Posts Tagged ‘difficulties’

The 64 squares of war

February 27, 2019

In every chess game, it is the pawns who get sacrificed first, and then, maybe, some of the others up the heirarchy.
The kings remain, stodgily moving, perhaps, a square or two…and the game ends before any king can be slain. We mourn our soldiers, and similarly, the other country will also mourn its brave soldiers.
As for the terrorist training camps…I weep for the poor youths who are brainwashed by evil ones. It is the evil that must be wiped out, and it is the youth that get wiped out instead….these are my thoughts on the 64 squares of war.

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Health worries: K1 and K2

April 25, 2018

of experience she has seen cases that are totally asymptomatic. She has seen an 80 year old patient who was completely unaware that she even had the condition and perfectly ok vision. She has seen children who came at the same age that ours did, are older now with no reported loss so far.

K1 does already have symptoms in that she has poor night vision – we started to notice this even at Age 2. But the doc today said that her central retina looks healthy and that her vision is good. She said that in unfamiliar environments, she will not be able to navigate in dim light. Yesterday’s doc suggested that she always carry a flashlight with her.

Today’s doctor also confirmed that genetic testing may help understand the prognosis (progress timeline) because there are a great many genetic causes for the condition. She also suggested that while there was no indication of need, for our peace of mind we could get an ENT test done as well.

K2’s condition is much more mild, and therefore, less clearly diagnosed, but changes on the retina still evident. Since it is so clear for K1, there is little doubt as to what it may be for him. She did not suggest that K2’s retina is at an “earlier stage” of the same thing or anything like that – basically his retina could become more affected with time or may not change at all. He has had no vision related complaints.

The doc didn’t recommend ERG (Electro Retinogram) for now because it is an uncomfortable procedure (electrodes inside the eyelid among other things) and if the kids don’t cooperate the results will not be accurate. She also didn’t recommend field testing (sitting in a ball and pressing buttons when they see lights flash around them to determine how much loss there may be) because both appear to have no loss in field vision at the moment. So we shall seek out genetic testing for the whole fam to see how much detail we can obtain regarding what genes are causing this and what science may already be or become available us.

The next step is to get them glasses for their nearsightedness (both have astigmatism and power) and come back for evaluation in 6 months. She stressed a balanced diet for them both, but specified that there was no known way to arrest the deterioration or affect the progress of the condition.That being said, we shall read and will likely ensure our diet contains things like Vitamin A palmitate etc. which have some reported success in arresting the deterioration. Also, we have well known Ayurveda centers specifically for the eyes, so we shall go in for a consultation.

If you know ophthalmologists first hand, or have direct experience with this condition, we welcome your inputs.

Two thoughts that are helping us at the moment:
1) Random crap can happen any time but the more notice we have, the better we can respond.
2) We are more than our bodies.

Please hold positive thoughts for both our kids to retain their vision; to remain as asymptomatic as possible, with either no deterioration over their lives or the least & slowest possible.

DnA

Periods and pads…

February 12, 2018

There is much adulation of the movie,

click here to watch the trailer

“Padman”

which is based on the achievements of

Muruganatham

who has given a TED talk about what he did for his wife.

However, I also received, on my wellness egroup, the link to a blogpost with a different point of view, very interesting, read it

Ma href=”https://mythrispeaks.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/padman-the-real-story-of-how-he-shot-to-fame-by-sehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arunachalam_Murugananthamlling-shame/”> here

I am not for the fictionalization and/or glorification of anyone while that person is living. When some time has elapsed, one gets a better perspective about who the person was, and what that person achieved, or failed to. In this sense, I think making a commercial movie about something which has not yet been tried and tested enough was not a wise thing to do. However, this is only my opinion.

But I am not wriring about that topic; I just want to share my own experience with my periods.I hate to share this, but I think I should. (My way of dealing with it was to try and expunge it from my mind once I reached menopause…but as you can see, the memories have not left me).

