to register complaints because if they register a case then it becomes their responsibility to clear it and in any case any Indian police officer can be bought by offering some money. Corruption in police has caused serious problems in India. I feel like Police is somehow responsible for all of the problems we have in India. Late judiciary is also a very big problem in India which basically somehow motivates people to do crime. People know that if the go to a court then it will take 30-40 years for so called judgment to come. And in any case there is always a way : after district court, its high court : after high court, its supreme court : after supreme court, it’s the parliament and after parliament it’s the president where one can appeal. I know several people who were able to get the hearing delayed just by offering a few hundred rupees as a bribe.

Government also makes so many promises but never does anything. All of the political parties do politics in the name of caste, religion and region. They have nothing to do with development, education or any other issue that we are facing. I think that governments can do anything if they are committed to make a change but they don’t have any interest in such issues. Nature is dying, crime has increased, poverty is increasing, inflation is on top, scams are the biggest in the world…but government has no time to think about these serious issues. They are always busy in talking bullshit and doing scams.  India has so many problems coming from its culture. For an example, the problem of hierarchy on the basis of somebody’s caste or wealth. People evaluate themselves by their caste and literally talk about it in their regular conversations.

I know many people who belong to Kshatriya caste and they always say that they have politics in their blood, they are always the best fighters because they belong to Kashtriya caste…although they are really stupid. The male dominant culture in India is also causing such problem like discrimination and violence against women. I find present India really weird because woman power is worshiped by worshiping Goddesses when they are dead statues but real woman are raped so brutally that it becomes an International news. India, particularly Hindus, have a great concept of respecting woman. In fact the term used for women is Shakti which means power but I don’t know where all these concepts are lost? Female infanticide, depressed woman, violence and discrimination… after looking at the present condition of woman in India, it doesn’t seem like there is any concept of worshiping Goddesses or respecting Goddess power at all.

I am upset, India is upset, Mother India is crying and we need to change the situation. Lets pray that India gets its glory again and we become a really great nation where there is no discrimination against anyone….

A painting at Assi ghat

A painting at Assi ghat

Juna Akhada Peshwani

In Hinduism, Akhara (also akhada) is an association of the different sects of Yogis, also known as Sadhus (Hindu Renunciates). Its history dates back to the eighth century when Adi Shankaracharya established seven Akharas. Some yogis revere Gorakhnath as the founder rather than Shankaracharya. The 7 ancient Akharas are Mahanirvani, Niranjani, Atal, Avahan, Agni and Anand Akhara. Today there are 3 major Akharas (Juna, Mahanirvani and Niranjani) and 3 minor Akharas (Atal affiliated with Mahanirvani, Anand affiliated with Niranjan). Traditionally during the Kumbh Mela, the Naga Sadhus, and the ‘Akharas’, lead and initiate the bathing rituals, before the general population steps in.

Since these group of Sadhus reside in different parts of India, they all have to gather together and then they follow the festival or whatever the reason could be. There is also something very important process of participating in the festival which is called Peshwani. Basically Peshwani is a procession organized to show the official arrival of a group of Sadhus in a city. The same Peshwani was organized by Juna Akhada in Varanasi during Kumbh Mela 2013. I had heard a lot of Peshwanis but had never seen one but luckily this year I got an opportunity to see it. I made a video also which Peshwani of Juna Akhada in Varanasi on 2nd of March 2013 :

Why dogs stuck together after mating???

There are street dogs everywhere in India and seeing them mating is not uncommon at all. And seeing them being stuck together after mating is also as usual as seeing a dog on the street. I had always thought why it happened to them because it looks really painful but I never tried to find the answer for whatever reason. A few weeks ago a friend of mine told me a really interesting Hindu explanation of why dogs stuck together after mating. He said the reason comes from the epic Mahabharta. As per Mahabharata it is said that Pandavas shared a common wife named Draupadi.

