Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Save Diki

As per my daily routine, I was scouring through the local Sikkim news sites when I came across this article about a girl with kidney failure who needs financial help for her transplant surgery. You can get more details from the article below.

If you are willing to help, please leave a comment and I will give you more details on the hows, or else you contact Pema Doma directly at the phone no. provided in the article below.

Kidney patient needs financial help
Staff Reporter GANGTOK, July 28:

body knows what’s in her fate. But with both of her kidneys damaged, Diki Sherpa still has a will to survive.
The 26-year-old is a resident of 9th Mile in East Sikkim. Her father, Namgyal Sherpa being a simple Buddhist monk cannot afford the expenses for her transplant, though the donor is her own mother.Like all other young girls of her age, Diki had dreams of a productive and purposeful life till the year 2000 when she fell victim to life-threatening condition of kidney failure.
Mr. Biswadeep Dutta, who runs a hotel in SN Banerjee Road in Kolkata, has been her guardian angel. The Samaritan has been her caretaker providing her food and lodging in this unknown city. He runs around to pull all his sources together so he can help this ailing lady.
It was informed that just when all appeared lost and Diki was to be packed off to Sikkim on July 12, a family from Taltala gave her shelter. The Duttas had been frequenting the bodyguard lines to meet Diki ever since they learnt about her from doctors in Sikkim during a trip there in Sikkim in the year 2007.
Presently under treatment at Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences, Kolkata, her final hope is kidney transplantation that costs Rs. 4 -5 lakhs. Despite her mother Pramila Sherpa’s willingness to donate one of her kidneys to Diki, the major factor has been financial constraints. Dialysis has kept her alive which she goes for every Thursday but it is only a temporary reprieve.
To add to her determination to live, the Sikkim Students Association of Kolkata, an association of Sikkimese students studying in Kolkata has come forward to help collect funds for Diki. “When we saw the people of Kolkata helping Diki after her case was reported in one of the newspapers, we too wanted to help her out,” said Pema Doma Sherpa, External Affair Manager of the Association while talking with SIKKIM EXPRESS today.
She further said that the rickshaw pullers, banana sellers, police constables in Kolkata teemed up to assist Diki financially. Back in Diki’s hometown, the student association is leaving no stone unturned to collect maximum funds for the patient’s kidney transplant.
“We want all the people of Sikkim to respond over the matter and chip in few rupees as Diki desperately needs our help. We hope that taking positive points from our initiative, the Sikkimese people will contribute heartily and make sure Diki Sherpa lives, Pema said.
Diki desperately needs more Samaritans to come her way. Only her medicines and dialysis bills amount to Rs 3, 250 a week. A year’s postoperative care will cost another Rs 2 lakhs not to mention the amount need for transplant. So far, the association has managed to collect about five thousand rupees from the students in two days, she told SIKKIM EXPRESS.
Although, the fund collection is unsatisfactory, Pema said that people have started donating some.
Those willing to extend a helping hand to Diki can contact Pema Doma Sherpa, External Affairs Manager of Sikkim Student Association of Kolkata or call her at 98743-50109. The lists of the names of the donors will be published in SIKKIM EXPRESS.

Sikkim Express:TUESDAY, JULY , 29 , 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

My new iToy

Months of waiting, 3 stores, 1 Starbucks coffee, 1 free bottle of water (courtesy: Apple) and 5 hours later, I finally own it !!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Air India?? Never again!!

My flight experience have always been, let's say, somewhat unpleasant. This time, my wedding trip to India was no exception.

Initially, our plan was that I'd fly to India a week before V. I, the bride, would require more time for my bridal shopping than V who had anyway done most of his in US itself. I now thank my lucky stars for making us change our plans and travel together. Else, I don’t know how I would have gone through the ordeal by myself.

Who hasn’t heard bad reviews about Air India? Dirty and old planes, unusable restrooms, rude air hostesses and the fellow passengers even worse and the most common of all, flight delays. The only good thing about Air India that we've heard was the extra luggage allowance (which we didn't need), Indian food (which we didn't care for) and cheap prices. Cheap price...yeah, that's what they got us with! With our plan to stay in Paris for a few days on our way back from India, the stop over charges made our flight tickets very expensive. The cheapest fare was offered by Air India and with a brave heart, we booked our flights.

