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Everything you wanted to know about Swine Flu

Swine flu is well and truly here. Mainstream media has already given enough and more coverage to how it is spreading, who's affected, who's playing politics over it, etc etc. It is a reality and we have to learn how to live with it and fight it, rather than panic. Let's understand what Swine Flu truly is and how you can combat it in every day life.


A lot of parents have been calling/SMSing me asking where they can find masks, because masks are running out of stock everywhere it seems. Here are contacts of some dealers around Mumbai who are likely to have sufficient quantity of stock of surgical masks.

Kandivali to Dahisar: Magnum
Beyond Dahisar: Thea-Tex
Andheri to Malad: Accurate Surgical
Midtown: Harrison
Downtown: Surgipharma
Eastern Suburbs: Woven Fabric
Beyond Thane: Sanjeevani

If you need more contacts, please leave a comment or email me at jesus [at]

Where can one get tested for Swine Flu in Mumbai?
  1. Kasturba Hospital, Jacob Circle
  2. Bhabha Hospital, Bandra
  3. Rajawadi Hospital, Ghatkopar
  4. Bhagwati Hospital, Borivli
  5. M T Agarwal Hospital, Mulund
  6. Siddharth Hospital, Goregaon
See this map for details, addresses and phone numbers.

Some important official contacts are:

Control Room, Room # 137, 1st Floor, Swasthaya Bhawan, Mumbai
022-22029070 022-22025830 [24X7]

Nodal Officer
Dr. Gawande - +91 9420711426
Dr. Awate - +91 9423337556

Practical Information
See the following excerpts from an information dossier issued by the Indian Medical Association
How do I know if I have influenza A (H1N1)?
You will not be able to tell the difference between seasonal flu and influenza A (H1N1) without medical help. Typical symptoms to watch for are similar to seasonal viruses and include fever, cough, headache, body aches, sore throat and runny nose. Only your medical practitioner and local health authority can confirm a case of influenza A (H1N1). If they suspect any symptoms they will send your blood sample, throat swab and nasopharyngeal (nose to mouth) for testing to laboratories. Presently this facility is available only at certain specified government laboratories.

What are the warning signs?
In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
* Fast breathing or difficulty in breathing
* Bluish or gray skin colour
* Not drinking enough fluids
* Severe or persistent vomiting
* Not waking up or not interacting
* Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
* Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
* Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath
* Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
* Sudden dizziness
* Confusion
* Severe or persistent vomiting
* Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

How do you catch H1N1 (swine) flu?
H1N1 virus appears to be transmitted the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

How can someone with the flu infect someone else?
Infected people can infect others right from day one even before they themselves develop any symptoms up to seven or more days after becoming sick. That means that one can pass on the infection to someone else before he/she even knows that he/she is sick, as well as while one is sick.

What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
There is no vaccine available right now to protect against H1N1 (swine) flu. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
* Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
* Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
* If you get sick with influenza, you should stay at home and not go for work or school and limit contact with others to prevent them from getting infecting by you.
* Reduce the time spent in the crowded settings.
* Improve airflow in the living space by opening the windows and proper ventilation.
* Practice good health habits including adequate sleep, eating nutritious food, and keeping physically active.

Are there medicines to treat H1N1 (swine) flu?
Yes, use of oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu?) or zanamivir (brand name Relenza ?) for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with these H1N1 (swine) influenza viruses. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within two days of symptoms).

What should I do if I get sick?
If you live in areas where people have been identified with new H1N1 flu and become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhoea, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people, except to seek medical care. If you have severe illness or you are at high risk for flu complications, contact your health care provider or seek medical care. Your health care provider will determine whether flu testing or treatment is needed. Antiviral drugs may reduce the symptoms and duration of illness, just as they do for seasonal influenza. They also may contribute to preventing severe disease and death. WHO is in touch with public health authorities and clinicians in affected countries and is gathering information about how effective the drugs are.

What about using a mask?
If you are not sick you do not have to wear a mask. If you are caring for a sick person, you can wear a mask when you are in close contact with the ill person and dispose of it immediately after contact, and clean your hands thoroughly afterwards. If you are sick and have to travel or be around others, cover your mouth and nose. Using a mask correctly in all situations is essential. Incorrect use actually increases the chance of spreading infection. Masks need to be N95 (WHO code) compliant.

Mera Bharat Mahaan?

Are we really as great as we claim to be?

Watch the gut-wrenching first five minutes of this video for some food for thought ....

The rising crime rate in Malad West

Have any of you noticed the rising instances of crime in Malad West? Let's go back in time.

