Movie screening of ‘The Moon Inside You’

Hi guys! So Mumbai is treating me quiet well. Some months ago, I met two amazing girls Raveena and Uttara who are equally enthusiastic about working on sustainable menstruation. On 3rd December, ’17, we did a screening of the movie ‘The Moon Inside You’ at Cat Cafe Studio, Mumbai. We were amazed that almost 30 people turned up and everyone including men talked about menstruation. A Mother-Daughter duo shared their stories, someone talked about the adventures with menstrual cup, a young man expressed his views and my husband silently watched movie/discussion and held tiny the stall very well.

We also discussed about sustainable menstrual practices and products like clothpads, menstrual cups and period panties! We laughed, shed away shyness and discussed many dimensions of menstruation. You can see how people were engaged.😁

Contact us if you want to do such screening. Please find the pictures below!



Menstrual taboos and us

Menstruation, also referred to as monthly, aunty, date, problem, time, or monthly birthday, amongst others, is a natural biological process that all women regularly undergo during a major period of their lives. The words used to refer it can reflect how a woman/girl thinks about her period. In many a sense, menstruation, owing to its relationship with fertility and motherhood, is something which is closely associated with womanhood and which indicates how women as individuals are different from men at many levels.

Recently, this very natural process has been in the middle of the controversy that is going around temple entry, gender equality, etc. These controversies have resulted in many people, both men and women, to question various accepted notions, traditions, and practices surrounding menstruation. On one hand, many sanitary napkin advertisements encourage women to ‘touch the pickle’ and continue pursuing their interests like sports and dance, but on the other hand our traditions and some taboos restrict these activities. This creates a confusion in adolescent girls and if they try to question these, they don’t always receive an answer.

Since I was never satisfied by my mother’s answers, I made my grandmother my next target. She patiently answered my questions but after 10 years of menstruation! I remember growing up with not entering temple or not attending religious functions when I was menstruating. Especially, when we had functions at home, I found my mother juggling with responsibilities but I was unable to help her. It was difficult for my parents to explain to me why we follow certain traditions and now after growing up, I can feel what parents go through. Though my parents are well educated, they believe in respecting everyone’s sentiments hence I was allowed to pray at home but outside it was banned. Gradually, our arguments changed to meaningful discussions when both of us made efforts for the same.

With changing times, women have come out of homes and are exploring different careers. We changed from old cotton saree cloth to sanitary pads and tampons. Also certain practices/ traditions have taken a backseat while some of them are still followed without knowing the reasons behind them. Restrictions, certain notions and traditions are looked upon as taboos as most of us feel that they take away the freedom of choice from the person. These taboos/ traditions may look like binding on us but in certain situations and for certain people, they do mean a lot.

In some cultures it’s believed that a woman should avoid sleeping with her husband during her menses. It may sound ridiculous as many modern women are also seen following this tradition. My colleague strictly followed this and suffered emotionally as she couldn’t even talk with her husband! On one hand it seems unjust but when some rural women or women of low income groups were asked the same, they said, they look at it as an opportunity to sleep peacefully because they are saved from husband’s abuse in those days. An old tribal woman I met in Chhattisgarh mentioned that sleeping away from husband serves as safety net for women as it avoids forceful sex and abuse by drunk husbands.

In some cultures, menstruation is an important event in a woman’s life hence she is expected to take utmost care of her body. She should focus on her body, relax for some time and eat simple yet nutritious food. Some traditions do have roots in Ayurveda. According to Ayurveda, our body comprises three elements – Vata, Pitta and Kapha — and a number of sub-elements. Staying healthy entails keeping Vata, Pitta and Kapha in right balance. During menstruation, the occurrence of Vata and Pitta imbalance is common, which weakens digestive system. Ayurveda mentions certain types of food that affect women negatively during menstruation. Any food that generates heat such as oily or spicy food including pickle, animal and dairy products should be avoided. Some women also have stomach upsets or loose motions during menstruation. Therefore, food that is easy to digest, and food that is rich in iron and calcium such as ragi, drumstick leaves, fenugreek seeds, green vegetables, etc., help menstruating girls/ women and reduce cramps.

Image result for menstrual taboosSource:

In some parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka, a prevalent practise is of menstruating women living in other room and restricting daily activities. When I asked my grandmother, she answered that in early days, most of the women worked very hard at home and also in the farms. Living in another room for 4 days gave a woman an opportunity to rest and take some time for herself. Times are changing and we women don’t do that hard physical activities, thanks to different innovations which made life simple. So now women may not look at it like an opportunity to rest and slow down but a restriction to go out and do interesting things. My grandmother and some other women in family used to pursue certain hobbies like reading books or doing some artwork. In case of girls, they were given a doll or their favourite things so they doesn’t feel lonely. At the same time, the girl is expected to wash clothes and utensils on her own. To some extent this teaches her to be self-reliant but it also makes her feel unwanted, and dirty, during those days. This may negatively affect her yet undeveloped personality. In a way, we shame her which she not only carries with herself but passes it on to women she meets and next generations. In a family, the girl should receive more support and should be made more comfortable as she goes through physical and emotional changes during puberty. This will help her build good image about herself and cope with changes in a better way.

