India: Marketing family planning in a land of one billion people

 UC Berkeley's Julie Earne blows out candles on her 30th birthday cake. (Team Janani photo)

THE DISPATCHES: Amit Sinha, David Plink, Julie Earne, Mona Gavankar, Dhruti Patel

Turning 30 in a foreign country — unexpected handshakes, dancing, and mangoes galore

Julie had her 30th birthday in Patna and wanted to share a little bit about the celebration.

"When I signed up to participate in the International Business Development Program I knew that I would be celebrating my 30th birthday in a place I was unfamiliar with. However, a few days ago, when my birthday arrived during our third week in the field, I had come to know Patna and the Janani organization quite well. It's amazing how quickly you bond with people when you have left behind everything familiar and are immersed in a new place and culture.

Letting loose at the birthday party.
"I woke up Wednesday morning to piles of balloons outside my bedroom door and cards from my team members — who had thoughtfully asked friends from Berkeley to sign them ahead of time. Upon arrival to the office everyone greeted me, and in Indian tradition shook my hand and wished me many happy returns of the day. It was the first time that many of the men had extended their hands, as generally men and women do not shake hands in the work world.

"Around lunchtime there an assortment of Indian sweets appeared on the shared lunch table. Indian dessert is just as elaborate as Indian jewelry, wrapped in edible foils of various colors. That evening, the entire Janani community gathered at the director's house for a party. Everyone let loose! I was taught how to dance Indian style, and even the most reserved staff members kicked up their heels to show me how to celebrate. There was music, balloons, decorations, a cake with candles, serenades and a feast finishing with kulfi (traditional ice cream) and stuffed mangoes — after all it is mango season and no meal can end without mango in some form or another.

"The Janani organization made this birthday one I will remember always."


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