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When Post Offices Don’t Have Stamps…

It is always with great pomp and ceremony that our leaders launch new stamps to commemorate special historical events and to honor individuals for making significant contributions to the world as we know it.

Here is one such link.

https://m.timesofindia.com/city/patna/prakash-parv-postal-dept-launches-stamp-postcard/articleshow/62213255.cms

But things at the ground level are quite different. Our world as we know it is longer the same. The post offices, in particular, in Delhi at least, no longer sell stamps! Can you believe that? What’s the use of releasing all those new stamps, if they’re not going to be sold, one might ask?

I discovered this fact recently while trying to send my tax returns statement to the income tax office in Bangalore through the local post office.

The income tax office always insists that they will accept only those forms that arrive through ordinary or speed post.

I went to 3 post offices that day and all of them had the same answer, “Sorry. No stamps available, but you can send through speed post.” I had neither the time nor the patience to try my luck at the 4th one, so I opted for speed post. I had to pay around Rs.50 for it, which was 10 times the cost of sending a letter through ordinary post. Just one Rs.5 stamp would have sufficed!

I enquired about this at the 3rd post office. The clerk at the speed post counter was courteous enough to answer my queries. Given below is the conversation we had.

“Why have stamps suddenly gone out of stock?”

“The person who gave them to us took them back.”

“Who? Prime Minister Modi?”

“Yes.”

“But what will he get out of it? Maybe you guys are simply trying to push your speed post business, since not too many stamps are sold anyway these days because of so many other faster options available.”

“No, that’s not true. Modiji is trying to bring in transparency in financial transactions in government departments. To avoid repetition of scams like the latest one of Nirav Modi, he has ordered that all stamps be taken back and re-issued.”

Well, that made sense and I had nothing left to say.

With a wry smile, I picked up my things and came out, feeling very helpless….

It was like somebody offering bananas to monkeys and beating up the poor, hapless owners of those vanished bananas…

Innovations In Cooking

If you’re a North Indian, you must have, at some time of your life, eaten Besan-ka-chilla-with-green-chutney combination. For those of you who are not aware, besan chilla is a kind of a pancake prepared from a batter of besan, finely chopped onions, and green chillies.

I recently experimented with making the chilla-chutney combination with a slight variation of ingredients and the results were absolutely awesome!

For the chilla, I used grated cauliflower, ginger, green amla, green coriander, onions, and green chillies.

For the green chutney, I used green coriander, one tomato, grapes (both green and black), green pepper, and some gur.

Here are the step-by-step pics…

For the green sweet-sour chutney, grind these ingredients in a mixie.

1. Fruits and veggies

2. Add gur inside the mixie according to taste.

For the chillas:

1. Mix the ingredients (grated cauliflower, ginger, green amla, green coriander, onions, and green chillies) with salt, ajwain, asafetida, and other spices of your choice in a vessel.

2. Spread 2 teaspoons of oil on the pan and after a minute, pour 4 tablespoons of the above mixture on it. When the bottom side becomes brown, flip it over and wait till this also becomes brown.

Here is a useful tip. If you dip a piece of tissue paper in some oil-water mixture and rub this on the pan before cooking the chilla, you will have no problems with producing perfectly round and crisp chillas. When non-stick pans become old, they lose some of their non-stick quality and cause a lot of frustration when things don’t turn out as expected…

3. After both sides turn brown, remove the chilla from the pan and place it on a plate. Serve it with green chutney or any other dip of your choice.

HaPpy Cooking!

All’s Well That Ends Well

It was in January 2018 that I gathered sufficient courage to see a doctor for removal of my 40-year-old multiple sebaceous cysts on my scalp. As you can see in the pic above, they were now swelling and could no longer be ignored, so it was now or never.

The doctor exclaimed when he saw them and asked why I hadn’t come to him earlier. His advice was that although they needed to be removed at the earliest, they couldn’t be excised at one go as healing might be an issue. This implied that I had to go for a series of bloody excisions with very short intervals, each one to be done after the previous one healed completely. Each surgery involved partial removal of hair around the cyst.

This was, in fact, the main reason why I had been postponing this matter. If you have ever worked in the Indian private sector where jobs are never secure, you would know what I mean. Sometimes you get fired because of extremely flimsy reasons without getting any chance to explain.

Apart from my fear of losing my job, I had other apprehensions too. Having grown up as a Sikh, frequent removal of hair was not something I felt very comfortable about.

These surgeries could not be covered under insurance at a private hospital as they did not require overnight stay.

I was terrified initially, to be honest, because of the huge amount of uncertainty involved. I had never gone through anything like this before.

I chose DDU Hospital, Hari Nagar, for these surgeries, as it is near my home and it is a government hospital where all services are free. It seemed to be the only suitable option for us.

One big problem with a private hospital in India is that they look at you more as a goose that lays golden eggs and less as a human being in distress, requiring special care. You often end up with a huge bill with unforeseen hidden expenses. It is rather ironical that in India, even after paying more at a private hospital, there is no guarantee that you will get better medical attention. There is always a risk of things getting botched up.

In any case, in regards to surgeries, even the minor ones, my personal opinion based on years of experience as a Medical Rep. is that it is better to get them done in either government or charitable hospitals. Their doctors don’t have any vested interests and the diagnostic tests they prescribe are those that are absolutely necessary.