Image result for menstrual taboos

The most commonly heard misconception about menstruation is ‘menstrual blood is impure’, ‘no one should touch or see your blood’, or ‘it’s a bad blood’ and these reactions haven’t changed for ages. When I meet women for sessions on menstrual health management, I get to hear that periods is elimination of toxins and impure blood. I am surprised that very few women actually know about their bodies. There is a gap which needs to be addressed and we all should thrive to understand our body in a scientific manner.

Interestingly, we all are here in the world due to menstrual blood, and still its considered impure.

In some communities of Chhattisgarh, it is believed that menstrual blood is very powerful and can be used by a woman herself or others for black magic and therefore, women should be very careful about destroying this cloth after use. So women mostly dry this cloth in discreet way and destroy it after every few months. As quoted by Mythri speaks, they see the opposite in mothers of Manipur who preserve the cloth used by their daughters during menarche (first period) and gift it back to her when she gets married. This cloth is believed to be so powerful that it will protect the girl and her family from poor health and other ills.

During menses, some households are very particular that women should avoid going out or restrict their daughters to stay indoors. Some women believe that staying indoors may avoid conflicts and emotional outbursts in public but staying indoors may also worsen their emotional state. Girls might feel better outdoors as they meet friends or play for some time. The emotional up and downs have some relation with Ayurveda. Typical symptoms of Vata imbalance before and during periods include anxiety, nervousness, mood swings. It is advised to take rest and stay calm in secure environment.

When traditions/ norms are forced on girls without explanation, it is possible that they might rebel and thus cause frictions among mother and daughter. If we could explain the reason behind traditions, girls may accept it. I have met some women who were very submissive when they lived with their parents as they couldn’t question traditions related to menstruation but once they got married and had kids, they maintained a healthy dialogue and also changed few things as per their comfort and choice.

I must say that there are different perspectives to look at the same thing and we should choose what is best for us. One solution can’t fit everyone, hence cultural norms should be understood before labelling them. Western thinking has high influence on urban living which in turn influences low income groups and rural living. We can’t change certain circumstances but we can try best to not change anyone’s behaviour by labelling but educating ourselves first, then reach others. It’s important to understand that everyone has freedom to make choices for themselves.

Education and discussion is the only way to make menstruation taboo free

Let’s help each other understand this and start a healthy conversation on this topic. I hope for a future where men and women both freely talk about this topic like any other biological process and remove the shame associated with this topic.


This article was originally posted by me on Feminism in India for #ThePadEffect series


काल एका कार्यक्रमासाठी पुण्यातल्या एका घरी गेले होते. आमचे स्वागत यजमानांनी छानच केले पण थोड्याच वेळात तेथे बसणे अशक्य वाटू लागले. कार्यक्रमासाठी पार्किंग मध्ये बसायची सोय केली होती आणि पार्किंगच्या मनात काही औरच होते. तिथे बसल्यावर लगेच एक कुजका वास आम्हाला अस्वस्थ करू लागला. यजमान पुन्हा-पुन्हा रूम फ्रेशनर स्प्रे करत होते पण त्याचा काही उपयोग होत नव्हता. तो कुजका वास पार्किंगच्या बाजूला असलेल्या मोकळ्या जागेतून येत होता. इतर वेळी लोकांनी वासावर चर्चा केली असती पण ह्या वासाबद्दल कोणालाच बोलावेसे वाटत नव्हते कारण हा वास कुजलेल्या सॅनिटरी पॅड्सचा होता. इतर कोणाला कसं दोष देणार जेव्हा स्वत:चं पण चुकत असेल तर?

