Guide training program – week 6

Finally the last week of classroom teaching is finished now. This week we had classes about Jaipur, Indo-Islamic architecture, things to do during any emergency, gems and jewellery, Jainism, business history of India and a few classes about the project report and upcoming tour. All the classes of this week were fine but I like the “things to do in any emergency” class the best. The lecture was delivered by a retired air hostess of Air India. She taught us about what we should do during any emergency but the thing that made her class best was her openness and her topic that no lecturer had ever talked about during the training.

She talked about medical problems, sex, homosexuality, HIV, AIDS and other STIs. She taught us what we should do if any tourist asks us to have sex with them. She said that first of all it completely depends on us whether we want to have sex with the tourist or or not, but if we decide to have sex with the tourist then we should never forget to use condoms because there is high risk of STI transmission by having unprotected sex. She seemed so concerned about HIV and AIDS. She said that since she had worked in the service sector, she had sex with several different kinds of people but she always used condoms.

She talked about homosexuality as well. She taught us the basics about homosexuality. I already knew about what she was talking about, but it was a completely new subject to most of the participants. She said that if any of the participants were homosexual, then they should not be shy about it and talk with their parents and live a life as they want. She talked about the high court judgment as well. She said that now there is someone to support homosexuals in India. She said that homosexuality is seen as a disease in India. Most of the parents think that if they get their homosexual child married with an opposite sex partner, the disease will go away which is obviously not true.

I just could not believe her openness about the subject. All of the participants of my batch were males and she was the only female amongst us but she talked about sex which doesn’t happen in India usually. Everybody enjoyed the lecture a lot. On the last day of this week when all the participants were called together in the auditorium of the institute we were provided a certificate of participation. This certificate will help us talking with the government officials for our project. The female participants were called separately on the stage to motivate them. The institute said that Indian tourism industry needs female tour guides in India and we should promote them.

Condom usage demonstration & training to the sex workers

I, Seranna and translator

Seranna and I did something that India had never seen before. On the last day of the conference we did a condom usage demonstration in front of at least 6000-7000 people. We gave training to sex workers about how to keep themselves safe from sexually transmitted diseases and how to make money. After interviewing sex workers we realized that they did not know much about any STDs other than HIV. So I asked Seranna to talk about STDs in her presentation. We knew that she would be performing on the last day of the conference so we thought that it would be good opportunity for us to spread the message to a huge number of people at the same time.

I (look at the mask) and Seranna

I (look at the mask) and Seranna

Seranna was sad to see how poor Indian sex workers are. She said that western sex workers make a lot of money. She charges $300 per hour which is like two-three months salary of an Indian sex worker. She wanted to talk about how sex workers can make more money from their clients. I know that it will long time for Indian sex workers to reach on that standard but I think it was a good thing to at least tell them about it. On the last day of conference there were about 6000-7000 people, most of them were sex workers.

I and Seranna

Seranna and I

Since we made the decision to talk about different things in the Seranna’s presentation on the morning of the presentation day, we could not organize well. We had only a few hours to decide what we would be talking about. We decided to do a play to make the conversation more interesting. I had asked Seranna to bring some sex toys and she had brought three dildos and Seranna wanted to use them for the presentation. I was concerned about using sex toys in front of that huge number of people because sex toys are illegal in India.

I and Seranna on the stage

I asked Seranna to ask the organizer of the conference about using sex toys and the organizer said- go for it. But I was still concerned about showing them to people. So I also went to the organizer and talked to him about it and again his answer was same. Seranna and I talked to each other about what we will talk about and decided that this presentation should not be a boring conversation kind of thing. We decided to put some comedy in it, as Seranna always does. Now it was our turn to do the presentation but the problem was that audience was Bengali so we needed someone to translate our words from English to Bengali.

Seranna and I

Seranna and I

We asked the organizer about it and they provided us a Bengali-English translator. I played the role of a doggy customer who did not want to pay upfront and did not want to use condoms and Seranna played the role of a very smart sex worker. I was wearing a mask which was symbol of a doggy customer. This mask was in shape of a penis and balls. We started the presentation with Seranna asking for money up front but I did not want to pay the money first. I asked her to provide the services first but she always wanted money first. So we argued over this matter. I always say that I would pay money after services and Seranna would always say that she was selling her skills so she wanted money upfrontand finally Seranna refused to provide services.

