Monday, January 5, 2009

Stop and Smell the roses...

Reflecting over the weekends on myriad things that occupy my mind. And during my walk one of the things i notice is the sound of the breeze, the birds, the fragrances of the new buds..and i think to i need to be on a beach or a park ONLY to stop and smell the roses? I often used to try to recollect a poem, we had in school..Leisure by W. H Davies..


WHAT is this life if, full of care,We have no time to stand and stare?—
No time to stand beneath the boughs,And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,We have no time to stand and stare.

How true...and along the same lines...Recd this very interesting mail from a friend.

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousand of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars. Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people.

The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour:
Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context? One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Hospitals and health check ups

While it has been recommended that after a certain age one must go for regular health check ups, this is one thing i have been putting off for a while. in an attempt to exhaust the remaining vacation/leave for the year(else same gets lapsed) had decided to invest some time on health check ups..

The Apollo at Greams road, Chennai is certainly state of the art and has almost an intimidating look feel about it..right from the reception/when the application forms are updated to the the various counters where the relevant health checks are done, it seemed to be quite professional but at the same time not very "patient" friendly.

One of the things that really  caught my eye was the number of health conscious people, as more and more corporates pay for their employees' annual  health check up.  There were all kinds of patients, and what was interesting was the influx of Bangladeshi health tourism.(infact Apollo even had some of their boards in Bangla, add to that the industry of small bengali eateries outside on Greams road)

People of all kinds, young, old, children either coming in for themselves or for visiting loved ones. What was really touching was that hospitals and health problems usually bring the family together. For example the elderly gent who was helping this elderly woman(his wife) as they walked in together for their check ups, or the father with the daughter (child, about 8 years), who seems to be squinting and needed glasses..the tension and relief on the faces of worried family members, was heart rending.  As for me, i know I was putting up a brave front, altho am quite a wuss when it comes to Doctors and needles, i was sure as hell glad my mother accompanied me. (bless her)

Now for the hospital..

What was good :
  1. Infrastructure : Facilities, the seating area, toilets/drinking water area etc was quite neat and didn't have the "old hospital" phenol plus Dettol odour. quite pleasant in fact.
  2. Right from the various tests, and meeting various doctors it was quite an experience. As more and more tests were completed i could only heave a sigh of relief that i will soon find out, albeit two days later what the results were.
  3. The doctors in particular had impeccable manners. (why am i impressed? well its because have seen my share of crabby doctors who seriously need a lesson, on at least handling the patients fears, patiently) even While reading out the results(which were normal, FYI), there was always some good advise say for  example on how to address some of these stress related working out and eating healthy etc..very impressive. 

What could be corrected by Apollo
  1. An example, when they know they will have time say for only 100 forms that day, why release more forms ? i had to come in almost 3 days in a row for completing the entire check up..
  2. Some of the staff while being friendly there are also others who are totally uncaring for your fears, or the reason the patient is there(its only a health test no less, but doesn't mean they treat patients like cattle herd) 
  3. Its very important to manage patient(customer) expectations here. Why not tell me in advance that this can take 2-3 days for just testing ? 
  4. There is no briefing in the beginning as to how the tests are done, what comes after what and so on..its like a treasure hunt. Finish one, go to counter number 4, who will in turn as you to go to counter 5 after the test and so on and so forth. 
  5. Counter no 9 was the worst, the one with the Gynaec department. Couldn't the staff be more trained especially while handling women patients who are there for some "obvious" reasons.  I saw my file being forgotten by this dunce of a lady staff, who was busy gossiping with some other fellow staff. Am sure my blood pressure must have shot up just looking at the way the in adept staff was handling patients. NO first come first serve, it seemed they had their own "illogical logic"
Lets just say, its not enough if they wear sarees and dress up like the Trident Hilton hotel staff itself, but the service was less than desirable, and didn't seem like value for money. 

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy new year

This year on new years eve we went for a Tamil comedy play by "Crazy mohan" and then dinner at Saravanna Bhavan. We reached home by 23:00 hours and ushered in the new year at home. As my Bro was in Bombay, we wished each other at the stroke of midnight....well it was not very different from other nights..except for the fireworks...

While i have never been in the habit of making new years resolutions, this year it timed well with my annual health check up. So the focus of the year is health.
  • Eating healthier
  • Exercising
  • Relax more
  • Spend time with family
  • Lesser time on the COMP/PC/LAoptop(my eyes have been suffering)
Well that kinda sums it up..Will review in 3 months to see where i am on this ..

New years day was ofcourse spent smsing/chatting with loved ones, and visits to the temples. Was a good start I might add...