I grew up (and “grew up” at the age of 12, in 1966) in a large city, but had to manage with cloth, and it was messy, smelly, uncomfotable-to-painful, and very embarassing. Sanitary napkins were available, but my mother, thinking they were not a good solution, did not buy them for me until a couple of years later. My cousins in Chennai, and in the smaller towns of Tamil Nadu, also managed with cloth; we had to use discarded cloth, too. The menstrual period was truly a curse, and yes, it was the lack of proper protection as much as cramps that made me detest going to school and then college on “those days”.Even sanitary napkins did not have plastic shields in those days, and were made of cotton which could lump together, especially in hot, humid weather.

Since we were “exiled” to the back of our (then) large houses and given food only after the rest of the household had eaten, and were not allowed to touch anyone or go out, I was told by my cousins in Chennai, Madurai and other towns, to use medications like Primolut-N. We were made to feel, and felt, unclean and impure. I have heard my uncles use the phrase “kasappu kadai” (butcher’s shop) to indicate that someone had her period. “Not at home” and “far away”, denoting the way we were made to stay at the back of the house or in villages, in the cowsheds outside the house, show the “reverence” that we got.

https://www.dokteronline.com/en/primolut-n

to delay the period for a few days. Every single cousin I knew who used this had her first pregnancy miscarry; I do not have enough data to know if this was just a coincidence. I cannot draw any inference from seven cases.

I attained menopause (with huge relief, and no other problems such as excessive bleeding or fibroids) at the age of 42, 21 years ago. (A fairly active lifestyle has, luckily, kept me in good health.)So I am not aware of what sanitary napkins are made of these days. When my grandchildren were born, we used cloth nappies as I was taking care of them 24/7; I didn’t like the idea of disposable nappies for many reasons, and I stitched pieces of soft, old dhotis for this purpose. We had to use the occasional disposable nappy, of course. But I was already reading about fires iin landfills in St.Louis, where my daughter lived (she used reusable pads) so we cut down on disposable nappies as much as we could.

The studies cited in the blogpost seem quite extensive and fact-based, but the point I am trying to make is, the use of cloth may not be related to health problems, but it is certainly related to a big factor of discomfort and embarassment…which, if the write-up is true, the “pad” does nothing to alleviate.

How comforable and secure is the cup? I have been doing a bit of reading about it, and I do feel there may be instances where it may not be suitable, or it may take a while to find the right one.

https://menstrualcupreviews.net/menstrual-cup-dangers/

I’m sorry, but I disagree with the writer’s statement about traditional women showing us “how mensturation should be revered , how the first period should be celebrated”. We were treated as outcastes during our periods, and given no consideration in the matter of food. Mensturation was not revered, it was a matter of shame and withdrawal. Most mothers would not tell their daughters about it in advance…my mother did not mention it, and at first, I thought that I was badly hurt. (I have no sisters, and no cousin talked to me about this, either).I still cringe when I think of the child I was, and my ignorance about my own body. Ignorance is not innocence.

I have hated every period that I had, the very painful (epidurals were not given those days) process of childbirth, the mood swings,the awful cramping, and the bloating. My reproductive system shutting down was , to me, one of the best things that happened, especially because it was rather early.

I am not taking any stances here, simply saying that menstruation is a very tough process that most women handle by themselves, or at least, used to before they could look for information on the net in the privacy of their homes or phones.

Sorry for the sombre post. But most of you on this egroup are young, and I just wanted to depict how things were, a few decades ago, in metropolitan cities and towns (not villages).

Meeting with the head of the hospital, Fortis, Bannerghatta Road, 071217

December 7, 2017

I had a long meeting (made longer by the delay in getting his visiting cards!) with Dr Manish Mtatoo, the head of Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road. I had a few major points to convey:
1. In spite of being an educated, articulate person, I did not find any process in place, to route my grievance through, when I found a lack of service in the hospital. I want other patients, too, or their representatives, whatever their level of literacy or awareness, to be given a concrete channel of grievance which is made clear to them at the time of their admission to the hospital.

2. I want billing practices to be improved in the following ways: Operation Theatre (OT) consumables and charges itemized separately, with the patient having the ability to cross-check the items with the doctor/surgeon, in case of a dispute. Other consumables to be itemized on the bill, with the patitent (or the family or friends) being able to query them. Not every patient will need, or want, this facility, but it should be in place for those who need it.

