Archive for October, 2016


Family members on a holiday

I was travelling yesterday in an autorickshaw (three-wheeled vehicles) when I first saw a driver using his whatsapp when waiting at a signal. Now, why should that surprise anyone at all? With the kind of mobile and social media penetration we see around us, it should be expected that we see bus drivers checking fb status, as also doctors or lecturers. All humans. All addicted.

The fear comes when one hears phone talk while under bright lights in the operation theatre, or on way to the toilet in the aircraft when spying pilots chatting on phone! What if??? The engine driver in a train could relax for a few minutes and get pulled away into a controversial conversation with a friend during a chat, and in the course miss a boulder lying on the tracks! A surgeon could get diverted by a call or beep from the phone and be late in tackling a sudden leak.

Guess we call it fate and move on to the next plane.. of existence!

What is it that technology has that ensures this addiction, like never before? Why have books not seen this kind of devotion? Is this about a sense of control? Is it just about pandering to the ego and status and self-validation that affirms our existence? Really? Some studies have also hinted at an increase in self-esteem from social connections and a fear of being left out or missing out on what everyone is talking about. A report said that 80 percent of posts in FB are about the user! Is it all an exercise in personal branding? But I have seen folks who just keep checking on others’ posts and images, not as much on their own.

Why do 50 percent of the people, or more, start their day checking their social media?

Why for instance do I feel the need to check whatsapp once in a while amidst work? That I thought was the best way to solve the puzzle. Boredom? Not when engrossed at something. Need for a change of scene, prompted by a lack of concentration? To some extent, yes.

Many of us have surely noticed during the last decade a change in our reading abilities. Where once we could sit and concentrate, today we find it a bit difficult. Idle chatter on the other hand  needs no concentration.

I can think of no better explanation than simple addiction — to a pastime that is entertaining and promising. Promising some new information all the time which could  bring a wow moment in an otherwise stagnating life.

There is so much that needs to be done around us, whether it is with lakes or garbage or water supply. Or empowering the deprived with education, skills and services? Once we get started, there is more excitement in addressing all that than in waiting for the next exciting news of a celebrity or innovative way to cut a pomegranate to flash on our smart devices. But somehow there are not many takers. Most are tired and unenthusiastic thanks to a job routine that leaves no place for joy. We are so happy to share do-good tales on whatsapp rather than be out there doing them. Virtual over the ‘real’.

Which takes my mind to a spiritual query. The world we live in is not real, say both our ancient texts as well as emerging science (quantum physics). Layers of reality exist says one, while the other talks of myriad manifestations of the absolute. Fine. Already we live in an unreal world and now we choose to add more unreality to it by stepping into the virtual world. One more screen has been added. Surely this will take us further away from the ultimate realisation?

Where next? This addiction to the virtual world could diminish our mental abilities. It takes us away from the present moment which slides past. What can be done besides the new fad of digital detoxification, which merely offers a break and not a change in the digital routine? Will everything we do need a machine media?

Or, could there be a new world order, where we are more connected to each other thanks to social media? Even if it is at the cost of disconnecting with the immediate family we live with?? I wonder…


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It has been a disheartening month spent visiting hospital after a family member lost fingers of the right hand in an accident. Facts, already known, were reinforced. Of how these once venerated institutions of well-being have turned into pure money-spinning corporate ventures. All loose ends from the institution’s perspective are tied up to ensure its safety regardless of the work of its staff. Patients sign all kinds of forms in the short time to admission, with urgency of the patient’s condition taking precedence. The fine details get lost till after some procedure is derailed and life threatened. But then it is too late.

Doctors come and go, as they hop between the many stops in gathering the returns for a costly education. They have no time for bedside niceties or giving explanations for procedures done. A question can get at the most a curt reply, almost as though saying ‘you can not understand’.

In the light of recent exposes of illegal money made by medical colleges on admission of students, a fact already known, combined with the more scarier tales of degrees bought with money, one wonders at the knowledge of these students turned doctors.

Room rents are exorbitant. Final bills more so. But ask the cleaning staff or nurses and their salary and it can make you ask again. A pittance. Are they exploited?  IS there anyone to take up their cause? How well will a poorly paid nurse take care of her patient? Any wonder then that overdoses happen, due to sheer carelessness? It happened with us too, with a nurse in the next shift repeating a dose, and being stopped simply because we were alert.

The same is everywhere in any corporate set up. Profit sharing is simply not equitable. The majority of the staff on the shop floor made to slog for poor incomes while a few on the top make a haul, thanks to helping the firm with its cost cutting. How do these folks expect their workmen to do good work? Isn’t it common sense that the benefits have to be two-ways?

Both for the doctor and patient. Can a system not work to keep everyone happy? Why does corporatisation have to mean plunder of the innocents? The hapless? Especially when talking of the most humane of services.

I for one am no votary of the capitalist view of things, where the one with most money rules the roost. But I sure wish things were not so in the medical field. Lives should be ideally valued on par, whether that of a man on the roads or the one in the ivory tower. Can money ever make up for the joy a doctor can experience of a life saved or a heart set right?

Perhaps it is my recent reading of The Citadel but I hark back on a time when doctors were life givers. They did not rely on umpteen machine readings to diagnose a case, but on sheer experience and insight, and most important a human touch. Perhaps there were more failures then in terms of lives, but what use being alive if one is just a live mummy? That is what many patients from our ICUs end up as today. Stitched up and sewn and all new but restricted. Is it worth living life with a hundred drugs pumped in?

Finally, a question that beats me every time I think of it. How could the state or nation give up all controls on the most basic of services?


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