Tag Archives: women

Hired……..

Just in case you haven’t had enough of me just yet, you can also follow along with my musings at the Examiner.

What’s that? You want to know if you can subscribe to my articles there? Well, sure, if you insist! 😎

I will still be writing here too – I know, lucky you, right? tee hee.

Seriously, thanks for following along – it’s been wonderful to have you on the journey with me.

What does it all mean……………….

Yesterday, I wrote about a man taking my shopping cart in the parking lot for me. You can read about it here.

I have been thinking about why that had such an impact on me and this is what I came up with. I think I will ramble a little – so please stick with this one – I promise there is a point at the end.

Living in India was an absolutely amazing experience that took me way out of my comfort zone. It jumbled up my routines and took me away from my favorite people. Living there gave me opportunities I would never, ever have here and it made me question a lot of what I thought I knew to be true.

I mostly think of myself as a kind and even generous person. It’s true that I can be cranky and selfish just like anyone else but I truly do enjoy giving other people a reason to smile and (mostly) don’t mind helping out.

But here comes India full force – where people really need – and not just a hug or a dinner brought over or a carpool for their over-scheduled kid or someone to take their shopping cart in the parking lot – they need food and water and a way out of horrible, horrible situations. And please know that I understand people in America need too – I know that – and I understand that the needs in America can be very real and can be overwhelming too. People are sick and people are hungry and people are hurting. I get that. But not in the same magnitude as in India – not so many people all at once and not so desperately and not without options. Right now, I live in a bubble – a green, lush, over-fed bubble with people who do not hesitate to help each other out. We are getting by just fine. Sure we endure struggles – but it is really not the  same.

I will show you what I mean – this man is taking a bath outside in a busy market area. The water is not clean and he is in public and I am taking his picture.

The streets are dirty and there is human and animal waste all over the place. That means that you have very good chances of getting pretty sick at some point. Especially if you do not have a nutritious diet and clean drinking water. And this is the road outside the entrance to the neighborhood we lived in – an upscale area. This is not a slum.

It is not only not uncommon – it is actually quite common – to see children unattended on the streets.

We have been having some pretty significant storms in our area and many people have been without electricity for several days. News reporters were interviewing several people affected by the outages and one councilman said, “people here feel like they are living in a third world country.” Dear heavens. Really? I understand he was going for the dramatic effect – but please.

Again, I appreciate that the people who lost power probably lost the food in their fridge and were hot as heck in their houses and were certainly inconvenienced. It probably is a hardship for some of them to replace their food. And of course, the elderly and young children and anyone who is sick could be in real danger. But it is temporary. And it will be fixed. Welcome to America baby where there are churches and libraries and friends houses to go to. There are options. The temporary pain of a power outage is certainly not like living in a third world country. I promise you, it is not.

I miss that about India – that the people of India don’t let bumps in the road slow them down. And I think I learned to calm down a little bit myself. I learned that if it will end up as a funny story one day, you can get through it. That the Indian people as a whole don’t take so much for granted. I would like to believe that clean water is a right and not a privilege but that is just not a reality – and electricity – well, that is icing on the cake. It really, really is.

Anyway, back to why I appreciated the man taking my cart.

Like I said, I used to think I was fairly generous and kind. India really made me question if that is true. I volunteered, sure – but I never fully committed to any one group. I gave myself a pass because I was still pretty involved in my kids classrooms which took up some time – and moving to India was a huge adjustment for me so I gave myself time to settle in before raising my hand too much – but you know what that sounds like – the excuses that they are. I know I contributed in many ways to help out people, but frankly it wasn’t enough. I truly could have done more. And why did I let myself get too overwhelmed to dive fully in. Because I knew I would eventually get to escape and move home to the land of temporary problems.

The hardest thing to accept about my time in India is how many times I turned my head away from a young child knocking at my window. If I remembered to bring crackers or cookies I would share those every time. But honestly putting food in the car wasn’t top on the list in my routine of getting out the door. I tried to remember – but I could have done better about it – and I should have. I regret that I simply did not do better.

