Petition for life care for persons with mental illness

I have talked on the topic of persons with mental illnesses, and issues related to various aspects of mental health on my blog here. I also volunteer and support Pune based Schizophrenia Awareness Association(SAA) and have been associated with Bengaluru based FACEMi. One of the daunting issues in mental health in the society is supporting persons with mental illness(PMI) during their battle with life, and rehabilitation. The rehabilitation is most of the times a life long process, especially, when a person is suffering from major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, mania or depression. Providing care and support during this process is absolutely essential. Giving care to PMIs by his/her relatives is something we certainly see happening, but there are challenges in that also, which is another topic for a blog.

The issue I want to talk today here is about related to concern or worry of care givers about care giving their wards after their death. Unless the next set of care givers arise, it is very much possible the PMIs are left stranded with no one to look after them. We often see PMIs left alone on the streets, homeless, with no one to look after them. Of course, many of them are suffering from other illnesses such Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease(Recent Marathi movie Astu अस्तु, starred by Dr Mohan Agashe handled this subject).

There are good samaritans in the society like, one doctor couple in Ahmednagar near Pune doing work in this area, by taking care of such stranded PMIs. The name of the organization is Mauli Seva Pratishthan, and is started by Dr Mr and Mrs Dhamane. You may check their website here. But such facilities are going to have their own limitations due to funds and cannot scale all over the country. Even at SAA, during our meetings, we have heard shubhankars(शुभंकर, care givers) raising this concern and the need, many times. SAA is trying to address the issue to its capacity and for the members of the organization. That is also going to have limitations though as said earlier.

So what is the ask here? The government should do something about it. And it is high time for it. FACEMi has been on the forefront in terms of advocating this topic. Is this trending a life sentence or a death sentence? And how long will it take for the government to act? This is the question families and patients numbering almost 80 million in India, suffering from severe and common mental disorders are asking. The government has access to resources and funds to undertake such activity.

PMI

Petition for life care for persons with mental illness. Image courtesy: FACEMi petition page on Change.org

The central government Ministry of Health has a network of more than 40 regional mental hospitals, and many more autonomous institutions. The mental hospitals or general hospitals sponsored and supported by state government and municipal corporations having psychiatric department, are also available. I know, the plight of these government mental hospitals is in itself a big topic to discuss and needs to huge improvement. This has been raised on various forums and we keep reading about them in the newspapers.

mental-hospital

Regional Mental Hospital, Yerwada, Pune

Anyways, FACEMi has filed petition to seek support from general public on the cause of life care for PMIs, especially, after death of their primary care givers, and lack of willingness or secondary care givers or lack of them. FACEMi wants your support on this petition. I have signed it. I appeal my readers to review and sign it here. This petition  is to make the government take immediate action for providing life care for persons with mental illness and set up a NATIONAL MENTAL DISABILITY LIFE CARE TRUST under the Prime Ministers Office(PMO) so that the buck is not passed on from one ministry (Health) to the other (Disability/Social Justice Ministry) as it is happening at present. There are right now two ways of admitting to these mental hospitals is. One if voluntary, and the other by relatives, with support from court. This process may require changes to allow government authority to identify and admit them, may be with help of court, and treat them. Of course, social organizations working in this area can certainly lend a hand here, but then that also needs to be accommodated in the procedure. These mental hospitals also needs to be enhanced to have special sections such as day care for such PMIs where they are looked after, and helped in the process of rehabilitation.

The organizations such as Change.org are excellent examples of technology can make it easy to bring changes to society by garnering support of the population for the noble and right causes.  Hope this creates change here. Please sign this petition and help to bring this much required change to support persons with mental illness.

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Introduction to mental health

First week on October is celebrated as mental health week. I have been working as volunteer for Schizophrenia Awareness Association(SAA) since 2009. SAA is involved in spreading awareness about mental health issues in the society.  This blog is an attempt to take that further on the eve of mental health week. This article is written, originally in Marathi, by Neelima Bapat, one of the key members of SAA. I have translated it in English with minor deviation and additions.

