Oct 10, 2011

hospitable hospital

amusing it is but unlike most humans, i quite look forward to hospital visits. maybe it has to do with the fact that i was reminded repeatedly since childhood by all and sundry that i was born in a kitchen (of my favourite grandparents' home) and not on a random hospital bed! it fascinated me to no end (esp. if you connect this fact with my eternal love for food). and i have always felt special and quaint and unique and exclusive, etc, etc since then. you get the drift... 
yes, there is a particular hospital i am quite fond of visiting. though the reasons for the visits in the past were not all that pleasant (except the very 1st one ever when the little sister decided to bless the 3 of us with her much welcome presence in our super adventurous lives! :)
i can actually recall almost all my visits to the BARC hospital in Anushaktinagar, Bombay till date from the time i was issued the CHSS card in my name. essential part of my memories associated with the wonder years (almost 2 decades) spent in this huge township.
(via google / barc.ernet.in)
never dared to ask any soul (not even my own sister!) till date if they are fond of this hospital as much as i am. that would be akin to going ahead and asking for a stamp of approval on my state of craziness. but i genuinely feel that whoever designed this well-maintained architecture and landscape did so with a lot of heart. yes, it has all that other public / government hospitals do. nothing fancy about it nor does it exactly match up to all the high-end facilities one sees, reads or hears of in private hospitals. yet i never felt depressed or suffocated whenever i was in the vicinity or inside the premises. ample space, lot of green cover and a number of birds chirping all around to soothe the soul. it is that serene and idyllic a location. the sprawling lawns of the hospital allowed the residents to enjoy their quite evenings back then. it even gave shelter to the students who wanted to study in its calming ambience.
visited it again early morning last week after almost 3 long years. the reason was not pleasant again. aai had to be hospitalized for a minor surgery. there was a slight nervousness of course and excitement as always. i was in the colony after a long gap too. took my own sweet time to reach the ward she was admitted in. various floors and departments inside were decorated for the dussera puja and festivities next day. dussera is considered big in BARC overall esp. the working class. admiring the all-too-familiar spaces (and also a few faces) on our way. once we reached her floor, what was not all that familiar was her face and a few other things about her. i was seeing her after almost a month. and what i saw is only giving me sleepless nights since wednesday. the ever-smiling-gentle-forgiving-comforting-encouraging-content face etched in my heart and being forever suddenly seemed to have aged by a decade or two on the outside and within. i managed to compose myself somehow and went about my duties along with my sister in tow. we waited with her till she was served a very healthy, balanced lunch by the wonderful angels working there as ayahs. and only after we were asked by the nurse not to crowd her room and were sure that the father is around for some more time, we went down to the hospital canteen to have a quick lunch ourselves. would you believe me if i say that even the canteen hit me with much nostalgia? it is a small but quite spacious independent structure in a quaint corner of the spread-out hospital premises serving some decent food at VFM (value-for-money) prices for the hospital employees and general visitors. this canteen along with 2-3 other canteens in the township used to be one of our backup plans when aai wasn't around at home or we were too bored/lazy to cook. we quickly finished the meal along with a myna giving us interesting company with her curious stares and survey of all the tables and its occupants.
on our way back to her room, we happened to pass the hospital kitchen/pantry on the same floor and witness the ayahs preparing for the dussera puja with rangolis, marigold flower decorations, prasad and some of them playing a much subdued symbolic garba inside the pantry on a makeshift floor. i couldn't help but stand, smile and be a part of that warm moment, their bonhomie. most of them are low on 'high-brow education' or 'sophisticated trainings' of any kind but quite high on 'humanity' and 'compassion'. am glad and grateful to them and the nurses and doc on duty for taking good care of my aai for 3 days. i even remember telling my sister that day on our way home just how wonderful a feeling it would be to cook (i love to cook!) in that huge spacious kitchen for all the patients in the hospital or atleast on that floor. someday! someday! (yes, i get such crazy ideas at any given time on any given day in my life. no matter how low or depressed i am :)
aai is home now and will be admitted again next week since the surgery did not take place. and the two of us are worried sick for her failing health. it's like she has given up on life, hope or any faith in her future or purpose for living. leaving us feeling much frustrated, guilty, terribly sad, angry, helpless and lonely! i hope we are able to work around a solution for the situation sooner than later. and actually manage to give that noble soul the happiness and peace of mind she so deserves at this stage in her life. do pray. meanwhile, i draw strength from this lady (and the hummingbird). Wangari Maathai was and will always remain our hero. may her soul rest in peace.
and i also continue to miss and remain overly nostalgic about our beloved Anushaktinagar and everything it stands for us :)


Sudha said...

loved ur post..i was born in a small kitchen in my grandparents home too..strange isnt it...i too felt that was what triggered my interest in food :)..another common thing between us is the association with BARC. the first 15 years of my life was nothing but home and school and i studied in Atomic Energy Central School Hyd... :)..will be back to read thru ur posts

Rohan Chakravarty said...

nice. fun reading :)

Mridula said...

I find it difficult to talk about hospitals but what a post. I hope your aai is better.