Private Healthcare; Taking Choice Away from Indians

My name is Anika Parashar. I run the Fortis La Femme hospitals for Women and Children. I am founder of Organ India, an NGO for Organ Donation Transplants and Recipients. I am granddaughter to one of the first women Professors of Paediatrics in our country and also granddaughter to a dedicated and committed Army Nurse. I am a trained therapeutic counsellor and coach. I am a single, working mother. I am a woman committed to contributing to the growth and progression of my colourful, wonderful, democratic country. Today I write wearing each of my hats. Wearing all of my hats.

Democracy – the Wikipedia Definition
Democracy (Greek: δημοκρατία dēmokratía, literally “rule of the people”), in modern usage, is a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body, such as a parliament.[2] Democracy is sometimes referred to as “rule of the majority”.[3] Democracy is a system of processing conflicts in which outcomes depend on what participants do, but no single force controls what occurs and its outcomes.

Private Sector – the Wikipedia Definition
The Private Sector is the part of the economy, sometimes referred to as the citizen sector, which is run by private individuals or groups, usually as a means of enterprise for profit, and is not controlled by the State. (Areas of the economy controlled by the state are referred to as the Public Sector).

Private Healthcare – the Wikipedia Definition
According to National Family Health Survey-3, the private medical sector remains the primary source of health care for 70% of households in urban areas and 63% of households in rural areas.[6] The study conducted by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics in 2013, across 12 states in over 14,000 households indicated a steady increase in the usage of private healthcare facilities over the last 25 years for both Out Patient and In Patient services, across rural and urban areas.[10]

Our country is finally being counted amongst the giants of the world as our economy has grown to be more robust over the last decade. With private sector enterprise having grown across industries, we live in a democracy; with rights to choose and we have a plethora of choices before us. We enjoy the right and the freedom to choose who is worthy of running our country, where to live and how we would like to, we exercise the right to choose what to consume and how – or do we still?
With current attacks on the private healthcare system in India, I question this. The government claims to be focused on patient rights, capping prices, punishing non-compliance to years of imprisonment and escalating fines. What about all the patients that the private healthcare system has treated over the years? What about all those patients who have CHOSEN and continue to CHOOSE the private system (yes, basis their ability to pay), to get treatment for themselves or their loved ones? Yes, we charge for our services. Private Healthcare belongs to the PRIVATE SECTOR. As per the Wikipedia definition above, we do not claim to be non-profit. We provide healthcare which denotes a certain premium quality of care. This costs. We need to make up our costs. We need to pay our people. Therefore, we need to charge for our services. Nothing wrong with that in any industry, in any economy, in any country of the world.
And yet. We are being crucified. With the stringent laws in West Bengal, to the attempt at them with KPME in Bangalore recently, our hospital management and our Clinicians have been made to live in fear and as criminals rather than the Gods of the yesteryears. For decades now, every Indian family has dreamt of pushing their children to become Doctors. The most trusted, respected profession in the country; God’s avataars here on earth to heal lives, enrich lives and save lives are now cowering in fear! Who is going to encourage their children to become doctors and which doctors will stay and work in India when they are treated with such disrespect? I would like to challenge the States, the same Government officials who are provoking these changes – have they never chosen to take their loved ones to a private healthcare facility over a government one in the interest of better, more hands on care? Have they not chosen to pay higher prices for the same? This is the point of choice.
Private Healthcare is not free. It is not subsidised. It is for those who can afford it or who choose to spend on it. Like any private industry sector. Consumers (who can), choose hotels over dhabbas or standalone restaurants, they choose faster technology over simpler tech, they choose fancier cars over basic ones. That is the very genesis of consumerism in a free economy – the right to choose.
The Media in their interest to sensationalise everything have further tarnished a respectable, noble profession/industry. Cases and incidents are picked up and torn to shreds. Tragedy is picked apart. Pain is picked apart. Loss is picked apart. Do none of these media professionals avail private healthcare? Have they too like all of us, not had a loved one being born or recovering from illness in a private healthcare facility?
As rewarding as being a healthcare professional is, it is as difficult. We have to face disease, despondency and death. And as much as we try, we just cannot save everyone. As much as we try, we cannot always make everyone better. There is nothing that brings to light one’s own mortal limitations more than this. I have been lucky enough to work with and interact with wonderful clinicians all across India. Professionals who really care about what they do, who are passionate about their work, who have returned home from other countries to serve their own, who try their best to do their best with every patient…. And who’s hearts break a little every time they can’t control outcomes. And that IS the reality. THEY cannot, WE cannot, always control outcomes. Like me, they too have personal stories. We all, as healthcare professionals, like in every industry in the world, have families to feed. So if we charge for quality healthcare, whilst we love and look after people, then why should we as an industry, apologise for it? When hotels don’t, restaurants don’t, high priced airlines, malls, cars, tech companies don’t. Then why should we?
And why should we be penalised for it?
Let me remind you my friends, this is India. A free economy. A democracy. Home of a booming private sector which has led to a more robust economy. Let us not shoot ourselves down and sabotage ourselves in what we offer our consumers and bring about the extinction of the worlds most respected profession.