For variety of reasons, we, humans, face disturbances to our well-being, and in general health time to time and it natural phenomenon. This disturbance or off-balance is termed as illness. These can take place on two levels. One is on physical level and other is on mental level. Because of advancements in medical sciences, we know reasons for physical illness in most of the cases. Due to this knowledge we understand the pain the person might be going through, we are compassionate about it, we also are involved in treating the person, helping him or her to get out of the illness. Society, including government, is generally aware of physical health issues, it extends its support to such people-for example-blindness, physical disabilities etc. This all suddenly disappears when we see person who is affected by mental illness. We hardly see any awareness and support.

Strictly speaking in medical lingo, mental illness is direct outcome of imbalance created between basic building blocks of body called cells and fluid present among them in the brain. The brain contains certain chemical elements. If for some reasons, the desired levels of these chemicals get altered, that manifests into mental disorders. Because of these altered levels, the designated jobs to these chemicals don’t take place and that results in turmoil and state of flux. The sorry state of affairs is that the person going through these changes rarely gets any support, or is acknowledged of such issue. On the contrary, society and people around such person is subject to ill-treatment, ignorance, hate and many times cruelty. The result is loneliness, and withdrawal from the society which cascades into further deterioration

Mental disorders or illnesses are of different types.Schizophrenia, depression, bipolar mood disorders are some examples.  Phobia, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder(OCD), personality disorder are few others. It is estimated that roughly 15 to 20% people are affected by some or the other mental disorder, about 10% are suffering from major mental disorder and about 1 in every 60 persons, is affected by schizophrenia. This pattern is to be found across the globe, irrespective of their country, religion, caste, creed, gender, social or financial status does not matter.

Schizophrenia, mood disorders are considered to be major mental health issues. Among all natural and living beings, human beings are at the advanced stage of evolution and hence is most powerful. The main reason is that human beings are capable of intelligence, thinking and also ability to use it very effectively. Because of this humans have achieved mastery over simple acts such as doing daily chores to complex acts such ascending the space. Unfortunately, mental health disorders such as schizophrenia impacts severely this capability of humans. This illness transforms nearby persons into totally strangers, converts the life into a sea saw ride, lines between real and abstract, virtual becomes thin, the life collapses like a collapse of building made out of playing cards. Persons get various and different types of uncontrollable thoughts which are on one side away from reality, closer to fantasy and on the extreme side are hallucinations in nature. Person looses grip of life, career and even relationships. They loose faith and confidence on themselves and even on others. The most sad part of all this is that that person cannot do anything about it and completely helpless.

As per medical science, due to bio-chemical changes in the brain, person looses co-ordination between thoughts, emotions and behavior. There is no synergy between body and mind. That is the reason we notice people with such illnesses, show incorrect emotions at incorrect place at incorrect time. They also exhibit paranoid and cynical expressions towards close ones. Due to all such as turmoil, and confused state the life of the person is shattered. Since last few years, medical fraternity has been trying to find the root cause of such bio-chemical changes. Though we still don’t have a breakthrough on preventive and curative medicines, we now have in hour hands medicines which can effectively manage this disorder by partially restoring bio-chemical imbalance, thereby keeping the symptoms under control. It is needless to say that medicines alone are not sufficient in treating such illness. The support from families, and society is equally important.

Acceptance is first state. Treatment by psychiatrists is second. And then role of counselors to work on behavioral aspects, communication skills, relationships with closed ones is significant. The self help support groups(SHSG), like the one I facilitate at YCM Hospital Pimpri(in Pune),  play also important role during all this process where persons and their families get to share, talk, know about this illness. SHSGs provide such platform and hugely compliments medical treatment. Families also need to learn certain dos and don’t when dealing with persons impacted by schizophrenia or similar mental disorders. They need to learn to lower expectations from their wards. Staying away from guilt feeling, avoiding burn out, ensuring to continue with ones life and career while managing persons is critical., goes long way helping persons to come out the illness and strengthening the relationship.

