… is quite easy. All you need to do is to take the first step down the hotel ramp constructed to ferry guests, confined to wheel chair. At least that’s what happened to me. Come to think of it, there is a poetic injustice about it, with wheel chair as a common denominator. What is used to ferry wheel chairs is used to ferry me to wheel chair. How surreal life can get!
That’s it really. That’s how easily I came down to earth. Or so I thought till the time of writing this sentence. Now I have my doubts. Problems of people who believe there is nothing called final conclusion. Problems of people who believe what meets the eye and what gets translated to the brain out of the sight we behold or the underlying vision we miss need not be absolute truths. Simply put, problems of people like me. Coming down to earth may not be as simple as it sounded first. It may not be that simple even for beauty pageants, though ‘Ramp-Walk’ is their second nature.
So clearly, walking down the ramp is neither a necessary nor a sufficient precondition to come down to earth. So, what is it? To hell with interrogative words. World without questions would be a blissful place. Still, what really made me to come down to earth? What did I do just before my crash landing? That would hold the key.
Oh! Yes! I was talking to my kindred soul with whom I got self introduced five minutes before. Ramesh flew from Bangalore to Pune to attend his friend Krishnan’s daughter’s wedding. I flew from Chennai to Pune to attend my friend Krishnan’s daughter’s wedding. Both the Krishnans happen to be the same person, my long lost friend whom I met last in his wedding. Ramesh is a Chartered Accountant. I am a CA of sorts. Ramesh started out as Outsourced CFO in 2009 in Chennai. I together with a few others started Outsourced CXO service in 2009 in Chennai. My service went nowhere for the next three years, rolled back my CXO services and became poor man’s investment banker by 2012. He seems to have been doing better. Ramesh has stayed an Outsourced CFO till date. If seemingly random happenings can be connected to make sense of a specific outcome (Chaos Theory), improbable coincidences can also be used to explain impossibly random adverse happening (Say, Coincidences Theory). So, it is my exchange of war stories with Ramesh that resulted in my coming down to earth.
No! That’s not on. Ramesh wanted to continue. You only cut the conversation short to have a fag. Do you want to blame it on the fifteen rupees you did not burn to ashes?
Well, well. This cause – effect theory is going too far. I have just fallen, I have another eight weeks of rehabilitation ahead and this is already promising to be a five part blog! So let’s just say this. I came to Pune to attend the wedding of my friend and CA batch mate Krishna’s daughter along with Murali. Murali and myself stayed in a hotel room. I over slept and Murali went to the wedding hall early, asking me to join later. I got up, got ready to go to the wedding, went down, met Ramesh and had a chat, went down again and I hope to get up and go to the hospital. This is the real sequence!
The pain was excruciating. It was a near black out for a second or so. I was made to sit on a chair. From nowhere about a dozen people assembled. Someone thrust a cold water bottle in my hand. Applying cold water was so refreshing. I started making sense of my predicament. I was able to recognize a couple of people around. Ramesh was there, fiddling with his mobile phone, tapping the back of his left forearm, elbow down and looking at me. Perplexing though, it would sound, looking back, I realise it is a phenomenal act. He was having an eye on me, nursing his fore arm that got sour when he tried to stop me from falling, working Uber and Google maps apps to find a cab and a good hospital that has a trauma care emergency room.
And the girl from hotel reception was there. She was really sorry and was telling me, “There is swelling. Sometimes sprains develop swelling fast. This is a sprain for sure. You should be fine.” I remember making a dry painful smile. ‘Really? Right leg weighing a ton, ankle swelling to the size of a thigh and need to order a crane to lift my leg sounds like sprain to you? Granted, my ankle may be the size of a lean thigh, my thigh may be a thhiiigggghhhh. Still…’
People are generally nice. They want to provide comfort, say soothing words, help with whatever they can without asking and consciously try to provide placebo effect with their truth, half truth and blatant lie. Not the words or actions per se, underlying intention is heartening. It pays to enter into a crisis once in a while to feel confident about Insaniyat. Looking back, bizarre situation I was in, is quite refreshing.
I was shoved inside a Uber cab and Ramesh also got in leaving his wife behind. Presence of Ramesh is quite reassuring. He asked his wife to go to the wedding directly and he accompanied me to the hospital. I was really grateful and I said as much to Ramesh. Later I would feel guilty of his presence and would urge him to proceed to the wedding. But for now I am extremely happy that he’s around.
