Jul 28, 2009

Quirks of Fate!

A few months back I was warned rather strongly by an astrologer (unsolicited advice off course since I never asked him!) that for the next few months I would be extremely accident prone. There could be some blood loss, broken bones, things falling on me and even electrocution (the guy didn’t leave anything to chance did he !).
I am really not a believer in astrology but I've been trying to figure out If I've had any unforeseen and sudden accidents in the past few months and I just realized that I've had quite a few!. And all of them are weird and funny.
Here’s a list –
1) On a trek to Kedarnath in May, was walking along quietly admiring the snow peaks when suddenly a pony went berserk and rushed towards us pinning me and a friend against the mountain. End Result – Bruised shoulder blade where I hit the rocks. The friend escaped unhurt. The guy in the pony fell off though, and that too right in the middle of pony shit!
On the same trek after walking on for about 2 kms I sprained my left ankle. (This time I was holding on to a railing and walking - quirks of fate!)
2) A few weeks later, in Chandigarh I was sitting on a rug on the floor. While getting up the rug slipped from under me (I really don’t know how!) and bang I hit the wall and slid down slowly along with the rug while trying to find a grip for support. End Result - hurt shoulder when I hit the wall and hurt elbow when I finally hit the floor. Nothing broken thankfully!
3) In June I was walking down the stairs at work. It was raining and the stairs were slippery. Slipped on the last few steps and the posterior hit every step with a definite thump. End Result - A very bruised behind and for the next few days, I winced in pain every time I sat down.

4) June Again – Was in the kitchen and wanted to make tea. Tried to lift a pan but dropped it immediately yelping in pain. The maid had just boiled some water in it and it was still very hot. End Result - Fingers got all blistered in spite of turning on the tap and running cold water over hand. Typed with one hand for a week.
5) In the beginning of July, was standing outside the house talking to a neighbor. We were standing very close to the parked cars. His daughter (a very recent car learner) suddenly backed the car (without warning and in the wrong direction) and almost ran me over. End Result – Bruised knees and a neighbors daughter who is now dead scared of me. (Snarled at her and asked if she knew that the rear view mirror is actually for looking at objects behind the car and not just for retouching your lipstick.)

6) July - Went to Vrindavan and decided to pay a visit to the Banke Bihari Temple. The temple was extremely crowded that day. As soon as the temple doors opened, There was an almost stampede and I was propelled along in the rush of people behind me who could not even wait a second more to catch a glimpse of their beloved God. Could not stop in time and hit my head hard on a low beam. End Result - a big bump and now I also know what it means to see stars during daytime.

Not a bad collection of bruises and bumps eh! Better than broken bones and electrocution tho !

Jul 24, 2009

In case of medical emergencies......

At 8 p.m on a quiet Sunday evening, My Bua(Father's Sister) in Chandigarh was engrossed in preparing material for the workshop she was to take the next morning. She went to the kitchen for a glass of water and saw a huge cobweb swaying gently on the kitchen wall. Irritated that her usually spic and span house had a cobweb and gently cursing the maid; she grabbed a broom and climbed on a table (look at her luck the table was right under the cobweb!). Not dissuaded at all by the small table and her totally insufficient height of 5 feet 2 inches she stood up on tip toe to swipe away the cobweb, promptly lost her footing, came tumbling down and dislocated and broke her wrist in three places.
Keeping her wits about her she ran down the stairs to the neighbors who were not at home. She ran to neighbors across the street who took one look at her arm and jumped in the car to take her to a hospital.They took her to one of the most prominent private hospitals in the city (their branches are all over the country) where the emergency ward attendant did not even deign to get up from his chair. “We don’t take in emergencies on Sunday evenings and anyway there are no doctors available” he told them. And he said all this in a very matter of a fact manner as if he was talking of tickets not being available for a film show and not of a medical emergency. WTF!
After a brief but pointless argument they drove away to another private hospital and were told that Head doctor saab is on holiday in Shimla. But why don’t you get admitted and he will have a look at your arm tomorrow evening when he returns. Meanwhile would you like a private or a semi private room? There was no offer of painkillers or temporary plasters from the other doctors.

By that time the arm was horribly swollen and the pain was excruciating.
Another private hospital and another refusal-we don’t take in emergencies on Sundays. (What do these hospitals think- emergencies take a weekly off too and don’t happen on Sundays?)
Resigned to their fate they went to the next possible option – Govt hospital sector 32. And what a surprise! There was a wheelchair waiting right outside as they drove up the emergency ward, The people inside took one look at her arm and escorted her to orthopedics dept without much fuss. And by the time the neighbors had filled in the forms and paid whatever little amount that had to be paid, x-ray was done and soon Bua’s arm was neatly encased in nice white plaster. Bua is a big fan of govt hospitals now. As she told me when I went visiting her from Delhi, they are dirty, they are overcrowded, the doctors are harassed and underpaid. But they think of you first and not how they can take advantage of your desperate situation to fleece you.
It got me thinking though – This was a emergency but not in a major life threatening way – What if someone is almost dying or bleeding to death and is still refused to be taken in by hospital after hospital even if the desperate relatives or friends are almost begging for medical help ?
Makes me scared even to think about it.

