Thoughts on American healthcare

For lunch on November the 20th, I was trying to struggling with a can of refried beans. This was one of those difficult cans without a pull tab, and we had no openers at home. The frustration led to a moment of madness where I just decided to stab the can top with a large meat knife. Pop-pop-pop and stab! Yup, I looked down to find I had stabbed the webbing of my left hand. Only a moment later there was blood oozing out left and right. Perturbed by all the blood, I decided to stop everything else and run to the Northeastern student health center.

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Before we begin here, its important to share that this was my first experience with any American medical facility. Now healthcare is not too bad back home in India either. In a similar situation in an Indian college, I would have gone to a dispensary, possibly gotten roughed up by a couple of nurses and “compounders” over the unavailability of the correct doctor, but eventually stitched up with a pair of sterilized scissors and new tapes.

With the insurance card in my pocket, I entered the health center. First impressions – it was nothing like any dispensaries back home. There were four booths and students in small queues in front of those. I went up to one of them when it was my turn. The lady at the booth asked for my college ID, and pulled up my record. They already knew I had had a tetanus within the last year (yeah I keep doing these things). She pulled up a number from my insurance card, gave me an appointment number and asked me to wait in the spacious waiting area. She added I could use one of the self check-in terminals (placed on the sides of this first room) next time.

I had barely waited for 5 minutes when a nurse came out of the clinic door looking for me. I followed her in an entered one of the rooms. She asked me to place all the stuff in my pockets on a table, and stand on a weighing scale. To me, this was frivolous. Why would anyone take my weight for fixing a knife cut? It only got weirder when she next placed a blood pressure clip on my finger and took my temperature! Seriously, what was going on? In fact at this point, I went ahead and insisted once again that I was only here to get a cut fixed, pointing at my broken webbing. She replied she knew, but wants to go through procedure to see if anything else was wrong. She left once she had taken my vitals and asked me to wait for the doctor.

Next up – the doctor. She was probably no older than 30 and beautiful, I must confess. My next interrogation began with a series of questions about the injury, followed by my history of bruises, allergies and reactions. She looked at the wound for a bit and decided that we would need a couple of stitches. Next, she pulled out a square box case – about 6 inches side – broke open a seal,  pulled out a syringe and a small bottle of numbing anesthesia and began with the, by now seemingly mandatory, disclosure about anesthesia and its effects. I declared I was okay with all that and just wanted to get the procedure done with. She cleaned the wound, numbed the wound and pulled out a brand new pair of surgical scissors and cut a small piece of the surgical thread for stitches. Diligently, she applied two stitches and rubbed a small gash of disinfectant on the now closed tear.

While all the care by this moment had been overwhelming enough for me to actually bring up the differences with the Indian procedures, what happened next flummoxed me completely! She trashed the entire kit with at least 15 other medical supplies such as unopened packs of tapes, bandages, scissors, ointments, etc in it. Unbelievable! Totally new, those could have been used by another patient bringing healthcare costs of the system down, or even sent for medical relief to another country. Additionally, it would have saved all that extra medical waste to be dumped. Anyway, albeit stupefied, I thanked her, fixed the followup appointment on her computer and asked if I had to pay anything. To my surprise, the expenses (apart from the care, wonder what that kit had cost) were covered by my insurance. So I left the health center, fixed up and not a penny lighter.

Since then, while I commended the excellent care received, I’ve asked my friends about the wasteful medical policy of dumping the entire supplies kit. Matter-of-factly, they replied it was routine procedure and pointed that the kit “wasted” in my little procedure was nothing compared to the ones thrown away during complex orthopedic or internal surgeries. The inefficiency it seems, is because of the supplier-hospital contracts in this capitalist economy which stipulate the hospital to use an tool kit only once after its seal has been broken! An unbelievable and inhuman requirement at so many levels, only in place to maximize supplier profits. Hospitals don’t care because in the end its the doctors who receive royalties for the products developed.

So while America contemplates the pros and cons of Obamacare, deep rooted capitalism kicks humanity hard.

 

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Blog time

I have absolutely loved updating the blog regularly these past couple of weeks. As a result, I decided to do a little re-vamp. The new theme is called iTheme-2 (yes, it is supposedly based on Apple’s cool presentations). There is also an update in the Additional Reading page – a very interesting article on refreshing your blog; things that could basically light up the “blogging fire” again. As promised, I had also added a little piece on Responsible Drinking and related relevant information in the Causes section. I really appreciate all my readers (and everyone else who reads anything). The piece on my memories of summer vacations shall be titled “Garmi ki Chuttiyaan”. I mean to put it up here soon, just not been getting into the proper “feel” for it. Nothing more to add tonight. I will continue with Archer’s – Only time will tell. Happy Reading !

