Renu's Week

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Report of 19 Oct '09

Hello from the Banyan -

I trust everyone had a good week. On Saturday, the whole country celebrated Deepavali, or Diwali. It is a triumph of good over evil, in Hindu mythology, and celebrated with lighting lamps, new clothes for all (a major investment for some) and sweets. Once I had a patient who was critically ill, who refused to spend the money for a CT scan as she had to buy new clothes for her daughter and son-in-law. I had a discussion with the latter folks, and they bemoaned their mother's priorities also, but no one could do anything about the decision.

In our house, Naren and Navin make the sweets. The recipe is simple and tasty, the best kind. All the neighbors know who the chefs are in our house that day, and the boys love the accolades. We make the sweets the night before, or some days before, and get up early on Diwali, have hair washes, put on new clothes and go down to set off fireworks, which the boys have since outgrown. After breakfast, the boys distribute the sweets to neighbors and we sit in the house, receiving the platters of sweets and savories that come from neighbors. Some folks have friends and relatives over for a meal; for us, Diwali is family time and we plop in front of the TV, eat junk ad infinitum, and watch movies until someone says stop (usually I).

The Banyan had a musical group come on Thursday to perform for the residents and filmi songs were played. The residents had a nice break in the daily routine, listening to the peppy music. I was moved: here were a bunch of women, destitute, combating mental illness and family weirdness, overcoming ostracism and trying to make a life for themselves, listening to music and getting a little therapy for their souls. Rhythm is in our bloodstream; many of us cannot listen to music without feet tapping or head bobbing. One of the health care workers told some of the patients to dance and dance they did - with rhythm and joy - and it was a cool sight. As the cast of "Slumdog Millionaire" told questioning reporters at the Academy Awards, everyone dances in India.

A. R. Rahman, who won 2 Oscars for the music of "SM," had a concert here last week and it would have been nice to go as we are firm fans. However, as we age, the thought of giant crowds and battling traffic simply does not constitute a good time for us.

One of the patients, Ms. M, is a fairly permanent inhabitant of the sick room. Her gait is unsteady and she will fall if she heads off to the dorm; I have requested our able physical therapist to work with her. Ms. M has been abandoned by her lawyer husband, whom the Banyan has sued and won monthly support from. This check goes directly to Ms. M, and she spends it as she wishes. Often her list of expenses includes a cup of coffee for me, which I have to decline as I don't drink it. I am *always* touched by the thought, however. Ms. M also asks unfailingly about my children and my husband, and last week, stated that her son had bought her a new pair of spectacles. She does not have children - considered a huge personal misfortune and a slight on the woman, not the man, in India - but all of us played along with her delusion, not wanting to give her the impression that she was an unlucky sort, and giving her some perceived commonality with other mothers on the staff and me. We aim to please.

All are well here, and we hope the same with you. The teenagers tend to launch into some exhausting battles with us, but you know, it is markedly better that they verbalize their anger and duke it out with us than find some other ways of coping. We do not have a functional TV in our house, and the boys read a fair amount, consequently; as such, their arguments are often well-thought-out and well-informed. They are, like their father, cool young men and I am quite, quite privileged to have these folks in my life.

Unw -



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