3.A system of prompt refund of any items over-charged, and a system that does not mandate the entire estimated amount to be paid upfront by the patient before surgery is allowed to proceed. Dr Manish denied that this was the case, but it certainly happened to me, and I am sure I am not the only one. I had to pay Rs. 1,50,000 upfront, and a refund of a single over-charged item which somehow escaped the detailed querying by my daughter, took 10 days to be credited.

4.I took along a friend of mine, Tara Ollapally, who is a legal mediator, to ask the hospital to build a system whereby, in the event of a grievance or of lack of service by the hospital (whether administration, billing, or medical/nursing care) , the patient or the representative can have the option to have a legal mediator (a neutral third party) present in the meeting between the hospital and the patient, guiding both to a practical and pragmatic solution, rather than a path to our time- and money-consuming courts.

Dr Manish and Nayna Pai both agreed to the point of view presented, and did mention that they would also want such practices embedded. Dr Manish mentioned how,often patients and their representatives threaten and do actually take physical action against doctors and hospitals. The idea is to reduce this culture of confrontation, where one party is aways jockeying for superiority with the bottom line being money, not the issues at hand.

If I am given clear documentation in the near future, that Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road, has changed the billing system, with more clarity and transparency, and is working, long-term, towards making patients more aware of their rights in querying hospital practices, I will certainly change my present opinion of them, and be willing to agree that there is hope for positive change.

As of now…my perception is that I don’t want to ever enter a hospital… or a court of law….if I can help it! I feel both may take years of my life, and/or chunks of my money, with nothing to show for it.

How food is cooked on a massive scale

March 28, 2017

Having seen for myself the deteriorating quality of food on trains on the Indian Railways, I watched this interesting documentary on IRCTC:

It’s rather long, watch only if you have the inclination and the time!

I couldn’t believe all the good food being prepared…why, I thought, do I never see phulkas or salads, even on the Rajdhani? And halfway through the film, the answer appeared. In response to complaints about the quality of food, the catering was take away from IRCTC itself (who then started concentrating on the corporate sector) and given to independent contractors who, I feel, are definitely running the catering service into the ground now. The video is still worth watching (as are several on how temple kitchens function) for the scale of food preparation.

Here’s one that’s also fascinating:

(Most temples in Karnataka provide food to the devotees who visit.)

The things that Go Wrong during a long absence….

November 19, 2014

1. Gas disconnected. For “my protection”, I am locked out of my connection if I do not book for 180 days since the last booking. I am consuming less, and so I should be praised, shouldn’t I? But no…I get locked out instead.. I have to give a letter of request, a proof of address, and a proof of id. Several visits to reactivate it, and waiting for the cylinder to be delivered.

2. Electricity disconnected, and no proper reason being given for it,giving rise to the worry that it will happen again. Multiple visits to bank and BESCOM office. This is one of the biggest messes, with different BESCOM personnel giving me widely varying reasons why the power was disconnected. One lady at the office asked, “Since you’ve got the power back, why are you complaining?” All the contents of my freezer lost.

3. Driving licence expired, since I crossed 60. Process of renewal under way. I have to apply in the “prescribed form” and stand for a photograph (which is not shown to me). I cannot take delivery of the licence, but must wait for it to be delivered by Registered Post, and hope I am at home when the postman comes.

4. UPS batteries died…it was not just the distilled water in the batteries going down, but the batteries themselves had run down in five months. Since I don’t have cell phone on which I can access the numbers of the battery repair people, the process of getting them home to check it took a while. Batteries have been taken away, recharging under way. Waiting for the people to come and re-install the batteries. Then, if there are still problmes, will have to call the UPS people and go through a similar process.

5. Cable TV set top box died. Contacting the cable guy took 3 days, getting him to come home, Replacement set top box given and process of repair under way. Will have to wait at home the day he comes to reinstall it.

6. Landline cordless phone not working properly. Have to find time to go and buy another one. It is very irritating to find the handsets suddenly dying in my hand. Have to find someone to try and repair it, or get another one.

7. Cell phone died in the US and still under inspection, I may have to buy another phone, because I am not sure, even if I get this lemon repaired, if it will continue to work. Multiple visits have been made. Not having a cell phone that can access my Google contacts means a lot of inconvenience.

8. Printer died. Friends want to buy me a new one as a birthday gift, so I’m waiting for them to find some time. Meanwhile feeling the lack of a printer.

