Mundane Musings of a Madrasi in Missouri

Life is what happens to you while you're working for your future....

The fall - Part 2
It was lunch time for the kids, so DH had to leave. "I'll be fine" I said bravely. "After all, I am...." and I looked around, wondering where I was. " the emergency room", DH completed the sentence for me. For the first time that day, it occurred to me that I was hurt badly.
Nature seems to have a way of shielding us - truthfully, I was not in excruciating pain. Not inmuch pain, actually. Just overall weakness - extreme weakness. Some pain here and there, now and then.
I saw him leave and must have fallen asleep, since a bit later, a nurse came by to check my IV fluid level and my BP. When I opened my eyes, I felt my palms hurt - as if someone wearing hiking shoes had stepped over them. Some 15 years ago, I had once skidded while on my Kinetic Honda scooter, thanks to some sand on the road. My hands had taken the brunt of the fall and my palms had hurt badly. I remembered that and also remembered that in a few days, that pain had vanished. Maybe this time too it would, I told myself. The nurse went her merry way, leaving me to observe the staff at the ER. It seemed like any other ward (I could see just outside my room) - quiet. I wondered, briefly, how long I'd be here. The more important question was why I was here since morning, but that did not occur to me.
My legs felt a bit weird and I tried to find out why. I wriggled my toes - yes, I could do that.
I flexed my feet and tried to push the rim of the bed - yes, I could do that. And yet, I thought
something was amiss. Were they getting numb? Could be, I was not sure.

DH returned and I don't quite remember what we spoke. At some point, they took me to a lab to scan my brain. (didn't find much, eh?!). I don't remember it. Then a doctor came by and started off with: "What is your name?", then "Where are you now?". I was surprised with those questions and it still did not occur to my to wonder why I was being asked these basic questions.
She then proceeded to test my reflexes and took out that little hammer doctors use to gently strike on a patient's joints, to test the response. My arms were ok but legs were jumpy, as I stared, surprised.
Then she asked me to close my eyes and a few seconds later, asked, "What do you feel?". She had some small item in her hand and she had placed it on my leg and pulled it all along, until my foot. I could feel it but did not know what it was. A minute later, again she asked me the question and again, I could not tell what item it was.
I was puzzled. I was happy that I could at least feel something but what was it? She then performed the same test on my hands. The first time I felt ticklish - it was an ear bud that she had used! The second time, my response was "OUCH"!
It was a pin that she had tried running along my hand. It had not hurt when she ran it down my leg!
This did not seem ok at all, did it? Oh dear.....but as I recall, I felt no panic. Perhaps my energy level was so low that my body did not permit any such emotion. Or maybe I had just surrendered completely. I remember feeling serene and unperturbed. Perhaps I was totally naive!!

DH left again, as it was around 5.30 and he wanted to get dinner ready for the kids.

At 6.45 pm, I was told that in 10 minutes, I would be taken for an MRI. Immediately, I called up DH to tell him that he did not have to rush back after dinner and that he could come by at 8.00 or so. He was already on his way, so he continued but I had just been moved to the MRI lab. Two male nurses came by to shift me from my bed to the mobile one, so that I could be wheeled to the MRI lab. I was worried if my neck would be hurt during the shift, but then, I wondered - there was no pain, so why worry....When they shifted me, that is when I realized just how weak and floppy my body felt. My body felt very light (I would have, under normal conditions, felt elated about this!) and....almost not there! I tried desperately to question myself as to who was observing all this. Whose body was this?

The shift from my bed did not hurt my neck - they were very gentle and careful about it, of course. When I was being wheeled, I realized that a continuous view of the ceiling was unusual. The closed MRI machine felt like a coffin the moment they pushed my stretcher in. They were going to take images of my brain and my spinal cord. It took around 45 minutes or so, with several 8-10 minute cycles. It was loud in there but I dozed off each time a cycle started. And then they wheeled me back to the emergency room. Meantime, DH had caught a quick 30 minute nap.
At some point on the way back, I caught a fleeting glimpse of my face - oh wow, so much blood on it?! I had not even felt it! And no one had bothered to wipe what had now dried up. When I was back in the room, DH took some gauze, dipped it in warm water and wiped my face. It hurt slightly.
After that, he helped me eat some food that he had brought. I could not hold the spoon at all - my fingers were almost non-functional, I realized. So yes, he fed me and that was my first food in about 24 hours - I had had no breakfast or lunch, remember?! I think that by that my point, my hunger had sort of gone, my body resigned to this lack of food but still, I welcomed that bit of food. Then DH had to leave, to put the children to bed. He said he'd return after that but I told him he need not and asked him to get some sleep.