The reason why they shared common wife is because Arjun, one of the brothers, married  Draupadi in a swayamvar and when he returned home with his wife and other brothers they went straight to their mother Kunti. Kunti often advised her sons that they share everything they have (or obtain through Bhiksha, i.e. alms) equally amongst themselves. Upon returning home with Draupadi, on purpose, Yudhisthira addresses his mother first “Look mother, what we have brought “. Kunti, unmindful of what Yudhisthira was referring to, unassumingly asked her son to share whatever it is with his brothers. Thus, in order to obey their mother’s order all five accepted Draupadi as their wife.

Now the story begins about why dogs stuck together after mating. As per my friend in order to organize the sex, Pandavas decided that whenever somebody would enter in the room of Draupadi they would leave their sandals on the door so that other brothers know whats going on inside the room. Once one of the brothers was having sex with Draupadi and left his sandals on the door. Later a dog came and stole the sandals and went playing with it in jungle. Bheem, one of the brothers, also wanted to have sex and he approached towards Draupadi’s room and as usual he looked at the door first to see if somebody was inside and had left the sandals outside.

But since the sandals were stolen by a dog he did not see the sandals and entered in the room and found Draupadi having sex with one of his brothers. The brother who was having sex was seriously upset on Bheem and asked him why didn’t he check the sandals before entering in the room. Bheem was also upset and he was asking why didn’t he leave the sandals at the door before entering in Draupadi’s room for sex. Bheem said that he did not see any sandal on the door and they went out together but did not find the sandals. They were seriously angry on the person who did it and decided to find him.

They went to close by places looking for the sandals and the person who had stolen it and found a dog playing with it. They were so angry on the dog that they cursed him. The brother who was having sex said ” Oh dog, the reason why a person was able to see me having sex, which is a very very personal moment of somebody’s life, is only because you hence I curse you today that the whole world will see your private moment every time you have sex and since then all the dogs stuck together after mating and can’t separate until so many people have already seen them.

As per my friend, the curse is the reason why the dogs stuck. I did not believe my friend at all but since then I asked several people if they knew the reason and all of them told me the same thing. I asked them where did they read this story and none of them remembered. For whatever reason I don’t really believe that this story comes from Mahabharata but at the same time I have read so many other stories which are similar to the dog’s story. Anyways, I found the story very funny and interesting. Hindus have answer to every question and maybe this story is also the answer of dog’s pain:)

I have no intention of hurting someone’s belief or disrespecting the religion but I just shared this story because I found it really funny. I hope you enjoyed it:)

Exorcism at Harsu Baramh, Bihar

I grew up in the society where talking about ghosts, demons, spirits… is part of life. There were places where I asked not to go during certain time of the day and nights because it was believed that there were ghosts around those areas and I literally followed it. There were minimum of 10 such places only around my home. Anyways, I have became more interested in ghosts within past 10 years but my interest is in finding why people believe in ghosts and how it affects their life. I never want to miss visiting a place which is supposed to have some power of dealing with ghosts or just talk with someone who says that he is affected by ghosts or can deal with ghosts.

I have already visited so many such places and have talked with so many such people. I have been hearing about a place called Harsu Baramh for really long time which is only 70-80 KMs from Varanasi and is supposed to be the place where one can get rid of any kind of ghosts and demons. The word Harsu Baramh is made of two words- Harsu Baramah. Harsu was a bramhin guy and Baramah is a particular kind of spirit which has access to limited number of people in certain area. Baramahs don’t fly or take a train to affect the people away from their locality.

Another belief about Baramh is that it is unsatisfied or disappointed soul of a Bramhin who wants to be worshiped. The story of Harsu is that he lived in a village called Chainpur, in modern day Bihar, with his family and worked as a Bramhin. He was donated a huge house which was located right in front of the King’s palace. His home had two minarets which were in fact taller than the minarets of King’s palace which made the queen upset. She saw it as her disrespect and asked the king to do something so that minarets at her palace looks taller than the minarets at Harsu’s home.

The king also did not like that Harsu home’s minarets were taller than the minarets of his palace and he ordered his army to knock down the minarets at Harsu’s home and burn the whole house. His solders knocked down the whole building and burnt it. Harsu was on work when his house was being burnt but when he heard about it, he ran towards his home. When he reached home, he saw his family dying by being burnt alive and building completely destroyed. Harsu got so angry that he cursed the king that he would become a Baramh by killing himself and would then take the revenge.

