Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Take out 30 seconds and stop open defecation!

When we think of a typical Indian village, what comes to our mind? The green lustrous farms, homely food, the starry nights, clean air full of nature's fragrance, dearly people, peacefulness and... defecating in the open.
Up until now, we always had this tendency to accept this fact as a way of life in the villages. But it's high time to change that. It's something one shouldn't be proud of, because of the endless disadvantages it carries. When the Prime Minister of the country addresses such issues in it's national address on the Independence day, then there is no doubt that it's time we take this up seriously.

Source : www.sundaytimes.lk

One can't argue to the fact that sanitation and open defecation is one of the biggest concern for the country. Close to 600 million people in the country defecate in the open today. This number is greater than entire population of countries like Denmark, Finland, Singapore, Ireland etc.
  • It increases the risk of microbial contamination of water which causes diseases like diarrhea. 2,15,000 children under 5 years of age die because of diarrhea.
  • 20% of deaths among under-14 children is caused by poor sanitation and hygiene.
  • Close to 28 million school children do not have access to school toilet facilities.
  • Countless number of school days are lost due to lack of access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene. 
  • Only 6% of rural children less than 5 years of age have access to toilets.
  • India accounts for the most number of under-5 deaths.
These are hard facts which give an idea of the seriousness of the problem. It poses direct threat to the lives of countless innocent children and others all across the country. Not to forget the impact it has on dignity of human life.

So, what can we do about it? Raise awareness, for one. Recently, following the Prime Minister's speech on Independence day, a group of newly wed women in a small village in UP decided to leave their in-law's house as it didn't had toilets. As a result, toilets were established in the village to bring them back. This is a good example of how awareness brought  a good change for them, and all the others in the village.

I wondered for long, what can I, so far away from the site of action, busy in the life do something for such a cause? And then today morning I came across this initiative taken by Domex. With every click Domex contributes ₹5 for making villages open defecation free. They are already on their way in doing so starting with the states of Maharashtra and Orrisa.
This hardly take 30 seconds of your life and is surely more effective than liking and sharing pictures on facebook.

Bring about the change in the lives of millions of kids by showing your support for the Domex Initiative. All you need to do is “click” on the “Contribute Tab” on www.domex.in and Domex will contribute 5 on your behalf to eradicate open defecation, thereby helping countless kids live a dignified life.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Polish Learnings

Phew! Where do I begin? It's been more than a year now since I touched this part of me. The last time I wrote anything here, I was still a teen! It's not that I had completely forgotten about this little space of mine, I tried. Oh boy! I tried countless number of times. Coming to this page, clicking on the "New Post" button. Sitting there, watching that blinking cursor over the white space. But my hands never moved to type. It didn't took long, when I would just close the tab, thinking probably it's not the right time yet. At times, my hands would begin to type. I would write, filling up that blank white space with the black text, only to scrap everything and dumping the whole draft.
But today, it feels different.

I'm a really curious person, and not getting answers kills me. I've spent days, satisfying my curiosity, to get answers. I succeeded at times, but still waiting for many other such answers.
I sometimes wonder if this has anything to do with my childhood dream of being a detective. Taking these mysterious things as my unsolved detective cases and using my hunger  to solve these mysteries at a sub-conscious level. But that's a thing for some other time. 

Talking about childhood dreams, I was a big fan of music. I sucked as a singer at the stage, but was a rockstar in my bathroom. Everyday I'd have a concert of my own, right in my bathroom. Even today, at times.
My interests in music has varied a lot as I grew up. I remember as a child, I enjoyed 50 cents and Eminem. Their rap songs fascinated me, and I would try to imitate them, failing every time with only gibberish coming out of mouth. But let me tell you, the imaginary audience in my bathroom went crazy listening to me every single day.
I believe music goes beyond the language, beyond words. It's really about connecting to the listener, and one doesn't necessarily needs words for that.
I learned this fact by listening to a lot of songs in a LOT of different languages.  There are a lot of different kinds of songs, all with a lot of varying emotions. Even if it is not possible to understand the words, you can get the essence of it, through the video or through the beats and can really enjoy it. It's possible to feel the theme of the song.
In particular, I really like the songs with videos with an open end. The kind of video which doesn't want you to directly spoon-feed you the meaning, it is there, hiding behind the veils of each shot. And there are many layers to actual meaning or the story behind it. Each time you watch it, the meaning unfolds exposing the deeper expressions.