At about 11.00pm or so, another doctor came by. He said: "The disc between your C5-C6 vertebrae has herniated and is pushing on your spinal cord; also, we found that the disc itself has degenerated; so we are going to replace that disc with a synthetic one - and the surgery will also help relieve the pressure on your spinal cord; you will need an ACDF surgery", he concluded, in that rather matter-of-fact tone that seems to be common with doctors. (well, it is not his neck, so why would I expect any emotion at all?). He took out some forms for me to sign. I told him that I could barely hold a pen. He said I could give him verbal consent and that he would sign the paper for me. "My husband needs to be here" I said, quietly.
"Well, we will have to take you in to the operating room soon, in about 30 minutes", he said, slightly irritated (or so, I thought).
"We live really close by, he can be here in 5 minutes", I said and took out the phone at the head of my bed. It had those big buttons and so I managed to dial DH's number. For some reason, I could not reach his phone. Then I tried calling my brother, who said DH had just left home. I had barely placed the phone back when DH arrived. The doctor again explained to him about this surgery. This caught him by surprise.
"Please give us five minutes" he told the doctor. We really did not know what was going on and we had to go with the doctor's decision, which was ok. We called up my brother to brief him about this.

After that, I was wheeled to a different floor for the surgery. As we were going along, I noticed a sign that said, "No metal objects beyond this point" and alerted my nurses about my wedding ring and my gold ear-rings. My wedding ring was slightly snug and I could not help remove it as my fingers were limp. One nurse tied a string to it and slowly pried it out, while another one removed my ear-rings.

At the pre-op room, the anesthesiologist spoke to me about the procedure. She explained that since the injury was in my neck, they would not be able to insert a tube down my throat the usual way (after one round of anesthesia) and would instead have to do it when I was awake. I did not like that but did I have a choice? At this point, the surgeon, who had arrived, spoke to the anesthesiologist and told her she could administer the anesthesia the usual way, with a slight modification. I did not quite understand that but was relieved to know that I would not be awake for any of it. After this, I looked at DH and managed a weak smile. He smiled back and wished me well. I could see that he was putting on a brave face but was beginning to cry inside.
Then it was time for the anesthesia and I was gone to the no-memory land, just as I had done earlier that morning, during my bicycle ride.

One Tuesday morning......
It was a morning like any other. I woke up well before anyone else in the house stirred. Then I set out for my quota of exercise for the day - my valiant effort to fight that fat gene my paternal grandmother had so graciously handed down to me - one of the few carefully chosen grandchildren to receive this legacy. 5-6 days a week, I do this - exercise for at least an hour, so that apart from keeping away the fat, I can also earn my lunch calories for the day. For long, I have followed the dictum: "Eat breakfast like a king; lunch like a commoner and dinner like a pauper". Of late, that pauper is completely broke. Breakfast has been plain oatmeal and fresh fruit, for over a decade now. That leaves only lunch, when I can truly eat. And even those calories must be earned. Such is that nature of that fat gene. Or you could say that my body is highly efficient - it makes up energy from foods I have not even eaten yet! And yes, stores that energy as fat. Yada yada....I digress.

My children's vacation had started just 4 days ago, on a Friday. DH (Dear Husband) had returned from a week long trip on Sunday night, along with my brother who was visiting.. From the airport, DH went straight to a friend's house - to attend the farewell party for another friend who was moving out of the city in a week. After putting the kids to bed, I stayed up, uncharacteristically, to chat with DH whenever he returned. I don't usually stay up past my bedtime of around 9.00 pm. One reason is that I cannot! I have always been a morning person and now with two small children, by the time I finish reading to them, I doze off even as I utter those last few words like an inebriated goon. But DH had been gone for a week and I missed him. Yes, I had time to miss him even though I had spent every single minute of that week working on clearing, cleaning and tidying the house when the kids were in school and with the kids when they were back home. The other reason I don't stay up late is that it affects my routine the next morning - basically it usually means I won't be able to wake up on time to go for my exercise. By the time I fell asleep on sunday night, it was actually Monday morning 2.00 am. Monday was a holiday for the rest of the world, (I lost ALL my holidays once I started being a stay-at-home mom 3 years ago) and I did not make even a feeble attempt to wake up and go for my run. I left that to Tuesday.