My vices

There’s a couple of things about myself that have been bothering me all day. Here, I’ll just go ahead (I’m also blunt) –

1. I don’t think I smile enough when I see/meet new people. In fact, I don’t usually have a smile for people I know (I’m counting out good friends here). You know those people who are presentable, or likable or that kind; I’m not one of them. I admire them, I try hard to be like them, to have a ready, natural smile for everyone; but I just ain’t one of them. Here’s how it is I think –

So basically once you’ve learnt the art of smiling at everything happening in and around you, good or bad, you are happy.

2. The second thought that bothers me is that I somehow don’t even happen to have a cordial ‘Hello’ or a ‘Good Morning’ or ‘How’ve you been?’ for acquaintances; like those at the office, people I see for almost 10 hours every day. I see others carrying out their simple courtesies everyday, but I just don’t seem to be able to put the good words together. Heck, I don’t even even have a polite reply when people wish me !

Attitude. 

 Do you suffer as I do ?

The Enlightenment

Have you ever had this moment, this moment where you’re left dumbstruck, with retrospection, forced to look into yourself, everything you’ve been through, and where you’ve reached? And yet, at that moment you’re a lot more wiser, maybe not so much in actions, but in understanding the reasons, and you know a lot more, so much more.

Two weeks back, I had come home during the weekend, and I was waiting for the elevator, beneath my building. As I stood there, in the monotony of my pathetic little life, three kids came jumping around, discussing something. On listening in, I found out they were discussing their Beyblades ( or Tazzos ) or something. And they were really animated about it, passionate as they could be. Soon after, came in another couple of kids, and this one kid from the latter group started jeering about some particular beyblade he had acquired. All the kids were seemingly awestruck by this new acquisition, when the bully from the original group started shouting, that his beyblade was much cooler than this new one, trying to bring the attention back to himself. A fight ensued with heated shouting, lots of snatching and shoving, and one kid almost coming down to tears. And all this while, I just stood there, shocked, as the elevator door opened and closed on me.

I  stood there because I was dumbstruck, lost for words seeing how passionate these kids were for these little things, while I had become so estranged with the simplicity of life. I was shocked to see how much they could fight over a beyblade, while I had to cope with thousands of frustrations at work, with relationships, betrayals, infatuations, insecurities, expectations, addictions, and the myriad mixtures of the anxieties, moments, the depressions, moments, and the solace-seeking indulgences I had learned to live within. I could see myself, right there, in those kids, in my school days, fighting over Pokemon Tazzos, or Wrestling Cards, or just the simplest things of life. To quote Johnny Cash, “What have I become, my sweetest friend?” Why was life such a struggle now, when it was so simple and happy once? At that precise moment, I could see everything flash right in front of my eyes, and I so desperately wished that those boys never reach here. Their happiness was so real, so pure, unlike my much maligned, broken and superficial laughter.

Haven’t things just become so complicated, that its almost incomprehensible to imagine such naivety ? And, if at that moment, I could just get one wish granted, the wish of my life probably, it would’ve been – take this away god, Give me that back !

And there lied my Nirvana, and that was my Enlightenment.

Learnings from the year that was – 2010 -I

You’re going to come across people in your life who will say all the right words at all the right times. But in the end, it’s always their actions you should judge them by. It’s actions, not words, that matter

But, when we have had ENOUGH we can always REBOOT

When you’re struggling with something, look at all the people around you and realize that every single person you see is struggling with something, and to them, it’s just as hard as what you’re going through.

Grace Barkha Grace

The Argumentative Indian is a good read, but prolonged argument in self-defence, wherein, even though you might have been misinterpreted, but clearly you had committed a mistake, is a sulk. Barkha Dutt has to understand that just bluntly keeping up the argument isn’t doing her any good; neither is it bringing over any public empathy. The Neeta Radia affair is a mistake she has to take responsibility for, guilty or not !

She might not have had, as she has repeated many times over, any malicious motives; but a mistake of the level it seems to an onlooker, can not to be fought off by making the loudest arguments. And if Barkha doesn’t get why the world is turning in on her, isn’t this exactly what they do to the political leaders, celebrities, sports authorities et al (not that I’m sympathizing), with the slightest sniff of conspiracy, until the concerned are grilled to shame. Public shame is a matter, which cannot be fought off by shouting; it is to be resolved with grace. Admitting to her mistake, whether guilty or not, would be a refreshing change, a step I probably expected someone of her respectability to have come up with straightaway.

