I have a few things to say and I am gonna say them here ...
This book has been specifically created to enter thoughts, opinions and at times, the mad ramblings of my insane mind. Musings of a more serious nature may also find their place here, as also angst, temper-tantrums, spiritual mentions and so on and so forth. As a rule, I am going to keep intensely personal items and thoughts outside the realm of this journal, but you never know ...|
WELCOME TO THE INNER DOMAIN OF MY CRAZY MIND!
|Yes, I was eagerly awaiting two great festivals last week, viz. Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights and Eid, the Moslem festival of post-Ramadan enjoyment. Now, both have come and gone, and life is back to normal - i.e. in its old groove.
As my mother-in-law passed away under three months ago, we had decided NOT to "celebrate" either of the festivals, but make do with a religiously correct observance of the rituals - such as prayer, for example - and so we did. In fact, Nishrin has been subdued all these days. However, she insists on complete prayers, and will eat her meal after having prayed.
|Readers may be surprised to know that I had my first experience with staying in a five-star hotel last weekend. I have never been abroad in my life and the tarriffs of five star hotels are dollar-cheap, but rupee-expensive.
It happened like this: I registered for a medical conference at a hotel venue that is but 30 km (divide by 1.6 to know how many miles that is) from my residence. It was a conference that would run for three days and end on Sunday. The delegates were offered sharing rooms for just half of the normal room rates for that hotel, so I said, why not?
Thus, I drove to the conference on Friday afternoon and registered - first for the conference, and then, for the room. My room-mate (whom I had never met before) turned out to be a Pediatrician from a much smaller city that is more than 350 km from mine. He drove all the way to Mumbai and had come with his family, whom he had told to stay at a relatives' place outside the hotel!
Both he and I turned out to be ... ahem, noisy sleepers, and I had a tough time adjusting since he went to sleep earlier than me the first night (... and the second one too, as it transpired).
The rooms overlooked hills, some up-coming new buildings and slums (the ubiquitous shanties of poor, homeless India). By itself, the room was well appointed, with all the modern amenities that modern hotel rooms supply all over the world. The American breakfast that we were entitled to was also superb! We had 24-hours running hot and cold water, a bath-tub (a luxury that my home does not possess),a very comfortable bed, great climate control, free tea and coffee (self-made from an electric kettle, mineral water and pouches of milk powder, sugar, aspartame, tea-powder and coffee), fresh fruit in the tray twice a day, and free access to gym, jacuzzi, steam, swimming pool and so on.
All in all, a lot different from all my previous holidays which have been in smaller, three or four star hotels.
At the book-shop, I placed some twenty-odd copies of my parenting book (and announced this through one of the organisers at the conference), and managed to sell about ten of these.
The hotel deli and cake shop was lovely, and I picked up several breads, mousse, cakes and chocolates for my own family on the last day.
There was a cultural program every evening; the first night had a group that beat out new songs and made all the doctors dance on the floor; the second night, a fantastic group entertained us with nostalgic Hindi melodies from the 1940s-1970s. This was something I really enjoyed!
Along with the conference, the pharma industry had put up some stalls to inform and entertain doctors when they came out of the lectures for snacks, tea or lunch. I entered a slogan contest and won a gold-plated wrist-watch as a prize in the same!
The other high point of my stay was when I opted to take a paid Swedish body massage at the hotel spa. The masseur turned out to be a local woman of around 35, who received informal training at the hotel after having served at the same place for over two years earlier as a female janitor. Pratibha, as she was called, normally attended only to female customers, but I was her first male customer (or at least that is what she led me to believe). She had to take me as there was a staff shortage, she said. I put her at ease by reminding her that I would not embarrass her in any way since I was a doctor and had a reputation to protect. She was nervous initially, but soon, she relaxed and gave me a nice massage that had me totally relaxed. I tipped her Rs. 50/= in addition to the Rs. 1850/= that the hotel charged me for its services. I got the free steam and jacuzzi as add-ons.