Ramesh was navigating the driver with the help of Google maps. With non moving right leg and intermittent pangs of pain 6 kilometre taxi ride felt like eternity. Just like every other bad thing in life this taxi ride too ended and the emergency room of Jupiter hospital Pune arrived. Emergency room operation was quite efficient. I was straight away taken for x-ray and brought back to the emergency room. From nowhere emergency room Ortho materialised, came near my wheelchair, went down on his heel and started inspecting my leg. He lifted the leg in the air twisted my foot. It made a bit of noise. “Fracture”, he announced. “Let’s await X-ray to assess the extent of damage”. Sure. So long as it is not like politicians aerial survey of flood affected areas. While we are at it can I I complete my unfinished agenda? Can I have that damn fag that I didn’t have before all this started?
Instead I requested Ramesh to move on. From this point there is adequate care and there is no justification in retaining Ramesh. He has a wedding to attend. “Let Manmit come. I’ll start after he arrives”, said Ramesh. “Have posted in the wedding guests group”. Manmit? The affable Sardar who volunteered to take care of outstation guests attending the wedding. He is coming here to attend to me when he should be making another hundred wedding guests comfortable. So, Murali will be close on heel too. Suddenly, I started feeling guilty. How many people am I inconveniencing and irrevocably pulling out of their comfort zones, when they would really love to be elsewhere? All the while, all I have been thinking about are my swollen ankle, pain and impending forced rest for a couple of months.This feeling of guilt engulfs everywhere and everybody. As I would learn later, Krishnan felt guilty too, for I’m having a tough time after coming to attend his daughter’s wedding. Trauma related accidents lead to unnecessary guilt, both to the protagonist and to people around. I should not have walked down the ramp, I should not have got down from the left side of the bed, I should not have scratched my nose, I should not have let Srikanth scratch his nose…
X-ray has come from the lab. It’s official now. Fibula has broken and ankle joint has dislocated in two places. I am in for a long grind. Duty Doctor said, “You need an operation. We can probably do it tomorrow. We will shift you to the room”. Shifting to the room is welcome. Please do. We need to have a chat on operating tomorrow. Before I could open my mouth, Manmit came and the Doctor stepped aside. “What happened?”
“Looks like there are multiple fractures. They want to operate on me tomorrow.”
“Not here”, Manmit called out the name of another hospital. I assume, it is Pune equivalent of Miot Chennai.
“No. Manmit. My flight is at 1.30 pm tomorrow. If they can manage my pain today and make me transit worthy, that’s enough. I will get operated in Chennai”. Getting the family to fly in tomorrow, asking the newly minted grandfather – Murali – to stay back, pressurizing Manmit’s time, leaving Krishnan without peace… grinning and bearing the pain for a day more sounded quite natural. Familiar surroundings of Vijaya Hospital, Family and a handful of friends felt quite enticing.
Manmit was lost in thought. “Just put me in a room. Communicate this to the hospital and please go back to the wedding. Ask Murali to come here, after dinner”. Manmit then waved his magic wand. I was given a temporary bandage. I was shifted to the room. Room was kosher. I had two bells – one for nursing staff and one for, shall I say, housekeeping. I really look forward to my first day in hospital owing to ailment. What more, I got Dal Kichdi, Fruit Salad and a cup of curd for dinner and a TV to pass time till Murali came. Between the words, muted Arnab Goswami is fun to watch. I informed my family and Suresh, my friend cum Brother in Law.
Murali vacated our hotel room and came to the hospital room. Started taking full charge of battle field control. He talked to my wife Jeyasri. Goaded my son Ajay to lodge a claim with ICICI Lombard, asked him to hire Vijaya Hospital Ambulance & get to the Chennai Airport before our flight arrives, shared our itinerary… Deft efficiency was a sight to behold.
Next day morning hospital staff brought an unpalatable Vegetable Upma. In the morning Murali went to the wedding hall. He and Manmit organised the rest with the same efficiency. Talking to the airline, organising the ambulance and completion of discharge procedures by 10.30 am.
My ambulance started its bumpy ride. So what are my takeaways from Pune, apart from two dislocated joints and a snapped fibula. Made a couple of new friends, met a old friend, met Krishnan’s family members and a quick chat. What more, lunch at wedding hall had curd rice and magali pickle. And yes. Murali fed me with Vada Pav at Pune Airport. I would have preferred a thalipeeth, though.
Airline was unbelievably courteous. They reserved entire row no 29 for two tickets. They made the whole journey as painless as possible. I could stretch my leg on the three seats I was allotted except during landing and take off, given a separate bus to carry me to the arrival area.
As my wheel chair was pushed out of arrival gate, I could see Jeyasri, Ajay and ever dependable driver Gnanam along with Vijaya Hospital’s ambulance. Suresh, Kausalya and perhaps Bala should already be there at Vijaya Hospital.
Life is pure bliss.