Thursday, September 22, 2011

Date a girl who reads.

I found the most perfect quote ever. EVER.

Quote by Rosemary Urquico.
Quote found here, sent to me via Sunrise.

Source: here

"Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes."   -Rosemary Urquico

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nasbandi and Indian Chemists and... other stuff...

I have been setting aside a LOT of stuff inside my head with the tag "has got to go down on blog" for such a long time, that I've started forgetting all those stories and the details that go with them. So, without further delay, I'm just going to try and put it all down in this post. Here goes.

Location: Casualty Department, Tertiary Hospital in Mumbai.

A young man walks in, almost runs in, then sits down, panting, and and tells us: "Mujhe nas bandhi ka operation karwana hai". We all stare at him, pretty amazed (at least I was). I turn around, to check with the MO, and confirm whether he really does mean what I think he does (that he wants to get a vasectomy done!). The MO asks him, "Are you married?" He says no. Then the MO asks him, "Who told you to get this operation done?" He says he figured it out by himself, after watching the Govt. ads on TV, which said that you get paid by the Govt. if you volunteer to undergo a vasectomy. He said his sister was very ill, admitted to a private hospital, and he was falling short of Rs. 900/- for her treatment. She was his only sister, he wanted to save her, so he decided that undergoing a vasectomy would be a good solution. I don't think the ad explains the actual implications of the surgery. Anyone seen the ad? Then tell me what it shows because I haven't seen it. Embedded below is an ironic as well as hilarious video regarding nasbandi that I found while trying to search for a government ad video on the internet.

Anyways, the man didn't seem to realize that undergoing this surgery meant that he would not be able to have a child in the future. He just seemed concerned with the monetary compensation he would get. We sent him away, telling him this wasn't an option for him and that he should probably get his sister treated at a government institution if he wanted to save some money.

Location: Casualty Department, Tertiary Hospital in Mumbai.

An old lady is brought in on a wheelchair, transferred from a peripheral private hospital. She comes with reports of deranged RFTs and S. Creat at 8.3. She gives a history of irregular, unsupervised intake of NSAIDs and other Ayurvedic medications over the past two years, to treat her joint pains and some form of arthritis she supposedly had. The medicine registrar on call cites her chronic intake of NSAIDS as the cause for her renal failure. Makes me think about the tons of patients we subscribe NSAIDs to rampantly, everyday, with or without indications, and without thinking about the dangers of a situation where a patient may start self prescribing and abusing those very same NSAIDs. After all, how difficult can it be to read a drug name, ask the drug dispenser what it is used for, and, upon hearing the magic words 'pain relief' start popping it as and when your fancy arises after obtaining it from your friendly local chemist!

Location: Ob/Gyn OT, Tertiary Hospital in Mumbai.

A patient is taken up for an emergency LSCS, she was already in labour when she came to the hospital...I was posted in anesthesia and I just cannot remember what the indication for her LSCS was. Sorry about that. So anyways, she was wailing and screaming loudly the entire time inside the OT, everyone there was distracted because of her, and this while another surgery was going on in the same room. She had to be given her spinal, twice by the housie, I think the first time it was unsuccessful, thanks in no small part to her screaming and thrashing around. Then, when she didn't stop screaming at all, even after two attempts at a spinal, the senior anesthetist came and asked them to give it for a third time before starting the surgery, just to be safe. Inspite of this, the patient continued her voracious wails of "Aaaaaaa....owwww....majhyaa aai la bolva...aaaaaaeeeeeee" ("Owww....get me my mother...please...aaaaaeeeeeee") at a shocking volume, and atleast 20 people gathered to watch the spectacle. Finally, the obs people started the surgery in all this confusion, it was an emergency after all.

About 10 mins into the surgery, the patient seemed to be calmer, and had taken to just calling out for her aai in a normal voice as opposed to screaming. Now the much-more-visibly-relieved-looking-anaesthetist asked the patient, hopefully: "Aata tumhala dard kami jhala na?" ("Has your pain reduced now?") to which the patient (whose uterus was about to be cut open, may I remind you!) who had so far not given up on her incessant wailing, replied: "Ho, aata jara kami aahe, pan tari pan majhya aai la bolva!" ("Yes, now my pain is relieved, but you must still get me my mother!") At this, the 20 people who were inside the OT spontaneously burst out laughing at the same time, many of them shaking their heads in disbelief. I suppose the wonders which mothers can make happen in this world have no bounds! And I am sure that was the noisiest day ever in the history of that particular OT.

