Saturday, February 13, 2016

Dimag Ki Batti ....अभी ना जाओ छोड़ कर.....

A few weeks ago,  I sensed a sudden streak of light at the outer edge of my left eye, as I  turned my head, to close a door.

It was night, and dark, and for a moment I thought it might be lightening; then I thought it was the street lights I must have seen , say in a fast neck turn.  So I  closed the curtains and did another test in what might be called pitch dark, and lo behold, the streaks of light, more like a vertical sword flash , continued every time  I turned.

Strangely,  this didn't happen at every turn but was fairly random. Happened during the day too.  As is my wont, I started reading and checking out things, and everyone said, "go check with your  doctor, don't delay!"

What happens is that  our eye can be said to have a front end processing and a back end processing.

The front end is all about the aqueous humor, which is a fluid floating around the front of the lens of the eye, between the cornea and the lens.  This is a watery fluid, that carried nutrition for the cornea and the lens , and is constantly replenished by our body. It also carries away waste from the eye region.

The back end is about directing the rays of light from the lens on to the retina (or screen) through a gel like substance called Vitreous Humor. This Vitreous Humor, also performs a supporting role, keeping the retina in place, maintaining the shape of the eye, and also acts as a shock absorber.  At birth , this vitreous humor  has the consistency of egg-white. Over the years it thins out, and the gel kind of clumps here and there. Sometimes a separation between the gel wall and retina ensues,  and in a worst case scenario , a bit of retina gets yanked off by the wayward truant gel.

The aforementioned flashes in the eye , happen when this clumped gel  or even thinned gel  misdirects rays of light and activates photoreceptors where it should not.

This is a kind of old age thing. And there is nothing humorous about the humors.

I mean back ends malfunctioning after 65 years  cannot be too bad. (So many multinationals and companies would give an arm and a leg to know the algorythm.)

Think of the eye as a sort of typical family .  The Retina is a Patriarch, in much association with the Optic Nerve which is almost like a ancestor.  The Vitreous Humor , is like a Grandma Matriarch,  who must keep looking after the welfare of the patriarch, as well as keep an "eye" on the happenings at the front end. How the lens behaves, does it keep itself clean , is the Lady Aqueous Humor, in association with the Cornea,  managing the upkeep of the front end well,  and keeping it healthy ?  In a world of fine rules, and finer anatomic machinery, is there adequate protection, and is there decent drainage of everything undesirable?

The stay-at-home Grandma , is these days of both parents working, often gets fatigued and old age takes its toll. Like our hair , memories, and so many things, she becomes thinner, loses a bit of gelliness, and the Patriarch Retina feels the change. Sometimes, he too feels the age, when she clutches on to him and tries to move.

And so one needs to avoid these situations, by getting checked at an early stage, so some corrective action may be taken to strengthen the retinal walls. Say in the form of drops to be put in over a set of many weeks.  (What I have been advised)

Something similar happening in our society today. 

We are a society , actually, with a very reliable, strong back end.  Playing by the rules, keeps the back end healthy and running well. 

But today, the front end,  comprising of the lens, and the fluid that carries nutrition to the eyeball and lens ,  is not in a very happy situation.  There are all kinds of influences  that mix with the aqueous fluid thanks to mindless imbibing , and adulteration; both chemical, and of thought.  The front end often is unable to handle the pressures it creates. The rich diseases quietly line up at the edges of the inside eye, and changes are seen in the back ends as well as front ends.  There is debility in the entire system, a thickening of paths, a thinning of objectives and purpose, and our sight gets affected.  As a people, we see things in a wrong way, because we are limited by our earlier careless and stupid behaviour. 

In my younger days, and fluorescent lighting in houses was then very popular, when   someone acted dense,  the others would often tease the person saying,  "So has the tube light switch on yet ?" or as they say in Marathi , my mother tongue,  " ट्यूब पेटली का ? "

I like to think of these streaks of light in my peripheral eye, as tube lights switching on,  trying to send me some sense and knowledge.

Not for nothing do we have a concept across languages, of something lighting up in the head. 

As they say in Hindi , another one of my country's several languages, "दिमाग की बत्ती जला दे.....  (Light up that light in your head ...)

Somewhere , some light must have switched on. Because a very popular old song, from a very old movie " Hum Dono " starring the late Dev Anand and late Sadhana came to mind, and this poem happened  :

Lady Vitreous Sadhana,
tired of sitting subdued
and clumped together
since birth,
lorded over
by Sir Retina Dev Anand,
and the seeds of independence
suddenly sprouting
as she holds herself
aloof and close
and dithers in doubt,
shaken up,
looking for an exit path.

Sometimes she pulls away,
still attached to him,
and he responds
with an angry flash,
only to have someone
with ocular drops of advice.

And Sir Retina Dev Anand,
much more aware now
of the life long support
by quiet Vitreous Sadhana,
looks up to see
rays of lights
in the distance,
nudges the
Rod and Cone chamchaas
and bursts into a song
for Lady Vitreous Sadhana...

"Abhi na jao Chhodkar,
ye screen abhi bhara nahi ..."

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

On the move.....

These are strange times. You mention "Shift" , and folks look at their keyboard.  It has evolved from a verb to a proper name of a key. 

But I still hang on to the old school .  And "shift" generates lots of memories.

Shifting, per se, has evolved.  From being a  family event to a  managed event. In keeping with the times.

My earliest memories  are from my college days in Pune.  I stayed in the college hostel, and every vacation was spent at a new district place , since there were parental job transfers.  I never really participated in the packing , and loading , and intense discussions about what to discard and what to take. By the time i came home , everything was well set, and one set out to discover the joys of small town Maharashtra .

