Heart wrenching

Life has very questionably weird ways of getting you to appreciate what you have. That realisation struck me when I least expected it. I didn’t expect to be thankful for what i had in a hospital, cos mostly what i feel there is anger and anxiety. I walked into Stanley hospital, Madras today with the same sinking feeling in my stomach that i experience everytime i enter the place that houses my worst fears.
The corridors had a deserted, deathly feel about them. The walls were chipped and i couldn’t really tell what color they might’ve been when there still was some light seeping in through the disfigured pattern in the wall. Room 405 housed the cardiology department. The board outside indicated that there were 19 patients in the general ward. I tightly clutched my mother’s hand and refused to enter. I saw 3 people with IV lines strapped to their hands, sitting on the floor and eating out of the same packet of rice. Even that rice seemed to be drained of any color. Few other patients were lying down in a corner that had a haggard looking man in an extremely dirty white coat noting down someone’s BP. A nurse was sitting next to him flipping through some files. A little boy was standing next to her shirtless and peering over her shoulder. He also had an IV strapped in addition to a heavy bandage on his bony chest. Another patient was lying down on one of the row cots that had a green sheet covering it. The sheet seemed uncared for and almost cursed. The green was just desperately clinging on to the sheet as if for mere presence. Just then, i saw a dog sleeping on the floor next to his wife and i knew it was not the sheet that was cursed. At that instance, I couldn’t stop the tears flowing down my cheeks. When i realised i had to walk in through the same ward, the tears intensified. My legs refused to move. I was so shocked to see a man treated this badly that the only reaction i could manage was tears. For a minute, i imagined myself lying on that same bed, lying next to a dog on the floor and I knew how lucky i really was.
When i went out in to the yard cos i just couldn’t look into the ward any more, i saw surgical masks, blood containers, stained cotton pads and used syringes strewn about everywhere. I couldn’t stop crying! These are human lives and they deserve to be treated with more respect. What ailing people need more than anything is care. Roaming about in their lungis and having to go out to buy their own food didn’t seem like care to me. More than anything, the infection spread by these improperly disposed medical waste made my skin crawl. I was this close to throwing up. I assure you none of it had to do with prude behaviour.
There were doctors and nurses standing about and chatting the same yard, oblivious. Or maybe, they were also just trying to survive. I couldn’t imagine going back there everyday, let alone fend for my living there. We have our health minister talking about on screen smoking and stars consuming alcohol. Can we please take a moment to prioritize here? What about these people who’re stuck here in such conditions for pure monetary reasons? These people deserve our time, money and respect too! I’m too shocked and tongue tied to even swear. Set aside fame, limelight, votes, power, post, and all that crap, please just look this as a human being. Would you ever want your children to set foot here? It might be cowardly to stand in front of a hospital and cry. But, I just slumped down in resignation!
Ps: the break still holds but i had to get this outta my system


The struggle

I came home to find that I did leave some books behind here at that I didn’t take with me. Amongst the pile that got left behind, there was a thin black book that I didn’t quite remember. I, by the way, know where each one of my books were bought, which were bought in a particular batch, who was with me that day, the order in which I read them et al. So I picked this one up and found that it was autographed. Tenzin Tsundue, Chennai, 16th August it said.

It all came back to me in a flash. When I was in college, we once had a signature campaign for free Tibet. Mr. Tsundue’s latest book of poems was on sale and I was so impressed with the way that man spoke, I bought a copy. I’m not a particularly huge fan of poetry. But his poetry was so simple and sincere.

My Tibetanness

Thirty-Nine years in exile.
Yet no nation supports us.
Not a single bloody nation!

We are refugees here.
People of a lost country.
Citizen to no nation.

Tibetans: the world’s sympathy stock.
Serene monks and bubbly traditionalists;
One lakh and several thousand odd,
nicely mixed, steeped
in various assimilating cultural hegemonies.

At every check-post and office
I am an ‘Indian-Tibetan’.
My Registration Certificate,
I renew every year, with a salam
A foreigner born in India.

I am more of an India.
Except for my chinky Tibetan face.
‘Nepali?’ ‘Thai?’ ‘Japanese?’
‘Chinese?’ ‘Naga?’ ‘Manipuri?’
but never the question-‘Tibetan?’

I am a Tibetan.
But I am not from Tibet.
Never been there.
Yet I dream
of dying there.

I’m tired

I am tired,

I am tired doing that 10th March ritual,
screaming from the hills of Dharamsala.

I am tired,
I am tired selling sweaters on the roadside,
40 years of sitting, waiting in dust and spit.

I am tired,
eating rice ‘n’ dal
and grazing cows in the jungles of Karnataka.