I don’t mean to say that there is no negligence at government hospitals and no one is greedy, but at least, people are accountable for their actions and you don’t have to sell off your property to get good quality treatment for your loved ones.

And these days, even the washrooms in government hospitals including DDU have undergone remarkable improvement. The flushes work and the sinks too look cleaner, generally speaking. This pic below is from inside a ladies washroom in the OPD section of DDU. If you have the older picture of the same loo in your mind from about 5 years ago, you probably won’t believe this!

After completion of the sugar test and FNAC and receipt of their reports, which took about a week, I was asked to report at the minor OT for the first procedure on 6 February 2018.

On the D-date, 6 February 2018, I was outwardly calm, but I was trembling inside and my throat felt dry while the doctors worked on my head.

The surgery was done under local anesthesia and was over in a jiffy, to my pleasant surprise! I walked out with 2 cysts less; yes, two, not just one, as they were very close to each other. See my pic below…a big weight off my head, literally!

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I had overheard a few fellow patients saying that these days, unlike previous years, the medicines that DDU doctors prescribe are available for free inside the hospital. But you need to stand in long queues. I visited the medicines counter myself and found that this was true indeed. (See the pic below).

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So I chose the more convenient option of purchasing the antibiotics and painkillers from the government’s subsidized medicines store right outside the OPD. The queue was not very long.

There were several banners right above the shop, each one displaying a beaming picture of Prime Minister Modi with his characteristic smile that we common people always associate with his elusive promise of ‘acche din’ meaning ‘happy days’ ahead. They seemed to be competing with smiling Kejriwals all over the place, promoting free medicines, diagnostic tests, and services for all….

A strip of Unomox (antibiotic medicine) normally costs around Rs.250 at an ordinary drug store, but I got the same medicine under a generic name from this place for just Rs.99!

See these pics below.

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I found this rather puzzling. Surely, with a city bursting at its seams with huge manpower looking for government jobs, the government can always hire more people and increase the nunber of counters for dispensing of free drugs, can’t they?

My 21-year-daughter had this to say. “Mom, if they remove the queues at free medicines counters, no one will buy those medicines, not even those who can afford them. The government needn’t support those who are already better off.” I agreed with her on this.

Well, by the grace of God and my family’s loving care, which included change of bandages every night, my wounds healed fast.

Three weeks later, I returned for treatment of the next cyst…I had already lost my job by then, which was what I had always dreaded. But I had another one in hand, so I was more relaxed this time. The road ahead appeared to be pretty familiar now. I hope to be cyst-free by the end of 2018…

I subsequently got my long-overdue cancer screening tests also done through this hospital through the Delhi Government’s DAK (Delhi Aarogya Kosh) scheme. That’s the scheme that the Kejriwal posters refer to regarding free medicines, tests, etc. All of my tests were done free. One of them, the mammogram, was done at a diagnostic center near my home as it could not be done inside the hospital.

Recently, there was a media report about an impoverished Bollywood actress’s appeal to the famous actor Salman Khan for financial help as she was ill with tuberculosis and didn’t have money for even a cup of tea!

Link: http://www.india.com/showbiz/salman-khans-ailing-veergati-co-star-pooja-dadwal-finally-receives-help-from-ravi-kishan-2957186/

I wonder if a well-wisher ever suggested to her to quietly check into a government hospital instead of demeaning herself the way she did. There is nothing wrong, mind you, in asking for help, but you should do that only when all other options have run out.

Our governments, both state and central, implement a lot of schemes to ensure that everyone has a decent, dignified life without having to beg anyone. But because of lack of awareness at the ground level, benefits of these schemes don’t always reach everyone that they are intended for.

Well, as Shakespeare wrote, “All’s well that ends well…”

A Prayer In Vain

With a bent head,

And a humble soul,

I pray to thee,

Oh, God Almighty,

Please let me be,

If only for a little while more,

Stop me

From joining the dead leaves,

The relentless,

Merciless

Cycle of life and death…

Copyright: Jasbir Chatterjee

Poet Of The Day @ Poemhunter.com

Just take a look below.

I am a Poet of The Day Today on Poemhunter.com with my poem ‘Stars In My Eyes!’

I feel absolutely thrilled!! ☺️☺️☺️☺️

Thanks PH!

Last year too, on the same day, 16th March, the same poem earned me the same place under the sun…Quite a strange coincidence, I must say, and this was pointed out to me by one of my poet friends Kim on poem hunter.com!

A View Through The Iron Bars

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Iron bars don’t always have nasty things behind them. Take this pic for example. It is of a Semal tree that has its roots inside the Uttam Nagar police Station and stretches its long, slender branches all over the place. Isn’t it beautiful?

Well, it is Spring time now and Uttam Nagar East Metro Station has this flower-laden tree as its latest attraction.

Every year, this Semal tree celebrates the onset of spring by bedecking itself with huge bright red flowers and bedazzles everyone who cares to look at it for a while…

A sight of this peeping tree during spring fills me with great joy every morning as I climb upwards on the escalator towards the platform on my way to work. In about 2 months, hot, blazing summer would take over and these gorgeous flowers would disappear. Green, commonplace leaves would quietly take their place and become the new tenants of this tree…just like the constantly changing face of our city Delhi…