Harsu Baramh also jumped in the same fire and killed himself. Harsu was back later in the form of Baramh and killed the king. This idea is so strong amongst the community that they recognize Harsu as the king of Baramh and now there is a shrine located in the same village where Harsu came from. People believe that if a person is affected by ghost and no one is able to help him getting rid of the ghosts then he should come to Harsu Baramh. I also decided to visit Harsu Baramh in order to learn more about the idea of ghosts and exorcism. It was a Sunday the day I visited Harsu Baramh and I was expecting to see a lot of people but shockingly there were not many people.

When I visit any regular temples or holy shrines then I try to be respectful to the people and their beliefs but don’t follow all the rules. I don’t feel comfortable making any kind of offering, whether in form of cash or food or sweets or anything, at the temples because I know that as per real religious rules these things are not important. But when I reached to Harsu Baramh, I was so nervous that I decided to go with all the rules of that particular place. I was nervous because I knew that it was not a regular temple and the people who were there believed in the ghosts more than the God himself.

Anyways, I bought some sweets to offer at the shrine in order to be completely normal visitor. I don’t know how to explain what I was feeling when approaching to the shrine but I was not feeling the way I usually am but at the same time I was so excited. I arrived at the shrine but found it black, smoky and really strange place. There was nothing going on, that place had a really empty feeling. There were a few people working as a priest and maybe 20-30 people behaving strangely. The regional idea in my locality is that when somebody is affected by ghosts they move their head in circle, women open their hair, hit their head on the ground and try to hurt themselves and we call this process in Hindi- the person is playing.

And another idea is that when someone affected by ghosts arrive at such places like Harsu Baramh then they immediately start to play. So I saw those 20-30 people playing. One of them was really funny. I saw him arriving inside the shrine premises. He looked completely normal when he arrived. He was holding a towel and went at a corner and sat their quietly. He looked at the shrine for a few minutes, folded his towel, kept it right in front of himself on the ground and started hitting his head on the ground which means he started playing.

He used the towel so that he doesn’t hurt himself. I saw another lady who was playing. She would play by shaking her head, rolling her body on the ground, making some strange noises and then look at others around her and then sit quietly. Anyways, it was very interesting to see those people but I felt so sorry for them. I was like how come someone could really hurt themselves only in the name of ghosts who are never ever been seen by any person in the whole world. I understand it very well that we get to see what we want to see and if there are people who believe in ghosts then they get to see them.

Its sad for me to see that there are people who are more concerned about invisible pain than the visible pain. Its impossible for me to imagine the mindset of such people who believe in the ghosts and kill their time, money and themselves by going to such places where they can get rid of their ghosts. The shrine at Harsu Baramh was so strange that I did not even think about taking a picture. Every place has a unique feeling but Harsu Baramh had no feeling at all. When I go to temples or other religious places I feel something there because there are a lot of people doing the same thing.

Especially when I go to any Hindu place then I find it very energetic because Hindu religion is a very loud religion and people sing chantings loudly, play drums, recite mantras together which makes the place very energetic but Harsu Baramh was a sad and strange place with complete empty feeling. Later I learnt that it was my mistake that I went to Harsu Baramh on Sunday because Thrusday is the important day for the shrine when hundreds of people come. Anyways, it was good that I got some entertainment and went on a long drive which I always enjoy. I think this journey of finding a ghost will continue for me as I have not been successful so far!!!

Hospitality industry in India

I work in hospitality industry and I have been trying to learn about it ever since I started working. I had already heard about India having so many problems for tourists but never realized how serious the problem was. Every once in a while I heard about something but it was not possible for me to realize how big the problem was and how easily we could solve it and make more money and send our guests back with a positive impression about India. The biggest problem I was hearing all the time was the issue of forced shopping and I was seriously upset with it. For whatever reasons I was never ever interested in it but I was still happy with the money I was given for my services.