Mental health issues such as schizophrenia usually hit during adolescent age. Heredity also plays role as well. Unpleasant events in ones life, during age of 15 to 25, such as failures in examinations, love life, career, death of dear ones, can trigger such illnesses. Such events are not cause of the illnesses, which is a of course, a misconception in the society due to lack of awareness. This is just one misconception out of many, which are prevalent in society, especially in Indian society. Superstitions is big one from that list. Faith that someone has performed act of witch craft which has caused such issue is very common, besides faith in sins of past life resulting in such issue is another very common superstition. Families end up in endless rituals, rather than focusing on medical treatment, delaying the recovery process. This kind of lack of senses, understanding about mental health issues need to be handled urgently. This is huge work but is very difficult and important. As some expert had said, ‘It is extremely difficult to treat the wrong and incorrect views towards mental illness, than the mental illness itself’.

Hope on the occasion on World Mental Health week this October, this blog, helped to understand it little bit better. Let’s come together and work towards making society better.

Technology in mental health care giving

Technology, specifically, information technology(IT) has entered in every realm of human life. How can health domain stay away from it? Bringing IT to health domain has been happening for quite some time now. Bringing efficiency, speed, accuracy to deliver health services is the key focus. Capturing medical and health data, and using that for analysis, ease of access to benefit users by way of Electronic Health Care(EHR) is another big initiative in the recent times. Various standards such as HIPAA have come out because various stake holders which are involved in the game. I am not even talking of technology based innovations such as electronic devices for various medical instruments, medical imaging, robots carrying out surgeries. In the past, I have been associated with two startups involved in health domain. One was involved in pathology domain, and another was involved in hospital logistics management.

Mental health is domain which is slightly different and is also seeing technology based innovation helping various stakeholders there. Apart from applying usual technology based solutions to mental health domain, there are specific challenges which needs to addressed. I support and volunteer Schizophrenia Awareness Association(SAA). We deal with key stakeholders such as persons with mental illness(PMI), psychiatrists, counsellers and caregivers. There are many challenges, and some of them can be solved using IT specifically using social, mobile, analytics, cloud(SMAC) based solutions. According to WHO, worldwide, there are 450 million PMI served by 200 thousand psychiatrists. There is a huge demand supply gap. Psychiatrists cannot spend enough time with their patients. In mental health domain, talking to PMI and caregiver on issues, progress since last visit, is key for treatment(rather than physical examination in case of other illnesses). I wanted to write about couple of initiatives I know of which are addressing these challenges using technology in their own way.

First one is a USA based company named TrustCircle. I happened to interact with their founder Sachin Chaudhary during a session in SAA recently. He himself a caregiver, got inspired by challenges faced, worked towards creating his mobile app. The app is still under limited pilot and is by invitation only. The app is peer centered mental health network, for better communication between service provider, PMI and caregiver. You may find more about it here. In case of mental health, the trust, privacy, consent of PMI are key elements.

TrustCircle

One needs to take care of these in every aspect of their treatment, rehabilitation. The other aspect is also of rights of PMI. Any technology based solution needs to ensure that this is taken care of. The name of their app epitomizes this fact-TrustCircle, which fosters to create network of trusted individuals or organization. The app is in its initial stages, and they have sizable plans to improve its functionality and usefulness with various features to be launched in due course of time. You may find many more such innovations in mental health domain over here.

The other example I know of is The Hope Network about which I read about in the news paper sometime back. It is online counselling portal, repository of useful information to stake holders in the mental illness care-giving. The counselling can happen via email, text chat, voice chat or video chat. You may find more info on their website here. Their scope and reach is broader, not just limited to mental health, but also in the area of psychological issues, relationship issues among others.

Please feel to share your technology innovation in mental health, whether you are part of or are aware of.

