Sunday, June 2, 2013

USA , dream land's lesser know side!

America is another name for opportunity… Ralph Waldo Emerson.

In the minimum words the great writer has described the nation about which one may have any opinion but most of us have a fascination for it is a fact. From all over the world people have come here for making their future & more have aspiration to do so or get a chance to come here. Least of all most have a wish to visit the country & see the way the nation has raised to greatness, people are curious about size of development the country has achieved & why not, right from Disney Land to Casino’s in Vegas to Hoover Dam to Empire State each structure here has been a landmark for generation too come. I am lucky enough for being visited the country a couple of time & for a long duration but this time it was very different. First the cause I went, its illness of my wife who has been admitted to Buffalo City Hospital during her pleasure trip with my kids, second I have visited last nearly 15 years back, third this time I stayed at single place that too in a comparatively small town like Buffalo for 15 days & fourth is more important as now no more America is a wealthy country especially its going to one of the darkest patch when measured on economic scale.

All these things does made my more interesting tour though the mood of the trip wasn’t cheering due to the cause I been there but I took it as an opportunity to look at the real American life more closely. Another important factor was Buffalo doesn’t have any so called American tourists delight thing i.e. no casinos, either any monumental historic buildings like Boston or Washington are there nor any grand tourists attractions like Disney land or Universal studio. Niagara is close by but with hundreds of hotels there now hardly any one stays at Buffalo for visiting Niagara. So it’s just a typical old city with a get way to Canada from America.  It has retained its charm through miles of calm & quite roads with Victorian houses aligned all along the roads & trees making it very scenic & cozy town. There are few sky scrapers in down town & a fantastically designed city hall building by famous architect Sullivan which is center of the down town. What was important is there are number of churches or various size & style but immaculately maintained, making me remember condition of our heritage structures back in Pune.

As most of my time I needed to spend in hospital & the chilling wind at 2 degree temperature made it impossible to walk in mornings I used the gym of hotel for my walks & right from there I started to have exposure of manners or American society. Many of us know that in USA everybody even unknown persons greet each other when get crossed in lobbies or lifts & they courtly inquire with “ Hey, how are you doing? “ type question with a smile. And there is exchange of some humorous dialogue about weather or the day or even the job at hand. Very simple & small thing but it keeps the atmosphere of public places alive. And on the stark contrast back in our country we don’t even smile to our neighbors in the lift in our own building where we reside. The hospital exposure was also some experience, the surprises started right from checking in Hilton Double Tree Hotel which is right across the road of Buffalo City Hospital; when mentioned that I am here for medical purpose of my wife’s illness immediately the booking clerk informed I will get 60% discount on the room tariff & he directly gave it to me without asking for any confirmation from the hospital. At the same time he charged another checking in customer with regular room rent who was on business trip & what’s most important thing was neither the customer objected nor he said I too am here for medical purpose! It’s this transparency & self discipline which I was about to witness for next fifteen days. Not only that after that every day when I am returning to hotel the staff on counter at lobby used to enquire about how my wife is doing & give our wises to her type greetings! Then next thing I encountered was civic sense, in gym when I was waiting for a guy working out to get down from treadmill, he first wiped out all the treadmill by his napkin to clean it any sweat from his workout & then allowed me to use the treadmill! I just remembered at the soaked in sweat equipments back in my gym & people just leaving them that way after using. I always wonder who taught the common man over there such manners & how come it’s been in everyone around? And why we can’t cultivate such things in our society as it doesn’t cost any money. We can’t keep even our public toilets clean & here people are taking efforts to keep the cleanest places more cleanly! At the same time I learn something new also about the manners while moving around; I was awaiting my taxi outside of hotel & was leaning on a car parked by, the doorman politely asked me “Is it your car sir?” I replied no, it’s not mine, on that he suggested “Sir then please don’t lean against it as the owner may not like doing so!”  And here people does scratch mark on the cars parked alongside the road instead caring such small things about others property. Same is while photographing even pets like dog in public areas. You are supposed to ask for the permission about clicking the snaps of a cute dog with it's owner. To which most owners happily agrees but to ask before you click is important manner.

