Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Sustainable Menstruation


This post is about - Why and How, I made the transition from using cloth to pads, to tampons and to menstrual cup.

Taken from google images
Since the age of 15, I have been told to use the pads because it was considered more hygienic than using cloth to collect the period flow. So for more than 15 years now, without questioning this myth, I have been sticking in a pad which comes wrapped in colourful papers, sprayed with pleasant scent and few even patched with floral designs on their inside. It felt heavenly to be switching from clothes to pads, because it needed no washing. Use and throw was the trend then. It was easy to ignore the plastic going down the drain.

I have to thank the whole interlude of Padman movie and the volume of conversations it spurred on Social Media around Menstruation.

I came across menstrual cups on one such posts and was very intrigued. Trust me, inserting anything external into my vagina, till then sounded very bizarre and freaky.

I spent days exploring/reading/discussing about this whole new discovery. It instantly rang a bell for two main reasons. One, Sanitary pads, obverse to my understanding, turns out to be very dangerous to your vaginal health. Two, sanitary pads take centuries to disintegrate. Not sure if they ever even decompose.

Let me just scratch the surface and highlight the impacts of Sanitary Pads on Health and Environment.

Health

The impact of Sanitary pads and tampons range from skin rashes to infertility to cervical and ovarian cancer on a long run. The commonly used chemicals include dioxins, cellulose gel and plastic components in majority. Few manufacturers use harmful pesticides and herbicides as bleaches. It takes no effort for these chemicals to enter the blood stream as they are directly exposed to the vagina.

Composition of a Sanitary Pad, taken from google images

Environment

A quick math highlighted, I was dumping 20-30 cotton pads which is made of 90% plastic with varied doses of superabsorbent gels, every month, which comes up to approx. 360 pads every year. Now let me NOT go any further multiplying this number with number of years, number of women population using pads and stuff. I am so sure that the number is massive and alarming.

Here is to give you a glimpse of the journey of these pads, the raw materials are mostly petroleum products and bleached wood pulp. There are treated with several chemicals to make it hygienic and is dressed up in colourful pouches. Only to sit under your vagina collecting all the period flow, and eventually end up in a landfill. They easily take centuries to disintegrate which means all the pads that you once used as a 15-year-old are still intact in some corner of the world.

This is NOT fun at all.

Some more statistics, taken from google images

So, what are the eco-friendly menstrual options out there

Cotton pads/tampons

Though I had switched to cotton pads/tampons which are lot less harmful to your body, they are still dangerous to the environment unless they are disposed in a sanitary disposal unit.

Cloth Pads

The conventional cloth pads are certainly eco-friendly and hygienic, however, the process of washing and drying them in sunlight is essential and a task. It’s bigger a task while you’re traveling. Inspite of being an environment freak, the idea of switching back to cloth pad was NOT something I was ready for just yet.

Menstrual Cups

It is a flexible silicone or latex rubber cup which collects your period blood. They are folded to insert into your vagina, springs open and rests against the vaginal wall. Inserting and removing the cup involves some learning curve, and when inserted correctly, it is hardly noticeable.

As a first step, I switched to cotton tampons with applicators, later to tampons without applicators and once I got a hang of inserting it, I was ready to try the cup.

Taken from google images

Few hilarious experiences,
·    I was, on one of the attempts, searching for my own hole. That's how ignorant I was about my own body.
·    For some strange reason, I always thought having an active sex life will make it easier to insert the cup. But NO, it doesn’t matter.
·    The first time I was inserting the cup, I realised the value of the F word. I freaked out the first few seconds, but wasn't giving up.


I'm sure there will be heaps of reasons/stories stuck in the mind. It's all OK. Trust me, these are just assumptions/crazy ideas we carry in our heads. Time to break them all. 

Few advices that helped me,
·      Finding the RIGHT CUP IS THE KEY. There are heaps of forums where you can find one that works for you.
·      Fingering yourself to understand the vaginal track helps manoeuvring the cup in and out.
·      Using a lube (I use a good quality coconut oil) makes inserting lot easier.
·      Drink lot of water. This is because, when you insert an external object into your body, it may cause irritation. Water keeps your internal system hydrated.
·      ALWAYS wash your hands before using the cup.
·      Cut your nails, else a scratch on your inside pains like hell.
·      Follow the cleaning instructions carefully.
·      Get used to seeing your period blood up close.
·      Talk about it to friends/family.