9. State Bank of Mysore account ( the one in my name alone) made inactive. I was so disgusted I went and closed the account, which I cannot do with the Vijaya Bank accounts. (Even closing the account took 4 visits as the Branch Manager was never around.)

10. Good tenant vacated. Have started the painting of the flat now. Getting a plumber and an electrician to check out various problems in the flat.

11. Sleep pattern, always bad, now completely spoilt, thanks to terrible jet lag. Neither melatonin or lorezepam is helping in the least, I’ve stopped taking them.

12. Decided not to fight Airtel who charged me for International Roaming for 5 months and never activated the service. Just don’t have the energy for it!

I never know whether to go out and do the chores or wait for the people to come home for the repairs, delivery, etc. At every place, I am told, “Ask someone to be at home for the delivery (of gas, post, batteries, etc.) I *don’t* have someone And I want to do my own chores, not take obligations from others.

But… I did manage to see two good plays, attend a wedding, volunteer for a children’s event in Bandipur, go for a birding outing, and interview a bookstore owner, meet friends from out of town, make a start on cleaning up the flat…

It takes 2 to 3 weeks to get the systems in place after a long absence. Moral of the story…don’t go away for more than a month. Or if you do…don’t come back!

November 19, 2014

1. Gas disconnected. For “my protection”, I am locked out of my connection if I do not book for 180 day. I have to give a letter of request, a proof of address, and a proof of id. Several visits to reactivate it, and waiting for the cylinder to be delivered.

2. Electricity disconnected, and no proper reason being given for it,giving rise to the worry that it will happen again. Multiple visits to bank and BESCOM office. This is one of the biggest messes, with different BESCOM personnel giving me widely varying reasons why the power was disconnected. One lady at the office asked, “Since you’ve got the power back, why are you complaining?” All the contents of my freezer lost.

3. Driving licence expired, since I crossed 60. Process of renewal under way. I have to apply in the “prescribed form” and stand for a photograph (which is not shown to me). I cannot take delivery of the licence, but must wait for it to be delivered by Registered Post, and hope I am at home when the postman comes.

4. UPS batteries died…it was not just the distilled water in the batteries going down, but the batteries themselves had run down. Since I don’t have cell phone on which I can acces the numbers of the battery repair people, the process of getting them home to check it took a while. Batteries have been taken away, recharging under way. Waiting for the people to come and re-install the batteries. Then, if there are still problmes, will have to call the UPS people and go through a similar process.

5. Cable TV set top box died. Contacting the cable guy took 3 days, getting him to come home, Replacement set top box given and process of repair under way. Will have to wait at home the day he comes to reinstall it.

6. Landline cordless phone not working properly. Have to find time to go and buy another one. It is very irritating to find the handsets suddenly dying in my hand. Have to find someone to try and repair it, or get another one.

7. Cell phone died in the US and still under inspection, I may have to buy another phone, because I am not sure, even if I get this lemon repaired, if it will continue to work. Multiple visits have been made. Not having a cell phone that can access my Google contacts means a lot of inconvenience.

8. Printer died. Friednd want to buy me one as a birthday gift, so I’m waiting for them to find some time. Meanwhile feeling the lack of a printer.

9. State Bank of Mysore account ( the one in my name alone) made inactive. I was so disgusted I went and closed the account, which I cannot do with the Vijaya Bank accounts. (Even closing the account took 4 visits as the Branch Manager was never around.)

10. Good tenant vacated. Have started the painting of the flat now. Getting a plumber and an electrician to check out various problems in the flat.

11. Sleep pattern, always bad, now completely spoilt, thanks to terrible jet lag. Neither melatonin or lorezepam is helping in the least, I’ve stopped taking them.

12. Decided not to fight Airtel who charged me for International Roaming for 5 months and never activated the service. Just don’t have the energy for it!

I never know whether to go out and do the chores or wait for the people to come home for the repairs, delivery, etc.

But I did manage to see two good plays, attend a wedding, volunteer for a children’s event in Bandipur, go for a birding outing, and interview a bookstore owner, meet friends from out of town, make a start on cleaning up the flat…

It takes 2 to 3 weeks to get the systems in place after a long absence. Moral of the story…don’t go away for more than a month. Or if you do…don’t come back!

