Sunday, 30 November 2014

Delhi Nov 2014: WHO meetings, friends and art galleries

In Delhi for the WHO meeting on global leprosy strategy and the 2015-2020 leprosy plans.

The Global Leprosy Programme had called about 30 people to Delhi, a mix of Indians, national programme managers and a few researchers for a meeting the next global leprosy strategy. We discussed a range of options. I hope that we shall be able to avoid the elimination target in future. The current plan is to divide countries into the big three “India, Brazil and Indonesia” with the largest numbers of leprosy patients and then a group B of countries with intermediate numbers and others with “Special situations.”

I enjoyed being in Delhi even though the winter is starting there. This means foggy days and cool nights. I visited the National Museum because my last visit was very rushed and I realized that there was a lot of good stuff there. I had a lovely time looking at the sculptures and miniatures. Fortunately there is an excellent audio guide given to the foreigners. Just as well because the labeling is very poor and gives little context to the beautiful stuff there.

My friends' children are now starting to get married. Raganadh and Kalyati. talked about their daughter Solanki"s wedding, they chose a Indian oil engineer husband living in Norway. They had about 1500 wedding guests in two sittings in Hyderabad, awesome. In my evening with Annamma John I heard about the preparations for her daughter’s wedding and we went shopping at Delhi Haat crafts centre and where Annamma bought presents for several different levels of the families. I bought some attractive pearl bangles and Kashmiri boxes to give to people at home.

I also had an excellent visit to the “Nature Bazaar” where people sell organic crafts from across north India. About 70 crafts people were exhibiting here with exhibits ranging from cloth to artwork and camel products. The quality of the work was impressive and better than most shops. I enjoyed browsing and bought soap from Aaorohi, silk scarves for £9 and birthday cards made from camel dung paper. The latter is part of a scheme for using camel products and so helping camel herders in Rajasthan find alternative work. The camel milk soap looked nice but I already had enough soap in my tiny suitcase. My Swedish friend Karin had a stall selling her organic cotton products (Songbird) that she has spent 6 years setting up. People admired the baby clothes and if one just said “how soft the cotton is “ and they immediately wanted to touch it and then bought items. A couple of French ladies came by doing Xmas shopping and they offered her a stall, at a French Mela in December.

I also read the proofs of Jasjit’s book about her mother’s life and death at 107 years and I commented on the medical aspects of the latter. The book captures mataji’s life well from growing up in the 1920s when she went to London to do a PhD, being a mother in the 30s and then retreating into a spiritual life for her last 20 years. The book will be published in January 2015 on Mataji’s birthday.

I always enjoyed being part of Jasjit’s household, she took me to a talk by a Chinamanda guru. I also walked the dogs in the park and enjoyed the garden.
When I was back in Delhi after the evaluation Bushan Kumar went one evening to a fabulous exhibition of “40 years of Indian Drawings” at the Indira Ghandhi art gallery. We arrived very late and had only 30 mins to see the collection. But the curator was curious about a foreigner who arrived late in an auto-rickshaw and took us round the exhibition, it was wonderful hearing her talk about the different piece and hugely enhanced them.

So I had a good balance of work and play in Delhi.

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