Sunday, February 12, 2012
Hospital 7 Hills, Mumbai Feb 12 , 2012 Sun 11 : 17 PM
Hospital 7 Hills makes one wonder why and where the name came from. And I believe it comes from the 7 Hills one crosses when on a pilgrimage to the Tirupati Temple in the South – situated in the State of Andhra Pradesh, but accesible to worshipers from surrounding states of Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Kerala, in almost actual distances ..
A most pious and celebrated religious region, which attracts followers and worshipers and believers in the highest of numbers. If I am not mistaken, after the Vatican it has the largest number of footfalls. The 'hundi' or the bag by the side of the main deity gets collections worth crores – money, jewelry precious stones, depending on the extent of the faith the worshipers have. I have visited this temple, considered one of the most powerful in the country, on several occasions, the first being when I was shooting for 'Bombay to Goa' in Madras, now Chennai. I had bought my first power car, a Pontiac Sports and Anwar Ali, brother of Mehmood, one of the most talented and exceptional comedians the film Industry ever had, decided to drive down to the temple, and so we did ..
The collections from the 'hundi' all go to a Trust that is managed by locals and appointees from the Government of the State, which utilises this large wealth in building hospitals educational institutions, residential structures for devotees to stay and of course the upkeep of this very large and spread out temple precinct. That first visit was unplanned and on instinct. We never had place to stay since we did not know how to book residence, so finding the entire region full, we were able to get some resting place on the verandah of one of the hundreds of apartment buildings that surround the region. Devotees go there to pray and pay respect in the hundreds of thousands. The city of Tirupati is at the bottom of the hills and one drives up to the main complex, on well built roads. There is also a hill path that starts from the city below right up to the temple, and many climb up and walk this distance too. Among the many and myriad temples of the country, Tirupati is one of the cleanest and most well managed. The flow of people is so large that within the sanctum, a destination that could take one hours of queuing up, the mere glimpse of the Lord Balaji for a few seconds is all that can be managed. People come here to seek blessings for themselves for others, for success, for prosperity, on a new acquisition, a film on release, marriage, … the list is endless …
There are several penances that many undertake. On a fulfilled vow, many perform the 'shastang' prayer mode, where you lay yourself down on your belly in front of the deity, going round the perimeter of the complex in similar fashion, or rolling themselves while chanting, on the hard stone gallery built around the main sanctorum. Many offer their hair in sacrifice, by shaving themselves completely bald, including women. Thousands of coconuts are broken, split open and offered to the deity also as a vow. Masses of hair collected from various heads of devotees is collected treated and exported to Western countries for manufacturing hair pieces, wigs, utilized in the entertainment industry, or some other causes. The 'sahastra kalash' pooja , or the thousand 'kalash' ( kalash is a container of special design, the size of a large mug made of metal or precious metal, gold, silver ) needs a booking at times a year in advance because of its importance and the limited number of people that the temple can accomodate, for this auspicious event. It is done at the time on a particular moment for bathing and dressing the deity, a most wonderful sight … the 'prasad' the Holy offering from the temple is the most delicious 'laddoo', round and circular in shape, can be a substitute for an entire meal .. !!
May the blessings of Lord Balaji forever be with the Hospital 7 Hills and may it bring joy, cure and happiness to all that visit it.
Belief has moved millions of humans. May it move all those that come here to positivity, forbearance, peace and tranquility … ever …
Hospital 7 Hills , Mumbai Feb 11 , 2012 Sat 9 : 35 PM
A morning alarm from mobile, swift movement out of bed, parting the curtains switching off the air conditioning, let the light in on the day that announces my journey to the hospital. A moment of reflection as I sit on the edge of the bed – another day, another adventure, another instance when you wonder whether what awaits you would turn out right .. so what else can one hope for, every day brings with it similar challenge of hope and expectation – unknown, uncertain, perhaps undeserving …
A quick collection of all that could be required for this expedition, personal belongings, unattended paperwork, last minute instructions and off .. oh and the laptop, don't ever forget that. In at the hospital, a prayer at the ornate temple that decorates the driveway in, pundits reciting shlokas, and the resounding sound of bells, flowers and prasad within our palms, the blessing of the deity with a tika on the forehead and into the room – the same where the 'little one' was, when she entered our family. A quick look over by the medical fraternity of the hospital and slumber …
SO THIS WAS ALL YESTERDAY !!
THIS MORNING ….
Up by 6 and the process, cleaning preparing the body for the ordeal it shall go through getting disinfected, getting initial medication, injections and then on to wheel chair and out towards that haven for many, the OT, operating theatre. Staff and office personnel, security, a few family members look on gravely, nodding their heads, indicating a wish for all to go well and then into another level and shifted on to the bed that shall travel to the OT. Men and women from the fraternity of medicine hover above, some masked others not, dressed in that light green sterilized uniform. Movement now. Its the most disorienting feel as they pull you through long corridors towards the SPOT. Lights of the ceiling whizzing by above. Done similar moments in countless films, either on the bed or off it pulling. Approaching the 'place of all places', sounds and figures seem to change. Different sets of humanity crowd around, masked, head geared, peering at you – their candidate has arrived. The OT lights above powerful and strong, odd sounds of trays being moved, metal clashing sounds of instruments, fresh equipment being prized open from their plastic or sterile covers, in hushed silence. A language prevails which is now alien. It sounds most professional and serious. There is no informality now. 1 … 2 … 3 … and swiftly sheets and all you are crane like airborne to another thinner and narrower, green sheeted flat operating bed ! This is it. The final destination where your fate shall be decided by these professionals, all confident and exact in every move that they make. Extensions, almost human like arms swing out from under you near the chest and an instruction to rest your outstretched arms on it. Many green dressed masked and capped people working around you fervently. Its a low angle shot, a condition where I may have been in their position almost always in enacting cinema, but today in reverse. Several wires and post it like stickies delicately placed among your chest. Leads lead to machines which abound around. The constant beep is all you hear of their existence. The graphics and numbers that appear seem to be the important element in the room – each and every green coated masked capped sneaks glances at it intermittently. The chief arrives along with his team, there are several of them now. Pleasant conversation, a morale booster, all will be well, any discomfort let me know and we shall take care of it. It shall be under local anesthesia he informs, we shall numb the area, you will feel a few tugs and pulls, that is all. If in any discomfort speak, we shall numb it further, but cannot go beyond a certain limit.