Of Pants and Petticoats….


I’ve always been an advocate for women’s rights – perhaps I feel strongly about rights that women have not had on par with our male counterparts or perhaps it is just because I am a woman and I feel passionate about all things woman! If I was born a son to The-Source-of All-Wisdom (my mother), perhaps I would be an advocate of men’s rights! I’ve always worked towards creating products or places for women to call their own; tried to find ways for women to express themselves but its always been in niche areas.

Today things have changed for me and I work in a large corporate and head the smallest division of it which caters to women. The organization and its management have committed to building a brand especially for women, which is wonderful and timely; especially for the services we provide. All these years, my division had been the smallest tadpole in a large pond but today with this infusion of intent and focus, it stands to grow into a brand and business of its own right. In the last 8 odd months in this role, as I’ve come head to head with my male counterparts, their responses to me and what I’m trying to build has been somewhat fascinating 🙂

Its funny how men in corporates don’t quite know what to make of women with decision making power. Add to the fact that I’m a woman on the table (and might I add here that while I have no desire to be on this table, my work excites and motivates me enough to participate in corporate protocols!), I am also a single mother and with that come the host of questions as to how I GOT on that table. Did I sleep with anyone? Am I related to anyone? Is it because I happen to be young or ok looking? Very rarely have I come across someone putting it down to my capabilities or fitment to the job.

As a woman I have to work double time to perform, to prove myself and all this comes with the constant juggling act of balancing my personal life along with my professional one. And yet, nobody wonders how the man in the office next to me got the job. Nobody is watching him, waiting for him to slip up and fail.

As I move ahead with this sculpting this new business model trying to give it shape and a new reality; working alongside men who have been in this business for centuries, I realize that our success can only go as far as what has been accepted and known so far. While our top management are huge advocates to what we are creating; I’ve also found many naysayers who’s reactions to our progress are not in line with what they would be to their counterparts from other divisions; who are men.

I realize we must be doing a bloody good job if when I find my voice to speak up, I’m shot down with reminders on how small a fish my space is as compared to the others (we are only ‘put in our place’ when we are noticed!). When I get amused looks to my growing revenues because there is contentment that they are miniscule in comparison to other divisions. As I stand tall and speak just what any other business head would say to defend his zone and I get push back against the possibility of a women’s brand reaching a certain point; breaking certain boundaries. Why not flip it and look at this brand as one which will break bounds, bring a positive brand run to the organisation as a whole; why not nurture us and be a part of our first flight and then celebrate with us as we soar through all the unique and wonderful things we may achieve? We are ‘allowed’ to exist – but only so much, only so far.