Grace Barkha, is what will win you your place back, arguments we’ve already heard a plenty !

Maha-Freak-‘India’nomics – a shot at India’s sudden rise to stardom !

Okay so here’s the facts. This nation, with its 1.2 billion people

  • is not rich,
  • by far prosperous,
  • diseased and hungry and corrupt,
  • and still inhabits the largest number of slum dwellers in the world.

So the ‘slumdog’ is pretty much barking, but the ‘millionaire’ is here. He’s shining, no, he’s not wearing the Armani’s yet, certainly not the playboy, but you give him a dare, and he’s upto it. He’s being talked about, and looked at, and everyones interested, and throwing glances only the super-hot will get. He’s hot, boy he’s hot !

There are now references like :

” The following list is Forbes ranking of the world’s richest billionaires as of February 12, 2010, and does not reflect changes since then. There are 1,011 names in this year’s list. United States currently has the most billionaires amongst the world’s top 10 but India is expected to soon overtake the United States to gain more billionaires among the world’s top 10 than any other country”                       – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forbes_list_of_billionaires

“Chelsea is a big club, and probably the most suited to be bought, if [the owner] ever decides to sell. Located at London’s posh west-end, with a sufficiently large stadium, high attendances, no debts, and huge markets in Americas and India. Infact, I’d fancy one of those Indian tycoons buying it”              – Some random BBC Chelsea forum

Jai Hind!”                                                                                                                                       – US President Barack Obama

In hushed tones, all over the world its being talked about as the land of new riches. In unprecedented trends, the west desperately wants jobs in a country, where they once used to receive Hardship allowances, for so much as landing. Its the breeding ground of world’s richest businessmen, owners of Formula 1 teams and English football clubs and steel magnates, the playground for the world’s most successful companies, not just IT companies, but retailers, automobiles, power, steel and manufacturing, textiles, and you name it, everything is going Indian; everyone wants a slice of the burgeoning Indian pie.

But, how and why, this sudden rise in expectations, this unforeseen stardom, this rise in power ? Is it the relaxing of the Indian market laws, or is it the media, its scrutiny into everything ? Has it got something to do with the Governments, and their plans of development ? Or can it have, umm, well, something to do with the Indian girls? Perhaps it has.

The market laws were, well, apparently non-existent in the 50s and the 60s. Of course, being a young country, those markets were not very strong. Add to that, the relative adolescence of technology ( well, for 1 there was no internet, no cheap airfares to reach India, no cheap calls), yes, you would not really have expected much awe to be generated. But wouldn’t a new and open market be better suited to investment of any kinds, to see your money grow. But there was none. The Cadillac never came, the hotlines stayed back, even the computer never touched base till the early 80s. There was coke, but pepsi stayed back, Levis and Pepe never thought of the cheap manufacturing costs. It could’ve been big, but the bang never came.

They opened up again in the 90s. Yes, this time it was different, probably the perceptions had changed. They fancied India, but from a distance. No one really interested to come down and have a look. If anything, the soft drinks thought they could sell. But anyone who drove, still drove a Maruti, the phone was BSNL/MTNL, the finest suit was still a Grasim or Dinesh. They looked, and they looked harder, but none wanted to take the jump.

At the same time, cable TV arrived, and in a big way. The physical goods might not have landed, but whatever could be sent via satellite, was sold. Western media giants tried to push the cable television market, and along it brought with it, the inevitable birth of “Dynamic Media”, read, television news, news reporters, media driven justice drives, undercover scandal exposures, which also poured down to the expansion of print media, and media in any form fathomable. A billion Indians wanted stories, everyone wanted the truth, and everyone loved the spice, the unmasked faces. Suddenly, the News was in!

But media was fighting within itself; it was bringing news at cut-throat competition. Yes, it was causing shivers amongst the corrupt, the evil, the hypocrites; but the scandals, the news would not stop pouring in. So the evil, never really stopped being evil, the corrupt, though straightened to an extent, never really became incorruptible. Infact, in its exceedingly growing involvement with the dirty, the media started growing dirty. Instead of uncovering scandals, it started planting them, in order to make the Big Newsnight. Often, the reporters turned out to be scandalous, instead of the righteous ! In the long run, the Indians who loved their media, started to mock it on public forums, for its desperation, for its over-denigration, for its incompetency, and almost “Freakshow” programming in some cases (read India TV, AajTak, Samay et al). Quite surely, an aspect the Indians grew to disrespect themselves, couldn’t really have made it walk the red carpet.

