Saturday, September 24, 2011

The best medicine

So I have an aching wisdom tooth. Again. Because the last time it hurt, I went to the dentist and he, like most American doctors, gave me the "choice" whether to keep the tooth and get a root canal or to have it extracted, and refused to make the choice for me! And of course, I chose to keep it. I'm kicking myself for that decision now, but at the time, I have a feeling I subconsciously wanted to avoid a tooth extraction. 

That's the thing about American medical care. I haven't been able to decide whether it's great that they leave all decisions to you or not. I mean, in theory, I should be making decisions that affect my body. But in practice, am I really qualified to do so? I don't think so. I sometimes prefer the Indian doctor's way. They make decisions, give you their honest opinions based on their experience, and you give them your full trust. (Of course, there are some other aspects of American medical care that are just great, but neither is perfect.)

As I was thinking about this difference in approach, I was reminded of this dermatologist who I had once consulted in my teens in India. I have this "birthmark" on my right hand that tends to show up when I get tanned but lightens up otherwise. After a particularly bad summer, it kind of stood out and I wouldn't stop obsessing about it. Perhaps I was going through a period of typical teen identity crisis, but whatever it was, I promptly consulted a dermatologist about it. Not surprisingly, he said that plastic surgery was the only permanent solution, but since I was too young, he wasn't recommending it. Adamant, I kept asking him if there was any medicine that could help. Anything at all. After saying 'no' a couple of times, he simply looked me in the eye and said, do you know how many patients I have seen who have a mark just like that on their face? You're lucky it's on your hand where probably no one notices it. Some might consider this brash or belittling a patient's problem, and I'm fairly certain that the average American doctor would never say anything like this, but it proved to be the best medicine for my problem. It made me reflect on how trivial the whole thing was when there were people out there who were dealing with more serious issues. I've never once complained about the birthmark since. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ads and blues

So it's 12 in the night, I'm experiencing the home/family/country blues which I get once in a while. One gets so caught up in life that sometimes you don't notice how quickly time has gone by and that you haven't been "home" in over 1.5 years. There was a time when I used to be surprised when people said, "I haven't been to India in 5 years". But perhaps, I'm slowly inching towards that myself now.

I must admit that these days I don't think of home as often as I used to, when I first moved here. I don't feel the void as consciously; now it's hidden somewhere deep within and surfaces every now and then.

Earlier, birthdays and festivals and weddings used to trigger memories. But now, oddly, it's no longer the big and obvious stuff. I think of home when I hear a fan whirring. I think of home when I read news about interest rates in India. I think of home when I hear a loud horn on the road (a rarity even in New York). I think of home when I spot things, long forgotten, in the local Indian store from my childhood days (like picnic chocolate!).

And when I really miss home, I've resorted to doing odd things, like going on an Indian ad-watching marathon on Youtube. Yes, I watch ad after ad, both childhood "favorites" like Nirma and Liril and Perk, as well as new ones. This is almost impossible to explain, but maybe it has something to do with the elderly (and somewhat inconsiderate) neighbor who would wake up at 5 am and switch on the radio with ads blasting on full-volume until we left for school, and perhaps these ads help me relive those moments? Maybe it has to do with the fact that some of these ads are rather upbeat and could lift anyone's spirits? Or maybe, they're just plain entertaining. Whatever it is, it seems to help. Just throwing it out there as the odd "home remedy" in case anyone else experiences these blues.

Anyway, one of my recent favorites is . Those who've read one of my previous posts (with somewhat extreme views on portrayal of women in advertisements) might wonder how I don't think that this ad stereotypes women, but it's so adorable in it's own way, and the mother's character is so endearing that I could not help but like it.

Yawn! I think I'm sleepy now...