Is it that social and corporate systems in our country will enable the progress of women just upto a point and then resort to gender bashing tactics to ensure we stay in ‘our place’ (this being that of the inferior gender of course)? So I wonder, are today’s men THIS threatened by women gaining visibility, because they fear they will be relegated to wearing ‘petticoats’ while we wear the pants?! Luckily for my organization, I’m equally comfortable in both Petticoats AND Pants 😉


Give your guilt to God and go to sleep


Guilt. It eats away at all of us. It leaves some of us anxious. Others get a searing pain, which manifests into physical symptoms. For some it feels like being pulled and stretched and then snapping back like a rubber band. As a woman, I feel it multifold (well, I’m only qualified to talk about it from a woman’s perspective as I belong to this gender!) When I’m at work, I feel guilt about leaving the kids being a single parent. When I’m at home, I worry about what needs to be done at work. When I’m in traffic between the two going either way, the rage hits at the cruel Gods for keeping me away from playing some role or the other. I feel guilty when I cancel plans with friends. The guilt hits when I go out with friends and so am not with the kids. I even feel guilty when I’m sick – heaven forbid I NEED to take a day or two to tend to a fever! And I’m sure it’s the same for all of you out there who are reading this. The bottom line is, that guilt leaves all of us feeling torn between we think we should do and what we want to do.

What we THINK we should do, arises from the following:

  1. We have been taught our whole life to do something a certain way – either via transgenerational messages (those that come down through actions, words or osmosis from generations above us in our family). Examples of these are ‘be responsible’, ‘be helpful’, ‘be strong’, ‘be perfect’. They can also be ‘a woman’s place is in the home’ ‘boys don’t cry’ ‘help others before helping yourself’
  1. We have been programmed and conditioned by the society in which we live, to live life in a certain way (the values or traditions passed in our communities, our religion, our teachers or the media). Examples of these are ‘a good Hindu will…’ ‘Natural birth is painful’ ‘expressing emotion is a sign of weakness’

If we think or act differently to what we have been taught, we stand the chance of being rejected, challenged or even scorned. So in reality, aren’t we being taught to think that if we are our authentic selves; if our opinions differ from those in our worlds around us; if we stretch to break the moulds we are meant to just ‘slip’ into, that we will not in fact, be accepted as we are? So are we, as citizens, managers, parents, siblings, spouses and children teaching conditional love rather than unconditional love and acceptance?

What we WANT to do comes up because:

  1. As we grow and develop, we become more authentic versions of ourselves. We shed the outer layers of what is expected of us or what we are taught and we embrace the truth that we are in our deepest core. As time evolves and life shapes us with it’s experiences, we understand who we are and what we want more clearly
  2. On a deeper level, as souls we have our own pre-selected stories to play out in this life and with that, karma debts to pay and collect. Those stirrings of the soul also take us down one path or the other, which may or may not be along the lines of what we THINK we should do

In most psychological studies, guilt is defined as an expression of anger; the anger being the inability to choose freely between the above – what we want and what we think we ought to do. Now that we’ve established this, lets talk consequences. There are incredibly grave consequences to internal guilt and anger (external consequences are frown lines J). Bruce Lipton, renowned Biologist wrote the book Biology of Belief which challenged the entire theory of disease being caused by genetics or any physical deficiency and in fact said that what shows up in our cells is a result of what we believe in our minds. Louise Hay, healer extraordinaire, brought about the phenomena of the mind-body connect and forced us to look at how physical disease in a particular part of the body is the result of an emotional trauma relating to that problem i.e Cancer is due to resentment, Conjunctivitis occurs when we don’t like what we see and so on.

For myself, over a decade of working in the holistic and spiritual realm with clients has opened my eyes to how the body responds with dis-ease to imbalance in the mind. To a disconnect in the core. To an inability in being able to align the difference between who we really are and who we think we should be. To love being offered only in conditional forms. And I for one, find that most alarming.

If you are a full grown adult, you have been equipped with the resources to think, to choose, to learn and to grow, therefore you are well armed with the tools to live on your own terms. Unfortunately in India, the culture of ‘Log Kya Kahenge’ still permeates our façade of a contemporary culture. Nobody but me lives my life. And so, nobody has a right to judge or comment on how I live it. And yet, like everybody else out there, I do get the advice, the opinions, the ‘suggestions’ which all tell me one thing – I am not unconditionally accepted.

Why can’t we accept every individual for the uniqueness within them? For the imperfections in their perfection? Why can’t we live and let live? Just imagine if we as a generation teach our children to love themselves and to forgive themselves alongside teaching them all the values and passing down all those precious traditions that we as parents do? We would create a world of happy, positive, secure, disease free people who would be able to achieve their full potential. Just imagine a place like that. But it all starts with ourselves. So ask yourself – can I forgive myself for all that I felt I have done wrong as defined by the world? Can I love myself unconditionally? I recently read a lovely saying; “Give your guilt to God and go to sleep at night.” Lets try it…

I wonder, if you would be proud of me today?