The only bad news was that while returning home, I was only 200 meters from home when a car collided with mine while reversing as I waited near a traffic signal. It crumpled up my left fender and the hood and provided that unnecessary bad touch to an otherwise excellent two and a half days that I spent at the hotel.
|For the last several days, my spine has acted up and I have been forced to limit my computer time. I started off with pain-killers and muscle relaxants, medicines which normally work for me. They did not give the optimal results, so I was "moved" to start physiotherapy with Masina Hospital, which I otherwise visit as a consultant. They began with short-wave diathermy, then went on to TENSE (trans-epidermal nerve stimulation) and infra-red lamp, along with traction. As these weren't really helping, I began to visit Dr. Batliwala, a known acupuncturist, from day 5 of my pain. He started with electro-acupuncture, and then went on to using the "TDP Lamp", ultrasonic, roller electrostimulation and some other alternative therapies. All these give instant and complete relief, but alas, it is all temporary ... and I would begin to get the pain again within 4-5 hours.
I am using a lumbosacral belt and am now slightly better off with the belt.
Over these 12-14 days, I travelled only by car, in the end, spending a lot of money on extra petrol costs and also gave fines to the police for i)driving while using the mobile phone and ii) parking in a no-parking zone etc.
I got my MRI done on Saturday and it shows no changes from the earlier time.
|Over a month ago, I wrote the blog that is just next to this one. I am not too proud that I have been unable to blog in recent times, but neither am I overly concerned or feeling guilty!
So many other things have been vying for my attention that I have neglected the blog. I hope to be a little more regular from now onwards. Let's see ...
|I had never thought I could win anything in vjanczuk's Mini Port Raid, but what do you know, I won 20000 GP's for courtesy and for knowing how to be "personal". Now contrast that with allegations of being uncourteous made against me by one of the Sr. Mods during the running of my Convention Review Contest, and you will be utterly confused!
|I should admit to you, dear blog diary, that I have completely neglected you ... while still participating in the other activities on WDC.
It is interesting to note that I was involved in creating a contest that I had to modify in order not to cause any problems with the website and its moderators. For the complete details, please see my portfolio ...
Also, I took part in a Port Raid of vjanczuk, in which I rated and reviewed over 50 items from her port.
In addition to these, I was active on writing and helping to write a project for Hannah, my younger daughter.
Hence, I did not find the time to write here.
My city was swept by torrential rains on 26th July and I intend to write about it in the days to come.
That's all for now!
|The rains came, they saw and they conquered the ego of the denizens of the metropolis within a few hours. While school children's safe home arrival saw parents calling up schools, standing for hours on end at bus stands and asking anyone they knew if "the 10 no. bus went or not", office-goers who were emerging from their work at 5:00 p.m. found themselves completely at sea (pun intended), trying to a) climb down long winding stairs (with electric powers cut off), then b)
making futile journeys to the nearest railway station/bus stand/taxi stand ... then c) calling up their kith and kin to explain their predicament (and often not succeeding as the lines, both fixed and mobile, remained dead), then d) deciding to make the best of it and returning to their offices to spend the night with endless cups of (often milkless) tea and biscuits.
The rains killed over 30 people in different incidents, but they demoralised millions who faced
waist-deep waters in South Mumbai, and up to 20 feet deep waters in some suburbs (the entire first floors of residential towers being submerged); having to wade dirty slum-filled waters must lead to illnesses over the next several days.
My own evening and almost the whole night was spent in darkness and a humidity-engulfing warm air, as the lights were off at my place in Mazgaon. We - that is, my family and I - sat in the light of a few candles to have dinner, then played carrom in the same illumination, then made an early night of it and went to sleep by 11 p.m. ... the fans started whirring some time early in the morning, informing us that the current was back. Rains continued to fall, albeit with a lesser intensity till 9 a.m. today.
