Sunday, 30 August 2015

Celebrating Sibling Love

The following write up is almost 10 years old. And I found it amidst so many other documents in a forgotten folder on an old external hard drive… (I’ve added on at the end, to make up for the years gone by since then!)

It’s nice to be your sister. It’s taught me loads of things... apart from how to source cheat codes! :D

I’m told I loved you when you were still not born. That I would talk to you while you were still in mama. Maybe our bond was spun right then.

But I’m also told I was jealous as hell as soon as you were born. Obviously. With you being the centre of attention. Mama and papa showering all their love on you, I thought they forgot me. So I’d throw tantrums to ensure only mama fed me, bathed me etc. :D 

But as you grew into this adorable chubby little thing, I couldn’t help but wanna be next to you all the time. Hold your stubby little fingers and watch you grow. 

‘Twas fun playing with your guns and cars. And yea I know I forced you to play with my dolls and the kitchen set too. :D And I’m sorry. For all those times, I’d pretend to be dead and wake up a zombie to scare the living daylights outa you. 

As you elder sis, I always thought I was to look out for you. Protect you. So when the football came hurling at you, I went and slapped the guy. Even though it wasn’t intentional on his part, he should have been more careful when playing around a little boy!! 

Soon, you bid adieu to your tricycle and were on a bicycle. We were growing up so fast. We’d race each other so often. I was ahead. And you fell down and fractured your arm. I felt so guilty that night. It was my fault. Also, that time, we raced down the stairs and I had to see you tumbling down. Gee! I had my heart in my mouth! 

And soon we were too big for each other. We had our own friends. Our own books to attend to. And our own different priorities. So while you were hooked to your PlayStation, I was glued to the Harry Potter books. 

And then, we moved back to India. And we were older. And yes, the study pressure was glaring! So amidst innumerable tests, we’d help each other. I’d make notes for you the night prior to your geography test, and you’d try and keep our little cousins engaged while I crammed before my entrance exams. And we’d celebrate our little victories together with a pizza and some fizz. 
And with the blink of an eye, soon it was you giving the entrance exams. I’d bring you vanilla ice-cream with fresh strawberries, keep extra chocolates for you etc.  amidst all the lectures and fights.

You’re pursuing an engineering career now while I’m a doctor already (Holy smokes!). And we’ve seen each other through tough times. Be it family, friends or health crises. Yes, I still have the pics from your untimely E-med visit at 2am! But I must say, some of those scaringly wise and mature things you say at times, it’s hard to imagine that you’re no longer that chubby little boy. 

In fact, you're the first person I told about Prantik! And now, #SocialShaadi has happened, and at times it drives me insane that you find him cooler than me :P 

Today you’re much sought after not only because you have an attractive voice. But because you’re awesome, lil one. You’re well behaved, the teachers’ pet, a caring friend and all that. A genuine gentleman, an enterprising engineer who just recently landed his first job and a rockstar too! And I’m so so so proud of you. And you must know, that you’re mum-dad’s apple in the eye, well deservingly!

And yes now, I’m probably the little one. Haha. But all I really want to say is I’m going to be there, you like it or not, and I’ll stand up against everyone else, for you. I love you, Rohit Kamath! Shoot for the stars, baby brother; the sky is no limit! Stay happy, Stay blessed! We all love infinity & beyond!☺

A week of lovely memories.
A week of keeping them alive...
A week of celebrating festivals! :)


Tuesday, 25 August 2015


He asked for water, we gave him a sip, enough to wet his lips...
When I close my eyes, his still eyes haunt me; his family wailing, their voices still echo in my ears. We did everything we could, but we couldn't save his life. Worse still, we couldn't figure out what resulted in his unexpected death. Just a few minutes ago, he was throwing his drunken limbs around, a few cuts across his lips, a few bruises over his chest and extremities sustained after self-skidding from his motorbike; he wasn't visibly bleeding from anywhere. The ultrasound didn't show any visible internal bleeding either. His parameters weren't too abnormal. And then all of sudden, his heart wasn't beating right. He wasn't breathing. There was no pulse. We started chest compressions. We shocked him. We gave him the requisite drugs to resuscitate him. We did all we could. And yet, in a moment, life had left from his body. And no matter how hard we fought, Lord Yama (considered as the Lord of Death, as per Hindu mythology) had wielded his power. And thus, a person in his prime of life, ceased to exist... Just as suddenly as a bubble burst.

