Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Last Post

It is fifteen days since we returned from our two month trip to the US.  The last week there was mostly spent in preparing to leave, making sure that we collect and put all our belongings - spread all over the house - into the bags and return the assorted jackets, gloves, caps and other materials borrowed from the other members of the household. We started back on the election day and I visited a voting booth in the morning just to see how it looks.
  Flew back into India with no cash to tip the porters at the airport and pay for the taxi, thanks to our beloved PM trying to clean up the economy.  Managed to reach home as my brother in law was kind enough to be present at the ungodly hour of 2 am at the airport. Spent the last fifteen days picking up the threads and getting back into the groove again.

There was nothing significant to write about but there were some photographs which I thought I would put on the blog and end my overseas posts. Here they are.
A nearby Sub-division. I envy the owners of this backyard.

Made another visit to the Hines park. View from a hillock.

Just a stretch of the road which I liked a lot


Leaves fallen on the shrubbery underneath the tree - look like flowers!

A stream running through the city park of Farmington

Ducks come out to feed


A chilly morning the day before we left. Soon it would start snowing. I wish I had seen the sight but am happy to miss the cold. 

An election booth close home. In this case, a church. Apart from their president, the Americans also elected Congressmen, County commissioner, Attorney general, Judge, Police commissioner and many others. Neat election but a nasty result as some would say!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

My Foolishness And The Novi Police.

I typed this post about an encounter with the Novi police, while in US but could not finish and post it due to the last minute hustle and bustle. I thought that I would finish it soon after return but even that wasn’t possible. Jetlag bothers me considerably and so do the pressing jobs which have been left un attended for the last two months. It has been three days since we arrived but I have been able to open the page only today. I am attempting to complete it, but I am not in the same mood, not getting the flow and hence the writing is not satisfactory. Since I do not want to waste what is written, I am posting it. If it does not seem right, I can always blame it on jet lag. The following lines were written morre than ten days back.

Our last week in the US. The excitement associated with staying in a new place is waning. The weather and lack of independent mobility is forcing us to remain with in the four walls of the house for longer durations. The prospect of a long flight, not very pleasant, is looming large.  So, we are preparing to get it over with and are longing to be back in our natural surroundings. House, clinic, friends, heat, dust and everything.

I was thinking about what I have written above and was wondering how to proceed, while I  was doing my yoga exercises at five in the morning few days back. When I got up in the morning I had seen a message from my son in India asking me to call him. I called his number, someone answered and said something that I could not understand. It was not my son. I thought it must be a wrong number, disconnected the call and rang again. My son answered. I spoke with him, hung up and started with my exercises.

After a few minutes I saw some one with a flash light prowling around the house. I could not see the person clearly in the darkness. The residental areas in Michigan, (and most other places in the US) called sub divisions, do not have street lights. All the illumination you have is from the two lamps fixed next to the front door of the houses, which are just enough to indicate that there is a door. And the ground level lamps placed along the path from the street to the door are even weaker. Like candles. And in winter you can hope for some natural light only after seven. So, it is dark outside. I was concerned and went to the window for a better view. The flash light went to the side of the house, towards the garage and came to the front door. I went to the door and with lot of hesitation opened it partly. The security alarm started ringing and the person outside said “Novi police”. I could recognise the black uniform of an officer but I wasn’t sure.


I opened the door a little more. The man spoke.
“Is everything OK?”
“Yes”
“Saw the light in the window and wanted to check”
“That’s fine. I got up early and was exercising”
He took out his book
“Name please”
I gave the name of my relative.
“Date of birth?”
He probably wanted to make sure that I really was the resident of the house and not a burgler.
Both the name and DOB are recorded in the police headquarters and he can easily verify them on his computer in the car.
I was in a fix. I did not know my relative’s  DOB. And it would be futile explaining to him that I was a relative, even if I could make him understand my english!


By then my sister in law, who had heard the security alarm, came down to enquire. I had set the alarm off once early in our visit, by opening a wired window and another time by opening the door to enter the house when no one else was there. The alarm at that time had set a chain reaction automatically calling my co brother, sister in law and then the security agency. So, I was wary of the alarm and people of the house were wary of my habits.

My sister in law disconnected the alarm and then came to the door. She spoke to the police officer, gave the DOB, and asked the officer whether he came there because of the alarm? He said “Yes. Got a message from the HQ”. She assred him that everything was fine, thanked him for coming, and he wished us a good day and left.

