Time to relax..

Being a workaholic is not good

For your health, therefore you should

Make time to pursue leisure activities

Make relaxation a priority please…

There are many attractive options for you

Many come with hefty price tags too

You need to relax, that much you know

But your leisure time should be used effectively, so

That at work you can be more efficient

After a break, deliver 110 percent…

An hour long yoga or barre session may be

The perfect leisure time activity

Combining relaxation with exercise

Is a time-saving strategy quite wise

Or try a class learning a new skill

That is relaxing for you and fits the bill

You are an overachiever, you’ve got this obviously

Your leisure time is the key to your productivity…

*

You have carved out time to relax every day

But you have no time left for yourself anyway

Your leisure time has become, in a manner unfortunate

Another chore to be ticked off your already full plate..

Halfway

Would you consider taking some steps towards me

I would then do the same maybe

Couldn’t we meet each other halfway

Find common ground, a happy medium someday

Who is wrong, who is right and where

At this point I’m too weary to care

Stating my point of view again and again

Has made it appear old, insipid and plain

Having held stubbornly to my jaded opinion

I am ready to toss my obstinacy into oblivion

And open my mind to a viewpoint that’s different

To hear you explain your thoughts is my intent

Then I shall explain my perspective too

And have an intellectual discourse with you

Maybe the discussion would then generate

New ideas, new questions; new opportunities create

*

Our gulf is wide, waiting to be bridged one day

Let’s move forward, meet each other halfway…

Ambition to greed

When does ambition borne out of lofty ideas indeed

Degrade, get sullied, morph into unbridled greed?

*

What starts with a vision and takes shape gradually

With astuteness, risk-taking, intense labor, and naturally

A good dose of luck- that makes a dream come alive

With infusion of passion, the project continues to thrive

Continued growth leads to transformation

From individual enterprise to corporation..

*

Ah, here comes the topic of heated discussion

Profit making machines are these corporations

Thus their machinations invariably lead

To the thorny issue of corporate greed

Pervasive in the way business is conducted these days

Robbing the common man in creative ways..

*

I doubt the visionaries who built their empires

Had greed as their motivation or primary desire

But their ambition that led their businesses to grow

Over time, did the seeds of greed sow..

*

I wonder where the inflection point lies

Where pure ambition undergoes its demise

And gets replaced by monstrous greed…

That progression needs to be interrupted indeed

Silver lined clouds…

The system is broken, its victims on their own

Trying to navigate through giant crevasses alone

Shortage is the operative word here

Of supplies, personnel, patience- I fear

Overworked individuals close to their limits have reached

Workplace ethics have been tarnished and breached

Team spirit and casual camaraderie

Unfortunately one can only rarely see

Some brave individuals are still standing tall

Keeping the organization afloat, after all

*

How do you begin to reverse the course?

Is there a magical formula to force

Broken pieces, jaded spirits, exhausted bodies

To join together, emerge from the fugue, to seize

Every opportunity to stay afloat, albeit small

To try to rise again, abort the free fall

To defy a system’s nature innate

To increase its entropy, to reverse the state

Of disarray, disorder, despair and dismay

To make consistent progress every day?

*

The answer lies in keeping hope alive

You come out stronger when under pressure you thrive

Every cloud has to be silver-lined at the end of the day

You cannot heal until you are broken in some way…

Outsider

How, after all these years, she wonders

Her assimilation still feels incomplete

Always treading with care to avoid cultural blunders

Afraid that expectations she cannot meet

*

She knows to avoid those nuances that are shown

By new immigrants from her motherland

Hyper vigilant not to commit errors unknown

Staying quiet if something she doesn’t understand..

*

She reasons that she is in a nation diverse

With innumerable citizens who look like her

Yet she feels she is in an alien universe

She knows in subtle ways she would always differ

*

How does she explain to her daughter self-assured

The alienation that she feels in her bones

It’s like an affliction that cannot be cured

It’s omnipresent, at least in the undertones

*

There is an invisible divide that cannot be

Bridged-because that would deprive her of her identity

The blessing of making it as an immigrant in a new land

With the curse of being a perpetual outsider, goes hand in hand..

Sita says..

One of the most controversial episodes in the Hindu epic Ramayana is the Agnipariskha (Test by Fire) of Sita. As per the alleged tale, after Ram had defeated Ravan and rescued Sita, he refused to accept her and Sita was asked to jump into fire to prove her chastity after having lived in Lanka in Ravan’s kingdom where he had taken her after abducting her. The Fire God then rescued her and she came out unburnt.

Since I was a goddess, I thought erroneously

Agni Pariksha would end with me,

There was a shadow of me for masquerade

As the Avatar of Lakshmi I escaped unscathed

I thought women of generations after me

Would not have to face this ignominy

Would not have to face unfair blame

Would not be the ones to be ashamed

When crimes were inflicted on them by cruel men

But so wrong was I, sisters and brethren!

*

An era later Draupadi faced humiliation surpassing mine

Why was that part of the cosmic design?

Two eras later no change I can see

Women are bound by vagaries of patriarchy

Instructed to maintain their honor, and blamed

For freedom in dress, behavior, words, taught to be ashamed

When their rights are infringed upon violently

They continue to face trial by fire, I see

*

When I wanted to keep my honor, at least I could

Ask Mother Earth to take me in, so I would

Not have to face humiliation any more

What do mortal women have for them in store?

