9.11.06

Here, come put another candle on the cake...

While some things remain exactly the same -- like the Birthday Girl turning Sarojini Market up and down literally looking for The Birthday Outfit till she finds out the perfect shirt dress, the perfect belt and perfect leggings, the parents looking for a guy for their 'over-the-hill' daughter (mother reminded me this very morning that I am on my way to turn 27 next year!), a brother calling up his sleepy sister and cracking poor jokes on the morning of her birthday and and on the afternoon of her birthday finding to her delight beautiful flowers and feminine gifts lying on her desk from her colleagues -- some things somewhere, somehow change you as a human being.

These are not things that would bring about a literal change in a day or a week or a month probably. But they would be there with the self. Now I don't know necessarily whether that makes any sense. Cause I am a tad bit exhausted. I have tottering around on heels all morning, cutting yummy cakes, opening gifts, taking food orders from editor and colleagues, munching and talking a lot.

Right now I am seated quietly and thinking about other stuff. Stuff like will the guy I care about ever wish me. I guess not *sigh* and here I am, a fool, waiting for an e-mail with bated breath.

Then scenes from yesterday evening flit through.

You see, I was at AIIMS. I have been of late plagued by a case of tiny rashes on the upper lip (let me state here that I am not HIV-positive!). So my brother suitably alarmed me by saying that since the whole face is linked to the brain through a particular vein, I am in considerable danger of having my upper works affected. As ridiculous as that sounds now, you have to hear my brother at it. He even convinced me once that I was in danger of retinal detachment.

Now my idea of AIIMS has been rather exalted.

The sight that greeted my eyes when I walked to the casualty ward was that of people lying on the pavements -- lying, sleeping and eating on the ground. Who were these? They were the attendants (the families accompanying the patients from various states). My brother's friend Dr S (who was taking me to her fiance for the check-up) commented: "It is sad you know. These people hear such big things about AIIMS. And then the poor sods arrive here from places like Bihar to lie on the pavement."

We entered the casualty ward and the smell of urine and sweat was strong enough to penetrate my blocked nose. Then there were the sights of people with bloodied shirts lying unconscious on stretchers and dead bodies being carted away. Soon I was in the room where Dr X (S's fiance) rests during the night. It was dirty, with grime covering the white floor tiles and the bed sheets unwashed for god knows how many decades.

As I perched myself on one end of the bed waiting for Dr X to manage some time from his harried routine, Dr S told me how he hardly gets to sleep any night thanks to the fact that there are hardly 10 doctors taking care of 200 or more patients. "X was very enthusiastic when he started at AIIMS. Now he has resigned to his fate here," she said. "Do you know that AIIMS has the lowest mortality rate?" That really impressed me. "No, wait," she added. "Let me tell you why. That is because all the serious cases are never accepted here. The moment they get such cases, they send them off to Safdarjung Hospital. And if a junior resident at night happens to take such a case, he gets jacked the next morning by the senior resident."

It was reality check.

Even meeting Dr S. She was so simple and one of those earnest people who only care about studies and work. And she told me about my brother who is right now in Assam working and studying in a hospital there. "Half his bed is covered with books and he sleeps on a narrow strip. He's so thin. I guess that's how he manages. He studies all the time and just doesn't do anything else. He is a walking encyclopaedia," she said.

All of it just makes me very sad.

If I sound disjointed, blame it on the mood.

18 comments:

Amy said...

Hey Look at that I am the first one to leave a message on your blog....yay! HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEETIE!! Hope you have a good one. Will try to call you one of these days.

Sonal said...

Hey Happy Birthday babe!

Sonia said...

Happy birthday! I felt the saaame on my bday. hoping that the person I cared for would remember, of course he didn't. *sigh* feeling all sighy.

Sorry to spoil your bday mood ( if at the time of reading this comment u were in a better mood)

do something nice for yourself. Make yourself feel really good! *hugs* take care.

what you wrote about aiims reminded me of the time I went there when I fell sick. ok, i'll probabaly write a post abt it some time, cos i started writing it as a comment and it became too damn long.

tc.

S

Sonia said...

and ooh! you're a scorpio! dangerous! :)

FiNK said...

hey.. happy birthday!! hope you have a fantabulous year ahead

hedonistic hobo said...

Happy Birthday.