तिथे छान कार्यक्रम सुरू होता पण माझं मन विचारांमध्ये गुंतून गेलं होतं. यजमानांचे कुटुंबिय येता-जाता पुन्हा रूम फ्रेशनर स्प्रे करत होते. तेव्हा एक प्रश्न पडला, ह्यात मोकळ्या जागेत कोणी पॅड्स फेकले असतील? त्या कॉलनीत किमान 20 बंगले असतील आणि प्रत्येक घरात किमान 2 बायका तरी असतील. इथे अधूनमधून घंटा गाडी येते पण तेथील कामगार प्रत्येक कचरा आधी बघून घेतात त्यामुळे हे सॅनिटरी पॅड्स द्यायची कित्येक बायकांना लाज वाटत असावी. अशा प्रकारे हे पॅड उकिरड्यावर किंवा मोकळ्या जागेत फेकलेले आढळतात. कधी कुत्री किंवा गाय कचरा-कुंडी उकरताना पॅड अर्धवट कुरतडतात आणि ते रस्त्याच्या कडेला पडून रस्त्याला भेसूर करतात. शाळा, सार्वजनिक शौचालयात आपल्याला जायला नकोसे वाटते कारण तिथे खिडकीत, 2 पाइपच्या मध्ये, पॅड फेकलेले दिसतात. खिडकी बाहेर पाहीले तर पॅडचे डोंगरच दिसतात. मागे घरे असतील तर हे पॅड त्यांच्या छताला नवं रूप देतात. अशा अनेक ठिकाणी आपल्याला असे मनोहर (?) द्रुष्य दिसते. आपण इतरांना दोष देतो पण लोकांमध्ये आपण ही येतो हे मात्र सपशेल विसरतो.


जर तुम्हाला प्रश्न पडत असेल की सोसायटी मध्ये किंवा सार्वजनिक ठिकाणी शौचालय सारखे-सारखे का तुंबते तर कोणीतरी पॅड फ्लश केलेले असते आणि पॅडमध्ये सुपर अ‍ॅब्झॉरबंट पॉलीमर (जेल) असल्याने ते पाणी शोषत जाते आणि ते पॅड फुगुन पाइप मध्ये अडकून राहते. कितीही पाणी ओतले तरी ते पुढे सरकत नाही. मग ह्यावर एकच पर्याय उरतो- मॅनहोल मध्ये उतरणं!


ही मॅनहोल मध्ये उतरणारी माणसे अंगाला फक्त तेल लावून उतरतात. कधी-कधी त्यांच्याकडे हेलमेट, बूट असतात पण त्यांचाही फार उपयोग होत नाही. ह्या कामामुळे ते अनेक आजारांना बळी पडतात- दमा, लिव्हरचे आजार, कावीळ, त्वचेचे विकार, टि.बी., इ. कित्येक माणसे मॅनहोल मधल्या गॅसमुळे म्रूत्यूला पण सामोरी गेली आहेत. ह्या कामगारांची जी काही कमाई होते ती सगळी औषधांवर खर्च होते. आपल्या सवयींमुळे आपण कित्येक लोकांच्या जीवाशी खेळतो या विचारानेच अंगावर काटा येतो.

जर तुम्ही विचार करत असाल की कागदात व्यवस्थित गुंडाळून फेकलेल्या पॅडची आपण बरोबर विल्हेवाट केली आहे तर पुन्हा एकदा विचार करा. स्वत:ला विचारा की आपल्या अंगणातला कचरा दुसर्‍याच्या अंगणात ढकलला तर आपले घर स्वच्छ होते पण त्याचे पुढे काय होते? त्याने खरंच कचरा कमी होतो का? घंटागाडीत दिलेल्या कचर्‍याचे पुढे काय होते?


आपण फेकलेला कचरा ढीग वाढवतो आणि आपल्याकडे अजूनही कचर्‍याचे व्यवस्थापन योग्य प्रकारे होत नसल्याने तेथील कामगार हाताने कचरा वेगळा करतात. त्यामुळे त्यांनाही विविध आजारांचा धोका वाढतो. विचार करा ते आपले खराब झालेले, अर्धवट कुजलले पॅड, डायपर हाताने कचर्‍याच्या ढीगातून वेगळे करतात. आणि हा कचरा जरी वेगळा केला तरी त्याचे पुढे काय करायचे ह्याबद्दल अजून चांगला उपाय सापडलेला नाही. त्यांना बाहेर जाळायचे ठरवले किंवा इनसीनरेटर मध्ये तर त्यांना जळायला खूप वेळ लागतो आणि अनेकदा ते पूर्णपणे जळतही नाहीत. त्यासोबत ते हवेत डायऑक्सीन सोडतात जे आपल्यासाठी हानिकारक असतात. अशा प्रकारे आपल्याला कुठलाही चांगला उपाय सापडत नाही.

किती कचरा दर महिन्याला निर्माण होतो?

सॅनिटरी पॅड्सच्या कंपन्या खूप गुंतवणूक करतात आणि त्यांच्या द्रुष्टीने भारत एक उत्तम बाजारपेठ आहे. पण प्रत्येक प्रोडक्टची लाइफ सायकल म्हणजे ती किती टिकेल, ते कुजेल का, त्याचे व्यवस्थापन कसे करायचे ह्याचा न विचार करता सर्रास पॅड्स मोठ्या प्रमाणात विकले जातात आणि त्यात प्लास्टिक असल्यामुळे त्याचे विघटन व्हायला 500-800 वर्षे लागतात. 2013 साली डाउन टू अर्थ ह्या मासिकाने गणित मांडले आहे. जर 300 दशलक्ष पैकी 12% महिला म्हणजे 36 दशलक्ष महिला दरमहा सॅनिटरी पॅड्सचा वापर करतात, तर त्या 12 पॅड दरमहा वापरत असतील. त्या 432 दशलक्ष पॅडस फेकतील, ज्याचे वजन अंदाजे 9,000 टन असेल जे कमीत कमी 24 हेक्टर जमीन व्यापू शकतं!

