Biotech Showcase 2018 Preview: Treatment focus on microbiome, regenerative medicine, gene & immuno therapies

Image result for biotech showcase 2018Biotech Showcase taking place concurrently with the J P Morgan event in San Francisco, will host more than 3,500 attendees and 900+ investors. This event considered to be a critical strategic benchmark for business development activities in biotech, medtech, pharma and digital health, is regarded as among the year’s most important investor meeting place and sets the tone for financial health in these sectors, for the coming year.  Speakers and attendees at Biotech Showcase, will participate, network and listen to over 400 company presentations. Over 2,100 companies from 50+ countries will participate.  Besides 7000+ one on one meetings, general sessions will focus on a number of topics that are significantly expected to impact the healthcare arena. Here are some of the treatment modalities that are getting interest from both investors and entrepreneurs.

A panel moderated by Joseph Gulfo, Executive Director at Lewis Center for healthcare innovation and technology with Thomas Hallam, CEO of Leading Biosciences, Arpita Maiti, Senior Director, ES&I at Pfizer, Glenn Nedwin, CEO of Second Genome, will start day one. Microbiome refers to internal ecosystem of bacteria, widely believed to be residing in the gut. By some researchers estimates, over 90% of all diseases can be traced to the gut and health of the microbiome. However, new research on lung, skin, inflammation, immunology, and neuro microbiome is bringing together experts in neuroscience, gastroenterology, microbiology and more to unlock even larger role that microbiota plays in interacting with itself and its human host, in understanding disease and health and better understand possible treatment modalities.Image result for microbiome, neuro

Image result for regenerative medicineA panel moderated by Janet Lambert, CEO at Alliance for Regenerative Medicine will discuss next gen cell based immunotherapies with panelists Robert Preti from Hitachi, Bob Azelby from Juno Therapeutics, Manuel Litchman from Mustang Bio, James Noble from Adaptimmunie, Pascal Touchon from Novartis and Scott Walchko from Fate Therapeutics.  Immunotherapies use body’s immune system’s natural capacity to detect and destroy abnormal cells. Immmunotherapies have generated great deal of interest, specifically for treatment of cancers because these regimens present fewer side effects and have less potential for creating resistance when treating microbial diseases.

Image result for gene therapyGene therapies using genes to treat or prevent diseases, indicate promising though yet risky treatment options. What does the future hold for gene therapies, specially beyond rare diseases?  Bill Lundberg from CRISPR and Geoff Nichol from Biomarin will discuss outlook for gene therapies.  

PS: Here is link to my earlier blog on disease areas that will generate interest and renewed attention in some of the panels . Registration is open for Biotech Showcase at or at




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કવિ ની માળી સાથે વાત (Poet talks to Gardner) – Poem

Reblogging my earlier poem with English translation….

Darshana Varia Nadkarni's Blog

Reblogging my earlier poem with English translation

Image result for flowers planted in rowsPoet’s talk with Gardner

Ah your garden’s pretty flowers! My garden grows words
You put flowers in rows, I arrange words in lines
Your seedlings yield pretty flowers and sweet fruits
My words form poetry, ties that bind us to our roots

માળી, તારા જેવો મારો બગીચો, આવ હિંચકે જુલ
ફરક માત્ર એક જ
મારા બગીચા માં ઉગે શબ્દો ના છોડવા, ખીલે શબ્દો ના ફૂલ

તું બીયા ને પાણી પાય ને તારો છોડ મોટો મોટો થાય
ધીમે ધીમે તેમ જ
મારા મગજ માં ઘૂમી રહેલા શબ્દો કવિતા માં બદલાય

તું ખાતર નાખે અને એક દિવસ નાના છોડ નું બને મોટું ઝાડ
વાક્યો ભેગા થાય એમ જ
અને અંતર ની લાગણીઓ પદ માં ગોઠવાય જયારે પાડું હું સાદ

તારી મહેનત ના બદલા માં જયારે આપે ઝાડ મીઠા ફળ
થાય મને તેવો જ રોમાંચ
જયારે પૂરી કવિતા બને અને મારી મહેનત થાય સફળ

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Biotech Showcase 2018 Preview: Disease focus: infectious diseases, metabolic syndrome, skin & more

Biotech Showcase taking place concurrently with the J P Morgan event in San Francisco in January 2018, is an investor and networking conference.  Many partnerships and collaborations will be forged with over over 7000 one on one meetings, with opportunities for eager innovators to seek out enthusiastic investors.  Besides one on one meetings, general sessions will focus on a number of disease areas that are significantly expected to impact the healthcare arena.  More blogs to follow and will highlight focus on new treatment modalities.

