Things I Saw in the ER

1. A septuagenarian African American mother of two lying on a flimsy stretcher, clutching her stomach, writhing in pain and screaming for a doctor. It took fifteen minutes of her pleading for help till a nurse came and gave her some Morphine. The poor lady was in so much pain that in an hour’s time (when the Morphine wore off), she started to writhe in pain again. Apparently, her intestines had some kind of blockage and some complications led to internal bleeding and hemorrhaging. Later, we found out that she had Cancer (of the mouth) and had started Chemotherapy the same day.

2. A fifty-something ex-Military guy who had slipped and had a fall in the snow. He had broken his ankle and shin bone. He didn’t have insurance and had been put in a wheelchair for close to fifteen hours – without treatment or anything.

3. A Medicaid worker who was going from bed to bed, asking people if they had insurance. Good to know at least someone was paying attention to these poor people since, the ones without insurance were pretty much left to their own devices.

4. Of the six nurses, only two were actually doing their job.

5. My friend and I had to wait for three hours to get an X-Ray done. At the Radiology place, I had to pretty much demand that I be shown me my X-Ray – which I saw as it was being generated to be sent to my Physician. And, I was not even allowed to see it finally. My own X-Ray!! Apparently, we would have to go to the ‘Medical Records’ section and request a copy of my X-Ray. WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?  Of course, once pressurized, the authorities then deigned to give a CD.

6. The three (two friends – one joined later) of us had to go and pester the nurse close to twenty times and then a doctor came and saw us. It took all of ten minutes to do the needful medical stuff – which he did well and was quite thorough – but, we had to wait for close to seven hours!! Preposterous.

It is sad but, I think I have had to be quite brusque these past few days. It seems to be the swiftest way that these protocol lines are lifted and things get done.

In my experience and from what little I have seen in the ER (in my experience and I also have been to other hospitals, accompanying others and they have been similar experiences), the medical system here in the US really needs to be more efficient. (The bills sure don’t do justice to medical attention received.)

The systems are in place but, there is so much protocol and so much legal hoopla involved that it renders the ones requiring medical attention quite high and dry. The system really needs to be revised so that the ones requiring medical attention can get timely and good care.

Note: I actually have a LOT to say about a lot of issues but, I am on medication at this point and will write more elaborate pieces once I feel a bit better. Till then, Happy Reading, good WordPress folx =)

Unwrapping, Not Unravelling

There’s an episode in ‘Sex and the City‘ where Carrie proudly declares to her posse of passionate femme fatales that she relieved herself at Big’s place. That revelation is met with a look of pure revulsion from Charlotte and shock from Miranda and Samantha followed by advice on how to, even remotely, never do anything so horrific at a guy’s place. So, basically never poop if you actually ever date someone is what one gets from this? Um, sorry but, I do like my Charmin time, folks and I’m definitely not going to let my relationship (when I’m in one, that is) get in the way of my bathroom reading time.

Nonetheless, this is something I’ve been noticing with girls and guys in this sea of dating, courting and everything chase-worthy, appropriately called twenty-something life. There is such a need to come off as absolutely perfect, something ethereal, positively radiating and shimmering – almost diamond-like when people here present oneself to each other, especially when it comes to dating. I understand that there is a need to put one’s best foot forward but, to parade oneself in a way that is projecting an image of sheer perfection and goodness seems a tad bit unrealistic, pretentious and frankly, off-putting (to me, at least). I get that an aura of good ol’ musky mystery and feminine coquettishness is attractive but at the same time, it is important to not get washed up by the stormy currents of dating etiquette, as this hopping about on one foot is politely referred to.

Moreover, it seems to me that participants in the dating game are equally baffled by the veneer of propriety and projected personality and are desperately trying to find out what’s really beneath the layers themselves. For instance, take the new dating app, Lulu - a way for girls to see if the guy they’re dating checks out. It’s a deeply antagonistic app, one based in so many pop culture, movie-esque and pretentious assumptions, it’s appalling to see women and men flocking to it. And, is completely one-sided, by the way – men have no option of contributing or countering their ratings/tags, etc. (I won’t go into just how anti-feminist the platform is, that is for a delicious new blog-post.) ‘Lulu’ is an example of how twisted the entire dating game has become. It’s not even fun anymore, these rules are flummoxing and retarded, to say the least. The current dating scenario is like a monster that’s just been fed everything it ever wanted and now just won’t tame the fuck down so everyone just keeps appeasing it.