आपण कचरा कसा कमी करू शकतो?

होय, हे शक्य आहे जर आपण कापड, कापडी पॅड, मेंस्ट्रुअल कपचा वापर केला तर आपण दर महिन्याला उत्पन्न होणारा कचरा नाहीसा करू शकतो. भारतात आणि परदेशात अनेक बायका आणि 15-16 वर्षांच्या मुलीदेखील ह्या प्रोडक्टसचा वापर करीत आहेत. जर आपण आपल्या सवयी बदलू शकलो तर आपण अनेक गोष्टी टाळू शकतो आणि एका स्वस्थ आणि हिरव्या प्रूथ्वी कडे आपण वाटचाल करू शकू. ह्या प्रोडक्टसबद्द्ल अधिक माहिती खाली उपलब्ध आहे. ह्या सगळ्या प्रोडक्टसबद्द्ल विस्त्रूत माहिती पुढच्या लेखात….

तारे और तुम

आसमाँ में सुन्दर तारे निकले हैं पर साथ में तुम नहीं हो
मुझे घंटो तक आसमाँ देखने का मन
और तुम्हे ऍप से नक्षत्र समझने का मन,
मुझे रास्ते के किनारे रेत पर बैठने का मन,

और तुम्हे मच्छर काँटने के बहाने बनाने का मन!
हम दोनों को चंद्र प्रकाश में घूमने का मन,
बैफिक्र होने का मन!
तुम्हे बिच जंगल में रूककर तारे दिखाने का मन,
और मुझे जानवरों के डर से घर भागने का मन!
मैं जितनी पागल, उतने ही तुम पागल,
छोटी-छोटी चीजों में खुशियाँ ढुंढ़ने का मन!
जिंदगी बदलती हैं, हम भी बदलते है,
पर कुछ चीजे हमेशा करीब रहती हैं
तुम साथ हो तो तारों को ओढ़ने का मन करता है,
और जब तुम दूर हो तो यहीं चाँद-तारे नजदीक लगते है…



When you start dying from inside

When you start dying from inside
You stop realizing what you actually feel
You keep escaping and hiding in crowds
But night catches you then
you can’t escape or hide from your true self
The empty house, the walls scream thousand things
Which you don’t want to listen
Because you have shun your heart
Because you can’t face yourself
So you can’t sleep
You have lost peace
You face many fears and try to hide under layers
still there’s no escape
Night goes and sleep conquers you
You wake up with the same feeling
You again hide in the crowd
Not listen to your heart
Suddenly something melts your heart
and you feel what you haven’t felt for long time
The tightly closed jar opens as lid falls off
Tears flood your eyes
and they say things that you couldn’t say
Your feelings come back
you give in to your heart
That brings back life,
The dry you has gone,
And you feel alive…

It’s not joyful at all

Recently one of my friends messaged me about ‘Joy of giving week’ and he mentioned that they will be collaborating with an organization which makes disposable sanitary pads. This organization along with delivering some information about menstruation is going to distribute sanitary pads to 1000 girls in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh which is supposed to be one of the cleanest and untouched part of India. Bastar region of Chhattisgarh is one of the cleanest parts in India where you see less litter and more use of products obtained from nature. The organization claims that they will distribute napkins to girls who have never heard or seen them and very first question that came to my mind was, why do you have to distribute them? In India we have assumed that when rural people don’t use fancy stuff used by people in urban areas, then they are very poor and they need help from outside world. Here the chain of supply and demand is created which may not be necessary in that context. Such people should try to find out what it really needed by those people and deliver those things than pushing your agenda and making money/being famous by doing some charity. Have anyone thought of the long term effects of this charity?

It has been observed that people quote about dropout of girls in middle school due to lack of toilets and lack of sanitary pads. People who have gathered this data probably don’t realize that even boys drop out in middle school and its reasons aren’t just lack of toilets but it could also be no interest in school and they having more responsibilities at home. India is an agrarian country and it is observed by U-DISE that in 2013-14, 39.2% boys and 32.9% girls drop out in class I-IIV to help parents at home as they’re considered grown-ups by now. If we consider data of scheduled tribes, 49.8% boys drop out while 46.4% girls leave schools1. Every time, the dropout rate for boys is more than girls. And from my experience of working in rural areas for 3 years now, rural women aren’t uncomfortable to bathe, pee outside but we urban people are because we are used to going in toilets. Providing toilets is indeed necessary for both boys and girls but that isn’t ONLY reason to drop out from schools.