Image result for skin diseases highlight internal problemsA panel led by Jennifer Goldstein from Silicon Valley Bank will focus on body’s largest organ that is often misunderstood and frequently underrated, the skin. Panelists Alan Dunton from Purdue Pharma, David Giljohann from Exicure, Jennifer Good from Trevi Therapeutics, Shelley Harman from Aegle and Mark Wilson from MatriSys will discuss early signs and symptoms on the skin that often signal infectious and internal diseases.

Image result for antibiotic resistance, infectious diseaseAntimicrobial resistance or (AMR) is increasingly a prominent public health concern and has been highlighted by both WHO and CDC. Since the discovery of first antibiotic penicillin in 1928, more than 100 compounds have been created but no new class has been found. In panel moderated by Bibhash Mukhopadhyay at New Enterprise Associates, leading anti-microbial drug development experts, Alan Carr of Needham, Julia Gregory from Contrafect, Kenneth Hillan from Achaogen, Gregory Mario from Taxis Pharma, John Rex from F2G, and Chris Stevens from Arsanis will discuss the tailwinds and headwinds in this space that is getting a fresh second look from both experts and investors.

Image result for metabolic syndromeCurrent epidemic of metabolic syndrome will be the focus in a panel moderated by Philip Kenner from ClearView with panelists Deborah Dunsire from DTuit, Tomas Landh from Novo Nordisk, Harith Rajagopalan from Fractyl Labs, and Wendye Robbins from Blade Therapeutics. Having any one of the risk factors like high blood pressure, high blood sugar, obesity, high cholesterol, or high triglycerides can greatly increase health risk.  However having a cluster of these conditions together indicate metabolic syndrome and vastly increase health risk. Metabolic syndrome is on the rise, reaching epidemic proportions according to some health experts.

While JPM conference is by invitation only event, registration is open for Biotech Showcase at or at

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Year-end Review & Greetings: December, 2017 — Theme: Silence Breakers & Truth Tellers

This year has been a year of too much noise and everyone accusing others of spreading lies. Sometimes we have shouted louder for our truth to be heard and at times, we have spread deliberate and willful lies, all of it leading to great drama and divisiveness. World also witnessed Mugabe’s outster in Zimbabwe, Rohingya crisis on the border of Myanmar, Crown Prince Salman remaking Saudi Arabia, twitter war between leaders of N Korea and US, new daily revelations on #TrumpRussia scandal and more. In the US, as we focus inward and on “winning”, on “not being taken advantage of”, on frequent ritual of sycophantic praise of the head honcho, on taking care of the poor “wealthy” folks among us, perhaps we forget the cost of winning; winning at the expense of ignoring #ClimateChange (the impact of which will be felt for generations to come), winning small temporary #taxcut while giving the “poor” wealthy folks and corporations huge and permanent tax cuts (it may trickle down for a bit but will never ever be enough to offset and overcome the widening disparity), increasing deficit and leaving behind a humongus challenge for the next generation, with unnecessary stress on DACA dreamers and CHIP kids, questioning the very future that will have to be our savior some day.
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This has also been a funny year with our finances. On one hand, economy continues to soar, on the other hand, we are looking into the abyss with absolute lack of clarity on long term impact of the largest tax overhaul in history;  and this year has also cost us enormous money with weather related disasters. (By the way, India also had largest financial change with demonetization and as far as I know, the impact is still uncertain). With innocent sounding guests like Harvey, Irma and Maria bringing $200 billion in damage, 2017 hurricane season also became the most expensive hurricane season in history. Our forgotten brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico suffered most devastation. In a showdown of water and fire, in October, a series of 250 wild fires started burning across California and also proved to be most destructive, causing $9.4 billion in insured damages. Fires continued into November and engulfed Southern California in flames, later in the year.

Image result for silence breakersThis year however, was also a year of unity and hope, of people coming together with courage and having their voices heard (Colin Kaepernick), refusing to give on #ObamacareRepeal (and we learned that one voice, one vote can make a difference) . If we heard story after story of sexual harassment, if we felt a pervading sense of powerlessness, we also stood up to take our voices back. When I shared my story as #MeToo victim of harassment, I wasn’t just speaking for myself, I was also speaking for my sisters and daughters. The voices of the #SilenceBreakers were celebrated on the cover of Time magazine. But journey continues. There are more victims and more goals. Since the senseless and deadliest massacre in Las Vegas through barbaric semi automatic rifles, nearly 1000 more people have been killed and 2000 wounded in American gun violence.  Journey continues into discerning between truth and lies. Who are the truth tellers? Perhaps there is deep debt of gratitude we’ll have to pay some day to those on the front lines taking the blows, being dubbed fake, just for bringing to the surface facts from a barrage of lies, with no personal gains.  There are many who are trying to keep the focus on facts, in the midst of all the din, including late night hosts at Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Noah, Seth Meyers, Samantha Bee and others and many brave souls at CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, KEQD, NPR, and  major newspaper & magazine publications.
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Image result for 2017 newspaper articlesImage result for 2017 newspaper articlesImage result for 2017 newspaper articlesImage result for 2017 trump headlines

Image result for 2017 late night comedyImage result for 2017 late night comedy

We sailed through all the drama of 2017 because of unity in the midst of diversity, courage when faced with powerlessness, hope that we can and we will leave the planet a better place for our children, and coming together in celebration that makes #America such a vibrant #democracy . Nothing brings us #Americans together like a shadow of darkness. Total solar eclipse in August brought us together in unimagined ways, as we hugged total strangers, with a feeling of glee. Here’s link to my eclipse poem .