Its ten years today. Ten years from when I got the call that blew my world. One decade. A billion lifetimes. I was a little girl then; a princess sheltered in your cocoon. The apple of your eye. Or as you would say; a piece of your heart.

But I wonder if you would be proud of who I’ve turned out to be today; one decade, ten years and a billion lifetimes away from who I was when you were still moulding, shaping and guiding me.

I’ve had a few knocks Papa. I’ve struggled a bit. You’ve missed so much and I have missed you so much. Your voice, your words, your touch, your hold, your security, your pampering – nothing fills the void.

Back then, every time we left the house without me wearing a pair of earrings, you used to stop and buy me a new pair right there. Sometimes my ears find themselves decorated today, but more often, they are listening for the sounds of my children’s voices, to my mother’s worries, to the directives of my leaders and to the concerns of my colleagues.

‘A girl’s hands and toes should always be pretty – like your Mama’s’. My nails haven’t seen polish in ten years – they are working hands. They cook food for your grandchildren and soothe their worries away; they tap away at a laptop building dreams into reality; they paint; they write and they play the piano. They’ve lifted Dada when he’s been sick, they’ve carried Nani to her last rites but no, they do not wear nail polish.

You taught me to always do right – to live by my values when it comes to others and myself and I do try to do that today as well but often I stand alone in the world when I take that position and more often than not, that deep set black and white outlook has left me deeply hurt.

You demonstrated responsibility and generosity in every step you took and that path has always lead to me being rewarded; Mama’s life itself is the biggest reward. Waiting day after day watching her dying; waiting for someone else to go and gift her new breaths is something I don’t know how to articulate. But I worked on that pain and that very foundation you started with the intention to help people, has found the light of day in the form of ORGAN.

You taught me to be a fighter but I’ve not won all battles Papa, including the one with the father of my children, the man who you gave me away to with so many hopes in your heart.

You told me to ‘Blaze my Trail’ and I have done that. Today, ten years ago I had a conversation with you about opening a small business to help mothers-to-be. I kept to my word; I have built 7 of those facilities across the country and now have a few hundred people working with me to build a slightly larger dream. ‘Pink is for girls’ you would gaze into my eyes and smile at me; urging me to retain my femininity. I have listened to you – my way – I work to serve women, by women, for women.

But all of this has come at a cost. You would not like that I leave your grandchildren everyday to work a job; you would say my place and responsibility is with them. But I don’t want to shelter my children in a false cocoon like you did me and then disappear on them one day, never to return. My children are independent, capable and yet they have retained their innocence. I want to teach them to dream and chase their dreams and to show them that dreams can come true.

Some say I am too soft and need to grow a thicker skin. Others say I am ruthless. Many try to control me and others give me too much space. But I am unapologetically – ME. Your daughter. Not the same one. But one who has designed her own life and lives on her own terms, powered by the same fuel that drove you and the same fuel that you raised me on – a little bit of fearlessness and a little bit of magic.

And I wonder, if you would be proud of me today?

Three months ago, I got divorced

Anika White (32).JPG

Three months ago, I got divorced. Perhaps very few people would have known this save for the fact that Man of my Dreams (now simply the Father of my Children) had posted on FB about how not all endings are sad and his new lady love posted back because some endings have happy beginnings. Needless to say this was in poor taste because it is indeed sad no matter how happy the beginning that a family unravels, that two children lose their parents living under one roof and that a 13 year old marriage comes to an end. However, if there is anything I have learnt over the past few years of my life, it is that there is very little one can in fact, control.

For the past year and a half I’ve kept my silence because this is the respect I owed the husband I loved for 13 years and the man who gave me my most precious gifts  – my children. Friends and family often questioned this in the face of the way he and his love interest handled our post separation period, using all social media and charged physical appearances to declare their feelings, brandishing themselves for all to see. But there is dignity in silence (and God and my loved ones know I was NOT silent in private) and my upbringing speaks of a certain pedigree. One also needs to conserve energy to lick your wounds, muster up strength to deal with the million to-dos that carry on regardless and of course to make sense of the future now that plans have clearly changed :-O !!!