Begging in India is a tricky thing. And helping beggars is even trickier.

Most people will tell you absolutely not to give to anyone begging for several reasons. Any money you give them usually goes to some sort of ring leader (read gang leader), if you give to one person you could end up with a flock of people around you and the mob mentality in India is not safe, giving to beggars encourages begging, it’s illegal, if you teach a man to fish, blah blah blah.

And it did happen to me more than once that I gave to one person and more people surrounded me. It was certainly uncomfortable. I even saw a woman have her change purse stolen. It was snatched right out of her hands. She was trying to give every child in front of her some change and one child said, “uh-uh lady – that is going to be all mine.” And we said, “see why you don’t do that?” And she said, “what difference does it make if he has all my change, I really don’t need it. It’s just my change.” And that was the right attitude. But it’s hard to get there.

When you see a small child knocking on your window, you let all these reminders run through your head. Why it is not a good idea to encourage begging – there is real danger in it – but how do you end it. You know that you cannot – it is much bigger than one person. And when the car, thankfully and finally, pulls away, you are still left with a pit the size of Texas in your stomach.

And then, when you have to explain all of this to your own children -augh.

The one thing my children never asked me was why they got to ride in an air conditioned car with a driver while so many children barely had enough to eat. They understood so much about our experience there and I am very proud of the way they took so much of the whole experience in and made it a part of who they are. But this is the one question that never escaped me. Why them and not me? I counted a lot of blessings in India – but that didn’t do the kid knocking at my door a whole lot of good.

And then you get back to your little oasis called home and you close the door and you want to shut it all out. In India it is particularly important to have a “home”. With familiar things and pictures of family that you miss and just some good old macaroni and cheese. But you cannot get away from the need that others experience.

At first, I would even say I was even proud of how we treated our staff who worked in our house. Pride goeth before a fall, no doubt. We paid more than most people, we gave lots of time off, we gave frequent bonuses, we gave them the things we did not “need”, we didn’t ask them to do things we would not do ourselves, we shook our heads at those who haggled too tightly over what was a reasonable salary to hold on to a few more pennies, blah blah blah.

But it was never enough. Our cleaner wanted help with tuition for his son and housing. Our cook and his wife just took what they wanted – no matter how much we gave, they always took more, and our driver started off his first day by telling me he had made a bad investment and lost all of his savings and tuition was due for his kids school. How do you balance that? When is enough enough? What is enough? What is not enough.

I know we made their lives easier – or at least we tried to. I feel good that we were reasonable enough to work for. But the problem for staff that works with expat families is that eventually those families leave and nothing is permanent. We have been paying our housekeeper for the past few months and we haven’t been living there. We have told him it is time to get another job and I did a lot to put him in touch with the right people. But he doesn’t seem to believe it. Eventually we are going to stop paying him but, but , but…………

So, when the guy in the parking smiled because I had done something nice – even though it was really insignificant – it made me smile. I said in my original post that being so happy about the whole event was over-reacting. And that is true. The world is not going to change because someone put away someone’s shopping cart – but maybe if we all are a little nicer to each other we will at least make it through the days a little easier. Especially in a country where most people don’t need much – maybe we all need kindness. Maybe that is the best start of all.

Unfortunately, today, I am right back where I was before. I want to be really helpful to people who really need it. Hopefully I will figure out a way to do that.

This guy – bicycles in Beijing………

A little while ago, I wrote a this guy post with random pictures of people we have seen along the way in our travels through Asia. This seemed a fitting way to make tribute to the many, many bicyclists we saw in Beijing. They were everywhere – and, India, if you are listening, the major roads in Beijing have bicycle lanes. I am sure I don’t need to tell you the number of reasons why this is a very, very good idea. 😉

And the helmet phenomena has apparently not hit Beijing. I did not see one helmet during our journey.

