Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Lost And Found Case

It is the first time that my daughter could not visit us for five years since her last visit. Summi went to America seeking higher education in August 1999. Her first visit was in 2001, then again in 2003, then in 2005 and now, after five years. This time, naturally her anxiety to visit her favorite eateries in town was more intense than ever.  Her mother too was equally enthusiastic to take her to her favorite joints. Also Summi now has a 30 month old her very own daughter on tow. Mother and child have been with us since Saturday last, will be leaving by 23rd of this month to Bangalore and from there back to US on the 29th, when we join her for our second visit to the U.S.

Since last three days we have been visiting that famed Sri Devi Condiments, where the fellow prepares tasty chaat masaalaa, and Summi says the taste has not changed a bit from her college days in mid-nineties. Yesterday, during chaat senior mother and daughter decided to shop at an 'all cotton' annual discount sale. Mother took out her money purse from the vanity bag and checked if there was enough cash. We in Shiumoga are not yet fully accustomed to plastic money. Daughter also checked her purse. Satisfied with the total cash they together had, they asked me to drop them at the shop and return home. So did I.

When they returned home, the senior mother asked me to take out the car again. It was alreaqdy dark. She had lost her money purse and the amount of purchase went beyond the cash Summi had, and so had left the package with the shopper requesting him to keep it waiting for them to return with bill money. As she could not decide where exactly the purse was mislaid, she had hopes that it could have fallen on the car floor while putting it back into her bag. They searched the car but could not find. (Up to here I wrote when we were still in Shimoga, on the very night when the incident took place, could not complete and now I am trying to do it here sitting at Summi's home in Austin, TX!)

Well, I had a cinch that the purse had fallen where the car was parked. In fact I could guess exactly what could have happened. The place where we parked the car was a little bit dark. There was no side walk nor was a pavement, neither a street light. Also, there was no shop on that side, instead there was an old house with a small compound and gate. My wife while confirming whether she had enough cash for shopping, had the door open and her one leg was outside on the road. So, I thought, in all probabilities the purse had fallen below the car and when we moved the the wheel of the car had run over it. There were some litter scattered all over the side of the road. Some dusty black empty plastic bags were there.

I took Summi straight to the spot hoping none else had parked a car there. Fortunately the place was vacant. I stopped exactly where I had parked and lo! I could see the purse in the headlights among black plastic bags, the purse also being black, and as I guessed my car tyre had run over it making a dust mark, making it look like another plastic bag. I asked Summi to go and pick it. She laughed at me saying there was no purse, but only littered trash! However she got out and bent over the thing I pointed. She was surprised beyond belief! A man idly leaning against the gate was observing all this; must have regretted for having not noticed the purse which contained over Rs.2,000/- in cash apart from some other miner valuables.

When we returned home, my wife exclaimed "It is my GOOD money, cannot go to anybody but me!". I was wondering if all those lakhs of crores eaten away by A.Rajas and Suresh Kalmadis are bad money?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Quality Of Freedom in Democratic Societies

I came here to America visiting my daughters recently. While my daughter and her husband both go to work everyday, leaving their two year old child at the Day Care Center, my daughter is concerned about how I pass my time. Of course, there is TV and this laptop totally at my disposal. Yet, a couple of days back she brings some latest issues of Time magazine from her bed room and gives me to read.

Today I pick up an issue dated 24th Jan.2011. The Tucson, Arizona shooting madness story calls my attention. In fact that was the main article appearing on the cover page, which made me pick that issue of the magazine. This Tucson shooting incident, I believe had made headlines on all global news media soon after it took place on 8th Jan. A school drop out, Jared Loughner, also an alcoholic and drug addict found to be a schizophrenic wrecked havoc on that day going on a shooting spree during a political meeting presided by the local Democratic Party congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. In fact his first target was this woman, whom he abhorred and shot from close range, the bullet piercing through the right side of her head and emerging from the left drilling a hole in her brain from side to side. It is a different story that this woman has survived the injury miraculously, now MSN news just today reporting her verbal request for toast for breakfast, declaring the recovery as lightning fast. The madness caused 6 deaths and 13 injuries.

Whereas, it is always the ruling political party blaming the opposition and the opposition blaming the ruling party in such situations in a democracy, the writer of the article poses questions about  two deeper issues involved in this incident, which is not the first of its kind. Four years back the Virginia Tech massacre caused 33 deaths including the shooter. One, he asks, if it is not high time that people with serious mental conditions such as schizophrenia should be confined to asylums and the other is if it is not time to revise the weapons law and make amendments to the constitution.