Taken from google images
 Pros
·      Reusable (one cup for the whole period)
·      Cost effective in a long run (cups can be used for years)
·     Cleaning is fairly easy (remove - rinse - reinsert) and sterilise in boiling water before and after every period
·      You’ll understand your vagina better
·      Forget those rashes, pain, stain (even after an intense yoga session)
·      Can be worn for long durations (up to 12 hours)

Cons
It was hard to say good bye to long nails which I fancied so much. Yo ladies, if you love your nails, I'm sorry, you gotta get rid of them.


Final words,
I have never felt so good about Periods before this. It feels truly empowering and liberating switching to cups.

I wrote this post with an intention to reach this message to more women out there. Please don’t hesitate to share this with friends and family.

I found some of these links useful,

Friday, March 9, 2018

Stories

I recently joined a Whatsapp group. The same group which I had left few years ago for some forgotten-for-good reason. This group has few of my really good friends with whom I have spent good 10 years now. With my plans to move to india in near future, joining the group sounded really exciting. It was almost like a virtual home coming for me. Not that I wasn't in touch with them individually, but I always thought bigger the number, better the fun.

But Haaaaang on... I was completely wrong on this.

This is what happened, I joined this group and said my greetings. Minutes pass. NONE of them replied. Not believing my own eyes, I kept looking at my phone for an acknowledgement. Hours pass. NONE came. Bewildered I was, I kept checking anyone has even read the text, only to see all 20 have read but NONE responded. After feeling the initial phase of butterflies in the stomach which turned into anger, frustration and insult, I collected myself and stopped there before I made any judgements about MY friends.

Thoughts fly left, right and centre.

More than feeling let down by people, I stopped and wondered what could have caused this sort of reaction from people. This event stayed with me for a long time. I refused to give up on it, for one, it was the most unexpected thing, second, I was jobless. LOL. I chewed on this so much that, soon, it was not about the group and my friends anymore. It was about empathy and the dynamics of today's lifestyle around it.

By now, I had done some research around the psychology of SM and its impact on our lives. However I was still struggling in my mind to find an explanation to, according to me, a dangerous stage of (r)evolution. Just when I thought I was straying lost like a headless chicken, and was giving upon this exercise, I found this amazing video by Rabia Kapoor.

Watch the video - https://youtu.be/qHVColObQJs

Rabia talks about how caught up we are in this generation of Internet. I highly recommend you to watch this video if you're reading this post and still not arrived at the conclusion that I've lost it. Being an active Social Media member myself, every word spoken in this video is very very powerful and eye-opening.

Few lines, which resonated with me, quite literally were these -

* "We are living such carefully manipulated virtual lives that, sometimes, we end up envying ourselves."
 Yes, this has happened to me lately and I have almost freaked out. This is ... SCARY.

* "We have felt indestructible and vulnerable at the same time."

* "Where you can reveal yourselves completely and still be able to hid."

* "We watched each man becoming an island in so many ways."

* "Stories generate empathy, between any two people who can as different as can be, if one is a story teller and the other is a story told."
This is where she sets the scene for me to find what I was looking for.

* "Stories make us to empathise with people and situations that we never would have been able to otherwise."

* "We live in world where everything moves so fast. People are so busy. You don't get time to tell your stories and worse, you don't get to listen to theirs."
I got my ANSWERS. Somewhere down the line, we have stopped telling our stories and have restricted our conversations to small talks.

* "Law and Rules will hit you from outside, a story gets you from within."

After this video, I rested my case but not the story.

I prayed that our stories don't die out untold.

Tell your story.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

It's time for a comeback!

06 January 2018

I’ve have been wanting to write this post for a while, in fact I’ve been wanting to write. Write about many things. I wasn’t at my best self as a writer over the last few years. Not just in terms of having a right frame of mind to write but also about having the discipline to write. It requires lot of discipline and commitment to write, I’m sure all bloggers out there will agree with this.

