Eternal Activist- a nonstop journey!

protestYou must have seen him, his pictures or read about him. He is the guy who is always being dragged by police, water sprayed, blocking roads, tying himself to trees and in the back of a police vehicle. Or you might have seen him protesting against protestors at city hall for raising minimum wage.

How did he become “him”? Could it be that the first seeds of protest were sowed when his 5 month pregnant mother was protesting against Vietnam war? Or could it be at the very moment when his father was rebelling against the machine by smoking a big fat joint smack in the middle of town square. It could also be when his mother decided to go topless at a public beach to protest against double standards for men and women at a public beach. But this man would never talk about his own journey while there are some 7,432 active issues involving humanity, animals, reptiles, environment and increasing incidence of cancer in south Pacific Hammerhead shark.

He remembers his first protest in middle school. He protested against beatings by class bully, after being encouraged by his mother. The bully beat him more, he protested more and at some point, after being beaten for almost a year it stopped. Bully probably got bored. But activist realized that protests do work although a little bit late. His mother celebrated this as his victory because he had succeeded in changing the aggressor without changing his own character.

He protested more in high school. He protested against meat in cafeteria, against milk in support of lactose intolerant, against religion, against cold war, against school mascot, against funding for football program and for saving turtles in Madagascar, seals in Sweden, for rights of Aborigines in Australia and Roma in Europe. At times he was protesting so much that he was hardly attending any classes. This resulted in expulsion which resulted in another fierce protest.

But he finally realized his true calling in college. He protested for Marijuana, against easy availability of alcohol on campus, for condom vending machines and against racial undertones of 18th century English literature. He climbed rooftops and refused to come down till Japan apologized to China for their atrocities. He chained himself to a tree to protest against honey industry and their inhuman treatment of bees. He taped himself to movie theater seats to protest against too much sex and violence in main stream media. He also protested outside the movie theater for not showing a banned movie with excessive violence.

He was known to protest right in the middle of a class if a white professor used the word black. He protested against the color of blackboard being black. He protested against police brutality but also against gun rights. He protested when rapper, “$-DOG” was not allowed to present his poetry to middle schoolers with lyrics like “bros before hos, my bitch ain’t no ho and kill the ho”. He wanted middle schoolers to decide what they want to hear rather than machine telling them what to do.   To be continued…

New-Thing- Productivity (Part2)

meetingThe newthing stood up. Newthing was very different from anything they had seen before. She got straight to the point, “I have been hired by company to bring in dollars, straighten things out and improve everything as things have not been good here.”

Granddaddy was clearly impressed by this opening. “Yes, things have not been good. We have had no wine with lunch in years”. The new-thing quickly gathered herself. “Thank you sir for your support and input!” (She hoped calling granddaddy sir and patronizing him will settle him down). Grandaddy “talking about support get me one of those chairs that can be controlled with all kind of knobs & buttons.” He has had an adjustable chair for years but had not figured out any controls yet.

Newthing “If there is anything I want you to take from this meeting is professionalism, professionalism and professionalism. Remember we are only as good as we look.”

Diva immediately felt kinship. “This is the same message I have been trying to convey for a long time. But nobody will listen to me. They keep on buying Chinese made crap that is completely classless. Will a client be impressed if you go in wearing a pair of Gap pants, Ann Taylor top and some nameless pair of shoes with no accessories?  Or you go in wearing Prada, smelling Pierre Cardin and accessorizing with Nicole Miller! Off course hair has to be done right. (She looked right at old secretary as diva felt everything about old secretary might be the reason keeping clients away).”

The newthing sarcastically, “Thank you for your thoughtful input!” The subtle nuances of communication were always lost on Diva.  Diva was already on a roll. ‘I generally keep my Thursdays half day off for manicure and shopping so my presentation can be good. May be we can go and do some shopping together.”

Granddaddy immediately jumped in, “That’s my day off to play golf with my buddies John the Cadillac dealer and Jimmy the divorce lawyer. I always need these guys”.

The foreigner has long realized that when Americans are in this mode of “let’s start with a clean slate” or “fresh start” or “think outside box” or “let’s hit the floor running” it always meant that one bad idea is about to be superseded by another one. He was always paranoid about these changes. He has seen numerous Hollywood movies/TV series and the foreigner always dies first. He immediately went into survivor mode. “Yes, we can.”