Recovery

I have been associated with organization called Schizophrenia Awareness Association(SAA) since 2009 as supporter and volunteer. And I have written on this blog few times in the past(Introduction to SAA, REBT, SHSG). During my association, my understanding about mental health issues, and challenges got better. Recovery and rehabilitation of persons suffering from mental health issues is ultimate goal for anyone involved. SAA conducts sessions for both patients and care givers, covering various topics, focusing on recovery and rehab, along with various other stages of mental health.

Abraham Low, famous psychiatrist came with set of guidelines and methods to employ during recovery process for people with mental health issues. These days, I am reading Marathi translation of his biography written by Neil & Margaret Rau(I will write more about the book later on the blog). Here, I wanted to talk about recovery process. His proposition is around self-help and self-instruction. In 1931, he came up with simple and effective technique to be employed during recovery process. Encouraged by seeing results of this method, he and others were involved in founding organization called Recovery International.

Recovery Method focuses on Spotting, reframing defeatist language, self-endorsement and creating Examples. Some of the most common spotting tools, which we use, during SHSG meeting at SAA are described here. Spotting refers to consciously increasing self-awareness and identifying what is happening and preparing to cope up with it. Reframing language refers to avoid self-diagnosis and encourages seeking help of doctor, many times it is negative or not aligned with reality. Self-diagnosis is very common with persons affected with mental health. Self-endorsement is a technique related to dividing larger goal into smaller objectives, and reminding oneself to stick to those, no matter what the outcome would be. Creating Examples technique encourages person to recognize and record experiences and challenges faces, and failures and success of dealing with it. And more importantly, talking about it and sharing them in next SHSG meetings.

I would like to conclude this blog on a different note altogether. In my professional life, I am involved in information technology business. Enterprises these days have become more aware of disaster recovery(DR). At Sungard AS where I work, we have solutions and services built around DR. Fundamental tenets of recovery from disasters, is backing up/replicating IT environment and data. Disasters can happen anytime. And when they happen, these backups or replicated information is used to recover from the disaster. I cannot help myself wonder on possibility of similar avenue for humans. When brain encounters disasters, it should be possible to recover to previous good state. I know, I don’t want to get into eternal argument of man and machine comparison-we are far from nearing it despite the fact that so much of innovation is taking place around nano-technology and wearable devices. May be, intelligent machines, robots, who carry artificial intelligence, are recoverable in this manner, as they are ultimately machine in true sense. But recovery for human beings in this manner is a scary thought, to say the least.

Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences.

PS: Update on Oct 11, 2015: I finally finished the book My Dear Ones which is referred above. I have written about it here

Self help books/how to books-How useful they really are?

In my housing society complex(Kunal Icon), we celebrate Independence Day and Republic Day every year by flat hoisting and also arranging a guest lecture by experts/accomplished personalities. We had famous Marathi author, playwright Shivraj Gorle for this year’s Republic Day celebrations. He is very famous self help book writer. He, being a very good orator, entertained audience in his lucid and attractive style about art of living.

The question raised in the title of the blog came to fore once again while I was listening to him. This has always been in my mind as a question asked quite often. At the same time, we all know how big the market on such category of books, and many of the bestsellers are from this category. That means people are buying it, reading it, but not sure how useful this bibliotherapy is if followed verbatim. I personally was never a great fan of such books and never took them very seriously.

It is said that such category of self help books, ‘how to books’ started with Dale Carnegie’s book titled ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People?’ in early 20th century. Do they really help the readers? Some books are based on own experiences, others are based on psychological theories, while few others try to give case studies, and also prescriptive solutions.

Gorle raised the same question and he was more inclined towards saying that they do help, and he threw readers’ responses as proofs. Gorle, of course, stressed that such books can help only if advice is put in practice. One needs to approach with open mind and accept change.

While some other authors such as Sanjay Bhaskar Joshi, has expressed views effectively discounting the usefulness of such books, rather cautioning on going blind eyed. They do indeed help author and publisher nonetheless, as such books are sold typically as hot cakes.

