Saturday, October 08, 2005

maybe our last meditation at the hospital

Plasticene Ganeshas made by the group participants

Akbar gave me the sweetest smile ever at the end of yesterday morning’s group work and shook my hand as we left the room together at the end. Akbar is this thirty-ish guy, a patient at the hospital where Meher and I have been conducting our music meditations every week. He is small made, has a beard, and constantly makes faces at nobody in particular. The counsellor (”Doctor S.”) informed me that the whole lot of them are schizophrenic and Akbar, besides being schizo is also retarded.

When he started attending the meditation three weeks back he couldn’t sit still for two minutes. The first time in fact, he was so uncomfortable that before the session even began, he insisted on leaving, saying he wanted to go back to his room. Last time he was already much more amenable and today he was positively friendly towards Meher and me and eager to participate in the activity. During the meditation he was so relaxed he even went to sleep!!

There were about seven others including two newcomers one of whom is a young college student, who asked me if a particular piece I played for them was by Richard Clayderman. It wasn’t. It was actually one of Chopin’s nocturnes played by the “Beijing Orchestra as far as I know. We discovered that many of the “regulars” had been discharged this last week. Apparently the wards are overflowing so they only have room for those who are seriously ill. Meher did some craft work with them, getting them to make Ganesh’s out of plasticene, after she got one of the group members to relate the story of the elephant god. At the end of the session we caught up with “Doctor” Counsellor who was up in the main ward, dressed today in a green salwaar kameez with a green dupatta pulled over her little head.

D.C. (who insists on calling me “Umaji”) had apparently told Meher as soon as we arrived, that we ought not to have come this morning because the patients were “busy making Diwali lamps.” M. was understandably pissed off because we had not been informed earlier. I guess it’s the usual Indian disrespect for other people’s time and energy, the same thing I keep going on about, when people who sign up for groups don’t come or “come when they feel like”. (There should be freedom, is their argument. As if a self awareness group were like a fast food joint which you go to, when you want to eat a samosa or a hamburger.)

D.C. came across to me this morning like the quintessential Hindi movie vixen. Being in her presence is like suddenly entering the old convent school atmosphere of sly meanness and veiled comments, which you commonly experience in missionary and convent run institutions. Sugar coated cookies with a heart of strychnine. I told her that we didn’t really need to conduct sessions at the hospital if it was a problem for them, and added that I was there only on Meher’s request. Madam looked at me very sweetly and said, “But your meditations are soooo…ooo helpful. They mean a lot to us.” HAH. I bet.

Then she went on to explain how there was some problem with the staff so they were being forced to discharge many of the almost-recovered patients and the ones who were seriously ill were not in any shape to come for the meditations. She proposed we conduct our groups once a fortnight for that reason, instead of once a week. Which didn’t really make sense to me so I said to her, that we didn’t have to do it at all. I finally left it to her to phone me if and when she felt the need for it.

Don’t quite know what it is. Do people like her feel threatened by outsiders? Are they not interested at all? Do they not like it because a little bit of time and effort is needed on their side to organise the basics for a group session – like getting the group room cleaned and seeing that the participants are brought down at the right time?

Oh well that’s life.

By the way for those following Raju's story: he's arrived safely in his gaon. Met at the station by his cousin, with whom I spoke yesterday evening. He wanted to know if I would like to speak with Raju but since he was sleeping I didnt want to disturb him. The cousin agrees that he is mentally quite disturbed and they are going to take him to the hospital this morning.

group website:

Meher standing outside the group room


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