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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

শারদ শুভেচ্ছা ও অভিনন্দন

Autumn greetings to you and your family.

Compering for Prabasi Durga Puja 2014

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The P word

I am grateful that I grew up in a house where it wasn't a taboo to talk about periods. I wasn't allowed into the prayer room by my mother as it is customary in most Hindu homes. But I didn't have to sleep on the floor or do other crazy things that some people say they had to do when Aunt Flo came for a visit.

However, my first educational crash course about preparing for the changes in my body was not from my mother. It was from the girl I sat next to in Class VI. I was 13 and of age, and she told me not to be scared when 'it' happened to me. We had a chapter on human reproductive system in 'We are the World' in Class VII Moral Science. A year too late.

A couple of months ago, I saw a girl getting death threats on social media because she wrote about her 'feelings' during that time of the month. Her post was not what I would consider 'tasteful', the language more provocative than was necessary, but death threats? A whole nation was obsessed with examining her character, propositioning her, and lashing out at people who supported her freedom to express anyway she chose to on her timeline.

The evasion around a mundane body function might seem illogical to some, but even I made sure that I let SG read this post first before publishing it. Why am I writing this then?

Last Tuesday, my father told me that my mother had some spotting even after her menopause. SG looked up the internet and we saw possibilities from polyps to endometrial cancer. I was hysterical and we insisted that they visited the doctor at once. One of my paternal aunts, whom we always turn to for medical advice, had the same suggestion. It was 17th September, Viswakarma Puja. Most doctors were not practicing from home. Even though, Lord Viswakarma is the Principal Architect of the Universe and the divine engineer, his blessings are sought by medical equipment as well. A family friend made some jugad and requested a doctor to check on her nevertheless.

The doctor diagnosed a tumor in her uterus and recommended immediate surgery. He wanted it done on Friday. But my mom said that she had some work to take care of at her school first. She was admitted on Monday morning, operated  upon on Tuesday and will be going home today (Friday in India). The support of friends and family has been overwhelming.

Things could have been worse, had we not talked about it. It could have been malignant. My MIL told me about a woman whose tumor grew to 9 pounds before she was diagnosed. Uterine fibroids and endometriosis are quite prevalent gynecological disorders and the most common reasons for hysterectomy. A lot of women don't talk about it, not among themselves, not even to their daughters. I don't advocate status updates about premenstrual cramps every month, but let us have the freedom to talk about our bodies, at least, in clinical terms.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hagiography by the illogical Indian

I had great respect for a certain Indian website until it associated the concept of patriotism with denouncement of U.S. citizenship. The post informed us of a certain individual who had allegedly said that his Indian citizenship is more important than anything else (his junior scientist job offer at NASA). The site almost conferred sainthood upon him for a personal decision (if true) that can be driven by several factors. By all means, promote nationalism because we need to feel an extreme sense of superiority over other nations to feel proud of our country. Like a spoiled brat who needs to be constantly told how wonderful he is or else he throws a tantrum.

Firstly, you don't need to have a U.S. citizenship to work for NASA. More than 50% of employees at NASA are contractors who work on other visas, and that include non-U.S citizens like Europeans, Japanese, etc. You will need a citizenship only if you have to serve as a civil servant (which also comes with a lot of restrictions).

Furthermore, the site seemed to imply that anyone who leaves India to pursue science or other careers is unpatriotic. Strive to be a global citizen and don't be a victim of jingoism.  Personally, I know a lot of NASA employees of Indian origin collaborating with India. Those collaborations open new frontiers to students in virtual classrooms, researcher in labs, and even farmers in the fields.

Also, there is a common misconception that NASA is all about space. NASA has programs that monitor global warming, forest cover, etc. Google 'NASA earth science ' for examples.

Update: The post has been taken down following several protests, including one which rightly asked,  'why doesn't he work for ISRO if he is so patriotic?' Especially when it is on the verge of making space history with Magalyaan.

Seems like the whole thing was a big scam. Read here.