The meeting has taken a turn for worse, newthing felt. She knew exactly what to do. The book, “How to be an effective leader in 24 hours” had a whole chapter about regaining control of a situation quickly. This generally involved a self-deprecating joke and building up self-esteem of losers (staff). “What would I know? I am talking as if I know what I am talking about.” In her reading, the audience are supposed to laugh and say things like “oh no”. But she had not counted on this crowd.

Granddaddy, “I know. You are just a little kitty and not ready to play with big boys yet”. The foreigners realized he has to say something or he will be considered to have low motivation. “I love kitties. I used to tie them to kite and fly them.” Grandaddy “my pit bull will eat your kitties in seconds. What kind of man likes kitties”?

Diva threw her hands in air, “I am so disgusted by this objectification of women. I keep on being called hot, super-hot, lava-hot, delicious, vibrant, classy and charming. And it’s ok but can’t someone come up with some new ones.”

The newthing realized meeting had been effectively lost. Besides granddaddy had fallen asleep and his snoring was not conducive to any further discussion. The old secretary had immediately placed a CPAP mask on him. But she wanted to end meeting at least on a positive note. “We achieved quite a bit. We all know we have a long road ahead. We just need to start with a clean slate, get a fresh start, let’s all think outside box and hit the ground running.” Foreigner held his head in both hands. There was no hope from this point forward.


My Gym Partner!

bad luckAs I am still waiting for Physician’s clearance, I have decided to do something. The Yoga and cycling thing was a disaster. I feel going back to gym might be my best option. At least I can do what I want to do.

Luckily I have a partner now. My new buddy from Yoga class was performing so poorly that even his wife was embarrassed. I feel it is safe to say that Yoga types gave up on him before he gave up on them. Since we both are kind of new to this whole exercise thing, we decided to expand our group and add another person (more on that later).

I got a chance to find out more about my new friend. It appears my friend has had a series of tough breaks. His parents did not want him and they tried to abort him. But by some miracle he survived. But just because he made it out of uterus, did not mean his luck improved any.

When he was 3, his father found out he was gay which led to a divorce. His mother felt scorned and just to prove that two can play the game, she also found a same-sex partner. He spent his childhood bouncing between two daddies, two mommies and 2 sets of boring heterosexual grandparents. Finally his mother realized she was straight and remarried which added a stepfather to the whole equation.

This lead to a lot of sexual confusion. He tried to find out who exactly he was. He tried to date both boys and girls. After some soul-searching and experimentation, he found out that he was straight.

He decided to celebrate this sexual awakening by going out with a group of friends. He wanted to go “steady” with one of the girls in the group. He hoped to make a connection. Unfortunately he got very drunk. In a drunken and almost blacked out moment of passion, he did “make a connection”. He made the connection to the wrong girl. Retrospectively he feels that he might be the first case of a male being taken advantage by a woman while intoxicated.

Long story short, the wrong girl called him few weeks later and gave him the good news.  My friend got so panicky that he passed out. The wrong girl took it as a sign that he was extremely happy about the fact that he was going to be a father. Since then his life has been a downhill slide. He is with a girl he did not even know, a child he does not want and her family pressurizing him to do the “right thing”.

I didn’t know what to say. So I said things like: it will get better, god is testing your faith, in the end it will be all worth it, light at end of tunnel, half full glass, sun coming out through clouds and worst is behind you. I told him it should not be difficult for two of you to take care of one little angle. It looks like I might have cheered him up. He started to relax.

He got a text. He held his head in hands. I asked him if everything is ok. He passed me his phone. He had a text from “wrong girl” with a U/S picture of twins and a message that said, “Twins baby! Luv you so much”. I am not sure what to say any more.  To be contd…





My Physical

questionAfter waiting in waiting room, then in examination room and being grilled by his assassin of a nurse, good doctor showed up. He was a serious looking guy. He acknowledged my presence without even looking up with a curt node. He kept on looking at his papers with an expression of concern. I had a feeling he was trying to find some imperfection in my perfect physiology.

He had the kind of personality that will even find a way to ruin a twin delivery with something like, “Congratulations you have twins but they ate their 3rd sibling.”

