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 =)

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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.

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!

Here You Go, Another Post on ‘Nirbhaya’

In the wake of the most recent Delhi gang-rape case, a lot of brouhaha has ensued. Everyone’s moral compass has suddenly swung to ‘Protect the Indian Daughter’ mode. People are organizing mass rallies, posters with witty slogans are found on every paan-spit soaked wall and pillar and every other blogger is crying hoarse for justice, equality, security, yada, yada.

All the news channels are holding hour long debates where the same four – five stalwarts namely, Sheila Dikshit, Suhel Seth, Meenakshi Lekhi, Renuka Chowdhury and one or two extra fittings vehemently discuss how brutal the rape was, what the most tortuous punishment ought to be for the rapists, the hard-heartedness of the Delhiites who let ‘Nirbhaya’ lie sans help and the horrendous justice system with appropriately pained faces and a forced tear and anguished plea for sanity interjected once in a while when things get monotonous.

Basically, my head is spinning after watching, reading and endlessly discussing all this nonsense with every second person I meet. The basic problem is that all we are doing is just that. Discussing, probing, arguing. Conjecture is an art the idle Indian has perfected. We take an issue and dissect it limb-by-limb, criticizing everything and everyone associated with it, proclaiming ourselves to be judges of morality and civility while shaking our heads disapprovingly at others. But, do these so-called debates ever pan out to anything?

Take the case of Priyadarshini Mattoo. Or Ruchika Gehrotra. Or Aarushi Talwar. Or Soumya Vishwanathan. All these are high profile cases. All caused furore in the media and within the Indian community. There were rallies, heated debates and a lot of campaigning here and there (just as is going on with the ‘Nirbhaya’ case). But, a few months down the lane, all that remains is a hurried whisper and a stifled sigh. No new laws have been made, nothing has really changed, we’ve just moved onto a new story. Where is the action that follows a heartfelt discussion? Where is the law that follows a petition signed by a million odd Indians? Where is the court sentence that follows the endless chasing of the judicial system?

Who cares, right? Let us all just watch these debates, make some poignant comments here and there and then return to our old ways of turning the other cheek when we see someone teasing a young girl on her way home from college. Let us all ‘Like’ Facebook pages devoted to the ‘Nirbhaya’ case – albeit the only posts on them being photoshopped pictures of the nth India Gate candlelit-midnight peace walk or some passionate sloganeering-type quote that rouses the emotionally charged Indian to ‘Share’ the post on her/his feed, and feel good about herself/himself. ‘Cause like hell we’ll actually do something about it.

In reality, it is easier to make lofty speeches and discuss intelligently but, are we doing something constructive about the issue? It need not be a massive gesture or something groundbreaking – although those would be awesome – something thoughtful, I would imagine as being enough for beginners. Lighting a candle shows respect, I agree but, berating someone eve-teasing a young girl is what would actually make a difference. It is high time we stopped pretending to care and actually took action. After all, these are our lives, our people and our society we are talking about.

Why I Dislike Macy’s (Herald Square)

 

Well, I’m not too much of a shopaholic; I think I barely fall in the category, to tell you the truth. However, I do need to go and buy stuff occasionally, as we all do. So, I landed up at Macy’s the other day to buy some outerwear (winter approaches *brrrr*) and literally had a headache-inducing time. Here’s why:-

Macy's (Herald Square)

1. Macy’s is undergoing some sort of renovation – ALL HELL HATH BREAK LOOSE!! Half the display shelf cabinets are locked and one can’t even see most of the products or touch the and inspect them while browsing. In case one wants to see the product up-close, the utterly snobby Macy’s staff take their own sweet time in a) Noticing the customer b) Acknowledging the customer’s request and, c) Actually opening the God-damned cabinets! As if this weren’t taxing enough, the customers (due to lack of space) crowd around the area like they’re at a fish market and don’t let people pass by! (In hindsight, the customers’ may be milling around the area because someone has finally opened the coveted cabinets!)

Due to the renovation, half the escalators are not working and none of the elevators are working. Restrooms have been relocated to the BASEMENT and the MUTHAFUKIN’ SEVENTH FLOOR!!!

2. The Sales’ Reps are downright rude and do not pay any attention to the shoppers. Why are they hired? To lounge about and sample the stupid perfume strips they ought to be handing out to all the customers? No one’s at the changing room section to assist, either?!

