Friday, 31 July 2015

Creating Memories

Last Sunday evening, I was post and pre-night shift. I joined my family for a Bengali music concert, at the splendid Victoria Concert hall. There's this grandeur to the tall majestic buildings, carved in white - when the yellow chandelier lights are switched on, they look unreal almost. We found ourselves seated, for the first segment by Lopamudra Mitra, who is known for her catchy renditions of folk songs and Rabindra Sangeet. I quite enjoyed her performance, personalised with short anecdotes from her own life; even though they were in a language I don't quite follow, I personally think music transcends language. Music is born from vibrations within one's soul and a true musician knows just how to stir the audience's soul and I must say, she did a pretty good job at that! Be it songs about our motherland, about Kolkata, love or just rain, her voice quality and modulation was enviable and I found myself humming those tunes even while I was working on my shift, later that night! I couldn't stay long for the Anupam Roy segment, but I should be honest, I preferred the former's melodious segment to the latter's head-banging, wanna-be-cool performance - he could have done much better, or maybe I just expected better from the music director of Piku. Oh well!

The adrenaline rush from the ED night shift, continued into the morning - for the family vacation was kickstarting! Hurray! Sleep-deprived yet I was wide awake and kicking :D Who doesn't love holidays? Some last-minute packing and then we headed to the always-so-lovely Changi Airport. Equipped with our travel accessories and our iPhones, we clicked the first family welfie of the vacation - "Apple Parivar, Sukhi Parivar" (Apple Family, Happy Family) :D A quick flight to Kuala Lumpur and a taxi ride later, we arrived at our resort - Avani Sepang Gold Coast Resort at Selangor. Such a beauty! Cottages on stilts, arranged in a palm tree pattern; with waves lashing underneath during high tide; the beach a stone's throw away and the pleasant sea breeze caressing us while it sped past. The golden sun, unusually shy, hiding behind clouds... Jammu-Kashmir has been described as the heaven on earth - "Gar firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast" Though I haven't ticked Kashmir off from my travel-bucket list yet, I always believe beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, and so, that evening, as I was taking in the gorgeous views, I felt an overwhelming sense of serenity which I presume is what heaven feels like :)

That Monday night, I clocked 9+ hours of sleep - I can't remember the last I slept so long. Getting up to a stormy morning felt even more awesome. Some instant coffee for the husband while I had green tea, thoroughly enjoying the weather. The continental breakfast spread was quite vast and I was probably the glutton in the family, with the Mazumdar trio on their calorie-monitored diets :) The truth however is that how much ever I like my food, I just can't hog - 'eating in moderation or less', is the mantra that my stomach has dictated ever since I learnt the effects of diet on not just my physical body but also my psychological health. 

That afternoon, we enjoyed playing a new board game that Maa's new friends had taught her - they even gifted it to her! Rummikub as it's called is quite like the card game, Rummy, with the difference being this is played with small inch-sized tiles, not cards. Prantik and I got the hang of the game soon enough and we were playing the game until evening! It was fun, and mind-engaging; we kept teasing Baba about how he overshot the time limit, every turn! Haha. Simple pleasures of life. :) We enjoyed many such games, that week.

The best part about the resort was that we could rent bicycles! Prantik and I haven't had the time to fix our foldable cycles, in Singapore (silly excuse that!) and so, when we set our hands on our rented bikes, it was exhilarating to say the least. We cycled around the resort, even racing each other at times, laughing and chatting, even taking a selfie while at it :D One of the evenings, we headed to the Sunset beach on our cycles. We chilled with the parents, by the beachside, on hammocks and reclining chairs - I even clicked one of my favourite snaps from the holiday, a silhouette-oid, featuring Prantik and Maa-Baba, with the sun setting in the background. 