The Governments, they come and the Governments they go. They promise, they win, and they try to work. And they try to suffice their greed while they work. The small cut that remains trickles down to whatever the small amount of work they could put together. Not that there isn’t work. The education available now, although still nowhere near the levels set in the west, is light years ahead of the previous decades. The infrastructure is toiling to get a newer, shinier look. But a lot remains to be done. Health services have hardly improved, or for that matter, become any inexpensive. The standard of living is to a large extent (ignoring the lets call it “creamy layer”, very original, eh!) really poor. The leaders have become, no less corrupt, only smarter in their ways to smartly (read very secretly) amass the public money. The Governments surely have played a bigger role than any of the other above mentioned aspects in inviting the west over home, but they’ve not really motivated no one.

So where has the motivation come from? Where has this new found zeal to succeed, and grow rich, and make name spurted from? In short, where has the stardom, the “world’s favorite baby” tag come from?

Lets take this discussion to a lounge in Mumbai, where the author is meeting two lady friends, who’ve met eachother after a long time. They’re discussing the intricacies of their lives, or rather gossiping, and this author is bored to hell, and gulping it down with beer, only when, the girls start discussing another of their girlfriend, who’s set to get married soon. The girls discuss the options this girl had as her suitors, one was apparently a nice IT guy, another a doctor, and the third had just finished his business course from IIM-B (lets call it the Indian Yale). The girl’s decided in unison, of course it has to be the IIM guy ! The author, puzzled by this shocking matter-of-factly unison probed into the why this decision? But the girls could only figure out, “ C’mon ! The richest/best prospects guy obviously “. The author pointed out, had this been the case, the great Indian heroes of yesteryears, who played poor coolies, or laborers, or as unemployed daredevils who fought for righteousness (read Amitabh, Dharmendra, and annoyingly repetitive Mithun) would never have had happy endings with their rich/or even not so rich good-looking heroines. The girls’ simply responded if there were any such heroes to be seen, in any movies, anymore. Shockingly true again ! So the girls had changed. The rich men were in. Now, I’m not being chauvinistic and announcing that this was the only action in place, and that the women were not striving to get any richer by themselves, but they certainly did want the rich boys, and infact it was quite obvious to all of them !

The author, still in disbelief, tried to bring up the matter with any and all of the lady friends he happened to talk to. And the responses that came up were strikingly similar. The old school days of chivalry, and of the rugged, the fighter against injustice, the righteous man were gone. Their men now had to be rich, and ready to empty their pockets, and if they were not already, they had to strive for it, study for it, work their asses off for it, because, to the women, it was quite obvious they had to be, if they had to be with them ! In his research, he came across “The one I marry has to be earning atleast 20 lakhs an year (i.e, Rs 2 mil)”, “What’s the point marrying someone, who doesn’t earn enough to be happy with, or rather to shop with (and a scary LOL)” and “C’mon the guy has to be making more than the girl, those [not so rich] guys can marry someone else ! “ and most shockingly “After I marry, who wants to work or anything, I’ll just spend heheh”.

So, the Indian girl has spoken, and she’s driving every guy to riches, and again not that she’s not trying for the riches herself, but she is, atleast as it seems, aiming high (read in everyone’s league their highest) when it comes to the guys. In effect, a richer girl by herself expects to land a richer guy, and the productive cyclicity of money-making is driving the Indian youth to crazy new heights ! Gone is the good life, they all want the best life now (and the best squeeze !). And the “Indian Baby”  is going global with that best life.

Okay, I know this work might sound really shallow, but those were real girls, and when asked to contemplate on the reasons I figured, none of them seemed to disapprove. Although, they found it awkward, they couldn’t really deny the reasoning. So contemplate ! 😛

Kart’s Spring Summer Collection 2009

The best i’ve come across this year:

1. TV Show, UK- Skins

2. Song (+ lyrics ), Blue October – Hate Me

3.Movie, UK – Trainspotting

3. Movie, Indian – Dev D

5. Movie,Indian – Luck By Chance

6. Movie,USA – The Wrestler

6. Movie ( Series ), USA – Kill Bill

8. Movie ( Series ),USA – Star Wars

9. Movie ( Series ), USA – X-Men

10. TV Show, USA – Californication

Down Memory Lane…

Sometimes, there’s parts to your story, you want to keep to yourself, things you don’t want to face, but you have to eventually, when your friends had that bad day as well, but you’re still making it worse; but there are other parts; the beautiful ones, the innocent ones, that lighter side that you wish would come back, and suddenly one day, it does!!

Sometimes, all these parts, the good and the bad ones, you come across them all in a single day ( or more like 26 hours). I had that day yesterday..