He just kept on looking into these papers. Occasionally he will mumble an “hmm” or “oh”. What could it be that this great scholar had found out simply by looking into these papers? Finally he looked at me. He gave me a kind of quick look over that a customer gives a piece of meat at a deli.

I tried to break the ice by pointing out that his kids are very adorable. He looked somewhat puzzled. I pointed out to the picture on the wall. He told me they are not his children. It turns out that this was a UN poster for hunger among children. The kids were of 6 different races as well. I apologized sincerely. I am sure he thinks I am some kind of a smarty pants. I made a mental note of putting my glasses on next time.

He asked me a whole bunch of questions. They all would be considered a serious violation of me and my privacy if he was not a doctor. Their obsession with bodily fluids, cavities and orifices is second to none. He kept on asking me if I have seen blood in one or all of these areas.

Then he gave me the good news that I will have to undergo a lot of routine screening. I will be screened for diabetes, cholesterol, kidney disease, liver diseases and anemia. If I want he can check my prostate “good old-fashioned way”. To leave no doubt in my mind about what the “good old-fashioned” way was, he raised his index finger. I told him I don’t know what this particular organ is supposed to do but I am sure it is fine.

After this he went to give me a whole lot of advise about things which you are supposed to know by the time you come out of high school. Only in US, a doctor will be considered a “good doctor” by insurance companies for talking about it for 15 minutes and then checking 200 boxes and writing 4 pages about it. The advise went something like this:

Eat greens, wear a seat belt, stay hydrated, get enough fiber, exercise, lose weight, don’t text and drive, don’t eat and drive, don’t drink and drive, don’t fall asleep and drive, look for blood in urine/stool/spit/sputum, don’t have a seizure and drive, don’t drop dead while driving, get vaccines, take Aspirin, eat fish and have safe sex with strangers. I told him I am married. Is he advising me to have sex with strangers as long as it is protected? I also told him that my wife might not approve of it but if it is something life saving then what choice do I have? He corrected himself and apologized for not realizing that I was married.

To be continued…


Small Town-World View (My Cousin Series)

Some of the things that Private, MS and my cousin discussed were world issues. As this was 1970’s small town with no Internet or TV, everything was hearsay. The fact that they had never ventured more than 50 miles of our town, did not read newspapers or listened to someone who was even remotely informed resulted in very interesting observations:

There definitely would be a world war III. India and Russia would be on one side and Pakistan, America, China and England would be on other side (these were constantly changing alliances and there was no reasoning behind it). We will win because Lord Hanumanjee is on our side and Russians are 7 feet tall.

Never eat meat! If you do, you will immediately become a Muslim and becoming Hindu again will be very difficult. Once you become a Muslim, they will cut your penis (this was their understanding of circumcision). Do you want to be a penisless Muslim?

Japan is a great country to be a schoolboy. You don’t have to read any books. You just make radios in school and TV’s in high school.

Never marry a Luzkrakter (Loose character). Never fall in love with a Sikh or Muslim girl. Their families will kill you.

Never marry a very beautiful woman because all your friends then are not visiting “you”.

Never marry an ugly woman. Your own children will be scared of her and you will have ugly children.

Bengalis are brainy but weak. Gujaratis are good businessmen but cowards (Gandhi never beat one Firangi). All south Indians are Madrassis and all they eat is rice. Always respect a fat man because they generally represent good families and are wealthy. If stereotyping was an art form these were the greatest artists of times.

All white people were from America, England and Germany. I tried to tell them that I have heard about countries such as Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark etc. They would immediately dismiss me. “We are talking about countries and you are talking about cities.”

When a girl says no, she means yes. Because that’s how they are!

If you want to find out if a girl is in love with you, all you have to do is shoulder bump her. If she smiles at you, she is in love with you. The details after that were sketchy but it involved giving a love letter as soon as possible. Because if you delay that part, someone else might shoulder bump her and she might become someone else’s.

Never trust or follow a person with toes in the back and heel in front. They are ghosts.

New-thing; Increasing the productivity

The new-thing was brought in to improve the morale, streamline processes and increase productivity. The new-thing was a result of months of search and a high-five figure commission to a PR firm paid by six figure earning “leadership”.

