Research on secular philosophers and cremationists

Adam, PhD candidate, University of Chicago, came back to Benaers and stayed at my place again. This year he wanted to do some basic research about his upcoming research in India next year. He wanted to study Hindi as well but for that he had decided to go to Masoorie. Adam was interested in two subjects- labors at construction sites or Doams (the people who work at cremation place). Adam has come this year with his fiance, Megan, who is doing a research for her school, Smith college, Boston, about secular Indian philosophers. She just wants to collect some data about them.

She wants to visit BHU and see if they have any books available written by any secular Indian philosophers who existed in between 1850-1940. Megan said that she went to University of Maisoore also but could not get anything because there was no one to help her at the university. She went there several times but could not get any help and then she decided to leave Maisoore and came to Benares. She wanted to visit the BHU library and wanted to talk with some professors at philosophy department. I took help of my one friend who studies at BHU and he took us the university.

We went to the International Students Center first where we met with the officer who asked us to meet the head of the central library. We went to the central library and met with the head. Adam and Megan both were shocked to see the library of BHU. They said that BHU’s library was a way better than the library of University of Masoorie. They said that people were also very nice and helping at BHU. The asked Megan to write them a letter asking for permission to visit the library and after doing it, we were allowed to look at the books. Megan, Adam, my friend Ravi and I visited the library with few staffs of the library who were showing us around.

Megan found few books that were good for her research and wanted to get it xeroxed but actually it was impossible to xerox those books because those books were too old and pages were in terrible condition. So finally Megan had to write another letter asking them to provide digital format of the book. They asked us to come after 5 days and collect the book in digital format. After the library we went to the philosophy department and met a professor. He was crazy. He was more interested in showing his own research to Megan. He did not want to hear what Megan was doing.

He started showing the books he had written and started talking about himself and just did not want to stop or let Megan ask something about her research. Finally after hearing him for an hour, he asked what Megan needed. Megan told him about her research and he asked Megan to come next day so that he could research the philosophy department library but he had said that the library had a few books that would be good for her research. �After meeting him we came back to home and Megan said that it was a successful day for her research.

The work at BHU today motivated her to keep her research going on otherwise she had given-up after visiting University of Maisoore. I am happy for Megan’s research. Adam wanted to talk with a doam so I took him to Harishchandra Ghat and introduced him to a guy whom I had met while working with CBC’s documentary Myths and Might. We met at the Harishchandra Ghat and he took us to the electric burner where he works. I had never been to a electric burner but this time the electric burner was the place to interview.

We talked for few hours and Adam and Megan asked him several different kinds of questions about his personal life, social status, discrimination… Adam wanted to gift something to him so I asked the Doam where was the nearest sweet shop and the Doam asked us why we wanted to go to a sweet shop and I told him that Adam wanted to gift him some sweets. After hearing this the Doam said that Doams are not the kind of people who love sweets, they love alcohol. So we bought him a bottle of whiskey.

Dialysis in Varanasi

One American student from Boston University named Andrew wrote me asking to rent my apartment for his friend, Rinat, from Uzbekistan who needed dialysis services in India for 6 months. They had contacted Appolo Hospital in Delhi before which was quiet expensive and obviously Delhi is very polluted and there was no apartment available near the hospital. They asked me about dialysis services in Benares and I directed them with email address of Heritage Hospital, Varanasi. They wrote to the hospital and found that Heritage offers dialysis for foreigners as well.

I also went to Heritage to ask about their services and charges. They charge Rs. 2500 for the first dialysis and Rs. 1000 for blood check up which is charged only once. Next three dialysis is Rs. 1700 and then 2500 again for the fifth one. So they charge Rs. 2500 for every fifth and Rs. 1700 for the rest of three. It was quiet cheap than Appolo and definitely Benares is less noisy and pollution free than Delhi. Then they asked me to rent my apartment for six months. But I don’t think I was ready to host a sick person who doesn’t know any English, only speaks Russian.I told them about the language problem but they said that they will bring a translator for one week. But I was still worried about the time after first week.

I asked them about present health of Rinat and came to know that he has only one kidney and his hemoglobin was very low, one third of the normal level. It made me a little bit worried about the situation because he was seriously sick. I think Rinat’s condition is very critical and anything could happen with him. They wanted me to contact Indian embassy in Tashkent and tell them that I will be hosting Rinat in India. I was not comfortable writing a invitation letter because if anything goes wrong with Rinat, I will be responsible for it.

I contacted my few friends in the US and Canada about the situation because his condition seems like a very western condition, I don’t know anyone in India who has one kidney. I knew people who died because of kidney failure but I didn’t know anyone who had only one kidney and hemoglobin was one third than the normal level. All of my friends told that they know a lot of people who have one kidney but they were also little worried about the hemoglobin part. Finally I decided, with help of my friends and family, that I will not host Rinat.

But I still wanted to help Rinat and Andrew. I told them that I would like to help them any way but be their host. I told them that I could find a guest house for Rinat, go to hospital, talk to doctors, show them around, hire someone to buy them food and other stuffs etc…. And they all got agreed with it. I have told them to fax me all the medical reports of Rinat so that I could discuss the treatment with doctors.

They want to hire me to assist Rinat for his whole stay. They want me to receive Rinat in Delhi and bring them to Benares, I think I will do it. I have contacted few students in BHU to find one Russian speaking student to work as Rinat’s translator in future. Andrew wants Rinat to learn Hindi also while staying in Benares. So I wrote Bhasha Bharti asking about any Russian speaking Hindi teacher and still waiting for their reply, I think it will be a hard thing.