Whether it’s deconstructing text messages with girlfriends or boyfriends or waiting three days before calling a girl you exchanged numbers with at a bar, there are unwritten, confusing and, ultimately just weirdly constricting  and intangible guidelines in this dating space. Take the case of HeTexted.com, a service where guys help girls decode guys’ texts. Some of the entries are just heartbreaking and absurd at the same time. The sheer number ‘Yahoo! Answers’ queries on the subject and the umpteen websites online are ridonkulous and bordering on pathetic!

Since I’ve grown up in a different country, it is funny to observe how ridiculously absurd this jungle of dating, romance and everything courtship in New York City really is. A city of eight million people, it is surprising to note that hardly a fraction is actually being real when trying to find the most real thing of all – a connection.

Moreover, it is absurd that, even when two people have found a connection, they’re still not really letting go of the facade that’s been created by them for the other person to make each other believe that they’re this, also that but, that really they’re just not all that stuff that they were kinda portraying themselves as all those other times. Huh? Girls wait before they actually even think of not caking on tons of make-up, changing six outfits and assiduously adjusting their hair-dos before meeting the guy they’re dating so that the guy finds them attractive enough.

On dates, there’s this constant and frankly speaking, hilarious guessing game of what to order and how much to eat. Oh, I’m a girl, I can’t make it known just yet, I enjoy Philly Cheese Steak and a triple sundae any day – gotta order the salad with light vinaigrette on the side and multigrain bread even though I’d rather choke on my bile than eat this hippy shmiff (new word coined!), really. What the heck is that all about? Just eat whatever the hell you want, lady plus, that hooch of yours needs wine, and lots of it – so order it. And, have some self-respect and split the bill or at least offer to pay once in a while, okay?

When you look at the guys, it’s a different ball game altogether. They’re pumping iron, working on their body to show off their pecs, abs, other rib-cage enhancer type things and what-have-yous so that they can some. Yuuuck. I mean, if you’re a fitness buff, I’m all for it but, working out to get the ladies is, umm… weird. And what’s with all these supposedly hip hair-dos? Excuse me, what is with the Macklemore-ish hair-do, the one with the shorn-off sides and mop-inspired residual foppy hair thing on top? They look ridiculous on ninety percent of the people I’ve seen them on. The movie, Don Jon, did a good job of exploring a bit of the body image and grooming styles of twenty-somethings nowadays. In fact, that movie was an eye-opener in so many ways – romance, sex, expectations, belief systems, the effects of media, pop culture, etc.

Anyhow, getting back to the point of this post, even when in some sort-of stage of a relationship, girls and guys have this weird hide-and-go-seek thing going on. Supposedly, it’s like a game, a light banter, a playful teasing, a friendly chase… Frankly, it seems a bit random and really just not fun. Maybe it is for some of you but, I’m just finding this ridiculous running around exhausting, fiendishly dull and not amusing in any way. I understand that it’s enticing to have someone be interested enough to make the effort to figure you out – like you’re a delectable gift (cheesiness alert!), waiting to be unwrapped with care. But, the current scenario just seems like everyone’s unravelling even without trying just from the sheer demand to keep it classy, mysterious, exciting and whatever else is the in-thing nowadays.

Here’s my beef, though. If you liked someone, why would you wait two to ten days in the first place to go talk to her/him? What is this hazy time-frame boundary and time-bound communication manual everyone’s following without really following what’s being asked to be done? Even more facetious is the fact that why would you not be yourself around somebody you’re genuinely excited and interested to know more about? What the hell is going around here? What the fuck is this mystery angle all about, when there’s no more enticing a mystery than being inherently yourself because aren’t people by virtue of just being themselves wonderfully intense, beautiful, fragile, wholesome goodness-filled individuals? OR AM I LIVING IN SOME FANTASY WORLD AND NEED TO GET MY HEAD CHECKED UP? No, right! Isn’t being real and just chilled out and honest to oneself and thus, to others the way to be?