All schools were closed, as were all offices, banks, etc. I must say that there was no milk-supply, no newspapers of note, and hardly any taxis, buses, cycles or private vehicles on the road. There were no cops, no patrolling vehicles, no running traffic signals (barring a few important ones) and no trucks or private large buses on the roads.
Some of my relatives had a hard time; one of my cousins stayed in a BEST bus OVERNIGHT, surrounded by water as the bus stayed put on a road near Malad; yet another told me his son returned from school yesterday night at 11 p.m. (he normally does so at 5 p.m.).
I have much more to add, but that will be later. In the meantime, digest a bit of all that I have written above.
|It was a good thing that I entered my blog yesterday! Nada was the first off the block in sending me such sweet comments! Thanks to you, Nada.
Today, 4th of July, will soon see most of the denizens of WDC celebrate the Day of Independence. To all Americans here, "Here's wishing you a great day and may you have fun and take part in some or the other patriotic/social/cultural activities".
Nothing much to report here, so I will just wind up for now.
|I presented a talk on "Acute Diarrhoea in Infants and Young Children" before a group of about 30 family practitioners from near my area of practice. Along with me was my dear friend and colleague Dr. Praful, who gave a talk on "Acute Respiratory Distress". The whole seminar was organised by the Nestle team of reps at "Hotel Heritage" in Byculla. Lunch was part of the proceedings and was had by all before the academic session began.
I got the impression that the talk was very well received by all and was quite enjoyed by us too. We were given a bouquet of flowers by the Nestle guys as a token of their appreciation.
Lunch consisted of chicken Koliwada (fried pieces of marinaded, spicy chicken) as a starter, followed by Mughlai chicken in cashew sauce, fried fish with tartar sauce, dal Maharani with rice, Indian breads and other miscellany. It was nice and tasty!
The doctors were all very interactive and participated robustly in the discussions. I knew most of them, but not all, and it was heartening to have some of them come up to me after the talks to discuss some of their patients and their medical problems with me.
A few of those present also showed interest in my book on Parenting and one of them actually spoke to me of buying it.
All in all, a good event!
|Thank you Nada, Erik and Lik Kiko for responding to my last blog. Over the last several days, I have tried to lift myself up, but it isn't working for more than one reason - the chief one being, my computer is giving me serious trouble. First, it would refuse to boot, then the engineer said the SMPS was gone, then he said, the LAN card has to be changed, and now, the Sound card is not working either! Holy cow! Just how much expense is going to be involved in setting the whole thing right, I don't know.
Another reason was that I am busy preparing some Powerpoint presentations for a conference that is coming up on 3rd July - a Sunday.
I would love to share the data on Respiratory distress and Diarrhoea here on wdc, only, PPS is not currently allowed!
|For nearly a month, my mind is in a perpetual block. I don't care if people remove me from their reviewing groups, if people ignore me or if the moderators themselves notice the fact that I do not visit wdc daily, nor review others' items, nor write anything - not even this blog, which I think is the best part of wdc - especially for someone as less motivated as I - it seems that I have grown tired of wdc. The main reason is - and this is something I have stated in my very first entry - that my effort for the last over two and a half years has been unrecognised by the powers-that-be on wdc. The plain truth is that while I do not consider myself to be a great writer, I have nearly 150 items in my portfolio, ranging from novels, novellas, stories, poems, essays, word-searches, articles, surveys, forums, contests, and even - for Allah's sake - madlibs. I have reviewed nearly a thousand items of others. My port has had over 1300 - 1500 views. I have so many friends, I have rewarded items. I have so much - and yet, no recognition for these - and so many other things that I have done here.
It is so depressing. You may say that WDC expressly mentions that those who complain about this stand even lesser chance of being promoted or recognised. So be it. I think that a blog is therefore, the only place on wdc where one may air one's grievances.