For suppers, we juggled between the Chinese restaurant, Hai Sang Lou, which served simply delicious food - right from their appetiser dim sums, hot and sour Sichuan soups, to their Saute'd vegetables with Macadamia nuts, or even the Diced chicken dish, it was all so yummy - we all definitely kept getting back for more! The mango sago pudding was to die for!
But, then we found the other beachfront restaurant, Sepoi Sepoi, to be even more tempting. Their special one night was Tandoori Chicken, and boy! It was spot on, especially with the chutney and raitha! Catering to South East Asian cuisine, it featured favourites like Satay Ayam, Thai green curry etc. which our palates have learnt to love. I must mention - The Gula Melaka dessert was out of the world! The moon smiling above with the countless sparkling stars, the waves lashing against seasoned rocks, the lovely candle-lit dinner over long family conversations - Life's Good, indeed!

Some mornings, we got up earlier than usual to behold the skies as they changed colours to welcome the sun, at dawn-break. Each villa had it's own balcony, and it formed a perfect place to click many snaps, as if to freeze that moment in our minds, for eternity. Photographs, are a perfect medium for time-travel! In a snap, time halts and a scene is caught in it's trap, filled with hues and shades, and all sorts of emotion - and a memory is thus saved; to which one may return, at will, from any time in the future. We are thus, all time travellers. And the power of our minds to be able to travel through time, I reckon, is one of its strongest capabilities.

One other morning, we headed to the beach and out into the sea. While Maa-Baba sun-bathed, Prantik and I, headed out on our first-ever kayaking journeys. To manoeuvre the boat all by ourselves wasn't extremely easy, but once we got synchronised and got the hang of it, we loved it! It was an enjoyable "Life of Pi" kind of experience, without Richard Parker of course :D

Another afternoon, we chilled at the infinity pool with the family. The cool water was a befitting reply to the overhead sun. We each swam a few laps, to and fro and the rest of the time, we'd just stand at the end, looking far into the horizon, watching as the waters changed colours....The name "Prantik" means "horizon" - an illusion of the end, where the sky meets the sea - but truly, there is no end...

Soon, Friday arrived and it was the end to our vacation. Rejuvenated, we traced our steps back to Singapore. I unpacked and worked the night shift later while the rest of the family, relaxed at home. Saturday evening, we headed with friends to a monoact by Rakesh Bedi - Massage. It was entertaining and funny in parts; kudos, to his voice modulation abilities, but I'm carved for the more serious plays like the one a couple of months ago, directed by Rakesh Bedi, enacted by Anupam Kher and Neena Gupta, Mera Woh Matlab Nahin Tha. After the play, we had dinner at the Singapore Cricket Club, with friends, catching up over Ginger Ale and Pratas.

A week away.
A week, creating memories, with the in-laws.
A week of deep love, deep conversations, surrounded by the deep sea.


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

It's all about loving your family

Last Sunday early morning, we were at Changi Airport to pick Baba (Prantik's dad) up. He had a sense of pride when he entered our 3 bedroom homely apartment; for it was a stark contrast to his son's previous bedrooms that he rented as a bachelor. Things were in place here, there were no soiled clothes on the floor, no unfinished chips and cookie packets on the couch; fresh breeze blew in as the first rays of the summer sun reflected against sparkling floor tiles. The sheer space can get overwhelming to be honest, and the mirror-wall in the central dining area, adds more dimension to the place. With the orchids in a vase, and the newly added reading corner, we've grown even more in love with this place...I'd almost refuse to go anywhere else!

That evening, Maa-Baba came over to my workplace to pick me up :) So, I showed them around and we had some quick dinner at Thai Express and then headed towards Robertson Quay. Here, we chilled and watched the nail-biting thrilling Wimbledon finals between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Just the previous evening, we had had a bunch of folks, we call the #StrathmoreFolks or the #ActiveSG team over for dinner. Maa is fond of the nice warm, homely group, some of them even from Pune/Maharashtra. So she was quickly drawn in to join the animated discussion; the rest of us enjoyed watching the match from a distance, sipping our drinks and having cheese with figs, pitted prunes and crackers. Some indulgence that. But, at this point, I must add, cheese platters at Da Paolo at Rochester Park and at Mozza Pizzeria at Marina Bay Sands, are my personal favourites, till date. Pran knows where to rush me to, if I'm ever low :D

