Dont fall sick on a Friday

At least not in the middle east.

For there’s every chance that you may end up not getting treated at all.

Why? Because, Friday being a weekend while you may still find coffee-shops and grocery stores open at the weest of hours here, and even petrol stations that are open 24/7 but NOT a clinic or a pharmacy. No way.

I realized that only today, when Namnam suddenly developed an ear pain and started bawling uncontrollably. The pain was so unbearable that no hot-pack treatment or ear-drops were soothing enough for her. So the next obvious step was to take her to a clinic. I tried to call the clinic to check if the doctor was in but there was no response. Thinking the phones may be out of order we decided to head straight to the clinic anyway, only to reach there and find it closed!

It was annoying to say the least to find a fairly reputed and recently upgraded clinic closed on a weekend. I mean arent health care providers supposed to serve the people through the day? What if there had been an emergency? With the phone lines off, how do they expect to be of any help to those in need of health care? Of what use is the state of the art facilities and stylishly updated websites when the patients cant access the clinic for their basic health care at any point of time?

Anyway we found out that the clinic was to open at 4PM. It was 330 already. But since Namnam’s pain wasnt subsiding we decided to go to another clinic a couple of minutes drive away. This time too I tried to call the clinic hoping against hope to get my call answered and an appointment fixed. But to no avail. Here at least the clinic was wee bit better off than the previous one…this one at least had a voice-mail activated informing its callers that it was closed during the day and was to open at 4PM! WOW, what a service!

As a last resort we were left with either going to a pharmacy and buy an over the counter medicine to relieve the pain or go to the government-run emergency ward and get her admitted.

Now since Namnam’s condition was not so serious that it called for an emergency admission yet not so slight that it could be neglected we thought of going to a pharmacy.

But.

As expected the pharmacy that we came across first while on our way had its shutter down! Thankfully a few blocks further down the road there was one store which was open and we got Namnam the required medicine. She gulped it down while in the car, without a whimper.

The pharmacist adviced us to wait for 2 hours within which time the pain would subside. If it didnt then we were to go to the emergency.

The pain subsided after one hour and Namnam was back to her active self.

However this whole experience left a very disturbing mark in my mind with respect to the health care system here. I am still wondering about the purpose of such healthcare facilities in the first place when they cant ensure the basic service to people!

Whats your honking style?

**Blabber post**

Ok, now being someone who is born and brought up in a place like Delhi honks have been an integral part of my life. Even before I learnt how to drive on Delhi roads I learnt to appreciate( or not) a the horns of the raging Blue-line buses and the snooty auto-rickshaws and the impish Marutis. Why, I have been honked at by even the cycle-rickshaws. Boy what attitude! What music to the ears with so many horns all around you as soon as you stepped out of the house! How could they not be a part of your life?

And then when I started driving, oh boy what a field I had by honking at all and sundry! I used to honk at even those cows spread royally in the middle of the road as though they were in a garden! Even those dogs and cats loitering around waiting for their mates had to be urged- by way of my honks, of course- to find a cozier place to breed!

Anyway in the last 9 years or so that I have been in the Middle East, a no-honk zone, I have been so spoilt with the organized driving and peaceful silence that now when I go home the jarring sounds of the horns blaring into my ears cringe me.

Having said that, the reckless and rash driving that I have been observing in Doha roads lately makes me wonder if my love for honks may get rekindled after-all! Oh you have to hear the different kinds of honks that I blow these days to believe me!

Honk #1– When you are driving at a speed of 100km/h and all of a sudden a pedestrian sprints across you just about getting away from coming under your car, you screech out a ‘Nooooooo’ with your honk! Trust me you’ll come across a lot of such such irresponsible morons here!

Honk #2– When a measly-looking vehicle is attempting to sneak in between you and the car in front in an already stifling traffic jam, you honk to say,’ Dont even think about it!’ FYI the message can be better conveyed when the honk is administered in broad daylight coupled with your piercing stare shooting right through his glass-shield!

Honk #3– is used when the role reverses. I mean, when your car is the measly-looking vehicle attempting to join a stretch of cars(read the Land cruisers, Patrols and the ilk). This time you meekly honk and give the sanest smile on earth to say,’ Please let me go..please please, or else I will cry and tell my mom that you’re not letting me go…waaaaa, waaaa!’

