Sep 28, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced the approval of an Australian-made influenza vaccine called Afluria for use in adults, raising the number of US-licensed flu vaccines to six.The vaccine, made by CSL Limited, based in Parkville, Australia, was approved for protecting people aged 18 and older from type A and B influenza viruses.Like most flu vaccines, Afluria contains inactivated (killed) flu viruses grown in chicken eggs. People who are allergic to eggs should not receive the vaccine, the FDA said in a news release.The vaccine is given as a single injection in the upper arm. It will be available in single dose, preservative-free syringes and in multiple-dose vials containing thimerosal, a mercury compound, as a preservative, the FDA said.CSL expects to supply up to 2 million doses of the vaccine in the United States this season, according to Paul Perreault, executive vice president of commercial operations for the company’s US division, CSL Biotherapies, based in King of Prussia, Pa. Plans call for delivering all the doses to the United States by the end of October, the company said in a news release today.The FDA said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that the six vaccine makers will supply a record total of 132 million doses of flu vaccine in the United States this year. The CDC had cited the same figure at a news conference last week, without mentioning the CSL vaccine.”The licensure of this additional flu vaccine contributes to having an adequate supply of seasonal influenza vaccine for Americans, one of FDA’s highest priorities,” said Jesse L. Goodman, MD, MPH, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in the agency news release.CSL Biotherapies announced its filing for FDA approval of Afluria in April. The application included the results of a phase 3, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial that involved 1,357 volunteers at nine US sites, the company news release said. Sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the study evaluated the safety and immunogenicity of thimerosal-free and thimerosal-containing formulations of the vaccine.The FDA used its accelerated approval pathway in evaluating the vaccine. “The manufacturer demonstrated that the vaccine induced levels of antibodies in the blood likely to be effective in preventing seasonal influenza,” the agency said. “As part of the accelerated approval process, the manufacturer will conduct further studies to verify that the vaccine decreases seasonal influenza disease after vaccination.”CSL-branded flu vaccines are approved and sold in 16 countries, and the company provides bulk antigen for flu vaccines sold in 24 countries, according to the CSL news release. Officials said the company has been making flu vaccines for 40 years.Perreault told CIDRAP News that the bulk antigen for the vaccine is made in Australia, and this year the product will be finished and packaged in a facility in Germany. But in the future the finishing and packaging will be moved to a CSL plant in Kankakee, Ill., he said.In August, CSL announced plans to expand the Kankakee plant by adding a line to fill single-dose syringes. The company plans to start operating the line and packaging flu vaccine at the plant in 2010, according to the August announcement.Last year CSL announced it would spend $60 million to double the capacity of the company’s Melbourne, Australia, plant to 40 million doses per year, making it one of the largest flu vaccine production facilities in the world.Other injectable flu vaccines licensed in the United States, with their manufacturers, are FluLaval, ID Biomedical; Fluarix, GlaxoSmithKline; Fluzone, Sanofi Pasteur; and Fluvirin, Novartis. The other licensed product is FluMist, the nasal-spray vaccine made by MedImmune.See also: Sep 28 FDA news releasehttp://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2007/NEW01714.htmlSep 28 CSL Biotherapies news releaseOct 5, 2006, CIDRAP News story “FDA approves 5th flu vaccine”
ALAMEDA — Jon Gruden has publicly praised quarterback Derek Carr too many times to count.New general manager Mike Mayock chimed in at the NFL scouting combine, calling Carr a “franchise” quarterback.Given the way Gruden ran through quarterbacks not named Rich Gannon during his first tenure as a head coach with the Raiders and Bucs, he’s viewed with some skepticism. When it comes to free agency, which begins March 13, it’s clear Carr has no worries. Nor does he in the draft, …
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The Jan. 12 USDA report day was neutral for corn and soybeans, bearish for wheat. The good news from that report for corn and soybeans — it was not a bearish report. The bad news from that report for corn and soybeans — it was not a bullish report. The Jan. 12 report day has been long anticipated in the market to provide additional insights into price direction for corn, soybeans, and wheat. The trade had expected the U.S. corn yield to increase while the U.S. soybean yield was expected to decline. Both took place as expected. USDA put the U.S. 2017 corn yield at 176.6 bushels per acre, up from the November estimate of 175.4.That same report had the U.S. soybeans yield reduced slightly to 49.1 bushels per acre. Soybean exports were cut resulting in an increase for ending stocks. All three events were anticipated, providing no surprise for the markets. The surprise for the day came for wheat. U.S. wheat acres were higher than expected and quarterly grain stocks were higher than expected. In addition, Russia wheat production was higher than expected.I recently attended the annual