Monday morning, I got up with a bad, throbbing headache; my sinusitis came in uninvited and for the first time ever, I couldn't get up without feeling giddy. Too bad, I had to visit a doctor and call in sick :(
Meanwhile, my parents-in-law had invited our neighbours over for brunch/lunch. They actually came over to learn how to make Chappatis from Maa :D They bond over "good old days", exercise together in the mornings, share knitting tips and even, celebrate birthdays/attend funerals together. It's amusing to see how warm and friendly they are with Maa; they even take her to the wet markets and ChinaTown shopping area. They reminded me of the unconditional love and buoyancy that my grandmum exuded - It was simply heart-warming to meet them in person, after having heard so much about them from Maa.

The next evening, I headed out with Maa-Baba to the Asian Civilisation Museum. This time round, they had a special display of relics from the Ancient Calcutta Museum - featuring different parts from Buddha's life. Furthermore, there were displays on the South East Asian history, culture, heritage and civilisation. As a student, I was always fascinated by history. I couldn't remember names and dates to save my life, but the sheer magnificence that surrounded all the stories was mind boggling. So the evening spent here, was enriching to say the least.

We had dinner at Sofra's, serving Turkish cuisine - right from pita/sesame bread with hummus; to flavour-filled kebaps, we sure did enjoy our meal. After which, the in-laws went in for a quick foot reflexology session. The gentleman there, remembered them from past years! For some bonds are not fostered by blood... We ended the day with a blockbuster movie - Bahubali at Jade. Primarily, an Indian crowd, it's always fun to watch movies here - for there are always going to be groups of people cracking jokes, commentating and what not - especially, the initial part - so much so, Maa who often falls asleep in the movies, was sitting at the edge of her seat, wiping tears of laughter :D The war scenes that followed were epic, so was their background score and to be honest, I'm definitely not going to miss the next part!

The next evening, after my morning shift, I came home to an empty house. The silence was almost eerie! The in-laws were at the Indian Heritage Centre and then grocery shopping, while I stretched my legs, and read all the kind comments on the previous blog post. I then made some South-Indian sambhar and stuffed okra for dinner. After which, we all had juicy lychees while listening to songs by veteran singers, on YouTube, on our TV - There's a certain charm to songs from that era that songs from today cannot allure.

Thursday evening, post-shift, we headed out and Pran joined us from work, too. We finally got Maa-Baba iPhone6s too :) Finally, all of us on Apple devices. Not to say, Android phones aren't smart enough but I guess our souls are already sold to "i". It was quite an exciting moment, and I got hugs and kisses showered upon. Yaay :P To top it up, Baba decided to treat us to some delectable wine. At Elements again, we smiled, as Pran and I had been here even when I had got Pran his iPhone6, almost year ago. The chicken wings were yum and we couldn't wait to get home to get the iPhones started.

Friday was Hari Raya - a public holiday. I got home after my morning shift. Yea, we often have to work on public holidays but I wasn't as bothered by that. For the poignant truth is there is no fixed time for people to fall sick and gravely sick, often. I wonder how the families come to terms with such morbidity and loss. Next year, on the public holiday, would they go on a holiday or would they mourn the passing away of a loved one a year ago... Their pain is much more, their fear much deeper - so I can have only compassion for all the people I meet that day; even if all the friends and family I know from non-service profession enjoy over the long weekend.

I was welcomed by my school friend and her mum as I reached home; was good fun recollecting fond memories from school time and all the adventures that we were a part of :D
After they left, I quickly made Vegetable Stew to go with the Appams, for the dinner later that evening. Maa had earlier prepared green chilli chicken and corn-palak curry. We had the gang over for dinner - these are people who've been Prantik's friends for over a decade and now, I've gotten to know them as well. Much fun :)

Saturday witnessed Baba being introduced to the fitness and health apps. This was the beginning of the family choosing Healthy Living, Happier Living. And I couldn't be more thrilled. :)

A week of doing the new and revisiting the old.
A week of having neighbours and friends over and chilling with family.
A week of loving my new family.



