Renu's Week

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Report of 26 Feb 2016

And February 2016 is almost over.

A lovely breeze on the balcony, sunlight, cottony clouds in a blue sky, the Bay of Bengal a different blue from the sky so we can tell what's sea and what's sky - this is good.

Naren used to sit on the balcony sometimes to write; it does have a nice view.

We are well.  We finished the second edition of "Family Day" at the Banyan - this time at Mogappair, the first time at Kovalam.  We had arranged transport for families to come from afar and it was late, but spirits were not dampened.  Leela, our chief nurse, had gifted me a beautiful orange sari, I wore that to rattle the populace (I don't usually wear saris to work), all were in their Sunday best again and we ate biryani, sang and danced.  The health care workers had been a bashful lot last year, but not this time: there were 3 dances and 1 song from them.  I loved every bit of it!  Scott and I danced again - an inspiration to skinny white guys, said his cousin from afar - and I enjoyed it.  It was a fine carnival-like event ("mela") and we were very happy to indulge the staff and their families for 1 day; they do for the patients the other 364.

We (the B) rescued a patient named Ms. X, who knew she was HIV positive.  She does not have a mental illness and did not want to stay at the B.  She left, went back to her hometown and found that the relatives did not want to have anything to do with her.  From their point of view, she was an 11th grade student who eloped with a man older than her, she was not to be seen for several years and then showed up, wanting a place to stay.  One of our nurses, who speaks the language, tried to coax the relatives over the phone to keep Ms. X for at least 2-3 days and they would have none of it.  So, Ms. X left, and found herself a tailoring job and accommodation in a women's dormitory.  Yes!  As we were lolling about on Family Day, welcoming everyone and goo-goo'ing children, in walked Ms. X; we were delighted to see her and practically hugged her.  She stayed for Family Day, she has stayed a bit longer; she plans to return to her town and has since asked if she can come back to the B if necessary.  The B is like that - congenial, devoted to the client, unfailingly wanting what's best for them.  Vandana and Vaishnavi are inspirational people.

My Dad comes into town today and I look forward to it.  We will go tomorrow to Bangalore for a cousin's daughter's wedding; she is the first of the cousins' children to marry and it will be a nice event.  Her Dad had provided immense succor to my parents when my brother, Manu, was seriously injured and hospitalised.  All of them are nice people, and have already warmly welcomed us.

Scott started a new job as part-time professor at a college of engineering nearby.  I continue joyously with the B.

Hope all of you have joys of your own.

Unw -


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Report of 14 Feb 2016

Happy Valentine's Day!

We are well and hope the same with you.

2 weeks ago, Scott and I started a weight-management venture.  We have been alarmed to see the increase in obesity in our part of the world and want to "teach the world to" eat.  Size zero is not the goal, disease zero is.  Obesity affects almost all body systems and can even cause cancer.

Business is slow-going.  That does not matter, though, we know our material and will continue to push it.

The Banyan has been wonderful.  Today was "Family Day" at our Kovalam branch.  The staff and families showed up in their Sunday best, we had very tasty biryani and then an entertainment program.  There is an education wing of the B called BALM - Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental health - and its students sang and danced.  Scott and I also danced; it is a great love for me and Scott graciously indulges me when the boys are not around.  There were also a few carnival games, horse chariot rides, popcorn, cotton candy and a mini giant wheel.  All staff appeared to have a good time.

We were in Madurai 2 weeks ago for the anniversary of the demise of my brother, Manu.  Though 17 years have elapsed, it is still tough to stand by his tombstone (or even say that word), clean it while my Dad holds my purse and cell phone and dupatta (shawl), and remember Manu's robust, handsome self.  He loved my husband and children; when we entered his house in Bangalore after his accident, the first thing I saw was a photo of my sons, propped on his fridge.  That was, at once, nice and difficult to see.  I remain very grateful that Manu's wife and sons are in close contact with us.

So we did the cemetery visit, ate some of Manu's favorite foods, and left the next day.  We were back a week later for a friend's son's wedding reception.  It has been a week since our return and it feels like more: my father was in the hospital between our 2 visits with a respiratory infection, and it was tough to leave him.  He is better, thank goodness.

We had this weekend to ourselves, barring Family Day, and saw several Tamil movies.  We also saw "Room," and were mesmerised by Brie Larson's performance.  Through the whole flick, I was suffused with a sense of gratitude that Ms. Larson's character's experience did not befall our sons.

It is dark on our balcony, the sea is no longer visible and I will head in.  We hope all of you have a very good week.

Unw -