 In America, the constitution is so much for the freedom of speech that it allows individuals to make tirades of pure hatred of all kinds in public. An individual simply walks to an ammunition stores, buys a fire arm of his choice and walks away. He needs to get a permit to carry it in public, but for buying at a store, there are no restrictions. One can conceal it easily and carry to a cinema hall or a church. The author of the article, one David Von Drehle, sarcastically, though in all seriousness of the issue says, while the speech does not kill, a gun kills! I wonder if freedom is not bordering on promiscuity, if not lunacy in America!

While issues are so serious and crying loud for reforms, in a democratic society of any kind and pattern, people at the helm of power indulge in blame game, never serious about rooting out social anomalies permanently. Tax paying and law abiding common man is always a casualty in a democracy.

I have seen people of so called advanced countries laughing at India calling it a land of snake charmers and roaming cattle. In India we have bulls roaming freely, even having mating games making people in busy streets run helter-skelter for life! In developed countries we have schizophrenics like the Loughners roaming among people concealing firearms on their person and killing people at will. These things can happen only in immature democracies enabling greedy stupid cheats climb to the peak of power. Be it Indian, American or European democracy, in my opinion, all are miserably immature and stupid systems of governance. Will the system mature? Not in the near future at least, if not never! Is democracy all about freedom or should there be social responsibility at the top. People like you and me can only debate for ever and ever....another form of stupidity, madness? 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Unusual Cold In Austin, Texas

I should say we were lucky to have a usual and moderate weather for the season in Austin, Texas when we landed on Sunday the 30th January. The weather, so to say was rather very pleasant and I was happy thinking that I could start my morning and evening walks to the park right away. But the weather gods seem to have had different plans. On the night of 31st it rained rather heavily with strong wind instantly bringing down the temperature. This year it seems the weather has been very erratic all over the world. If you live in Karnataka, India, you may remember this winter the temperatures at northern parts of the state, like Gulberga and Raichur, came down to near zero degrees. Raichur recorded the lowest at 6 degrees Celsius after a gap of nearly a century. These are the states where people die of sun strokes every summer! Torrential rains poured like hell in interior and coastal areas even in the last week of  December. Now here in Texas, my daughter says it is not usual for Texas to experience the chill at 15 degrees F at this time of the year. Yes, it was 18 degrees during daytime and 15 during night (Around  minus 4 degrees Celsius!) My daughter also says, she has not seen snow fall in this part of the country in more than the last ten years, ever since she came here seeking higher studies in 1999. Yes, snow fall is predicted tonight and tomorrow morning by the weatherman. Weather forecasts are pretty accurate here in America, unlike in India. I am eagerly waiting to see the snow fall here.

I have seen good snow falls in the North Eastern states during my last visit to America in 2008. But that was in the last week of December and very normal in Niagara, New York and Washington. It was a wonderful first experience then and I had written elaborately about it in my travelogues circulated among family and friends. Also at Washington, this time where we missed our next flight to Austin and took connecting flights via Chicago, there were snow fall at both the places. I had also seen ice storm in Austin during Chris mas that year. During my morning walk one fine day, I saw heaps of ice crystals of the size of sugar grains gathered by the sides of fences. This also, according to my daughter is common to Austin to fall once or twice a year during deep winter days. But snow fall in February surely is very unusual.

Texas, this time has greeted me with unusual things. Let me wait and see what else is in store for the next five months of my stay here, and sure this time I will put all my experiences in my blogs.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

All Is Well That Ends Well - A Scary Experience

The learned say, a near death experience takes a person to something very near to nirvana. But what if it is the other way round? I scared the hell out of everybody the other day!

Sumitha, my second daughter with her two year old little angel had come visiting us from America after a long gap of five years. All of us, - myself, my wife, my eldest daughter, her husband and two daughters, my sister Vimala and her husband, all and sundry have been eagerly awaiting Summi's visit ever since she announced her decision to visit, some two months back. Ammi(Amitha) and Viju had thought of plans for a short holiday in Goa. This time Summi had taken a long(!)5 week, vacation and she had planned to spend one week in the beginning and one week at the end of her stay, with her in-laws at Bangalore. This time, perhaps for the first time ever since they married 9 years back, her husband Hemanth accompanied her. He could get only two weeks leave from his company. So, he returned after leaving Summi and the child Neha, with us in Shimoga. As planned earlier, we all, - me, my wife, her sister Shobha, Summi and Neha, and Ammi and family, went on a 5 day Holiday starting with a night's stay in Murudeshwar sea resort. The holidays started well with this, everybody enjoying the sea shore and the sea food right from a lunch at Kundapur on way. Next three days we spent in Goa.