Now when I am back after my first trip out of India, my industry seem shockingly in terrible condition and I feel very sad about it. I traveled in Europe for 14 days and to be honest I was traveling ever hour of the day, except when I slept. I was just not at home at all. I went to all almost all kinds of tourist places possible in Europe and I was really surprised how easy everything was and how the government and people were so nice and welcoming for tourists. The only difference was the cost but its not an issue because life was very expensive in Europe and they definitely need to charge more.

And the good thing was that at least you get what you want after paying for it. Its just not possible at all to buy good services in India. I am not saying that its impossible to get good service but its very hard. I have no idea why such things are going on and why not government and the people of my country are serious about it. We need to understand that Tourism in India is relatively undeveloped, but a high growth sector. It contributes 6.23% to the national GDP and 8.78% of the total employment. A World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report says that by 2020, tourism in India could contribute Rs. 8,50,000 crores to the GDP. In other words, every man, woman and child could become richer by Rs.7,000. India has yet to realize its full potential from tourism.

The Travel and Tourism industry holds tremendous potential for India’s economy. It can provide impetus to other industries and create millions of new jobs. But we won’t be able to make this dream come true if we don’t organize our tourism industry. The major problems tourists face in India is the lack of basic infrastructure, behavior of people working in tourism industry (tourists guides, drivers, hotel staff, restaurants etc), unorganized services, people on the street targeting tourists etc. To be honest I don’t really think that we need to make huge changes, we can organize tourism only by making little efforts.

A few things happened with me in recent times which made me write this article. At first my Europe trip which was like an enlightenment for me other than that the first attraction with a foreign tourist after returning back to India. Actually it was going to be my first work after returning back to India. I was going to work with a Dutch family. I was going to take them on the boat ride. This assignment was given to me by a travel agency, the only agency I work with in whole India. Usually I talk with my guests the evening before the working day. I called the hotel several times but no one responded.

In fact they were staying at a very nice hotel in Varanasi and I was just not expecting such behavior at all but it happened. I wanted to talk with the guest just to reconfirm the timing and other details. I went to the hotel and met with the guest. The guest seemed seriously upset when I met with him at first. He told me- Thank you so much for coming otherwise I was not hoping to see anyone. I was really surprised why he told me such thing. I started talking with him and he said that he was traveling with his wife and daughter and he had requested his travel agent to provide them either a triple bed room or two different rooms but today he was provided only one double bed room.

And when he asked the hotel where would he sleep, the hotel said that they could give him a blanket and he needed to sleep on the floor. He was so upset with it and told me that his dog sleeps on the floor and he always sleep in his bed. He called his agent in India and they said that this is Indian way. Finally he decided to booked another room and paid from his pocket. He had already paid for everything but here he had to pay for the mistake he was not responsible for. The guest was so upset that he said he was very well aware the hotel guy and the travel agency guy sleeping in the bed but they did not care at all about him. I was really sorry for him but…

Anyways, I needed to discuss about my work with him next morning so we just sat together and discussed about the next morning. He said that he did not want to go on any boat ride as he was already super exhausted by traveling for 14 hours on a train and then having all the crazy experience at the hotel. He asked me if I could arrange his boat ride for the evening. As a tourist guide working for someone else it was not under my power to change his boat ride. As per the rules of the travel agency I was working with he needed to pay again because he was the one who wanted to cancel the tour. And in any case we would have to pay the boat guy doesn’t matter whether use him or not after making a booking.

He also seemed fine with this and asked me the price but when I told him the price he was again upset. He said that it was a rip off. I could easily see that he was prepared to tell this way before I told him the price because he was seriously upset with everything. He had no idea what I was asking for but he had developed this mentality that I was going to cheat him. I had asked him for Rs. 1200 per person and this is the rate travel agency in Varanasi charge. He had paid almost three times more to his agent for the morning boat he canceled but still Rs. 1200 seemed like a rip off to him.

