Friday, 15 May 2020

Happy families, Anna Karenina principle, and more #QuoteQuest

Today I learned (TIL) that there is such a thing as Anna Karenina principle. I feel important putting the 'TIL' in parentheses because a few months ago I had learned what TIL stood for. 
One fine day, Reddit started sending emails that had links to many posts (is 'posts' the right word here?), the titles of which started with 'TIL'; and I found most of them fascinating and entertaining and did read them. The first couple of times, I did so without thinking about the TIL part, before finally googling it.

I can imagine someone starting a post with 'you must have been living under a rock not to know what TIL means'. I don't care. I have come to terms with the fact that I have to choose to be under a rock, so to speak, to be even mildly productive.

Back to Anna Karenina principle. This discovery too has google in it.

So, twitter showed me this:

quote leo tolstoy happy unhappy families anna karenina

Today, May 15th is International Family Day. Why is it celebrated and more importantly, how is it celebrated? Well, that's something that I may look up another day. Or I may continue to choose the aforementioned rock in this case.

My first thought on reading this was if I could also say: 'Happy people are all alike; every unhappy person is unhappy in their own way'. And for some weird reason, it made me smile.

The second thought was to wonder which book the quote is from. We put the name of the author under quotes, but they are not always beliefs of the author. At times, certain characters are the ones voicing them. This one is an authorial comment though. So, back to searching the World Wide Web.

Anna Karenina... This book holds a special place in my life. It was my first audiobook. 

I took my time warming up to audiobooks and even now, I read most of my books and listen to very few. But there are many which I wouldn't have gotten to know had it not been for audiobooks. And Anna Karenina was the first of the long list to which Aldous Huxley's Brave New World has been recently added and A.A.Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh is the one I am currently listening to. And I am proudly realising while writing this that that's quite a range.

The first search result on Google was to the Wikipedia page of Anna Karenina principle, which I am finding difficult to wrap my head around. Can someone please dumb it down for me?
Anyway, the name of the principle is derived from the quote that I have quoted above. 
This one: 


Random thought: Why is there a leaf in the image?

By the way, it is the opening line of Anna Karenina. I so need to re-listen to this book.


Hope you are safe. Celebrate your families, guys, even if you are tired of them.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Television - Stories from an ICU waiting room #AtoZChallenge

As I have described before, the first waiting hall led to the second one. And there was one wall-mounted television in each.
The choice of the channel was with the guard posted just outside the first waiting hall, next to the reception area. The receptionist had the remote in her 'custody'. 
It is funny--and tragic--how often there were arguments over which channel to pick. No entertainment channels were allowed. But within the news and educational ones, there were constant tussles. And don't get me started on what time the televisions would be switched off. There are sleep-with-sleep-timer on people and then there are pin-drop-silence-to-sleep people. And I realized that most people are I-don't-care-I-am-in-an-ICU-waiting-area-I-need-things-my-way people.




Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Sanctum - Stories from an ICU waiting room #AtoZChallenge

Faith is discussed often. Or at times, the lack of it. Or the decision to give up faith.
As one enters the first waiting hall, on the left, in the corner is an area of 6 ft., separated from the rest of the area with partitions about the same height as the other dimensions. The lower half of the partitions is wooden and the upper see-through glass.
You would find photos and smalls idols of almost every 'god' there. There are folded papers that have been put under some of these. I thought often of pulling them out and seeing what was written in those, but it seemed too much like inviting bad luck. Superstition? Maybe. I just couldn't.

People would go in, pray, and come out, especially just before the visiting hours. Surprisingly, I never saw anyone ever just sitting there.
I used to sit there a lot.



Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Relationship - Stories from an ICU waiting room #AtoZChallenge

It is surprising how much we care about what others think. Even those we hardly know. Virtual strangers. Ships passing one another at night. The ones in the waiting area of an ICU.

His father was in the hospital. He lived in Delhi, a medical student. The father was from Panipat, a few hours' drive from the capital city. 
She was there with him, day in and day out. They were both in their early twenties. She was a medical student too.
Even though they were very frank about their lack of knowledge about the actual practice of medicine, they always patiently answered any questions asked from them about various ailments, the cure, etc.
They were married. Or so we were told.
Oh, she's my fiance, he said a few days later.
We are in a live-in relationship, she told me, during a late-night chat, when he was sleeping and we were strolling outside.

Despite the 'official' version being that they were married, there was gossip. Gossip in an ICU waiting area - can you believe? 
Why the gossip? And why the need to answer questions about your relationship in a place like that? 



Monday, 20 April 2020

Quintessence - Stories from an ICU waiting room #AtoZChallenge

A lot happens in those waiting rooms, but the quintessence of the existence of each one there is the person in the ICU and the quintessence of the mood of each is the visiting time.

And when there is an announcement besides these times. The palpitations. The nervousness. It could be the doctor visiting and that is why you are called. If so, it could be the doctor taking routine rounds or it could something important... good or bad?

Except for the doctor's visit, it was almost always bad news.

Anyway, the visit.
The first glance sets the tone for the whole visit and for your emotions till the next visiting time.
Happy, hopeful? Exhausted, given up? Angry?

Trying to squeeze in the whole time spent lounging in those waiting room chairs in the few minutes allowed. Finding a place to touch among all the tubes and needle. Trying to convey that you are there always. 

How you wish you could be there always? How you try to convince yourself that the isolation in ICU is needed?

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Picnic - Stories from an ICU waiting room #AtoZChallenge

This memory is different from most others that I have written in this series. It is not strictly from the ICU waiting area. Usually, some relative would get packed lunch for me. Having food in the waiting area was not allowed, although that doesn't mean that everyone followed this rule. Anyway, there were a couple of small parks in the hospital premises outside the ICU building with benches. I'd usually have my food there.

This memory is from one of those.
A family of six - three females and three males, each about 35-40 years of age. I was standing leaning against a fence behind one of the benches. They sat on two benches facing each other and put three covered, plastic picnic baskets in front of them. Out came crockery and cutlery and tissue papers and bottles of water. 
There was Rajma Chawal, Paneer, Chapatis, and Salad. They ate and conversed as if they didn't have a care in the world.
I have seen and written about those who were clearly not there for love. But not one person have I known who is that unaffected by the environment there.

They were having dessert when a guy (I think their driver) came by to take the baskets. They asked him to wait so he retreated a few steps and stood gazing in another direction.

I left before their meal was done but it was a one of a kind experience. And as usual, I keep wondering what the story of them being there is.





Friday, 17 April 2020

One - Stories from an ICU waiting room #AtoZChallenge

Is disease a great leveller? This question has now gotten a drastically different depth and implication compared to when I had originally planned writing this post back at the beginning of March.

I had planned to write that all become one when sitting there, a few floors down from the ICU, in the waiting area, restless about even leaving the building, as if just by being there you were closer to the person in the ICU.

Even when I was there, I knew that it is an entitlement just to get the right medical care, to have a good place to be waiting, etc. But the fact is that when it really came down to it, while I was there, the feeling was that everyone is just a loved one of someone who is fighting for their life.

The disease is a great leveller, but still it is not. It may be able to affect anyone, but some are more susceptible than others. It can make (almost) everyone stay at home, but not everyone has a home.

Well, back then we were in one boat. Now, it feels that everyone is in the same boat of uncertainty and more.