Anybike, it seems Delhi has many more motorcycles/scooters and Beijing has many more foot-powered bikes. But bikes were used for more than just transportation. These guys had bikes-slash-food stalls.

So sorry that the tree got in the way on this one – but I don’t know if I have mentioned that I am not a professional photographer and it is actually quite difficult to get a picture of a moving target when you are yourself moving and trying to take in all the sites. 😉 This bike looked like something out of the M.A.S.H. tv show but I don’t think that this guy was Radar riding on it.

I love this one – it is the bicycle repair shop. Fantastic. This guy can fix your bike – I bet he could even do it while you were riding by.

Yes, I am aware that this is not a bike – but it is fun, isn’t it? I think this is China’s version of a rickshaw – but don’t quote me on that.

This guy has the tire bike. But they are clearly not tires for bikes.

This guy has the trash bike.

A mini bike parade.

Another trash bike – maybe this is why there wasn’t much trash on the streets.

I have no idea what is in this bike – but it looks like it might be a cooler of some sort – so maybe drinks.

This guy is delivering someone’s lunch and apparently did not want his picture taken.

Another “I don’t know” picture – but fun.

This just might be my favorite. I love the baskets on the front of the bikes.

And more recycling. Yahoo!

And you might notice that there are no women in these pictures. Please don’t take that to mean that there are no women on bikes in Beijing – there are certainly women riding bikes. I just did not happen to capture any of them. Remember the whole “hard to take pictures of a moving target while moving” blah, blah, blah?

What he said………..

It turns out I am in good company in the blogosphere. The U.S. Ambassador to India has a blog too – it’s called Roaming Roemer – yep his name is Timothy Roemer and he is certainly roaming all over India – to places that most of us would never know about or be able to find. He is rolling up his sleeves and getting his hands dirty – and sometimes getting them clean. Tim Roemer is advocating for better education, cleaner water, better opportunities for women and children, and so much more. Check out his blog and you can see the real work that is happening in India and how America is being allowed to participate in it. It’s interesting stuff for sure!

Gray is the new white……..

There is no doubt that India is the land of vibrant fabrics and beautiful cloths. Just a few clicks thru my blog will highlight how lovely the women dress here. Everywhere you turn there is color.

We all have wondered why the colors are so alive. And I think I may have solved the mystery. This is what happens when you wash white clothes here….

The sock on top is from a pair that I just bought at Christmas. The pair on the bottom is brand new.  So after just a few washings, gray is the new white.  😉

On parade…………

I was with a group of American ladies walking thru the streets of Delhi and we came across a group of Indian women walking through the streets of Delhi. It was a funny moment as we passed each other. You will see from the pictures the vast array of fabrics that Indian women wear. They are just stunning – the women and the clothes they wear. I have never seen so many women walking together at one time and it seemed like a parade. Surely, they felt bad for us in our drab clothing – I am sure they wondered why we looked like we were melting in the heat that we just cannot get used to. I am sure we made some connection over estrogen, comfortable shoes, and the universal truths of womanhood on a very esoteric level but I am not poetic enough to put words to that today. Really, we were all giggling like little school girls. It was a cool experience.

Many of the women motioned to us to please take their picture. It really is too bad that they have absolutely no idea that people all across the world will smile today because of them…

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Old Delhi – part 3, the people

People, people everywhere! Delhi is crowded and Old Delhi is more crowded. The alleys are narrow and the streets are full. But that gives you a chance to slow.down.and.look.around…

Indians are some hard-working people for sure. There is hardly a street anywhere in Delhi that doesn’t have a man pushing or pulling a bike or wagon with some heavy-arse stuff on it. Old Delhi is clearly no exception. And, yep, these guys are maneuvering between cars, trucks, buses, scooters, people, and cows. And they just never seem to have the right shoes. Can you imagine?