3. The unfriendly folk at the counters not only behave unprofessionally with the customers, there is utter un-professionalism in the conversations between employees as well! A Mexican rep was yelling from one end of one of the sections to someone over at the other end, “HEYYYY!!! WHERE YOU AT?!” repeatedly while others were getting startled. If one wants to get a glimpse of the ghettos, one may come to this Macy’s.

In one of the sections, cashiers were chatting away with other staff members while doe-eyed tourist customers stood around, waiting confusedly.

Such things have happened earlier as well at this Macy’s but, the recent experience at the store has left a bitter taste in my mouth. And a headache. The management ought to seriously consider HR training for the staff and treating their customers well.

 

As the Fan Creaks Me to Sleep

Sometimes I lie awake at night — well, I’m sorta border-insomniac so most nights I lie awake at night — and just ponder over stuff as the gentle hum of the air conditioner soothes my ears.

At times, I think about all the things I’ve gone through, all the weirdness that is my life and the way(s) I handled or manhandled the situation(s). Y’know, little ‘Notes to Self’ for the future, so to say.

At other times, I think about society – just people, in general. It’s funny how selfish the world can be  and yet, most fight anything anti-social tooth and nail to fit in. It’s astonishing how many people leave good sense and go along with herd mentality. It appears that the want to be appreciated by the masses swallows the desire to be internally fulfilled.

And, most are unaware of this cyclical battle between the Spirit and the Ego. Lives are recycled, souls reincarnated, aimlessly wandering, devoid of thought processes, ignorant of their reality. The world seems like a whorl of directionless souls. Even being mis-directioned would be a step towards the correct flow, a foothold to veer the black hole of nothingness into the Light.

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Still, there is a glimmer of hope. The outliers who look at themselves. The ones who really see their potential and go for their goals, sans everything, sans anything. There are the few who just have an idea, a goal or a fetish, even – all consuming desire or a willingness to do what they set out to, to complete the opportunity they possess. These are the people who bring the Light, bring life, bring everything a little bit more into line.

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Whatever I may be thinking, I always aim to look ahead as I drift off to the land of dreams (Some of my dreams are quite disconcerting, by the way).

So, let’s look ahead – we have a life to live.

What’s Happening to Us All?

I see all these women hurrying along footpaths, their pastel sarees bunched up just enough to expose their Paragon chappals and Metro sandals, one eye in front as they search their sensible sienna handbags to whip out their cell phones and call up someone or the other.

I look around and spot a sea of middle aged, salt-and-pepper haired men on the parallel road, primly dressed in collared, half-sleeved striped blue-and-white or just plain blue shirts ending at sensibly bargained Rs. 95 pleather belts holding up their charcoal grey trousers. They look left, then right and then left again… at least a few do, as they cross the road at different intervals dodging the odd autorickshaw threateningly honking and return the glares of rotund, curly-haired, mustachioed men on pistachio green Bajaj scooters.

I turn away and glance inside a share auto; two men – probably in their thirties, sit and make small talk on big issues. The one near the window has a leaky pen in his shirt pocket, the off-white cloth stains as he speaks, the royal blue ink seeps into the coarse cotton threads, deeply; three twenty-something college-going girls sit opposite them – wide-eyed, fresh-faced women, eagerly discussing something appropriately scandalous about a batch-mate – perhaps her boyfriend sexts her during class, perhaps she does. Their hurried whispers escape through their hand-cupped mouths as their guilty, sweeping glances search the auto for a knowing look or an admonishment. Hoping no one overhears or understands their wanton gossip, loaded acronyms are gleefully passed on among the trio; childish, mean giggles ensue.

The driver in front looks ahead, unimpressed by the snaking line of metal-on-rubber boxes of which he’s a fragment; he sighs as another long day comes to an end. He looks over at the sidewalk, smoothens his wiry hair, or what’s left of it and leches at buxom and lithe women alike as they pass by the share auto.

Barely halting to notice the Lord Hanuman sticker on it’s bumper, the ladies walk as they tuck their frazzled hair behind imitation jewel adorned ears as the loosely strung jasmine flowers twisted around their untwisting hairknots hang on limply, they do notice the mundu-clad, beady-eyed driver and the two thirty-something men who’re ogling at them with equally dispassionate boredom now that something more interesting than today’s share market small talk has caught their fancy. They look ahead, their nostrils slightly flared and, silently busy themselves in searching for something, anything in their sensible sienna handbags; they walk on.

The light turns green; we move on, too.