Renu's Week

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Report of 28 Jan '09

Hello from our neighbor's house -

I meant to blog last week, and could not get access to a computer. Our kind neighbors are letting me mooch internet time, so here we are.

Last week, I had dropped off all the men and was heading to the dentist, when a motorcycle skidded in front of me while avoiding pedestrians, and fell, and the rider lay motionless. I stopped by the side of the road and went to investigate. Doctors don't always stop, because legal complications set in, where 1 party goes after the doctor to try and change the findings documented, etc., etc., but I stop when I can. There was no response from the man, he was not wearing a helmet, he was breathing and had a pulse, it was around 8.45 AM and I could smell liquor. I asked a passerby to call an ambulance, and the passerby also called someone on the patient's cell phone. The ambulance came quickly (also a rarity in my youth), and took the patient to the nearest hospital. I called to check on the man later, and discovered he was alive and coming out of his intoxicated state. He was lucky.

I spent 2 days with my parents earlier this week. 26 Jan is the anniversary of my brother's demise, and my father and I go to the cemetery, clean off the grave and place a garland of roses. We did that this time, too, and I appreciate the time spent at graveside; it gives me a chance to reflect on my robust, handsome, loving brother, and miss him, which I do at other times, too.

My mother is increasingly more disabled; her knees are not functional and she does not try to walk. She usually stays in bed, getting to meals in a wheelchair. My father is primary caregiver and getting a little worn out. They remain hospitable and classy, and I enjoy my visits usually. My mother started off denigrating the Banyan again, and that is never enjoyable, but she does not remember dissing it and so disses again with regularity. Oh well - I know what we (Banyan folks) are and what we do.

We attended 2 weddings last week, of Banyan colleagues. One was at a village about 3 hours away, and Scott and I went and had a good time. One of the Banyan drivers caught a lift back with us, and it was my privilege to drive him while he sat in the back seat. The other wedding was right in Chennai, quite high-society, and the bride had invited quite a few Banyan residents who came joyously. It was a wonderful sight to see them enjoying themselves. We caught up with Vandana and Vaishnavi there, and their charisma and nuttiness reaffirmed why I work at the B.

The boys are well, as is Scott. Exam fever is on all of us.

Unw -


Friday, January 16, 2009

Report of 17 Jan '09

Hello from the Internet cafe -

Today's Vandana's 38th b'day. How fantastic is it to celebrate 38, knowing you have launched a nationally-renowned organisation 15 years ago, and helped thousands of destitute, mentally ill women and countless families.

Life is alright. We celebrated the harvest festival last week with sweet pongal (rice cooked with jaggery or brown sugar, and ghee or clarified butter) and vats of sugar cane, which Navin and I ate with gusto. Naren and Scott preferred the easier-to-eat pongal, rather than gnaw like beavers on sticks.

I started tutoring Ms. E, the young lady who wanted to learn English. She is so bright, and so earnest, that tutoring her is quite a joy. She finds math easy, so you see, there is little wrong with her intellect. I had all the gifts of an education, including a wonderful American medical degree, and feel I must share. English is easy for those of us who learned it from an early age, but teaching it is a challenge: the Tamil-English dictionary could not easily explain to Ms. E what "stray" (as in 'dog') was, and gave a zillion meanings. But we'll plonk on.

There have been no patients coming by the flat in a bit, and I don't mind that. Naren and Navin need a lot of attention currently. 11-hour study days are quite the norm, and both boys are slowly realising the importance of doing well in board exams. Naren got the message some time ago, Navin is getting it now. Nothing like a sibling to reinforce such lessons.

Unw -


Friday, January 09, 2009

Report of 10 Jan '09

And we must get used to writing '09, not '08 -

I am in an Internet cafe, blogging. We have to present id's now before we can use the Internet, and that's fine with me.

There's a new kind of exhaustion setting in - the knowledge that I have to do quite a bit, with the kids, home, keeping up my professional reading. These are all fine with me, but the chores keep increasing in number. I have started writing them down to keep them manageable, and today, Scott and I are running errands, so that ought to help.

The big news this week is that Ahana, my niece, got admission in kindergarten in a private school of her parents' choice. KG admissions here are harrowing, with the parents lining up for application forms from the night before, then prepping the kid for the "interview," and then waiting with dreadful suspense for the results. Ahana had to identify colors and numbers and narrate a nursery rhyme, all of which she did, but that wasn't enough. I had to then request the senior trustee of the Banyan, Mr. Vellodi, to put in a word to the school management and he did. That was kind of him, and you see the result. The parents are hugely relieved.

A neighbor's maid came to get her blood pressure checked. I am happy to do this, and found it high. I asked her to cut back on her salt and walk, which she said she would; she also said she had been eating more than her fair share of pooris ( a deep fried wheat bread) and we laughed about it. She did promise to cut back on such indulgences, and we parted ways.

"Pravasi Bharatiya Divas," the meet for overseas Indians, happened in Chennai this week and there was much wooing of this populace. They stayed (at their own expense) in the ritziest possible hotels and security was extra tight at the conference venue. There's a new willingness to plough money and talent back in the homeland, and that is welcome. Until we keep our population in control, though, little can be achieved. We are over a billion strong now.

Unw -


Friday, January 02, 2009

Report of 2 Jan '09

Happy New Year!!!

May this year bring you good health and everything that makes you happy.

I am in my bedroom, blogging away. I have taken 3 months' leave from the Banyan as Naren and Navin have board exams approaching. It is not at all uncommon for parents here to take leave - coordinating tutors, ensuring that the candidates' focus is not wavering, supplying nutrition and nourishment, being available to commiserate, all these are de rigeur. So here I am. Do I think my career is going to suffer for this time that I have taken to raise the kids? Certainly not - finances have suffered, but the heck with that. Where else will I get the time to listen to these chaps talk, tell me about their day and life, hug and be hugged? Why would I miss our narration of respective lists of 5 favorite songs ever, when Navin mentioned that his list contained one of his brother's band's original songs? Quel moment - that was magnificent.

So I am home, but the patients are a-coming. One of my friends from Madurai was in town, and ended up feeling unwell, so made a beeline for my house. I checked her blood pressure (bp), found that it was high, and heard from her husband that she had reduced her bp medicines of her own volition. We had a long discussion of the need to take meds as prescribed (patient "adherence"), the ills of high blood pressure, and then we concluded the visit. She stated she felt reassured at the end of the visit, and I was happy to hear that. I am always surprised when patients get effusive in their thanks, as I am just doing my job, pretty much as a Wal-mart greeter would.

Our neighbor's maid is extremely poor and educating her daughters with piranha-like tenacity. As I climbed the stairs to our flat today, the older daughter, Ms. E, was sitting outside her mother's employer's flat and stopped me and asked if I could teach her English. I admired her boldness and her desire to learn, and we will probably set up weekend sessions as time allows. When an impoverished woman wants to improve her lot in life by educating herself, that is right in my scheme of things that I want to assist with.

I'd better wind up. New Year's Eve was spent going to bed early, and NY day was spent with the fam eating junk and watching "Primal Fear" and "Sling Blade" - both gifts to my movie buff boys.

Unw, may your blessings be as rich as mine -