It’s been quoted everywhere that only 12 per cent of the 355 million women of menstruating age in India can afford disposable sanitary napkins. But, these 42.6 million women will throw 21.3 billion sanitary napkins into a landfill in their lives. This study titled “Sanitary Protection: Every Woman’s Health Right” by AC Nielsen is not available on any public domain. If you google about this paper, you won’t find original file to it. Check it yourself here. If the study was done by Plan India, why haven’t they put it on their website? Check their publications here. It seems people have simply googled and copied what other articles wrote. This raises a big question mark around a study that is so widely used, even to the extent of justifying policy decisions2.

It’s ironical to see that educated and so-called ‘socially aware, environmentally aware’ people also don’t know where and how sanitary napkins could be disposed. THERE’S NO AWAY3. If we are going to distribute napkins in one of the clean areas left in the world we are totally missing the whole point. In rural areas, girls and women despite of toilets prefer to bathe near pond or hand pump and apparently they dispose sanitary waste near water sources because there aren’t any systems for waste disposal. Even if they bury them, after few days the pads are seen on surface being torn by dogs. And burning pads takes 3-4 hours to burn completely and at times it is not burned completely.

According to a study on Menstrual Hygiene Management in Schools in few parts of West Bengal by UNICEF, 78% of women interviewed disposed their menstrual pads by either burying them or disposing them alongside pond or while bathing and out of those interviewed only 2% burned them4. Chemicals like polyacrylate5 that are present in sanitary napkins are highly absorbent chemicals and they can absorb all the water content in the sewage till the system gets blocked. These chemicals make the sanitary pads absorb liquid to such an extent that it may exceed its original mass. To know more about hazards of disposable pads and how it causes blockages, watch this video by Eco femme-

Almost every NGO in India that works on menstruation is selling a Menstrual Product or is supported by a Sanitary Napkin manufacturer. Yes, India is as a huge market for manufacturers of hygiene products. But in order to sell, they have gone to the extent of demolishing our culture and making people feel ashamed about themselves for using cloth by indicating that we lack hygiene and by calling our cultural practices as taboo.

What does a disposable sanitary napkin contain?


Image source:

Distributing sanitary napkins could give girls and women exposure to various products available in market but why expose them to something which is not decomposable and not really needed by them? I agree that women in rural areas have very less knowledge about periods and unaware of hygienic practice but DISTRIBUTION OF PADS ISN’T ANSWER TO EVERYTHING. Whoever wants to work with any community-rural or urban should conduct background study first and understand the existing practices than just pushing urban ideas in other’s minds. In some areas, water is an issue and probably reusable cloth pads won’t be useful but there’s menstrual cup which needs minimal water. Chhattisgarh doesn’t have much water issues hence menstrual cup and cloth pads both could be used.

It’s unfortunate that there’s less research on reusable products like cloth pads and menstrual cups but they are need of the hour. Also the organizations which make reusable products don’t advertise much like Proctor and Gamble. Reusable products don’t give rashes and foul smell which pads give. You don’t need to worry to buy them every month and it saves a lot of money as you can use cloth pads for 2-3 years and cup can be used for many years. Menstrual cup can last for a lifetime if used properly as instructed. Costs only INR 900-1500, can be recovered in just about a year. This saves from adding more plastic to mother earth.

What women and girls need then?

They just need some confidence to talk about menstrual practices. They need to know how to use any product effectively and how hygiene is should be maintained in those 4 days.

They are already shamed by many people especially urban people, so please contextualize your work and give them dignity they deserve by respecting their voices first.

If women are confident, they will make choices which benefit them and become comfortable with their bodies. If they are oriented about environment too, they will surely chose things close to nature and things which are easy to use for them.




Never-ending shabbiness…

I think hostel life is the best opportunity to show your laziness. If you feel then only you arrange your cupboard, table or leave it messy. Everyone is king of his own things and keeps it the way he/she wants. There is no one to supervise in hostels, so you can take the opportunity to sleep at any time, get up at any time, wear anything you want in your room, do anything you want in your room. Many people take privilege to sleep at 4am and get up at 12pm, directly for lunch… If no one wakes them up they may sleep till evening or not get up at all!

