Monday, November 19, 2007
Before we left Mumbai Dad and I visited Matunga, a suburb of Mumbai where my Mom grew up and where both my Mom and Dad went to college. We visited a very good friend of Dad’s, Gangadasbhai, who helped arrange Mom and Dad’s marriage. We also visited the Kapol boarding house where my Dad stayed while he went to college. After lunch we took a pre-paid Taxi to
Sudaben met us at the taxi stand and took us home to freshen up before we went to see her Blue Dart office. Blue Dart is a national courier service that was recently bought by DHL, which has made Sudaben’s life much busier. She’s the head manager of the
After returning home for a quick dinner, we caught a show for Om Shanti Om, Shah Rukh Khan’s big Diwali movie. It was ok, one good song and a few nice scenes including a wonderful spoof on Bollywood during an award ceremony, but overall it was too loud and hectic and by the end you get a little tired of watching SRK, since he’s in almost every frame. My favorite part was actually the credits, where the people who helped make the film from got to dress up and walk down the red carpet. Not just the stars mind you, but the assistant directors, make-up artists, camera operators, and even the grips got their time on the screen. And the director Farah Khan arrived last in a beat up rickshaw to find that everyone had left. It was probably all the jokes about Bollywood celebrities that I enjoyed the most in the film.
The next morning we went to Thamkeshwar, a temple about 20 km outwide of
We drove back home for lunch and after a short rest headed out again, this time to see ‘Old
We went to one area called Panchavati, named after the five banyan trees that grow there. Dad and I visited a temple for Lord Ram, in which visitors entered and exited through staircases so small that we literally had to crawl. I felt a lot like
Dad and I left for Mumbai the next morning in a shared taxi. All in all it was a nice, relaxing weekend, and gave us a much needed break from the stress of the past few days.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
This Diwali was extra special because it fell on my Mom’s birthday, November 9th. At , the whole family except the youngest kids came to Kamleshbhai’s house to surprise her with cake and flowers. Dad and I also got her a huge birthday card which everyone signed.
My Mom and Dad arrived around last Sunday after a hellacious flight that was delayed almost 4 hours, culminating in 2 lost bags that have since been recovered. Sanjay Mama, Falguni Mami, Ami, and Anup came to Kandivali to meet them and have lunch, and then by 5 we were in a taxi on our way to Dadar station to catch a night train to
On Diwali I went with Mom, Dad, and Maya kaki to the temple to do darshan (basically prayer). The people at the temple were busy getting everything ready to celebrate the New Year the next day, which included making flower garlands and preparing lots of sweets and snacks. Later that evening the family gathered at Kamleshbhai’s office, which is under the flat where my Dad grew up, to perform puja and set off fireworks.
Setting off the fireworks was definitely the most fun part, especially since the rules here are quite lax compared to the
Here's an amazing shot Dad took of my nephew Shantanu enjoying the fireworks:
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Since I'll be going to Akola with my parents for Diwali, Mama and Mami decided to treat me to an authentic Gujarati thali dinner before I leave this Sunday, and it was quite an experience. We sat down at the table that was set with large thalis that each contained 4 or 5 smaller bowls, and within moments the waiters began serving how dinner. The menu was fixed, and for the next few minutes each waiter came with serving dish in hand to offer us rotis, vegetable shaaks, curries, daal, khadi, dholka, fruit salad, and chaas.
We all tucked into the feast and our plates were kept full by the very attentive staff. Despite Malan Mami's warning that the waiters will keep serving you until you say no, the food was too good to refuse and I ended up eating far more than I normally do. As my cousin Adit told me, your thali should look messy at the end of the meal, because there is no way you can finish all the food they give you!
Here's an example of a traditional Gujarati thali:
For anybody planning on visiting Mumbai, this is something they have to try, it's wonderful.
Friday, October 26, 2007
It also doesn’t help that I stand about half a foot above the average Indian woman, and I often have at least an inch or two on many of the men. I’ve grown fairly accustom to the stares I receive on the street, and whenever I am introduced to someone invariably one of their first comments is on my height. Ba and I must make quite an interesting pair during our walks around Thakur Complex, with me standing over six inches taller than her. She even commented once when I accompanied her to an afternoon garba dressed in a punjabi that several people were giving us (mostly me probably) double-takes as we walked by.
It all reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Barbara Kingsolver’ Animals Dreams, whose main character is a woman about my height. She says that, “height isn't something you can have and just let be, like nice teeth or curly hair. People have this idea you have to put it to use, playing basketball, for example, or observing the weather up there. And if you are a girl they feel a particular need to point out your height to you, as if you might not have noticed."
Still, by in large I don’t really mind it; height does have its advantages, like making it easy to look over the nurse’s head in the OT or grabbing a long pass in ultimate frisbee. Then of course there was the waiter at an Indian restaurant in
Another interesting part of being an Indian-America here, are the questions I’m asked about
Granted I’ve probably pestered Samir Mama, Malan Mami, and others in a similar way, asking lots of questions about the festivals I’ve seen here, how many patients come to their clinics, how much are the maids usually paid, and even how late the banks stay open. Mama often laughs at the questions I ask, but it helps make things seem a little less foreign if I understand them a bit. Still, I don’t think I’ll ever quite understand why people here do not keep separate bathtub in the bathroom, getting my feet whenever I brush my teeth gets quite tiresome!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
This past two weeks I’ve been going to
The most common symptoms his patients present with are back and neck pains, also known as PC syndrome because they are usually office workers who have to sit in front of a computer for several hours every day. The treatments are often quite simple, first relieve the pain with pain relievers and muscle relaxants, and then prevent future pain through physiotherapy and posture adjustment.
I also got to see Dr. Ratanpal perform a couple of internal fixation operations. One was on a mother who received a compound fracture of her tibia when a delivery boy hit her with his bike as she got down from a rickshaw. Using screws and a surgical steel plate Dr. Ratanpal properly realigned the bone with no complications, which was great for the mother since her daughter was getting engaged that weekend.
The other operation was much more difficult, with the patient being an 86 year-old woman with a fracture in the neck of the femur that also extended down to the shaft of the bone. She had further complications of anemia and diabetes, and the hip fracture had left her completely immobilized. If the fracture was not repaired then she would never be able to get out of bed. The operation began well, but as Dr. Ratanpal began to screw in the plate, the brittle bone began to chip badly. Eventually he and the doctor assisting him were able to get a good fixation, but it will still be at least two months before she’ll be able to get out of bed.
Orthopedic operations are a quite an experience compared to the other surgeries I’ve seen, with the OT often resembling a mechanic’s workshop. My anatomy professor once told me that orthopedic surgeons operate with a tool belt, and he is quite right. In addition to the scalpels, forceps, and clamps used by all surgeons, Dr. Ratanpal’s bench had a variety of screwdrivers, pliers, wire cutters, and of course a drill. If you only looked at the doctors’ hands and not at the patient on the table, you could almost believe it was a machine they were repairing and not a human being.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
We had an early start this Sunday, performing pujas at both clinics and at home. I've posted pictures on my facebook account, but for my Mom who's dying to see me wear a sari, here are a few pictures:
There ya go mom, enjoy! :)