At the end of last year, I was overwhelmed with grief. I lost my mother in December and before that I grieved with many the loss of Hillary Clinton in the elections.  I continue to be inspired by my mother and all the powerful women who have been my friends and role models, as I charted new territories this year.  I am inspired by men in my life as well but uniquely influenced by my wonderful women friends, this year. Also this year, I broke my own silence, in speaking up for integrity, fairness, transparency, and justice; in speaking up with courage, but also compassion. Earlier in the year, I visited four beautiful cities in Europe (here’s link to my blog post, made a trip to Ashland Oregon Shakespeare Festival and enjoyed four incredible plays in three days, and later in the year, I went to India, with a goal larger than myself. I sought to bring together my extended family so we can put aside the differences and solve pending issues with integrity and fairness. Here’s link to my blog .  I am enormously proud and thrilled with the achievements of my son Neil, daughter Neesha and my nieces Ria and Nika — little blessings like these remind us that future  holds so much promise.

In looking back, 2017 has been a year of many “downs” and then some “ups” that vastly superseded the downs, made us stronger, more courageous, more focused, more united, more determined. I wish my readers, friends, and fans a wonderful holiday season and many blessings in the coming year.

Ending with this quote by Pamela Meyer: “Lying is a cooperative act. Think about it. A lie has no power whatsoever by its mere utterance. Its power emerges when someone else agrees to believe the lie”.    



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“Lady Bird” – Movie Review

Lady Bird, written and directed by Greta Gerwig is a beautiful film about tender and turbulent ties that bind mothers and daughters. Marion McPherson (Laurie Metcalf) is a working woman, relentlessly focused on keeping her family afloat after the loss of her husband’s (Tracy Letts) job. She is also annoyingly controlling, deeply opinionated, and committedly compassionate.

Image result for lady bird movieQualities that we can live with and even find charming in other people’s mothers, are not necessarily so charming in our own mothers, and certainly not during the turbulent teen years, marked by hormones and rebellion, boyfriends and temptations. Saoirse Ronan is brilliant in the role of Marion’s daughter, Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson” (I am a devoted fan now). It is heart wrenching when she tells her nagging mother, “I am sorry I am not perfect”.

Lady Bird is not happy with the idea of going to college in Sacramento, close to her family’s home.  Her eyes are set on New York. “I want to go where culture is”, she says. But her mother prefers that Lady Bird stay closer and go to in-state school and get a break on tuition.

Image result for lady bird movieIt falls on Lady Bird’s father to play a go-between in the conflicts of his wife and daughter. He is intuitively aware that even when daughters stray far physically or emotionally from their roots, they always come back and he assures Marion “she’ll be back, she’ll come back”.

Lady Bird keenly observes her town and surroundings, and approaches what she sees with a fresh perspective. Her principal congratulates her for writing a beautiful essay on Sacramento and opines that what comes through from the essay is her love for Sacramento. Lady Bird casually responds, “I just pay attention” and the principal says paying attention is in fact, a measure of love. It is only when Lady Bird goes far from her home that she gets an epiphany that it was her mother, who paid the most attention to her needs and milestones.

This is a beautiful film that focuses on subtle mother daughter conflicts and manages to avoid being overly dramatic. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate the film as 4.6.

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India Trip – Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra: People, places, possibilities, pant suits & palazzos – Oct-Nov, 2017

IMG_20171109_163518289.jpgThis time my India trip was all about people.  I had many discussions around religious beliefs, stayed in many homes, debated and discussed what needs fixing (and there is a lot and mostly I did not bring this up) and what works and why and of course enjoyed world’s most incredible diverse range of cuisine available; enjoyed gawking at incredible, ever evolving, new fashionable clothing like gowns, pant suits and palazzos, and breathtakingly gorgeous jewellery.  

Kerala: Diversity of fruits, plants and foliage all growing together and jostling for space and thriving alongside each other in Kerala is just astounding... And amidst vast tea plantations, valleys full of cardamom trees, are bamboo, jackfruit, coffee, Cocoa, plantains, banana, cloves, tons of green peppercorns, cloves, supari, papaya, guava, sitafal, mango and more. And all these teaming with equally diverse animal life including taher mountain goats, elephants, possums and vast vast varieties of birds like maina, bluebirds etc. My friend who accompanied me was like a walking encyclopedia on all native plants and pointed out each variety as we passed them by.  Enjoyed chilling in house boat at Alleppey and enjoyed touring amazing Thekkady, Munnar in “God’s own country”, Kerala.