Honk #4– When you are enjoying the drive on a reasonably empty road listening to your favorite song and just when you are turning right, out comes this car from nowhere and zooms past you from the wrong end, as though in a terrible urge to relieve himself! Thats when you blow the dynamite of a honk shooting the nastiest curses that you can think of,’ @##$%%$#$…you douche-bag..teri toh mai!’

Honk #5– This one is a harmless one. When you spot a friend or an acquaintance on your way, this honk simply conveys,’ Hi there! whats up?’

Honk #6– But if, instead of reaching your friend(mentioned in #5), it reaches the ears of the vehicle in front of you, it can be misconstrued as,’ Hey there, move faster, you tortoise’! Which can attract variety of expressions and sign-lingos from the tortoise BTW. He/she may give you a taste of your own medicine by way of the piercing stare from his/her rear-view mirror which can shoot through YOUR glass-shield this time or or he may raise his hand in a dancing-mudra like this

which loosely conveys,’ Whats your problem? 😡 😡 ‘

OR he/she may just shoot the dynamite honk #4 at you!

Honk #7– is administered when there is a monster-trailer on road and you want to get past it. Most of these trailers are usually well in their lanes and rarely bully you. But their very enormity is so intimidating that you cower. Thats when you plead with them by way of this honk which says, ‘ Hey truckaasur! Please dont crush me! Please please please! Have mercy!’

Honk #8– This is R’s favourite! This is a ‘just like that’ honk! Literally. He uses it for the love of using it! Just like that. A Delhi-ite to the core! He honks when he takes the car out of the garage. And then honks again while waiting for the gate of the compound to open. He honks when he sees a car speeding off … on the opposite side of the road! :roll:. And of course he makes use of all the honk-categories that I mentioned above, during the course of his drive. And honks even when on a long drive with not a vehicle in close-shave quarter…just to spite me 😡 ! He goes ‘honk’ and gives me a sheepish smile to say ‘just like that’ 😐 Aargh!

Did I just say my love for honks was rekindling? Or not? 😀

So what did you honk today?

Have one more child and your family is complete!

This is fast becoming my pet-peeve, really. Ever since Namnam was born, I have had people ranging from my closest friends to not so close ones to relatives to neighbours to even acquaintances telling me how my family would be complete if I were to have one more child. And mostly the suggestion is with a definite reference to having a son. Over the years I have been trying to condition myself into ignoring them and yet there are times when a random decree like this chafes at my whole being and pushes me to retaliate.

When a person professes that a family is ideal when it has a son and a daughter, I’ve never really understood that line of thought. I have friends who have two daughters, some have two sons, some, like me, have stood by the one-child policy. I know plenty of people who have opted not to have any children even and yet are in perfect sync with their decisions. There are people who have adopted and have found the right balance in life. Does that make these families any less meaningful or complete?

So what constitutes a ‘complete family’? Is there a set definition for it? Who decides what is complete or best for a said family? The family concerned or the people outside of it? If I am to assume( in the context of the Indian society) that this idea took shape from the campaign of Hum do Hamare do( we two, ours two) which was mainly propagated to control the population growth, then would it mean that the onus of defining ‘ a complete family’ lies on our government/our politicians? The miserable failure of the campaign is enough for all of us to jump in and veto the option I’m sure. In which case the onus automatically falls on our society, right? Who will have added a new dimension to the slogan by telling the family that the set-up will be absolutely complete when it has a son and a daughter.

If you ask me, I’d say NO. No government, no society nobody would be responsible to define my family set-up. That power rests entirely on me and my husband. How can people assume what would make MY family complete? They are free to speak for themselves. If they feel having two sons, or three daughters or a son and a daughter is what makes a complete family then fine, that is probably what works for them. But please do not thrust that viewpoint on me. I can speak for myself. My husband and I have a daughter and our family is as complete as any other with one child or two children or three sons or no children. Oh and we have a new slogan for ourselves- Hum do Hamari Ek( We two, Ours one) 😀

No ONE family is any more or less perfect or beautiful than the other. Every family is worthy and complete in its own way. Lets keep it that way 🙂

Gender-Bender

D: Listen, I’m thinking of redoing my CV and I may need your help. I think its time I got back to work.
R: Ok.
D: Or wait, I don’t think I’m ready yet.
R: Ok.
D: I’m way too comfortable living the life of a stay at home mom to chuck it and feel the pressure of a 9-6,7&8 job? Oh I love my tourism-profession, but I also know how thankless it can be at times, you know.