The new-thing called a meeting so, “We can hit the floors running”. The old secretary was immediately concerned about running part. The granddaddy was informed. He was not the kind of man to take this lightly. He thundered right into CEO’s office. She was alarmed. It was not everyday that granddaddy stormed in. Granddaddy was the longest-serving board member and also carried a title, which nobody understood. A legal glitch had resulted in an ironclad clause that granddaddy stays a board member till the day he dies. Nobody had foreseen that he would live this long and will take this role so seriously.

The CEO tried to quickly make a run to bathroom but granddaddy had seen it all. The CEO’s hiding in bathroom, under tables and behind plants! “What is this new nonsense about me having to run and hit the ground? I am granddaddy. I don’t run for nobody and definitely won’t hit the floor.”

CEO tried to explain that this does not involve him at all. Granddaddy told CEO that even without meeting the new-thing he was sure that she was incompetent. She is only 36. What would she know about reproductivity? When I was 36, I did not even know how to ride a bicycle. CEO corrected him that nobody would try to make him reproductive and he was probably confusing months for years. Granddaddy tried to leave the office through the bathroom door. CEO guided him to office exit.

Finally the meeting started. It was attended by granddaddy (due to some other legal glitch he could sit in on any meeting), diva (“if it’s not channel, it’s shit”), the foreigner who always suspected everything new was just to torture him and baby face whiz-kid whose expression varied between various shades of depression. There were also some other people who only came out once in a while from their high towers. They had such titles as vice president-marketing, vice president-development, VP-finances, executive vice president, junior vice president, vice president to vice-president and such equal and powerful titles.

The staff included old secretary (whose moods fluctuated between suicidal to homicidal and memory between BC and AD), the other secretary, (who has just undergone another facelift and literally was expressionless), the new hire data analyst who was trying to find her feet and the lady-like coordinator whose every response was absolutely lady like. That meant you had to wait for few minutes to get any response. The gossip-hawker was there already whispering something in next person’s ear. The quite and withdrawn assistant was well, quite and withdrawn.  To be continued…

Visit to Doctor’s Office-Weight Loss Series

After spending some quality time in depressing surroundings that is a doctor’s waiting room, my name was called. I was ushered to an examination room. Calling it a room was fairly generous. It was the size of a vertical coffin. If that alone did not make you claustrophobic, they had all other angles covered.

The interior of coffin was done in shades of suicidal gray and deathly pastel. The overhead lights were those bright fluorescent types that they banned even in former USSR. There were all kinds of artsy posters on the walls. This eye-catching artwork had a practical purpose though. It warned that you could have colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and few other types of cancers. You ignorant soul might not even know about it. All you have to do is to ask your good doc for screening for these things. He will arrange for all your body orifices to be probed thoroughly so that this cancer will have no place to hide. They also had a very serious looking guy pointing a finger at you and asking, “have you had a colonoscopy”?

You could also have diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, mini stroke, diverticulosis, abnormal cholesterol or heart disease. You might have low testosterone, low estrogen, low bone mass and anemia. On a different note you could also have heart failure, kidney disease, hepatitis or skin cancer.

It also reminded reader that you should inform doctor if you don’t feel safe at home, had unprotected sex or have suicidal thoughts. Especially if you had suicidal thoughts after having unprotected sex. Because let’s face it; HIV is fairly manageable now a days.

The nice Nurse was an old-fashioned, old world nurse who still had the head thing and all. She did not believe in smiling or laughing. She handed me one of those nightmarish hospital gowns that open in back and never have all the straps in place. I made the regular lame joke that generally I am paid for this kind of thing. Either she did not find it funny or she wanted to put me right in my place. She gave me kind of the look that a Mummy (Egyptian type, not your own) gives you when you crack a joke.

I told her that I do not see the need to put this garment on, as I am here for a quick physical only. Apparently there is nothing like a “quick physical” and doctor would prefer me in this “thing”. She left the room and I did change into the “thing”. Just to make this an unforgettable experience, they even had a mirror in the room.

With my last shreds of dignity snatched away from me, I decided to make most of what I had been given. As a token of my protest against this objectification of my body, I decided to keep the socks on. I really cut a fairly depressing figure in this flowery loose robe. A knee-length robe with socks is never going to make you front cover of GQ. I decided to take the socks off. The reflection in mirror was even worse. I put them on again. But then I was worried it would add weight, I took them off again.