Thanks to some people and few events that made this happen. It feels like a comeback for me at this stage to my blog and writing in general. Though Instagram became an easy and trendy platform to express myself, I constantly wished that I could do more. Having said this, I knew very well that writing cannot be forced and it had to happen with time. 

In the meantime, journaling my travels felt monotonous. I’m not meaning to say, I won’t write about travels anymore. I even today agree that writing about my journeys is the best way to relive and preserve those memories for a long time. I will definitely continue to share those immensely fulfilling travel stories. However, I don’t want this blog to be just that. 

I’m visualising that this blog go beyond this realm of my Identity, my perceptions of life, my idea of right and wrong, my analysis. May this place be a ground for all ideas, rants of the self, at different layers of existence, without any doership. May this be a portrayal of the rest of my journey as I let Nature to drive the show. I lay my life at its doorstep with complete trust in its planning, timing and execution.

On this pursuit of purpose and meaning of this life, may these expressions show me with time, my naivety, my flaws and the hysteric dance of this life. As I make this journey towards a better self, may these rants help me understand the pettiness of everything and allow me to merge with the higher self. 

On a lighter note, I’m NOT on marijuana or any spirit while writing this. Well, I’m never on it for sure. Just bear with my random rants and I promise you will love this ride as much as I do.


Action items, finish what you started Sahana. Long due posts on last year's Road trip will be there soon.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Road trip in North Island - Day 13

4 January 2017

Sunny day finally!!

I woke to a stunning morning, the view of the beach, outside the window, in the dazzling hot sun was a real stunner. I could hear the sound of the waves as I sat on my upper bunk bed. I dint want to move, for everything around was so beautiful and cozy. I scribbled something in my book and stayed in until I saw the girl below my bed was pulling out a placard to write her next destination.

Cape Kidnappers on a cloudy day

Cape Kidnappers on a sunny day
I asked her where she was heading. She said, she was doing the Cape Kidnappers walk and after 10 am there were low tides. I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at it again, on a sunny day like this. So we thought we could together. I checked out of the hotel and go into my car. Not far off, there were two boys waiting for a ride. They hoped in with their huge backpacks. The small car was now fully loaded and still doing quite well. They got off at Clive, not too far from where they joined but we had to turn left.
Lovely sky over Napier
From here, we parked our at the parking lot and started walking towards the beginning of the walk along the shore. The place looked completely different and so much more colorful than yesterday. The color of the sky and the water made all the difference. It's a shame, I could not do the walk as I had to drive a long way back to Turangi, but I was sure to come again to Napier and for this walk.

View along the drive from Napier to Taupo
I bid bye to my co-traveller from Canada but now a wellingtonian. I returned to Napier and then towards Taupo. I was soon joined by a french boy hitchhiking to go to Taupo. We started talking but soon realised that his English was like my French. We sat mute for the rest of the journey. The drive was so much smoother and lot more picturesque this time.
Back in Taupo, the mountains where clearly visible
Once again, I had time to stop at some lookout spots for a stretch and ate some food we had packed. I offered him some of my kichdi. Not sure if he liked it, he dint come back for more and ate his energy bar. We spoke once again, closer to Taupo, and figured out that he was also doing the Tongariro crossing and was staying in Turangi that night. I offered him to take him to the backpackers I was staying at and he was more than happy.

Taupo Lake
Back at the lodge, once again buzzing with more people this time. All the rooms were pretty booked out. We prepared some lunch for tomorrow's walk, had an early dinner and the plan was to start at 4 am from the lodge. We made groups of 8 people each, two cars, each one parked at both ends of the walk. We walk from one end to the other so that we have a car to ride back to the start and then reach back. You'd end up paying 30 NZD just for the ride otherwise.

We were off to bed super early.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Road trip in North Island - Day 12

3 January 2017

Another beautiful day in Napier!!

The sky was more clear this morning. I wanted to go easy today, nothing elaborate. Cooked breakfast, read and leisurely spent the morning in the Youth Hostel lounge. I booked in for another night in Napier than driving any further.