Which brings me to where I started. I left home at around 6.15 am (I usually leave by 5.15 but since the kids had vacation, I slept in a bit) on my cycle. For long, I had preferred to run (ah, that is another story - will get to it sometime; as a school kid, I detested running as it always left me panting and breathless; many decades later, after my first one was born, after I blew up many times my original size, I started running and went on to become a regular runner) but of late, decided to add cycling in my routine. Cycling seemed more conducive to dance practice sessions, so, a bit reluctantly, I reduced my weekly running mileage and added more miles on my cycle. It was all working out well. I was able to maintain my weight. More importantly, I was able to maintain my shape. And, I was able to eat on a daily basis! :)
Exercising in the mornings provides me with very welcome quiet time. Mostly, I find it meditative. It is a great way to begin the day and I love it. I love it so much that I continue with this routine even when the temperature outside dips to the 20s (in Fahrenheit! That is -5 to -7 deg C!). That is quite something for a Madrasi!!

I set off to a nearby park. The familiar course. It was just me, the cycle and all the trees around. Occasionally, I'd see a runner or another cyclist. I have often felt very quiet, very lost and very very empty during these times. Empty meaning - I'd ask myself that one question that has been persistent - "So where is all this going?" meaning, "What is the purpose of life?" which leads to "What is life?" and "What is my role here? Who AM I?".Whew! Tiring, as I have not found the answers just yet. And so it was that morning too. I was aware of my surroundings but was also intensely aware of that gnawing within. What made me wake up early when so many folks were cuddled up in bed? How did this city become my home? Why do astrobiologists wonder if life exists elsewhere - of course it does! Oh, and just how vast is the Universe? Once again, that feeling of being marooned. I remember going about 3/4ths of my usual route. It must have been 6.45 am. And then, I have no idea what happened. Where was I?

"What time is it?" I asked DH, who was beside me. "11.30" he replied. I could catch a faint exasperation in his voice. "Oh, did I....fall?" I asked. "Yes" he replied. I realized I had some kind of a contraption that held my neck in place. Also, I slowly realized that a sort of invisible blanket was pressing me down, pinning my whole body to the bed. I had a heart monitor stuck on my body. I had an IV needle stuck into my hand and I noticed the IV fluid stand on my side.
"What time is it?" I asked again, this time with a purpose. DH gave me that a mildly nasty which said: "Are you asking me that AGAIN? REALLY?". "About 11.30" he replied, as it must have barely been a minute or two since I last asked him.
"No wonder I am HUNGRY! Give me something to eat!" I said, reminded of my royal breakfast.
"Sorry, you are not allowed to eat anything just yet" he replied quietly, possibly feeling sorry for me. I wasn't happy - no one messes with my morning bowl of oatmeal! And it was nearly lunch time now!
"You went without food for many many hours when each of our kids were born, remember?" asked DH, trying to cheer me on and to encourage me to stay hungry for some more time.
"That was different - we were eagerly looking forward to meeting our baby; I forgot about food" I replied.
"Did you?" asked DH, trying to recall.
"What are the kids doing now?" I asked, suddenly reminded of them.
"They are at home. S (my brother) is taking care of them" came the reply.
"Oh, I have dance class this evening. Can't go. Can you please call my teacher and tell her?" I asked, rembering about the class.

I had no idea how bloody my face was. I had no idea what had happened. I was drifting in and out of some kind of a stupor. Just surrendering seemed the easiest thing to do.

--to be continued.....

(no subject)
From an online friend's journal:

" If we think of the majority of our society (or world), with respect to children and schooling, as moving in direction X, and our small minority as moving in direction Y, what I want to do is to find ways to help those who want to move in direction Y to move that way. There's no point in shouting endlessly at the great X-bound majority, "Hey, you guys, stop, turn around, you're going the wrong way!" People don't change their ideas, much less their lives, because someone comes along with a clever argument to show that they're wrong. As a way of making real and deep changes in society, this shouting and arguing is mostly a waste of time."

-- John Holt

("children" and "schooling" can be replaced with anything else....).

My response to the question from Tulika:

Question: How different are the written and spoken forms of your first language? If you want children to become familiar with their first language, which form would you look for in children's books - formal or informal? Why?


How different are the written and spoken forms of your first language? If you want children to become familiar with their first language, which form would you look for in children's books - formal or informal? Why?

பேச்சு தமிழுக்கும் எழுத்து தமிழுக்கும் நிறையவே வேறுபாடு உண்டு. குழந்தைகளுக்கான நூல்கள் பேச்சு தமிழில் இருந்தால் நன்றாக இருக்கும் என்று நம்புகிறேன். ஏனென்றால் நம் செவியில் என்ன கேட்கிறதோ அதை வைத்து தான் நாம் மொழியை கற்று கொள்கிறோம்.
படிப்பு, எழுத்து பின் தொடரலாம். படிப்படியாக எழுத்து தமிழை அதிகப்படுத்தலாம்.
என் பிள்ளைக்கு இப்போது நான்கு வயசு. சற்று எழுத்து தமிழ் நூல்களை அவனுக்கு நான் படிக்க ஆரம்பித்திருக்கேன் - அவனுக்கு முக்காவாசி புரிகிறது. பேச்சு தமிழ் நூல்களை அவனே படிக்கிறான்.