One such song is "Powiedz mi, ze nie chcesz" (No, I didn't type gibberish) by Dawid Podsiadło (Yes! Dawid with a w), a Polish singer. He sings of course in Polish and sometimes in English too. Some of his songs are really nice to listen. I do have a few favorites from him and this wasn't the first song I heard of his. But it did caught my attention.

The translated lyrics (click 'Pokaż tłumaczenie' on right). 

It's been almost 2 months now since I first heard the song. I've heard it countless number of times since then. When you watch it, the music, the emotions, the actions of all the characters shows there is a possible meaningful story behind all this. And I was pretty sure it's a mind blowing one. It's not obvious for one to get it at the first try. But you do get the feeling, that the journey of discovering that deeper meaning would be well rewarded.

To get to the bottom of this, I first tried watching it again and again... and again. Each time I watched, I could pick up a few minute details, which I had missed the last time. Actually, also because I liked the song.
I would create up certain assumptions about various things, kind of like a story in my head, and would watch the video again to check if the story could fit in. It worked in most cases, but still had many flaws and unexplained things.
It went to the point, when I would just discuss this song's video with friends, I was kind of obsessed. 

Then, one fine day, I just happened to go through the singer's facebook page. After a few minutes going through that page, I glanced at that one button at the top, "Message". It was a really stupid idea. Message a famous singer, that too on facebook? As if they'd have enough time in the world to reply to such stupid messages. But, I guess I was in the "Just do it" mood at that point of time, I just quickly clicked it, typed a small message and sent it. And I forgot about it. Total waste of time, or was it?

Few days later, I got a reply! That would have been the last thing I expected, even after getting struck by lighting and meeting Christian Bale. I just couldn't believe it. More importantly, I didn't understood it. But I had it before my eyes, and I was excited beyond comparison. I guess the last line worked.

I waited patiently for one of my other lucky days!

My mystery had been solved. I was relieved.
But what's the use of posting this here? No, this post isn't about the song. It isn't about one of my 'unsolved cases' being solved. After all, I'm no Sherlock Holmes, and neither my 'cases' the likes of it.
It's about two important things I learned.

First, never stop trying because there is no harm in trying. I could have not messaged him, simply because the probability of him replying was negligible. But there was a possibility, and that's what one should see. At the worst, he wouldn't have replied, and it wouldn't have affected me in any case.  But I went ahead with it, and was well rewarded for it.

I want to thank Malcolm Gladwell and Nike here.
Nike obviously for it's tag line, "Just do it". These three words have helped me in countless situations when I didn't had the courage to do something or when I didn't have enough reasons to do it. Just remember these three words, and you'll find yourself with a new found energy, courage and reasons to do something. It really works.

Nike - Just do it

Malcolm Gladwell, for his books, which talked about always keep trying, always keep asking, because there is no harm in it, and it can surprise you at times with the results. I had a personal experience.

Malcolm Gladwell

And the second thing.

It was so nice for him to reply. His humble-ness and down to earth nature just made me feel so good, for there are still few good and nice hearted people out there. That there is still goodness left in this world. That sometimes when you trust people, it does not go in vain. That only if you have faith, and you believe in people, good things will happen to you!

So, here is a BIG Thank you, Dawid Podsiadło! You just made me learn a few little but important learning through your song, and through your gesture. You have a new fan.

Dawid Podsiadło