Death. Disease and now Divorce. I’ve been through them all in the last few years and riding on the pain of the first two while moving into the sheer trauma of the third is not easy, especially when it is not just about you, but also about managing the overall wellness of your children. Unfortunately today there are a lot of single mothers out there… for all of you out there I try and capture the myriad of emotions I went through so that you know you’re not alone, that you can survive it and to give you a bit of strength if you are going through it now.

  • Invest in your children – there is nothing more important than their physical and emotional well-being. For a year and a half I’ve rarely left the house after eight. I give them reiki every night to heal their worries. We share our day, go over our affirmations and say our prayers together every night. Whatever the night is like, I wake up to get them ready for school, ensure their bellies are full, write them little notes in their lunchboxes. Surprise pick ups from school; surprise appearances to their extra curricular activities. If you’re a working mom, create action packed weekends but also learn to relax together. Love them. Show them you do. REPEATEDLY. Tell them repeatedly that the split had nothing to do with them. Be as honest with them as possible so they don’t get the uneasy feeling of knowing something is wrong and creating ghosts in their mind of what it can be
  • The children’s father – No matter what happens to your relationship, he will always have this place in your life and so it is best to try and be as cordial as possible. Despite your own feelings, the children need two parents so try and give them that. Listen to your gut; especially if you are the parent living with them as you can see the intricacies of their adjustment and development in greater detail than he can. Don’t bad mouth him as they are half him and whatever you say about him is also what they will perceive about themselves
  • Get support – the saying goes ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and there couldn’t be a truer one. This is the time to recruit grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, the kids friend’s parents. Create your village around you and don’t feel guilty about it. My workplace gave me a short sabbatical to get my act together – talk to work and if they’re not a diversity friendly employer – write to me and lets talk – I run a women’s business J. Share; you must share. Friends and family have been concerned about me hiding away and internalizing. Perhaps I was. But I was also DOING and UNDOING a lot. Starting a lot from scratch. And that takes time and focus. And when I’m in that zone, I don’t shut the world out, I simply lose myself in my own world. So do what you got to do
  • Ego – easy to say, but it bites. To be dumped for another woman shatters your self esteem beyond belief, especially after you believe you’ve tried your best (and when she’s not the most attractive piece of work J). Dump the ego. This is not about you. Its about someone else, albeit your partner and what they are seeking. Perhaps it is the other way around and they just don’t feel good enough for you and so need to settle for someone more appropriate to them!
  • Self Doubt – the classic question every mother/wife asks herself. Did I do enough? Am I doing enough? Let me answer it for you – yes you are. This was not about what you did or didn’t do. It was about something missing in your marriage. It was about the combination of the two of you just not working out and that’s ok. Sometimes two people outgrow each other and just can’t come together again on any level be it physical, spiritual or emotional
  • Be Honest – even if you don’t want to in public. Do it under the covers; in the lap of your best friend; underwater in a swimming pool. It is important to let go of the anger and bitterness at some point and honestly understand that if you were really, truly a happy couple, there would be no space for another person. Do it when you are ready but you MUST do it. Today I believe that if he had come to me and opened his heart out saying that while I was away caring for my mother who was having a heart transplant, he realized we were not right for each other, we would have walked away as two friends; amicable co-parents. The disrespect of his chosen path and the handling of it is what hurt
  • Forgive – you will never be able to forget. For years you may have trust or abandonment issues depending on why and how your split happened, but you must forgive him/them right from your very cells; repeatedly. Because if you don’t, this resentment and bitterness is what turns to disease and that doesn’t help your children or you. So forgive – for your sake; not theirs
  • Let go – I loved my in laws. I really believed I was a born fit into that family and I loved being the daughter in law of my mother-in-law, the sister-in-law to my brothers and sister in laws. That shatters. Grieve and then let go of them because blood is thicker than water and very rarely do those relationships last in the fragility of a broken marriage. In today’s world, if that means blocking them all off every single social media connection there is, then so be it
  • Face your Fears – I went straight from my father’s home to my husband’s home and there were so many things I just never had to handle. Now I can. I can do my taxes, get my cars serviced, sell an old one and buy a new one, book the kids and my holidays, run my monthly budget and live in extremely tight financial conditions. I aint scared of nothing no more. So do it. Jump in and KNOW that you will fly
  • Take your time – There will be many opinions on how you should put your life together again but don’t listen to anyone but yourself. Your gut
  • Find yourself – in all the fixing and sorting and soothing you end up doing during a divorce, it is really important to figure out who you are. Divorce is one of the 5 known most stressful conditions humans go through. And if you’re going through one it means you’re probably doing a fair bit of shredding and analyzing both your marriage and yourself. Sure, do that. But also focus on the new you. The suddenly single you who needs to find their own identity again minus your other half