Having reached Newark hours before the scheduled boarding time, we found that our flight was delayed by 3 hrs. No surprise there. Now we worried what if we go somewhere to spend the time and came back only to realize our plane took off on time?? So me made a quick stop at a friends place and returned back to find out our plane had not even arrived!

As we waited at the gate, we could feel one of the Air India staff eyeing us. He soon approached us and without even touching our hand luggage he said we need to check in our carry on since they were too heavy. I was like What the...!! When we pointed out that he hadn’t even lifted our luggage to weigh it, he tried to cover up by saying our carry-ons are too big. I then pointed to a few of our fellow passenger's luggage which were even bigger! We told him we have important papers with us and there is no way we are gonna check them in. He then asked us to put all important things in one bag and check the other in. When we said that we'll be travelling separately (I was travelling to Calcutta from Mumbai) he finally let it go.

In the wee hours of the morning, our plane arrived. As with most Indian flights, even though they call out the passengers to board as per their seats, everyone jumped in to go ahead. It took a while for the staff to get the passengers to somewhat organize. After a while we finally found ourselves inside this gloomy stuffy plane. The seat covers looked centuries old and in the name of entertainment there was this single screen in front of the plane. I didn’t even bother to try on the headphones to check if they worked. Little did we know that our ordeal has not even started!

Everything we heard about Air India was true. The restrooms were dirty and smelly and nothing functioned properly. The food was bad. In fact the desert (sewai kheer) smelled bad and sour. The entertainment was zero. Luckily our weeks of hectic preparation paid off and we slept through most of the flight. During the flight we met a fellow traveler and his trial was worse than ours. He'd flown in to Newark from Michigan on Wednesday, four days ago. But his flight to Mumbai was cancelled and since then he had been trying to get to the next flight. But since all flights until Saturday were overbooked, he had to wait for four days to get into this one!

Our flight had a layover in Paris where we were not required to get off the plane. We reached Paris "on time" and we waited for it to take off again. After an hour wait in the stuffy flight with no AC, they announced that the flight was delayed due to technical difficulties. We were probably stuffed in for another 2 hours or so when they announced that our flight to Mumbai was cancelled!!! They asked all American citizens to get off first for hotel acco while for the rest of us, they'll try to get transit visas. Luckily for me and V, we already had visas for Paris. So we got off along with the American citizens. I am sure the remainder of the passengers had to go through much more than us.

We were probably stuck in the Paris airport for another 3 hours, standing in the long queue, when we were finally allotted a hotel room. The strangest part of it was that there were no Air India staff at the airport; everything was taken care by Air France staff. And to tell you about the behavior of the "American citizen" Indians there...well, that'll be another post! A rumour floated that they had discovered rats in our plane in Newark itself and the plane had been declared unsafe to fly. But since Air India flights had been behind schedule since Wednesday, they took the chance and let it fly but in Paris, they were not allowed to fly further!! It was past 9pm by the time we reached the hotel. We were too tired to even think of touring Paris then. Next day we left for the airport early, hoping to get good seats. Seems like everyone else had the same idea and there was this long queue at the gate, well before the boarding time. The behavior of the people there too... well, that not only shocked me, but disgusted me till end. But again, that’s another story.

On landing at Mumbai, I said a hurried bye to V and went off to catch my connecting flight to Calcutta. The one day delay had already made me miss my appointment at the US Consulate in Calcutta for my visa stamping, but that was the least of my worries. When I finally reached the domestic terminal, I found that I'd have to deal with more rush and crowd. I finally reached the counter only to find that I was waitlisted!! Those **ing Air India people had not bothered to make reservations for my connecting flight. I soon found out all my co passengers taking connecting flights to elsewhere were in the same situation.

Just 15-20 mins before the Calcutta flight took off, we were confirmed. I have to say though, the Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Calcutta was such a relief after that horrid AI flights. And the food was awesome!

During my stay in India, I had to take a few more flights after the wedding too. And yeah, had to face some or the other situation there too. My return flight to Paris and then to US was quite uneventful, thankfully! But this whole ordeal made us vow....AI - never again!