God-crazy India – Slightly with a sense of alarm and slightly lovingly, I wonder if India has gone God crazy.. I  found that there is a segment of Indian population that has clearly become more secular and refuse to partake in religion fueled divisiveness. Then there is a substantial segment that has become clearly much more religious. In the early morning of the day I landed and went to a small eatery, the waiter went and poured tea on a nearby tree and when questioned by me, explained that first tea has to go to the tree. Gods, rituals, and shrines keep multiplying in India and practically every Indian has a real ghost story. In one city, the government installed artistic statues of deities in the middle of four way streets to beautify the place. Very soon people began to go there and started praying there. I found catholics fiercely differentiating themselves from their closest siblings, the protestants.  A Shiya Muslim cab driver was staunchly asserting that Hindus don’t understand the differences but all terrorist acts are always carried out by Sunnis and unequivocally stated there can never be peace between Shiyas and Sunnis. When my friend asked the cabbie to stop at a spirits store to purchase a bottle of alcohol, he said we should have said it earlier and then he would not have accepted us as passengers because it was against his religion to enable people to drink.


A Hindu woman protested the assertion by Jains and Buddhists to be counted as separate religions because according to her they are all offshoot of Hinduism. Jains fear being swallowed and losing their identity in the amorphous and boundaryless system of Hinduism and equally staunchly assert their identity. And finally, as a most interesting experience, a Jain woman asserted how important are the differences between two sects of Jainism. One of the outward difference between the two sects of Jainism is that God keeps eyes open in one and halfway closed in the other. When I said it was a superficial difference, she explained how significant it was that the God kept the eyes halfway closed (never mind, that the statues are made by people).

I came away feeling more like Ron Reagan Junior (an active atheist). One atheist famously has said, “most people are atheists anyway about most religions, I just go one religion too far”.

Clothes Crazy India: Somehow I came away feeling like all of India and not Paris should be dubbed the fashion capital of the world. Incredible innovation in clothing styles and jewellery has made every Indian woman a fashionista, be it a cleaning woman, a beggar on the street or one living in a big mansion. There are incredible styles of clothes available to suit every pocket, everyone’s choice of color, style and size. In amazement, I stared at billboards and loved gawking and people watching at airports, hotels and on streets.

Enormously hospitable and friendly India – During this trip to India, I stayed in many homes, connected with my cousins on mother’s side, father’s side, with friends and neighbors from early childhood and from school and college days and with friends visiting from California and their families and friends in India. My cousins, friends, neighbors, friends’ friends and families and strangers in whose orbit I came, accepted me as their own, and at the same time, gave me the best things, fed the best items. My heart was filled with love and gratitude in each home that I visited, and in each interaction. Even when people held different beliefs than mine, even when I questioned and debated, in the end, I was in their orbit and I was accepted based our similarity as humans.  Over and over people told me that they loved to have me because I was so genuine and adaptable and I responded always that how can anyone not adapt when surrounded by such love and hospitality? I left eagerly for my homeland, but I left my motherland with a heavy heart. As I reminisce, I don’t miss the noise (it seems in India, there is a competition to rise above the din, bells in the temples are loudest, cars and scooters honk for no reason, people burst reams of firecrackers that last full 2-3 minutes when you cannot talk with the person sitting next to you inside a home, and even babies cry louder here). I don’t miss the air pollution (I yearned for a deep breath of fresh there). I don’t miss the dirt and grime (though there is considerable improvement in that). But I do deeply miss and remember people and their love, possibilities that exist, palazzos and pantsuits, gorgeous gowns, sarees and fashionable blouses that I wasn’t able to take my eyes off, the potential that India holds.





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Tumhari Sulu – Movie Review

Unlike a typical feminist Bollywood heroine, Sulochana or Sulu (Vidya Balan) in this movie, is neither excelling in athletics (Mary Kom or Chak De India), nor is she on a mission (Kahaani), nor is she fighting for a right cause (Mardaani). Instead, film “Tumhari Sulu”, written and directed by Suresh Triven, is about a typical middle class suburban “housewife”, beaten down by her more ambitious and traditional family, buoyed by her love for her husband and son, and occasionally dreaming of a better life and yet perfectly happy with her life as it is.

Image result for tumhari suluSulu’s life takes a turn when her obsession with entering small contests and winning prizes lands her in the role of a nighttime RJ and catapults her to fame. Her husband Ashok (Manav Kaul) works as a manager in a small tailoring firm and puts up with inefficiency, disdain and insults from his bosses, just to bring home a paycheck.  With his wife’s entry into the workplace and resulting fame, Ashok not only has to deal with his work pressures in a dead end job, but has to pull higher load of responsibilities on the home front, while he is forced to listen to judgmental comments from others about his wife’s career.