November 12, 2014

Home to home, the journey took 41 hours. Very tiring; and though I managed to get an empty seat next to myself on both the long journeys (Detroit to Paris, and Paris to Bangalore), there was a lot of turbulence, bad service, terrible food (especially Paris to Bangalore, which is an Air France flight) and noisy co-passengers, so jet lag is still killing me. So I’m alternating the sights I captured with the chores I am doing.

F-15 manourvres, at St Louis airport, 051114

IMG_4709

Checking in:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/86494503@N00/15559687618/in/set-72157649193208642/player/

Over St Louis:

IMG_4721

Also, the minute I come home, I realize how many things have broken down, been disconnected, and so son….I have to rush around setting things right.

Sunset at Detroit airport.

IMG_4746

Detroit Airport.

IMG_4754

A sample list:

I crossed 60 on Oct 23, while I was in the US. This means that my driving licence, an important document, expired. I have to apply for a renewal within 30 days of its expiry, and the Regional Transport Office seems to have increased, not decreased, the paperwork involved. It took me 3 days to complete the paperwork, and I am now hoping that the new driving licence will be delivered properly at home by Registered Post (I do not know what will happen if I am away from home at the time the postman comes.)

Ready to leave American soil:

IMG_4778

Windows where the faceless travellers sit:

a href=”hIMG_4786

I had not booked a gas cylinder for the past 180 days, so, instead of praising my lack of consumption, Indane (the gas agency) locks my consumer account. I have to go there in person, twice, with a request letter, a proof of my address and id (a xerox copy of my passport pages.) Now it will take 15 days for the cylinder to be delivered, and I’d better be at home, they won’t tell me the exact date and time when it will be delivered.

The moon reflected in the lake over Detroit:

IMG_4833

IMG_4839

My printer cartridge ink has dried up after 5 months of not being used, and I’ve decided to buy a new printer (I won the old one about 10 years ago in a quiz competition, so it’s run its useful life.)

Something burning in Paris:

IMG_4849

The UPS (Uninterrupted Power Service), the inverter that charges the batteries and gives me electrical power in the flat when the power is shut down, is not working. I have to call two people for this: One, the UPS company and two, the battery company, and make sure all systems are OK.

Flight in the morning mist:

IMG_4892

I had put my electrical bills on ECS (Electronic Clearance Service) just to prevent the power getting shut off while I was not around. And yet, some lineman from BESCOM (the Govt power company) shut off the power to my flat, and it was my maid who gave him money out of her pocket and got the electricity restored after 5 days. I am still not sure how and why BESCOME did this to me, and charged me Rs.1600 when I have no arrears.

The Seine, over Paris:

IMG_4913

Over Iran:

IMG_4928

My cell phone died exactly 7 months after I bought it, and three trips to the repair shop established that I now need to buy a new phone.

As Julie Andrews sang, I was also like the wild geese that fly “with the moon on their wings”:

IMG_4788

IMG_4930

My cordless telephone at home (landline) is not working, and I need to buy another set. I’m sitting and pricing some models. I prefer to buy from the shop because I want after-sales support in case there is a problem with the product.

Dusk on the wing:

IMG_4847

My tenant has vacated the apartment I rent out, but has not yet returned the keys to me. I must organize the paining of the flat and find a new tenant, after undergoing the considerable expense of re-painting the flat. The longer I take, the more I will lose in rental. I need to get the keys and inspect the flat for damage, and so on. She has not paid the rental since June, and I have to make sure I get the money.

Landing at Paris:

IMG_4880

Unpacking to be done, too….

Jet lag, missing the Boods so very terribly and running around getting things organized…is it any wonder that I am feeling down and depressed? Long absences are the very devil…

Of course, I managed a butterfly outing and a play, too… I suppose I should’ve slept instead…but didn’t want to be only be Ali Baba doing chaalis chores! Both outing and the play

read about it here

were excellent and worth the effort.

