Isnt it amazing when you see intelligent story telling! The story of a girl brings the issue of HIV and AIDS into the vocabulary of children and introduces ‘sex = making a baby process’ to children. I cant suggest how they would have done it differently, but by perpetuating a stereotype (of sex being only a reproductive and a heterosexual act), I see it tackling one part of the HIV/AIDS problem (stigma and discrimination) but lacking in others!

So I am left wondering, is playing safe better than not playing at all? (no puns intended)!!

This message was originally posted to the GYCA group, you can read it here.

Hello from India.I have read with amazement and a bit jealousy all the wonderful activities you all have been conducting all over the world. As luck would have it I was travelling from the 29th November till the 1st of December for Bangalore. So I could not really be part of any large activities in the city, but I tried to make the most of time on the train. I thought that it would be a good idea to talk to people on the train about HIV/AIDS. It was rather an after thought, once i boarded the train!!

Anyhow, I decided to go and talk in each of the two interconnected compartments (a total of about 100 people) about this issue. I elicited some very interesting responses, based on which I decided to hold a small skit in my compartment on HIV/AIDS on the 1st December morning.

I asked for some volunteers from among the passengers, who would be the different characters in my skit, and tried to address the issue of stigma and discrimination of the HIV infected. We did a 40 minutes skit on this issue ( I know it was long, but there were some really interesting actors amongst the team). Most of the dialogues were scripted (by me!!!) though there were some impromptu acting too. It was a really interesting experience as I had two days in the train with other passengers, who assayed the different roles, for which I literally auditioned :), but I had one of the most enriching experience. At the end of the skit, everyone discussed on the theme, and I did try to document the reactions and responses.

I was not carrying any pamphlets with me, which I thought was the biggest disadvantage, though I created some leaflets for the passengers, based on the information that I remembered. Some co passengers wanted to discuss till late in the night, and I even conducted some one to one and group sessions!

I am not sure if this kind of exercise has ever been conducted before anywhere, should it be, or whether it would have any long lasting impacts, but I strongly suggest that all of us in this forum as well as other forums should think about using “any”, and I really mean “any” platform to talk about HIV/AIDS.

I would be conducting some followup with some of these passengers, lets see what happens then, as I want to evaluate the effectiveness of this exercise. I hope all your activities too were as fruitful as mine. Lets keep talking and sharing,

With lots of love

PS: If any of you wondering how much time did my journey take, it was 45 hours, almost two days. My longest and best train journey ever, God bless the Indian Railways!