I found a note in my diary (which I maintained during hostel days) had a long  essay about shabbiness in hostel rooms. I enjoyed reading it and I think it will entertain others as well. Sharing few parts of it here-

“I don’t know how but I always end up making mess when I have to go home! And when I return, the mess in the room welcomes me! J I always wonder that I how come every time my table needs clean up. I realize that my table and bed need cleaning when I am free after submitting assignments. This realization is always late 😛 and after some days I spare 10 minutes to clean it and wipe my perspiration as if I cleaned the whole hostel! 😛

The shabby room really irritates me (only when I look at it with concentration!) and then it inhibits my capacity to work efficiently on my assignments. The height of shabbiness is when you find yourself surrounded with scissors, books, thread, needle, food items and some clothes too! My roommate sleeps with all these things on her bed and now I have developed selective blindness towards her bed and table. This helps me a lot to control my anger and my obsession for cleanliness. I always clean my bed before sleeping because I want to sleep luxuriously 😛 without anything hindering my movement. Some of my friends who slept with books and many things on bed have developed their theory that sleeping with books increases your knowledge level and you don’t need to read them anymore…”

I still remember how my friend’s room hosted lot of mosquitoes and flies because of lack of cleanliness and organization. It smelt horrible when they didn’t throw pizza boxes or forgot to wash the vessels. I didn’t know how people can live in such conditions until I met my husband with who our house goes on another level of shabbiness. Most of our fights are based on this topic. One fine day we decide to clean and get too tired after ‘Swachta Abhiyaan’! Sometimes I get delicious and refreshing nimbu paani made by husband (which is best part of this cleaning mission! 😛 )

Sometimes it feels horrible to see the state of our house that we have to think twice before inviting guests 😛 We don’t clean house even on the day guests are supposed to arrive. So when major part of cooking is done and my husband agrees to stay in kitchen for some time, I take charge and the home suddenly becomes so different that it looks so good for next few days and again it goes back to its sad state…

You got me right… our home rarely looks organized and at times, it makes my blood boil but still I try my best to organize it and find different ideas to engage my husband. Over years of experience, I learnt that to make home organized we have to shed off our laziness and really work on it not to impress guests but yourself!

मेंस्ट्रुअल कपचे गुणगान!

कधीतरी आपण एखाद्या वस्तूबद्दल वाचतो आणि अचानक ती घ्यावीशी वाटते. झटपट निर्णय घेऊन आपण ती वस्तू घेतो आणि जेव्हा ती वस्तू अनेक वर्ष उत्तम टिकते आणि कामी येते ते समाधान काही वेगळंच असतं! असंच काहीसं माझ्यासोबत झालं जेव्हा मी बाजारातील सॅनिटरी पॅडसना पर्याय शोधत होते आणि अचानक इंटरनेटवर काही परदेशी बायकांचा ग्रुप दिसला ज्या अशा प्रकारचा कप अनेक वर्षांपासून वापरत होत्या! मला त्यांच्यामध्ये इतकं अडाणी वाटलं कि मी भारतात याबदद्ल काही माहित आहे का ते शोधू लागले. तेव्हा ‘शि-कप’ बद्दल वाचलं आणि तेव्हापासून तो माझा ‘त्या’ दिवसातला प्रिय मित्र झाला! 2 वर्षे झाली आणि आमची मैत्री अजूनच घट्ट होत चालली आहे. 🙂

हा मित्र माझ्यासाठी वरदान ठरला आहे. सुरवातीला आमच्या मैत्रीचा मार्ग खूप खडतर होता. उत्साहाच्या भरात तो कप ऑर्डर तर केला पण त्या सोबत मिळालेल्या पुस्तिकेत दाखवलं तसं कप वापरणं माझ्यासाठी एक दिव्य होतं! पण ते दिव्य पार करायचं हे मनाशी ठामपणे ठरवलं होतं त्यामुळे २-३ महिन्यांनी मी कप वापरण्यात तरबेज झाले. त्यामुळे मला स्वत:बद्दल बरंच काही कळलं. स्वतःच्या गुप्त अंगांना पूर्वी कधी समजण्याची वेळच आली नव्हती. ह्या निमित्ताने ती लाज, शिसारी ह्या भावनांपासून दूर जाऊन आपल्या शरीराला आहे तसं कसं स्वीकारायचं आणि लाज ऐवजी त्याबद्दल कशी शास्त्रीय माहिती आपल्याला मिळेल हा दृष्टीकोण बनत गेला. त्यामुळे माझ्या शरीरात कसे बदल होतात पाळी आधी, त्या नंतर याबद्दल मी अधिक जागरूक झाले. ह्यामुळे स्वतःची स्वतःशीच एक नवी ओळख बनत गेली…

