Monday, June 23, 2008


One of the things that I've noticed about being a resident is how often we're apt to complain. Walk into any conversation and invariably the topic will come around to how stressful things are. It could be a difficult patient, a busy call or a tough attending who grills you remorselessly over insignificant details. Residency is hard work. A lot of the time you're on call every fourth night which means every fourth day you come home exhausted and ready to collapse. It's a challenging life and it extracts a lot from you, physically and emotionally, without offering any immediate, commensurate dividend. And the rising gas prices don't help . . . .

And yet, when I sit down and think about it, I don't really think I work that hard. There are so many people who work a lot harder than I do, and for a lot less money, who go unnoticed in this world. I remember an incident last year that helped me to understand this. I had gone home for my annual vacation and was out shopping with my mother. This was my first time back after I had started earning and I was naturally flush with money, dropping dollars at the slightest excuse, eager to both indulge and impress. We were at the vegetable market - my mother needed someone to carry the bags - and, feeling hungry, I stepped into one of the small cafeterias for a quick sandwich and something cool to drink. As I was waiting for the cook to make my paratha, I noticed a man come in. He must have been middle-aged, with a stooped back but very muscular, probably one of the porters at the market who carried your purchases back to the car. He looked tired and, as he walked in, the scent of sweat, dry and heavy, pressed off his body into the surrounding air. The man went over to the fridge and pulled out a small carton of yoghurt. He then asked the waiter to get him some bread and, while he was waiting for that, emptied the carton of yogurt into his plate and sprinkled some pepper over it. When the bread came, he broke off a large piece, dipped it into the yogurt and ate it in quick, hungry bites. That was his dinner. (He may or may not have also asked for an onion to add savor to his meal. It doesn't matter.)

When I am tired and exhausted, I like to think of that man, the one with the body odor and the large circles of sweat drying on his back, eating his simple meal. It replenishes me instantly with a perspective that I am grateful for. I feel blessed.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

who are you

who are you,little i

(five or six years old)
peering from some high

window;at the gold

of November sunset

(and feeling:that if day
has to become night

this is a beautiful way)

- ee cummings

Sunday, June 08, 2008


It is almost midnight as I write this. There is a thunderstorm raging outside and flashes of lightning streak through the window from time to time. I woke up a few hours ago, pleasantly sore from being up all night taking call. Post-call sleep is the most refreshing because your body sorely needs it, is greedy for the rest, and thus you wake up refreshed, your mind clear of last night's clamor. I walk over and open the terrace door. A scent of wet earth is carried into the room. I love rain. There is something inherently, exquisitely beautiful about it. How it looks, how it sounds, how it changes the landscape in small footfalls of water. I don't know how to describe it. Sometimes it is enough to just sit and listen.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Dear Person Who Took My Clothes Out of the Dryer,

I just wanted to thank you for folding them. I had put them in two days ago and gone to work, completely forgetting that they needed to be removed. Imagine my joy, then, after returning forty-eight hours later to rescue what should have been an insensible mess and finding them all placed in a neat pile, the socks matched and tucked into each other, on top of the dryer. We don't know each other - the laundry room, churning and rumbling in detergent frenzy, is hardly a place to discover new friends - but yours was a wonderful gesture and it made my day. Thank you very much.



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