Two weeks post my divorce, I found myself on a flight to England, exactly 18 years after I first got on a flight to England, flying the nest for the first time. Like that time 18 years ago, I was single again, going to Oxford to study and starting a new chapter of my life. My time there away from work and from the kids gave me hours to introspect, to understand who I am today and to be ok with myself. Today I’m not licking my wounds anymore. Today I look towards the future with hope and optimism, confidence and positivity because today I know I have faced many fears and overcome them. Perhaps this is God’s way of blessing me and leading me towards a life and a love I never imagined… after all, how many people get second chances?

How to give birth to your mother


By popular demand I write my blog today. This year I have been most irregular. However this has been a year like no other. OH WHAT A YEAR! Yesterday my mother, my only surviving parent, had her heart removed and with the sheer courage and generosity of another human’s will, had their heart transplanted into her body. What a concept. Today she took her first breath. Tomorrow she will start on a soft diet. Day after they say she will take her first steps. Just like a new born baby who is first exposed to the world. Except this time the tables are turned. Her children are the parents who will see to her care, her growth and her nurturing. OH WHAT A CONCEPT! As her children, my brother and me have been applauded, received accolades, received tags like ‘Heros’ and ‘Bravehearts’ and ‘Shravan Kumars’ . HOWEVER, I say, lets flip this. How many children get to return the gift of life to their parents? How lucky are we? The few chosen ones. How much more does God need to do to show us that we are his precious ones?

So how did we do it? Well I can’t speak for my brother but this is my take on how I got through one year of ‘How to give Birth to your Mother”! It was a recipe of three ingredients:

  1. Mind Set

I am a Doula by training and profession. The literal translation for Doula is ‘Woman who Serves’ and so we support birthing and new mothers emotionally, physically as best we can, holding their hand during their most exciting yet tumultuous journey. I told myself that this was my biggest Doula job ever. Birthing my Mother. Doing whatever it took. This meant becoming a parent to my only parent, detaching myself from the situation enough to see it objectively, researching the various options we had as meticulously as possible, taking into account the opinions of all ensuring family felt included and involved and then making the final presentation to my Mother so that she had all the information to make HER choice. Taking her power away from her at any point was out of the question. There was no space for emotion, irrationality, moaning about the unfairness of life. There was simply too much to be done.

By process of elimination we moved from Ma saying ‘I do not, absolutely do not, want a heart transplant’ on the 16th of December last year to her having her successful transplant on the 14th of December this year. Not once, despite the turbulence of emotions, not once, did we EVEN CONSIDER that she would not make it. The mind was set and when the mind is set, the vibrations sent to the Universe WILL NOT be ignored.

  1. Sheer Grit

It was not just about dealing with the looming issue of the transplant that one had to handle but as a working mother, daughter, wife, granddaughter one also had to ‘live life’. And so for one year I only ‘dealt’. I did. I actioned. I worked on autopilot. There was no time to get sick. No time to collapse. Wake up Nirvaan Inayat. Get them ready. Send to school with kisses and smiles. Meaningful kisses and real smiles. Homework. Piano class. Karate class. Soccer Practice. Art Exhibition. Typhoid shots. Cavity fillings. Check.