I cannot sit and write inanities. I do not feel like sending gift points, awardicons or even praise to the seniors here, as I feel they do not deserve me. Since I am a "Mr. Nobody" to them, why should I waste my time and resources to glorify their work?
This is not to say that I do not enjoy their work. On the contrary, I do. However, it bugs me that inspite of what they say about awarding Preferred authorships in their policy statements, they do not find my work worthy of it.
This writer invites comments on this blog from all readers. I assure you all that I am not angry, just disillusioned, and I am willing to remove this entry if someone tells me honestly what I have done to deserve this ... this kind of treatment from the staff and the seniors on wdc.
Humbly, I submit this blog entry for your kind apprisal and comments.
|I haven't written anything worthwhile here on wdc ... or anywhere else for that matter, as I am passing through a severe depression. Financial matters are threatening to pull me down. On top of this is the fact that Nishrin, my beautician wife, is planning to close down her business from August. This will really hit us badly, what with so many loans, maintaining a recently renovated house, increasing expenses of the kids in their final years in school ... the list is endless!
On Saturday the 14th of May, we celebrated Hannah's 11th birthday party at home with a dozen or more of her friends and my entire family. It was a great evening. The children included three or four from her school and the rest from our own residential society building. We served them Tang juice, a slice each of Veg. Pizza, wafers (potato) and biscuits.
Nothing more to write, so I am ending here.
|It is depressing to think that nothing exciting has happened with my life in the past nine days! The misaaq photos have all arrived and they look great. I have sent them to get them scanned so that I can store them on my HD and then upload them to this web-site. Inas looks stunning in her embroidered green traditional dress, as does Hannah with her sea-green fusion dress, and their mom, NIshrin, in her golden brown Punjabi lehenga and sharaara!
The entire function costs have come up to over Rs. 18000/=! This includes the cost of hiring the hall (3K), the photos (1K) and the food (14K). This does not include the purchase of new clothes, jewellery etc. which must have cost another Rs. 5000/=.
In return, Inas collected several gifts and quite a handsome amount of cash - Rs. 8800 or thereabouts! At present the full amount has gone into her bank account. It will be useful to her when she plans to join college next year.
My practice is going on smoothly, although the admission work is reduced. Nishrin is doing well ... as the wedding season is on!
That's all for now!
|Finally, the day of the big function came and passed away with smiles all around. As my readers would remember, I had mentioned that we would be celebrating our elder daughter Inas's misaaq by calling our family and friends to a celebratory function. Well, this is how the function was held and enjoyed.
For over three weeks, Nishrin (my wife) and I went about calling up all our friends and relatives, as well as Inas's friends from school and from our residential colony. We invited them all to a dinner to celebrate the misaaq (for those not familiar with this, please read earlier blogs, where this is described in detail). The event would be on the first of May, 2005. It would be held in an air-conditioned function hall located close to our residence.
Almost everyone we invited turned up, barring six or seven, who did not. Among those who attended was a group of thirteen friends of Inas who sat with her to eat at a special feast that is called "sitaabi nu thaal". In this, not only are the friends served dinner, they are also pampered with kohl application in their eyes, mehndi on their palms and given a memento to remember.
It was a grand success throughout. Even though there is a sweltering heat in Mumbai, the air-conditioned premises kept everyone cool and smiling. Nishrin and the kids would arrive at almost half past eight, but my parents and brothers (and their spouses) joined me at about half past seven to welcome the guests. The final count was about 135 of them. Initially, they came in a trickle, but this turned into a flood by eight p.m.
Dinner was served in a thaal, which is a large dinner plate around which eight persons sit. Food is served for all these eight persons in smaller plates. They eat mostly with their hands or with spoons, breaking down the one chunk of ice cream or the one large marinaded cheese chicken. In this way, they finish off one item after another.
The menu was: chocolate chips ice cream, white cheese chicken, gravied mutton (lamb) with Indian bread, dry fruit halwa (this is a sweet dish and resembles a very thick porridge in consistency), mutton biryani (I think almost all readers know what biryani is!) and corn soup with soft drinks, salads etc. Wow! Isn't that a great show?