Monday, 13 July 2015

Dealing with conflicts

I chanced upon this interesting Swahili proverb - "Wisdom is like hair, everyone has their own!"

There is conflict everyday, around us, within us - and this blogpost is about dealing with 'em, wisely.

There's an infant fighting illness; he knows not why he feels so lethargic, and uncomfortable. He does what he does best - he cries. Those precious tears tear apart a mother's heart, that cannot tell what is causing such uneasiness and pain in her dear child. That day, she stays home to look after her kid; hoping the fever shall lyse and her kid will start feeding again, and laugh and cackle again in sweet oblivion. Every day, a conflict between health and sickness.

There's a child going to school, with his backpack of books. He isn't prepared for the test that afternoon, or so he thinks. He studies even during the lunch break. He forgets his book under his desk. And, as luck would have it, the book is found and he is adjudged to be 'cheating'. Tears roll down in strong disagreement, he opens his mouth to argue but no one would trust him. He heads home with his head held down. Every day, a conflict between perception and the truth.

The child grows older and identifies himself as belonging to the opposite gender. He has short hair but he's more feminine than his parents would like him to be. They would have him play football while she'd rather attend dance lessons. They would rather have him play the guitar, while she'd rather learn painting. Every day, a conflict between Yin and Yang.

Storming into adolescence, with a gang of friends, they hang out at 'cool' places, listen to head-banging music, watch off-stream movies, drink up, occasionally smoke up, and find themselves lost in the crowd. An identity crisis of sorts, often wondering if we could be better, do better. Every day, a conflict between who we are and who we'd rather be.

And soon enough, college days are over and we're dropped in the ocean of corporate work. Where behind those square faces, are years of toil; and thus, they expect even more from each batch of new employees. So, clocking 16 hours a day, he puts in his sweat and blood, until one day he can't take it any longer. His parents are separating, he stays alone in a different, unexplored city and he hasn't had time to make friends. He sits at the window sill, fighting the urge to jump... Every day, a conflict between hope and giving up.

He survives that dark night; finds comfort in the hug of a pretty maiden. They dine and wine together; unravel mysteries, discover new music genres and explore new domains in the world of literature. He finds himself a new self, happier than he's ever been. He's contemplating taking the next step, but he's apprehensive...maybe it's too early, maybe things will change thereafter. Everyday, a conflict between commitment and ...umm, denial.

He ties the knot eventually, and things are rosy in the beginning. But, with time, issues crop up between his parents and her; him and her. And they just get more convoluted with each passing autumn. In his life though, it seems like it's forever winter. They are the people who gave him life, she is the person who filled his days with life, gave him a son; yet here they were at loggerheads. Time stopped ticking for him. Everyday, a conflict between reverence and abhorrence.

There is some solace in being there while his kid is growing up. He has the father's nose but his deep hazel brown eyes are his mother's without a doubt. He wishes his kid to grow up and be everything he's never got to be. Bogged by the father's heavy expectations pinned on him, the kid chooses a different career altogether - he doesn't want to be a doctor or a lawyer. The white/black coats are not for him. He wants to go out to the villages and help empower and uplift the masses. Everyday, a conflict between other's expectations and own desires.

His parents are no more, and the apple of his eye, has taken up his own adventure. He is alone with a wife he has barely spoken to all these years. Trembling in the cold, coughing through the night, with blurry vision and an unsteady gait; he gets up to get a drink to soothe his throat. He misses his step and falls backwards, hitting his head against the floor. He lies in a pool of blood, it gets darker, and his voice is too feeble to call out for help. Maybe, he doesn't want to. Maybe, it's time, to breathe his last. The days of his life flash back, and he sighs with relief... Everyday, a conflict between life and death.

He is greeted at the gates of afterlife by a really old gentleman with half-rimmed glasses, a silvery white beard, looking at him and through him. Just when he thought, he was rid of conflicts, and having to make choices, he's posed a question - Hell or Heaven? He's confused. He thinks he deserves to go to hell, for all the innumerable silly things he's said and done, but if it were a choice, why hell, let's choose heaven! And so he walks in... to find everyone in blissful celebration.

