Sunday, August 27, 2006

much water...

Almost a month since I blogged last. During this period several friends have moved out of the country (Praveen, Ganesh, and Bala to the US; Vijay to Singapore) for work or higher studies. Chennai is not quite the same without them, and I particularly miss the late night conversations with Praveen and Vijay. Of course, they are still just a phone call away, but international calling, time zone differences, and work schedules do take their toll.

Preeti, volunteer from the University of Minnesota, spent two weeks here in Chennai brainstorming with us on ways to include issues of violence against women in HIV-related counseling. It was really good to work with her and have her stay chez moi. She was in India on a fellowship and volunteered with SAATHII in Chennai as well as with an HIV physician Dr. Rakesh Bharti in Amritsar. We got to learn from her of the health and human rights situation in Punjab.

In August, we also got really busy with preparing posters for the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto, in which SAATHII participated. There was also an evaluation visit from Prof. Richard Scott, an e-health expert from the University of Calgary to our office, and we learned from his extensive experience with offering online courses.

Aug 24-27 I was in Maharashtra, during which I spent two days in Kalyan visiting the Thane Network of People living with HIV/AIDS. Atharv - my new researcher-colleague - and I met some really inspiring people such as Shabana, Bharati, Dinesh, Prashant, Sanjay, Sanjeevani, Kavita, and Ashok D. These folks have been doing wonderful work to reduce stigma and discrimination and empower the local HIV+ communities through advocacy, counseling and and overwhelming committment to whatever they've been doing, be it public speaking, giving radio interviews, training, counseling, or accounting.

Apart from work, I got to catch up with the newly dreadlocked Laxmi, just back from Toronto. And this Sunday (yesterday) I hung out with Sachin, Vikram and Alok. Sopan and Manohar left me comatose after a wonderful lunch including modaks in honour of Ganesh Chaturthi. Actually, I just got back from Mumbai, where valiant efforts to blog from the airport were thwarted by a misbehaving wifi connection.