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06/05/2017

France-India: Love is in the air!

Inde,Macron,Modi,visite,Elysée

No one knew what to expect about Modi's visit in France last week. Well, it seems it was love at first sight!

Inde,Macron,Modi,visite,Elysée

Inde,Macron,Modi,visite,Elysée

Inde,Macron,Modi,visite,Elysée

About this habit of men holding hands in India: http://www.indiandacoit.com/archive/2013/10/14/why-do-ind...

Inde,Macron,Modi,visite,Elysée

Inde,Macron,Modi,visite,Elysée

Inde,Macron,Modi,visite,Elysée

05/08/2017

About depression, suicide and other niceties

The Indian Prime Minister spoke recently about a problem (apparently independent of the lack of toilets and corruption) completely taboo and not really funny: depression.

Apparently the WHO published a report on depression in Southeast Asia in 2015 (source), then India (the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Science) conducted a study published in 2016 (source).

If there was in the world in 2015 more than 300 million people suffering from depression (4.6% of the population*), 56 million lived in India (4.5% of the Indian population, right in the overall average!). To that we need to add all the other mental illnesses, which brings to 15 the percentage of adults who actually need help.

But the thing is that in India, mental conditions are hyper stigmatized**. You don't go to a shrink (that's for crazy people (maybe that’s why there are only 2 psychiatrists per million inhabitants which means there are less than 3 000 in total!)) (source)), you hide it, you ignore it. It doesn’t really help to get better.

In the same vein, there are a lot of suicides in India. On average 134 419 a year between 2010 and 2014, or 10.6 per 100,000 people (source). I won’t give a ranking of countries, it varies too much from one source of information to another, but this rate is also aligned with the global statistics of 10.7 per 100,000 people in 2015 (source). “Each year, almost 800,000 people die by committing suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of mortality in the 15-29 age group.” (source)

After talking a lot about the suicides of farmers, there is now a rising consciousness about the youth (with a suicide rate among the highest in the world according to the Lancet 2012), with nearly 9,000 students who killed themselves in 2015. The reasons stated are the pressure for academic and professional success, fear of failing and to be not good enough, as well as the difficulties to communicate with parents (source). In a society that is changing so fast, parents who sweat blood to work themselves out of poverty and expect the same of their children, joint families where communication on sensitive issues can be often silenced, a generational gap becoming abysmal between parents and children, and the social stigma, it's not easy for a lot of young people out here!

* In France, 2 to 3 million people suffer from depression, i.e. 5 to 8% (source), which puts us in the global standard with 4.5% of the population.

** “From a cultural perspective, mental disorders are associated with a considerable amount of stigma in Indian society, leading to neglect and marginalisation.Such individuals and their families face numerous challenges in daily life, both for managing the condition as well as for making them productive due to prevailing attitudes, media portrayals, societal discrimination and deprived opportunities.” (source)

India,suicide,depression,mental diseases,mental illnesses

India,suicide,depression,mental diseases,mental illnesses

India,suicide,depression,mental diseases,mental illnesses

India,suicide,depression,mental diseases,mental illnesses

 

04/17/2017

Head in the stars (or not)

To make my favorite Indian dream a bit, I decided to surprise him and celebrate his birthday under a starry sky – it has kind of become his thing, stars, since we watched Cosmos on Netflix!

To begin with the beginning, I googled “best places to watch stars in India” and fell upon this:

India,Uttarakhand,Nainital,stars,Observatory,Soulitude

Super excited (especially since this place was somehow accessible), I searched how to visit this thing at night. But they don’t do night visits anymore, only in daytime. It did seem kind of weird to watch stars in broad day light but in India everything was possible (and why else would they have daytime visit?), so my brain didn’t dwell too long on this issue. All the more because my colleague confirmed it was a great place and you could see the stars there!

I had to fill a form online, and be aware, you must do so at least 30 days in advance. Exactly one month before the D day, between two market visits, I managed to do it and good for me because the website stopped operating for the next two weeks! (I visited it regularly to see if my request had been accepted.) 

The next step was to book a room not too far from Nainital. Especially not in Nainital, a small crowded bustling town that is not really charming for my taste. Fortunately there are a lot of ‘boutique hotels’ in the area. Soulitude knew how to seduce me, by its name, by its website mentioning ‘star gazing’ as an activity and by its room which had glass ceilings to see the stars. And there was only one room left when I booked three weeks in advance, I saw this as a sign!

India,Uttarakhand,Nainital,stars,Observatory,Soulitude

Finally the day came to go on our trip. We managed pretty nicely the 9-hour drive separating the mountains of Uttarakhand from Gurgaon. A smooth trip, with baby Samurai quite quiet. Immediately upon arrival we went for a walk; and I was a little worried because the sky was quite cloudy. Okay Indians can do impossible stuff but even if they manage to see the stars with the Sun, I was pretty sure that clouds would be an obstacle!

The next day, the sky is a bit clear and we drive two hours to go to the Observatory. At the time of the appointment, not one living soul in sight. Ah wait, I see a guard. Who, even if he doesn’t seem to understand what we are doing here, tells us that the team is having lunch and that it might take a while because they have no car and that the dining hall is pretty far. So we offer to do the taxi.

The Chief Scientist assigned to us isn't here. Instead we have an assistant computer engineer. Showing us a little video on the history of the Observatory. Then he takes us to the beast. And... voilà! In fact of stars we got to watch a telescope. No comment.

The hotel had no human scale telescope; as activity, they had just a guest coming regularly with his own material to take pictures. But the sky was beautiful, more than in Gurgaon. Even if the end of the winter (mid-February) is not the best season to go, as clouds form with the warming of earth.

And also Soulitude is mostly just a name: it is built between two other houses, and work is ongoing. Nevertheless the hotel is very nice (especially our room a bit away from the main building), the staff helpful and the food very good.

We both love the mountains of this corner of the India, so no regrets, it was a great weekend, one of those who comes with a price (namely a 2 day drive on Indian roads)!

PS: Come to think if it, I must have mistaken between an Observatory and planetarium? 

Kumaon Hills

inde,uttarakhand,nainital,observatory,étoiles,kumaon hills

inde,uttarakhand,nainital,observatory,étoiles,kumaon hills

inde,uttarakhand,nainital,observatory,étoiles,kumaon hills

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