Day 17 – On the slow road to recovery
While MP was in the ICCU, it was a case of rotating duties for the rest. Two would remain in hospital while the rest ran the 20 km trip in either direction, coming after lunch till evening. As other visitors would not get to see MP in ICCU, we dissuaded people from making a trip in these early days. There was plenty of opportunity for healthy discussion – spirits were lifting by the hour.
Even in these early hours after the op, the dedication and commitment of all the staff became evident. Although first impressions can mislead, there was something different about the provision of aftercare at Mahagujarat. It compared well with much more renowned names for such surgery around the world. During the day, I took the opportunity to familiarize myself with Nadiad. Larger than Mahemdabad but smaller than Anand to the south, Nadiad is famed for socio-religious, humanitarian services, also enjoying a reputation as a centre for learning and education. Among others, leading citizens include Sardar Patel, key figure in India's independence movement from the British in the last century. Patel became India's first Deputy Prime Minister.
A stroll from the hospital to the station and back at a busy period in the afternoon provided a glimpse of the hubbub and throbbing that is so typical of many Indian towns and cities. Horns blaring, Rikshas buzzing, cars, bikes and buses fuming, peddlers peddling, interspersed with carts in all shapes and sizes and ridden by all types of animals (bullocks, camels, men) transporting goods, folk working on the roads, loaders and packers at retail outlets, all going about their busy affairs and lives. There were many street markets that I walked past, with venders and buyers in dense negotiations on the best price for each. I was keeping a lookout for any camera shops (a digital camera was still an un-ticked item) to no avail. Most of the snaps on the 35mm during that stroll are on the right. Later, I walked the other way and regretted not taking the camera. A pair of beautifully dressed horses pulling a cart cantered amidst the traffic. I later realized they had just dropped a groom for his wedding which was taking place at one of the houses further. The wedding was announced by huge bangers exploding – so loud I initially thought they were bomb blasts! It was only when I drew closer to the house that the cause became clearer. A wedding celebration is among many events in India that can be seen at street level and really worth seeing at first hand. They are colorful, elaborate and very noisy affairs.
Tulips Woodlands near the hospital became our preferred eating stop during the stay in hospital. Serving mainly south Indian fare (idlis, dosas, utthapam, etc), it is among Nadiad's best eating houses. MP's recovery was remarkable. Late in the evening as were all chatting in the room, the ICCU ward called to say that MP was coming to the room. We were all confused, curious and elated at the same time. He arrived soon after and spent a few minutes talking and listening. The effect of a simple innocuous act like that on the human psyche is amazing. Spirits of all there (MP, rest of us, attendant who brought him) soared high. Three who left for M'Bad went with a much more enthusiastic frame of mind.
Day 18 – Looking ahead at Rajkot return
This morning as we went to hospital, I said I would step off at Nadiad station and get my tickets for Rajkot for tomorrow. Republic Day was approaching and I was keen not to leave getting tickets to the last minute. I had checked method (express coach services were not high on the list of preferred modes); train would work and I had checked availability and best times online. It was simply a case of getting to the reservations centre and buying my ticket. As I entered the ticket hall, I remembered that form in Gujarati. I had forgotten a pen so it was a case of borrowing a pen and asking the donor to also help with the form. I did not understand her translation of a few fields so some of my answers on the form were in the wrong place. When I took the form to the clerk, I explained my lack of written Gujarati skills so hoped he would rectify any incorrect answers. He simply turned the form and pointed to the other side. It was in English! 307 rupees for an AC chair class seat concluded the transaction. I would be leaving from Nadiad tomorrow afternoon.
Walking back to the hospital provided an opportunity to see if I could develop my 35mm roll and get a CD for the results before tomorrow. The former was no problem; the latter could only be done in A'Bad or Anand. I would have to wait till Rajkot for that. Arriving in the room, I got updates on MP. His recovery continued; his mobility was improving all the time and he had already spent more time in the room that morning. It was a relaxing day in the hospital. I had packed The Alchemist and spent most of the time finishing the book. Maktub.
Day 19 – Back to Rajkot on Jamnagar Intercity
My train was at 4:30pm. That offered plenty of time for the Riksha trip from M'Bad to Nadiad, seek blessings from MP for my travels, have lunch and savor the last few hours with the folks – I was exactly a week away from the next part of my adventure. Who knows when next we would meet? It so happened to be the wedding anniversary for HP and Y today. A few weeks ago, they had planned to do something different for their anniversary this year. Little did they know then how different it would be. Destiny?
Soon it was time to depart and we bid a farewell mixed with some sadness, hope, anticipation and excitement. We all knew we were embarking on a new voyage of discovery that would touch the lives and dreams of every one of us, going ahead.
The journey back to Rajkot was peaceful. If one ignored the traveler 3 rows behind, with incessant conversations on his Nokia, updating the other party on his exact whereabouts and what he was doing on the train. Why do some people never personalize their ringtone? The original Nokia tune drives me nuts, especially when it is loud and obtrusive. PJ will be smiling when he reads this line. Got into the flat at Rajkot to an eager Ba and Harry, waiting to hear the latest updates on MP's status. "Chai no kup ane tantya unccha" That translates to "Cuppa tea and bedtime" in most households, although there are some local derivatives:-)