Everybody goes through levels of challenges and stressful situations on various fronts such as career, relationships. Most of us try to find a quick way out for problems. As humans, we typically look for prescriptive solutions for problems we face. I come across many such cases as I have been working as lay counselor for a self-help support-group(SHSG) in mental health domain under SAA. The fact is that there is no such hard-cast solution. There could be some patterns. But again those need to applied in each case very diligently.

What do you think?

SAA YCM SHSG anniversary

२००९ मध्ये आकाशवाणी वरील एका कार्यक्रमामुळे मी पुण्यातील स्किझोफ्रेनिया अवेरनेस असोसिएशन(‘सा’) शी जोडलो गेलो. त्यांच्या वेगवेगळ्या कार्यक्रमाला उपस्थित राहणे, स्व-मदत गटाच्या बैठकांना हजर राहणे, आणि या ना त्या प्रकारे ‘सा’ च्या मूळ उद्दिष्टांच्या संदर्भात काही तरी योगदान देत राहणे सुरु होते. २०१२ च्या शेवटी शेवटी माझी ओळख भूषण कुलकर्णी यांच्याशी झाली. तसेच पिंपरी चिंचवड भागात असा स्व-मदत गट चालू करावा ही त्यांची इच्छा मला कळली. तो पर्यंत मी त्या दृष्टीने काही विचारच केला नव्हता. मी आणि भूषण कुलकर्णी मिळून नोव्हेंबर २०१३ मध्ये ‘सा’ तर्फे वाय सी एम मध्ये शुभांकारांसाठी मदत गट चालू केला. त्याला २०१४ मध्ये वर्ष होवून गेलं. नुकताच आम्ही पहिला वर्धापन दिन साजरा केला. त्याचा हा वृतांत आणि आढावा.

आमच्या मार्गदर्शिका आणि ‘सा’ च्या ज्येष्ठ सदस्य नीलिमाताई बापट यांनी प्रास्ताविक केले. ‘सा’ची सुरुवात, आणि त्याचे मानसिक आजार क्षेत्रातील स्थान बोलल्या. कार्यक्रमाचे अध्यक्ष डॉ. किशोर गुजर यांची ओळख करून दिली. डॉ. गुजर हे वाय सी एम च्या मानसोपचार विभागाचे प्रमुख आहेत. त्यानंतर डॉ. गुजर यांनी वाय सी एम मधील मानसोपचार विभागाचा आढावा घेतला. त्यांच्या व ‘सा’ च्या संबंधाबद्दल माहिती दिली. कार्यक्रमाचे प्रमुख पाहुणे डॉ. मनोहर धडफळे यांची ओळख करून दिली. डॉ. धडफळे यांना ५० वर्षांचा मानसोपचार क्षेत्रातील भारतात तसेच परदेशातील गाढ अनुभव आहे. ते वाय सी एम च्या मानसोपचार विभागात व्याख्याते म्हणून मार्गदर्शन करत असतात.