While working in Emergency Medicine, we are faced with probably the highest number of sudden deaths. While many are expected deaths, the ones that are the toughest to deal with are the ones that strike out of the blue. It is obviously tough on the family and near&dear ones. I can't even imagine what the parent and elder siblings were going through. Having to break the news that their family member is at the brink of death, is definitely not an easy process either. They are hit by the strongest sense of denial that is so hard to refute. Keeping at par with the K├╝bler-Ross model, it is soon followed by anger - at that moment, it is directed at the healthcare personnel, more often than not; bordering on helplessness of course. They then bargain and ask us to "do something", despite us reiterating that we have and we are doing everything in our capacity.... Often, it helps to just be by their side, perhaps. Standing in silence. While the family tries to wake their lifeless family member, all attempts in vain. We let them have their privacy, as it gradually sinks in and an overwhelming sense of depression overcomes them all. It's contagious even. Doctors and other healthcare personnel are not thick skinned, as the world out there tends to believe. We grieve the loss of our patients as well; only less visibly perhaps. Finally, before the body (not a person/patient anymore) is transferred to the mortuary, a fleeting not-so-firm sense of acceptance has to set in sometime for how else would they inform other members of the family of the accident, unless they had accepted, at some level, that their loved one was no more. 

There's silence and screaming. There's denial and acceptance. There's hopelessness and faith. There's frustration and calm. There're tears and prayers. Death throws contrasting aspects of life, right at us. It confuses and yet, gives us perspective.

The week also saw, Guruji at HK. And as he guided a short mediation session, which Pran and I could fortunately live-stream; he answered quite a few questions but the common thread that he stressed was to realise that our lives are short and impermanent. It's troubling to live in fear but it's important to understand this very truth of our mortal lives and thus, learn to focus on the important things in life. We should fret less or better, sweat not over the small things; soon, we'll see most of the things we worry about are indeed "small things". 

The Asthavakra Gita talks about how 'we are not the doers'. Such a powerful teaching. If one were to visualise, each of us, as puppets, in the hands of a higher force. Not to say, we are completely out of control. Our deeds are our own - adding to our karma. So, 'not being the doer' not doing anything. But I guess, at times like these, it's always helpful to acknowledge an unknown, unseen Force at work. Doctors, are not Gods; they are merely instruments of His Love #terms and conditions apply#

The week that started at the ocean, with the waves lapping against my feet, as the sun set, ended thus at the shore of spiritual awakening. As a person, as a doctor, as a living creature on this planet, a speck of dust in the Universe, there's so much to learn, so much more to do... And each day, each week, life only teaches me more. And I blow some more bubbles, again... 

A week face to face with mortality.
A week of haunting screams and silence.
A week of sunsets, forever and new sunrises.


Tuesday, 18 August 2015


The week's big tech headline was Google announcing "Alphabet" as it's parent company.

So, in jest, my very own "Alphabet" too for the week gone by...

A: Anniversary (3 yrs since we met)
B: BBQ party
C: Changi beach
D: Double bicycle
E: Eshaan's b'day celebration (with props including moustaches!)
F: Family photo wall
G: Garden brekkie at Spruce
H: Harmony, always
I: Indian Independence Day
J: Jana Gana Mana (goosebumps, always!)
K: Kindle time
L: Labrador Park
M: Marche meal
N: National Day 6's champion (Whoohoo!)
O: Other side of the city state
P: Patriotic song Antakshari
Q: Quality time with loved ones
R: Radio air time @PranMaz
S: Sunday off (Yaay!)
T: Taare Zameen Par
U: Us, chilling at the club lounge
V: Village hotel staycation
W: Wine, sparkling
X: eXtra learning sessions
Y: Yummilicious Chicken Biryani (product of our kitchen!)
Z: Zen

A week of the ABC...
A week, I out-did myself. :)
A week of sublime happiness... :)


Sunday, 16 August 2015

Seven Surprises!

