Renu's Week

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Report of 24 June '07

Hello from the Carmel lib -

Well, I am sitting here all teary-eyed. Vaishnavi, one of the founders of the Banyan, forwarded me a note that she had sent to someone describing my work and it was magnanimous. She is an excellent writer and so eloquently aggrandized (is that even a word?) my work there that I sat in my chair reading it and getting mighty weepy.

Life is good. I just returned from a weekend w/ the in-laws and it was great. I couldn't wait to get there on Friday night and I had a ton of patients on Friday afternoon; this was also ok, as it helped the day go by very quickly. So I got there Friday night, and we hung out. I ate everything in sight. On Saturday, there was more hanging out and I saw an older movie called "Switch." Scott's mom, aunt and uncle took me out for dinner to little Lawrenceburg and we ate at a buffet. I continued eating long after everyone else had finished. We came home, sat around talking and this morning, I phoned home so that the relatives on that side of the pond (Chennai) could talk to these relatives. I headed home after that was done, and stopped at one of my favorite haunts in Indy - Half-Price Books.

There were some memorable patients this week. A 21 yo overweight young woman who was desperate to have a baby w/ her boyfriend, just released from prison, and then revealing that she had a 11 month old and lived w/ her mother; I tell you at times like this, the old culture just comes flying out my mouth and I asked, "Ok, is your mother aware of these plans? Is she supportive?" I asked my colleagues to explain this phenomenon of a 21 yo wanting another baby w/ an ex-con, and the most we could all decide on was "She needs to feel wanted, and the unconditional love of the baby helps." We also had the 20 yo male, very attractive and coming in on Friday afternoon, clueing us in as to the cause way before we walked into the room - check for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's). I did give him the condom lecture, and he did not completely listen, and my thought has since become, "If you want to listen and change, great. If not, feel free to experience the consequences." And then I think he would take a couple of young women out w/ him, but anyone dumb enough to get intimate w/ this kind of guy is also likely to face disastrous consequences. There was the drug-dealer recently sent to a half-way house, w/o going to prison (he told me the lawyer took money from him for "the judge" - does bribing go on in the U.S., too?), who had been saving up his earnings to open his own architecture firm. He is now going to college for his architecture degree, after getting his Associates' degree, and before I could stop myself, I had lectured him - "Well, Sir, I think the community needs more Black architects and I hope like heck that you will stay in school. I'd rather your children looked up to their father, the architect, than their father, the drug dealer." This guy appeared to take the lecture rather well, politically incorrect though it might have been.

The 3 Weiss men and I also talked during the week, and this might help matters on both sides. Last year, I did not call home at all due to the expense and because all 3 of them were fighting madly w/ each other every week, and I knew I'd get a detailed account when I called - and what the heck would I (even want to) do from 12,000 miles away? So this year, we had a giant family conference before I left, and the boys were told their responsibilities, so we are hoping things go smoother. Some of the other mothers in Chennai and I were talking, and we said that fathers really do have blinders on most of the time, focusing serially on their job, or the car, or the kids, and do not seem able to parallel-process or multi-task. To his credit, Scott is trying, and realises how valuable the experience of working in America is for me; to sit in on lectures and Grand Rounds is such a treat, and I have eaten almost every salad in sight.

My mother-in-law had a package for me that my friend Olivia Fondoble had sent. I simply love packages, and Olivia had, extremely considerately, put in things that the 3 Weiss men and I particularly like: trail mix (a new favorite), chocolate, other candy, and pencils for our tutoring kids. Olivia is a gentle, kind sort, and I am fortunate to know her.

Ok, more soon. I am desperate to find an automobile by Tuesday the 26th, and all hints are welcome.

Unw -


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Report of 17 June '07

Hello from the land of high technology!

It is a joy to have the keyboard not stick (our V's and B's usually don't make it w/o relentless hammering) and not have the power collapse mid-msg.

So all the grand plans of blogging before I left India were for nought, as it was unusually busy before I left on the night of Sunday, 10 June. Susan, my sister-in-law, came up on 9 June and we went to investigate a catering institute for her son, Sudhir, who has flunked 12th and cannot get into college. The institute was nice, staff were extremely welcoming, and when I told the principal that Sudhir had some discipline issues, he was wonderfully understanding. The choice of institute was seconded by an acquaintance w/ years of experience in the catering field; she now runs a bakery where underprivileged boys train to be bakers and is doing magnificent work. This bakery, so well-named "Winners," used to be a favorite in our family for their scrumptuous chocolate tarts long before we knew about the underprivileged link, and it is about to become more so, consequently. So we think Sudhir will come to Chennai to study catering, and we think this is a good move. My mother is very upset that we seem to be pushing Sudhir into the field, and she and I had a talk where she stated that catering was beneath Sudhir's dignity and capabilities, and I said he should have thought of that before he grandly flunked. I have little patience w/ those who have scads of potential and take academics lightly.

There were patients galore before I left, and I managed to visit the Banyan for rounds also. One of the patients is there w/ a fever, and apparently cannot walk now. As I panicked, and went over the reasons why she likely could not walk after a fever (meningitis? stroke due to an infection? brain parasite?), I noticed that she had not wanted to walk, wilfully, even before the illness - for a little attention-getting. Phew - quel relief. So I wrote an order for the psychiatrist to see her, and the psychologists to do a little behavior therapy, and left. I was lucky enough to see Vaishnavi and Vandana, the B's able founders, before I took off. Vaishnavi has wished for Mrs. Fields' chocolate chip cookies from here, and Vandana was taking care of Mrs. Vellodi in the hospital; Mr. Vellodi is an original trustee of the B, and has been invaluable in his guidance of the Banyan. Mrs. Vellodi had had an abscess drained in her throat, and was going through physical therapy w/ much protest; both Vandana and I had to egg her on. Vandana wished me well on my travels, and asked that I hurry back, and there was no clearer expression of her warmth; there is nothing I would not do for those 2 ladies.