The Buffalo Hospital is a different world by itself; the massive 16 storied building has thousands of rooms treating all type of patients across the globe but no where you can see the regular chaos of big public place especially in the hospital. The environment along with the decor & colors is surprisingly jovial & cheering than a regular gloomy one at our end. There was a big stature of Buffalo made of clay in the main lobby at ground floors & it has been painted by various visitors & some have even drawn ECG's on it! In each floor lobby there was a board where patients & their relatives can share there experiences about the hospital in words or even in from of sketches too. I too write a letter to entire ICU staff where Ashwini was admitted & put it on her room wall from outside & not only here nurse read it but she made all the staff to read it & they all thanked me for the kind words I have used for them! Very small thing but makes the whole affair homely & interactive & from where I got the idea but from the hospital! Disciplined the system is, as everyone follows the rules of timings of visiting hours without having argument with the monitoring staff, making their job easy. Here in USA the law which I came to understand is the hospital has to treat any patient who comes for admission & once admitted the patient is in their custody. The doctor decides what to do & when to discharge the patient & human life has highest priority. At the hospital premise every public toilet block had separate arrangement for patients, visitors & staff, to avoid delay for the needy ones. Same was with arrangement like lifts & no one was using other categories facilities was more important! There we can’t meet doctor on our wish but there is a fixed time & that to in a conference room where only the doctor in charge meets the relatives of patients & answers their all questions about the patients health. The timings to meet the patient are less & that’s in interest of the patient only, so as he or she gets total rest. Though we managed to bypass some of the rules under the cover that we are coming from all the way from India & our patient isn't used to keep isolated, which they did accepted. No advance payment or things like that demanded ever during entire treatment was one more sweet surprise. The staff was over supporting & there was a separate team for guiding us what to do after discharge & things like accommodation, which helped us to find a guest house nearby to cook food needed by Ashwini's diet standards. Only sad part was there nobody visits the patients even in ICU unless its weekends. It’s so saddening to see patients lying all alone day long without any visitors. Agreed they should get rest but the visitors who are friends, relatives do boost the moral & spirit of the patient is also equally true. And the entire ICU staff was amazed with our presence all the time around Ashwini & they did used to mention her that how lucky she is  for having so caring family. This was mainly they knew we have come from so far & just for being with her, an act which is out of their imagination.

While moving around in spare time, the huge malls without customers was a sure sign of economic slump of the country & surprisingly Indians are being respected with much wider smiles as by now they have realized our buying power & treated as potential buyers of even costly goods. In front of most of the lovely bungalows signs of "To Sale “or "To Rent" were there, yet another sign of down fall in real estate but even their recession has a grace & the gap between rich & poor is not as wide as we have. And they are facing with smile the recession with a hope that it will pass on soon. The city sleeps very early by our standard & it was a tough time for us at night to search a hotel serving food after 10 pm.

The entire experience made me compare our day to day living & theirs as here no money was involved. We don’t need money to smile at the passerby & to greet him, neither we have to spend something exorbitant to keep our own surrounding clean, all what matters is an attitude to make my environment somewhat better. That’s exactly we are lacking day by day. We don’t mind in peeing on empty footpaths or spitting on clean pavements of public places leave apart cleaning them. How rich or wealthy a country is, isn’t decided just by terms like GDP but by the behavior of the people in that country as civilization is nothing but the way we treat each other’s & our surrounding. I have decided to clean my treadmill after I do my workouts when I come back from Buffalo, at least that’s a start towards a better me. After all when we say seeing the world, it doesn’t mean visiting popular places & click the snaps & post it on FB to prove that you have been there but it means what difference it has made in our behavior after visiting the world & that is what decides what we have actually seen! And as Emerson has said even our own country too can be turned in to land of opportunities provided we learn to see one!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

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  1. Excellent experience sharing based on ur medical tour to states. It's amazing!!! Many times I thot, how we can bring change here in India but still clueless. Btw how is ashwini now?

    Dhananjay nigdi

  2. Excellent experience sharing based on ur medical tour to states. It's amazing!!! Many times I thot, how we can bring change here in India but still clueless. Btw how is ashwini now?

    Dhananjay nigdi


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