ADMIS broker conference. Here are some items I gleaned from that conference. Russia continues to be on a break-neck pace for wheat production. This coming year they are expected to produce 85 million tons of wheat. Their goal is to produce 100 million tons in the next five years as their yields are up an astounding 80% in only five years. Gone are the 1980s and the old collective farm method of raising grain. They have made huge incentives to their farmers as 25 years ago they were the world’s largest importer of grains. Today they are the world’s largest exporter of grains. The U.S. percentage of corn, soybean, and wheat exports has shrunk drastically. Twenty years ago the U.S. accounted for 62% of the world’s exports for corn, soybeans, and wheat. Today the U.S. accounts for just 28%.Continuing from that conference, the U.S. is awash with grain and huge ending stocks. Global increases of land added into grain production means that more land in the world is now producing grains. With current costs, the U.S. farmer now occupies the unfortunate distinction of being the highest cost producer in the world for corn, soybeans, and wheat. As costs have increased here in the U.S., they have not increased at the same rate for other producers around the world. The stark reality is that U.S. farm income is only 50% of that seen in 2010-2012. World demand for grain has been increasing along with world grain production.It will take a weather problem not evident today to help move us out of this price conundrum. China is moving at breakneck speed to get 36 mega ethanol plants into production within the next two to three years. The goal is to drastically reduce their well-documented huge pollution problem as an untold number of coal consuming factories have already been mothballed. Those new plants could be consuming 1.5 billion bushels of corn annually when in full production. Down the road the U.S. could once again be exporting corn into China. Also learned was to ignore the notion of China having economic woes. Their economy is growing at 6% to 10% a year. A 10% yearly growth means their economy is doubling in just seven years. While China admits being a communist country, they have embraced beyond measure the capitalist economy and its benefits.Agriculture has some worries ahead with the continued talk of NAFTA being dismantled. One speaker at the Florida conference had concerns with President Trump and NAFTA as this thought was revealed: “President Trump likes to break things to put them back tougher. NAFTA put back together gains nothing for agriculture the second time around.”Corn export demand is showing signs of moving out of the doldrums. U.S. export sales of corn mid-January were 74 million bushels, the second highest weekly total since Sept. 1. South America weather problems could bolster U.S. corn and soybean exports.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Chris ClaytonDTN Ag Policy EditorOMAHA (DTN) — While trade talks with China remain off again, on again, the battle over intellectual property theft of agricultural technology continues with the indictment of a former scientist at Monsanto and The Climate Corporation.Haitao Xiang, 42, was formally indicted Thursday by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Missouri more than two years after he was arrested trying to leave the U.S. for China in June 2017. Xiang was caught boarding a plane with trade-secret technology copied onto a micro SD card.The grand jury indicted Xiang for three counts of economic espionage and conspiracy to commit economic espionage, three counts of trade secret theft and one count of conspiracy to steal trade secrets. The economic espionage charges can carry up to 15 years in prison for each count, and the trade secret charges can carry up to 10 years in prison.China’s unwillingness to stop intellectual property theft remains one of the biggest unresolved issues in trade talks with the Trump administration.The U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations just this week released a report and held a hearing on China’s strategy of recruiting talent who would steal trade secrets for the country.The Senate report largely focused on Chinese theft from public U.S. institutions, noting billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded research “has contributed to China’s global rise over the last 20 years. During that time, China openly recruited U.S.-based researchers, scientists and experts in the public and private sector to provide China with knowledge and intellectual capital in exchange for monetary gain and other benefits.” https://bit.ly/…Xiang’s case highlights how that recruitment works.Xiang, 42, worked for nearly a decade as an advanced imaging scientist at The Climate Corporation, focusing on remote sensing work to estimate soil properties using satellite imagery, the indictment states. A permanent U.S. resident with Chinese citizenship, Xiang worked on the “Nutrient Optimizer” product that was part of an online farming software platform.The indictment notes the Chinese government established a national policy — “talent programs” — to identify and recruit people outside of China who have “expert skills, abilities and knowledge that could aid in transforming China’s economy.”One of the highest levels of those programs was the “Hundred Talents Program” in top research fields. Recruits to these talent programs were sought out to work for the Chinese government in specific areas of research. That typically required replicating key areas of research and development on intellectual property.The Climate Corporation and Monsanto have