Let me close with my favourite image from the flight, of these ice crystals on my window:

IMG_4863

and the ice-mist on the wing as we landed at Paris:

IMG_4884

Unpleasant experience with Department of Homeland Security at Minneapolis-St.Paul, 6th August, 2014

August 8, 2014

Dear Sir/Madam,

My name is Deepa Lakshmi Mohan, an Indian. I have been visiting the US regularly since 1989. My daughter lives in St.Louis, and I come to visit her often.

I have a valid 10-year visa,granted in Chennai in December 2012.

Last year, I came at the end of January (January 28th) to be with my daughter and her family when my grandson was born. Because of health issues for the child, I applied for an extension of visa well within the time stipulated, through the official channel, UCIS-ELIS. I was granted an extension of visa and I left for home at the end of October. This was the only time in 25 years of visiting the US, that I have taken a visa extension.

This year, because of scheduled surgery for my grandson, on August 19th, I decided to visit her again. I came from Paris through Minneapolis-St.Paul airport.

Because I am a frequent flyer wtih Delta, I am entitled to two pieces of checked-in luggage, which I was to clear through Customs at Minneapolis. I will return to this later.

Here’s what happened to me.

My flight (Air France, Flight 1463 from Paris to Minneapolis-St.Paul) landed at noon I’d already spent 9 hours on the flight. There was a one-hour wait in the queue at Immigration. I was asked to go to the counter where Mr Brooks, an Immigration Officer, questioned me about why I had taken a visa extension last year, and why I was returning to the US now. I answered him to the best of my ability. I felt that he was being hostile, but I did not want to make assumptions. He agreed that my visa extension was legal, but told me that UCIS-ELIS granted visa extensions, and that the Department of Homeland Security “didn’t like them”. (I am quoting him, he repeated this several times.) He told me that my extending my visa, and wanting to return to the US now, raised “several red flags.” He would have to question me further, and in front of all the other incoming visitors, a police officer led me to another room, where several other visitors were also taken, and being questioned by Immigration Officers.

After about an hour’s wait, he came back and called me, and took me back to the same Immigration counter. The place was deserted by now. He told me that several visitors “lie” about their visas and stay and work in the US, abusing their visa status. He told me that the 10-year multiple US entry visa on my passport meant nothing, and it was he who would decide whether people could visit, or whether he would send them home. He repeated that my staying on for a long time in the US and then wanting to visit again in 9 months’ time was raising “several red flags”. I answered all his questions to the best of my ability. He said he was worried that I would ask for another extension again. I told him that I had no intention of staying longer, and that I wanted to get back home.

I also suggested that he call my daughter in St.Louis and he said that he could be doing so. He called her, and in the course of the conversation, he asked her if I was indeed her mother, and whether she had paid me for any work.

I asked him, since I had not been able to get to Baggage Claim and get my luggage, whether it would be safe. He told me it would be.

After about two hours, he finally stamped the entry visa on my passport.

I went to the Baggage Claim area and found that one of my suitcases was missing. I was told to file a complaint with Delta at my final destination (St.Louis) if my luggage had not arrived there. One of my suitcases is indeed missing, and I had to spend time in St.Louis airport, filing a claim for lost baggage.

Luckily, I had enough time to catch my flight to St.Louis.

Now, here are my observations and comments.

1. I agree that probably the Immigration officers find people abusing the visa regulations all the time. However, Mr Brooks repeatedly agreed that my visa extension was legal and valid. He repeated several times that “CIS grants extensions, but we don’t like them.” If one Government agency grants a valid US visa extension, how is it possible that the Department of Homeland Security is not able to accept that? And why should I, as a visitor be interrogated at such length, when I have done nothing illegal?

2. Does the manner of interrogation have to be so unpleasant?The hostile and intimidating attitude of Mr Brooks never wavered throughout the interrogation. He asked me whether my daughter was a US citizen and why she wasn’t. I found these questions intrusive and irrelevant to my case, but since, perhaps, he was probably doing his duty in asking these questions, I did not react. But the intimidating manner throughout was very distressing to me.

3. If visitors must be interrogated, could it not be organized so that they first secure their luggage, keep it aside on a trolley and then go for the interrogation process? This way, I could have made sure that my luggage was safe, instead of going through the additional trauma of losing one piece.