The man, the cop, had told me that he came because he saw the light in the window. But he told my sister inlaw that his visit was in rersponse to the alarm. And the alarm had started ringing only after I opened the door. We were confused and doubted whether he really was a cop? We went to another window and looked out. The flash light went to a vehicle with flashing lights, boldly marked ‘Police’. The person got in and drove off.   
My sister inlaw was not at ease. She called the Novi police headquarters and informed them about the visit from the officer. The HQ told her that the visit was in response to an emergency call made from the house. We were even more confused. Who made the call to their emergency number? She asked me if I made a call, any call at all, after getting up? And then my tube light lit up and yet another foolishness of mine came to light!

To call my son in India I had to ring 011(the nation code) 91 (STD ode) followed by his number 98907…..  .  that is, 0119198907………..  .    In my half woken state soon after gettin up, I had called 911- 91 - 98907……..  .   911 in US is the emergency number and the moment  you use 911 on any phone, the call goes to the police emergency room and the rest of the numbers dialled is ignored. When I rang my son, starting with 911 instead of 011, The head quarters received the call, and an officer had answered. I knew it was not my son, could not follow the accent, thought that it was a wrong number and had disconnected the call. So, the HQ located the place of origination of the call and had informed the patrol car in the area. An officer had arrived in minutes, woken up every one in the house and had exposed yet another  foolish act of mine.

This is the second time I have observed the speed with which the police in the US respond to emergency calls. The first time was during my last visit when we made a call to report a possible house break. Our own house. Somebody had burgled the house during our absence of about an hour and a half in an evening. That time, I had also experienced the follow up, arrival of additional forces, detectives, report to the insurance company etc etc. The insurance company paid for the broken door, and for the valuables lost.  We even received the valuue of my wife’s wrist watch which had been taken away.

This time it was an inadvertant mistake but the response was even more astonishing to me. I don’t mind being a fool once more, for the sake of the experience!





Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Little Free Libraries. Org. and Chrysler.

The Little Free Library

I like reading. I always have to have a book nearby to pick up when I feel like. There are times, though rare, when I may not read for days. But a book close at hand is a must. As I near the end of one book, the search for another begins and if I don’t find one it is a panic situation! I have a few staple stocks like  P G Wodehouse and James Herriot for times like that and I might have already read them half a  dozen times! I think I got the habit through my genes. Both my parents were compulsive readers. I have seen my father spend entire days in the library, even missing lunch. But for the few times that my mother was unwell and hence unable to hold a book, I have never seen her without a book by her side. Since I talk so much about books and reading, please do not mistake me for a scholar. I am only a reader, my reading is light and I can never quote even a line from the books that I have read!

Since I like to read, I always have my antennae open to locate libraries. The City Central Library of Banglore provided most of the books that I have read. I was also a member of the British library in Bangalore which provided, apart from recreational reading, professional books. The small library of technical books, meant for the students in professional colleges, run by the social service cell of Canara bank was another one of which I was a member.

We spent most of our summer vacations in Mysore, in my uncle’s place. His house in itself was a library, and was close to Manasa Gangothri, the headquarters of (once famous) Mysore University. I remember having spent many happy reading moments in the University Library at Manasa Gangotri.  When I came to Goa on employment I was surprised to find a reasonably good Village library at Canacona, Goa. Since the Librarian did not have knowledge of English, I had the pleasant task of choosing the english books from the list provided by the supplier and I made the most of it.

Right now, I am a member of the taluka Library in Ponda, which is quite good and also the Central library in Panaji, which is comparable, or in fact better in some ways, than some of the libraries I have visited here in US.

I like the atmosphere of a library. I like the cosy feeling which almost all libraries have and the silence. I like the presence of other book lovers sitting and enjoying their reading. I may compare the difference between reading alone and reading in a library to listening to music with a ear phone and being present in a concert. I don’t know if the comparison is right.





So much about libraries came out because I was happy to see this tiny out door library of the Little Free Libraries.Org, when I was walking through the Northville downtown. It is a small bird house like thing containing some books. Not locked. No caretaker. You take a book out if you like one and return when you are done. You may put your own books for circulation too. I think a similar one is being tried in one of the parks in Panaji, Goa. Apart from nourishing the reading habit, I think it also inculcates a sense of sharing, honesty, civic sense and responsibility etc in the children who use it. I understand that about forty thousand such libraries have been installed across the world in places where people are interested in such activity.