Imagine my utter surprise when I'm heading back after work and I get a message from my mom-look-alike aunt telling me that they are in Singapore! August thus kickstarted with the first from the extended family visiting us :) Heart-warming to say the least. We hugged, kissed, smiled, laughed and had a jolly good time. The little one, Amreen, fondly called Ammu, after our beloved grandmother, infact has some facial features like Mamama. Being the youngest first cousin from the maternal side, she's the apple of our eyes; gifted with a melodious voice, a kind heart and a shy smile, she could steal anybody's heart in a moment, which is exactly what she did at our wedding #SocialShaadi :)

The next day marked 8 months since our wedding. And the dear husband earned brownie points by choosing to work from home so he could spend the day with me (I was working the night shift that day which meant I was home most of the day) - For not all gifts need to be touched; the gift of time is precious, invaluable...and touching indeed - Prantik had clearly read Gary Chapman's "The 5 Love Languages" cover to cover ;)

Post the night shift, getting back home and crashing is a routine that Prantik has gotten accustomed to. I have cereal with milk for breakfast, wave him good day, and then dive into the abyss of sweet slumber... I got up quite late, way past 4pm, unlike usual 'sleep days'. I dressed up and joined Pran for our movie spree date. Prior to meeting him, I picked up a card for Friendship Day to present to the best friend, even though 2 days late :P And then, I honestly surprised myself by staying up for back to back movies, despite a messed up wake-sleep cycle. We watched Tom Cruise's Mission Impossible and Salman Khan's Bajrangi Bhaijaan and liked both movies, much to our surprise!

The next day I had class, followed by shift. I reached home, only closer to midnight. But that didn't stop us from watching Shonda Rhimes' Scandal. Our daily dose of TV, couch time, us time. :) The last 2 months were quite busy with our parents in town and we didn't really get time for Netflix :D so, we were making up for that :D

Thursday was an off day. I had loads of stuff to do on my checklist - finish a book, do the laundry, watch FRIENDS maybe, work on my case review presentation draft, and cook perhaps. The only thing that happened was the last item! I surprised myself by conjuring up an entire healthy thali for dinner and infact enjoying it all, while listening to Shafqat Amanat Ali's Ajab Khail on loop (which was also a chance discovery - Ah! The joy of discovering soulful music). There was Palak-Carrot Pulao, Mushroom Shabnam Curry, Baingan Bharta, Cucumber Raita and Mango Chutney :) Prantik even took second helpings :P Don't they say a way to a man's heart is through his stomach :D:D:P Mission accomplished ;) We then headed for the night show of Drishyam, with friends; a thriller well-done, it was a good way to welcome the long weekend.

Long weekend for everyone, but service providers, like us, healthcare personnel. I worked on all days of the #SG50 Jubilee weekend. And so did so many others in the healthcare sector - right from doctors, nurses, clerks, auxilary staff - and there might have been long faces, once in a while, but while working, each one worked with an enviable fervour. It was good to be on the receiving end of appreciation, from patients and their families' for caring for them during this weekend - and I would respond simply with - "You don't have to thank me! It's my duty, my pleasure :)" and that is the simple truth. When surrounded by people who love what they do, and are as passionate about it as you are, then waking up everyday and going to work is not a chore - it's part of happy living. To be honest, having worked in ED for 1.5 years now, it has become such an integral part of my life, I can't imagine myself doing anything else. This realization came quite serendipitously, indeed!

The next evening, we headed to Shushanta-Nikita's housewarming party. We were catching up with the gang after quite sometime! We had home-cooked dinner and oh-so-sweet wine; and I topped it with some vodka/cranberry juice before heading out to the newly opened/re-opened Rupee at St.James. It was only Day 2 since they had opened and it was good fun grooving to Bollywood numbers, in a space larger than Magic Carpet. Phew! Finally :) Tune Maari Entry... played too and it brought back such fun memories from our Sangeet :)

A week of good fun time with extended family and friends :)
A week of catching up on movies :D
A week full of surprises and serendipity, indeed!


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Roller Coaster Ride

Last Sunday evening... I got home after work, to a gorgeous rainbow - oops double rainbow! Such a beautiful sight - I was thrilled beyond containment :D
Later that evening, the Strathmore folks had invited us with Maa-Baba over for dinner. We basked under the warm golden yellow light, with Kishore and Lata's melodious voices in the background, while the lovely food grabbed all the attention. Much effort was put in by our new friends - Ankur, Chandni and Vivek; not to forget our old friend, Eshaan. :) It was so heart-warming to listen to some of my all-time favourite tracks like Raina beeti jaaye  and Beeti na bitaaye raina, while the moon rose higher up the night sky.