त्यानंतर मुख्य कार्यक्रमाला सुरुवात झाली. प्रथम आमच्या स्वमदत गटात येणाऱ्या काही शुभांकारनी त्यांचे अनुभव सांगितले. कामत, राजापुरे, नेकनारायण, भूषण कुलकर्णी यांनी त्यांच्या शुभार्थीबद्दल, त्याच्या एकूण प्रवासाबद्दल सांगितले. लाखापुरे यांनी मानसिक आजार आणि अंधश्रद्धा यावर त्यांचे अनुभव सांगितले. हे सर्व अतिशय हृद्य आणि उस्फुर्त अनुभव कथन झाले. माझ्या कथनात मी स्वमदत गटाचा आढावा घेतला. त्यानंतर,ज्याची सर्वांना खुपच उत्सुकता होती, ते डॉ. धडफळे यांचे बीजभाषण, तसेच मन मोकळा संवाद झाला. त्यांनी त्यांच्या इंग्लंडमधील आलेले अनुभव सांगितले आणि तेथे आता मानसिक आजारी व्यक्तीसाठी रुग्णालये जवळ जवळ नाहीत याबद्दल अतिशय रंजक माहिती दिली आणि अश्या व्यक्तींचे तेथील समाजातच कसे उपचार केले जातात याबद्दल सांगितले. ते पुढे म्हणाले की, ‘समाजात जशी जशी प्रगती होत जात आहे, तसे तसे मानसिक आजाराचे प्रमाण वाढत जाते. अंधश्रद्धाच्या मार्गाने न जाता, शास्त्रीय उपचार घेवून त्यावर मात करता येते’. त्यांनी स्वमदत गटाचे तसेच कुटुंबातील मदतीचे महत्व अधोरेखित केले. त्यांनी त्यांचे परदेशातील प्रामुख्याने केनियातील आणि इंग्लंड मधील अनुभव सांगितले. शासकीय पातळीवर मानसिक आजाराबद्दल वेगवेगळे कायदे आणि जागृती कार्याबद्दल त्यांनी सांगितले.

त्यानंतर शेवटी वाय सी एम चे प्रकाश जुकंतवार यांनी आभारप्रदर्शन केले आणि कार्यक्रम संपला. प्रकाश हे Psychiatric Social Worker म्हणून काम पाहतात. त्यांचा ह्या सर्व उपक्रमामध्ये प्रथम पासूनच अतिशय रस आणि सहकार्य मिळत गेले आहे.

आज उद्या करत, शेवटी नोव्हेबर २०१३ तिसऱ्या शनिवारी गट सुरु झाला आणि आता वर्षभर चालू आहे. आम्ही महिन्याच्या पहिल्या आणि तिसऱ्या शनिवारी येथे भेटतो. गेल्या नोव्हेबर मध्ये एक वर्ष होवून गेले. तेव्हा पासूनच हा कार्यक्रम करावा असा विचार चालू होता. आतापर्यंत आम्ही जवळ जवळ ६० शुभांकारांशी जोडलो गेलो आहोत. त्यातील कमीत कमी १०-१२ तरी असे आहेत की ते नियमित ह्या बैठकीना येत असतात. ही तर फक्त सुरुवात आहे. आमच्या पुढे बरीच आव्हाने आहेत. उदाहरणार्थ, प्रत्येक बैठकीमध्ये वाय सी एम मध्ये येणारे नवीन शुभंकर येत असतात, जी एका दृष्टीने(समाजात जागृती होण्याच्या) चांगली गोष्ट आहे. पण त्यामुळे, प्रत्येक बैठकीत आम्हाला नवीन शुभांकाराबरोबर वेळ घालवावा लागतो. तसेच त्यातील बरेच जण बाहेरगावचे असतात, आणि त्यांच्या बरोबर बऱ्याचदा शुभार्थी सुद्धा असतात. स्व-मदत आधार गटात काही ठोस कार्यक्रम करण्यास त्यातील शुभंकरानी नियमित येणे आवश्यक आहे, जेणेकरून एखादा विषय घेवून त्यावर दर वेळेस चर्चा करणे शक्य होत नाही. अश्या मुळे हवा तसा बदल अथवा फरक काही काळानंतर दिसू लागतो. ह्या समस्येवर थोडे विचार मंथन करून काही उपाय केले पाहीजे. शुभांकारामध्ये आपण एकटे नाही आहोत अशी भावना निर्माण करण्यासाठी करावे लागणारे उपक्रम आम्ही अजून सुरु करू शकलो नाही(जसे की सर्वानी मिळून बाहेर जाणे). तसे असले तरी सुद्धा आम्ही औषधांच्या किमती आणि वाय सी एम मध्ये त्यांची उपलब्धता यावर बरीच चर्चा आम्ही करू शकलो आणि तो विषय बराच पुढे गेला आहे असे म्हणू शकतो. नीलिमाताई आमच्याबरोबर प्रत्येक वेळी असतात, पण त्याही कधी ना कधी थांबणार आहेत आणि हा गट आपल्यालाच सुरु ठेवायचा आहे याचे भानही आहे. ह्या अडचणीवर मात करून, शुभार्थीसाठीही गट सुरु करायचा आहे. ह्या भागात कार्यशाळा आणि इतर उपक्रम राबवायचे आहेत. पिंपरी चिंचवड भागातील औद्योगिक क्षेत्रातील संस्थांचा सहभाग करून घेवून शुभार्थींच्या पुनर्वसनाबाबतीत काम करायचे आहे. पाहुयात कसे काय जमते ते.