worked for years on platforms to visualize important agronomic field data and collect and store that information. The precision-agriculture tools help farmers with various agronomic decisions such as customizing fertilizer plans and seeding rates. The foundation of the Nutrient Optimizer is a “point-based biogeochemical process model that simulated biological, chemical, hydrological, and thermal processes occurring within an agricultural field.”The Nutrient Optimizer is an essential part of those digital software services, and Monsanto considers the information about it as confidential, proprietary and a trade secret, the indictment points out. The digital tool is sold both in the U.S. and internationally.Monsanto and The Climate Corporation took several steps to protect the technology around the Nutrient Optimizer, which included restricted access to facilities, video security cameras on the premises, log-in passwords for computers, nondisclosure agreements with employees, identification badges and annual training with employees on the protection of trade secrets.At some point, Xiang began sending information about his work to people in China. From at least June 2015 until June 10, 2017, while working for The Climate Corporation, Xiang began communicating about his work with people within the Chinese government about potential jobs at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Nanjing Institute of Soil Science. Xiang was then recruited by the Hundred Talents Program, the indictment states.Xiang then allegedly traveled in both the U.S. and China, talking about his knowledge and skills. From March 2014 until June 2017, Xiang also “copied, duplicated, transmitted and downloaded the Nutrient Optimizer from Monsanto systems.”In February 2016, Xiang had several communications with recruiters from the Chinese talent program and officially submitted an application. In describing his talents and abilities, Xiang stated he could do things that could only happen by duplicating the Nutrient Optimizer and its digital platform, the indictment states.In what might have been Xiang’s undoing, the indictment also states Xiang conducted some Google searches on a Monsanto computer looking for information on ways to avoid intellectual property theft being used as “evidence.”Starting in April 2016 and running through at least November that year, Xiang traveled again to China to interview for a position at the Nanjing Institute of Soil Science and was considered a candidate for a job there. Through May of 2017, Xiang went back and forth with people located in China about his possible job, compensation, benefits and research he would conduct.Xiang told Monsanto and The Climate Corporation on May 24, 2017, he would resign from his job, and he left the position on June 9, 2017. In an exit interview, Xiang said he had shredded all physical documents related to his work and did not keep any electronic storage devices are hard drives containing Monsanto and The Climate Corporation property. He also stated he had not sent any such information to his private email address. Xiang certified to the companies he did not keep any confidential information or trade secrets related to Monsanto and Climate Corp.During his exit interview, the indictment states, Xiang was confronted about some of his Google searches. Yet, the indictment states, “After completing his interview … Xiang copied and downloaded the Nutrient Optimizer to a Micro SD Card, and drove from St. Louis, Missouri, to Chicago O’Hare airport.” Xiang bought a same-day, one-way ticket to China, but was arrested at the airport.“Xiang promoted himself to the Chinese government based on his experience at Monsanto. Within a year of being selected as a Talent Plan recruit, he quit his job, bought a one-way ticket to China, and was caught at the airport with a copy of the company’s proprietary algorithm before he could spirit it away,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, said in a news release.John Brown, assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, said Monsanto/The Climate Corporation’s technology at the core of the case “represents both the best of American ingenuity and why the Chinese government is so desperate to steal it for themselves.”Monsanto and its subsidiaries became part of Bayer AG in 2018. A spokesperson for Bayer in St. Louis released a statement to DTN but declined further comment.“We take the protection of trade secrets very seriously for the sustainability of the company and for the importance that plays in providing excellence for the U.S. farmer. We work closely with law enforcement agencies when we face insider threat or cyberattacks. That said, this a personnel issue and we do not comment on personnel matters,” Bayer stated.Agriculture has been the victim of a few similar cases in the past several years. A biotech rice research company in Kansas, Ventria Bioscience, had rice stolen from it and sent to China by a rice breeder who worked for the company in 2012. U.S. Customs officials later found the company’s rice seeds in the baggage of members of a Chinese delegation that had come to the U.S. Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer also were targeted by a Chinese businessman who shipped biotech corn seed to China.A federal magistrate on Friday granted a request by prosecutors to keep Xiang in detention until the trial because he is considered a significant risk to leave the country.Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.comFollow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN(AG/CZ )© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.