And after some more mulling over

D: Wait, let me think it over if I really want to get back to work or no.
R( with a chuckle): Ok.
D( sensing a sarcastic tinge in that chuckle): Why that chuckled OK?
R: Just wondering if, after what you said, you still think all these cries for men & women to be given equal benefits and opportunities hold any value.
D: What do you mean?
R: I mean, if I were to realize one fine day that no, I do not want to work, and that I’d rather siit at home instead and be with my child and wife, will I have an option to do that?
D: Yes of course you would, IF I were also working. And if I were earning more than you, then most CERTAINLY you’d have that option.
R: What I’m trying to say is that while its ok to talk about equal opportunities for men & women its also worth mentioning that women do enjoy some perks at times. Like for eg. If you were working and you had a tiff with your boss, you could choose to throw that job right at his/her face and walk out. I wouldn’t have the same option.

And this set me wondering. Do we, women, really have it this easy? Do we really enjoy perks vis a vis men?

Even though, in my defense, I said that I would NOT walk out so easily if I was the only working member in the family OR if I were earning more than him and I knew by bringing in a few more riyals we could run the house better, still somewhere deep in my mind I couldn’t help but wonder if the same perk will hold true for R.

If R were to really quit his work and become a stay at home dad will his decision be received well by people around us, by people who matter to us even? Not very well, I suppose. Because very soon, our society consisting of elders, relatives, well-wishers, friends, etc may take it upon themselves to pull him down at every given opportunity making him feel guilty for being jobless and for living on his wife’s earnings.

I remember when I took that decision to quit work to become a stay at home mom, I didn’t have to counter any pressurizing questions from anybody around me, the only questions I had to counter were the ones that cropped up inside my own self- questions about my own anxieties and fears, about whether I was taking the right decision, whether it was going to work out well for me, R & my child,etc.. But never was I made to feel guilty by my society for being ‘jobless’ or about my ‘supposed’ financial dependence on my husband. I was in fact commended for that decision because as per them this was what I was ‘supposed’ to do.

This was accepted and expected of me.

It is easy for a woman to take that one decision to quit work and just stay at home. If a woman quits work or decides to stay at home, nobody points fingers at her. Because that is what she is ‘expected’ to do. From the time she is born the need to get married, the need to subdue herself to the domesticity of life is drilled into the woman. No matter howsoever much she is encouraged to pursue her education, howsoever much she is taught to become confident, bold, assertive, she is told her ultimate happiness lies in getting married , producing children, and eventually being dependent-emotionally and financially- on her husband.

On the other hand a man is expected to bring income. The onus of earning for the family lies on the man. And if he shows any inclination to become a caregiver for his family he is snubbed by the society, he is tagged hen-pecked, spineless, and shameless for his supposed dependence on his wife’s earnings.
A man is raised to be the bread-winner while a woman is raised with the sole motive to get married. Any change in this set-up, all hell breaks loose. The society with all its might pounces on the man, who decides to stay at home and the woman, who decides to bring in ‘income’ to get them to change their mindsets because its not the ‘expected’ thing to do.

The truth is it’s the stereotypical mentality of our society that needs to change. Its still difficult for our society to accept that a woman can be more qualified than her spouse and can be the bread-earner of the family. It’s all in the mindset. The day we accept its as much ok for a woman to earn more than her husband as it is ok for a man to be the caregiver for his family, I think gender equality will have a better standing in our society.

Today I am a mother and I’m aware that my child is going to surrounded by people advising her about how her responsibility lies in getting married, raising children, becoming the obedient, dutiful doormat of a daughter-in-law. While I do want her to fall in love with a wonderful man, get married into a beautiful family, become a mother, have a family of her own, I do not want it to be her sole motive in life. I had rather have her grow up to be someone who gets to do what she aspires to do than do what she is expected to do.