Seranna giving message

Seranna giving message

Then I agree on giving the money first. By this we wanted to tell other sex workers to always ask for money upfront because in some cases the clients do not pay money after taking the services. After this Seranna shows the dildo and it brought dead silence into the audience.I felt really awkward doing it, but I hoped that it was useful for everyone at the conference.I wore that dildo and Seranna sat on her knee to milked it. She wanted to tell other sex workers to do the same with every client before providing services so that they can be sure if the penis is disease free.

Asking me if I felt good

Asking me if I felt good

After this she tells me to use the condoms but again I played the role of a doggy customer and I did not want to use one. I told her that I was married and she also looked safe and that is why I did not want to use condoms. But Seranna says that diseases are not written on the face. Then we talk about HIV/AIDS and other STDs and finally I agree to use the condoms. Then Seranna tells me to lay down on my belly on the bench and gave message and did a boob slide. By this we wanted to educate sex workers about how they can pass more time with their clients and how they can make them happy so that they make more money, and get even a tip.

Picking the condoms up

Picking the condoms up

After this Seranna puts the condom over the dildo by her mouth. Actually this dildo was so big that she had to try twice to put the condom over it. Here Seranna mixed some comedy by saying that this boy is big.Before this sentence the whole audience was silent but after hearing this everybody started laughing and clapping. I am sure they were also enjoying it. After putting the condom over dildo she gives a blow job. We had few toys of the STDs viruses. Seranna would act like giving blow job and then show the different toys and tell about how they spread and what they can do. I liked the way she explained about all different diseases very much.

STDs virus toys

STDs virus toys

And then she acted like we were having sex and she would ask me if I was enjoying it. This was also one very important part of this training to tell sex workers to keep talking to their clients about how they feel while having sex. This way the men become more erected and cum early (I believe in the idea of working smart, not hard). So good for sex workers. By this time our time and bench’s life was finished. It broke and we fell down on the ground and this dead silence amongst the audience turned into loud noise of laughing and clapping. I loved it.

Going to put condoms over the didlo

Going to put condoms over the dildo

At last I give her a tip for her awesome services. I believe that this kind of sex services can change the lives of Indian sex workers. I am sure that Indian men would love to have that kind of services but I don’t understand why our sex workers do not do such things. I hope this presentation helps them to make more money and change their lives. Right after this presentation we were covered by the media, social workers , sex workers and other general people. All these people wanted to talk to us. They wanted to interview us. It was so fun doing it. Maybe we will also do the same thing in the US in the coming June.

HIV & AIDS workshop at girls’ school

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Presentation for class 9th

We organized a workshop at Gopi Radha Girls School in Varanasi where Sanjeevani Booti’s social workers and volunteers did a presentation about HIV and AIDS. We had been thinking of it for a long time and it finally became true. We did presentations for the 9th and 11th class girls. We wanted to do it for 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th class but school did not permit us to do a presentation for 10th and 12th class girls because their exams are going to start soon. We did the presentation for 11th class on the 11th and for 9th class on the 12th of Feb.

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Sanjeevani Booti's social workers with schools kids

We had planned to send one girl and one boy to each class but again the school did not permit us to send males so I had to send only girls to the school. I have very good girls now who are interested in this issue, but they don’t want to volunteer, they want a paid job. But it’s okay, I know that it is hard to find people who are interested in working for free. But this makes my project tough because I don’t have regular donors and I do not want to be dependent on a few individuals. I need new people who could support my projects financially.

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A social worker giving presentation

We had two foreigners also who helped us to make this event successful. One of them is Claire Abraham from Montreal, Canada, and the other one is Christina Hunter from San Fransisco, USA. Claire had been helping me for the past one month. She provided me lots of information and trained Sanjeevani Booti’s social workers. She was a big help but unfortunately she could only attend the workshop on the 11th. She had to go to Nepal to get her visa extended. Christina joined us only on the second day.

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Sanjeevani booti's social workers with school staffs

A few girls told us to show condoms to them, to talk about sex, and to talk about sexually transmitted diseases but we could not show them condoms because I was concerned about the school administration’s reaction. The girls want us to organize a big workshop for them where they can get deep knowledge over the subject. But I don’t know when I will be able to organize it because this is an expensive process. I am in touch with a few doctors and social workers from other organizations to make the coming event successful.

