Renu's Week

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Report of 28 Nov 2018

Good evening!

I did not get to blog last week as we were about to travel, and packing and shacking.  We spent a fine few days with our sons; I did not attempt to get on the hotel's computer as there are numerous security constraints to overcome, and did all emailing from my phone.  What a handy device.  I balked at getting it for a long time, and only relented as our older son urged me to, stating that communication would become easy and fun.  And it did.

We had excellent (and consequently, surprising) service on the airlines, landed in NJ, spent a night in PA, and drove to Dayton, Ohio, the next day.  It was a nice drive.  The day after arrival was the big snow and ice storm, but all survived it.  My mother-in-law lives in a fine retirement facility, and they do not let the electricity get disrupted there even if surrounding areas lose power.  So we were warm and safe.  We spent a fun couple of days there, and returned to the East, getting together with our sons and seeing every movie in town.

Thanksgiving was spent with Scott's cousin, Jeff, his wife, Anne, and family.  They are lovely people, and extended their home to us.  The food was delicious and the company scintillating.  Our sons revelled in being with family.  That always gets me - that we live so far away from our sons and I asked Scott why we do that; his answer - "Because we let the boys live their lives."  Thanksgiving was fine on many counts.  Anne's family members present and we enjoyed meeting them.  Leftovers were packed for us by Anne, and we enjoyed them again the next day, before Scott and I flew back.  It was a truly warm and loving gathering, and I was most appreciative. 

The hotel's manager gave us a nice discount and all the staff offered excellent service; we are likely to go back there, should we need to.

It was back to work at the Banyan on Monday.  I was jet-lagged, but the patients had to be seen.  A colleague brought a neighbor's motherless child to be seen; great gesture and all, but I am not a pediatrician and it is often difficult to convince people that I do not treat children.  I did the best I could and ordered blood tests to be taken at the local Government facility, where a doctor could follow up on them.  Lunch was very late that day, but I had little appetite (jet-lag, etc.).  I met with Vandana and that was the wonderful experience it always is.  The more I work elsewhere, the more I so appreciate having ethical, altruistic and fun bosses at the B. 

Unw -


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Report of 11 Nov '18

Good evening -

It is Remembrance Day.  100 years since World War I ended.  The contributions of Indian soldiers to the cause is being remembered. 

We are well.  Battling a virus, which appears to happen incessantly.  We were at an event yesterday, and it is now consider trendy for people of opposite genders to shake hands.  So shake hands, I did, and apparently brought home the goods.  I normally go for a very invigorating swim on Sunday mornings and the swim was the last thing on my mind.  So, I was up early, showered, had a cup of tea and fruit and an egg, and enjoyed the soothing quiet of the Sunday morning, before bustle set in.

Kovalam is great - busy and fun.  The little child, X, came by my exam room and announced that she was bored, that she wanted to go to her friend's house.  Here's the deal - she is perfectly entitled to say that, and well within her childhood rights; however, I am not the person to ferry her where she wants to go.  At some point in the parent's alcoholic stupor, I wish some thought would be given to the fact that a disruption in a school-going child's life can lead to bad things.  The mother's mental illness can be treated, I am not sure how much progress we will make with the father's alcoholism.

Adaikalam is also fine.  I was only there for a short period this week as I had some work at a Government office here, and that can be lengthy.  However, I did manage to get the ill patients and staff seen, after grabbing a quick breakfast at our cafe.  Said cafe is a great success story; they sell to anyone - intra- or extra-Banyan - and their food is inexpensive and good.  The cafe is located such that the windows are at an "L:" 1 part of the L opens outside the compound wall and folks outside can buy and partake of the food at the tables placed there, and the other perpendicular part opens inside for folks like Scott and me, who buy from within the B.

Diwali was on the 6th, and it was great to have a day off!  We ate sweets from morning to night
and relaxed at home.  Our small puja (worship ritual) involved prayers to my mother, who ensured that we celebrated both the Hindu and Christian festivals.  She was Hindu, my father is Christian, neither insisted that the other convert and all of us were brought up celebrating both religions.  Good sorts, my parents.   