Here’s what I think. If you don’t want to do it, just don’t. And, if you want to, well go after it, won’t you? Honestly, it’s better than all this running, chasing, faking, anticipating, whatever-ness. Seriously, let’s just be frank about it – he likes her, she likes him, they get together and take it from there, period. Whatever happens, happens. What’s so much of all this pretension about, anyway? Just get off your high horse, m’kay? Everyone has insecurities and they’re still likeable. And, no one even cares so much about yours, they’re much too involved in dealing with their own schmut (Really fond of the ‘sch’ sound right now, oops!), really.

Please, just go for it if you think it’s worth it. Definitely, don’t run around hiding and seeking, waiting and strategizing because that’s some sort of unspoken rule, because there is no such thing.The only time it’s okay to stave off is when you don’t feel ready, like really not there yet. Or when you think you could offer them something better or could try to make yourself better and then go at it. Otherwise, why wait?  I can’t think of another coherent reason to, really. Life’s short, go for it in the truest sense. That actually does make sense – to me, at least.

Things I Bought for Myself Over the Weekend

A Beige down jacket with an overlarge hood, to keep me warm and toasty through these cold Nor’Eastern winter perambulations through town. A pair of squeaky white sneakers, to keep me agile when I run to catch the ‘N’, just making it as the doors start sliding to a close. An organic soap bar with hints of Lemongrass, Tea Tree and Orange oil, to wash away the grime, dirt, stress and fatigue accumulated over the course of the day. The smorgasbord of delectable ingredients will run smoothly over my skin, thoroughly removing traces of anything unnecessary and rejuvenating everything wonderful so that I feel like I’ve taken a bath when I take a bath. A foot soak – mint and eucalyptus, so wondrously aromatic and relaxing, so that when I give myself a pedicure, my feet feel like they’ve been massaged by cherubic angels and my muscle soreness feels soothed by salves made from feathers, clouds and a bit of blue sky.

Can’t wait to try ‘em all.

How to Be a Bystander

First, you must feel like you’re limbless. And, in limbo. A limbless limbo. A listless, limbless limbo. Even if you’re actually not, you ought to feel like you’re in one. You must make yourself believe that you’re utterly incapable of veering the course of action that is bound to take place or, as you’re thinking of your absolute uselessness in the situation, is already on way. Then, you must be able to be able to strip yourself of all your power, your courage, your sense of justice and fairness; oh, and also, your ability to speak. Add to that, a consistent surprised and slack-jawed facial expression that reflects the vacuum between your initial thought and action.

Which thought? That thought. That most important instinct, the one that you simply must be able to completely ignore, that nagging feeling in your head that beseeches you to step in and do something, anything just to calm things down, even if by just a little bit. That’s the one you ought to watch out for. If you act on that impulse, it’ll get you involved and, God forbid if that ever happens! You’d actually have to do something then, wouldn’t you?

You should be able to be stunned enough to be rooted to the spot, perhaps even amused by the ‘shenanigans’ as you will refer to the whole scene later as you recount it to your friends and family in a crowded, cozy caramel scented coffee and patisserie shop right around Astor Place. You definitely must, must be apathetic enough to casually look at the scene and not interject or interrupt. So, it’s a curious mixture of interest, disinterest, engagement and disengagement that you have to have in order to pull off being a bystander.

Another moot point when being a bystander is to keep in mind that sense of self-loathing you feel in the back of your head, the front of your head and all over your Self. That feeling, register it. Be sure to be aware of that accusatory tone that is the voice in your head – the one that sounds a lot like your mom or dad or, sometimes, both – at the time of the incident and well after that. It is not going to go away anytime soon. The deep self-loathing that carries itself along with you well into the next day and, perhaps even the day after that, even though you joke about the whole incident or tell it as an amusing anecdote over drinks or as an experience that you almost had.

Years and months will pass though, perhaps not in that order. You’ll finally start accepting the now slightly weary face you see in the bathroom mirror and not feel as aghast when you go shop in the previously unchartered territory of the ‘L’ section of the boutique you were introduced to by your fashionista friend about a decade ago. You’ll move to another city, state, hell, maybe even another country. The memory of the incident will fade. Distant, hazy, and perhaps even mildly sentimental, that’s what it’ll reduce to, eventually.