Five real-life couples share stories of how they found true love the second time round. Read on and get inspired.1. Dreams are made of theseA relationship is like a boat in the ocean – you need to row for it to move forward, says 32-year-old Priyanka Contractor. Self-assured and charming, Mumbai based Priyanka oozes confidence, a far cry from the bruised and battered girl who walked out on her marriage a mere seven months after tying the knot. In hindsight, I think it was the best thing that happened to me, she says.Priyanka met her ex-husband in 1999 – her final year of college. We were engaged in 2003 and married in 2005 I was 26 years old. I guess I should have seen the signs when his behaviour changed just before marriage. He cut off all communication with me. I thought it was just pre-wedding jitters, she says. He did not have the guts to say he didn’t want to get married. I think he feared what society would say.The first timeMarried life from the very beginning was tense and lonely. He worked long hours while I waited till past midnight for him to return. When he distanced himself physically too, I knew there was something wrong, says Priyanka. And things were no better on the kitchen front. His mother had taken an instant dislike to me. It was a saas bahu serial kind of situation. She would put extra salt or chilli powder in the food that I had cooked to create problems. She didn’t like the fact that I had a mind of my own. My then husband chose not to support me. We fought constantly. When it became too much for me to bear, I left him – in March, 2006. After a short separation, I decided to give my marriage another chance. But things only got worse. There were two episodes of violence. I remember I was sitting in a corner, beaten black and blue, shaking and shivering. My mother-in-law came in and said, If you don’t do what I want, you will get this every day! Priyanka is surprisingly calm as she narrates this. The last straw came when I found out that he was having an affair with a friend of his – she’d attended our wedding, and we met frequently socially. The sense of betrayal was unimaginable, and after a final row, she packed her bags and left for good.Building myselfPost her breakup, Priyanka had a total physical and mental breakdown. I quit my job. Though the authorities at the school I taught in were understanding, the gossip about my failed marriage was getting to me. I didn’t know where my life was headed, nor did I care. But my mother told me, Destroy yourself, buildyourself, the choice is yours. It was an uphill task, but Priyanka slowly began to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. When you hit rock bottom, there is only one way, and that is up. So I got up and began to build my life again. Priyanka went through a gamut of therapies. I tried healing, cleansing of chakras, semi-hypnosis, becoming one with my aura But it was the series of sessions on forgiveness that helped her let go. For Priyanka, it was important that she be able to think about her past without letting it affect her future. It took me a year to heal completely. My divorce released me. I felt free. I was able to turn my life around. And today when I talk about it, I feel no rancor. She then focused all her energy into setting up a new business. My friends said I was mad to chuck a comfortable job as a teacher and start on a venture that could lead to failure. But I had to prove to myself that I could do anything I set my heart on. Today I am happy to say I am doing well! And I owe it all to the person who told me I didn’t have it in me to survive the corporate world and that all I was good for was a cushy teacher’s job – my ex-husband. She is now busy conceptualising and manufacturing children’s teaching aids.The right partner How did she meet Amit, her husbandto-be? I had gone to see a play at Prithvi Theatre with friends when I first met him. Initially, it was more of a hi-andbye situation. We met regularly after that, and we connected. His proposal was almost like a fairytale. We were at a friend’s place for a sleepover. It was well after midnight when I felt someone touch my hand. It was Amit. He slipped a ring on my finger and whispered, My commitment to you. Priyanka knew he was right for her. With Amit, I started to understand what a man should be like. I needed a life partner in the true sense – a person who understands that marriage goes beyond the husband-wife relationship, they also need to be friends. And Amit is that man. We courted for two-and-a-half years. I have realised that Amit and I are two sides of the same coin. We are each other’s strength and confidants. She strongly feels women who’re faced by such challenges should not lose hope. See the brighter side of life. Every day is a challenge. It’s also important to know when to quit. Fear of the unknown only succeeds in bogging you down. As for her ex-husband, says Priyanka, He’s got married again. I just hope he is a better husband to his new wife than he was to me. Amit and Priyanka would have tied the knot by the time you read this article. -Minakshi S Desai2. Those were the best days of my lifeChristine was 18 (she’s now 65) when she married Dr Anirudha Patel, a dental surgeon in London. She had passed her pre-med exams two years ahead of time, and was looking for a job till she joined college. His wife had died during an asthma attack, leaving behind a two-year-old son, Viren. Anu was intelligent and well-read, mature in comparison to the boys I had been dating! Of course he was a bit of a flirt! He asked me out a couple of times, when he proposed, I said yes, says Christine. Despite