We travel on Tuesday to the U.S.  As both boys will not be here for 1 holiday, we would like to see them for the other.  It is a lengthy journey, but what the heck - the destination (son-hood) is worth the travel.  We hung out with both boys today and that was truly fun - chatter, candor, laughter.  When I asked if they wanted anything from here, 1 said, "Just arrive safely."  My father says things like that, too. 

Unw -


Sunday, November 04, 2018

Report of 4 Nov 2018

Good evening!

The monsoon is here.  There are grey clouds in the sky; we had 1 day of heavy rain last week and more may come.  South Tamil Nadu has received more rain.  We need the rain; regretfully, many areas flood and the impoverished are put to tremendous hardship. 

Kovalam had some great news last week.  When I walked in, there was a taxi parked in front.  Not many people come by car, and I enquired.  Some relatives of a recently rescued patient had come to get her.  She had been homeless and on the street near one of our rented homes; our "Home again" program situates a few patients in rented houses, they run affairs in their own homes under the guidance of a staff member.  It is working very well.  Only visionary people like Vandana and Vaishnavi - the founders of the Banyan - can come up with ideas like these.  The staff member at the house near where this patient, Ms. X, was "living" had requested her to come in, and Ms. X had declined.  Persistently.  The staff member had then taken her food, and then sent a photograph of her to the social worker.  Said social worker showed up, and Ms. X agreed to accompany her to our Health Center, requesting the first staff member to accompany her.  She then revealed details of her family, contact was made through the police and 7 - yes, glorious 7 - of her relatives showed up to take her home.  Interestingly, she is related to one of our senior social workers; that came out in the quest to find her family.  We met the family, I got all choked up when thanking them.  We examined the patient, found her in good health overall except for matted hair, and sent her on her way.  This patient is older - maybe early-60's.  In the course of introductions, I was introduced to her mother and was in awe that she had come, made the 6-hour trip to reunite with her daughter; that all our patients should have such loving families, people who seek them, who are happy to find them, who would take them home.  This patient had been missing for 10 years.  When Scott heard that, he said "Wow," and I said, "We are a Wow kind of place." 

One of our clinic patients at Kovalam and I ended up discussing family, and he asked if my husband was 70 years old; I said no, that he was 57.  He then said, "You yourself must be well over 50," and I said I was 55.  Scott laughed when told this whole exchange.  I told him that I'd take a shovel to the clinic next time, that we'd put one foot each in the hole I'd dig. 

Adaikalam is also fine.  A couple of people are resigning and attempts are being made to find replacements.  Our music fan continues to bop along to old Tamil songs, to our unbridled delight. 

We now have facilities in Tiruchi and Kerala, and various state Governments have come to learn our model, to be replicated elsewhere.  The stigma surrounding mental illness must be removed; it is, after all, an illness, treated with medication and TLC.  As other illnesses are.  I got a call from our Tiruchi coordinator; she runs the show well and we went over some medical issues.

Scott and I went to see a Tamil movie called "Vada Chennai."  I like the actor, Dhanush; he has done well but the movie was jarringly violent.  Last week, we had lunch with my brother and his family at their house.  His wife is a very warm and hospitable lady, and his daughter had just returned from a school trip to NASA in Orlando, where she was part of the group that won a robot-programming contest.  I asked if her interest in science was piqued after this trip and she answered in the affirmative.  It is lovely when children can afford to go to wondrous places and learn marvellous things.  It was a splendid afternoon, with sumptuous food, lovely company and lots of chatter and laughter. 

We got to hang out with 1 boy this morning and that was nice.  I like seeing both, we take what we can get.  I also swam this week; our apartment apparently has 2 pools, the manager suggested this one as my usual one (on the 9th floor) is under renovation, and this second one (on the 2nd floor) is easily the cleanest I have seen on any side of the planet.  It was fabulous to swim and swim.  Regretfully, a woman in a swimsuit - albeit the competition kind, with shorts-like coverage - tends to attract the wrong kind of attention, so I have had to request Scott to accompany me. 

Diwali is 2 days away.  May the festival of lights bring you good health, prosperity and joy!

Unw -