Notes from a freak accident on 021117

November 7, 2017

I am going crazy repeating to every person who is enquiring, “What Actually Happened?”

Well, here it is:

I was showering at 8 am in the morning when the six-foot by five-foot glass sliding door of my shower stall broke. No clue why.The glass had been installed 13 years ago, and was not safety glass. The shards sliced a deep gash in my hip, er, well, my bum, on the left side; on my right, gashes in my elbow and wrist, and (as the surgeons told me today) several internal and external cuts on my back and sides.

I am amazed by how coolly I reacted.I saw the shards of glass with bits of my skin, fat and blood all over the shower area, and knew that it was quite a bad situation.

The sliding door with its remaining shards of glass was stuck, so I had to carefully squeeze my way out. I then realized that I was losing blood at an alarming rate from the huge gash on my hip/bottom, so I wadded a lot of toilet tissue and held the gaping wound shut.

The shock of what happened meant that I had an urgent bowel movement. So I did that neatly, too, on the throne, no poop to add to the blood all over the bathroom.

I’d just put shampoo in my hair, so I washed that out in the washbasin.

Holding the hip wound but bleeding from the gashes on my elbow, wrist and back, I went to the room where the phone was, and called my daughter (I’d just wished her a while ago for her birthday). Since she was in the gym and could not be reached, I called up my son in law and told him it was an emergency, and that he should locate her and ask her to come pronto.

I switched off the geyser, the lights around the flat, picked up my purse with cash and debit cards in readiness. I put on underclothes, and an old kaftan, as I knew it would be soon blood-soaked.

I opened the door to my daughter when she arrived. I held another wad of tissue to the hip wound while she lined the front seat of the car with newspapers. She then drove me to Fortis Hospital on Bannerghatta Road. I knew that the hospital was a money-making concern, but I felt I had the best chance of finding good surgeons to operate, so I decided to go there. Indeed the surgeons were good, though some of the nursing was pathetic, and the administration unethical in the billing (more about this later).

The wound was taped shut in Emergency, and I was generally cleaned up. I was made to wait for three hours for a room as I was told the hospital was full. Once I was moved into the room, I was not allowed to have even a drink of water (I told the nurses that I’d had nothing since dinner at 7pm the previous night) because of impending surgery. I am sure that hunger and thirst added to the shock of my accident.

Fortis then insisted on prior payment of a large sum of money (Rs. 1,50,000) (this itself seems unethical to me) and refused to carry out the surgery without it. My daughter and my friends Jayashree and Nayantara, who’d also arrived at the hsopital, organized it. Jai and Nayantara went home, but my daughter had to stay with me.

Though surgery was thus delayed, I was wheeled in at 7.20pm, and the surgery, which took a little over an hour, went very well. I returned to consciousness and was brought back to the room at about 9.30pm. Jai, who came back in the evening, stayed with me while Anjana went home to get things organized for the children for the next day, and returned by 12.45 am, when Jai went home. Though the surgeon had told me that I could have food after midnight, the nurses would not allow me to eat or drink anything until 1 am. Jai’s suggestion of a glass of Horlicks was excellent and a life-restorer.

Anjana, suffering from cold and fever, was out like a light; luckily, I was able to go to the toilet on my own, and considering the injuries, spent a reasonable night.

The other patient in my room was a gentleman who was having his knee fixed after some wire had broken in the knee replacement. For some reason, he was suffering from a lot of gas, and my night was punctuated by unmusical and loud emissions. Sleep was out of the question.

At 5 am in the morning, the nurse came and switched on all the lights, waking everyone, including my ill and exhausted daughter, for no good reason that I could see. I switched off the lights again to let my daughter sleep. I had to fend off the staff who came to sweep and then mop the room, to ask if I needed a bedpan ( an offer which I was thankful to refuse), an ECG for me, and breakfast service. I then kept awake to prevent the staff taking away the breakfast tray, as I had saved some of it for my daughter when she woke up. I also had a few friends visiting. Sleep? Rest? What are those?

At 6 am, one of the surgeons, Dr Sinha, came to see me, and pronounced that I was doing fine and could go home the same day.

The nurse told me that I could not be discharged without the main surgeon’s “discharge sheet” and the discharge summary. However, she said, the paperwork for claiming the insurance would take 3-4 hours and I could not leave until it was completed. I asked why someome else could not collect the paperwork after I went. The response to this was, “Speak to our in-charge”… a person who never appeared. I made a big fuss until I got some attention, and the main surgeon, Dr Priyadarshan visited by noon, and pronounced me fit enough to be discharged.