How will Ashok and Sulu’s family resolve the new challenge that is rocking their relationship? Vidya Balan is highly entertaining as Sulu and Manav Kaul has played a strong supportive role. The challenges faced by this family may easily mirror those faced by many suburban middle class families and their experiences when gender roles go through a ringer. With fabulous cast and excellent subject matter, this film had a huge potential to be one of the social blockbuster films. Instead with unnecessarily elongated time, useless songs, weak climax and slow meandering pace, it seems to lose focus and fails to leave a mark.

On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate it a 3.2 .

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JOBS: November, 2017

Image result for jobsPlease see opportunities below. All opportunities are for local candidates with valid work visa. If you have an interest then please send an email (resume as an attachment) at wd_darshana at hot mail dot com.  As more details will become available for opportunities, I will update and post them here.

Senior Mechanical Engineer with Exceptional Design & Analytical Skills: San Jose, CA

There is an exciting opportunity in San Jose, CA for senior mechanical engineer to work in the design of a smart drug delivery pill with an aim to optimize the efficiency and reliability of the device, working in a multi-disciplinary team environment. This is uniquely exciting opportunity with serious potential.

Responsibilities: develop subassemblies with considerations for mechanical performance, safety requirements, and reliability for a drug delivering device; Develop product requirement specs from testing and development of prototypes and input from regulatory and marketing; Iterate design quickly; Design for high volume disposable device; Participate in design FMEA’s and plan steps for mitigating risks; Perform component verification testing and product validation testing; Collaborate with manufacturing to create product assembly tooling, fixtures and instructions; Provide engineering support to manufacturing by trouble shooting process and component problems on the pilot manufacturing line; Responsible for selecting and managing vendors

Familiarity with SolidWorks or other CAD software, ability to develop unique mechanical tests to optimize prototype, fluent understanding of solid mechanical design required. MS in Mechanical Engineering plus 7 years of industry experience preferred. Familiarity with molding processes and designing plastic parts and process development work such as bonding plastic parts or dip coating, a huge plus. 

Mechatronics Engineer – Santa Cruz, CA (requires 2+ years of experience) offers exciting opportunity to work with a veteran leader in a disruptive neuromodulation technology.

Senior Mechanical Engineer – Milpitas, CA (requires 15+ years of class 3 medical device experience)

Junior Mechanical Engineer – Milpitas, CA   (requires 4+ years of medical device experience)

Manufacturing Engineer – San Jose, CA (with 5+ years experience in machine design, fixtures & fabrication)

Technician – San Jose, CA (with 5+ years experience in fabricating fixtures & bench testing experience)

Assembler (with 5+ years experience in mechanical assembly skills)

ME Technician – San Jose, CA (requires 5+ years experience)

Battery Manufacturing Engineer – Milpitas, CA (requires Chemical Engineering background plus experience in process development.

Reliability Engineer – San Jose, CA

Senior Biochemist – San Jose, CA

Pharmacokinetist – San Jose, CA

Marketing Director – Santa Cruz, CA – To help establish commercialization and reimbursement strategy for exciting neuromodulation technology.

Clinical Director – Milpitas, CA

Lab Director  – Milpitas, CA

Regulatory Director – Milpitas, CA

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JOBS – October, 2017

Image result for jobsAll below opportunities are in the US and require valid US work visa and prior experience in biomedical industry.  If interested in any opportunities below, please send me an email (resume as an attachment) and include position title in the subject line.  You can also find me on LinkedIn. (Or send me a message with title of the position that interests you, how it matches your background & your contact info). Emails with proper subject line, some details in the body of the email to my hot mail address or linkedin will get quicker response.
PS: If you are looking for outstanding contract engineering expertise with mechanical and electro- mechanical systems for medical devices including small scale manufacturing expertise for regulatory submissions etc., then let me know and I will be happy to connect you with couple of companies in the bay area, CA.

Mechatronics Engineer – Santa Cruz, CA (requires 2+ years of experience) offers exciting opportunity to work with a veteran leader in a disruptive neuromodulation technology.

Senior Mechanical Engineer – Milpitas, CA (requires 15+ years of class 3 medical device experience)

Junior Mechanical Engineer – Milpitas, CA   (requires 4+ years of medical device experience)

Manufacturing Engineer – San Jose, CA (with 5+ years experience in machine design, fixtures & fabrication)

Technician – San Jose, CA (with 5+ years experience in fabricating fixtures & bench testing experience)

Assembler (with 5+ years experience in mechanical assembly skills)

ME Technician – San Jose, CA (requires 5+ years experience)

Battery Manufacturing Engineer – Milpitas, CA (requires Chemical Engineering background plus experience in process development.

