If you had the flu and could barely get out of bed, what would you do? Would you go see a doctor? Probably. If you were feeling depressed and could barely get out of bed, what would you do? Would you see a doctor? Maybe.
It was just three miles away from my grandpa’s house in suburban Noida near Delhi, India. But it seemed to be a different world.
I was wading through the narrow and crowded alleys of the slum adjacent to the biggest market of the city. A young woman, who earns her living by ironing clothes under a roadside tent, guided me through the maze of small houses and shacks to the local school for underprivileged kids.
In regard to health education, much of the information came from some brochures. I can recall reading some materials that came with the textbooks each semester in primary school. These materials talk about how our body grows, how we change from little kids to teenagers, and talked about girls’ period and such. And they also tell us about the damage of drugs. So that’s pretty much the first health education of mine. Schools were reluctant and by-the-book.
I grew up in Bangalore, India in the late 1990s and early 2000s, a period of rapid growth and development in the country. As the “Silicon Valley of India”, Bangalore’s booming IT industry attracted foreign investment and brought about intense economic and social change. As a child, I was always told I was lucky to witness these changes. Our world was getting better and India was going to be a superpower soon! To my young mind, these were promising ideas but I could never imagine them into reality. If our world was getting better, why was the slum right in front of my school expanding every day?
My eyes scan the bookcase for something to read, but nothing stands out. Of course, most of the books here in my childhood bedroom are meant for an audience younger than my college-aged self, but I wouldn’t mind reading one for nostalgia’s sake.
I gloss over familiar titles and reminisce about my joyful days as a kid, when my eyes catch on a spiral-bound journal with red and white stripes. I remember this one – it always looked like a candy cane to me. I take it from the shelf and begin to thumb through its pages.