And then it strikes him. We make hell or heaven, everyday in our lives. It's not a matter of afterlife! It's a conscious choice, everyday.

Time spins around, the skies dance above and the clouds pass by, leaving him untouched.
He wakes up to find himself, born again, as a butterfly this time.

This time round, he cries happy tears; lives an honest, complete life; balancing each of his wings, he enjoys floating amidst the garden, he seeks no pleasure in flying high with the clouds; he's happy with his family, his wife, his son - his happy tribe; live and let live; a life sans expectations, hence a life sans disappointment. Each day, no conflict, for he constantly chooses life and love. He touches everyday, leaves a touch of glittering colour, spreads his cheer and then flies away....

I've had my share of conflicts this week. Even at my workplace, I've found myself aghast, at my 'clients' even creating a scene in my room, needing escalation to involve other healthcare staff and senior doctors! But what touched me was one of them, coming to me, after it all and telling me they were really amazed at my 'patience'. Haha! Patients vs patience ;) Just kidding.

I had a rather busy week, working evening shifts (during the day, I'd add new dimensions to the house - including decorating the prayer room, setting up cosy reading corner etc.) and hence, decided to cool down by calling a group of friends over for dinner, post my night shift, Saturday evening. All's well that ends well they say.
So, guys, take a chill pill. Stay calm and float like a butterfly!

A week of chilling under the sun, and working hard under the moon.
A week of maintaining my poise and conscious choice-making.
A week of mindful/soulful resolution of conflicts and peaceful sleep.


Wednesday, 8 July 2015

What are your priorities?

Last Sunday evening, I was in my own consultation room handling Priority 3 patients. So, according to the emergency department triage system, a patient can be quickly classified as Priority 1/2/3 based on symptoms and vital signs. So Priority 1 refers to patients whose life/limb/vision maybe in danger - These include patients presenting with heart attack (acute myocardial infarction in the medical lingo), acute stroke, severe trauma/accident, etc. who need immediate action to actually save their lives. Priority 2 may be sick yet stable patients, a good percentage of whom would likely need to be admitted in the hospital for further management - these could be to medical/surgical specialities. Priority 3, are supposed to be the not so sick, stable patients, who could be potentially discharged from ED itself - but honestly, these might be the toughest of the lot. In P3, it depends on a doctor's clinical skill and acumen, some intuition as well, to guide him/her to pick up the not-so-not-so-sick patients - so from P3, we'd still have some patients we identify who cannot be safely discharged.We've had people with normal ECG, having not so typical chest pain, having a Non-ST-Elevation-MI (heart attack); we've had people with oral bleed post dental cleaning procedure, requiring admission for blood transfusion thanks to severe blood loss; we've had people with non-specific abdominal pain, with X-rays showing definite intestinal obstruction; we've had psychotic patients with an element of depression, near-suicidal, requiring admission. So, now P3 doesn't seem all that simple does it?

My last patient that night shift was a European lady, teaching German. When I wished her "Guten Morgan!" she was pleasantly surprised :) It's always relieving when the shift is nearing it's end. It's like a heavy load lifted off one's chest. Thus, soon it was "Guten nacht to me!" 
Good sleep - #Priority!

Later on Monday evening, I headed out with Maa. We decided to pay little Kabir a visit. At one and a half years, he's an adorable little boy, whose first word was "Jai", in praise of the Lord, who dances "Balle Balle" with a raised finger :D, loves swimming and as all other babies, loves attention :D So, that evening we spent enjoying his sweet little acts - right from "When you're happy and you know it..." to "Ringa Ringa Roses" where he'd just watch his mum, Prerna and me "fall down" but he'd keep standing, as if to show, he's the hero :D So damn cute - I could eat him up! :P 
Time with kids - young and old - #Priority!

We then headed to the Happy Marketer office, down the road. Located at a traffic junction, the old shophouse architecture on the exterior, with cool, modern interiors; I really like how it's a reflection of the team themselves. Strong foundation values, knowledge and skill set with an enviable attitude and passion towards their work :) Hoping, they keep at it and stay awesome, stay happy.  
Work of course, bread-winning :D - #Priority!