all odds my mother was bitterly against the marriage. I was a brilliant student and she didn’t want me to give up my studies for marriage. He was much older than me (I was 18, he was 32). My mother also could not digest the fact that I, being British, was marrying an Indian. There was strong objection from Anirudha’s family as well. Their marriages were always arranged. But his family came around, and we got married in 1963. I stayed in a joint family in Mumbai for nine months. I had to wear a saree and give up non-veg. I also went through a purification ceremony where I had to wash their guru’s feet and drink the water. After a bath, I had to wear the traditional kanthi. Only then was I allowed into the kitchen to have my meals with the rest of the family. Apart from that, they treated me well! The marriage lasted 14 years, out of which they lived separately for five. ‘I’d been thinking about leaving him for five years before that, so it was a gentle process, she says. The divorce was filed in 1978 by mutual consent. Why did her marriage fail? All I can say is that the biggest injustice you can do to a child is to bring the other parent down. I would rather not go into that. I still share a good relationship with Anu. And all my children (she has five now, three from her marriage with Anirudha) are very close and get along well. I don’t want to rock the boat, talking about things that don’t matter now, she says.Finding true loveWhile my first husband was 14 years older than me, my second husband was five years younger to me! she says. Her first meeting with Rohit was surreal. It was a mere saamne wali khidki mein situation, she laughs. I was staying in Anu’s bungalow in Mumbai after our separation, and it was opposite Rohit’s apartment! He was tall, dark and handsome. He had no dearth of proposals as he came from a rich, cultured family of diamond merchants. So when he eventually proposed, I just laughed! Their romance though, had begun earlier (but after the separation), when Christine was on her way to Nainital to see her children who were studying in a boarding school there. I was with a group of friends, Rohit included. At the station, he tried to hold my hand, and in the train he kissed me for the first time. Eventually, he proposed marriage. I didn’t want to get involved – he was young and known to Anu’s family. But Rohit was persistent. I was modelling at the time and was also being offered roles in movies. He insisted I give up my career. He was possessive too. The best part – I didn’t mind! They got married on December 10, 1978. Those 30 years – from the start of our relationship till he expired in 2003 – were the happiest days of my life. He was family-oriented, gentle, generous and giving. Our relationship only got better as we grew older. The fact that Rohit had no qualms about meeting Anirudha socially speaks volumes about his maturity and open-mindedness.A bond foreverA financial crisis forced Rohit to leave his family and move to South Africa. But just as he reached the pinnacle of success, at age 52, he suffered a heart attack and expired. I was devastated? I had no interest in living. For three-and-a-half years after his death I was on heavy medication. I also lost my home and any means of livelihood. But thanks to the grace of God, I’m blessed with five caring children. They have supported me financially and emotionally. My daughter Malaika and the Khan family (Malaika’s married actor Zayed Khan) showed me extraordinary kindness. All her children stand by her, through joy and sorrow. They mean the world to me, we share an amazing camaraderie. Our sense of humour and love for each other holds us together. I can talk about almost anything with them, she says.Viren, her adopted son from Anirudha’s first marriage, runs a labour agency in Orlando, America. Naren and Amanda are her children from her marriage to Anirudha – Naren is the CEO of an outdoor advertising agency, Amanda is a PhD in bio-chemistry and is based in Nice, France – she’s one of the leading researchers in her field. Raoul, her son from her marriage to Rohit, has a degree in business from Boston College. He’s doing his internship with an interior designing firm. His twin sister Malaika did a course in diamond manufacture and design and is happily married. Looking back, she has no regrets. Sometimes, even if the marriage does not work, you get the chance to build lifelong relationships, she says. I had wonderful mothers-in-law. Rohit’s mother was the embodiment of all that is good in Indian womanhood – softspoken and selfless. Anu’s mother also was a gentle, loving person. Anirudha’s dad too was a father figure to Christine. She now spends time reading, writing poetry and meeting up with friends. A business venture is on the cards.3. Life comes full circleWhen you ask 50-year-old Tejdeep Kaur Menon, the Additional Director General of Police (Sports) Andhra Pradesh, about remarrying she says firmly, I had lost complete faith in my former husband, but never in marriage itself. In journalist Amarnath Menon, 58, she found what she describes as someone more than a soul mate. No less endearing to her is the relationship that he shares with her son Shabad Pratihast, 25, a student at IIM Kolkata. Amarnath never viewed me as just myself. My son has always been part of all his decisions concerning us. The equation is perfect. But someone I really miss in it is my daughter, Bani, who I lost to cancer a few years ago, says Tejdeep.Rough timesTejdeep Kaur divorced her former husband after an almost decade-long effort at making her marriage work. His unaccommodating approach and bi-polar