Injured penguins at the National Aquarium
 Visited the penguin feeding session at the aquarium. The little penguins were rescued from their habitats because of some injuries and are fed regularly by the staff. They were extremely cute creatures. Few too shy to come out of their nest and few others grabbing the food from your hands.

 Penguins are the National Aquarium 
It was so humid outside and I could go out in a T-shirt, finally felt like summer in New Zealand. I drove further south to Te Mata peak. It is a decent walk if you want to but I preferred driving all the way up and walked around from one hill to the other. The landscape was so unique with breathtaking views all around. On a clear day, one can see Mount Ruapehu towards West and Ruahine ranges down South. Not today though.

View from Te Mata peak
My next stop was at Cape Kidnappers, sounded interesting. It is a good idea to do this walk on a low tide day. The walk can get very risky and challenges when the waves get stronger. I preferred, once again to drive and walked to the beach. It wasn't an ideal day for the walk.

View from Te Mata peak
From hear I went searching for Tuki Tuki river, according to google maps it was 13 kms further South from Te Mata peak. When I actually reached the spot, I found myself stuck in a narrow road with no clue of any river what-so-ever. I couldn't even reverse the car, with some struggle I reached the paved road again and gave up the idea of locating Tuki Tuki river. Some misadventures!

View from Te Mata peak
I was back in Napier for another relaxed evening. Took a stroll in the city enjoying the warm breeze. Back in the room socialising with co-travellers, sharing stories across the table. Tomorrow I was heading back to Turangi.

View from Te Mata peak

Road trip in North Island - Day 11

2 January 2017

The most challenging day behind the wheels!!

It was very cloudy as expected the next morning. I dropped the American lady to Taupo and drove towards Napier. The drive was so beautiful that I stopped at most of the lookouts for a short stretch. Ian had also passed on a tip while driving, to take a stretch every 1 hour of driving to avoid soar muscles. I was applying that tip right away.

The view of the falls from the scenic lookout
I stopped at one of the lookouts to discover this gorgeous waterfall. It was raining by this time. The visibility as I headed higher altitudes got worse and I was struggling to keep pace with my driving. This was the most challenging one so far when it came to driving. The whole route was over an endless range of mountains and tall trees covering the sky above.

View on the way to Napier
I managed to stop at few more spots for a stretch when the rain gave break. It was post lunch when I reached Napier, another coastal city. It was light drizzles and as it was a public holiday, carpark wasn't an issue. I checked in at Youth Hostel on one of the main roads, located perfectly overlooking the beach.

View on the way from Taupo to Napier
I shedded my luggage at the hostel and got into my hiking shoes and did short walk just around the city, Bluff Hill walk. The sky was very cloud and the views weren't very colorful, yet the harbour looked stunning. Overlooking the city from the viewpoint, I realised, I had already fallen in love with yet another New Zealand city, Napier. The city has a vintage feel and flaunts its own character quite different from the rest of the country. It is also bestowed with lot of sunshine, warm weather and very old architectural structures.

From the bushes, I headed into the town for some grocery shopping. It being a holiday, the city was so quiet and not many people on the streets. It felt so homely here.

At the National Aquarium, Napier
I made a yummy dinner and sat around a table and struck a conversation with a japaneese girl across the table. She was writing a postcard to someone, I couldn't control the excitement and asked who was she writing the card for. She said it was for her granny in Japan. She continued her story and told that she was here doing a English course for past one year. She makes sure to drop atleast one card every month to her granny. I was glad to hear to her story. She was completely taken aback when I read, pointing at her card, are you writing Happy New year 2017, Ha Ha. She caught me in a bit when she realised that she had written the numbers 2017 in English.

At the National Aquarium, Napier
Later in the evening, I visited the National Aquarium. I'm always fascinated by places like Museums, planetariums and aquariums. For the reason that I get transported to another world when you are in there. I spent generous time going around and reading every bit. There live penguin feeding events were over for the day by then so I requested if I can revisit next days event on the same ticket. They were very kind to say yes.

At the National Aquarium, Napier
I was happy to have another day of hot shower back in the hostel. After enjoying a good meal, I went back to my books after a long time (about 2 days now).