At 11am,Anjana had woken up, and Jai returned. I warned Anjana that the hospital bill would be padded up, and at noon, after the surgeon’s visit they both went to Billing, where, sure enough, there was overcharging to the tune of about Rs.6,000. Two and a half hours were spent on this exercise and I was finally discharged.

I am back home now, and have been told not to lift weights with my right hand as a tendon has been cut in the wrist. Other than that. It’s just been… a pain in the a**! This describes the injury, the effects of the surgery, the 6- hour delay in discharging me… and the over-billing, to the tune of several thousand rupees.

I am now facing the daunting task of downloading several forms from the insurance company’s site, filling them up when my right wrist is tightly bandaged up, and making my insurance claim.

Update on 091117

I went to get my wounds re-dressed and we asked the surgeon what the surgical mesh was that had been used. The surgeon said he had not used any mesh. This was a charge of Rs.27,6000. With the earlier overbilling the total amount overcharged was Rs.32,100. The hospital was perfectly aware of what was being done. VERY unethical.


Sidelights (FB posts):

1.The surgeons were good at Fortis, Bannerghatta Rd.. I am comfortable.. But the rest.. awful. I am now bleeding from the spot where an incompetent nurse replaced the butterfly IV port. I am told that after the doctor ( no nurse will tell me when he might reasonably be expected) the insurance papers will take 3-4 hours and I cannot leave without them( I am not joking… I asked why I can’t send someone else to collect them, and was told it can’t be done!).…aaargh. The idea seems to be to keep me long enough to bill me for another day…and another, and another….

2.The doctors do their job efficiently, and then the patient passes into the hands of that monster, the Billing Dept. Today, it took 6 hours to get discharged. Fortis tried to bill me for: half a day’s room charge, meals that were not eaten, medication that the duty nurse took away before my eyes, and my daughter and my friend Jai, alert to this, found a total of nearly Rs.6000 over-billing. (the bill was around Rs.1,50,000).If, in the protracted, painful process of a patient’s discharge, one does not notice these ‘oversights’, one is the loser, literally and figuratively.

3.I found that the hospital staff had brought the mask used for my anasthesia back to my room. I decided to bring it back home. What a bonus! K2 added it to the doctor’s kit. I’ve just had my budpeser checked, my ears and eyes peered into, my heart and bristles(don’t ask me what those are!) listened to with the steth, and ofkose, with the mask, had a whole opewation done with a pair of large yellow tweezers, where my stomach was cut open but I did not die. I then told him to give me a bill, and he brought me some torn-up kitchen tissue to pay it with. The best opewation I have ever had.

4. One butterfly that I don’t like:

click here to view

5. I like to laugh….but I really didn’t need to be in stitches in the surgical way! Embroidered all over, l yet count myself lucky when I think where those glass shards could have fallen…and what damage they could have done.

6. A doctor friend called me up and asked why I had not given him a call immediately. He asked me to remember to call at once next time. I profoundly hope and pray that there will be no next time!


Skills learnt in childhood:QWERTY typing

November 7, 2017

i belong to an age when children were regularly sent to shorthand and typing classes (it was,indeed, as Salman Rushdie would have put it,
called shorthandtyping). I am still not comfortable typing on a mobile

We had tests to rate our speed in both. I don’t think I stuck at the
lessons long enough to even get to the numerals row..I quit after the quick
brown fox started jumping over the lazy dog.

But yes,unlike my algebra,geometry and trigonometry, this was one learning that has been very useful.

Life with K2

October 25, 2017

K2, as I call Kalyan Mohan Shaffer, is an original thinker as all children are. Some examples:

K2, while getting ready for playschool: I want to be like the old pwesident of Amewica.
Me: Who’s the old president of Amewi..sorry, America?
K2: Obana (sic).
Father: The present president is older than the old president.
K2: Oh, Donald Twump is older?
….the things four-year-olds know!

K2: “Spell ‘thousand’, Deepamma.”
Me: “T-H-O-U-S-A….”
K2: “No! You are WONG! Thouzend…you have to spell it with ‘z’ and ‘e’. You don’t know ANYTHING!”
Me (humbly): “Yes…I am afraid so…”

K2: “You are WONG. You are saying ‘night’. There is a ‘k’ there, so you should say ‘kanight’ not ‘night’, Deepamma!”
Me: “OK, have it your way…”
K2: “No, it’s not MY way, it’s the WIGHT way!”