Monday evening, at the fag end of my evening shift, as I was heading back after handing over a patient to the ICU team, I got a message from one of my close friends from college, Prudhvi and then, learnt that one of our good friends was going to get hitched soon! What a surprise! I was so kicked, I tried my luck and called him up via Whatsapp. God bless technological advancements. A decade ago, we were still struggling with dial up internet; and now I can call him, serving in a rural area, via phone, pretty much for free! It was so good to listen to his voice and tease and laugh together. There's that thing about close friends isn't it? You don't have to necessarily talk everyday, but when you do, you can always resume where you last stopped and it just feels so uplifting :)

The next morning, I helped Maa-Baba pack and tried to rest in the afternoon, pre-night shift. I also decided I'll accompany Prantik to drop my in-laws off at the airport, later in the evening. So we headed together to Changi Airport. The check-in as always was smooth, and I quickly got a greeting card, to express our gratitude to Maa-Baba for the lovely summer '15; After which, we had some appetizers at the Thai restaurant. Soon enough, it was time for them to immigrate. We took our last welfie before we parted ways. Farewells aren't kind on the heart, ever but guess, it's always the promise to meet soon, that keeps us going...

Getting back to a seemingly empty home, just the two of us, after good 2 months, felt different, to say the least. It's like a glaring void, that we don't know how to fill. But, I guess, time heals. And soon enough, our own voices echo against the walls and fill up our rooms, giving us the illusion that we aren't alone...

In the meantime, the country was mourning the passing away of the former People's President, the inspirational teacher, India's Missile Man, who truly gave Wings of Fire to the vision of India 2020 - a Bharat Ratna indeed - A.P.J. Abdul Kalam passed away while doing what he enjoyed most, teaching. Such a blessed soul :) He shall be missed. May his ideas and values, continue to ignite minds and serve as a beacon light for our nation, in the decades ahead...
Also, a couple of days later, the nation witnessed the execution of Yakub Memon, brother of Tiger Memon, responsible for the Mumbai 1993 terrorist blasts. Hundreds lost their lives, and many more remain scarred for life. This execution was debated over by lawyers and many well-read folks but I know of one of my friends' father, who was a victim of the blasts. Though, the main accused are still out in the wild and evading the police and interpol, Yakub's hanging probably tries to send out a strong message from the country's legal system, point of view. (To the many fanatic terrorist groups, he probably is a martyr!) But if I were to ask the many victims, if this changes anything? I am not entirely convinced of that... For what's lost, is lost in the sands of time, forever. And though, the wounds have since healed, the scars will remind them, constantly, of that dreadful day. And there is truly, never a complete closure...

The week, thus started out, as quite an emotional roller-coaster ride. We decided to watch the LKY Musical - a tribute to Singapore's Founding father. It was a well orchestrated performance, with anecdotes from Lee Kuan Yew's early life. It served as a reminder, to all Singaporeans,  of the impact he's had in transforming a fishing village to a formidable red dot on the world's map. The 9-box concept for transitioning between different scenes and times was quite unique and well-executed. We then grabbed light dinner at the French Bistro - a date night after what feels like ages! :)

Once in a blue moon, which was on Friday, my off day, Pran worked from home, in the morning. :P It was good to spend the day at home, organising the kitchen cabinets and the fridge :) That evening, we were invited for dinner at one of Prantik's friends' place. I had met them only once before; it was rather kind of them to invite us over while his father was in town. We had good fun conversation and Chicken Biryani for dinner :)
Saturday, we were to attend another housewarming party, and I had even picked up a wine bottle for them, but an hour later, I found myself sprawled in the living room, my body demanding rest. So we called it a raincheck and stayed home instead. Pran and I caught up while enjoying the gentle breeze...

The Asthavakra Gita teaches one to be a witness only; may all events that occur, float as clouds, while we remain untouched and maintain our poise. Over the weekend, my parents were at Tirupati, a pilgrimage temple in South India, with a group of friends, while I continued, to just be...
Steve Jobs' mantra was to "Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish" while Sri Sri Ravi Shankar advocates to "Stay Hollow & Empty" thus, I just stayed me...

A week of farewells, and some goodbyes forever...
A week high on emotion.
A week of seeing the rainbow, beyond the rain :)