October 07, 2017

The Girl with the Boy with the Tattoo

So here I am, nicely cruising along life. Once I got into my late twenties I got over being all emotional and it was largely okay, a solid C+ for a few years. There was happy and simple single life, which largely suited me but once I became a surgeon in March, shit got real. I got a boyfriend and everything. He's liberal and white as hell. He also has a huge ass tattoo of some disgusting face on his left calf. Let me say, I admire his calf. It's muscular and fine as hell.

His tattoo is straight from hell. It's this evil face with gleaming eyes and it's tongue sticking and with barved edges on the tongue. It's ugly and malevolent and I hate the hell out of it. If I could condemn it to leave his body, I would. It's not one of the Hindu gods either, I'm 98% sure. Okay, Hindus, take one for the minority here. Ummm, what exactly is it? Maybe if it put its tongue back for a second. He doesn't see the problem, this blind as a bat-from-hell dude.

So I cajole and try compromise: You can keep the upper half with the black bird on it, I LOVE that sooooooo much.
I try blackmail: Should I have a hella real discussion with your mom about your core values?
I drop the L bomb: I love you but I hate that tattoo's lower part.
It doesn't matter. As far as he his concerned, his body, his rules, his laws.

I explain that as a surgeon, there are certain things that are difficult for me to explain away. Imagine, we are at a barbecue/pool party/beach party at some polite senior professors (we call them professors forever, even when they stop teaching us because well, they ARE professors). He is all tripping along on life and in his cute cargo shorts and suddenly the three year old kid of the hosting professor screams and points at my boyfriend's leg, screaming, screaming and crying that he sees a monster coming out of it.
... You do get my point? Or any kid, for that matter. No kid must ever be subject to it especially in public spaces. Only in hell.

He doesn't get it. Nobody in his family has (visible and outrageous) tattoos and I'm sure his mom hates the absolute hell out of it. My parents will hate him forever and so he was all covered up like a little bunny on their very few, tense past encounters on my hella insistence. I'm sure his stepdad hates the face even though he's hella liberal because liberal doesn't mean having to not hate evil faces with ugly Hade-sprung eyes on legs exposed to the view of that absolutely shocked grandma just now.

So here I am, the girl with the boy with the tattoo.

March 30, 2015


(I am sentimental about old lovers, and I found this in a random folder, written about two years ago.)

How do I love thee, now that you are married to another, someone prettier, likely better, sweeter and just more "suitable" than me?
I do not know.

I pictured the wedding, blurred enough to stop me from getting blurry and I could see you, in a slick tux, smirking with the "I got her, I won!" look I have seen in your eyes before, back when it was for me, back Then.

Why didn't you tell me about her?

Did you tell her about me?

No, no, I mean, forget I asked. That ride was just so complicated and messed-up and unstable, but this new one, well, it's for life, for the distance. Forever. You and Her, her, her. Think of the sheer eternity of it in this entire universe and everything. Forever, you are married to her. You can get divorced, sweetie (remember when I thought that it was too generic a word when you called me that), but you can never unmarry. Unmarry, underlined in unforgiving curly red spellcheck lines. Well, unmarry, whatever fortune it may bring, is not a word, it is imaginary.

You have the much-made-of photo albums that are literally art, and the free Facebook adulation, of which my best friends have pledged their sanity they will never talk about. We have all learned to pretend pretty well that when shit hits the fan, it was probably just milk chocolate.

I think of the trip to start a new life in another country. I heard you left. I mean, I heard you went further away.

I almost feel the pressure of your hands holding each other as the plane takes off to this awesome big capital city where you have this great job that is relaxed, sometimes challenging but also very paid, so it's all great! I heard that you both live in style, even in, you handsome dog, modest luxury!

You are alive and I am too, in different beds but mine is empty and there is a frog in my toilet bowl in my little room in this little hospital where they pay me exactly one-tenth of what you make, far from the cities and where only 2G works. Remember 2G, where trying to browse the Internet is like picking up a heavy dictionary with a pencil?
And the electricity goes off, sometimes for eight hours a day, and I just lay here on this tiny cot, naked and sweating and quiet.

There is ash on the floor, about a whole month's worth, and I keep buying underwear in town so I don't have to handwash the growing mound in the corner of my eye, bundled at a precautious angle on a broken chair.