But, then on some days, when you’re idly looking at the fan creaking above, trying to fall asleep as your boyfriend’s snores gently dissuade you to do otherwise, you’ll think about the memory of that event, of how the lady’s face looked, how her eyes screamed wordlessly, silent syllables trying to ask someone to step in and, you’ll feel the same emotions you felt when you decided to be a bystander and you’ll think to yourself, maybe I should’ve gotten involved and the familiar waves of self-loathing will again wash over you and suddenly all the years and days and months and seconds will disappear and the rawness of the incident, the smell of the fear, the prickling sensation that you felt then, will well up within from God knows where.

Then again, on other days, when you read a particularly graphic daylight robbery news report that ends with someone ending up dead or nearly so and as your eyes drift towards the picture accompanying the news piece, a deeply disturbing image where someone’s lying on a flimsy hospital cot, his freshly bandaged wounds wide on display and a woebegone expression that conveys things for which words have not yet been invented, you’ll think back to that incident and thank yourself that you didn’t actually get involved for who knows how that would’ve turned out, maybe you’d have ended up with an actual scar from an actual wound today.

 

An Awkward Conversation.

Boy: Just call her. Get it over with. Quick, like taking off a band-aid. And, be cool. Who the heck says ‘be cool’ nowadays, anyway? Now, where did I write down this girl’s number… This bloody maid, if you tell her a million times not to touch stuff, wohi karna hai!?

*Searches here and there*

Aha! Here it is! How’d it get here… lounging between the remote and the ashtray? A smoke to ease pre-call stress? Nah, post-call smoke type situation lag rahi hai yeh. Okay, here goes nothing!

*Inhales deeply and dials*

Boy: Hello?

Girl: Yes, hello.

Boy: Is this Anita?

Girl: Yes, this is her. Who is this?

Boy: Hi! I’m Ashish. Your mother and my mom spoke sometime this week about an alliance and I just wanted to get to speak to you before we decide to take things further…

Girl: Yeah, my mom mentioned something earlier today. How are you? Arre yaar, not another of those matrimonial site losers. Why do I have to go through this torture? I just want to get a job and enjoy myself…

Boy: Good! How are you?

Girl: I’m good as well.

Awkward Pause

(Pause)

(Pause)

(Pause)

Boy: So… What do you do? Are you working somewhere?

Girl: No, well… I was working for an MNC but, I recently quit so… I’m kind of in between jobs right now… Are you working or studying right now?

Boy: Yeah, I work for a bank. *Clears throatStandard Chartered Bank actually, I just got promoted last week so… Things are pretty hectic and there’s a lot of work to be done… It’s like I’m a mini CEO or something, hahahahe.

Girl: Seems arrogant… What the hell is a mini CEO… Like Mini Me or something?… Oh My God, I hope he’s not bald! AAAAAh, mujhe ganje se shaadi nahin karni…Mujhe shaadi hi kyun karni pad rahi hai…

Girl: Oh, that’s great!

Boy: Yup! Yessss! *Hi-Fives, err… Space?* I’ve made a good impression, ‘Mini CEO’! Hahaa! Good one, dude! Gotta use more of that scrumptious li’l phrase from now on!

Boy: Yeah, I landed this job right after my MBA, which I did from NMIMS, Mumbai. What about you? You’re an M.A., right?

Girl: Yeah, in Mass Communications… Lady Irwin, DU.

Boy: Cool!

(Pause)

*Awkward fidgeting at both ends*

Boy: So… what sun sign are you? Aur kya boloon?

Girl: I’m a Virgo

Boy: Oh!! I’m a Virgo, too! Virgos are the best, I tell you. They’re smart and creative and they are good looking and…uh… they’re practical and calm and…uh… romantic…

Girl: What a cheapo!!! Oh, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that as well…

Boy: Yeah… astrology is fun and, and so useful!

Girl: Um, yeah. And, it helps in so many ways…

Boy: So, do you like watching movies? I like action flicks a lot!

Girl: Yeah, I like watching movies…

Boy: Great! I just saw ‘Elysium’. Matt Damon was awesome in it! Did you see any new flick recently?

Girl: Not really, I’m just really busy with looking for work and stuff…

Girl: *Checks the time* Oh, it’s 8:30 PM already? I gotta go, I have to make dinner. Chalo! Finally, I can hang up.