Stages, by Herman Hesse

October 24, 2017

As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.
The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
If we accept a home of our own making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence.
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slaves of permanence.
Even the hour of our death may send
Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
And life may summon us to newer races.
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.
–Hermann Hesse
(translated by Richard and Clara Winston)

Nothing on the net is forever

October 22, 2017

I have lost so much of work done on the net, especially since I didn’t know for a long time that I had to back up all my work, believing that anything on the net would be there, always.

I used to write detailed posts for a site called “Metro Blogs”, where I did a lot of detailed posts, with photographs, documenting Bangalore…they closed down without informing me.

Deccan Herald deleted all my archived articles. No article shows up now when I click on the link.

Photobucket suddenly went from being a free site for 3rd party hosting, to demanding $400 per year. I have 5 accounts, there is no way I can afford that amount. I can’t see any of my photos there now, and have lost years of blogs as well, as a result.

I’d saved all my music on a site called Muziboo. They did warn me they were about to close down, but I did not know how to port all my songs, so lost them, too.

I lost a lot of posts when Citizen Matters first had a server crash, and then when they moved to Word Press. Still struggling with many posts.

So I for one do not believe that anything on the net is there forever! They all pass away, just as I will, some day.

Why I travel by train in India

October 13, 2017

Why I travel by train rather than by flight.
1. I have to reach the station only half an hour before the train, not two or three hours ahead of departure.
2. The railway station is 15 km away as opposed to the airport’s 45 km. (which mandates a journey of its own).
3. I don’t have horrible luggage restrictions which mean I cannot take an extra pair of socks.
4. I don’t have to screen my luggage (well, except in Old Delhi Station).
5.I don’t have to stand in long security check queues.
6. I don’t need to have my sunscreen lotion and (yes, once) safety pins thrown away.
7. I can pack home food and lots of water for the journey.
8. I get a lot of free time on the train.
9. I have enough time to both strike up conversations with fellow passengers as well as commune with myself.
10. The view from the window is as spectucular as the one from the air.
Oh, and
11. I get a senior citizen’s discount!

I can also add to this, that train travel is definitely more “green” than air travel…and that food on the train is mediumly priced junkola as opposed to exorbitantly priced junkola at airports and on flights.

Savandurga, 081017

October 11, 2017

It was just four of us: Padma, Ramaswamy, Srini and I… who decided to go to


on a misty monsoon morning.


Sign in Kannada for our destination:


The mist in the trees…


Which slowly cleared up:


Our activities attracted a lot of attention!


We did see a lot of birds…here are some.

Black Drongos


This Ashy Prinia presented a cartoony view.


Green Bee-eater with dragonfly catch


Laughing Dove


The butterflies were out in force, too!

Yellow Orange-tip



Dark Blue Tiger


Plain Tiger caterpillar


Pointed Ciliate Blue



Common Wanderer


Dark Grass Blue


Common Gull


Here’s Srini, delighted with the way a butterfly trustingly climbed on to his finger (if one wipes one’s perspiration off, they are attracted to the minerals in the fluid)


That was the Pointed Ciliate Blue again.


Some of the insects we saw included this White-tailed Damselfly


and this beautiful Copper Beetle (at least, that’s what I named it!)


Wildflowers were varied and plentiful.


Here’s a lovely Balloon Vine:


Mexican Poppy


Gossypium sp (Mallow)


Waterlilies in a pond


Even seed pods can look stunning




Dabbaguli was one of the places we stopped at


And just outside the town, we spotted a bonus…the Jungle Nightjar!




Padma brought her tasty cutlets, and we feasted on them


Later we also had some local breakfast.


We stopped near two old temples, the Shaivite sAvaNdi veerabhadraswAmy and bhadrakAlamma temple


and the Vaishnavite Lakshmi Narasimha temple


Here’s narasimhA, the man-lion avatAr of Vishnu, with His consort Lakshmi, who is his laptop…


The deities were being taken out in procession, which was a nice bonus.


This life-like dog in a vendor’s stall nearly had me fooled.


Part of this temple seemed lost in dreams of another time….


Some rather risky rock-climbing was going on.


The scenery was stunning:




It was on the rocky outcrop in the centre that we spotted three Egyptian vultures.





We returned home, well pleased with our morning, stopping to say “bye” to this Oriental Garden Lizard which also seemed to be having a swinging time.


Looking forward to the next weekend outing…!

