Renu's Week

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Report of 26 Mar '09

Why do we procreate?

Mystery, isn't it - parenthood is pretty much a thankless profession, but occasionally glimmers of unexpected joy and a pleasant surprise or 2 come up. I imagine that's what keeps us going.

Today was a day of arguing in the fam. One kid had been told that for the rest of the study holidays, he'd have to study at home. Today he tried to wheedle "combined study" at a friend's house. The argument was long, heated and hurtful. So be it. Adolescence is a turbulent time, they say nasty things as a matter of course. I called my parents after that just to unload and that was wonderfully therapeutic.

As I've said before, in the scheme of the cosmos, this works very well: when I leave to work in the U.S., it's with a sense of purpose, not guilt or immediate pining for the family.

Navin's geography exam yesterday was cancelled: a school in Bangalore opened the Wednesday papers on Monday itself by accident, and so the Board cancelled the exam and rescheduled it for 2 April. Navin is po'd. I am glad the school owned up, though. The ethics of exam-taking are fairly absent in India, thus many international exam organisations do not use India as a center due to rampant cheating and fraud. That saddens me, but we did it to ourselves, didn't we.

Unw -


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Report of 18 Mar '09

Hello from exam paradise -

We are well. I guess some kids study when the time comes, some all the time and some not at all. Let us see what the marks show.

Early this morning, a neighbor called at 0145 or so, and we didn't hear the phone. She must have tried repeatedly and finally, Scott answered. Her father was slurring his speech and refusing to be evaluated in the hospital, so they called us. Scott deflected the call, and asked that she call the other doctor in the complex. I don't know if she did, but I'd better prepare for these late night emergency calls; if I am not on call, I wake up weirdly and Scott knows that. It takes several minutes to establish coherence or any sense, and Scott was understandably protective of his family, esp at exam time. The net result is that I was sorry, because the neighbor's was an emergency and I was unable to respond. This morning, there was an ambulance in the complex for the patient.

My sons thought I was blameless in this situation, because, as they put it, "It's very hard to wake up at 1.45 AM."

My young student did not go to her other tutor and I am livid. She is apparently too timid to take the bus and go to Tiruvanmiyur (not far away) and that is her cross to bear. I told her mother that all of us were happy to help a young woman in college, but she ought to do her part to comply. Let's see.

My first-born son turned 18 last week. How time flies. We went out for a sumptuous breakfast and then spent the day here, studying and such. Both boys took sweets over to our maids' houses and that created big waves in that neighborhood, in a good way. That's always nice - to create waves in a good way.

Unw -


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Report of 12 March '09

Hello from exam world -

4 down, many to go. Navin and Scott are sitting at physics. Scott's ability to teach sciences and math very patiently is legendary. He used to tutor for a part-living in the U.S., and is patient with all, even wife and sons. Naren is done with physics and is at his tutor's house going over the paper.

Yesterday, as the boys were cramming, our neighbor Usha's maid rang the doorbell. Usha came in with Ms. M, the maid, and said that she had been hanging up clothes and looking up, and got dizzy, nauseated and profusely sweaty ("diaphoretic"). This was concerning; the looking up part indicates one thing, but the sweatiness indicates something much more serious - like the heart. So I asked for her to be checked out right away with her family doctor, and I await the evaluation. Not many impoverished people here have a family doctor, or indeed any doctor: medical care is considered a dispensable expense, except of course when something serious crops up.

Our neighbor, Gunit, has a catering company and for Women's Day, she invited all her female employees home for lunch, games and a talk by me. It was fabulous; this is my target audience - the lower socioeconomic class female. We talked about health and the need for regular breast checks and Pap smears; many said much of the information was novel. Indeed, Pap smears are not part of the vocabulary here at all. If I can get one Indian woman, who'd otherwise spend all her time caring for others, to take care of herself in some small way, my job is really done.

We reeled under news of the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore. The paper yesterday had the story of a young 1st year medical student who died after being beaten in "ragging" (hazing); the picture is of a handsome young man, 19 years old. The boy had complained to all and sundry about the ragging - college authorities and parents - but little was done. It is a tragic tale.

Hug your loved ones when you can.

Unw -


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Report of 5 Mar '09

Hello from my living room -

Almost bedtime, which blows everyone's mind. The days are flying by.

Vandana's maid is a young woman named Ms. K. Her (Ms. K's) 3-1/2 yo niece was very ill with a high fever and had gone to the government hospital after being treated by a local doctor. Treatment at the GH is a little variable, and she was shifted to a private hospital, with the parents not being able to afford treatment at all. Her condition deteriorated, dengue was diagnosed, and all watched helplessly as the bills mounted and good health did not. A friend of mine, a phenomenal young pediatrician named Sai, interceded to put the family in touch with a sponsor, and some discount is being arranged; more importantly, the child is better and has come off the ventilator. Leela, the good Banyan nurse, told me today that the child said, "Amma (Mother)," today; hooray! No sweeter word to us mothers, I tell you; no greater joy to us doctors.

Some days, it is great to be in this profession. Oh, by the way, if you would like to donate to the little girl's care, please do so through our website

I found an alternate tutor for Ms. E, as I have reached the limits of my usefulness. The task at hand is to teach her to write English and I cannot. So a nice Banyan volunteer has come forward and will take over. All want this desperately poor young woman to succeed, and this is the joy of hanging out in the NGO world, you see - everyone tries to do for someone else.

Networking - nothing like it.

Board exams have started, 3 are over and the boys are studying. Tutoring sessions ad infinitum go on, and nourishment, sleep, exercise, breaks, etc., are being ensured. It confounds people overseas that board exams are such a deal, but I love the fact that the education system here is rigorous. Taking time off to help my sons at this time is no skin off my back at all; not helping with their studies, by their explicit request (my lack of patience is legendary), but with other issues.

Unw -