पूर्वी हा माझ्या योनीमार्गात मावेल का हा प्रश्न होता पण २-३ महिन्याच्या सरावाने मला जमू लागलं. आता इतकी सवय झाली आहे कि इतर मैत्रिणी जेव्हा पाळी जवळ आली म्हणून पॅडस विकत घ्यायचे मोबाईल मध्ये गजर लावतात तिथे माझा कप माझ्याकडे सदैव तयार असतो. आता मला दर महिन्याला काहीच वेगळा खर्च नाही करावा लागत. एकूणच एक मोठी काळजी मिटून जाते. ह्या सोबत मी दर महिन्याला नवीन कचरा घराबाहेर फेकत नाही याचा एक वेगळाच आनंद आहे! ज्या मुली/बायका अंगावर खूप जातं म्हणून घाबरत असतात त्यांच्यासाठी कप वरदान ठरतो. सकाळी अंघोळीनंतर जर आपण कप वापरायला सुरवात केली तर तो खूप स्त्राव होतो त्या दिवशी ६-७ तास आणि इतर दिवशी ८-१० तास आरामात वापरू शकतो. पहिल्यांदा जेव्हा कप वापरायचा असेल त्यांनी शक्यतो दुसऱ्या अथवा तिसऱ्या दिवसापासून वापरावा. आपल्या शरीराचा, स्त्राव ह्याचा नीट अंदाज येतो आणि मग त्याप्रमाणे कोणत्या दिवशी वापरायचा, किती वेळाने धुवायचा आणि वापरायचा किंवा नाही हे आपण ठरवू शकतो. चौथ्या दिवशी मला खूप स्त्राव होत नाही त्यामुळे मी कापडी पॅड वापरणं पसंत करते.

मा‍झ्या मैत्रिणींना अजूनही तो कप आत कसा जातो आणि उघडतो याची भीती वाटते. पण २-३ महिन्याने इतकी सवय होते कि सोडावीशी वाटत नाही. हा मित्र इतका चमत्कारी असेल असं वाटलं नव्हतं! एक गम्मत सांगते. ह्या कपची इतकी सवय झाली आहे कि तो आत मध्ये आहे हे जाणवत पण नाही. दुसऱ्या-तिसऱ्या दिवशी मला कंबर किंवा ओटी-पोटात फार दुखत नाही. तर एकदा मी बाहेर गेले होते आणि रात्री उशिरा आम्ही परत आलो. ८ तास होऊन गेले होते आणि मी पुरती विसरले होते कि मला कप रिकामा करायचा आहे. मुळात पाळी चालु आहे हेच विसरले मी आणि मग झोपण्यापूर्वी बाथरूमला गेले तर हाताला काहीतरी जाणवलं आणि मग मी पटकन कप रिकामा केला. तेव्हापासून मी कप रिकामा करण्यासाठी मोबाईलवर गजर लावते. हे खूप मजेशीर आहे पण हे खरं आहे.

एकदा मी ट्रेनने २४ तासाचा प्रवास करत होते. पाळीचा पहिलाच दिवस होता. कंबर आणि पोटदुखी अंत पाहत होती पण कप आत असल्याने तो चिकटपणा, डाग ह्याची मला काळजी करावी नाही लागली. त्या प्रवासात मी दोनदा बाथरूम मध्ये जाऊन कप रिकामा केला आणि धुवून पुन्हा आत सरकवला. शी-कप सोबत मिळणाऱ्या साबणाच्या स्ट्रीपमुळे कप धुता येतो किंवा गरम पाण्यात एकदा उकळला तरी तो निर्जंतुक होतो. मला फक्त रात्री कापडी पॅड घ्यावं लागलं. ह्या कपामुळे मी इतकी निर्धास्त झाले आहे कि पाळीमध्ये मी कोणतेही कपडे डागांची चिंता न करता आरामात घालू शकते.

तर असा हा चमत्कारी कप पाळी येणार्‍या प्रत्येक व्यक्तिने वापरून पहावा आणि बिनधास्तपणे आवडत्या रंगाचे कपडे घालावे, सायकल चालवावी, पोहावं आणि सगळं करावं जे सोसेल आणि करावंसं वाटेल.

जय देव, जय देव जय मेंस्ट्रुअल कप देवा,

तुझ्या येण्याने जीवन सोपे झाले रे जय देव, जय देव।

ह्या कपचे कौतुक गान इथेच थांबवते. ज्यांना कपबद्दल अधिक जाणून घ्यायचे असेल तर ही संकेतस्थळे बघावी-

किंवा तो ऑर्डर करायचा असेल तर खालील संकेतस्थळ वर उपलब्ध आहे.