Valley Outing, 021017

October 10, 2017

Gandhiji said India lives in her villages, but today, on the anniversary of his birth, we decided that she also lives in the variety of life forms that she has!

Aishwary, Ajit, Kumar, Padma, Prem, Ramaswamy, Venkatesh and I


tarried a little on our way to the Valley as the mist hung heavy in the air. However, by the time we signed in the register at the gate and walked along the path, the weather had cleared up a little.

Whether or not we sighted any moving creature…the sheer burst of greenery had us mesmerized! Everywhere was a clean, washed green, with diamonds sparkling wherever we looked. Raindrops stood on everything…blades of grass, tiny insects and butterflies, and on the wildflowers too.


I always feel that one of the best times to go for a nature walk is when the rain is about to stop. The insects and butterflies come out to make the most of the sun, and the birds come out to make the most of the insects…a lot of action happens at every level, on the ground, in the air…on a small and large scale. This was what happened this morning.

Spiders lay in wait for unwary flies or butterflies;

Neoscona Spider with her egg-case

dragonflies, visiting us from Africa,


Globe Skimmer aka Wandering Glider….this has migrated from Africa. It takes four generations to complete the migratory cycle.

Pantala flavescens

zipped along in the air, looking for food.

Ichneumon (Parasitoid) Wasp.



Birds breakfasted on whatever they could find, on the trees, under the leaves, and in the air.

An unusual visitor for the Valley was an Oriental Darter flying overhead, which “opened our account.” A greedy Red-whiskered Barbet,


A Black Drongo mobbing a White-cheeked Barbet, several Green Bee-eaters,a dancing Fantail Flycatcher


(why it’s called a Fantail Flycatcher)

a preening Spotted Dove,


with Ashy Prinias singing,


and a Brahminy Skink (the only reptile we saw)


a White-browed Bulbul


made us wait in the area before the first banyan tree for a while; but then we went further down the path. With so much to observe and enjoy, from different kinds of spiders and their webs, dragonflies, plants of all kinds, a couple of Blue-faced Malkohas(giving Prem his first sighting of these skulky birds),

How we usually see Malkohas!


Occasionally,when they can be seen better…


by the time we reached the abandoned house, it was past 9am! Well-rewarded, we stopped to share our snacks, and then went further to the bamboo thicket.

For the first time in many years, I saw the stream of the Valley in good force, with a lot of water gushing over the stones and along the gully in the bamboo thicket.


The song of the Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher and a brief hello from the White-rumped Shama filled in the audio part of our outing.

By now, the butterflies were out, too, making the most of the weak sunshine to recharge themselves, or mud-puddling along the path.

Zebra Blue


Bush Brown


Common Lime


Pointed Ciliate Blue


Common Pierrot


Common Silverline


Danaid Eggfly female


Common Line Blue on Tephrosia purpurea


The Common Crows were out in full force, and we managed to catch sight of one Double-branded one as well. Emigrant numbers were lower than in the past weeks, but a Dark Blue Tiger appeared too. It was easy to show our friends why a butterly was called the Pale Grass Blue when it had its wings open to the sunlight!


Common Hedge Blues also flashed their bright upper wings for us instead of sitting folded up as usual. Aishwary was a great help in singing the Blues!



Aishwary (left) helping out.

I saw the unusual sight of a Chocolate and a Lemon Pansy executing a pas de deux as they mud puddled together. Some of the butterflies were fresh and colourful specimens, some were tattered, dull survivors of battles with predators.

Other insects:


Ichneumon (parasitoid) wasp. Look at that ovipositor! I wouldn’t like that wasp positing any ova on (or in) me!


Robber Fly


Stag Beetle

We noticed some beautiful plants and wildflowers


Cassia mimoisedes


Pseudarthria viscida


Cyanotis sp.


Indigofera nammularifolia:


(what a long name for a very tiny flower)

We returned to our regular lives, much refreshed and energized by the sights and sound, the touch of different kinds of leaves, the taste of ripe Passion fruit, and the aroma of several flowers. Truly, a treat for the senses!

Beginning my morning chores, reminiscing about the wonderful outing, and already looking forward to what the next weekend may bring!