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I mentioned before that Old Delhi has a lot of men roaming around.
There are certainly women too, but really, it’s mostly men.

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The children on the streets of Delhi always take my breath away. This little girl was with
some of the vendors. I am guessing they are her parents or at least a relative. At least, I really, really hope so.
She is a little bitty thing and she was just in the middle of the hustle and the bustle. Right in the middle of it all.
And she seemed totally unfazed. She looked at home on the streets.
I am not really sure how I feel about that. Not that it matters. It is not changing. At least not for her. At least not right now.

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And I think this was her brother. This is how India is changing me. I wonder how I can walk away from this country
without taking a child in need home with me. And how could you possibly pick just one. Which one?
Then I come home to my own family and I am exhausted by their own energy. I wonder how I could even consider taking on more.
Living in your own bubble in the midst of such great need is overwhelming – it is nearly impossible to find a practical way to help –
to find a way to make a difference without trying to change the way India works.
To walk away from this as simply a tourist who just wants to “see” Old Delhi. Not absorb it – not really even embrace it,
but maybe just understand it a little bit better. But then what?
(p.s. I do not remember this boy being handicapped, as least not physically – certainly financially, but I think I just got his eyes closed.)

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This guy has absolutely the right idea. I left Old Delhi very much in need of a nap.

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I rode on my first bicycle rickshaw. My only advice – hold on! They actually go at a decent pace,
but mostly the roads are really bumpy and, because it’s crowded, they swerve a lot!

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Tell me how many women you count in the next photo. And no fair counting the one taking the picture….

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These three young chaps from London were amazing. They were breathing in the city and wanted to share it.
They sought us out as we were waiting in line for a table for dinner. Two in our group followed them up on a random
roof top to see Old Delhi in a different light. Yep, one of the two was me. I have not decided if that was very adventurous or very stupid.
(Shhhhh, that was a rhetorical question. I made it out alive – so I am guessing adventurous. No need for further debate.)
They had an absolute childlike amazement about Delhi and especially the kites.
They saw the beauty in the dirt and felt the soul of the people walking the streets. They were poets walking thru their own poem.
And, yes, in my pessimistic mood, I asked if they were going to have us mugged. They weren’t even insulted by the question.
Ah, to be young and unencumbered once again. Or to at least live vicariously thru them.

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I “met” this guy across the roof. We stared at each other with the same bewilderment.
And we soaked in the same scenes with the same amazement, the same appreciation.
We looked at each other and wondered together, “who in the heck is that”.
Across a roof and across cultures, we melted into the same world of amusement over kites.
And held the same respect for men bowing in prayer.
(Okay, admittedly you have to work with me on this one – he looks very uninvolved in sharing much with anyone in this moment,
but trust me, he was swept across oceans and we laughed at the same sky. I just didn’t want
him to know I was taking his picture, so I did it when he wasn’t looking at me. Please just suspend your reality and go with that, ‘kay?)

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This could be any street anywhere – in Tokyo or New York or anyone’s Chinatown.
Sometimes life is universal.

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These men joined together to break their Ramadan fast.

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All in all it was an amazing night. Exhausting and exhilirating – just like Old Delhi itself.

The same 24 hours…………

We all meet people throughout our lives who seem to be able to stretch the clock. They make more happen in one day than it seems possible to accomplish in a full year. And yet they do it – over and over again. We are left to marvel and wonder – do they eat, do they sleep, do they have a magic vitamin, have they been invaded by aliens? Where do they get their energy from?

Let me introduce you to Anou. She created Project Why.

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In short, she created Project Why to help those who cannot help themselves. Of course, the story goes much deeper than that and it begins with her own daughter. Anou’s daughter struggled with the academic challenges of school. When I first met her, she laughed that she did what every good parent does and told her she did not have to go back. Then she resolved to help those children who struggled in this world.