I could easily see how upset and angry he was and I was the one who was dealing with him alone. I was seriously scared but I knew how to make Dutch people happy:) I have worked with many Dutch people already but the most important thing is that I have worked with a very popular TV channel called VPRO from The Netherlands. All the Dutch people I ever met know about this TV channel and they all way that they like this channel a lot and follow their programs as they are very progressive channel. And when I tell them that I have already done so many assignments and research for VPRO they become very interested in me and seem so comfortable and happy with me around them.

I knew it would make him happy and comfortable if I tell him about my relations with Dutchland so I shot my arrow and it worked. He was kind of shocked at first and later so happy and comfortable. He invited me to have a beer with him. We went on the roof top restaurant of the same hotel and ordered beer. We were just talking and talking about my work with Dutch people and what he could do the next day in Varanasi and already passed more than 20 minutes but no beer. Neither I nor the guest had any idea why the service was so later as beer is a packaged drink, the hotel did not need to produce it.

I asked the waitstaff again about our order and he said, it will come soon. I asked how soon and he said ten minutes. I asked why and he did not answer me. At this moment I thought maybe they went out to buy the beer and we started talking again. After ten minutes I again asked the waitstaff about our order and he just open the refrigerator right next to our table and gave the beer to us. The refrigerator was literally right next to our table, so close that I could easily opened and taken the beer out without leaving my chair. I just did not understand why he made us wait for 30 minutes???

Impossible to imagine but this is what happened. I can’t even imagine why they did not serve our order on time. Were they worried about me? Were they personally upset with the guest? Or do they just don’t care about their guests at all? Didn’t they care about the money we were going to give them by buying their goods? In any case if they did not want to entertain us then they should have just told us about it. Even after doing it no one said sorry or anything. No one explained why they were so late even when we asked them. Why such things happen?

Such kind of thing is just an example which happened recently with me otherwise I encounter something crazy every time I am working and I know it very well that most of the tourists must be facing similar problems, or maybe bigger, when they are in India. I spent fifteen days traveling in Hungary, Austria and Slovakia and I hardly noticed such things two three times but the problems I noticed in Europe was different and was not as extreme as here. It happened only once in Budapest when someone approached me trying to sell an iphone but it was very easy to avoid him. I noticed a problem second and time in Bratislava, Slovakia where a waitstaff at a restaurant did not speak any English and was dealing with customers.

We ordered something else and got something different. Other than this I just can’t think of any problem I noticed during those fifteen days. Now I wonder why can’t we also have similar kind of services here in India? I know that Indian government is crazy and I just don’t have any hope at all but what about services offered by people? Our attitude for tourists? At one hand we are so proud of saying that as per Indian culture the guest is like God (अतिथि देवो भव्) and on the other hand I am very well aware of such incidents where foreign guests were not treated even like a human? And it happened only because they were our foreign guests.

I have a strong feeling that the people not working in tourism industry are very friendly and nice and all the tourists like them a lot but unfortunately a lot of people who are working in tourism industry are really strange. They just don’t have any sense of tourism or hospitality at all. Another unfortunate thing is that the tourists don’t really get to meet many local people and mostly they interact with their agents or other people working in tourism where they develop strange ideas about India and I am not surprised at all. I would also develop the same mentality if such thing happened with me.

I still don’t forget the way my driver in Himanchal Pradesh had cheated me for only Rs. 100. The amount was nothing for me but that experience of being cheated changed my whole idea about him and I started to hate him and was not feeling secured at all. If we just look at any online travel forum about India then the forums are full of negative stories about India. In fact there are warnings. I know that a few people might be offended with my thinking about tourism industry in India but to be honest I experienced the difference and whatever I am writing is a bitter truth.

We really need to realize that there are problems. If we don’t admit that there are problems then we just won’t be able to solve them. Internet is changing the world. Now we can easily learn a lot about the any place in the world without visiting. We can talk with people without meeting them, we can share ideas and if India is getting negative impression online then we are going to be in huge problem. People read about India before coming here. We need to change otherwise one thing is very sure that we are not right track and things are not going work this way for very long.

I know that everyone is not the same and there are so many people who have real passion for tourism and they do really nice work but it is very likely to get a bad experience in India. I hope we change such things soon.