We all love sea food. And for those who love fish, one should visit Goa if you ever happen to be in South India. Goa is one place where you get a wide variety of fresh fish with equally wide variety of preparations - local, south coastal, original Goan, Oriental, Italian,- just name it, you get it. It is a heaven for fish eaters, though polluted by foreign elements with drug culture.

Well, everybody enjoyed the sea and the food, especially little Neha and her cousins. On the final day, when we were to drive back home trouble started with me. First it was lose motion due to upset stomach, which was promptly treated with appropriate medicines, which Ammi and Viju, a practicing and professing Gynaecologist and General Surgeon, always carried with them. Lose motion came under control at about 12 noon and we started the journey. At Ankola, at around 2.30, we had lunch, me eating only a couple of idlis without sambar to keep my stomach calm. Lo! I soon started shivering with fever. I was wondering, how could that lovely food cause such shivering chill in the mid day sun! Paracetamol, kept me calm for sometime. But soon I started vomiting violently! All hell broke inside my stomach, when there was nothing left to vomit, I still could not control the feeling and felt as if my intestines are dragged out!

It took only a couple of days for me to become normal. Important thing was I had to be back to normal at the earliest because only a weeks time was left for Summi to return to America and this time we, her parents were to accompany her. Then this skin irritation started troubling me. When Cetirizine failed, I immediately approached a dermatologist, who after examining opined that there is nothing serious and the the irritation could be due to some drug allergy as I had consumed quite some antibiotics for the food infection. When the irritation became more severe after two days I once again saw the Skin Specialist, an experienced woman of repute, she recommended blood test for differential count. The test report revealed a little rise in my Oesonophils count than normal as the doctor suspected. Proper medication arrested the skin irritation almost immediately. I sighed a breath of relief as there were only three days left for our flight to America. By now I was very cautious about my food intake. I was really scared.

A day before our scheduled journey, we managed to complete our packing and came to Bangalore. Summi and Neha had come 5 days earlier. Our flight was at 6.55 PM on 29th February. The day I reached Bangalore on 28th early morning, my motion became a little loose again. I got a little scared but I did not show, took precautionary medicines, and I was strictly maintaining my recommended diet. However I had to reveal to my Bhavaji as I had a couple of more loose motions. Bhavaji, took me immediately to their family doctor, who after examining me reassured me of normalcy. He prescribed some other antibiotics. By evening I felt very much relieved. But after we went to bed at around 11 PM, I felt a little chill. Soon it became hellish shivering monster eating me alive. I had stayed at my sister's place and Summi was not told. By 1 am, I scared everybody. All hell broke out inside me when even after swallowing two Paracetamols of 650 Mg. each, the shivering did not stop. I was running high temperature. Slowly the temperature came to normal and so the shivering chill. Then the body itching started and it went on and on becoming more severe. Both me and my wife practically had no sleep. In the morning when everything seemed to be coming under control, my wife called Ammi and related all the night experience to her. That very evening we had to board the flight. Ammi, as an experienced doctor, did not fall prey to emotions and immediately asked me to change the drugs, as the ones prescribed by Bhavaji's family doctor could have caused a sort of allergic condition in me. This change in medicine (Could it be my everlasting faith in my daughter?) played the trick and by the time we were to leave for airport, I was fit as a fiddle, - at least the feeling was so!

The 28 hour journey was surprisingly pleasant without any slightest health problem for me. At Washington when we missed our flight to Austin, our final destination, and had one hour time to board the next flight, I felt to try motion, which till then I did not have and had a comfortable stomach. I had normal motion to my utmost satisfaction.

By the time we reached home in Austin at 2.30 PM, we all were very tired. We knew, back home everybody was waiting for a call from us as soon as we reached. They were all scared about my condition, especially bhavaji was very nervous seeing me shivering like feather in the storm that night at his place. Summi just called Saritha, our other daughter in San Diego asking her to call Ammi and tell about the safe reaching and also to to communicate the news to all concerned. It was a Sunday. Then we ate some luncheon and straight away went to bed for a long and undisturbed sleep. Next morning I was truly hale and healthy. All is well that ends well, isn't it?