This is Rani. She came to Project Why when she was 15 from not the best of circumstances. She exemplifies why Project Why is so important. She is now traveling the world to share Project Why’s story. She is a confident, beautiful, unassuming, and gracious young lady – her life is better because Anou carved out enough minutes in her day to help her. And now she is making her own difference in the world – carving out her own minutes.

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This is Meher. When Meher was a little bitty thing, she was burned terribly. I am not exactly clear what happened. But it doesn’t really matter – Meher needed some angels to lift her up and help her along her life’s journey. Guess who spread her wings once again? Anou and Project Why. They have raised enough money to help Meher with reconstructive and plastic surgeries. She is a vibrant girl who is full of joy and laughter and I believe a good dose of mischief. She lights up the room. And I am sure eventually she will light up the world.

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This school is one of the centers that Project Why uses to help children who live in slums. If I understood it correctly, they attend government schools as well, but Project Why teachers supplement their studies with much needed extra help. The boys go in the morning and the girls come in the afternoon.

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This is what the neighborhood looks like right outside the school.

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The American’s Womens Association had donated money for building materials for a roof for the school house – so these boys presented our Outreach Chair with a beautiful handmade card.

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We also went to visit the Women and Children’s Center. Here women learn to sew and how to become beauticians and children up to about age 14 take classes.

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I think this is their guard cow. He’s on it.

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This is another classroom. The children here were learning math.

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No, I did not offer to tutor. Remember, they are trying to improve their math skills. Ironically, this almost looks like something you would see in a shabby chic catalog.

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True to her original mission, Anou opened a center for mentally disabled children. Across the street from this center is also a residential center where a few of the children live.

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This girl could put any bollywood dancer to shame. She was magnificent.

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I had never heard of brittle bones disease until yesterday. This little girl has it. There is no cure. Her bones are deteriorating at a ridiculous rate and she will die from the complications from this disease – probably sooner than later. She is a bright, enthusiastic child who is eager to learn. She gets to do just that at Project Why.

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There is so much more to Project Why than just this blog post. Anou and Project Why help over 700 children in 7 locations throughout Delhi. They have made it possible for several children to receive open heart surgeries through their Hear Fix Hotel. They have given local women a safe place to fall when they need to escape from the toils of their daily lives. Project Why has taken in disabled children and given them a home. Five children from the slums are now attending a boarding school and are getting a proper education. The list goes on.

So I spent my day yesterday with some amazing people who stretch the bounds of compassion and generosity beyond all reasonable limits. Their clocks do not tick in real time – their clocks allow them to add minutes to each hour with spaces in between where kindness grows and humanity flourishes.

At the end of the day, I felt pretty much like an underachiever, realizing that I hold my minutes too tightly together and lose too many of them for no good reason. I realized how ungrateful I am at times for the complaints I have voiced in my life and I hope to spend my time, talents, and energy more wisely. I am sure to fall flat on the face of my watch with those ambitious goals – but I can dust myself off and start a new until I get it right.

There are a lot of different ways to support Project Why if you are so inclined. Here is a link if you are interested – Support Project Why.

Spreading Cheer……

If you haven’t heard of Dr. Kiran Bedi – put your seat belt on. I had the amazing opportunity to hear her speak last week and I wanted to share her story with you.

First all all, she is not even 5 feet tall, but she stands like a giant in a room. She has a presence – you can truly feel her enter the room. She was running a little bit late (not surprising – when you are changing the world, you can’t always be on time) and seriously, the whole dynamic of the room changed the second she entered it. It did not become hushed – but energized. We moved to the side a little and she walked to the podium soaking us all in. As if she was there to learn from us – it was so interesting. She laughed that women are women – always talking, always laughing. She seems to take in every moment – acknowledge every smile.

She began her talk by saying that her job has always been to spread cheer. In every aspect of her life, she aims to spread cheer. Not to necessarily move mountains or shatter barriers, simply to spread cheer. Although the result of her spreading cheer has certainly been mountains moving and barriers shattering and much, much cheer spreading.