No, I do not love you but I am tired now, and like after a chronic, debilitating illness, I will never be who I was exactly before; the sassy, wide-eyed fool who told you Enchanted was her favorite movie because "it contains so much real life". I'll be a little softer, sadly tamer and uncomfortably, shrewder.

My love may never again be a geyser of hormonal fog but I think maybe in time, I could manage a little, steady stream.

November 01, 2014

One-Act Play

I always thought a one night stand was cramming an entire relationship into a single night. You know, it starts with you hesitant to share your most intimate and private parts with a stranger; but you do it anyway and it ends, inevitably with him leaving. It is a sort of challenge I think, ultimately designed to save time.

Your life story has to be packaged into a summary, the important stories on your timeline arranged in boldfaced color-coded seconds and minutes. You recite the script with appropriate pauses in this one-act play with a very interactive audience. Time becomes absolute here, encased within and defined by set hours. Other bodily functions must be turned off or running at bare minimum. The only rule is that all things begin and all things end, this with more surety than most.

As time begins to run out, and after a (long or short) performance, you know he cannot linger around. He will be tired too. Exhausted from all the pretending and defenses and bruises from the oldest game. Eager for his warm bed that has no "feelings" or "expectations", just open arms and a cold, dead heart.

August 21, 2014



Being kind of tech-savvy and bored, I'm sharing some knowledge on something I have used a LOT of bandwidth and install-uninstall energy. These apps are all free (yes I'm broke as always) and they are indispensable once you start using them properly. I have not described them in too much detail but this is so you can get a feel for them yourself (also, nobody gave me money to promote any app, as if!). I use a Nexus 5, but these apps are good for any Android smartphone. They all can be downloaded from the Google Play Store, you don't need a rooted phone and it's very straightforward.

1. MULTICON for the home screen
Allows you to pack more icons on your home screen. I like having just ONE home screen. If I wanted to swipe, I would ask. Once you install the app, open it and it will give you all the instructions you need. Not only does it increase the number of icons, it also gives you additional widgety options of WIFI on/off, auto sync on/off etc. Hence you don't need to install extra apps for those.  I can't do without this one, and I'm surprised this is not in the top free apps in the Google Play store.

2. GOOGLE KEEP for synced notes
I have used Evernote for a long time and while it is very useful, you can't open your stuff (especially pics) without an active network connection. All the actual goodies are premium and added to the indignity of not having my ridiculous clippings at hand (you can't see pictures when you are offline if you have a free account!), you have to pay MONTHLY! Living in India this is a BIG problem so I switched to Keep. It's a simple, well-designed app without  any bloating features. It has lists, plus time and location based  reminders. You need auto-sync to be on and Play Store to not be disabled for this to work properly. Google Drive is another app I recommend instead of Dropbox and other similar apps because Google already knows your secrets, why spread them around to different companies? (Google knows. Even if you still think it doesn't. What are you really scared of anyway? It knows EVERYTHING.)

3. CCLEANER eraser for cleaning your phone
This has been on every PC ever and now as an Android app it lives up to its reputation. No ads, cleans junk files (important) and unlike the Clean Master app, there is no added bloatware (yes, I'm paranoid about "space" considering I have a 16 GB Nexus 5). Be careful to uncheck "Downloads" under cleaning options and/or APK files you may be saving.

4. Textra or ChompSMS (same company) for texting through carrier
Most people I know have Whatsapp on their phone and use it like a regular texting app. However, (again because I live in India, in a crappy town with crappy internet) sometimes you just need to text. The stock texting app on the Nexus 5 is Google Hangouts and it is RIDICULOUSLY STUPID. I am a Google fan (can't beat 'em, buddy) but Hangouts and texting do not mix and never will, I think. So I use Textra. When I say this is the best, you can trust me because I have installed and uninstalled ALL of them. I used to use Handcent, which is pretty darned good but it is too, you guessed it,  bloated. chompSMS and Textra I especially love for this reason, that you can just "Add" a contact to your text and send, and people who text frequently will agree with me how vital this is. You can also customize every aspect of the app in chompSMS so your texts look really good (to you). They have ads but not the closing kind. (and it is worth buying the PRO version to just support them). Textra is more lightweight and less customizable but it has hot pink and no ads, so it's all good.