Now to add some more material to this post : Came across the Chrysler Museum at Auburn Hills, Michigan unexpectedly. We had driven my son, who was on crutches, to his office to attend to some urgent work and had about two hours to explore the surroundings. Saw the museum next to to Chrysler headquarters. Not as big as the Ford museum but good enough. Some pictures of the museum followed by some good nature pictures taken by my niece are below.

The First Car Of Chrysler 




Chrysler is supposed to have been an accomplished worker. The wooden tool box is said to be a gift to him from one of his carpenter friends.


A Chrysler Beauty




Fallen leaves creating a pattern on the grass




Another lake in the vicinity



A tree in full bloom (of leaves)




Friday, October 21, 2016

Warren And Plymouth Cities - A change of Sights

The ladies in the house have a phenomenal capacity for shopping.
I claim to be a walker and boast that I can walk ten kilometers with ease. Put on the sidewalk with me, the ladies tire out before they cover two. But put them between the shelves in stores like Kohl’s, J C Penny or BBB (Bed Bath and Beyond) and they beat me hollow!
Every morning before my sister in law leaves for work, there will be a stock taking session as to which store/mall is left un covered, which are all the items from the previous purchases,  to be exchanged? What is to be returned?  (The ‘no questions asked’ return policy of US stores is a big boost ) etc etc. and plans are drawn for the evening.  I overheard a conversation yesterday morning where in my sister in law said that she would leave for work around eleven and would be back by five. She was suggesting her mother and sister to be ready by then. Her office is in a place called Warren, about an hour’s drive from the house. Since she would not be staying long in the office, I thought I could tag on to her and look around Warren while she attends office. Warren is not a great place for sightseeing but having finished everything in a five mile radius around the house, I felt that I could do with a change of place. I packed a light lunch, put the bicycle in the boot of the car and went with her to Warren. Warren is a sort of industrial city and also has some large business establishments. There are more trucks on the roads but they do stop at signals. I could ride without the fear of being mixed with the asphalt. Loitering is not an offence and use of public spaces is free. It was not difficult to while away  four hours.


I began my roaming in Warren with the Tank Avenue. I was wondering why it was named so and  I came to a huge building with this plaque in front of it. The plaque explains it. The building was too large to fit in my frame. 



Warren is not a 'high end' place. Row houses.



One of the many buildings that house the offices of General Motors. About a quarter of the General Motors establishment is here. 

The Warren Civic Center and Library. If you want a comfortable place to while away your time in any city, look for the civic center. It usually has a children's area, a public park, place for the elderly, library, restrooms, so on and so forth. 

Part of the facilities 

You are welcome to sit, relax, eat and doze. No stretching out to sleep please. The benches are so designed. 


The shopping destination this evening was IKEA. It is a huge store (you can easily cover few miles inside the store and my wife says she exercises inside the store when it is cold/raining outside) selling everything from a pin to penthouse. It has thousands of artefacts that make you feel ‘can’t do without’ while being inside IKEA but turn out to be mostly useless and make you alter your feeling to ‘could have very well done without’ when you use them at home. ( Disclaimer: The above sentence is according to my perception. Perceptions are known to vary from individual to individual and vary greatly between individuals of the same family. More so if the individuals happen to be husband and wife)





The route to IKEA from home is through the city of Plymouth of which I had had a fleeting glance while driving through, during my last visit to the US. I had liked it but had not been able to go there again. So I  requested the shopping party to drop me at Plymouth on their way to IKEA and pick me back during the return trip. They were reluctant but relented after I assured them that I shall have no claim over my place if the same was occupied by shopping bags during the return trip. I spent an enjoyable two hours roaming the Plymouth Downtown and they did pick me up on their return trip. But I could not help overhearing them repenting about miscalculating the space available in the car!

The plaque says that this was the first house built in Plymouth city. In 1921. Maintained for posterity. 



Plymouth is a neat city having a main road where all the establishments like the lawyer, accountant, dentist, florist, barber etc are housed in neat individual houses. 



Compact and Cosy downtown houses.I could see people sitting around the dining table. Some elders were relaxing in the balcony while the youngster's were out jogging or strolling. 



The most comfortable libraryI have ever been in. Plymouth Libray.


A section of the interior. 













Warren And Plymouth Cities - A change of Sights

The ladies in the house have a phenomenal capacity for shopping.