A lot of the guests informed us that the food (catered by a professional caterer) was excellent.
Inas received lots of gifts, and plenty of cash too (this is a traditional gift in Indian society).
Look out for a few pictures of the gathering that I plan to put up on the net. I will supply the links in this blog (or a fresh one) as soon as I have done so.
|It must be said that my family is, by and large, heavily into doing things that call the attention of all our well-wishers and relatives. You may remember the party that we had organised on the 15th of last month to celebrate Inas's birthday, don't you? Now, we are inviting over 200 people to celebrate Inas's misaaq, the official induction into adulthood and Islam that she underwent in March this year, just a few days before her B'day.
The misaaq entails acceptance of the responsibilities of being Muslim. It enjoins the child-woman to follow in the traditions of the teachings of the Qur^an, the shariayat or the "way of life" as described by the Prophet (PBUH), pray namaaz, give to zakaat and perform the Haj in addition to the mandatory fasting in Ramadan.
The actual ritual involves saying "I promise" to one of the priests who officiates at the function and solemnises the "misaaq". I was there when Inas's misaaq was done, and it reminded me of my own initiation over 25 years ago!
So, on the first of May, we are celebrating the misaaq. There will be food and fun. I will write more about this in the coming days.
-A happy dad - Taher
|I have to say that my blogs are getting rarer by the day! I have no one but myself to blame for this state of affairs. That, and the fact that my practice is looking up a little. I am left with far less time than I used to have earlier.
I did manage to take part in the UWW. I put in an experience-based article that described the three-odd years of my childhood that led up to the final passing away of my mother from breast cancer. Perhaps it was the sensitive nature of the item, but I got an unanimous five-star rating from all the reviewers of the WAR group and the UWW group!
My younger daughter Hannah has completed all school-related activities barring an inter House singing competition which is coming up next Tuesday, that is, four days from today. Inas, the elder one, who is appearing for the final Board exam next year, is already busy studying for a sort of "school entrance test" which will also begin from next Tuesday.
My wife Nishrin's work is also looking up as the marriage season approaches.
I pray to Allah to continue to shower His blessings upon us.
|For over two years, I have been an active participant and a generator of contests and fora. There is something about the Ultimate Writing Workshop that had me writing a lot of stuff for it in the past. However, as of now, I find it without the kind of excitement that I am looking for in my writing exercise. I am threatened by the UWW leader that I may be removed from this workshop if I don't take part this week. So let's see what happens.
|Hi all you blog readers! It's been some time since I wrote a proper blog. So here I am, about to write at least a 1000 words this time.
My world is a lot different from most of you Americans, Europeans and Australians who dominate this English site! In India, we have no respect for Indian writers. I once asked the publisher who published my parenting book about whether he would like to at least take a look at my novel (The Great Downpour, see My Portfolio>My Books). He said flat out NO. He said people did not read Indian authors unless they were already well-known or they got their books published in the US. Can you imagine what we might all feel when we stand rejected even BEFORE we submit our work?
I am not disheartened, and I will continue to write fiction, but it looks like it is not going to be published soon - at least not in India!
My children are having their last one or two examinations on Monday and Tuesday. After this, they will vie with me for their time on the home computer. I may not then be able to do as much as I am able to do these days. My elder daughter has downloaded nearly 500 Hindi film songs on the comp and plays them in the free version of Real Player. She also loves to download wallpapers of movie stars, screensavers of them and so on and so forth. She is fourteen. My younger one will sit only occasionally on the computer, and mostly to play single-player games. She is going to be eleven in a month. So much difference between these two gems of mine!
I have halted my novel writing on first of April and am busy catching up with my other computer and wdc activities like reading, reviewing and so on.
In the meantime, another celebration is coming up in our family on the first of May.
That's all for now.