18 September 2022

Those are very tough words to hear…

Mr. G (name withheld for privacy – although he insists that I put his full name here) is one of my new patients. He has sharp cognitive power. But multiple cerebral infarctions has taken away his ability to speak properly. Which is an unspeakable situation (sorry for the pun). He can hear, he can process and he has the answer – but he cannot get it out of him.

Every trip, I have to be as patient as I can be and yet, more often than not, it is not enough. I hope against hopes that I can catch one or two words and deduce the rest of it. Most of the time I make it work.

Thru his lisp and mumbles, I have put his life story together. From his birth year to early divorce and no kids to the three countries he has visited, I think I have a fairly working knowledge of him. I know this much – he has no family to talk of and nobody has visited him ever for a long long time.

Today was another great day with him. He is most beautiful when he gives his toothless laugh.

I was showing him my dog pictures (he had two himself when he was younger) when I told him that I would like to have a picture of him. “Let’s do it now!”, he said.

I was not prepared for that. I was hoping he would be sitting up and I will be sitting next to him when we take the picture. I am terrible at selfies as you can see in this picture.

But what was really difficult to hear was he asking me after taking the picture… “Are you going to leave now?” Those are the toughest words to hear during a visit.

I lied to him “No’. Although my time was up and I did have to go somewhere else.

It seems he felt reassured by that. After 15 minutes, I finally told him – “I have to go now but I will be back next Sunday”.

“At 2 PM, right?”

“You remember?”

“Of course!”

Funny. He did remember that last time I had told him I will come on Sundays at 2. He saw me and assumed it was 2 PM. Turned out I had made a morning visit at 10 AM.

Can you imagine – being old, still having cognitive power but little ability to move around or give expression to your thoughts? How frustrating can that be? One thing I have realized… at that age, you want company, you want to talk to somebody… but most people are too busy..

Reminds me the same question my dad used to have after my quarterly visits… “you are coming back in 3 months right?”

Old age is a tough thing. Not being around people who can give you company is a terrible thing.

I wish that every such person get the company they desire…

17 September 2022

Saturday afternoon solo ride

Tried out a new coffee house today in Woodstock. My previous favorite – Copper Coin – is temporarily closed for some reason. Found a new one – Black Rifle Coffee Company. If they served tea – I know the exact tea they should be serving … Gunpowder!!

Nice set up and very friendly staff.

17 September 2022

My mom would have been proud of me

Three months after moving to our new house, for the first time we went to the Alpharetta downtown farmers’ market. It actually happens every Saturday but we usually are on the lake on Saturday mornings.

Sharmila was excited beyond belief seeing all the fresh vegetables. Reminded me of the time when I was used to go to the market to buy vegetables. I was one bicycle short today. And one dog too many!

Found উচ্ছে (“uchhe“) and শাঁকালু “(shnakalu)” (bitter melon and jicama)!! Bought some fresh tomatoes, bell pepper, eggplant and okra too!

Like I said, my mom would have been very proud of me. My dad, I am sure, would have reserved his judgment till he found out how much they cost. “koto daaam nilo?”

15 September 2022

My first mirrorless camera

After 11 years of staying with the DSLR technology (Nikon D-7000), finally made the switch to the mirrorless cameras. Had been meaning to make the switch for some time but never quite got around to doing it. Nikita taking my camera to her college (she is taking a Photography course) and the fact that there is a trip coming up for Sharmila and me was the perfect ruse I needed.

Thank you Samaresh for answering my questions. Stuck with the Nikon (Z6ii) brand (not because I plan to use my old lenses but that I am familiar with the controls). Could not get something to match my 18-300mm lens. Settled for 24-200mm. The camera is incredibly lighter than the DSLR I had.

I wish they made a version without the video capability. I never take any video with a camera (use the phone instead) and could have done with even lesser weight and lesser complications in the electronics.

I hope to have as much fun with this as I had with the DSLR.

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15 September 2022

If you thought my intersections points were over for this trip, you would be wrong!

Originally, I was scheduled to be home tomorrow morning. But my dinner meeting today was canceled. So, I switched to an evening flight back home. Like the meeting with Amy yesterday, this change too was blessed by fate with an undeniable upside.

The Skyclub was crowded. But I had a Zoom call to take. So, I settled in a nook away from the main area of the club and got on to the video call. Mid way thru the call, i heard my name being called out. Here too, my ear problem came in handy. Since the right ear is completely swollen (we still do not know why), I had my AirPods on only in my left ear. Which is why I could hear my name being called out.

I looked up and saw this lady smiling at me. Clearly she was on a call too on her phone but she was obviously addressing me. And in one of those rare occasions, my facial recognition algorithm failed me. Fortunately, she realized that and offered “Monica”. Aah! Ms. Moore!! Immediately, memories flashed back from that day – Gosh, some 10-12 years back? – when I was introduced to her on a stage under spotlights. We were panelists in a forum discussion together.

I asked my Zoom call folks to hold on and quickly chatted with her. Found out that she is on my flight too and that both our calls were ending at half past. And when the calls did end, I met up with her and caught up on the time since we had met.