I claim to be a walker and boast that I can walk ten kilometers with ease. Put on the sidewalk with me, the ladies tire out before they cover two. But put them between the shelves in stores like Kohl’s, J C Penny or BBB (Bed Bath and Beyond) and they beat me hollow!


Every morning before my sister in law leaves for work, there will be a stock taking session as to which store/mall is left un covered, which are all the items from the previous purchases,  to be exchanged? What is to be returned?  (The ‘no questions asked’ return policy of US stores is a big boost ) etc etc. and plans are drawn for the evening.  I overheard a conversation yesterday morning where in my sister in law said that she would leave for work around eleven and would be back by five. She was suggesting her mother and sister to be ready by then. Her office is in a place called Warren, about an hour’s drive from the house. Since she would not be staying long in the office, I thought I could tag on to her and look around Warren while she attends office. Warren is not a great place for sightseeing but having finished everything in a five mile radius around the house, I felt that I could do with a change of place. I packed a light lunch, put the bicycle in the boot of the car and went with her to Warren. Warren is a sort of industrial city and also has large business establishments. There are more trucks on the roads but they do stop at signals. I could ride without the fear of being mixed with the asphalt. Loitering is not an offence and use of public spaces is free. It was not difficult to while away  four hours.













The shopping destination this evening was IKEA. It is a huge store (you can easily cover few miles inside the store and my wife says she exercises inside the store when it is cold/raining outside) selling everything from a pin to penthouse, which will make you feel ‘can’t do without’ while being inside IKEA and which turn out to be mostly useless and make you alter your feeling to ‘could have very well done without’ once you reach home. ( Disclaimer: The above sentence is according to my perception. Perceptions are known to vary from individual to individual and vary greatly between individuals of the same family. More so if the individuals happen to be husband and wife)





The route to IKEA from home is through the city of Plymouth of which I had had a fleeting glance while driving through, during my last visit. I had liked it but had not been able to go there again. So I  requested the shopping party to drop me at Plymouth on their way to IKEA and pick me back during the return trip. They were reluctant but relented after I assured them that I shall have no claim over my place if the same was occupied by shopping bags during the return trip. I spent an enjoyable two hours roaming the Plymouth Downtown and they did pick me up on their return trip. But I could not help overhearing them repenting about miscalculating the space available in the car!

























Monday, October 17, 2016

Fall Colours

Novi Orthopaedic Center
Few months back we had a case of fracture jaw in our clinic. It was a young girl of about ten years. We admitted her in a nearby hospital, requested an anaesthetist to administer a sedative and repaired the broken bone. The surgery was done around seven in the morning and the girl remained groggy till evening. I had that in mind when my son said that his reconstructive knee surgery (to treat a damage caused by an old wound) would be done under sedation and regional anaesthesia. I was pleasantly surprised to see him fully awake and alert just one hour after the surgery. We reported to the hospital at half past seven in the morning and were out by half past twelve! I do not know whether it was a different technique of sedation/anaesthesia or a different drug. But I am impressed.


Other than the surgery nothing much happened during the week. We went to a place called Lansing, about an hour’s drive from here for a boat ride on the Grand river, to see the 'fall colours.' I understand, at this time of the year, going places to see the fall colours is a major activity in the US.The trees which were green a month back, turn yellow, orange or red and it is a beautiful sight. Shortly after that, the leaves are shed and the tree is bare. People travel hundreds of kilometers to places where the vegetation is dense and enjoy the view. I do like the sight of the colours but feel, when seen closer, that the leaves appear lifeless, which they really are.

Well, as I said we went to see the fall colours. 15th of October has always been the date to take visitors on boat ride for seeing colours. On reaching the place, our guide said that this year the trees refused to obey the orders and change colours on designated dates. I believe they did not like the weather. Anyway, the surroundings were nice, the boat ride very pleasant and the picnic lunch very tasty. But not much colours. Still, I haven't missed much. I see plenty of fall colours on my aimless rides or walks around the place.I think others don't have time to stop and look around. In a hurry to reach their work or home, they zoom past the trees in their neighbourhood with their eyes on the mobile phone screen and ears tuned to 'Ways', the app which informs them about the road condition ahead. As a result, they have to fix a time and place to go, open their eyes and see colours!
The Boat ride. Even my son, who was on crutches, was tempted. 




Some changes have started to appear.If the fall was on schedule, the whole vegetation would have turned vibrant yellow and orange 

Enjoyable lunch



Fall colours closer home





A neighbour, with an eye for colours, festoons his sign board!