Kiran Bedi began her career in 1972 when she joined the Indian Police Service. She was the first woman to do so. She made so many waves and captured enough positive media attention that it was decided that she should take 9 months paid leave. Dr. Bedi said it was during that time that she began to write down her stories. She has published several books including “I Dare”, “It’s Always Possible”, and “What Went Wrong”.

Then someone wised up and decided that Dr. Bedi should not be paid for not working and put her in charge of the Tihar prison. I guess they thought that they would show her. Ha. She was given the position of Inspector General of Prisons for Tihar jail. It housed over 10,000 inmates.  If I remember correctly, Tihar houses every type of criminal and even houses a maximum security area. It is one of the world’s largest prison complexes. You can check out its website here – it is unlike any prison I have heard of before. First of all they have a factory where inmates work and learn a trade – like pottery, weaving, paper making, baking, etc. Now, there’s an idea.

During Kiran Bedi’s time at the prison (which I believe was only two years), she made radical and effective changes. The repeat offender rate of the Tihar jail inmates is significantly lower than most prisons across the world. She walked the prison floors everyday and interacted with the prisoners – no one had ever done that before. Previous Inspector Generals seemed to have stayed very far away from the actual task at hand. They found their air conditioned offices much more comfortable than being inside the prison walls. Everything was disconnected.

Immediately upon arriving, she saw drastic change was necessary to give the prisoners a sense of hope and humanness.

One of the first things she did was instituted a daily meditation ritual. She would pray with the prisoners every day. Dr. Bedi feels that this is what western prisons are lacking. It is easy to get too caught up in spirituality being religion and then conflict ensues. She said that meditation (spirituality) allows a person time to reflect – time to learn that the path they are on might not be working so well. She said we all need time to think about our choices. Daily meditation allows that – daily prayer offers hope. Both are essential for reform and rehabilitation.

This is one of my favorite parts of her story. She saw in the rules that “transistors, watches, and books were not permitted, unless permitted.” So  she simply permitted them. She did not need a high court decision or a council meeting or a vote – she simply wrote down on a piece of lovely green paper that transistors, books, and watches are now permitted and she thumb-tacked it up on a bulletin board. Brilliant.

She gave prisoners back the privilege of having watches and transistor radios because she did not want them disconnected from the outside world. She felt that if the inmates were unaware of what was happening outside of their walls, it would further alienate them when they returned to society.

Dr. Bedi also gave the prisoners books. She said she would visit local schools at the end of the year and take away their discarded text books. Talk about trash to treasure! She had many volunteers who would come in and teach classes. Companies would donate school supplies. Many of the inmates pursued degrees of various levels.

She realized the medical costs of running a prison were eating into her budget. So she declared the prison a smoke-free environment. She felt the poisons from cigarettes were damaging not just the physical health of the prisoners, but their mental health as well. She was concerned about the effect of second-hand smoke, so she simply said “no more”. And she saw a dramatic decrease in her medical expenses. Tuberculosis cases significantly decreased.

She was not without sympathy for the withdrawal symptoms the prisoners would face and instituted detox facilities. She also listened intently to the prisoners concerns that smoking was “all they had”. She asked them for alternative solutions but together they could not come up with a viable answer. So, Tihar remains a non-smoking environment.

In India, women can take their children to prison with them. My understanding is that there is not a social welfare system in India and there is great concern when children are separated from their mothers – no good can come from that. So the children often go with. Dr. Bedi started a preschool program for the children. Some of the women in the prison were interested in learning to be childcare providers – so they learned by watching the children in the prison. The mothers of those children could either take school classes or weaving classes.

When the children turn about 6 years old, their mothers can choose to send them to a boarding school where they get a proper education. Even if the mother is released from prison, the children can stay enrolled in school.

I asked Dr. Bedi if some women commit crimes just to have their children get these advantages. She simply said “sure”.