जाता जाता स्वमदत गटात म्हटली जाणारी प्रार्थना येथे देतो. ही प्रार्थना Serenity Prayer चे भाषांतर आहे.

जे टाळणे अशक्य ते शक्ती दे सहाया, जे शक्य साध्य आहे निर्धार दे कराया|

मज काय शक्य आहे, आहे अशक्य काय, माझे मला कळाया दे बुद्धी देवराया||

Entreprenuer in Exile

The other day I happened to attend The Indus Entrepreneurs(TIE) event titled ‘Entrepreneurs In Exile”. I was little surprised by the theme of the event. I must congratulate the organizers taking up this topic. In our society failure is not accepted easily. With a bit of research on this topic, I got to know that India is also changing on this mind-set, and people are talking about failures. Look at following articles.

5 ways to cope if your first venture fails – Economic Times
Startup Funerals

In rest of this blog I, being an entrepreneur-in-exile myself, am trying to capture my entrepreneur attempts. My enterprising mind-set came of out the need to support myself in the hardship of our family at the age of 16, by way of preparing paper packs to be used for packing grocery items in the shops. I, not only made them, but also sold them to nearby shops. I obviously did not continue doing it, as I had to focus more on my studies, and things were looking now better. This neither did succeed nor did it fail, but I aborted it after the main goal was met.

My next venture of supporting myself was teaching BASIC language to bunch of middle aged engineering managers in nearby auto-industry.  This was in 1988. The computers was a buzzword then. When I look back, I dived into unknown territory without know what does it mean to teach and teach BASIC. I did not know BASIC then(neither do I remember it now), as I had learnt only C language by then. It went on for few months, teaching sessions for few hours a week. My parents forced me to halt it after I met with an road accident cycling to and fro to the site where I was teaching.

When I was 24, had some work experience, me and bunch of my friends got an itch of doing on our own, and we started with training again, this time C and Assembly languages. I remember fighting over with my “co-founder” friends on how our training pamphlets should look like. But this attempt did not take-off as our advertising did not pay us off, as not a single student turned out. Later on we moved into IT services space. Now all of us became salesmen on the bicycles once again, we would be off for a day long visit to various factories in nearby industrial area selling our capabilities. We did manage to get one owner of cooking-gas agency for office automation project, spent time studying his manual process and submitting the proposal, but some other vendor stole the deal. And thereafter, our priorities changed slowly as “co-founder” friends started finding better prospects in their jobs and this attempt also was put on “hold”

My latest stint as entrepreneur came much later in the life, at the age of 40, after I ran out of my job when our development center was closed. The idea of starting again took seed while I was consulting. And this attempt, I would say, was very serious, compared to earlier attempts. We formed a company called QuinarySoft. My stint there lasted for 3 years, after which I exited to let my other co-founder take it further. We did variety of things in IT services, played with our own ideas, in different domains, on solving problems using technology, burnt our money. After spending 3 longs years, I decided to came out of it, due to changing landscape in the IT services and it becoming commercialized so much that it we were loosing as a differentiator in the market(and there are many other reasons, which is a topic for another blog :-))

While all this was happening, I also ventured into something called “social entrepreneurship”, by getting associated with NGO in the field of mental health, by attempting to raise findings and helping the NGO in various aspects.
Hope you liked the story so far. As they say “once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur”. Let’s see what comes by next on that journey!