5. NAKED BROWSER for internet browsing
It's a well thought out browser. It has built in ad-block. It is neat, it is cool and it is FAST. It has easy gestures for tabs as well. It beats Chrome, Firefox and Opera hands-down and is definitely worth a download (and getting PRO, again just to support the developer only). P.S

6. ES FILE EXPLORER for all your file managing needs
Simply the best. You know this one. You can download and play videos. Unzips even .tgz files. I'm loving it. I prefer the PRO version by miles. Look for the hacked .apk files online somewhere.

7. CLOUDMAGIC for email
It is beautiful and free (two words that are like multiple orgasms to the poor) and frequently updated. Allows multiple accounts, uses little effort, and crucially, does not mess with your battery. Awesome stuff. There are similar apps on the market but I like this one. I used K-9 Mail for a long time as well.

8. JANGO INTERNET RADIO for Internet Radio
It promises one ad per day. It delivers. It is a pleasure for people with messed-up data connections. And unlike the million apps and sites (ahem, Hulu, Pandora, Spotify, parts of Youtube, etc) that discriminate based on country (legal racism), this one doesn't. Thank you Jango.
Note: Grooveshark is pretty awesome too, but you knew that.

9. MUSIXMATCH music player for playing music
I like stock apps probably way more than the average person, because I honestly believe they are more in sync with the OS and will ultimately in the long run, just work out better. However the stock Google music player is kinda terrible. Okay, you can share music with up to 10 devices but there are too many apps to share stuff, so being this lousy is not justifiable. No automatic song-adding to the library. No lyrics. It also has no options to edit MP3 tags and boy, am I ANAL about MP3 tags. Hence, MusicMatch. The app emphasizes the lyrics, and while that is a huge selling (or giving) point, it also has an MP3 tags and album art editor that works almost flawlessly. The lyrics are added the first time something is played, so they are accessible offline as well. It does the lockscreen player thing neatly, and the PRO features aren't really necessary.

10. FLUD torrent client for downloading torrents
This gem is the best little torrent client right now. Easy, small install with just enough features. There is no speed limiter and runs much smoother than the other free clients. Used to be buggy but not so much any more. The PRO version removes the ads, but they don't bother you at all.

11. P TRACKER for periods
This is for the ladies and the men who like to track their PMS. It is simple, you can add your suspiciously bipolar mood swings, and you don't really need the PRO features. I like this one better than the others only because it is cute and has the nicest flower icon. (Also because I'm a doctor I would like to say that my favorite medicine for PMS and accompanying uterine pain is Naproxen Sodium, just a heads up)

12. VLC player for playing videos
Has a few bugs occcasionally, but pretty awesome much like the PC version. Plays all formats. (I hate codec packs like I hate really rich people.)

13. QUICKPIC for gallery
Annnd the best for last. Disable whatever crap gallery your phone came with and install this. The display is sweet, customizable, and you can exclude folders. PLAYS GIF! Can't even deal without this app. Big kiss for the developer.

Other apps I use that may not be essential but are very, very useful to me:
For reading all kinds of ebook formats including PDF AND epub/mobi: MOON READER
Calorie counter: MYFITNESSPAL (I would literally prescribe this if I could. I lost 20 pounds with it, and didn't even exercise ha, ha.)
Twitter: TWITTER official app
Bible: ESV Bible by Crossway

P.S I will update this as and when I find better apps (because nothing is permanent but change).

February 06, 2010

The Sacrifice

She folds her hands together in greeting. "Doctorji, namaste." There really is no fear. How can there be fear where there is such profound ignorance? I rub my eyes. It's two at night, I haven't slept for three, and I just want to finish this and go. But she speaks Hindi, and my knowledge of our national language is far from fluent. I rely on hand gestures. "Your breast", I say and point crudely. "It's cancer. We are taking it off. No nipple, no areola. Nothing but a long scar will be left after the surgery". She nods, but I don't think she actually gets it. They usuallly don't. She smiles, without too much comprehension. "Nothing"? "No", I reply, more impatiently than I mean to sound. "Nothing. It will be flat. You will have decreased sensation over there." She smiles a little more and shrugs. Okay. I fling the consent form in her face. "Sign here." "I don't know how to write Doctorji". I curse her in my head as I have to make one more trip down the hall to get the ink necessary for her to make a thumb impression on the paper. I pull it from her almost before she's done and shove it into her chart. The fatigue is numbing. "Surgery is tomorrow. I don't know when. There are lots of surgeries tomorrow. Don't worry, it's all good."

