As a child I used to love meeting my “foreign” aunt. She was nice, of course, but even nicer was her bulging suitcase containing myriad gifts – everything from perfume bottles and handy kitchen accessories, to much coveted little knick-knacks that we could flaunt the next day at school. I specially remember loving the little, pristine-white erasers she used to bring for us – smooth and smelling of roses – they were a big improvement over the local ones that made the paper all black.
On June 13th 1997 a fire broke out in a New Delhi cinema hall, killing fifty-nine people and injuring a hundred and three, many of whom were women and children. The fire was small and no one died of burns – they all died of asphyxiation, suffocated by the toxic smoke, which had no outlet.
On the 15th of August this year, India celebrated its 60th year of independence from British rule. So for the past month, the country – its intellectuals, prominent personalities, the media, the government and even the common man – has been indulging in a fair amount of self-examining and soul searching.
The masses still have grave misconceptions about the disease and how it’s spread, and the biggest sufferers of this misinformation, sadly, are little babies who are often abandoned at birth, left at temples or other public places by their parents who either cant afford them or who just don’t want
an HIV infected child.
If I told you that an Indian man recently paid almost $40,000 for a cell phone number- not including the actual phone- and that the town in which this person lives has the maximum number of Mercedes Benz cars per capita in his country, you’d think I was talking about some if-you-have-it-flaunt-it sort of New Yorker. Not quite.