Jul 16, 2009

The Great Himalayan Getaway-5

The Glory of Kedarnath
We reached our rooms in Kedarnath at around 4 p.m and after a sumptuous and a much relished meal of aloo parathas and chole bathure we had a bath and then headed towards the temple. The Kedarnath temple lies nestled in a valley between snow clad mountains. Inside the temple complex just at the entrance, a huge Nandi made of stone sits as if guarding the Shivaling. Along with a maddening rush of pilgrims the temple also has a few resident sadhus. With wild eyes and matted hair they were covered with ashes and wore nothing but a small loincloth totally unaffected by the almost arctic cold. It was almost time for the evening Aarti when we entered the main temple. Not everyone is allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum during that time and most of us stood outside next to the statue of Nandi. Spiritually, it was a truly exhilarating experience. The air vibrated with the sounds of conches and cymbals interspersed with cries of Jai Kedar. Standing there in the temple, listening to the invocations surrounded by the pristine beauty of the Himalayas we all felt an indescribable sense of peace.
After the Aarti we decided to buy tickets for the special Pooja but were a little disappointed when we got a time slot of 1 a.m in the morning. We had hoped for a much more reasonable time of 5 am or so. We went back to our rooms and tried valiantly to stay awake till 1 a.m. The cold by then was almost unbearable and inspite of the layers upon layers of woolens that we were wearing we still shivered. At quarter to 1 we left for the temple again.
Walking to the temple in the dead of the night was a very different but a spiritually enriching experience. In the evening the town was a whirlwind of activity. The temple was crowded and the narrow lanes were swarming with pilgrims and sadhus alike. Now there was not a soul in sight and there was a pin drop silence around us. It was a full moon night and the bright moon made the snow glitter as if someone had taken sheets of pure silver and spread it on the mountains. The sky was clear and the stars shone brightly like fireflies behind a backdrop of dark velvet cloth. We walked on in the hushed and silent night, soaking in the peace and quiet. The beauty we saw that night was almost celestial. It filled us with an overwhelming sense of serenity and we felt a close affinity with god.The temple was totally deserted but the inner sanctum was open where the priests were getting ready for the Pooja. There was no one else in the temple except us and the priests. The Shivaling that we could only catch a few glimpses of during the day was decorated with flowers and Chandan. We did Pooja and had Darshan to our hearts content.
After the Pooja we trooped back to our rooms and slept for a few hours. In the morning again after a breakfast of parathas we headed back to Gaurikund, totally uplifted by our spiritual experience.

The Great Himalayan Getaway-4

The Road to Kedarnath
We could hear the cries of Jai Kedar from the pilgrims as we made our arduous way up to Kedarnath. To reach Kedarnath, one starts trekking from Gaurikund, a small rather dirty loooking place with restaurants and rest houses piled haphazardly on the mountains. It was chock-c-block with people, ponies, palakiwalas and what nots. But once we left behind the smell of ponies, the dust and crushing rush of Humanity, the rest of the trek was simply spectacular.
It had just finished raining and the mountains were lush green. The Mandakini meandered between the mountains as if keeping us company. The path snaked upwards through alpine forests and we passed many waterfalls. Up till Rambara, the midway point between Gaurikind and Kedarnath; the snow clad chaukhamba peaks were just faint smudges in the distance. They kept appearing and disappearing behind the mountains as if playing hide and seek with us. But after Rambara, as we took a steep turn we suddenly found ourselves face to face with them. We stood there mesmerized, aching muscles forgotten; taking in their magnificent beauty. The Mountains were covered almost totally with snow and as the sunlight reflected off them, it seemed that the peaks were on fire. As we walked on, the green foliage we saw earlier was replaced by bare jagged mountains; black where not clad in snow. The beauty here was stark and rugged rather than gentle. The altitude rises steeply after Rambara and even the fittest amongst us were left breathless, but these were minor irritants compared to the panorama enfolding around us. The last 1-2 kilometers to Kedarnath are almost a flat plateau. We could clearly see the cluster of mountains that surround the temple, they seemed so tantalizingly close. The mountain slopes were carpeted with green grass and patches of wildflowers grew here and there. The sides of the path were dotted with huge boulders and some spots had patches of snow that had not yet melted.
We crossed the iron bridge that spans the river Manadakini and at last reached the Kedarnath temple.

Jul 7, 2009

The Great Himalayan Getaway-3

A day’s travel from Rishikesh brought us to Sonprayag;a quaint little hamlet at the base of kedarnath. Since almost everyone who wants to trek up to Kedarnath stays at Gaurikund and not Sonprayag, Sonprayag’s natural beauty is still untarnished to a great extent.
We stayed at a villa belonging to one of the most reputed business Houses of the country. Perched almost on top of the mountain, the villa was in the midst of a lush green forest and had a beautiful garden filled with exotic flowers. A steep climb down the slope led you to the river Mandakini; roaring and tumbling down from the locks of Lord Shiva. The water was so sparkling clean that we could clearly see the stones in the river bed.
It was a magical time for all of us. Away from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we spent all our time either taking long walks through the hushed forest or sitting at the river bank taking in the natural splendor around us. It was a god given opportunity to rewind, reconnect with ourselves and get rejuvenated in that peaceful and serene environment.

We spent a few blissful days at Sonprayag and then decided to go on to Kedarnath.

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