Little things that matter

I live away from family for work and I have spacious flat which needs daily maintenance. People with uncertain working hours will understand how challenging it is to do daily chores in time. I m usually late for everything at home and  sometimes I mess things. At home, sometimes I work at night too. So I asked for help. The lady who works as a help at our office offered me and I couldn’t resist as I really liked her and could trust her. In this way she entered my home.
Talking with her, learning Chhattisgadhi (local language) from her, sharing recipes is so fun. Her Hindi is funny and we crack jokes. She’s is so cute and keeps house so well that I get scolded for scattering things or doing something idiotic 😛 When we hire help we keep a note of things they do and feel bad if we give extra work and not pay extra for that. I learned a lesson about this. Once my husband visited me after a long work tour and then she had to wash his heap of clothes as well. So we decided to pay her extra but she refused to take and her reply was completely unexpected. She said ‘everything can’t be bound by money. Your husband is my bhaiya and washing his clothes isn’t extra work.’ And I had to respect her thoughts and take back money. I can’t express how much I respect her after hearing this. In a world where we shell out money for everything, there are moments which are priceless and make us believe that goodness still exists. 🙂
Another such person who touched me is her sister-in-law who also works in our office and she gets me whatever she makes special for her family. I am speechless when I come to know that she has put efforts to make some local dish and she wants me to have it. The food she gets is not only tasty but has warmth of her kind heart. We share stories, talk, laugh freely. In Chhattisgarh women don’t laugh freely and don’t show their teeth, I encourage her to do that. We share hugs whenever we need. She’s awesome. There is a connection between her and everyone in office. She understands their needs so sensitively and does those things for them.
My life had been so different in Chhattisgarh without this sister-in-law duo who are fabulous and can love me so much! I don’t know what I give them but all I get is unconditional love and two elder sisters in them. They’re home away from home.

I express deep gratitude towards this lovely duo and I will always be indebted in their love. 🙂

Making the switch…

It’s been 15 years I m bleeding and I decided to write a reflection about it. I remember how my mother had handed me my grandma’s old Saree and taught me how to use cloth. The cloth folds were bulky sometimes making cycling and walking difficult. Still I used them till my friends ridiculed me for my cloth use. For 5-6 years I used cloth and disposable pads and it was too embarrassing to throw disposables but I didn’t know about alternatives, so I continued using them.

The conflict in my mind peaked when I moved to Karli, a remote village in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh. As I reached there I learned that there is no waste management system at district level and it was too upsetting to burn pads or bury them in the beautiful place I lived. With this guilt and question in my mind I started to find someone with whom I could share my thoughts. Once when I was discussing with a friend from Mumbai about conducting workshops on menstrual health management for the girls at the hostel school where I worked, she told me about Eco-femme cloth pads which she used and things changed for me. It was the moment which ignited something in me and I made cloth pads for myself and taught my students to make the same.

Later when I moved to Pune, I ordered Eco-femme cloth pads and menstrual cup which helped me change my view towards my body. I felt more connected to myself and my periods. With that feeling I am now able to connect with women and understand them better. Let me tell you that it wasn’t easy to switch as initially when cloth pads didn’t dry on rainy days, I had to dry them by ironing/blow drying. Sometimes it was frustrating but I hand-made and ordered more pads to avoid that situation. Now it is blissful to not fear about rashes that disposables regularly gave me. The most amazing experience was when I used menstrual cup during a 24 hour long train journey to visit Eco-femme office at Auroville, Pondicherry and I could re-insert it twice in a rocking train.

Initially I felt shy to dry these cloth pads at places where I travelled and in front of my female colleagues with whom I lived during work tours. Now I openly show what I use and try to orient them to such different alternatives available. I feel proud that I no more create a heap of waste every month and manage my periods in eco-friendly, body-friendly ways. With cloth pads I feel the comfort of grandma’s saree and it makes me accept my body without ignoring its needs. And I never got any infection because of reusables. Hygiene and changing it on frequent intervals is what I have followed religiously over the years. My inspiration were the women who used reusables for long time and those women who used menstrual cup for 7-10 years and were bored of the same cup but the cup continued to serve them 🙂

Image result for menstrual cup

Even today people ridicule me for using reusables and pass comments that I m doing nothing to dispose sanitary waste which women create every month. To all those people I would love to tell that I myself stopped using disposables and I m not telling that reusables I m using are the best. Instead I m trying to open eyes and let people see the waste they’re creating and alternatives available to reduce that heap. And I have met people who clear manholes and canals which overflow because someone hasn’t disposed sanitary pad properly which got stuck and people had to enter manhole/canal to remove it without any protection. And such people are exposed to many bacteria which may lead to respiratory and immune infections. Are we thinking about them? Are we thinking about people who sort the household waste at garbage depot with bare hands? I request everyone to please think about the far reaching effects of the product you use on your body as well as environment. While thinking of convenience, we shouldn’t ignore about the problems its going to create.

My article is not to promote reusables but to shed light on the thing which is very natural for every bleeding person and I would love to start conversation with everyone who is bleeding and whose family members bleed. I want us to discuss taboos and scientific things related to it, problems people face, what they feel at different parts of month and how to manage the bodily changes. The day when we will allow women enter temples or perform rites on these days and instead of excluding her if she is empathized and cared by her family will be dream come true.

For me, I am a free bird who loves her own body but also doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s sentiments. I no longer feel the need to use disposables as I am too happy using reusables. I express deep gratitude to people who are creating sustainable alternatives. Cheers to them!