I go to my room and collapse on my unmade bed, fully clothed. It is a clear night. I can faintly hear the sounds of people wailing outside the Emergency department. Someone probably got run over. Or hung themselves. Or just got old and died. Or is in the process of dying as I lie here. I don't know. I just don't know anything anymore.

The next day she is wheeled in first. She eagerly looks for me among the gowned cutters. I give her a cool wave. The anesthetist puts a mask on her face and she is conscious no more. We paint with povidone iodine and drape her in sterile sheets, till only her left breast is left exposed, glistening under the wet brown solution.
Wannabe gods of human body parts
Her breast we bring, a sacred offering
To the hallowed altar, the operating theater

The senior surgeon marks the breast precisely so that the incision and final sutures are as neat as possible. He draws two curved lines that meet around her areola. It's called a skin ellipse. The whole thing looks like an eye. It really does. Her nipple is like a pupil, the areola like her cornea, and the lines outline the whites. The eye of the breast. It's a vivid, startling picture. Starting, he says to the anesthetist, and makes a unwavering cut on one of the lines. Blood gushes out. The eye is crying. The eye is crying blood. We wipe it with sterile gauze and proceed. Please don't cry. Please don't cry, you're a grown woman. I hope no one can see the tears. I don't want to be labeled a sissy.

The breast is brought out a one big chunk, already cold and lifeless, put in a plastic bag and sent off to Pathology. We wake her up, transfer her to a trolley and send her back to the ward. On the fifth post-operative day, I'll have to take off the dressing. She'll see her new chest. I know what the scene will be like. I dread fifth post-op days more than anything else. It spoils every morning, it gives me heartburn, it makes me a mean, angry person.

It's the fifth day. I forget to brush my teeth. I don't have breakfast. I rehearse the conversation over and over. I think of how kind and understanding I will be today. But as I walk into the ward, numbness, routine and self-preservation take over. I trip in my hurry and almost land on top of her. "Maaji I'm sorry I'm sorry. Today we are removing the dressing. There is no breast. Okay?" She nods. "I have pain there", she says. I roll my eyes. "Yes, I know. There will be pain, it was a surgery, no? Okay, now do you want to see"? She hesitates. Come on, come on, I have more patients waiting. I have so much shit to do. Oh God, how can I be such a bitch? "Do you want to see Maaji", I ask again, hoping I sound more compassionate. She closes her eyes and nods. I pull the dressing off. See now. She looks. Then she closes her eyes again. Two tears trickle down slowly.

I'm in a fix. Do I immediately start to paint and dress it again or do I counsel or something? I hate counseling, man. It sucks. I have no idea what she feels like. In her place, I would go berserk and wail and bring a few psychiatrists down. But she's just lying there softly crying. I gently start to paint over the sutures. She is looking at my face. I refuse to meet her eyes. I paint with utmost concentration and put the gauze. Okay, see you in the evening, I say brightly, still looking only at her chest. I can't look at her. I won't. I'll start crying too and that is just too unprofessional.

I turn away before she can see my tears forming. Before I can leave though, I feel her grip on my elbow. "It's okay, don't feel so bad", she says slowly so I can understand her Hindi. "You cut my breast off to save my life. I know you are worried about me and how I feel. But I'll be fine. You have a very good heart Doctorji, I know you care. Thank you." The tears fell then, but I still did not look back at her. I squeeze her lingering arm and push it away with as much tenderness as I can afford. I run to the Doctor's room and howl and howl and howl till all the ward nurses come around in alarm. "I can't", I say. "I can't. It's too much." "It always is", says one of them. "It will always be like this from now on. You are not a student anymore." She holds me till I calm down. Then she leaves. She has a lot of work. So do I. There is blood to be taken and notes to be made and more consent forms and more dressing coming at me. Another day has just begun. I know I'm going to face it like I do with everything, with too much emotional involvement and self-loathing and extreme paranoia. Maybe I'll still get through this year with all the baggage. Maybe it'll make me a better doctor. Who knows?