Caring

Just a week ago today…

Kamala arrives for the night shift. The system here assumes that someone will stay with you all day to be there for all non-nursing care roles. Whatever that means!

I’ve been at the hospital all day and will return in the morning.

We’re being a bit posh with private room (good decision) which includes a bed for the ‘carer.’ As you can see below.

It reminds me of thirty years ago. I was the manager of services for Disabled people for a UK council: Kirklees. We had a group visiting Greece as one of those exchange visits (up the EU!). One of the disabled people needed to go into hospital and all our available professional carers were required to cover all the non nursing care. The other disabled people had to be supported by other members (non of them being care staff!) of the group. Two of us decided to hire a car and together with another member of the group who needed our support as he had significant care needs (help for bathing, getting in and out of bed, going to the toilet, getting around in his wheelchair.) It was all new to us but an incredibly valuable experience to see things from our colleagues and the disabled persons’ perspective).

Well we don’t have to do all those things For Manj but similarly we have to have someone at hospital all the time. The other similarity is I’ve swopped roles now with Manjula as I’ve had guests at the BnB while the boss was in the hospital.

It’s helped me realise how much Manjula does.

Now she’s back home there’s the whole new experience of being ‘the maid’…. do this, do that, bring the tv downstairs, reorganise the ground floor, cooking (any suggestions gratefully received), set up the machinery and mask her up (much more complex than the one in the pic) for the night then get up to get it off her! …. more and more 😉

Its quite a new valuable experience.

its 2 am in the morning

It’s 2 am in the morning and I’ve just given the dog, Lucy a final walk of the day. In the shadows I noticed a mother and daughter, covered with shawls, scarves and carrying bags.Waiting tentatively for me to pass. Once I and the dog had passed by they continued on their journey.

Who are they? what are they doing?

As they continue to walk through the area I can hear the wild street dogs kicking off.  I guess that they are poor people just travelling through. It must be quite scary and daunting with barking dogs at most corners and now I’m back at home I hear the whistles in the distance of the policeman on their beat.

What must their life be like?

It makes me stop and reflect for a moment and think about those poor people and what I assume are very different and difficult lives.

I might live in India but as you might expect, in a middle class lifestyle and quite detached from the experience of many very poor people.

I recognise how important it is for me to not lose sight of the difficulties that people face and somehow to connect.

I think we should try

IMG_1143I still facilitate ‘training’ workshops for corporate clients. An absolutely critical part of the sessions is to help people see things from the others’ point of view. This is, of course,  not just relevant to business.

Alexander McCall Smith puts it like this….

“People tried to understand, and many did, but not everybody could make the imaginative leap that landed one in a position of another person, in their shoes, in their very garments, looking out on the world with their eyes, feeling what went on inside their hearts; being made to cry by the things that made them want to cry. That was easy in theory, but hard in practice. They pretended to understand because they could not know – not really know – what it was like to be the other. That was because it was not them. That was why they could not think that. It had to be you.”

in his novel: Trains and Lovers.

If I understand some of his teachings correctly the Dalai Lama shows that this is what compassion is about. Seeing things from the others’ point of view.

I know its hard but in life, it’s important that we should try.

it takes all sorts

It’s a sad thing.

It was not an unusual type of telephone enquiry for a room at the BnB. An Indian woman travelling with her ten-year-old son required a room for the following day and for a total of four nights.

We did have a room so I offered to send details to her email address so she would know what to expect. It’s our usual practice. She explained that she would be unable to read the email [1] but she’d seen us on the net so knew what to expect. She followed up by sending a text with her name, she was a Doctor [2]

 

IMG_4409
the empty bedroom

 

Next morning I received a phone call from her with some urgency and concern. Could I recommend the best hospital in Mysore? She’d had an accident in her car and her son was injured. They were in a country area, quite a way from Mysore. She’d dealt with his immediate needs and where they now were didn’t have the facilities to treat her son’s condition. It sounded more serious than I first thought. They would need to transfer to Mysore. I recommended the Columbia Asia Hospital.

Beyond that, it was unclear, it seemed like she was now separated from her car, it was I assumed, badly damaged.

Of course, I was shocked and concerned and willing to help wherever I could.

A little later she telephoned again. She had contacted the Mysore hospital and was making arrangements for the transfer. It was all a little hurried and she was understandably panicky and not always making a lot of sense. [3] Someone had kindly covered the bill but she needed some help, to pay him back. Her money, cards etc were left in the car or taken by someone. Her mother was to call me from North India to explain things.

Her Mum was understandably concerned and was planning to get down here from Assam. That would be no easy task. She’d been unable to pay the guy who had helped out by paying the bills, could I help?

There was a bank strike where she was and didn’t have all the details of his branch (the IFSC No) so it wasn’t possible to do a transfer via the internet. It could, however, be paid into a branch of his bank. Of course, I’d be willing to help, she’d transfer 1 lakh to my account and from it I’d pay 40,000 Rs [4] cash into this guy’s account  and the rest would be available for her daughter to use for the hospital bills etc here in Mysore. All I had to do was send my bank details, for some reason she couldn’t retrieve them via my suggestion of an Email [5] so I’d send them via text/sms. Not a problem.

Her daughter calls to give me an update. She’s so apologetic for putting me through this and having to ask for my help. She’s contacted Doctor xx  in Columbia Asia  and they need to get her son there to see the neurologist. Getting the money quickly is critical, so they can get away.

This was clearly a middle-class professional family with exceptionally good English but one of the problems, beyond the obvious concern for her son, was not knowing the local language and being in a relatively rural area.

I receive a text from Mum, as sent from her bank [6], the cash had been transferred.

Mum calls again. The money has left her bank but it might take a couple of hours to reach my bank.

I reflect. It’s no problem for me to sort out, I’m always happy to help wherever I can, I have cash here or money in the Bank, I don’t have to wait for it to come through, I can zip over there on the scooter in no time at all.

This is all quite urgent.

Hang on a minute, though.

I have a niggling doubt.

Is this a con? I don’t want to think it is and I most definitely don’t want to let them down if it’s legitimate. They are in a potentially difficult and maybe life threatening situation.

I think it’s important that we do help people, particularly if they are in distress. It’s only human and to me an important value.

But, there were a few aspects that didn’t ring true (I’ve numbered some of them above) and if it was a scam, it was clever and sophisticated or am I just gullible? I discussed it with Chris and Eliza who are staying at the BnB. Initially, I still felt it was likely to be legitimate  but the more I thought about it, the more the doubts grew.

I easily found the missing Bank (IFSC) reference number and texted to pass it on and suggested that the Mum could send the money direct to his account. If she sent me her bank details I could send back what wasn’t required here in Mysore. I was calling her bluff!

It’s now the evening and its all gone quiet. Thankfully I held off and my doubts were confirmed. There’s been no further contact and the money hasn’t appeared in the bank.

At this distance, it might seem to you that it should have been obvious. It wasn’t then but to me it does seem so now. In many ways, it was cleverly done. But the fraudsters must get results otherwise they wouldn’t try it on.

So there it is, it takes all sorts and I think it is a sad thing.