nature had translated into several issues. Separation was the only way out, she says. But just when things started to look up after the divorce, her daughter was diagnosed with cancer, she passed away two-and-a-half years later. It was a rough road ahead for her. At that time, I didn’t think there was anything that would fill the void. My daughter’s death had left me completely empty, she says. Interestingly, she and Amarnath did cross paths on and off during this time, but only on work-related matters. They first talked in a telephonic interview when she was SP in Cuddapah, Andhra Pradesh in 1989. That was the first time he wrote about me – when I had feigned a suicide attempt in front of an unruly mob at a government guest house. It was a ruse to save a minister, who may have been lynched otherwise. The police constabulary had revolted against him in instant anger following a clash between rival partymen. My snap decision to hold a pistol against my temple worked and they put down their firearms… Now and then, we would talk about matters concerning the police and governance, and he wrote about me a few times subsequently. That’s how we became friends. We always respected and admired each other’s work. We were in touch on and off, but that was it, she says.Life intervenesAfter a longish gap, they reconnected when Amarnath invited her for a talk on TV some 10 years ago. It was a rather interesting talk with me and a few others who were sort of duped by a popular poetry site promising big prizes. My son couldn’t see through it and would keep uploading my poems on the site! Amarnath suggested I be a part of the talk, she recalls. After the talk was wrapped up, a catching up conversation turned into a long evening. Then they met the next evening too, and the next. And within just a few days, they were found together at dos and restaurants. People started to put two and two together and many insisted that something showed on our faces as well. I guess it did too. Two months later, they announced their marriage. Rushed as it may have seemed, it was what they both wanted most. I never doubted my decision to say yes after he had proposed, which by the way, he did at the most romantic restaurant in Hyderabad, overlooking a lake, smiles Tejdeep. A serious concern was Shabad, 15 then, and still at a vulnerable stage in his life. I couldn’t have had my son live with the idea of his mother dating and meeting someone almost every day after work. Besides, when we found we love each other, we wanted to make sure that we spent the rest of our lives together, unhindered. For us, it had to be marriage and nothing else.Enriching each other’s lifeShe’s a Punjabi and he’s a Malayali, but blending into each other’s backgrounds was never a concern. Far from it, she says. We’ve always enjoyed discovering each other’s cultures. He’s picked up essential Punjabi and although I don’t speak very good Malayalam, I can cook appams like a pro these days! I also love wearing the traditional Malayali mundus. They have even built a home together in the traditional Kerala style, with many design inputs from Shabad. Besides, even our professions are such that many aspects overlap. A senior cop and a senior journalist living in the same city can have much in common. In that sense, our relationship is also as professional as it was even earlier, and there’s intense sharing at all levels. I have also grown as a person with him. We brought out two more anthologies of my poetry after we were married. But most importantly, the marriage has added immense value to both their lives. I feel tremendously loved and can’t imagine doing anything without him, no matter how small.And for Amarnath, her inner strength and that vivacious personality he had first been drawn to, still hold the same charm. She has made my life more purposeful and meaningful, says Amarnath, who was single before he married Tejdeep. She used to call him King Bachelor. I feel we complement each other perfectly. While I am effervescent and extroverted, he is contained and more earth-bound. I’ve brought him a lot of laughter and fun, and he in turn, has brought me a deep sense of stability. When I was going through a bad time in my earlier marriage, I always prayed for my marriage to become happier. At that time, I had never imagined God would answer my prayers in this wonderful way. I hope in the next birth, we meet earlier!A happy familyThe last decade has been by far the most fulfilling for all three. Not only has Amarnath’s relationship with his wife evolved into something extremely beautiful for both of them, his bond with Shabad too has strengthened over the years. Neither man is overtly expressive, but both care for each other in very many subtle ways. For instance, when Shabad writes home an email, even if it starts with “Hi Mom” it’s always sent to both. At the time they got married, I was pretty young but grown up enough to understand what was going on, shares Shabad. I have always found him to be inspiring, someone who’s always cared for our happiness, so the transition wasn’t so difficult. Nobody can replace my father but this is the closest it can possibly ever get to that. I’ve always looked up to my stepfather. (Shabad’s biological father had died of an illness a couple of years ago.) Tejdeep’s divorced or widowed friends, in a lighter vein, ask her to find such loving husbands for them too! She attributes her being second time lucky to her unshakable faith in God, along with a positive and open attitude. Open yourself to happiness and it will come your way when you least expect it, and in a manner you wouldn’t have