The eBird list, compiled by Ajit, is


Blue, Common Hedge
Blue, Pale Grass
Blue, Pointed Ciliate
Blue, Zebra
Bush Brown
Castor, Common
Cerulean, Common
Crow, Common
Crow, Double-branded
Eggfly, Danaid
Emigrant, Common
Gull, Common
Jezebel, Common
Lime, Common
Orange-tip, Plain
Orange-tip, White
Orange-tip, Yellow
Pansy, Chocolate
Pansy, Lemon
Pansy, Yellow
Pierrot, Common
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Silverline, Common
Skipper, Indian
Tiger, Dark Blue
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Wanderer, Common
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Spotless Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

I’ve put up the photos of the birds, butterflies, insects, plants, a single reptile and us mammals,

For life to begin

August 31, 2017

In an empty, silent house
I wait for life to begin.
Life will arrive
With the first young child
Bubbling over with tales from her school.
I make sure she eats the rest of her lunch.
While listening to her,
I make preparations
For the evening meal.
More noise, more tumult
When the little boy comes in.
“Dwag me to the bathwoom!” he yells
Glowing with the dirt of the day
Spent in playschool.
Soon, other children come in to play.
The house wakes up, is full of life.
Homework, Hindi, settling squabbles:
Bath, dinner, and a game or two.
I cuddle up to one, or both
As we say a prayer, or read a story.
The little, reassuring rituals of bedtime
Are done. Darkness prevails.
Peace reigns again as they lie asleep,
Hair tumbled over pillows, arms askew.
Life sleeps now, but will be up tomorrow,
Getting ready for the day, again.
Awake and asleep by turns, this house
Is the home of the future.

A Mushroom..a Fun Guy!

August 29, 2017

Mushrooms or Toadstools

are the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically produced above ground on soil or on its food source.
I’ve been amazed at the variety of mushrooms that, er, mushroom during the monsoons. Here are some:

A group of mushrooms:

vndna mshrm 231115
Pic: Vandana Murthy

Mushrooms go by different names, such as “bolete”, “puffball”, “stinkhorn”, and “morel”, and gilled mushrooms themselves are often called “agarics”.

Puffball mushroom:


Saucer mushrooms:



Their spores, called basidiospores, are produced on the gills and fall in a fine rain of powder from under the caps as a result.

Bracket mushrooms:


Scalloped edges:


Many species of mushrooms seemingly appear overnight, growing or expanding rapidly. This phenomenon is the source of several common expressions in the English language including “to mushroom” or “mushrooming” (expanding rapidly in size or scope) and “to pop up like a mushroom” (to appear unexpectedly and quickly). In reality all species of mushrooms take several days to form

The classic “toadstool” shape:




Though mushroom fruiting bodies are short-lived, the underlying network can itself be long-lived and massive. A colony of Armillaria solidipes (formerly known as Armillaria ostoyae) in Malheur National Forest in the United States is estimated to be 2,400 years old, possibly older, and spans an estimated 2,200 acres

Bright orange:




Mushrooms are used extensively in cooking, in many cuisines (notably Chinese, Korean, European, and Japanese). Though neither meat nor vegetable, mushrooms are known as the “meat” of the vegetable world.[21]

Most mushrooms sold in supermarkets have been commercially grown on mushroom farms. The most popular of these, Agaricus bisporus, is considered safe for most people to eat because it is grown in controlled, sterilized environments. Several varieties of these are grown commercially, including whites, crimini, and portobello. Other cultivated species available at many grocers include Hericium erinaceus, shiitake, maitake (hen-of-the-woods),

Fan-shaped ones:




People who collect mushrooms for consumption are known as mycophagists, collecting them is known as mushroom hunting, or simply “mushrooming”.

Looking like a human brain!



This one was more than 6 inches in diameter:


You can see the human foot for reference:


More generally, and particularly with gilled mushrooms, separating edible from poisonous species requires meticulous attention to detail; there is no single trait by which all toxic mushrooms can be identified, nor one by which all edible mushrooms can be identified. Additionally, even edible mushrooms may produce allergic reactions in susceptible individuals, from a mild asthmatic response to severe anaphylactic shock.

Stunning lilac ones:


Mushrooms with psychoactive properties have long played a role in various native medicine traditions in cultures all around the world. They have been used as sacrament in rituals aimed at mental and physical healing, and to facilitate visionary states. One such ritual is the velada ceremony. A practitioner of traditional mushroom use is the shaman or curandera.Mushrooms can be used for dyeing wool and other natural fibers, too.


But of course, the best use of mushrooms, for me, is as food! Here’s one of the eateries around Hessarghatta, which specializes in mushroom (khumbh) dishses:

Hotel Oyster at Hessarghatta:


Here’s a mushroom dish at the eatery:


A most interesting and complex organism…that’s why I say that a mushroom is an example of a “fun guy”!



A delicate umbrella: