Friday, September 16, 2011

#46. From here and There

The Petroleum Prices
The rising petroleum prices in India is an amusing story. Earlier the prices were fixed by the government, But the exercise was not very frequent. To the best of my recollection it was 2-3 times a year. Now they have left diesel prices as being sacrosanct, with the burden falling fully on petrol and to some extent on cooking gas. Thus the burden falls directly on the consumer mainly in the urban areas. Every rise shakes up the family budget, leaving the consumer gasping for breath. Have we become a nation ruled by armchair thinkers, economists, and lawyers who not to say of having lost touch with the pulse of the nation were never aware of the ground realities, to start with? Are we going the South American way of galloping inflation? The stability of the family budget is lost for ever. It is pointless saying that the companies decide the prices baed on their own cost structure. Almost all are PSUs who cannot raise prices without the express wish of the government. God help the common man.
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Font Size Does Matter
I am on the wrong side of sixties now. My eyesight is OK, but I use reading glasses. Also in the night I feel comfortable reading in bright light, with the table lamp nearby. I have been told by one of my friends that it is the sign of onset of cataract. So far as reading material is concerned, some things really put me off. First is the printed material on the strip of medicines. The time has come when one has to see the strip carefully, check the drugs and the quantities in the combination drugs. Sometimes the brand prescribed by the physician is not readily available with the chemist you have gone to, and one has to ensure that the brand one is taking home has the same combination and in the same proportion and the drug has been manufactured by a dependable company. And here sometimes it is impossible to decipher the description printed on the medicine strip unless one uses a magnifying glass, and one does not carry such item in his pocket. Why should the drug manufacturing firms assume that nobody would read the description is beyond me.
Black on white is the easiest to read. But then a lot of magazines have now started using font the colour of which is different shades of grey. There could be two reasons for using this colour: to save on ink (doubtful), and second, if you are using a thin paper, black ink would be a no-no. Nobody sympathises with poor old owl like me who has problems. And worst, some newspapers and magazines are fond of using grey ink for highlighting the text or a box item, again making it difficult to read. I don’t know the health of the publishing house called Jaico now, but several of their publications were using small fonts crammed into the page so densely, that one was very easily put off. Oh! How much have I cursed the publishers during my young days when I saw a good book, but unreadable and undecipherable. Some mobile handset units have realized this and have come out with large letters for easy typing of qwerty. Hopefully it is realized by other consumer goods manufacturers as well. Seems some European manufactures of consumer goods have started using larger fonts for a number of their products.
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Wife in a Hospital

A few years back my wife had undergone a major surgery in one of her ears in a major medical institute run by the government. HOD had kindly agreed to do the surgery, and directed that she should be sent first thing in the morning. About 15-20 minutes before the appointed time, in walks an anesthesiologist with that long equipment called sphygmomanometer. He checks up her blood pressure and declares that it is high, she is not fit to be taken to the OT, as it was a case of elective surgery. To make matters secure, he shouted across the corridor to the duty nurse who had to take her to the OT. When I checked up with the anesthesiologist he reluctantly informed that her B.P. was only marginally high. The doctor in my opinion was making avoidable fuss. At that time my wife did not suffer from hypertension, and I thought that slightly higher blood pressure was natural for a patient who had to undergo a major surgery for first time in her life. However, the duty nurse had to comply with the instruction given. The surgeon and his assistants were inside the OT. Ultimately I spoke to another senior doctor of the Institute who probably spoke to some surgeon in the OT, and she was taken in. It is another matter that after some time a surgeon came out of the OT and gave a shout to the nurse for not sending my wife at the appointed time.
Why did the anaesthesiologist do as he did? Whether I liked it or not, I was in the VIP category. Did this fact instigate the doctor to behave so funnily? Anaesthesia is easily the most forgettable and unknown doctor in the chain of specialists who did their part in a surgery.
Another incident in the same hospital for the same procedure. In the night my wife started bleeding from the operated ear. She wanted the doctor to see her, and accordingly I went to the nurses’ station to relay the request. The duty doctor was not available , and it was within the knowledge of the nurse. First she hemmed and hawed, and later I realized that she had started behaving in the deliberately provocative manner (so that I lose temper, and then it would have been termed as another VIP tantrum?) Or was she taking it out against me for the incident in the morning when the surgeon gave a piece of his mind to the nurse on duty? Exasperated, I told the nurse that on this issue, I will not pick a fight with her, and came back. The bleeding luckily had stopped, and I decided to inform the doctor in the morning and watch the patient which in retrospect I admit was probably not the best thing to do.
So again the same mindless cussedness. I have mentioned these incidents as in a government medical institute , whatever the level and ranking of the hospital, the staff and the faculty do behave sometimes in a way which at best can be called unacceptable.
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Suburban Living
A couple of years before my retirement, I purchased a piece of land in Gwalior. I had another land in Bhopal, and was at that time not very sure where I would settle. As the luck would have it, I got some very dependable persons who could be entrusted with the job of construction of the house at Gwalior while I was away at Mumbai on a posting. This plot is a little away form the downtown area. It is a relatively large plot and I thought that I would have a blissful life here. After spending more that 4 years here I realized that things haven’t panned out as I thought they would. I can mention several reasons. First that distance from the downtown meant extra expenditure every time I had something to do in the town. The mindless and frequent increase in petrol prices in the recent years aggravated the problem. Secondly, distance from the main town meant that my friends and acquaintances found it onerous to come to my place, and my interaction with them was reduced. Thirdly no malls, multiplexes and cinema halls this side. Even for a decent shop, one had to go some distance. Fourthly, no municipal water supply and power at best erratic. The four lane highway that has been proposed has yet to travel the distance from the drawing board to the ground. Net result is that the basic convenience which one hoped for is not there. And lastly, domestic help is not available. The place is inhabited by Gujars and SC. The Gujars are well to do, and there is no question finding a domestic help there. And SC even if you do not mind, others would. So that is also not there. So those of you who are also thinking on the lines as I did, weigh the pros and cons carefully before taking the final plunge.