Location: ANC OPD, Peripheral urban health centre, Mumbai.

A young handicapped pregnant patient comes in. She seems to have a deformity in both lower limbs. She doesn't even use a wheelchair, she crawls in with the support of her hands and knees. Her mother accompanies her. We find out that she is unmarried and is now about 8 months pregnant. The patient refuses to take anyone's help to get onto the examination table, and shouts at the doctor for trying to help her. When after several attempts she's unsuccessful, her mother and the doctor try to help her, but it's still not possible to lift her onto the high set examination table. Finally we get her to agree to lie down on the floor of the room and get examined. When asked why she didn't get married, we find out that the father of the child is also handicapped, and he is also unemployed and doesn't have any family to look after him. So they chose not to get married. The patient's family is currently looking after both of them. And it is understood that they will have to look after the baby as well. When advised a visit to an obstetrician in a proper hospital, since this was just a health centre, the mother says she cannot afford to take her daughter by a taxi to any hospital, and the daughter being disabled cannot travel by any other modes of transport available in this city. The patient then crawls out, after telling the doctor haughtily that she need not prescribe any medications because she wouldn't be taking them, and then bursts into tears while leaving. Her mother plans to conduct her delivery at home itself with some local woman's help. I cannot even begin to imagine what it would feel like to be in that patient's place. The entire episode left me pretty dumbstruck.

Her one story just seemed to highlight so many issues in the country - lack of proper rehabilitation or a support system for handicapped people... the handicap-unfriendly public transport system... societal bias against handicapped people... poor reach of healthcare services to the people who need them the most... unemployment... motherhood outside marriage... and I don't know what else!

I'm still reeling from the shock of this story here.

Okay, I have forgotten the rest of the stories. Yes, there were more.


On another note, today's feature in HT Cafe 'Is your chemist the drug-peddler?' was quite interesting, informative and amusing. Being all three at the same time is definitely an achievement. Reading that article reminded me of when, about four years back, I was suffering from some kind of a UTI, and had already taken two courses of medications from my family doctor, with no great relief. I was a lost kid in my 2nd year MBBS at that time. So then, the third time I went to the doctor, he got irritated by me I think.

He wrote my prescriptions, and told me to get one particular drug from the chemist and sent me off with a wide smile. I went directly to the chemists' from there, and gave him the prescription. The chemist read it, gave me a long stare, then got the meds for me. He asked me whether he could keep the prescription. I was mildly surprised, but didn't think too much, gave it to him, and went home. At home, I opened up my brand new, hitherto-untouched pharmacology textbook, and looked up the drug the doc had prescribed. It was a tricyclic antidepressant! With embarrassment I now realised why the chemist had wanted my prescription. I felt angry and insulted, and got up and threw the entire strip, untouched, into the dustbin, and vowed never to go back to that particular doctor! Thankfully, my UTI resolved soon enough so I didn't need to either ways. But this reminds me that the chemist at that time was a good one, who did his job well. And he probably thought I was a teenager with issues. Oh well.

On yet another note, being posted in PSM (Preventive and Social Medicine) is taking its toll. I thought that working in the branch would actually involve practicing some preventive and social medicine. But I am starting to doubt whether the PSM people even practice medicine at all. They just seem to occupy themselves with being lazy, supervising the interns, making us run the dispensary and do all sorts of other clerical work, being humongous pains regarding attendance and (god-forbid!) dropped tablets, and incorrectly treating patients. Let's just hope this trend isn't really as generalized as it is appearing to be.

So. I think that was about enough to make a blog post. Entertaining or not, you tell me.

I will now head off to bed. And to yet another day of new stories to tell you people.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Book Review: The Host by Stephenie Meyer.

I really can't write reviews. But I have desperately wanted to write this one for a long, long time now.

First things first, if you be a Twilight hater, don't judge this book just because of it's author. This book has a very intriguing story to tell, which has nothing to do with the Twilight series, or even vampires for that matter.

