Helping Hand

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Image: Prateek Gupta

Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up. – Thomas Wayne (Batman Begins)

Just to be safe, let’s practice yelling as loudly as possible for a rope-ladder.

I love rising out of ashes stories. That journey of climbing out of the pit, brushing down the muck and moving on with life’s lemons? Oh yes.. count me in as I add some tequila into the mix. Funnily enough, I commit the heinous crime of overlooking the lifelines and cooling stations in my own story, not that there were any significant ashes.

Like a bitter pill, I spit out my pride and zip up my mouth. A stubborn misconception plagues me that requesting help makes you weak! It keeps me from taking the first step and admit that maybe, I cannot do this alone. Obviously, it comes with a cost of bewildered family and friends that justifiably feel hurt. Even if they cannot give a hand they can always lend an ear, right?

I am also a hypocrite as when someone else does the exact same thing – I am sense & sensibility personified. Turn the tables and there will be a me-shaped hole in the door… Classy, I know!

I am serving a life sentence for this. At least the prison isn’t empty – in fact, it is probably a fire hazard at this point. 

I took my sweet time getting used to counting on someone. Getting married helped. Funny how long it took me to realize that asking for help is the first step in becoming a bigger person. Funny how late I realized the amazing liberty of pestering someone and they will unconditionally be there to carry you through. Did you know they even get you ice-cream? If you did, why didn’t any one tell me sooner? I was missing out.

Oh to have the compassion of the helper and the strength of the … helpee? I am struggling with the maths here. 

Check out Erika’s infinitely brilliant take on this

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Thaw

It is slow. It is painful. It is unavoidable. It is welcome.

I am bending to the will of the increasing warmth of the sun. The clouds have broken through in a glorious display of song and dance, the memories of the frost all but forgotten. It feels like waking up from a long, tormented sleep where even nightmares would have been welcome instead of the blank lifeless vacuum that held no concept of meaning.

The blood is running through my fingers again as I furiously set the pen to paper. Doodles make way to letters and then somehow, magically, unfathomably, the letters are turning to words. I am afraid to stop writing lest the sunshine gets lost and I get frozen – suspended back into the land of the long winter.

Oh! I have missed being here. I have missed giving reign to my thoughts. I have missed the joy of not knowing which words my fingers might bleed. I have missed being envious of the brilliance of fellow bloggers and writers. I have missed being inspired.

It has been a long journey to open my blog again. For months I was contemplating, but I couldn’t turn it into a task. This place was always about choice, about joy and about freedom. I was loathe to make it into something akin to duty. My mind was numb. It was all about laundry lists and action items in the long journey of settling down which somehow never seemed to happen. It has been almost a year since I moved to Toronto and yet, my mind took its sweet time into making the city its own.

I don’t know when this city became home but I will tell you when I realized it – last Sunday. D and I took our first long vacation since moving here and got back on Sunday. That is when I equated the end of the vacation with coming back home. My condo and my city was what I wrapped around myself with a sense of comfort and security. This in turn, encouraged me to welcome myself back into my second home – this place 🙂

Let the good times begin! Happy Summer everyone 🙂 How have you been?

An Overview of Dental Camp

I was recommended to detail about the work that was done during the dental camps I visited last month. I figured that by sharing, I can perhaps shed some light on a part of India that few people are aware of.


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Mommy ❤ Right before the start of the second camp

My mother, Dr Pratibha Athavale, has been conducting dental camps as a freelancer for seventeen years. This means there is no government, religious or politically driven body behind this. She ties up with different socio-voluntary organisations whose the only objective is “seva” or service. And that too in the part of the country mostly neglected. The states she has visited are mostly the seven sisters in the North-East India, home to hundreds of tribes and thousands of dialects, which are often limited since there is NO script.

Some of the tribes are relatively developed and have access (albeit broken) to power, network, education etc. On the other hand, some are still clad in loincloths and lead primitive lifestyles. The sanitation checks start from making them aware of the importance of washing their hands and mouths let alone brushing their teeth. This has led to her working with and for all sorts of people – and the takeaway is the same. We may be distinct in terms of culture and traditions but our core values are the same.

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Meet my buddy – he came every day to Hi5! 🙂 P.S. Not a single child cried while they were being administered injections.

This year the camp was in Manipur covering three tribal villages and the camps were for three days in each. A little less than 1000 patients were treated in total – the treatments including scalings and extractions. Medication was provided and clinical advise was also given on a case by case basis. Needless to say, this was completely free of cost! It was amazing to see my mom in such a different light. She was super-woman! At 64, she was on her feet from 7 to 7 with cups of tea and light snacks as sustenance. She needed no fuel – she was operating on pure will and determination.

The dental camp in full swing! Setting up the camp is so much fun 🙂 Thinking through the layout, the power, the lighting!

How does a dental camp work given the complexity of equipments? Well, over the years based on her experiences, Mom has put together a portable clinic complete with a dental chair, compressor, sterilizer and the other fancy stuff. A doctor by profession, she channeled her untapped engineering mind into assembling this.

A great team based in the different states ensures operational stability in the camps. These people have given up their families, their jobs and dedicated their lives completely for the upliftment of these tribes. While the impact at the ground level happens in oral health, another subtle yet powerful turn takes place in the minds of the people. There is a human connect happening with these tribes that has never happened before or has always been at a very base level. This medium starts a dialogue which can further progress into a potential road to bring them into mainstream society!

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Two local assistants from the first village – They picked up the work in a flash and were eager to learn.

I was lucky to be a part of this movement for sometime and tried to make a small difference. After a long time, I came back with a sense of community! It’s a good feeling alright.


Do let me know if you have more questions or wish to support the different initiatives taking place for the North-East states.