A woman’s autonomy is still a joke today

And we’ve made progress in women’s rights, you say?

Empathy

My patient is sick, and she needs

My empathy, besides my expertise, indeed

I’m cognizant of her disability and pain

I also understand the mental strain

That she experiences every day

As heart failure (literally) sucks her breath away

Everything in my interaction that I emphasize

Is focused on her needs, with her I empathize

*

There is another person in the room, who I tend to ignore

The patient’s daughter, who has been taking on more

Responsibility for her care, with her deteriorating condition

Her role is pivotal but since I am not her physician

I miss the signs plainly visible on her face

Of caregiver fatigue, that should be obvious in this case

I have not paid much attention to her, I confess

Though she has been instrumental in the treatment’s success

*

She brings up the question of hiring more caregivers, sotto voce

And then I turn to her, to hear what she has to say

I realize that from the health care system and me

She needs, as much as her mother does, empathy

The life that I have, not the life I want..

We all have the lives we are given

To deal with the cards in our hands, but then

Fortunately we have also been blessed

With the ability to think, imagine and process

We are not satisfied with the way things happen to be

We want life to fit our imagination, evidently

Sometimes some of us are lucky to be able to design

Some aspects of the life we have in mind..

But the script of our imagination rarely translates

Into the reel of our life, rarely do we get to write our fate

We are left with a deep longing for what could have been

In pining for our dreams, we are left caught between

The unglamorous real life and a utopian ideal

That, I believe, our mental peace does steal..

*

The secret behind finding peace of mind

May be to leave fantasies of an imaginary life behind

Accept life the way it is, and then assess

If there is a way to improve an existing process

Change what we can, accept the rest with gratitude

Forge our paths ahead with the right attitude

Read Between the Lines

There are lines, neat and bold

Telling a story that begs to be told

Attention-grabbing, drawing you in

Expressing ideas given a clever spin

By the writer, who is trying to lead you

In a direction singular, as the article you read through..

Read the lines and your ideas would soon resonate

With the author’s vision, your mind would follow their template..

*

If you want the truth unvarnished, you may need

To look between the lines and read

Subtle insinuations, cues that are hidden

Pointing to something controversial or forbidden

Read with your intuition, your sixth sense

To distill the truth down to its essence

I Can’t Sleep..

Lately I have had some trouble sleeping, precipitated by nights on hospital call. As I was trying to power through clinic in a mostly sleep-deprived state this week, I heard the complaint of insomnia or poor sleep from nearly every patient (Some of it may have to do with the soaring temperatures where even air-conditioning is insufficient)- this poem is about all of us who lie awake at night….

Ah, the curse of life these days

Affecting millions in different ways

Seems to be the inability to sleep

All the ills of the world conspire to keep

People tossing and turning at night

Dreaded insomnia we continuously fight

Is it mental health that feeds insomnia or the other way round

Trapped in a vicious vortex, we all are bound

By our insecurities, anxieties and fears

That lately on an upward swing appear

Pandemic, war, economy, violent crime

Loom large as monsters at the present time

In these tumultuous times we need to find

Solace in small aliquots for our minds

Somehow we need to find much needed sleep

Lack of it can have consequences deep..

*

At the end of a painful or vexing day

I hope restorative sleep drifts your way…

Bookish…

I read.. stories I consume

I gloat over ideas, I savor

I inhale the perfume

I experience the flavors

Of tales wild and true

And outlandish fantasies

Textured, layered ideas I accrue

Vivid words my imagination seize

I take in books like a connoisseur

I feel them using every sense

Reading a book is a metaphor

For a transcendent experience

*

I watch words as vivid scenes they conjure

I hear their noises and mellifluous tones

Their pleasant and odious odors I endure

I touch words- soft as silk or hard as bones

Books I read leave an aftertaste

Sweet, salty, sour, bitter- or a combination

Sometimes completely bland and chaste

Sometimes setting fire to my palate and imagination…

*

Simply put, reading gives me pleasure profound

Deep in a book my salvation is found

My raison d’être is the reason..

(This comes on the heels of the last poem- how a physician moves forward with hope in the midst of despair)

There were a thousand reasons to leave

Myriad annoyances that made me want to cleave

Myself from the profession that had become

My second skin, my identity, the overall sum

Of my strengths and weaknesses, an integral part

Of my capability, my intellect, my mind, my heart..

Except that it was exacting a price rising higher each day

Placing more roadblocks along the way

Distracting me from the essence of what was essential

Leading me towards a crisis existential

When did medicine become an obstacle race

Futile were all the hurdles I had to face

To take care of patients appropriately

The meaningless challenges made me want to flee

I reasoned that other paths I would be able to find

That would not as completely consume my mind…

*

But the grip of medicine was stronger than I thought

It is a calling, merely a vocation it is not

When the meaningless time sinks were shaved away

I realized the real essence of my work was there to stay

No one could take that away from me

That realization finally gave me clarity

The patient-physician relationship that was at the core

Of my profession was enough, I needed nothing more

The thousands of reasons for me to go away

Paled before that most important reason to stay…

*

I’ve faced challenges to be where I am now

To be broken by the system, myself I wouldn’t allow

Through all the challenges I shall forge a path ahead

I’ll ignore the distractions, focus on the crux instead

*

Discarding the thousand justifications to leave

I’ll stay because in the power of my profession I believe

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