Ghar Ka hisab kitab. Paying bills. Ordering groceries. Get Diesel filled. Washing machine needs fixing. Cooking meals. Everyone must get what they want. My home must not be compromised. Dada goes to hospital. Nani goes to hospital. Dada goes to hospital. Nani goes to hospital. Check.

Mamma Mia is launched. The dream must be vindicated. Must help women all over India. Must make a difference. Fortis La Femme. Fortis Memorial Research Institute. Fortis Shalimar Bagh. Ensure my partner Shruti is coping well. Ensure the teams are coping well. Ensure my eye is on the ball at all times. Ensure clients are not impacted. Ensure revenue keeps growing. Check.

Chennai. Delhi. Chennai. Delhi. Chennai. Delhi. Take Ma to doc. Monitor liquid intake. Monitor Urine Output. Monitor Parameters. Do lung exercises. Chat and keep her Positive. Create Whatsapp groups for her to be connected to everyone. Six hours daily doses of Greys Anatomy and Brothers & Sisters. Take her for her 5 minute walks (that’s all her capacity would allow). Buy groceries. Cook. Check. Check. Check.

As I said, there was no time to collapse. No time to do anything else but what needed to be done. Many loved ones couldn’t understand why I would not ease up; ‘Go out. Have a drink. Chill out. Hang out’, but you see, everyone copes in different ways and I was on a Mission. Create Organ Receiving and Giving Awareness Network (ORGAN). Rally up the troops. Take away the pain from the world. Stop the pain. Stop the pain. Turn bad into good. Create hope. Fight. Fight. Fight. During this past year, I took more care of myself than ever before. Exercise, Meditation, Diet, Vitamins, Mind and Body work, Sleep. After all, I was fighting a war and this was not one we could afford to lose.

Don’t feel. Don’t think. Don’t analyse. Don’t watch the pot. Don’t send out negative vibes. Don’t lose focus. Don’t lose hope. Don’t lose FAITH. CHECK???

  1. Faith

Faith is one of those things which is extremely personal. My mother has been very quiet about it her whole life while my father was very expressive. My husband doesn’t believe and neither does my brother. A dear friend recently asked me about my Faith; that he felt it was wavering and asked me what it means to me. I’ve thought about his question for a few days, but I attempt to answer it today.

I believe in something bigger than me. Something or someone to rely on, to share with, to talk to. Perhaps my God is not a traditional looking one. Perhaps my God cannot be found in a temple or shrine or is a living Master. But my God is MINE. To love. To fear. To fight with. To scream at. To cry to. Over the years, I have been to temples, mosques, churches; I have meditated, chanted and sat in sermons. All trying to find answers to questions I didn’t know how to voice. I don’t follow any path. I don’t believe in any one particular deity or Guru. But I BELIEVE. This is not to say I don’t waver. But I do have Faith that I am looked out for, carried through and if I give into that, then the larger story will be revealed. Let me give you a sense of where ALL this was shown to me during this journey.

Just before Ma’s condition deteriorated, I started working at Fortis Healthcare, where I had access to a plethora of hospitals, doctors and surrounded myself by a second ‘family’ who would come to support me incredibly through my journey. When Ma said she would absolutely not go to the US, we did not even know that India was an option and until various Angels here pointed out that fact, we were getting ourselves adjusted to the fact that she may not agree at all. As the process of elimination continued, doctors from the US and the UK ‘miraculously appeared’ in Delhi and were available for consultation. During those first few weeks I remember waking up or staying up at all odd hours for conference calls, meeting people in cars, coffee shops and clinics to ensure we had not left any stone unturned. Everyone said she would not have a fair shot abroad – the wait would be too long. But India didn’t ‘seem experienced’ enough, were some of the counter arguments we heard. How wonderful would it be if she could be transplanted in the comfort of her own home; but Delhi didn’t have an organised donor network.