Nurse is back. She took my weight and all the usual stuff that they do. She told me I have great veins. I thought it was a compliment till I realized that she was planning to draw some blood. With her demeanor I was not sure if she would use a syringe or simple suck it out of my veins. I told her I am absolutely healthy. But doc would still want to check my cholesterol and thyroid hormone levels. I have already waited close to 45 minutes in waiting room, 25 minutes here, filled out my life story in all kind of forms and this healer is nowhere to be seen.   To be continued…

Weight Loss: Back to Yoga

As my cycling adventure did not go well and physical trainer won’t train me till doc gives clearance, I have decided to go back to yoga. I showed up again for advanced yoga but they politely informed me that I should probably go to beginner’s class. I asked them why would I do any such thing when I performed fairly well in my last class. They told me that elderly woman that I knocked down is threatening to litigate if I am ever allowed in same class as her. To be honest I did not expect such cunning and cruelty from a senior citizen. But what can one do?

I decided to start at the bottom and rise through the ranks with hard work all the way again to advanced class, so I can confront that cunning elderly. I signed up for a beginner’s class. The only positive was they had also demoted equally unfit, pregnant woman’s hubby with me. I think he must be entered in some record books. He probably is the first guy in history who was not able to do things that his very advanced pregnant wife was doing.

This class was dream come true. All I had to do was to lie down, control my breathing and relax. This was great. I was so relaxed that I fell asleep. Unfortunately no one else could due to me and my buddy’s snoring.

After this there was a demonstration for healthy cooking. This was a very depressing activity. All they had were green vegetables and Tofu. The women giving demonstration was one of those patronizing types who kept on asking such questions as, ” What do green vegetables have? Why should we eat them?”

If this was not bad enough, there was also a very annoying woman who kept on asking, “what if I add coriander? What if I add basil”? I swear she was asking it after every single step. To counter this nuisance I also started asking questions like, “What if I add super hot buffalo sauce to salad? What if I add vodka to kale smoothie”?

Eventually they created some kind of food that was supposed to be healthy. The color was fresh vomitus with 100% bile. The smell was type of diarrhea that elderly get when they have been on antibiotics for very long. There was tofu as well. Those of you who have been fortunate enough to never have tasted it, this is something that you get after sleeping with Pamela Anderson if you haven’t taken proper precautions.

I asked them when would we have real food rather than this salad type nonsense. It looks like this WAS the food. I looked at food, yoga types and food again. I asked them if we are celebrating April 1st late. One of them said something as intelligent as how food should nourish the soul. I told them first of all there is no soul that we know of and food has nothing to do with it. It seemed to offend Yoga types a lot. Apparently soul is a big thing for these nutheads. I am afraid this thing might not work for me as well. These phonys are as bad as cycling ones.

Physical prior to Physical Trainer.

As my physical trainer is hell bent on getting me to see a doc prior to initiating my exercise, I had to call and make an appointment. One of the things that strikes you when you visit a doctor’s office is how healthy people are. Not a single person in waiting room looked sick to me. in fact they all seemed to be having a jolly good time. Some of them seem to have become friends by waiting long periods of time in same doctor’s office over the years. I can smell an occasional romance blossoming amid walkers and under the sweet smell of chlorhexidine, hand sanitizers, death and dementia.

The other thing is amount of information they want. Your name, gender, DOB, address, Insurance, ethnicity, religion, spouse’s name, emergency contact etc. This is followed by next layer of welcoming material. These include forms about status of your health. This is a masochist’s dream come true.

Do you feel safe at home? Do you own a gun? (What if I own a gun and still do not feel safe? Are they going to get me an army tank?). Do you wear seat belt? Are you sexually active? Do you have STD’s? Have you noticed any blood in your saliva, stool, urine and sputum? (Some elderly couples seem to do this as some kind of a trip down the memory lane). Do you feel threatened at home or work? Do you use drugs? Have you had sex with another man? (No, but if doc suggests it then I might give it a thought). To be honest, I stopped reading the questions after first few and just circled the whole page and wrote a big NO.