I repeat…I have nothing against the questions that were asked, in an effort to prove my bonafides. But I object very deeply to the tone of the interview, where it was made amply clear that I was not being believed. When I tried telling Mr Brooks, “Look at it from my point of view,” he responded, “I never look at any point of view but my own.” In that case, why bother to ask me anything at all?

I knew that he had the power to refuse me entry into the US, (a fact that he reminded me of, repeatedly) after a long and expensive trip, so I did not allow his intimidating manner to affect me. But when, after finally stamping the entry on my visa, he told me, “You are always welcome to the US,” I felt like telling him, “I’m sorry, it certainly did not feel that way.”

I have no doubt that several people are extremely keen to get into the US any way they can. But believe me, there are plenty of people like me who come on expensive visits only because of their family, and would like nothing better than to live peacefully at home.

I feel that some Immigration officers have met so many wrongdoers that they assume malafide intent on the part of anyone who raises their “red flags”. But politeness and a helpful manner, in my opinion, would go a long way in preventing bonafide travellers from feeling harassed and troubled.

Even US citizens accused of a crime seem to have some rights. But visitors to your country seem to have none. For the two hours that the interrogation went, I had to ask to get the officers to open up a toilet in the waiting area for me. I had nothing to eat or drink.

I underwent an extremely unpleasant experience and am not in the least interested in visiting your country again unless there is a great necessity. Unfortunately, with my only child living here with her family, that may arise once in a while. I still think that my 10-year visa means that I can visit when I want, without having to undergo such difficulties at the point of entry. In 25 years of visiting the US, I have asked for a visa extension only once, but that caused me such an unpleasant experience.

Also in nearly 25 years of visiting the US, this was the worst experience I have ever had at Immigration, and I would certainly like a response from you on this.

With regards,
Deepa Mohan
(Living in Bangalore, India)

After this, I also went through the experience of having a Customs man ask me to open up the single suitcase I had, throw out all my stuff to find out if (I quote) “you have been less than honest in your declaration” about not having food items, finally declare, “You are lucky that you don’t have food and stuff that I could catch!” (he’s obviously a rat-catcher) and leave me to pack my suitcase again and go to the connecting flight to St.Louis. But I want to fight the major battle, and let the minor skirmish go.

I still do not have my lost suitcase. DnA are painting the house, which is topsy-turvy; I have had no opportunity to buy new clothes. Hope to be able to do so with the weekend coming up ahead.

I really don’t feel like ever visiting this country again, and definitely I will avoid Minneapolis-St.Paul airport like the plague.

When sight begins to falter…

February 17, 2014

I’ve been having sudden flashes of “light” at the periphery of my vision; as I’d received a warning from my opthalmologist, in 2012, to go to him if ever it happened, I went immediately.

Yes, there has been retinal detachment in my right eye, but luckiy, it’s not accompanied by a tear, so it does not require surgery. However, there are developing cataracts in both eyes (a very slow growth process, though) and I have been advised a surgical procedure to dissolve and remove them.

I have been noticing just a slight lessening in the clarity of my vision over the past year, and difficulty in low-light situations.

I am now getting my insurance papers in order (quite a long and daunting task in India!) and seeing if I am eligible to claim insurance for this procedure. But meanwhile, I was pondering on how life might be if, instead, I had been told that I had a progressive condition that would lead to my blindness.

The

cortical homunculus

shows the amount of information about the world that we derive from our various senses, and parts of the body…the eye, and sight, play a major part in our sensory inputs.

I remember, while doing a training program for teaching blind and low-vision people, having an Orientation and Mobility session where we were blindfolded and asked to reach the main road, from the venue (Ramana Maharishi Academy for the Blind) where the training program was being held. The main road! Most of us couldn’t even make it down the stairs to the ground floor from our classroom, without falling several times, and suffering deep trauma about our ability to manage, and getting quite disoriented.

Everyone glibly claims that “those who are deprived of sight develop the other senses to a remarkable degree” but surely this cannot be true of every single person who loses sight…so I wonder how the world, and life, would change without the magic of sight. I am able to shrug my very slight discomfort off…but what must it be like for a person who knows that s/he will lose the ability to see?

It makes me grateful, all over again, for the wonderful gift of having a body and mind which are “normal” and do not need constant care. My thoughts go out to those who have to get along without one (or more) of their senses.