I know it has been quite a while since the last post. Being here in Delhi for over a month now, I have really become accustomed to my new lifestyle. The thought of the temporary nature of this journey saddens me, but that is how life goes. It’s one journey after the other, and what matters the most is that you enjoy it while it lasts and keep setting new goals and aspirations to strive for.
Recently, I have come to see how connected we all are. The people who I have interacted and met here in India have all had some distinct purpose along the journey and I could not be more thankful to have met such inspiring and courageous individuals. From my flatmates, to my co-workers, to random individuals I meet, I could not ask for more kind and soulful humans. I have become quite fond of my day to day here and feel like there is a purpose and place for me. Even if it is just one encounter, a weekend experience, or a deeper connection, whether it lasts or is destined for a short period, there is something to be gained and learned. Gushy stuff aside, I do believe we are all put on this earth to interconnect, share, and guide each other, however big or small.
Of late, I have been reading articles, papers, and journals for a literature review I am working on. The topic like I mentioned before is on vaccines. I am navigating through what is considered “old” vaccines, and pinpointing which “new” vaccines have priority in the developing country context. Six basic vaccines under India’s universal immunization program (UIP) are tuberculosis, diptheria, pertussis, polio, measles, and tetanus. Recently, the government in Delhi high court created a policy draft strongly favoring the inclusion of new vaccines. There is much controversy around this because critics and health scientists believe the draft is flawed due to the lack of proof showing there is a need for particular vaccines, without a cost-benefit analysis and substantiating it with proper scientific evidence to suggest the prevalence of the diseases. So my main purpose is to take a look at the new vaccines which are trying to be pushed into immunization programs and to see where they fall in terms of cost-effectiveness, efficacy, and safety. It’s been quite a task, sorting out all the existing data and findings, but through casting a large net, a key target policy will come of it.
In addition to the policy paper for PHFI, I’ve created an Ayurvedic survey to be disseminated to individuals receiving treatment. Some more background on Ayurveda: Ayurveda is a holistic national system of medicine that emphasized the mind, body, and spirit. The ultimate goal is self-realization or spiritual healing. Ayurvedic medicine is a connection between the microcosm and the macrocosm. Human beings are said to represent a small proportion of the universe, and the interconnectedness of human beings and their surrounding world make it impossible to understand one without the other. Ayurveda believes, we as humans are born in a state of perfect harmony and balance, but lose the perfection through improper diet or a lifestyle that does not suit our natural constitution or temperament. The purpose of Ayurveda is not just to cure diseases but to prevent disharmony, enhance health, create growth, and well-being. Every aspect of a person’s lifestyle (diet, personal habits, work and home life, spirituality, relationships) are assessed. This makes treatment highly individualized and personal.
The skilled Ayurvedic doctor or practitioner has to identify the person’s type to determine where the imbalance lies, and to balance the individuals doshas (bioenergetic forces that determine your constitution). In Ayurveda, there are three types of doshas (or tridoshas) which determine your composition (prakriti). An excess or shortage of a dosha can result in disease. The three are: Vata – which governs air and space. Pitta – which governs fire and water, and Kapha – which governs water and earth. We all have three but one dosha is dominant, sometimes two are. It’s really fascinating to find out which dosha you are dominant in, it can help connect the dots in your life decisions, mood, diet, relationships, strengths, weaknesses, and health.
I have had the pleasure of connecting with an Ayurvedic ashram and have seen for myself the nature of cleansing, detoxification, meditation, and healing. For my research, I am specifically looking at how various Ayurvedic treatments effect the overall health and well-being of people who undergo them (physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually). Treatments can take form of herbal drugs, oil massage, sweating, vomiting, purging, nasal drops, and bloodletting. These purifying techniques are used to remove toxins and undigested, unabsorbed, and unassimilated food.
An experienced Ayurvedic practitioner must administer these therapies. Ghee, is also very commonplace, used to reestablish intestinal flora. Once your unique treatment plan is set, a strict diet and lifestyle suggestions are implemented for long-term health outcomes.
What I love about Ayurveda is that it gives you the options and understanding to take control of your own health. The practice gives you a sense of hope and its place is not to tell you how sick you are, but it shows you how to heal, and rebalance your whole self. I am a believer of the power of Ayurveda to heal any individual, if they undergo proper treatment and shift their unhealthy habits. The shifts are not demanding, and the diet changes and lifestyle plans are very manageable and fair.
So, I hope I have given you all a glimpse of what I have been consuming myself with.
As for interesting cultural updates – I was able to get to Old Delhi to see the Red Fort recently and went to my first mosque in India, named Jama Masjid, meaning world-reflecting mosque. Other than that, I visited the Dastkar Bazaar “Nature Bazaar” that happens once a year and lasts a couple weeks. NGOs, grassroots organizations, artists, come together to sell one of a kind products, like camel poop paper, wallets, statues, jewelry, natural soaps, just about anything you can think of. The money then goes towards the organizations cause. There are also really cool art exhibits happening this month.
Malik showing this guy who’s boss (they sold him a fake usb stick the previous weekend)
Latitude 28 Exhibit- Persian artist (in the picture)
With the gang in front of the Nature Bazaar
India Habitat Center Art Exhibition
Right now, it is pre-holiday week, with Diwali coming upon Wednesday. Diwali is the festival of lights and it is celebrated all across India in the fall around October or November. Diwali is said to lead us to the light of knowledge from the darkness of ignorance.
A brief history: Diwali celebrates the return of Rama and Sita, in the story of Ramayana. The story shows good overcoming evil. Prince Rama and his wife, Sita are banished from their home by their father, the king and sent to Ayodhya. Rama’s brother, Lakshmana joins them in the forest for 14 years. After many years, Sita is captured by a 10 headed demon known as Ravana and taken to an island. With the help of a warrior monkey, Rama rescues his wife. The people of Ayodhya light oil lamps in rows to guide them back from the forest to Ayodhya and crown Rama king upon their return. The festival is held in honor of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of prosperity and wealth.
Families generally celebrate together at home and offer sweets, dried fruit, and decorative items to friends and each other. The exchanging of gifts is believed to help strengthen relationships. The holiday lasts five days. People wear bright new clothes and pray for prosperity and happiness for the coming year. Everybody goes outside to watch fireworks and the sounds of crackers (firecrackers) consume the whole city. The crackers have been going off all week! I keep having to remind myself it’s firecrackers.
I attended a lovely pre-Diwali festival at a local park last night, on the way there a dog followed us up until we found an auto (we named her Jubi), definitely the first highlight of my weekend.
Then at the festival we rode the rocking boat-ship (definitely the second highlight of my weekend). This week I am hoping my lovely flatmates and I will have a family dinner together.
I’ll be traveling at the end of the week, so I’ll keep you all posted!
Happy Diwali ❤
MUCH LOVE & LUCK!