Allow me to comment on AIIMS. My arents have worked there for the past 35 years. I grew up there. Every night as the wasterel hedonist as I am, while returning home I see hordes of people lying on the pavement. I don't have to do the lines, gratefully, and manage to inadvertently get VP treatment. Or did, until finally something snapped and I insisted on getting a more 'authentic' experience of AIIMS. And it is brutal. It is frustrating and sometimes you wish that the ailment you came in with should calim your life instead of forcing you in to this situation. Your friend seems to have given you a much more grim view than the hospital merits but then I don't know how cheerful I'd be if I worked at the casualty ward myself. AIIMS is overburdened, under-staffed and under-financed, as is typical of many Indian institutions, typical of the myopic development planning our country still lumbers under. It is one of the few Indian research institutions that is regarded highly the world over and the doctors, most of the ones I have met, seem incredibly motivated and driven even though their spirit often takes a beating from the helplessness enforced on them by Government interference and the limits of their own capacity to help people. I don't know about the mortality rate issue, it sounds like an unsubstantiated and highly cynical claim, but I wouldn't be too surprised if indeed cases are passed on to Safdarjung, as they are passed back from Safdardjung. It pains me to see the plight of AIIMS and the people who constitute that venerable institution because most of the doctors who have been trained there are perhaps easily the best in the country and if they're sticking on for a measly pay, a thankless job and big-brother--watching-public sector job, it says somehing about their sense of service. AIIMS has a lot of capacity and lot of facilities but not enough to negotiate the crowd it has to deal with ona daily basis. It's remarakble tome that the facility has not imploded yet. Safdarjung too suffers from the same problems.
Oddly in recognition of the high calibre of the doctors at AIIMS, every ailing politician always insists on accessong their services but from the air conditioned, 5-star confines of Apollo or Escorts. Convenient isn't it? Maybe they and their entire menagrie of escorts should be made to sleep on the pavements for a change.

n.g. said...

what song did francois mitterand's wife sing to him when she fell in love with him??

mitteraaaaand ... kahein dhadkanein tujhse kya

happy birthday.

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AB said...

Amy: Well I have been hearing of the call for ages now. I am waiting now for the actual call:)

Sonal: Thanks sweetie.

Sonia: I am reading your comment a day after my birthday. So yeah I am in a different mood. Not necessarily nice. Considering by the time I reach office I meet such species as autowallahs and molesters.

Actually I did something nice for myself. I treated myself to entire slabs of Lindt's Cuba and Madagascar dark chocolates preceding and following my birthday.

Good that mail never came. This is how you learn to break the links I guess.

And now this dangerous scorpio's reply is exceeding your comment;)

Fink: Thank yee lady.

Hedonistic hobo: I think there should be an NGO alone working with these hospitals and seeing to it that they are hygienic places at least!

I know it's easy to comment on how to better things and that much difficult to actually do something about it.

Which is why I feel so sad and disillusioned when I go to such places. Apparently crores of rupees are commissioned for the maintenance of the place, but nothing comes of it. How can people be so unfeeling and cruel as to deny the public their basic right - a sound health care system????

And really hats off those people who work there.

Nish: He he. You don't sing too badly:)

Penny Lane said...

Happy Belated Birthday! You know what... you have the whole year to think about all the other stuff... If you haven't done so already, I insist you have a great time just celebrating your birthday for the awesome occasion it really is!!

AB said...

Penny Lane: Thanks honey. But I am exactly not feeling in the best of moods nowadays. I guess it is a passing phase. But yes I did have a nice time on the b'day.

Essar said...

Just a thought though, with the kind of racketeering NGOs that you see nowadays, you really need a better option. Why NGO, wtf is the government and all those overpaid, underworked, oversexed, undersatiated politicians doing anyway!!!!!!!!!

sinusoidally said...

Belated Happy Birthday AB! I hope the rash has been taken care of and you are doing fine. Where has your mouth been girl?!! Hee hee.

Bhagya said...

Am too late. But belated wishes AB.

Grey Shades said...

Wish you a very appy belated budday! :)

AB said...

Sines: Use your imagination. But don't let it stretch it too far ha?

Bhagya: Thanks.

Grey Shades: Thanks to you too mate...

First Rain said...

Hey AB. A very belated happy birthday!

Hope you had a super day and are continuing to have one still :D

AB said...

First Rain: Thank you. Yes my days actually follow a see-saw pattern as such.