As there is always a long wait, they have quality entertainment. There is a TV which seems to run only lifetime channel. There are some magazines with such exciting titles as “beautiful home”, “home and garden”, “retirement” and “golden sunset” (which apparently is even further down retirement road and for someone who is seriously considering dying). They have flyers about retirement communities, diapers for incontinent, potty chairs, colostomy bags at discounted prices, straight catheters, walkers, canes, special shoes and god knows what else. If you did not have depression before you come here, you sure are going to walk away with one.

The other problem is that some of the folks who are here seem to consider it as a social event. As soon as you sit, they start chatting up. They will say two polite things and after that it is all about their own health. They all believe in uniqueness of their complicated cases and challenges they have presented to medical world. I have a hypertensive on one side whose BP is not being controlled by collective might of American healthcare, pharmaceutical industry and three different pills. He seems almost proud of this. This dude apparently has to come in twice a week for just a BP check. He has been on every category of medications. Either he develops side effects of his “man parts” not working or it does not do anything. I told him may be he should just give up. Life is very over-rated and death is a golden sunset. I handed him the magazine with same title.

There is a lady who is talking to another lady about her Insurance problems, weed problems in her garden, husband losing memory, frequent UTI’s, not being able to sleep and her daughter living way too far. She is gifted (or cursed) with a high pitch voice that can drive you homicidal, suicidal or both. I honestly believe she should not be allowed anywhere near a medical facility. I can also understand her daughter choosing to live away so far. How long do I have to be here?

A love story; Boy is all in (part 2).

boyBoy puts his best clothes together. Boy tries them on, discards, hates, likes, throws them away and tries them on again. He puts himself together with effort. He does not have polish, he only has effort. And two tickets to a show for which he has begged and begged. Boy is all in.

Boy walks into the hostel where girl lives. He calls for her. His palms are sweaty. His legs are shaking. Girl comes out. She does not know him. She is puzzled. She does not know who called for her. Boy is scared. But it has to be done. Boy is all in. He walks to her. He starts speaking but realizes he is stuttering. Boy is headstrong. Boy is becoming a man right this minute.

He tells her that if he is not mistaken she likes classic music. It is so difficult to find people who like classic music. It so happens I have 2 tickets for the artist and would she want to go with him. Boy has become a man. He won’t be buried under an unmarked tombstone.

She is speechless. This has never happened to her before. Girl does not know how to react. This is very different from her world. This is illogical, unreasonable and pure madness. Her world has an order. This is anarchy.

Girl tries to place his face from somewhere. Has she seen him before? Who are you? Do I know you? Boy shrugs his shoulders. How do you know I like classical music? Boy is all in. He is going to dive headfirst. I have been trying to sit close to you and I overheard you. Isn’t that stalking though? Boy shrugs his shoulders again. Girls takes another look. He does look scared despite his bravado. At times he seems like he is going to cry. Harmless, girl thinks.

Why do you think I would go out with you? I don’t know. Did you learn classic music? No. How did you get in classic music? My father used to play records all the time when I was growing up. What artists do you follow? Boy had prepared well. He answered it perfectly. They talked some more. The aliens from two different worlds slowly trying to feel each other. She is a white cloud on blue sky, he is trampled grass.

The girl seems to have softened. Look, I appreciate you coming here and offering to take me to the show. But someone already asked me and I did commit. I am sorry. But may be some other time! At this very minute, boy realizes that he is in love. He does not mind that she has already committed and will be going to same show with someone else. He is happy that she simply did not turn him away. He is slowly choking. He tries to say something but the words won’t come out. The girl looks and feels something. He is not coarse. She is touched that Boy can cry. Boy simply nodes, turns around and walks away.

Boy is in a daze. He does not know what just happened. He is a mess of joy, sadness, tears, question marks and adrenaline. He has never been so sad. He has never been so happy. He is almost nauseated with emotions. He can’t believe that she was almost ready to go with him.

Boy wanders around. Someone has a party. Boy drinks and then some. Boy laughs, Boy cries. Nobody knows what is going on with Boy. Boy is drunk. Boy throws all over himself. Boy passes out. Boy wakes up. He is not sure if it was a dream. He retraces his evening. This was real. Boy has a hangover. Boy is throwing up more. Boy is in love, heart-broken and hung over. Boy is becoming a man.