Reliability Engineer – San Jose, CA

Senior Biochemist – San Jose, CA

Pharmacokinetist – San Jose, CA

Marketing Director – Santa Cruz, CA – To help establish commercialization and reimbursement strategy for exciting neuromodulation technology.

Clinical Director – Milpitas, CA

Lab Director  – Milpitas, CA

Regulatory Director – Milpitas, CA



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“ગોરી રાધા ને કાળો કાન” – પ્રતિલિપિ વાર્તાસ્પર્ધા: Gujarati Short Story

પ્રતિલિપિ વાર્તા સ્પર્ધા નો વિષય છે ગોરી રાધા ને કાળો કાન. નીચેની વાર્તા તેમાં દાખલ કરેલ છે. તમારા અભિપ્રાય જાણવા માટે આતુર છું. ગમે તો blog ઉપર five star નું રેટિંગ આપી શકો છો.

“ગોરી રાધા ને કાળો કાન” – પ્રતિલિપિ વાર્તાસ્પર્ધા
  સમર્પિત કરનાર – દર્શના વરિયા નાડકર્ણી

નમણી નાજુક અને ગોરી રાધાને પહેલેથીજ ભણવામાં ખુબ રસ હતો. તેમજ તેને જર્નાલિઝમ અને સિવિલ રાઇટ્સ માં પણ ખુબ રસ હતો. કેલિફોર્નિયામાં મોટી થયેલી રાધા નિશાળમાં હંમેશા પ્રમુખ સ્થાન ધરાવતી। નિશાળની સમાચાર પત્રિકાની સંપાદક બનેલ અને દેશને અને સમાજને લગતા ચર્ચાસ્પદ વિષયો ઉપર વિશ્લેષણ આપતી। તેણે  સ્ટુડન્ટ યુનિયન નું  પ્રમુખપદ પણ ધારણ કરેલ। રાધાના મમ્મી પપ્પા સુરત પાસેના નાના ગામ માંથી રાધાની માસી ના સ્પોન્સરશિપ ઉપર કેલિફોર્નિયા આવ્યા અને મોટેલ માં કામ શરુ કરેલ ત્યારથી તેઓએ એકજ લક્ષ્ય રાખેલ કે રાધા અને તેના ભાઈ ગોવિંદ ને ખુબ ભણવાની તક અને બધી સુવિધા આપવી। રાધાથી દોઢ વર્ષજ નાનો ગોવિંદ રાધા જેમ જ ભણવામાં હોંશિયાર પણ રાધા કરતા ઘણો કહ્યાગરો। રાધા દરેક બાબતમાં જુદી દ્રષ્ટિ ગોતે અને વાતે વાતે ચર્ચામાં ઉતરે જયારે ગોવિંદ નું ધ્યાન માત્ર ભણવા ઉપર. ગોવિંદ ને વિજ્ઞાન અને એન્જિનિરીંગ માં રસ. બંને સારા માર્ક થી પાસ થયા પછી બંને આગળ ભણશે તે તો નક્કીજ હતું પણ કઈ તરફ વળશે તેના ઉપર તેઓના કઝીનો ઘણી ચર્ચા કરતા। ગોવિંદને મેડિસિન માં પણ રસ હતો અને એન્જિનિરીંગ માં પણ તેટલોજ રસ હતો. જયારે રાધાતો વહેલી કે મોડી પોલિટિક્સ માંજ ઝંપલાવશે તેવું લાગતું હતું।

પણ પોલિટિક્સ ને બદલે રાધાએ અમેરિકાની સૌથી ઉત્તમ લો કોલેજ યેલ માં ભણવાનું નિરધાર્યું। તેને સિવિલ રાઇટ્સ લો પ્રેકટીસ કરવામાં રસ હતો. કોલેજ માં પહેલા વર્ષમાં ઇન્ટર્નશિપ કરતા જ તેને પહેલો મોકો મળ્યો પ્રેસિડન્ટ ટ્રમ્પ ના ઇમિગ્રેશન કાયદા નીચે ફસાયેલા નિર્દોષ લોકોની મદદ કરવાનો। ત્યાં કામ કરતી વખતે તેની શામ સાથે ઓળખાણ થઇ. શામ પણ રાધા જેટલોજ પ્રતિબદ્ધ હતો. પણ રાધા જેટલી જલ્દી ઉશ્કેરાય જાય તેટલોજ શામ શાંતિથી વિચારીને નિવારણ કાઢે। શરૂઆત માં રાધા શામ ની શાંતતા ઉપર ચિડાઈ જતી. ધીમે ધીમે બંને વચ્ચે પ્રેમ જાગ્યો અને એ પછી પણ રાધા શામ ને ક્યારેક ચીડવતી કે શામ તને દુનિયાની અસમાનતા અને ભેદભાવ જોઈને ગુસ્સો ક્યારે આવશે? પણ લો કોલેજ ના ચાર વર્ષ પતવા આવ્યા ત્યાં સુધીમાં રાધાએ જોયું કે જે કામ સહેલાઈથી અને શાંતિથી શામ પતાવી શકે છે તેવું ભાગ્યેજ બીજા કોઈ કરી શકે. ધીમે ધીમે રાધાને શામ ઉપર પ્રેમજ નહિ માન થવા લાગ્યું।