Again, miraculously, a well known surgeon from Chennai where there WAS an organised network turned up in Delhi. He was the saviour. We felt it. He rejected her. Said she was too old. But he would still do it he said. Ha! My 60 year old mother was definitely NOT too old and THAT was simply not what we were going to accept. Something kept telling my brother and me that this was NOT IT! My Fortis Angels kept suggesting we speak in more detail, that we meet Dr Balakrishnan, at Fortis in Chennai. We let ourselves be guided. Our one day trip to Chennai was surreal. We met Dr Bala and within minutes KNEW HE WAS THE ONE. Intelligent, kind, charismatic, he had all the time in the world to answer all our questions and the patience to explain his thoughts in layman’s terms. She didn’t frighten him. He was the first person who was not frightened by her case. We had originally decided to check out another hospital before we returned to Delhi and out of fairness for our Mother, we decided to continue with that. On the way there, we found a new high rise residential building FIVE MINUTES away from Fortis hospital. It was amazing how everything was falling into place and how so many rejections turned into directions, helping us find our way to where we are today.

My mother in law came over from the UK to help support my husband look after my kids, my Masis stood like pillars around us filling in for periods when we could be at home, our friends and family rallied around us, my workplace never once challenged my remote working arrangement. And yet, I wasn’t always understanding and grateful. I had tantrums and fits and breakdowns and shut outs – those closest to me suffered the most and they know who they are and that I would do for them the same. Faith is one of those incredibly personal things. It is tested and challenged in amazing ways. The grip on it may loosen but that is what is being tested; our ability to do our best and trust that someone is looking after the rest.

Every experience in life is a lesson. I’ve definitely faced a lot more of those lessons that the average 34 year old reading this. My lesson for this one is to get the mind Focused on the goal, summon up the Grit that I know is in there and keep the Faith. With every experience, I grow closer to learning what I am meant to; I grow closer to finding myself and what I am capable of. So until the next lesson, I breathe, I smile and I toast to my Mother.

How many daughters get to witness the birth of their mother?


My childhood was a dream. I had two doting parents, an abundance of friends and family around all the time. Love was showered in never-ending waterfalls. We were a family who had everything and yet no more than what we needed. We were what I would always think of as a ‘normal average family’ and I was quite happy with my self-coined term. That was until my father died. My strong, brave, invincible father died of a heart attack playing his favourite game. Then life went ape shit.

They say that God dishes out to the people who are strong enough to take it. They say that the old has to move out to make way for the new. They say that we keep living out our life patterns or scripts until we learn the lessons set out for us. All this is well and good, but what if you travel the road and still don’t see the signs? In the seven years since my father has been gone, our family has lost its way. And now my mother needs a heart transplant. How frightening is that. A HEART TRANSPLANT.

When I think about it, I want to laugh as much as cry. What happened to the ‘normal average family’? This was NOT part of my plan. My plan was to get married, have kids, drop my kids over to my parents’ house, work a job, and mark my kids’ growth on the wall every year along with counting the silver hair on my parents’ heads. The question is – was that really what I wanted deep inside or is what is happening now a true reflection of what I wanted out of my life? Not an ordinary life, but an extraordinary one?

If my father had not left us, we would never have had the chance to grow and blossom beyond his protective shade. If my father had not left us neither would I have written a book or sold an idea, conceived of my promise to him and my own pain, twice over to two large corporates. So does this really prove that there are lessons set out for us to learn even at a painful cost?

Do you believe that larger forces are at work in our lives? In Destiny? In Angels? In Miracles? I am a Believer. I have always believed in the strange, the occult, the unexplained and my life seems to be proving the unexplained to me every day. Just before my mother’s condition started getting worse, I joined one of Asia’s largest healthcare chains. This is called Destiny. Here I found people who held me up, sheltered me and carried me on my road when I couldn’t walk anymore on my own. It was instant recognition. Safety. Security. Familiarity. Like I had known them forever. They are called Angels. How is it possible that my Destiny and my Angels appeared at that very time when life seemed to be playing a cruel joke on me? That is called a Miracle.

So when people ask me how I have the strength to laugh in the face of such adversity and to turn my pain into positivity, I tell them what I see. That I am lucky enough to be faced with challenges and I will be lucky enough to be able to look back and be proud of what I have overcome. This is my Destiny. My Angels are here to help me and I will get my Miracle. No. I was not meant for an ordinary or a normal life. Deep inside, I didn’t want that. I came from extraordinary parents and I was meant for the extraordinary. After all, how many daughters get to witness the birth of their mother?