Remember the Neeraj Grover (Susairaj) murder case? What about the Sanghavi double murder case in Liberty garden in May? Where does the famous molester Pritesh Doshi hail from? What about the double murder at China Link building on Link road last year? Remember the shocking murder of Sayeda Ibrahim in Malvani? Or the Pradeep Parmar sex racket a couiple of years ago? Don't we all know of the rampant narcotics/rave/rape/crime scene in the Madh area? Malvani is becoming increasingly notorious for criminal activities. Every now and then, there's a bomb scare at Inorbit. How many people drown off Aksa every year? The list is endless...

You wanna know the reason why crime rate in Malad west is shooting through the roof?

Well - here it is. The whole of Malad West has just 2 police stations - Malad and Malwani.

If you go by Mumbai Police's own statistics - both the police stations put together cover a population of almost 45 square kilometres and a population of almost 10 lakhs! Between the two of them, they have all of 8 beat chowkies, 7 wireless mobiles and just 9 beat marshalls.

In 2005, the central home ministry announced the setting up of 2 coastal police stations in Mumbai. After 26/11, that number was increased by the state government to 5 - including a proposed one at Madh. Nothing has happened on that front so far!

Are we waiting for another MV Kuber to dock at Aksa beach and another Kasab to go on a shooting rampage at Madh Jetty or Uncle's Kitchen junction or Inorbit? The explosives of 1993, too, came via sea. Malad has a huge coastal belt. I shudder at the prospect of another 26/11 style attack in Malad ...

I sincerely hope we get another police station, the much-needed coastal police chowkie and some more cops - armed and trained cops, that is ...

Bombay bombers brought to justice

As you probably already know by now, the trio of Hanif Sayed, Fahmeeda Sayed and Ashrat Ansari have been given the death penalty for carrying out the 2003 Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar bombings.

Something makes me feel this punishment is not going to serve as a deterrent - which is what punishments are all about, isn't it? Terrorists don't think of consequences, do they? I've been following the debate about the efficacy of capital punishment. See this Wikipedia article for starters. Feel free to leave comments on this issue ...

Anyway, apparently, the trio are planning to file an appeal in the higher courts against this verdict. Now, I sincerely hope that doesn't happen. The courts have noted the voluntary confessions by the convicted. This seems like an open and shut case. I wonder when we'll see a terrorist executed in India. For the record, 10 more accused in the case are still absconding ....

For those who don't remember, 25th Aug 2003 was the day when the Gateway of India became the door to hell ... See this Google News Archive of that day to relive the horror ...
Finally, the inevitable has happened. The authorities have wrapped up the online admission system and asked colleges to throw open their doors to admission seekers. This was formally announced a couple of hours ago at various meetings conducted by the Education Department officials.

There are two types of 10th pass students in Mumbai right now. Those who were lucky enough to get through to a college through the online system and those that weren’t. Effectively, this order allows the former type of students to dismiss/disregard their allotted college admission and look elsewhere and the latter type of students to approach any college for direct and offline admission.

What a fiasco this has been. If this was how it was going to end, why have the system at all! The number of calls I’ve fielded from anxious parents and students is not funny. I’m sure my colleagues at work have been inundated with queries too.

DNA's op-ed earlier this week said: "Education gets maximum lip service from both our nation's thinkers and from a few savvy politicians. However, our track record and ground reality shows that ad hoc decisions, ill-formed thinking and bad planning are all sending us into a downward spiral. What has happened in Mumbai could well be replicated in Maharashtra next year and may easily happen anywhere in India as well." I totally agree with them.

This is another classic case of a good idea badly executed by our honourable authorities. Instead of creating this huge bottleneck of a centralized monolithic system, they should have designed a distributed system where every college had their own “local” online admission system – monitored centrally. This is exactly how the internet works – democratic, distributed and transparent. The end was to bring about transparency and convenience. The chosen means to that end was not good.

If you put all your eggs in one basket –you’ll soon find yourself become a basket case!
I've finally decided to take the plunge.

For months, my friends and well-wishers have been urging me to begin blogging. Today's the day. And here is the place - where I will post my rants, raves and miscellaneous musings.

I'm blogging to have a direct and unadulterated contact with my students, their parents, my colleagues, my friends and people in general. I think I'm doing this because the voices in my head are egging me on. I have so many things to say. I have an opinion - mostly about stuff that matters - Education, Society, Human Rights, Green, Development, Poverty, Youth, India, Maharashtra, Mumbai, .... and I want to share these thoughts. What better way to do that than blog.

This blog -- and my life in general -- will always be a work in progress. There will be many more posts in the future. I'm gonna try and post once per day. This could be a long and interesting journey….