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straddling worlds

There I was in a kuccha house in Uttarakhand talking to a woman from a BPL (below poverty line) family about how she'd benefited from the reproductive and child health-related voucher scheme that our organization had piloted with the help of the state government and USAID in Haridwar, when my cellphone beeped.

Reading the text message made me smirk at the ludicrousness of it all - Bizarre sale - up to 70% and more off on all the hip n glam clothes and accessories. Stuff that would individually cost more than what the woman's husband hopes to earn in a month.

The timing was perfect in a warped sort of way. A reminder that, as I trudged through little bylanes and shanty and pucca houses of the block in the rain and waved at friendly kids, I am blessed and know it, but don't really acknowledge it enough. I also realized that I would continue to take my comfortable life for granted (true to my human nature), and will still have occasional retail binges without as much as a twinge or a thought.

At another place, as the community health worker - the accredited social health activist (ASHA), Shah Begum after a discussion at her place and a visit to another beneficiary, walked us back to the car, she offered a desi cure for my 'massa' / mole (the two on my face which are hard to miss), some detergent and 'chuna' would do the trick. I am tempted to try.

I had some of the best tea, biscuits and mango slices of my life in the homes we visited - little homes with big hearts. The tehri (rice with potatoes and tomatoes) that we had at the NGO's office - a simple but truly brilliant dish made by the unobtrusive office boy who knew when to materialise with water/tea everytime we visited.

Returning to Delhi, I reached the Dehradun airport 2 hours early and leafed through the latest issue of Grazia with a cup of coffee, visions of my visit transposing seamlessly with the glossy uber-slick images of bags and shoes to die for and pout-poses that the most-watched celebs have perfected.

It all makes sense somehow...and doesn't at times.

South and Central Asia
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