ઘણા વર્ષોનો બંને નો ગહેરો પ્રેમ હતો પરંતુ શામ ને ઘરે લઇ જવાની રાધાની હિમ્મત જ નતી. શામ નું કુટુંબ મિસિસિપી માં રહેતું હતું અને શામ સાથે રાધા તેની ઘરે તે બે વખત જઈ આવેલ। શામ ની મોમ ને મળીને રાધા તાજ્જુબ થઇ ગયેલ। તે મિસિસિપીમાં સિવિલ રાઇટ્સ લો પ્રેકટીસ કરતી હતી અને લો સરકલ્સ માં તેનું ખુબજ મોટું નામ હતું। શામ તેની પોતાની પરિપૂર્ણતાની બધીજ ક્રેડિટ તેની મોમ ને દેતો। નાની ઉંમરમાં તેના ડેડ નું અવસાન થતા બધી જવાબદારી તેની મોમ ઉપર આવેલ અને તેણે શામ અને તેની બહેન રીટા ને મોટા કરેલ। શામ ના ગ્રેજ્યુએશન ઉપર શામ ની મોમ, તેની બહેન, તેની નાની, દાદી, આંટી, અંકલ અને તેના બે કઝીન આવેલ અને બધા રાધાને મળીને ખુબ ખુશ થયેલ। બીજા વર્ષે રાધાનું ગ્રેજ્યુએશન હતું અને તેના મમ્મી પપ્પા અને ગોવિંદ અને માસી આવેલ। ગ્રેજ્યુએશન પાર્ટીમાં રાધાએ બધા મિત્રોની સાથે શામ ને બોલાવેલ અને તેણે જોયું કે શામ ખુબ નિખાલસતાથી તેના કુટુંબીજનો જોડે વાત કરતો હતો અને તેઓને નાની નાની મદદ પણ કરતો હતો. છતાં પણ રાધાની હિમ્મત ન ચાલી કે તેઓને તેના પ્રણય ની વાત કરે. શામ શાંત સ્વભાવ નો હતો અને જાણતો હતો કે સમય થશે ત્યારે રાધા વાત તો કરશેજ। પણ રાધા ને ઘણી વખત બીક લાગતી કે શામ ની ધીરજ ખૂટી જશે.

શામ ને વૉશિન્ગટન ડી સી ની ઉચ્ચ  લો ફર્મ માં ખુબ સારી નોકરી મળી અને બંને રાધા માટે પણ ત્યાંજ નોકરી ની તપાસ કરતા હતા તેવામાં એક કરુણ  બનાવ બન્યો। રાધાના ભાઈ ગોવિંદ ને કેન્સર નો હુમલો થયો. રાધાએ તુરંતજ કેલિફોર્નિયા માં તેના મમ્મી પપ્પા અને ભાઈ પાસે જ નોકરી શોધવાનો નિર્યણ કર્યો। જોકે નોકરી મળતા અને કેલિફોર્નિયા શિફ્ટ થતા થોડો સમય ગયો. શામ પણ નોકરી બદલીને  કેલિફોર્નિયા આવવા માટે તૈયાર હતો પણ રાધાએ ના કહી. ગોવિંદને થોડી સારવાર અને કેમોથેરાપી પછી બોન મેરો ટ્રાન્સપ્લાન્ટ ની જરૂર પડી. જે બધા મેરો ડોનેટ કરવા તૈયાર હતા તે કોઈનું તેની સાથે મેચ આવતું નહિ હોવાથી બધા ખુબજ બેચેની માં હતા.

Image result for indian woman and black manરાધાને શિફ્ટ થઇ અને આવ્યાને અઠવાડિયું જ થયું હતું તેવામાં એક દિવસ ઘંટડી વાગી અને રાધાની મમ્મીએ દરવાજો ખોલ્યો તો બહાર શામ ઉભો હતો. તેઓ પહેલા ઓળખી ન શક્યા અને શામે  ઓળખાણ આપી હું રાધાનો મિત્ર શામ. તેની મમ્મી કહે બેટા  અંદર આવ અને રાધાને જઈને કહે રાધા આ સમયે તારો મિત્ર શામ કેમ અહીં આવ્યો છે? રાધાને ફાળ પડી કે શામ ની ધીરજ નો અંત આવ્યો હશે તેથી જ કઈ પણ બોલ્યા વગર તે સીધો ઘરે આવી ચડ્યો। તે બહાર આવીને શામ ને પૂછે તે પહેલાજ શામ બોલ્યો રાધા તારા ભાઈને મેરો ની જરૂર છે તો હું ડોનેટ કરવા માટે આજેજ ફ્લાઇટ લઈને આવ્યો છું. રાધા ના મમ્મી પપ્પા તાકી રહ્યા। બીજા દિવસે ડોક્ટર ની એપોઇન્ટમેન્ટ લઈને ગયા તો બરોબર મેચ આવ્યું અને મૅરોના ડોનેશન ની કાર્યવાહી શરુ થઇ.