We walked across the street and Pran had some Thai dinner while we enjoyed chilled sugarcane juice. Then, we headed to our favourite waffles stop - R.O.D., to introduce Maa. Yaay, so I've officially introduced 5 people to these heavenly, fluffly, snow-flaked waffles. Now, I'm at peace :D
Walking, exercising and having a balanced diet, in moderation - #Priority!

The shift post a night shift is like starting a new game on Angry Birds/Candy Crush :D A new day, new opportunity to push yourself and give it your best - kick some arse :D Had a night shift mid-week as well - Entered the ER with "Tonight's gonna be a good night" playing on loop in my head!
Games and Music - Entertainment - #Priority! 

Being Doctors' Day back in India, it was overwhelming to receive much love and blessings from near and dear ones. It's touching to be valued and appreciated in such a manner. Pran put up a rather sweet picture captioned - "Happy Doctors' Day to the most beautiful Doc I know". Amma and Maa followed suit with kind words and gestures. I woke up to find pretty purple flowers and cherries with a hand-written cute little card from Maa-Baba. I must have done something good in my life, to deserve such love and affection. Deep within, I earnestly hope, I can reciprocate at least a quarter of such compassion, in this lifetime...
Compassion and service - #Priority!

I was reading "What Doctors Feel..." by Danielle Ofri that evening. Bits of it made me feel nostalgic as well. I've been working in Emergency for just about a year and a half. But days as a medical student and then an intern, are memories for life. Of course, I'm learning new things each day and loving my work, but no one would deny, those days were the "Best Days of my life...". What I wouldn't give to go back to those days, and just let go and dance and jump together as a bunch of crazy, care-free teenagers :D
Me-time reading, dancing or meditating - #Priority!

Anyways... back to the present! Soon enough, it was Friday. And after a morning shift, I got home, freshened up, wore a dress, which was 10yrs old :D and headed out with Maa to meet Prantik for dinner and dessert, thereafter, to celebrate 7 months since our wedding. Maa very sweetly knitted us a sky blue basket of sorts, which hangs in our kitchen now :) She treated us to Baskin Robbins ice-cream as well. This month anniversary was indeed special with Maa around :)
Family time - #Priority!

I finally had a day off over the weekend - but as luck would have it, Prantik had a cricket game all day! So, Maa and I headed out. Our first stop was at our friends' 3 year old's birthday party at Indian Curry House, Expo. It was endearing to meet so many people from the Dayal khaandaan, who knew me thanks to #SocialShaadi, though I hadn't met them ever. It was exciting and fun - almost felt like a celebrity :D:D:D
Later that evening, post Prantik's victorious game, we headed to one of their long lost Pune friend's home. Tanushree, was quite the warm host and their home was adorned by self-made paintings and sketches which were truly mind-blowing. It was good fun, discussing politics and work cultures with her architect husband, Arun; Their little girl, Ananya was watching Wizard of Oz animation movie while we were just chilling and chatting over tortilla chips and some red wine to go with it :)
A relaxed Sunday with the family - for us in the healthcare system, it is indeed much looked forward to :)
Social time - #Priority!

For the thing about "priorities", like in ED, is that, often we may be wrong. 
For the truth is our days on this beautiful planet, are numbered. Working in ED works as a constant reminder! But as one rightly put it, what matters is not the number of days in your life, but the life in those days...
So, dear reader, the question really is, do you have your priorities right?
And if you aren't sure, I'll tell you just one thing - you'll never regret time spent with family.
Learn to strike the right balance between work and family; but if you are ever forced to choose, never think twice, choose family. Walk under the moonlight, exercise together under the sun, laugh out loud and warm your hearts. Take a break, go on a holiday and create memories, to last a lifetime. :)
Travel holiday - #Priority!

A week of good fun at work and then getting back to more fun at home :)
A week of celebrating and being celebrated as a "Doctor".
A week with the Sunday off. Period :D