My earliest memories of shifting , per se, are from the mid seventies, when my folks shifted back post retirement from Mumbai.  There were many discussions, trips to internal areas of Mumbai to get good but cheap jute material in large quantities.  Aunts came to stay, and much time was spent sitting with tough looking huge needles , through which you threaded  jute rope , and stitched up the jute covering  around  sofas, teapoys , small tables  and so on. Newspapers were stuffed in places where a collapse was anticipated .  Big gunny sacks were filled with odd shaped vessels and metal kitchen implements , and put in another gunny sack and stitched up.  Folks would keep talking about how so and so shifted and three dining room chairs had their legs broken  due to bad loading practices, and once again we would rush around with big needles, ropes and jute coverings.  Old sarees were put to good use .

I came into my own on moving day, after the truck's arrival was excitedly announced. Those were not days of movers and packers. Neither did they come with a container type transport. Benevolent looking chaps in dhoties and kurtas came and lugged things into the truck, and it fell upon me , as the only offspring present, to ensure that heavy things were not loaded on , say, glass tops .  Much to the consternation of the hi fi ladies of the neighborhood, I climbed on to the back of the truck , holding on to a chain dangling on the right, and stood there directing the loading, almost till the truck was ready to leave.  The stress of the shifting , the finale to a career, and age, meant that  folks were happy to leave things to their child to manage,  and i joined them in a heavily loaded Ambassador car filled with stuff "you couldn't send in a truck" , with aunts/cousins who had come to help.  They dropped me off at my marital home and proceeded on a hugely rainy monsoon evening , to climb the ghats , behind the truck.

The next time i moved was when , in our institutional premises, i moved from a hostel room to a bigger flat.  The hostel room had its own furniture, there was almost nothing to move. Perhaps  just the fridge and the gas cylinder.  The fridge was under warranty,  the fridge company truck was mandatory, and the elderly fellows who came to shift on their own offered to also shift our gas stove and cylinder, once they noticed large red Kokan "chira" stones that we used with old metal abandoned Godrej metal shelves to store our books and create  tables. They hailed from Kokan and were only too pleased to transport the tables to a largely empty , fairly big flat.

Nature , or better still, we, cannot tolerate a vacuum, and so the flat got slowly filled up with simple furniture. A larger flat meant folks could come to stay with us. Slowly and surely, the size, variety and need for furniture increased.  Every subsequent move to a better flat (of the same size), and we shifted twice after that in 43 years, had us sorting and discarding stuff.  Much more after the children happened.

It was recently time for us to move out of our institutional premises after 43 years. We were not young any more.  Like when my folks moved,  the daughter was around to help.

But there was a difference.

We had movers and packers now.

Some smiling folks turned up that morning, checked if they had the correct address and proceeded to lug in reams of broad plastic, millions of large bags, rolls and rolls of some kind of corrugated cardboard, and innumerable tapes. One guy with a trained  eye would point to stuff, another would load the stuff, and wrap everything in plastic securing it with copious amounts tape.  Another fellow took over the machines , and the fridge, TV,  washing machine and other electronics were very quickly, carefully and comprehensively packed in corrugated coverings and taped around as if tape was going out of fashion. They even packed your photo frames carefully (and i have a lot of them) , and smiled approvingly when you mentioned that late Maaji's photo might get a scratch on the glass in all this hurried stuff, and to individually pack it. 

Some other guys kept lugging these things down the lift into the foyer, and two hours after they arrived,  4 rooms were emptied and were being loaded on to the truck. Another road trip in the afternoon, and we were shifted.  The nice thing was, they shifted stuff , into the new premises, where it was intended, unpacked stuff , and powered on the electric stuff to confirm that it was OK.  When i walked in, the refrigerator was in the kitchen , humming.

But luggage isn't the only thing you shift.  

In the old days, it was. 

Then as an after thought, you wrote post cards to everyone informing them of change of address. You went to your bank, where they accepted the letter, with small talk about schools , admissions, and how do you like the new place etc etc, and quickly changed the address in a ledger  with an outlandish body mass index.  Phones were not easy to get, and your request for a shift  got acted on suddenly after a bunch of weeks, there was overhead wiring , and the linesman would climb on the  old cotton tree or mango tree to position the phone wires and direct them .    

Today, no one believes anyone.  Your word is insufficient as address proof.  You need bills to show what your address is.  You cannot change your address for these bills unless you have some other address proof. And having spent much of your life as a programmer, "loop" comes to mind.  You show someone a legal registered , notarized rent agreement, and they ask you to get it  verified and so declared by the housing society authorities. I mean the society  would hardly allow a random entity to shift in with all kinds of luggage and people , if we did not have a  proper document vetted by them.

Everyone has their own levels of demanding address proof. Sometimes , it is unusually simple. Sometimes , it borders on the offensive. Sometimes, two people in the same organization, give diametrically opposite information and instructions.   In an age when everything is supposed to be electronic, reams of paper get exchanged in the process, and Xerox continues to prosper.

But life has a way of settling in.  My newspaper delivery boy , who has delivered over the years, asked me where i was shifting and when . Turns out he serviced that area too. So i casually mentioned  the date to him , and asked him to deliver there. and bill me at the end of the month as usual. All this in a very hurried way  a week before shifting.

On our first early morning in the new premises,  boxes strewn all across,  getting tea started on the stove , I walk across to the  front door , with its complicated latches, open it , and find a newspaper  stuck in through the grill of the outside safety door.

Some folks need no address proof.  They believe you.  They don't do KYC again and again. 

A new day has  begun.

I take a deep breath.   Life is not so bad after all. 

I sit down with a cuppa to read the paper amidst all the unpacking chaos.