I am tired,
I am tired dragging my dhoti
in the dirt of Manju Tila.

I am tired,
I am tired fighting for the country
I have never seen.

I’m in awe of their strength. How deep rooted that faith must be I wonder. To fight for a cause, a cause that bigger than one’s life and everything that engulfs one’s being. The passion has got to be infectious. But when the passion and the strength wear off, the faith, that still drives all of this must still be quite strong.

I remember standing in the temple, my eyes closed, brows knit in concentration, fervently praying. The unquestioned faith that I was convinced about. I believed that I would get that new tricycle if I prayed hard enough. Years later, my wants grew, and there I was standing in the same temple. My eyes are closed, I want to pray. I want to believe that my faith is strong. But somewhere, a ray of doubt creeps in. This time I’m not so sure. The faith is not enough.

To the people who’s faith has remained steadfast after all the draining struggle, I salute you!

When I was a kid, I used to fall down and hurt myself all the time while playing. But I never gave it more than a passing glance. There was only enough time to brush the sand off and get back to the game. I didn’t want to miss any of the fun. There was always time later to worry about the wound and the scar. Actually, I liked looking at my scars cos they fascinated me. It was almost like the shape of each scar was trying to sketch a story. When the wound starts healing the scar forms a definite shape and then, the story was etched, for eternity.
Everytime I tried meddling with a raw wound, my mother slapped my hand away and told me to leave it alone. She said it would heal with time. But I didn’t have the heart to let the game go by without me in the meanwhile. She would bathe the wound and bandage it for me, she said. But I didn’t want to be seen with a big bandage. It was too sissy. The moment she was out of sight, the loving bandage would be ripped right off. Ouch! Thats when it hurt a little bit. Maybe I’ll wear a longer skirt today and hide it. I was careful not to limp and run faster than everyone else.
One day, perhaps, I will sit and count all the scars in my body while they recount their stories and we would laugh and rejoice about that wonderful time called childhood.

Beauty and Pain..

I think most women are masochistic by nature. We like paying people a good amount of money every month to inflict pain upon us. The things we do for the sake of looking attractive! A visit to the beauty salon is not all soaking fingers in stuff, getting rollers in the hair, painting nails pretty. Its a couple of hours of some serious pain. We try flipping through magazines, examining our nails, making frivolous conversations with fellow women in pain to seem like we’re enjoying every bit of it. There’s no process there that’s not painless! There’s only varying degrees of pain. The more pain you can endure, the more attractive, the more pain you want inflicted, the more hip!

Actually, this pain is not so exclusive to women these days. We have men waxing their chest to look “macho.” I have a feeling Sanjay Dutt has a lower threshold for pain than the other pink shirt sporting men. And that’s what prompted him to come out with this, a public service message:

I probably agree with him about waxed legs and chest. But the bit about behenjis, taking care about children, salsa, poodles, I hope someone someone beats the day lights outta him. On retrospect, did they get him drunk on some cheap beer before the commercial. Nah, you don’t so much effort to convince someone like Sanjay Dutt to do such a stupid commercial. Actually, I want to meet the agency that came up with this ad and throw them a party for having discovered new levels of sucking in commercials.

So, Mr. Dutt, its very evident that you can’t handle anything in life that involves even a wee bit sophistication. So, let the world be and drink your strong soda.

Another blast in Hyderabad. I’m thousands of miles away from home, and the pain is just as intense. The blast is supposed to have happened at Lumbini Park, which is right opposite the Andhra Pradesh secretariat and at a chat shop in Koti. According to the latest figures, 44 people have been killed. This figure is certainly going to go up.

A blast at Lumbini Park is the worst hit possible in Hyderabad for more than one reason. It is right opposite the secretariat building. Also, the park is generally really crowded on weekends. Its filled with kids and huge family picnicking. Who ever’s behind the blast must cringe and feel ashamed of themselves. Why do you want to target children? What have they done to deserve this? Lumbini Park is also very close to Prasadz theater and other huge parks on Necklace road. These are place people are most often found hanging out at on weekends. Koti, one of the busiest shopping areas is heavily crowded on Saturdays as well.

The other thing that’s mentioned in the same breath after a blast is the fact that Hyderabad is communally sensitive. Don’t play with the lay man’s emotions. Killing people is the not the solution to anyone’s problems! How can anyone with even the slightest shred of humanity not flinch at the sight of so many people’s death? Is anything in world worth the smiles and happiness of so many innocent people?

We love Hyderabad. Please give it back to us! Did the people involved in the blast not see that Buddha Statue towering over the lake? I guess a mere stone does not mean anything to them….

Praying for all the families affected by this blast…….