This story unfolds in a universe where earth has been taken over by an alien race, called Souls, which inhabit humans and live as parasites in their bodies. The humans are called hosts. Before you start imagining aliens with superpowers and multiple limbs and spaceships and what - not, please stop. This book is nothing like the usual science-fiction fare out there, which is lapped up by many an over- eager geek (including me). Oh no. The book tells, in fact, a most memorable and moving love story (ladies, are you listening?), and it involves nothing about radioactive aliens and genetically mutated offspring, rest assured.

It is a unique combination of science-fiction, romance and drama. I love me some drama.Of course, it has its own dose of sappy lines. And I found I didn't mind them that much.

Do try to ignore the prologue if  by any chance you get bored by it. Do not, I repeat, please do not give up on the book, just because the prologue and the first couple of chapters seems boring.

We get to meet Wanderer (Wanda) first, she is the alien, the Soul. I have to say hers is the most idealistic and most humane fictional character I have ever come across in a book. How ironic then that this character should actually be an alien. You get to know her better as the story progresses, and you come to love her, like everyone else in the book seems to.

Then we meet Melanie, she is the host whose body Wanda has been given to inhabit. When a Soul enters its host, it starts anew in the host body, the host's mind having been erased out. The Soul is supposed to be in complete control of the body. However, this does not happen with Wanda, who, when she wakes up in her host body, discovers, soon, that her host, the original owner of the body, Melanie, is still alive and present inside her head! This leads to a unique situation, and forms the plot for the story.

Melanie is portrayed as a fierce, independent, and beautiful woman, a survivor, someone I would love to become like one day.

Melanie loved a man, Jared, in her lifetime. The way she sees him in her memories, which Wanda now has access to, makes Wanda fall in love with him as well. Messed up, I know.

Unable to control and extinguish her stubborn host, and unable to control her own strange desire to see Jared, Wanda, along with Melanie of course, sets out in search of the man they love.

Go read the book and find out more about this story....

I love the way the author portrays the human race throughout this story, as seen through the eyes of an alien. It just shows people, in general,  in a whole new light to me. And I love the flashbacks in the initial part of the novel, that is all I kept reading for, in fact.

This is a wonderfully told tale, though a bit slow at first, with many unforgettable characters, hateable villains, and tear jerking moments. I have read this book five times, and I wept at least a little every time. And I am not such a sap, in general. I swear.

I love that this book doesn't have a tall, dark, and handsome hero, who sweeps in to save the girl and to save the day. Oh no. This is the two heroines' book, all the way.

All the human characters (both male and female) in this book are flawed, and amazing, and lovable, and well, human. I love the author for creating them.

And then we have Wanda, the alien, who's almost flawless. Another victory for the author here.

Somehow, through this book, the author makes me value being a human, something I never even thought about before!

Judging by the number of times I have used the verb 'love' while writing this review, I think you can gauge how much I, err.... love this book. I am so glad I own this book, and I look forward to reading it many more times in the future, curled up and happy, knowing it will always satisfy my need for romance and drama, and leave me with a warm happy feeling and a satisfied smile every time I read it.

Thank you, Stephenie Meyer. A 10/10 and a huge hug for you.

Some quotes from The Host:

1.“I held you in my hand, Wanderer. And you were so beautiful.” - Ian.

2. "Something I've never seen in all my lives. I'm staring at...hope." - Wanda.

3. "I won't erase you, Melanie" - Wanda.

4. "My house, my rules" - Uncle Jeb.

5. "Eight full lives. Eight full lives and I've never found anyone I would stay in a planet for, anyone I would follow when they left. I never found a partner. Why now? Why you? You're not of my species. How can you be my partner? It's not fair. I love you." - Wanda.

6. "You and I won't lose each other, I will always find you again. No matter how well you hide. I'm unstoppable." - Jared.

7. " It's a strange world."
    "The strangest."

8. Ian: "She is. Melanie is a very pretty girl. Even beautiful. But pretty as she is, she is a stranger to me. She's not the one I... care about."

Wanda: "It's this body."

Ian: "That's not true at all. It's not the face, but the expressions on it. It's not the voice, but what they say. It's not how you look like in that body, it's what you do with it. You are beautiful."

9. "You never know how much time you'll have." - Melanie. 

10. "We girls have to stick together."-Melanie

11. "Right now, if I was given the choice between having the world back and having you, I wouldn't be able to give you up. Not to save five billion lives." - Jared Howe to Melanie Stryder.