Dr. Bedi also instituted a petition box where the prisoners could share their concerns and complaints. She gave them a voice.

The thing that amazed me most about Dr. Bedi was the joy she described in every single thing. She truly seems to have no complaints whatsoever. She took being put on leave as an opportunity to write. She described the note that she posted on a bulletin board about watches and transitors being allowed and smiled so genuinely about the lovely soft shade of green the paper was. She laughed about the cobwebs and the rats that infested her not-so-new office at the prison. She joked that she challenged the rats to see who would be there longer.

I had the opportunity to have lunch with Dr. Bedi and four other ladies after her talk. Dr. Bedi has advised government leaders and been invited to speak to the United Nations. She has her own television show that is similar to Judge Judy – but with more of a slant on teaching the law and explaining its nuances to Indian citizens. She is famous here. More than famous. It was a treat to have such a small audience with her.

One of the women asked her what Dr. Bedi thought was the reason for her tremendous success. I know the answer. She is letting her life take her where she is meant to be and she is finding joy along every step of the way. There are no obstacles, only opportunities. She strives to improve her life. She has recently given up eating meat because she was trying to find what else she could do to become a better person.

One of the other things she said that I found so interesting was that institutions will survive us all. So, we must work to make institutions that mean something, that have  a positive influence on the world – long after we are gone. When she left lunch with us, she was off to attend a meeting with people who are working to start a taxi business for women drivers.

She is changing the world and she is spreading cheer.

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Digging Deeper…………

When I began writing this blog, I guess hoped it would challenge me as a writer but I never imagined that it would challenge me as a thinker. I just looked at it as a way to journal our experience, share it with friends, and remember the details we might otherwise forget. But, recently I wrote a post about my c-section experiences and I got a lot of feedback. Most of it was positive but a couple responses were pretty angry.

I firmly believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I do see that many women feel traumatized by this surgery; however, I still do not understand why women are devastated by experiencing a cesarean birth. I am a “by any means necessary” kind of mom. Just get that baby safely here. And if you can do it quickly, even better. I hear that some women feel cheated because they believe doctors rush to do a c-section to avoid malpractice lawsuits. I have to say wait a minute on that one – malpractice lawsuits happen when something goes wrong – so if the doctor is trying to avoid a malpractice lawsuit, I fail to see why that is a bad thing.

But reading the responses made me want to dig deeper and uncover why I am so unscathed by my experiences. This what I came up with.

When we decided we were ready to be parents, my husband was excited – that means we get to try – a lot. I had other plans – sorry dear. I wanted a boy first – I have an older brother and he is my good luck charm. So I hoped if I ever had a girl, she would have an older brother. So, there is timing involved. My husband swore if we got pregnant the first month, I would be a single parent.

Me: Ooops. Count your blessings honey. Some people try for years.
Number One Hubby: Hmpf.

I had an easy pregnancy with Bear – but his birth – well that was a little more exciting. You can read here about how all three of my children were born in emergency situations. Yes, that surely tainted my judgment and fostered a lack of resentment. As I said, by any means necessary.

That first year went well. So, we started talking about adding to our family.

Hubby: Do we get to practice more this time?
Me:  I’d like a girl this time. There is timing involved, you know.
Hubby: I’ll take that as a no.
Me: Well, we’ll see – I’d like to just try the first month.
Hubby: Remind me again how do you feel about single parenting.

We got very lucky again. Flower was born 23 months after Bear.

Then a year later, we thought about starting to talk again.

Me: I am pregnant
Hubby: What? How did that happen?
Me:  (Looking at Flower and Bear)
Hubby: Yeah, I know that. But, does that mean we don’t even get to pretend like we are going to practice?
Doctor: Something is not right.