ડોનેશન પત્યા પછી જુદા જુદા રૂમમાં ગોવિંદ અને શામ રિકવર થતા હતા. શામની ખબર પૂછી અને રાધા ગોવિંદ પાસે પહોંચી। તેના મમ્મી પપ્પા કેન્ટીન માં ગયા. ગોવિંદ ગળગળો થઇ અને રાધાને કહેવા લાગ્યો કે તે શામ નો  ખુબજ આભારી છે. રાધાની આંખમાં પણ આંસુ આવી ગયા. તે કહે, ગોવિંદ હું તને એક  વાત કહેવા માંગુ છું પણ મમ્મી પપ્પાને કહીશ નહિ. આ શામ મારો મિત્ર જ નહિ પણ મારો પ્રેમી છે અને આ વર્ષે જ મારે તેની જોડે લગ્ન કરવા છે. પણ મમ્મી પપ્પાને આ વાત કેમ કહેવી તેનોજ મને ડર છે. શામ ના ડેડ મેક્સીકન હતા તેથી શામ અતિ કાળો નથી. પણ તેની મોમ આફ્રિકન અમેરિકન છે. અને તને તો ખબર છે કે તે લોકો સાથે આપણા કુટુંબ માં કેટલો પૂર્વગ્રહ છે.

ગોવિંદ કહે – અરે રાધા આટલી હિમ્મત થી તું જીવે છે અને ઉચ્ચ શિક્ષણ અને નામ હાંસલ કરે છે અને જયારે ખરી પરીક્ષા આવી ત્યારે તો તે મિંડુંજ વાળ્યું ને? તું તેના રંગને પ્રેમ કરે છે કે તને માન છે તેના ચારિત્ર તેની માણસાઈ તેની માનવતા અને લાગણીશીલ સ્વભાવ ઉપર? રાધા ક્યે, ગોવિંદ તું તો મમ્મી પપ્પા નો  માનીતો જ રહેવાનો પણ મારી જગ્યાએ તું હોય ને તો તું પણ આ વાત કહેતા ડરે. ગોવિંદ ક્યે, અરે બહેના, મને પણ એક છોકરી પસંદ છે અને માન, ન માન  પણ તે છોકરી મારી સાથે કોર્નેલ માં ભણતી હતી અને તે પણ આફ્રિકન અમેરિકન છે. રાધા ક્યે, તો તે કેમ આ વાત તેઓને જણાવી નથી? ગોવિંદ ક્યે, મેં તો તેઓને ક્યારનું કહ્યું છે. પહેલા થોડા નારાજ થયા પછી તેઓએ સ્વીકારી પણ લીધું છે. તે અઠવાડિયા પહેલાજ અહીં નોકરી લીધી અને આપણે બધા મારા માટે મેરો શોધવા માં વ્યસ્થ હતા અને તારી નવી નોકરી હતી એટલે કહેવાનો સમય ન મળ્યો। પણ તારા આવ્યા પહેલા જ એ આવેલી અને આપણે ત્યાં બે દિવસ રહી. તેને પણ મેરો ડોનેટ કરવો હતો પણ મેચ ન થયો. પણ બે દિવસમાં તેણે બધાને જીતી લીધા છે. અરે આપણા કોલેજ ગયા પછી મમ્મી પપ્પા પણ મસ્ત અને વરણાગી બની ગયા છે.  તેં  સામ ને શામ કરી નાખ્યો છે તેમ પપ્પાએ મેરી ને મીરા બનાવી નાખી છે. તે તો મમ્મીને કહેતા હતા કે, અપના ગોવિંદ હે ગોરા ઔર મીરા તો કાલી। તો મમ્મી ક્યે, ગોવિંદ ભી પ્યારા ઔર મીરા ભી પ્યારી।

હવે કૈક નવું ગીત બનાવશે “ગોરી રાધા ને કાળો શામ, શામ સીધો સાદો ને રાધા જિદ્દી અમારી”. રાધા ગોવિંદ ને ટપલું મારવા ઉઠી પછી બોલી, પહેલા સાજો થઇ જા પછી તારો એક સાથે બદલો લઈશ.

વાર્તાઓ તથા કાવ્યો આ  બ્લોગ ઉપર જરૂર વાંચશો.


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