imagined, she says.4. It was meant to beIt took time, and they went through a lot before they found each other and true love. Maithili, a Mumbai-based dermatologist, was divorced from her husband and fellow doctor, in 2004. It was a relationship that lasted almost 12 years we were married for nearly five years. But the marriage did not work out. Friendship, respect and communication are critical aspects of a husband-wife relationship. I think we stopped being friends after our marriage. Also, in India, it is always a marriage between two families, and equations change, says Maithili. It was painful. But in hindsight, I think that this was all destiny, and happened because I was meant to meet Nikhil. Looking at the positives Nikhil, a lawyer in Delhi, fell in love with and married a Supreme Court colleague, nearly four years elder to him. Working together wasn’t good for the relationship – I realised that some amount of separation is necessary. Also, we belonged to diverse cultural backgrounds, and had our share of differences because of that as well. She’s a nice person otherwise, but we just couldn’t get along, says Nikhil. He got his divorce in December 2002. There was bitterness, but I realised that one bad relationship doesn’t mean that every other relationship will be bad. And every woman has a different personality, he says. Nikhil credits Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (the founder of Art of Living) for helping him look at the positive side of life. It was on January 12, 2005 (yes, both remember the exact date!) that he spoke to Maithili for the first time on the phone. Nikhil had been looking forward to settling down and his sister, whose relatives had been consulting Maithili, recommended he get together with her. Their conversation lasted 90 minutes, and when it ended, Nikhil told his mother that Maithili was the woman he wanted to marry. I had not even seen a picture of hers. But I did not feel that I was talking to a stranger. We shared the same values, the same beliefs, which were all that ever mattered to me, Maithili’s mother is from Karnataka and her father is a Maharashtrian.It wasn’t a noThey met a month later, on February 10, after the phone conversation, but she said no to Nikhil’s proposal. I knew I would like to be friends with him for the rest of my life, but I was not sure if I wanted to marry him at that point of time, says Maithili. He did not take it as a no fortunately and their friendship continued over phone, and in October 2005, Nikhil decided to shift to Mumbai – a move to further his career and to be close to Maithili. He found an apartment in the building where Maithili lived with her parents. Was it a coincidence? Well I was looking for a house in that area because I wanted to be near Maithili, and this was a bonus! I look at it as a sign from God, says Nikhil. He used to go down to her house on the fourth floor every day from the seventh floor, and they would go out for a coffee in the evening. Maithili’s parents soon grew extremely fond of Nikhil. They kept egging me on, constantly trying to convince me that Nikhil was so right for me, Maithili recalls.What clinched it Her parents were very supportive. In fact, when they felt that Maithili wasn’t interested, they told me to go for other girls, they even found some proposals for me! I refused them, of course, says Nikhil. He told my parents that it did not matter if I going to be his wife or not, but gave his word that he would be a friend to me forever. I was touched, says Maithili. What else made her say yes? There were lots of things that made me inch towards my decision, says Maithili. My parents had become such great friends with him, for one. Then there was the time when she’d been suffering from a writer’s cramp. Even signing a paper was difficult and the neurologist had told me to use my left hand, and to hold a thick bulbous pen to help cure the cramp. Nikhil just handed me a thick Mont Blanc from his pocket and told me to keep it, he said, it is just a writing instrument for me but for you, it means a lot. Such gestures brought her closer to him. Then there were the days when she was completely submerged with work. I was working as the head of a division at a skin clinic and also pursuing my private practice. One day, I came home tired and sat on the couch Nikhil just put his arm around my shoulder to comfort me, and I decided that I wanted to marry him! At times, even small things matter such a lot!’ says Maithili. It was February 2007. Two months later, on April 19, 2007, Maithili and Nikhil were married. Coincidentally, it was exactly three years back on April 19, 2004 that she had got her divorceA happy futureThey are both 40 now, and looking forward to their life together. Maithili’s mother is no more, but both go down regularly to the fourth floor to spend time with her father. They live with Nikhil’s mother, who is more than happy with the marriage. Maithili is now a private practitioner while Nikhil is a counsel in the Bombay High Court. Life is steady, nice and happy. And we are still friends. Yes, we have our share of differences – she is organised, I’m not, she’s a planner while I tend to do things at the spur of the moment. But it’s good that way, and there’s always an element of surprise, says Nikhil. I don’t believe in either love or arranged marriage. You meet people for a reason, season or a lifetime. I’m glad this turned out to be a lifetime, says Maithili.5. My happy endingI have always loved films with fairy-tale endings and one of my favourite films is The American President. I like these movies not just because of the