“Do you remember where that panel discussion was?”, I asked.
“I do not”.
“Me neither”
“It was called Money 2020”
“Wow! You certainly have a better memory than i do’

After that panel discussion that day, I had befriended her on Facebook and Linkedin. Of course, the birthday calls started. But also I used to get updates on her from my close friend Sanjib (Monica was his customer and friend) and Sreerupa.

It was interesting to find out her background in Venezuela and her husband’s in UK. But the most touching event she narrated to me was how both she and her son were told on the same day early last year that they had cancer (of course, different cancers). The best part of it is that they are both in remission now.

I loved the way she put it – “Listen, Rajib, if I had been told that I will have cancer and that my child will have cancer too, the one thing I would have asked is that I go thru it together with him”.

Panelist, successful executive aside, a mother is always a mother. Supreme human being. And Monica is one of a kind!!

14 September 2022

I am so glad I did not pay $1500 for a hotel night

Something was up in Chicago this week. I had meetings in downtown on Tuesday and Wednesday morning and then meetings in office west of the airport thru Thursday night. Every hotel in downtown was $800+ per night. The hotel next to my office – which I normally pay between $120-$160 per night was listed for $1500 for Tuesday night! And there was not a single rental car available with any company in any location.

I had finally settled for a hotel near the airport for Tuesday night. It was double the normal rate but at least it was under $400. This also meant, I had to use the train to go from meeting to meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But life, I guess, has a way of giving back. If not for all this inconveniences, I would not have met an old friend of mine.

I had finished my breakfast with Tyler in the city and had come back to the hotel to pack up and check out. I was going to an Urgent Care for an ear related issue that has gone out of control. I had hailed an Uber and then instead of standing outside, waited inside the doors. (Was trying not to expose the ears to the cold outside).

As I was peeking thru the doors to see if my ride had arrived, I noticed somebody walking down the corridor of the hotel. She looked at me and then looked away. I looked at her and wondered if it was who I thought it was. She looked at me a second time but still did not recognize me. She probably had realized that I had been looking at her all this time that she was walking by.

She looked at me the third time. This time, I took a chance. “Amy?” I asked. She must have recognized my voice or face by then. “Rajib Roy?”

Turns out Amy and I used to work together some 17 years back in a Boston based company. I had left that job by 2006. Amy had moved away to New York. Many moons later, in December 2013, I did meet her in New York and we put in a run together in Central Park.

She was in the hotel for an event for that day! What is the chance of that?

Unfortunately, my ride had arrived and I had to leave. But not before we promised to make time to meet in the evening. We both had meetings scheduled till late. I was done only around 8:15PM. But Amy was kind enough to come over to my hotel to meet me. Deval from my current company was also there and we had a great time together. Most of it was about the old times together but some of it was about what Sharmila refers to as “crop circles”.

I will let you ask her what they are all about!

13 September 2022

The perks of working in my industry

I have worked in industries ranging from banks to supply chains to identity fraud solutions to geospatial. But the current one – education – is probably the most mission oriented. I can see every day how we make a difference to kids.

And that gives rise to some interesting intersection points on the road. Take today for example. I had flown into Chicago, taken the train to downtown and started individual meetings. Coffee with Demetre, drinks with Nurzhan and then dinner with Lela.

Lela was already at the dinner table when I showed up a bit late. For all that patience she had shown, the first thing I did was made her get up from the table and move to the bar area. For some reason, when it comes to drinks or dinner, I prefer the high chairs.

I am so glad I did it though. We had barely settled down when one of the restaurant employees – a young lady – came up to us excitedly and looking at Lela, exclaimed “Miss Day?” Lela immediately recognized her.

As a background, Lela was with TFA (Teach For America) before she joined us. TFA teachers tend to work with inner city schools frequently in the poorest and most violent parts of the city offering lessons to kids who often tend to be troubled . Lela worked in such a school in Chicago before joining us. She was very clear that she was not going to take me there after sunset – it gets so unsafe.

Well, as it turns out, the young lady – Keisha – went to the same school. In fact, her younger sister was in Lela’s class. They recognized each other immediately.

I was totally intrigued by their conversations. Keisha was talking about her troubled childhood.

“How old are you?”, I asked her
“Oh! I have a daughter one year elder to you. I heard your conversation. Were you really troubled?”
“Oh! yes. I used to throw books at my teachers!”
“How about now?”, I teased her
“Well, I have settled down now. It is a little late now but now I understand how teachers like Miss Day made all the difference to kids like me.”

Keisha told me part of her life story. Puerto Rican by descent, she grew up like many other inner city kids with access to very little. She had her first baby when she was 19 and second one when she was 21. But she has a steady income now from the restaurant and is rebuilding her life.

To my usual “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?”, she felt she needed a little more time to think that thru.

She thanked Lela again and left us to our dinner. I could not help wonder what kind of environment Lela and other TFA teachers have to teach in. And my respect for them redoubled for doing what they do. And making a real difference in the world. To the young kids that need it the most.