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class 9th

I thought it would be great for the kids to hear about HIV from the people living with HIV. There is a network of HIV positive people in Varanasi and I think I can bring some of them to the event. Everything was great but Iam concerned about the future. I think I need grant proposals but I don’t know how to write them. Claire had promised to teach this to me and I am looking forward to it. She is supposed to be back within next few days.

Condom

I think condoms are one the biggest inventions of science, one of the biggest gift of science to usbut still a lot of people don’t use it and the thing that made me write this post is the people who are shy buying condoms. I never understand why people are shy to buy it. They don’t want to pronounce this word, why? They go to the shops thinking that they will buy condoms but buy candies. It is kind of hard work for them to say that they want to buy condoms.

One of my very close friends got married last year. I had gifted him a big packet of condoms. After few days of his marriage he called me and said that he wanted to meet me immediately but I was far away from home but he was keep telling me that it was some important work and he wanted to meet me. I told him to meet me after one hour and I immediately left my work and got back to him. He was still standing at the place where he had called me from and just waiting for me.

I was thinking that something wrong happened and he wanted my help so I was a little bit tense but when I met him and asked why he wanted to meet me. He took me to a corner and said that he wanted me to buy condoms for him. I thought he was joking but no, he was serious. He was waiting for me for an hour because he did not want to buy condoms. I asked why he did not buy it by his own and he said that since all the shopkeepers in his neighborhood knew him personally he was feeling shy to ask for condoms.

I told him that all the shopkeepers knew that he was newly married and they knew that he will have sex so why to shy. But still he was not comfortable buying. I asked him where did he get the condoms from for the last few days, obviously my gift was not ever-lasting, and he said that he went to some other neighborhood to shop. I wanted him to buy condoms and I was keep telling him to go and buy but he did not want to do it. Finally I took him to a shop and told him to just stand there but the funny thing was that he ran away before I reached at the shop.

He always talks me about how to get rid of condoms. I suggest him different ideas but he doesn’t want to adopt any. I told him to rap it and put it in dust bin but he doesn’t want to do it because he thinks that his family members would come to know that he uses condoms. I tell him to throw it in the neighborhood dust bin and then he thinks that his neighbors would come to know that he uses condoms. I tell him to throw it in the commode and then again he is concerned about his family.

I met him few days ago and asked if he has started buying condoms on his own and he said that he doesn’t buy uses condoms anymore because it was difficult for him to buy it and then get rid of it. I want him to use condoms and still think about some way to make him comfortable buying and getting rid off it. But I don’t think he would ever like to use it again or just hear me. He likes listening about it and but it is hard work for him to buy and get rid off.

The second story is also about my one other friend who runs a convenient store. I go to his shop everyday but never knew that he also sells condoms because condoms are always hided. I saw the packet few days ago and bought few pieces. I pay him monthly so he was supposed to write it down in his register but he did not because he did not want to write that I bought condoms. I really did not understand what was the problem with him.

I have talked him more than five times about it but he always tells me that he doesn’t want to write it. He is shy that his father or other family members would see that he sells condoms also. I doesn’t make any sense but it is true. Finally he counted amount for the condoms I had taken and wrote that I had bought a coconut oil. My one friend who is consumer is shy and my other friend who is seller is also shy. I don’t know how these kind of problems will be solved but it is definitely a big problem in a country like India where there are huge number of HIV patients and the number is increasing rapidly.

Weaving Machine

Weaving Machine

Benares is the biggest consumer of condoms in Uttar Pradesh but here the condoms are not used for birth control or to prevent STDs, they are used for weaving. About 6,00,000 condoms are sold in Varanasi everyday but most of them are used only for weaving. They rub the condoms on loom’s shuttle to make the weaving process faster (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3934275.stm.)I am sure condoms help weavers a lot.

More than 90% of weavers in Benares are Muslims. If the same guys who use the condoms for weaving start using it to control birth, our India would change rapidly. The way condoms make weaving process faster, it will help us develop faster. The way condom is helping weavers, it can help the whole India but we just need to learn how to utilize it.