A spot of good news is that our maid's son, coached by Sudhir, passed the entrance test to sixth grade. We celebrated wildly. Another bit of good news is that all the kids in our Friday tutoring group passed, and more have asked to join; but of course they can. Naren and Navin are truly helping these kids succeed, and self-esteem is inching its way up. Naren has started bringing his new school friends to help, which we desperately needed.

I left India on Sunday night, and got to Indy on Monday evening. Colleen Taber was at Indy airport to pick me up, and effortlessly gave a lift to a fellow passenger, Jerry, who had come from India on assignment to the U.S. His colleagues who had come earlier were to have picked him up, and they blithely told him to take a cab, leaving him to think about throwing his precious dollars on a ride. So Colleen dropped him at the colleagues' apartment, and did it w/ such ease that Jerry did not feel he was an inconvenience at all. It was nice to get to the Tabers' and see Mark, Melinda and Christopher; this truly is a warm home away from home and has helped me to get over homesickness quickly.

Work began on Tuesday w/ lots of patients and that was great - kept me busy, and I didn't feel jet lag. As I told Scott, jet lag got really annoying when I had to try and stay awake to watch our beloved San Antonio Spurs win their 4th NBA title. I'm hoping someone taped the last game, because jet lag spirited me away very quickly to another world. We are, however, thrilled to bits w/ the victory.

As I told my sister, in the U.S., as in India, the poor are not used to being treated well medically. This has got to change. I am enjoying work, and quite a few of the male patients are putting the flirts on - quite amusing. I need to get a wedding ring on quickly, as the chain used to signify marital status in India, the thali, is meaningless here.

Scott and boys send lovely notes, Scott daily and the boys when they can spare some of their precious once-weekly Internet time on their mother. Can't blame 'em - they get msgs from around the world, some from female peers, and you tell me which they are likely to reply first - those msgs or their mother's. :) My sister Anu's son, Vikram, is also in college in Chennai, studying zoology, and our sons are happy that most of their male cousins are now in their town. Scott is holding up ably w/ the demands of being in Chennai, work-wise and home-wise, and appears to not be frazzled so far. Truly, the worth of a supportive spouse cannot be measured in money.

Ok, let me wind up. I saw "Knocked up" and "Paris, je t'aime" this weekend. Colleen and Melinda were nice enough to go shopping w/ me, and I satisfied most of the requests on my list; better now than later. I abhor shopping, as most know, and the company made it that much more bearable. I tried to get a phone card to wish Scott a happy Father's Day, and could not get a clear connection - rats. The $10 International Phone cards are not available here: they used to allow 40 minutes of talk time and the connection was clear. I bought a $5 card which professed an international connection, and it allowed me *5* minutes of static. When I tried to return it, it seemed that over half the time was used up. Oh well, c'est la vie.

Hope all the fathers on this list had a Happy Father's Day! I was privileged to grow up w/ a fine father, and am even more delighted that my sons have one of the best also.

Unw -


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Report of 3 June '07

Hello from the world of heat and humidity -

Naren starts school tomorrow, and Navin on the 6th. I head to the U.S. on the 11th.

We are well. We made a quick dash to Madurai last week to see my parents. All trains to the city were running chock full, a consequence of overpopulation and summer vacation. So we drove, and that's where the dash was not quick - 275 miles in 8 hours. The roads are not great, and we had to negotiate tough traffic. But it was lovely to see my folks, and revel in their classiness and senses of humor.

The 3 Weiss men got mightily on my nerves last week, esp during the trip as they expected me to do everything - take care of the food, gifts, calling ahead, ensuring that we left on time, filling up the car, etc., etc. I took over the driving merrily, but resented the amount of work I had to do this vacation - I think especially as we were seeing my parents, whom I'd liked to have spent a little more time with rather than getting everybody up and moving, etc. When we reached Chennai, the umpteenth argument was pulled by one of the boys and I threw up my hands, said how much I was looking forward to my trip to the U.S. and working there, used vats of profanity, and went to bed. Everything was markedly better this morning. My brother came to spend the morning with us, and the easy banter and teasing also helped my mood. His marriage is hitting some rough spots and I've elected not to get involved, except to sit and listen, which seemed to cause some loquaciousness in the man.

Naren got his ear pierced by my Dad. There's a earring in it now, and looks ok.

Our maid's daughter was evaluated by a physician for her asthma and she was told she'd have to spend 2 or 3 thousand bucks for a full eval, otherwise she'd lose the child. So she was distraught, of course. I examined the child, and all wheezing had subsided, and the entire exam was wonderfully normal. The mother was most reassured to hear this, and I was struck by the modus operandi of some doctors here, who'd put the fear of dire consequences on the patient unless a lot of money was spent on the care. Thank goodness I trained elsewhere, where they taught us to resist pulling such stunts.

I truly am looking forward to my time in the U.S., working there and making some money. I also relish the opp to sit in on lectures and grand rounds, eating salad and cashews, and seeing movies that are not sold out for days.

"What do I look for in a good script? Days off." - Robert Mitchum

"Popcorn is the last area of movie business where good taste is still a concern." - Mike Barfield

Unw -