Thursday, October 1, 2015

What should we call this?

I have not been active as a blogger. One reason is that my pet subjects are now the staple of newspapers. They cover the issues; the pot holes, sad state of our existing footpaths and the non-existing ones . The perennial garbage story. The list is long.

Our nephew who lives in Hong Kong was here to participate in a ceremony 'celebrating 98 years of living' of his grand father.  While we chatted, out of the blue, he said 'I don't think I can get back to living here in India'  and added 'I do not have this temperament for Jugaad'. I had heard this word earlier and had a vague sense of its meaning.

 Jugaad (alternatively Juggaar) is a colloquial Punjabi-Dogri word that can mean an innovative fix or a simple work-around, used for solutions that bend rules, or a resource that can be used as such, or a person who can solve a complicated issue,' We do have a genius for making simple things complicated.  You need to be smart to recognize this talent which is all pervasive. 

Tara's father who was 98 and would have been 99 in a month, felt very tired early in the morning  The doctor came unhurried, checked and advised drips, which she arranged. Another team came to do the needful and one more took the ECG. Appa took it in his stride, a first for him. We were concerned but not frantic.  

By evening the attending doctor advised us to consult a cardiologist. We called an ambulance and were at a hospital in about 20 minutes. Not the one just five minutes away but to another branch which was specially for Cardio patients. We were okay with it as appa was doing fine.

At that hospital, well oiled and smooth, we felt that appa was in good hands. The attending doctor was very comforting. She said that he had a mild heart attack and they could do an angio but considering his age, did not recommend it. We were relieved as he did not want any intervention, not even an oxygen mask and wanted to go home! But Tara convinced him to stay there for the night. She really hoped with some medication he would be fine and cross his 99 and get into his 100th year.

Next morning he had another heart attack, was resuscitated and before we could say 'jack robinson' was on ventilator. This was a different doctor,  young and smart. and when I asked her 'why did you have to do it? We had said no even to an angio!'  She replied that she had a very small window to take a decision, There were legal and ethical issues and she had nothing in writing! I am sure we would have given it in writing if they asked for it. We had clearly said no to intervention! And our earlier conversation led us to believe they would not go aggressive. I still do not know what she meant by ethical issues.

Now we were really worried and feeling guilty. Appa had said he did not want any of this and had protested right there in the hospital.  We had a similar experience when my mother had a heart attack in Bangkok. Before I knew, she was put on a ventilator.  When I asked the doctors 'Why all this for a 87 year old woman?'. They said ' If you bring a patient to the hospital, it is mandatory. Unless the patient has made a will'. While my mother lingered on for almost three weeks, my father-in-law died in a few hours. It seems he was destined to spend one night in a hospital. 

A few things bother me. The ambulance driver wanted a tip. Not the right time to ask, but they do. The crematorium, an old one, was reasonably clean, With tall trees it felt better. As soon as we took the body in it was transferred from the steel stretcher to one made out of bamboo,  Very sensible and thoughtful. Just before they closed the furnace door, the staff gave us a glimpse of the fire consuming the body. A kind of closure! Good gesture! Then a plate  was passed around for tips. Why do they have to do it? 

I was ready to go, a friend reminded me to collect a receipt from the office. The charges are very reasonable. I had to pay Rs 300, But the convention is to pay 500  for the receipt and forget to collect the change. I was told that this was to make sure that the papers are sent to the BBMP without fail.
Then the helpers sort of surrounded me. And their leader demanded Rs 1000 in a loud voice. They had pushed  the trolley into the furnace and had made the bamboo stretcher! They had cleaned the hall after the ceremonies. Anyway we paid him a little less just to prove a point,

I met this leader the next day when I went to collect the ashes. He was a different person. Basically he was a nice sort of guy, but because he was tall and well built he was given the responsibility to make demands and extract as much as he could manage. He said was a contractor with BBMP. I advised him to fix rates for his services so that all arguments could be avoided.  His reaction was to blame the clerk. ' He collects Rs 200 from each of you and pockets it. We get nothing.

Is it all jugaad, seeing opportunity anywhere, anyhow? Jugaad from what I have understood is some type of street smartness. It is spoken of as a much needed quality to succeed, especially in India. I am afraid it has mutated into total dishonesty and has pervaded beyond repair.

1 comment:

  1. Very well written, Nidhi. Sad state of affairs, but unfortunately true. I've had a similar experience when my maternal uncle (a bachelor) passed away in 2003 and we also had to take him to the Wilson Gardens crematorium. Anyway, the less said about it the better, as nothing is ever going to change. In fact, we should be happy if it does not become worse !!!!