Skip to main content

AIIMS Diary 2

(25 August 3:05 pm)

I count the days. It has been a week here. I am struggling, literally. I can’t go inside the ward save for giving food or water or taking blood samples to different departments or talking to a doctor. Only one attendant can stay with the patient and two or three during the visiting hours in the evening. Of course I am in and out most times but I don’t stay too long inside because I don’t want to break the rules. The doctors and nurses have been kind, they have allowed me access most times and I don’t want to take advantage of their niceness.

The August heat is bearable, thank God. Still, I am coming from the height of winters in Australia and my body is in every bit of shock. Lack of sleep, heat, people, noise, traffic. Outside the ward, there are just three benches and they are never empty. There is no waiting room in the building, I am told there is one outside next to the main gate but that is apparently packed beyond capacity. I once asked the guard about it and he quipped, “woh aap ke layak nahi hai” (it is not meant for you). I guess he saw my lack of fortitude to fight through a crowd.

So what happens to the sea of people that throng the fifth floor of this paediatric section? Well, they all sit along the corridors near the lifts and for those who have their children at the ICU, that is the place they are stationed as often the microphones blare out names of the patients for any exigencies.  We also had to get a mat and find a place. But over time you become friends with everyone and it is not a picnic spot where you vie for the best place. Everyone just needs a small space to sit and wait. The place also became my repository for stories and news. There were friends I made there, our intimacy built by our meetings everyday but none whose names I knew. And when we shared our stories, our only reprieve were the four fans above our heads.

AIIMs, for all its non-commercial but knowledge driven reputation, great research and hardworking doctors, sadly lacks infrastructure. There are no public toilets too. Where we sit stinky smell wafts into the air. A couple sits in front of me and open their lunch pack. Just then a green uniformed man pushes a bin full of stained sheets to the lifts. From another lift is pushed a patient surrounded by doctors on a stretcher. The child seems to have just had an operation. From inside the ICU, someone just took an open pan of shit to empty, my sister narrates. I feel I am in a hell hole but that thought is overpowered by the feeling of trust that the doctors will look after the best interest of my child. That thought sustains my being.

It is not that this premier hospital of India located at the heart of the capital has not made use of human resources. From security guards to cooks and cleaners, everything has been privatised but there seems to be no accountability. The workers go about their jobs in a lackadaisical manner. The guards want money for tea and coffee. Often the few bins inside the buildings are overflowing with trash. Someone said infections keep up with the speed of diagnosis and cure. 

I worry further.   


Popular posts from this blog

A Mad Man Or A Boor

What does one do when one encounters a mad dog? Or what does one do when one encounters a man with pre-fixed notions about everything in life, most specifically of women who live alone and give him some importance? The two are equivalent to me and basic intelligence says avoid the paths they tread like plague. But I chose to tackle them head on. I almost got rabbies. The mad man said [sic] " You sound like a very desperate person. A single and frustrated woman who is looking for anyone to leave a comment on your blog so much so that you wouldn't even spare a spammer ." Spammer being, the first comment on the previous post is apparently a spam, an advert for T-shirts. Bummer! I thought it was a handsome Spaniard or Latino, so I had replied "Hi Rodrigo", hoping to take the conversation forward offline. Anyway! All this the mad man found out. I didnt. Sure, I dig comments because I love the spontaneity and intelligence of my friends. And I didn't invite the ma


Two million people at the National Mall in Washington alone. The world watched too as Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. So did I. I rudely cut roomie's soap operas and switched to CNN to witness history being created. Some day I may live to tell the tale of how Barack, the much touted Afro-American President of the United States, stumbled with his swearing-in oath. I was a bit disappointed as I watched the man who had run the most successful of election campaigns, the man who Americans were pinning their hopes on, take his oath. Clearly, he was under too much of a pressure to be the best. So before Chief Justice John Roberts could complete the first sentence, there was Obama abruptly breaking out into his first names... " I Barack Hussein Obama.." and then waited for the judge to complete the sentence.. The next line was even taxing. He stopped short after two words... " That I will excute ..." and then Justice Roberts cont

Good Girls Don't Drink?

I have been disturbed by the news coming out of my region – the northeast of India - where a teenage girl coming out of a bar at 9:30 pm was molested and beaten by a group of 20 men. The news has even found its way down under for the shocking nature of it. Tabloids and even TV have carried the news. I have always prided myself in belonging to a region that is known for its high tolerance and where women are generally safe and independent. But I have always felt a bit squidgy about Guwahati unlike the rest of the seven sisters. The place is so like the rest of India in many ways, dirty and claustrophobic. That explains why bars are looked upon as sleazy places and women going there beaten up as with the recent case. Just 150 km away is Shillong, the place where I grew up. Night clubs thrive there and till date there has been no case of attacks against women. Reading the news, I am appalled by some of the reactions. “But the girl was drinking,” or “only prostitutes visit that