I learned:

1.) Save the hurting for later

If you could keep your sanity when people were judgmental, a straight face; while on the inside, the arrogance was too much to take, and the T word has been played with too many times, be the brave guy.

2.)It can always get better

A single childhood joke, that small detail, the kiddy games, shared, between those friends from then, and voila, it does.

3.)The true friend

Talk, share, ask, laugh, listen,conspire, inspire and speak a lots…your punching bag!

4.)Superlative

You’re not the only one who had this day, or at least had significant action in theirs, there’s a place to stop, turn, and take another road, because this road, there’s too many crashes along it, and the hurting dwells again..

F.U.R.B

The Words:

Sometimes its fun being with the difficult guy…otherwise u’re a jerk most’ve the time! becomes such a piss-off..

The Song:

I have to block out thoughts of you so I don’t lose my head
They crawl in like a cockroach leaving babies in my bed
Dropping little reels of tape to remind me that I’m alone
Playing movies in my head that make a porno feel like home
There’s a burning in my pride, a nervous bleeding in my brain
An ounce of peace is all I want for you. Will you never call again?
And will you never say that you love me just to put it in my face?
And will you never try to reach me? It is I that wanted space

Hate me today
Hate me tomorrow
Hate me so you can finally see what’s good for you

I’m sober now for 3 whole months it’s one accomplishment that you helped me with
The one thing that always tore us apart is the one thing I won’t touch again
In a sick way I want to thank you for holding my head up late at night
While I was busy waging wars on myself, you were trying to stop the fight
You never doubted my warped opinions on things like suicidal hate
You made me compliment myself when it was way too hard to take
So I’ll drive so fucking far away that I never cross your mind
And do whatever it takes in your heart to leave me behind

Hate me today
Hate me tomorrow
Hate me for all the things I didn’t do for you

Hate me in ways
Yeah ways hard to swallow
Hate me so you can finally see what’s good for you

And with a sad heart I say bye to you and wave
Kicking shadows on the street for every mistake that I had made
And like a baby boy I never was a man
Until I saw your blue eyes crying and I held your face in my hand
And then I fell down yelling “make it go away!”
Just make a smile come back and shine just like it used to be
And then she whispered “How can you do this to me?”

Hate me today
Hate me tomorrow
Hate me for all the things I didn’t do for you

Hate me in ways
Yeah ways hard to swallow
Hate me so you can finally see what’s good for you

The Reply:

.<F.<U><R>B>.

The End.




Contemplating the Post…

Apologies once again for passing up on the blog for more than 3 months. Thanks to this absence, I’ve now officially become a dormant blogger according to some of the worlds most read blogs. Please read them blooooogs, they’re scribbled upon often enough with the regular supposedly inspirational/self-conscious updates, love their numbers, need your support.

Anyways, its not that i haven’t wanted to write all this time, there has been a lot to write on, things the world has seen, movies that i’ve seen, places I’ve been to, faces I’ve met, and all along I’ve wanted to share the thoughts. Again, I don’t even have excuses to fall back on, its not that I’ve been especially busy, nor have I been isolated from the www.

I can remember many instances when i reached the wordpress homepage, logged in, even worked on the plentiful spam, kept opening all the blogs i read for strictly inspirational purposes, n then eventually closed the browser, promising myself of the effort another time.

Contemplation could be something I could go on ranting about here, but naah, that’d make it boring though. I’m usually casual about things, and dont often give a fuck to most things that happen around me, so hell I if didn’t get the steroids for blog writing, does it really matter.

The fact is blogging has become too much’ve a formality to go back to, and I’m really too lazy to be dressed in my best brain Armanis every now n then to raise the post toast.

Anyhows, this is whats bin happening off late:

1. Lots’ve trance, used to mock Shanky for his trance habits once, now i can’t get the dope out’ve my system.

2.Irritating people’s still on, though the bar’s been raised, I’m now the proud winner of the Best Brag title.

3.Did not, could not go back home this Holi, too bad.

4.Please find me the anti-dope for DOTA, do I really want it?

5.Plan to get up late tomorrow, or rather don’t plan to get up early tomorrow.

PS: 5 ways to screw up a perfect day:

->Attend double RC Jha lectures.

->Fight everyone, esp. those u’re not talking to in person (i.e on calls, the net , etc.)

->Applicable to Tuesdays n Thursdays: Have breakfast in the hostel.

->See your unlucky charm sometime during the day ( though some of my friends have contagious effects, with their grims giving hell to everyone around them as well).

->There’s a fifth way, I never have a perfect day.

( Do I have to fill in the excerpt given below as well? )