தமிழ் என் தாய்மொழி. நான் கடந்த பத்து வருஷமாக அமெரிக்காவில் இருக்கிறேன். நான்கு வருஷம் முன் என்னுடைய முதல் குழந்தை பிறந்த பிறகு தான் மொழியைப்பற்றி நான் யோசிக்க ஆரம்பித்தேன். என் பிள்ளை என்னை "அம்மா" என்று தான் அழைக்கவேண்டும் என்பது என்னுடைய விருப்பம். நான் பிறந்து வளர்ந்தது சென்னையில். என்னுடைய கணவர் பெங்களூரில் பிறந்து வளர்ந்தவர். நாங்கள் வீட்டில் தமிழ் மட்டும் தான் என்று முடிவு செய்தோம். சில மாதங்கள் கழித்து தான் எங்களால் தூய தமிழில் பேச முடிஞ்சிது! மெட்ராஸ் தமிழ் ரொம்பவே மோசம்! இப்போது எங்கள் வீட்டில் மூன்று அகராதிகள் உள்ளன - எங்களுக்கு தெரியாத சொல்லை தேடி பார்க்க மிகவும் உதவியாக உள்ளது.

நம்முடைய கலாசாரத்தை நம்முடைய பிள்ளைகளுக்கு புரியவைக்க வேண்டும் என்றால் அதற்கு முதல் படி நம்முடைய தாய்மொழியே!
எனக்கும் என் கணவருக்கும் துலிகா நூல்களை பார்த்ததும் மிக்க மகிழ்ச்சி. "உஷ்" என்ற நூலை என்னுடைய 18 மாச குழந்தை கூட விரும்பி படிக்கிறாள்! இன்னும் நிறைய நூல்களை வெளியிடுங்கள்.

Answer: Tamizh is my mother-tongue. There is a LOT of difference between the written and spoken form of this language. I feel that for children, books written in spoken Tamizh style are better suited. This is because, we learn a language first by hearing. Reading and writing follow. My son is now 4 years old and I read to him books that are slightly in formal Tamizh and he seems to understand most of it. Books that are in simpler, spoken Tamizh styles - he can read on his own!

I have been living in the USA for the past 10 years. Four years ago, when my first child was born, that is when I started wondering about my mother-tongue. I wanted my son to call me "Amma" - I was very clear about that! I was born and brought up in Madras (and it is always Madras for me, not Chennai!). My husband was born and brought up in Bengaluru (and he can speak fluent Tamizh, in addition to Kannada, Telugu and Hindi). We decided that at home, we'd speak ONLY Tamizh. It took us a few months to iron out all the non-Tamizh words and to speak in unadulterated Tamizh. Madras Tamizh is outstandingly bad as there are more English words than Tamizh ones! We have three dictionaries in our house now and these are very useful for us to look up words we do not know or are not familiar with.

If we have to pass on or teach our culture to our children, the foundation would be to expose them and teach them our mother-tongue. When my husband and I saw Tulika books for the first time, we were VERY happy! Even my 18 month old likes to "read" books like "Ush"!. Please continue the good work and publish lots of books for children!

My desi friends might be able to appreciate this... :)
And my non-desi friends - you might find this refreshing (?!!) if you have been hearing too many Christmas songs each time you step out....

Punjabi "Jingle bells".... :D

(no subject)
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(no subject)
By the time a man realises that his father was right, he has a son who thinks he's wrong!! Its the circle of Life! :D

Here's what I have discovered (!):

Condescension (towards others) comes from a feeling of insecurity.

(no subject)
Speaking of clippings from, here is one that I enjoyed watching: ((Oh well, this is from the dancer's website):

Baby food
Apparently, Sahana is done with baby food - the mashed up, ground stuff, that is. She does not have any molars yet, but seems to want to eat exactly what we eat!
Last night, she did not eat much of her food (some tofu bits, a bit of avacado and some kanji+ground walnuts). I reminded myself that toddlers are like this - they eat reasonably well on some days and on others, just don't want much food. But later, when Hari was having his dinner, she kept going to him and eating a bit of what he gave her and what was it? Tomato masial with rice! And it wasn't bland by any standards!

So Hari and I will have to finish up all the kanji (porridge) that I made for Sahana. :)


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