Baby Doe never made it completely into our family. I don’t know if Baby Doe was a boy or girl. S/he wasn’t with us long enough to get a name, just a place in our hearts. Baby Doe did not make it very far. We lost Baby Doe early. The first sonogram showed that our baby was measuring too small and there was not a heartbeat. Let’s wait about 10 days and see what happens. Maybe you aren’t as far along as you think you are.

Hmmmmmm. 10 days as in 240 hours as in 14,400 minutes as in, literally, a lifetime. Baby Doe’s lifetime.

My HCG levels were rising at encouraging levels. That got me through 10 very long days. But the second sonogram showed no growth, no heartbeat. My body, not realizing what was not happening, did absolutely nothing. So, I was scheduled for a DNC.

It is hard to capture those feelings. Not everyone knew I was pregnant – although I am glad I had told my family and close friends. Otherwise the loss would have been a silent one.

The people who were most concerned about our loss were people who had experienced the same loss themselves. I do feel it much more deeply for others now too. Miscarriages seem so unattended. So nameless and faceless and lonely. Solitary.

It’s not that often that I think of our miscarriage – remember I try to focus on the gifts not the disappointments – although writing about our experience made me shiver a little. There is certainly an emptiness in the experience. Writing about it takes me to the softness in my heart where sadness echoes memories that were never meant to be.  I think I was lucky that I was able to grieve our loss when it happened. So many women fight the sadness and move on a little too quickly. I did not have a choice. It was overwhelming and empty. Grief came to me in the quiet moments I was alone and allowed myself to think of what was not to be.

We never knew what exactly happened – just that something must have been very, very wrong.

We were told to wait a few months before trying again. Physically and Emotionally. Not me. Thank you. We started trying soon after. Hubby didn’t even ask about practicing. It was not as fun this time.

Six months with no luck and we decided we should count our blessings. Two children – one boy, one girl. We are very lucky. We can stop here.

Hubby scheduled an appointment for a vasectomy and was on his way to it when another doctor called him. He needed to go to his parents’ house immediately. His father was not doing well.

That following week my father-in-law passed away from a long, hard-fought battle with lung cancer. We had his funeral on a Wednesday and on the following Friday was Flower’s second birthday. I felt funny. Exhausted. Not really that hungry. Pregnant. But we had a lot to do and Hubby was just overwhelmed. I decided to wait until after the party to share the news.

My mother-in-law graciously asked us to continue with Flower’s party. She thought it would be nice to have something happy to do. She was right. It was lovely and a very nice diversion. Toward the end of the party, I heard hubby declaring our intent to be a two-child family. He laughed and joked. But his bottom line – “we are done.”

After everyone left, I asked him to sit down.

Me: We aren’t exactly done.
Hubby: Huh? Again with the no practicing?
Me: Apparently.

The first sonogram did not go well. We had to wait 10 days again. Luckily this time it was not a lifetime. Although it felt like one.

The second sonogram went great. The message typed on the screen was “send pizza”. Does that mean you see a heartbeat? Yes.

Some of my tests showed abnormal results and I ended up having an amnio. Everything tested fine and we knew for sure we were being blessed with another daughter. But something about a miscarriage can leave you questioning your entire pregnancy. What will happen this time? Will she be okay? We have all heard too many stories.

So, when I was in a car accident the day Angel was born and I heard very scary words in triage, I still was very unsure I would get to meet her. Hold her. Luckily for me and her, we both came out of surgery just fine. Three weeks early. Her little gift to me. Thanks honey!

I feel so blessed that my children are with me. That we survived pregnancy together. So, when I hear someone lament their c-section story, I don’t share their loss – even if we share similar scars. My scar is a physical reminder that I am blessed – it is a badge of honor. Some scars I guess are more emotional. And I understand they might not ever heal. I have sympathy for that sense of loss but, clearly, perspectives are different. I am not sure why they are unable to simply soak in the gift they have been given. Just look at their child and see that great fortune was delivered right into their arms via their heart – by any means necessary.  As  for me, I plan to continuing appreciating what is and forgive whatever was not.