actors portraying the roles, I like them more because they depict the old clich love overcomes any obstacle and transcends any divide. Little did I realise that my life would follow a similar path. After a very difficult first marriage that ended in an annulment, I had been determined to not open myself to any man. In fact, only a handful knew that my marriage had ended in 2001. I then focussed my life on raising my son Miggy, who you could say, was the only man in my life. Thankfully, I was also blessed with a very good career with a leading beverage company that not only provided for Miggy and me, but also kept me busy. Of course I will not deny it, I was envious of couples and families when I saw them together on weekends. I would always wonder what it would be like to be in a loving and committed relationship, but I was too scared to open myself (and my son) again and be vulnerable to any pain. I had decided I did not want any more complications. Then I met Alex.How the relationship grewAlex and I met in 2003 when he was transferred from India to head our company in the Philippines. I found him to be an inspiring leader and felt privileged to be working for him. Our encounters were always professional in nature, except for the few social events where he would always tease me on the amount of food I ate (Alex claims later that it was his British side showing his fondness for me!). This was the case until Fate interceded. In 2005, at a dinner hosted by our ad agency (for winning an advertising award), I happened be seated beside Alex. While waiting for others to arrive, we got talking, and were surprised to find that we were in similar circumstances (he too had been married). Soon, we found ourselves communicating more often after that evening, but mostly on the phone, given I was working under him, albeit indirectly. We knew after only a few but very long conversations (and sky-rocketing phone bills!) that we were serious and wanted to have an open relationship. Alex immediately informed his manager about us. People were surprised when I resigned after almost nine years with the company and shocked when I told them the reason – I was in love.Opposites attractPeople asked me why I decided to take a second chance in love and risk a lot of things, including my relationship with my son, my career and my heart. They had reasons to be nervous for me. Yes, on the face of it, Alex and I have very little in common. We come from different backgrounds, with Alex being British and I being born and raised in the Philippines. We are both of the Boar sign which means our age gap is 12 years. (The Chinese calendar says that people are born under the same sign after every 12 years). Alex appears to be quiet and reserved while I’m viewed to be the life of the party! In my culture, children try and stay with their parents for as long as possible, while in Alex’s, independence is encouraged at an early age and studying at a boarding school is common. I am a believer in a Higher Being, he is a neo-Darwinist. So then why? My answer was and remains simple – it felt very right. In Alex, I found the closest to what people call a soul mate. He’s my life partner and my best friend. We complement each other because of, and not despite, our backgrounds and the age difference. Often, we find ourselves talking until 2am on just about anything. The glove just fits. Don’t get me wrong, we have our share of arguments, like other couples. And most of the time it’s because we fail to communicate well enough, so almost always we find ourselves saying in my culture. But these discussions strengthen our relationship and help us understand the other more.Making it workSo how do we make it work? We have learned from our previous marriages never to take each other for granted, and that while our children will always have our love and attention, our priority is each other. We appreciate each other more (and say it often!) because of what we have gone through in the past. Every day together is a blessing. We are also both in touch with our emotions and are affectionate towards each other and all our children. Our home is full of hugs and kisses, and our children, Matthew, three and Samantha, now six months, benefit the most from these. I still get emotional whenever Alex leaves for his frequent travels, no matter how short they are. And still feel nervous like a teenager while waiting for him to come home. Communication is always an integral part of our relationship. We send each other text messages during the day and Skype every single day when Alex is away from home. We have our own family traditions that we try to keep – right from chatting over cocktails before dinner to reading books to Matthew and Samantha every night before bedtime. Saturday is our date night while Sunday is when we do something with the children. We are lucky to be in Singapore, where there are so many child-friendly places such as the Botanic gardens and a worldclass zoo. While we do most things together, we also allow space for the other to grow. Alex and I have mutual respect and admiration for each other. We treat each other as equals. It helps that we have both worked in a number of fastpaced MNCs and have similar work ethics. So I understand fully why he works as hard as he does. He never needs to feel guilty when he is working late as I used to do the same (and worse!) when I was still a professional. After almost six years together and six children between us (Alex’s eldest is 22 years old, and we had Samantha six months ago), I can honestly say I’m living in my own fairy-tale!advertisementadvertisementadvertisement