Boy: Sure! By the way, can you send me your FB link? I’ll send you mine as well… We can know more about each other that way. My e-mail ID is funkymunky@gheemail.com

Girl: Yeah, mine is dunkyshunky@chcheemail.com, I’ll send my FB page’s link to you.

Boy: Got it! Okay, thanks! I’ll send my FB page’s link to you as well. Nice talking to you! Bye!

Girl: Likewise, bye.

Boy: Well… thoda aur jaanane mein kya jaata hai? What’s the big deal in getting to know her a little more? Her voice sounded pretty mellifluous, actually.

Girl: What a loser! How arrogant and so pretentious! But, I suppose I should be polite and send the link-shink. Let’s see…

How Far Would You Go for Freedom? – ‘Persepolis’ – A Review

Marjane Satrapi‘s Persepolis has been a movie I’ve been aching to watch for a while now. And the wait was totally worth it. A series of deliciously illustrated flashbacks, Persepolis navigates through the journey of a young rebellious girl in the Shah’s Iran and during the anarchic Muslim rule in the ’80s and ’90s with such feeling that you are left contemplating the role of politics and society in your own life. 

Persepolis

Marji’s story is a simple one but, with so many ups and downs that one is left marveling at the grit and determination shown by citizens in a war torn and oppressed nation. Iran‘s tumultuous political and religious fundamentalism made it hard for people to breathe freely, let alone express themselves in the smallest possible ways. Yet, people found it within themselves to hope for a better future, a free life that would be, if not their own, their kids’ one day.

A family of blue bloods, a legacy of a martyred uncle and an openness and forwardness of mind, ideals and ethics sets the Satrapis miles apart from the cowed down milieu. Their fight with the Islamic fundamentalists’ brutal crackdown on “western” practices such as alcohol consumption, listening to music, applying make-up – basically anything that gives the user any modicum of enjoyment – is shown in a quirky yet hard hitting manner. The forward thinking ideals of the Satrapis and the viewpoint of the narrative don’t make one feel disconnected from the ordinary citizen rather, it gives one the distance required to see the situation for what it really was.

Punk is Not DedMarji’s parents are liberal and liberated. Her mother’s character is actually such a strong and poignant one, the refreshing feminism is a delight to connect with. If possible, the protagonist’s grandmother, a powerful woman in her time, no doubt, is even more progressive a character. From telling the story of her a divorce in the ’50s as she casually lights a meerschaum to ordering her granddaughter to take off her headscarf because it’s claustrophobic, Marji’s grandma’s character is undoubtedly a fine, strong, opinionated and powerful woman and it would truly have been a pleasure to have spent some time with the real life inspiration.

Marji’s journey as a young girl with forward thinking ideas gets her into tiffs with officials and her counterparts until finally her parents decide it’s best for her to live abroad and she’s packed off to Vienna. Her life there is better, her experiences varied. However, the underlying guilt of leaving a war torn country while she relishes sachertorte gnaws at her. Ironically, it isn’t patriotism or sentiment towards her fellow countrymen that drives Marji home, it’s heartbreak.

Marjane Satrapi

Marji’s journey is laden with so many facets of existence – war, religious fundamentalism, political strife and a search for the feminine pursuit but, mostly it’s a story of a little girl trying to find herself. Persepolis is a tale of freedom, feminism and just following one’s heart no matter what. Because, as Marji says when she leaves Iran, “Freedom has a price”, and it’s better one gets its worth.

The movie is a visual opiate and the illustrations are tasteful and evocative in a manner rarely seen and the  background score is a wonderful companion throughout the movie; the floating jasmine blooms indicative of interludes are a personal favorite – as is the story behind them. A delight for liberals, feminists, illustration fans and film lovers, Persepolis is a must watch!

Starved No More

This part of my life is called ‘Being Starved‘.

Starved of conversation. Starved of companionship.

Starved – stricken to the very bones. Starved of genial compassion.

Starved of hunger, even.

Just starved to the very bones and, then some more.

But, that’s what propels me to move on. Pure passion, above all.

I see so much more, now that I am stripped of all things awry.

Clarity brings it all together.

Feeds my very core.

A new dawn puts me back together.

Sunlight melds my scraps tight.

I’m whole once more.

Om.