WANTED: FULL COLOR BUFFET

The September issue of India Currents was very educational and enjoyable. I read all the articles and liked most of them, particularly those on the three artists/performers (cover story: “Not Merely Players”).

One major disappointment: there were no color pictures of the Indian buffets advertised in the issue! To those of us who live in the boondocks, a good picture of a thali meal or a masala dosa is as valuable as a Playboy centerfold is to a sailor at sea in an all-male sub. Please, try to do something about it!

Lakshmi Palecanda, Bozeman, Mont.

FIXATION WITH FICTION

After a stressful week, I was not looking forward to an equally demanding weekend, packed with activities and filled with homework assignments and projects galore. Friday evening, I thought, would be the perfect opportunity to relax, have some me-time. Anyway, this was a ritual. The sofa was calling, so I planted myself upon it.

I watched a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air marathon. Soon, I started feeling lethargic and lackluster. Suddenly, I noticed a bright green magazine cover: the May 2007 issue of India Currents lay placidly on the counter. A rush of adrenalin swept through my body. I was excited. Not to read about “Ayurveda in America,” but to read the latest fiction entry. Ah yes, the reader-submitted stories, fairytales palpably based on real-life experiences. There was culture, immigration, hard work, cherished memories, all hidden away in some three or four gray pages of the magazine.

I opened the issue from the back, flipping through the pages, smelling recycled paper. I handled each page with dexterity and ease. I was used to India Currents, everything about it. I flipped past Arts and Entertainment, beyond Lifestyle, glanced through Perspectives, and found myself face-to-face with the editorial. How could I have missed the fiction entry? Where was the sweet nectar of familiarity, the subtle mystery of a story untold?

I repeated my start-at-the-back-and-flip procedure, this time scrutinizing each page carefully. It occurred to me that I could check the contents page. But that would be giving in. I never checked the table of contents; rather, I felt the story. Its exact location always seemed to jump out at me. Why ruin my monthly ritual by succumbing to the call of the contents? I flipped and flipped, but found no katha, no new piece of literature.

I stopped to question the unjustness. Could the editors of India Currents have been so deceitful, so underhanded, as to not have included a fiction piece in the May issue?

I flopped back on the sofa, frowning and gingerly turning to the table of contents, tradition thrown to the wind. After scanning the page, I was forced to accept that there would be no fiction to ponder. How could India Currents do this to me? How could they dare to be different and rid me of the chance to engage in one more Friday of familiarity?

And then it hit me, like a TV set falling from the sky and exploding atop my head. There was something important to be encountered within the magazine’s pages: a lesson. Daring to be different, changing it up, I ran outside.

Namrata Anand, sophomore,The Harker School, San Jose, Calif.

VIOLATING THE HIPPOCRATIC OATH

I was disturbed by the thesis and the tenor of the article “Driving to Save Lives” (India Currents, August 2007). The author’s underlying premise appears to be that the only reasonable way to deal with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is to morally railroad millions of people into supporting a specific treatment paradigm, namely, bone marrow transplant (BMT).

The author does not critically evaluate the BMT procedure, nor does she consider other treatment options. For example, what is the success rate of BMT? What is the expected quality of life for the bone marrow recipient? And what about alternative therapeutic and healing paradigms such as naturopathy, ayurveda, meditation, and so on?

I think the amount of time and resources being spent on the marrow donor program are not commensurate with its potential benefits. If comparable time and resources were spent on disease prevention, far more lives could be enriched and saved. Moreover, the medical industry is essentially driven by the free market model of demand and supply. If bone marrow donors are not easily available, the industry will research and find other alternatives.

The author suggests that South Asians who do not register as bone marrow donors are either ignorant or indifferent. Perhaps some are. Perhaps some are also concerned that the risks for the marrow donor are non-trivial, and more substantial than for a blood donor. And some might also be pondering the more fundamental question: Where does society draw the line in requesting a part of your body for the (presumed) greater good? Suppose the medical industry were to claim tomorrow that, thanks to a new technology or drug, the long-term risks to a kidney donor would no longer be significant. Would most eligible people then be expected to dutifully donate one of their kidneys?

Finally, in their excitement to pursue advanced and lucrative medical technologies, many doctors seem to have forgotten their basic professional oath: “First, do no harm.” It is hard to believe that subjecting a healthy person to the marrow harvesting procedure (involving administration of anesthesia and other risks) does not violate the sacred Hippocratic Oath.

Vijay Gupta, Cupertino, Calif.

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