Dr Barve family physician, settles in reassuringly. Dr Kopikar, the expert and most experienced surgeon on the topic around now with last minute instructions. Their confidence filling you with hope. Devyani, the little kid daughter of Dr Barve, who virtually grew up in front of us, now a qualified doctor in her own field and right, there by the side of Dr Kopikar to assist, and the first prick on the region of surgery through a blanket of several greens. Tell me when 5 mins are over. The region numbs gradually. 5 over sir. Fine Mr Bachchan, I am starting the procedure. The feel of the knife going across the skin. The incision .. which is not felt and technical conversation starts. A screen of green hung in front of your chest prevents you from looking at your own body. Feels like those wedding proceedings where you are not permitted to see your would be wife until all the promises have been made. The beeps continue, the assurances from various faces, only partially seen keep appearing within your radar, when suddenly … pain !! You cringe, announce, breathe deep, a groan, more faces appear in your limited vision inquiringly, some more tech talk and doc in charge decides to insert some more anesthetic ingredients. Pain recedes to a small degree, work begins in earnest again and you look at the ceiling with thoughts …
Every little movement or expression of pain or glory that crosses you, invites attention of the attending doctors, a reassuring hand comes by, pats the shoulder, or the extended arm, one of which is permanently strapped to the extension with the BP contraption around your arm … every 10-15 mins it automatically reads pressure. Docs come around, its good they say, you maintain well, pulse rate and heart rate is fine, you are doing good, the procedure lower down is coming along alright, not much bleeding, drips on the right hand keep getting essential medication and liquids. Shutting the eyes to doze off after the sedation … not working. Cannot converse over the low angle shot of masked men – errrmmm .. do you think India will win tonights game, or what holds in store for Chelsea against Everton .. no, nada .. I mean are you crazy, this is serious stuff going on here … ok sorry boss, could I have my iPod please and my earphones … sure !
Secure on the head now and the music ..
BE NOT AFRAID … WALK ALONE … OPEN THY MIND, WALK ALONE ..
'EKLA CHOLO RE …'
Sharp pain. Stop. Off with the music. Let me gasp ! Everything stops. Concern on faces with mask. Are you ok .. er not exactly .. need to take a few deep breaths .. threshold of pain for men 47 units, for women during delivery 56 .. damn they've beaten us again .. ok … keep going doc, will bear it … bravado really, its taking the mickey out of me .. a gentle whisper from the mask right above my face .. 'Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota' – that famous line from my film MARD … mind answering within .. 'hey buddy that was film, this is real, give me a break ..' … a soft smile crosses behind the mask as it stretches beyond his face. Beeps continue, clatter of instruments dropping in metal trays, across your remaining body, muffled conversation between Dr Kopikar and Dr Devyani … and the assurance that all goes well ..
After what seems an eternity, a final pat to the region, job done, all is good, if you are strained lying on your back for these two hours, you could roll over on your side … thank you, ah ..what a relief.. could I just doze off here doc .. NOOOOO ! Now for the other side !!!
And the process starts again, all over with the same intensity, the pain, the assurances that all goes well, the back killing me now, cannot move an inch, its been 5 hours on this operating trolley on the back … ever tried that on a hard surface .. let me know how you feel … all sympathetic to the situation … just another half hour and done .. half hour, cannot last half a minute !! Divert the mind, think of something else .. yes got it ! the opening lines for tonights post .. thats it .. the opening lines .. ahhhh ! Doc that really hurt .. uhhh .. stop for a while please .. thank you .. I just have to roll over doc its unbearable now .. over in fifteen, cannot move now, hang in please .. musics not helping, grabbing the rods that hold up the green curtain … hands freezing .. it must be below zero in there !! Modern inventions .. smart equipment and material, what a difference from being in the 1982 one .. a python like pipe pushed within my sheets carrying warm air … wow ! how did they ever think if this .. this is great, its making me forget the back and procedure pain .. hey ! I am nodding off, shut my eyes and visuals start appearing rather rapidly .. running to the edge of a road and discovering that there is a steep fall after and many more such .. is this something to consult Freud about … Sigmund Freud ! … doc voices becoming conclusive, a final tap of dressings and … DONE …
All is good .. rolled back to room .. dozing off, until the grand daughter and daughter walk in … a surprise from Delhi and later … the daughter -in – law with the little one .. Pain ? What Pain ? Give her to me in my arms .. embrace my tall and beautiful Navya .. a few visitors, in and out in seconds, some water to sip after starving the entire day and rest … the little one has dozed off too .. good night little princess, sleep well ..
And good night to my loving Ef .. for your prayers and good wishes .. I survive because of them …