Sunday, February 17, 2013

Days of Healing

On 4 Feb I was again in Kolkata for training of the Project Coordinators and Block Supervisors of the polio eradication program. On 5th Feb evening, once the training was over, I left for Bolpur via Bardhamman. At Bardhamman station, while waiting for the local train to arrive as I was scheduled to leave at 8.10 pm, at about 7.50 pm, a train carrying coal was to cross through the same platform. The train came in with a loud thud and lot of fire above one of the containers as it was brushing against the overhead electric cables. People started running for cover as the fire and the blasts were growing big. While a few of us were trying to shout to the driver about the danger, he was still pulling the train on to the platform. Soon, everyone had to run for shelter, as we jumped on to the empty tracks to rush towards an empty platform far off. At that time someone unintentionally pushed me from behind and I fell on the tracks! As I got up immediately I saw that I was bleeding profusely from my head with more scratches on my left knee and pain in my right palm. Few fellow passengers gathered and asked me to go for first aid at the train station itself. They said that I have a very "dangerous" cut, which I was not able to see anyway. All that I know was that my hand kerchief is already soaked in blood, and now I was trying to  cover with my shawl, but it was still bleeding heavily and the shawl was of little help.

I walked out of the station, knowing that it may not be safe for me to be in the station with lot of unknown people and severe head injury. So, I took a rickshaw, went to Asansol Burdwan Seva Kendra (ABSK), an NGO run by the diocese of Asansol, which is situated about 5 minutes ride from the station. The Director of the institution, Fr. Dolphy is a friend of mine. Soon I was taken care of and by 8.45 I was in the operation theater of a nursing home, and was given 14 stitches (3 on the nose, 2 above the right eye and nine on the forehead). I rested that night in ABSK and returned to Bolpur on 6th morning. I must thank Fr. Dolphy and few of his staff who took care of me at the crucial hours, Shubhra for being the gem as I recovered over the days with swollen eyes and severe pain and for all the love she gave, and whole lot of friends and family members who visited me, called me to check on my health, prayed for me and for being a wonderful support. Eleven days have rolled by. I am just getting fit and fine. Hope to begin to be more and more functional in the coming days. Thank you friends!

Rush to Delhi and Kolkata

On 1 Feb, Tuesday, I left by the morning, 7.00 Indigo flight to Delhi on an invitation by CORE Group to visit ZMQ technologies in Gurgaon, Delhi. The flight could not land in Delhi for over 1.10 minutes, and so, instead of landing at 9.10, landed at 10.20, 20 minutes later than the scheduled time of the meeting, and reached the venue at 11.00. We were air borne as we kept rounding the Delhi sky for the entire period. What a colossal waste of gas / petrol although these planes and airports are enabled with CAT-III facilities! Since ZMQ and CORE Group team were waiting for me, the delayed the meeting to 10.45, and so, I did not miss much, and was able to catch up quickly with a brief given to me in couple of minutes. The day's discussions were about the new software that CORE Group is planning with technical support from ZMQ. The software will help community volunteers to update, retrieve and use data relating to every family / child in their areas so that immunization and health of the children in the families can be increased. My night return flight of Air India AI-021 scheduled to leave Delhi at 8.15 pm, left at 11.15 and I landed at 1.20 am. By the time I went to bed it was 3.30 am. (Missed meeting any of my friends in Delhi!)
The next day, 2 Feb 2013, I went to participate in the South East Asian conference on Public Health, held at Science City, Kolkata. The program was very interesting as lot of people from several parts of the country and few other countries were participating in the program. I also met a lot of doctors, engineers, students and teachers from various walks of life, interested in public health. The program went off smoothly. Of course, from CORE Group we had put up a stall in the venue which was frequented by hundreds of people throughout the day.