Reminiscing 2017

Cherishing moments of the year that was…….

It’s the day after Christmas, the fag end of December, another year has gone by. I’m in my hometown this Christmas. Christmas celebrations in this pretty little hill station, known for its tall Pines, colorful orchids, rock music and football among many others, is one of the best in India. I will write more about that later.

Sitting in the balcony and soaking in the warm winter sun is a pleasure that I haven’t had in a very long time. The warm winter sun brings in cherishing childhood memories making it all the more comforting. I’ve come a long way since then and all those memories seem from a past life. As my mind travels back to the present, fleeting moments of the year 2017 passes by, many of which I will cherish for the rest of my life. It’s indeed been a very happening year and I am filled with gratitude.

Here’s a quick flashback of the top 10 highlights:

  1. Started my own blog and quite impulsively so, never thought I would enjoy writing so much. I was helping a friend create a blog but landed up creating my own. Started mid-year and this is my 19th post. I was writing for myself, didn’t expect others to read them but was humbled to see people reading my posts. Besides, there are 5 people, who eagerly wait to read my posts and they sure do motivate me.
  2. Experienced life in three remote Himalayan villages that has impacted me in ways more than one.
  3. Traveled to China for the first time as I experienced life in Shanghai for a day.
  4. Trekked to Kudremukha hill and experienced the lush green Western Ghats, where I also encountered leeches for the first time.
  5. Experienced being hospitalized for the first time when I almost lost my life to Anaphylactic Shock.
  6. Reconnected with several of my old friends with whom I had lost touch for the past few years and it was like as though there was no gap at all. At the same time, moved away from few others whom I thought to be life-time friends.
  7. Stayed in a haunted hotel and had a brush with the paranormal.
  8. Spent my birthday in the Himalayas once again.
  9. Experienced the vast expanse of desert Himalayas as I traveled to the enchanting Spiti Valley.
  10. A very important life event, which I do not wish to disclose now and will fill in later.

Cherish

My Brush with the Paranormal

When I stayed at a haunted hotel

A stifling sense of uneasiness crept in the moment I stepped into my room. I felt claustrophobic and was finding it difficult to breathe. Was it because the room was small? I don’t think so as I have stayed in smaller rooms before. Shouldn’t I be feeling really good to be in a room with a comfortable bed after having traveled for 24 hours through three flight between Bangalore and San Diego? Perhaps my mind was playing tricks on me. Maybe a shower is what I need. I had an hour’s time before I met my colleagues at the hotel lobby as we had planned to go out for dinner.

Deciding to shower later before hitting the bed, I thought I would freshen up instead. I went to the bathroom and splashed my face with cold water, and thoroughly cleaned it using a lavish amount of facewash. I applied my face cream and changed into a set of fresh clothes. I thought I felt better. I still had time so I decided to unpack some of the things, at least the clothes I would wear for the night once am back from dinner. I bent over to my suitcase, which was lying on the floor and cast a sideward glance onto the bed.

The discomfort was back and this time I had this uncanny feeling of someone staring at me from the bed.

I gave up the idea of unpacking. Instead sat down on a chair and started fiddling with my phone. Opening the Whatsapp app, I sent a message to my sister informing her that I had reached. I also jokingly wrote to her, “I think this room is haunted. You know I feel someone’s lying on the bed staring at me. I am feeling eerie in here.” My sister responded with a laughter and asked me to change the room.

I was at San Diego for work along with a couple of colleagues. We were staying at the iconic US Grant Hotel, located in downtown San Diego, California. The 11-storied hotel was grand and spectacular with 270 guest rooms.

It is a historic hotel, even listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The hotel was opened in 1910 and belonged to Ulysses S. Grant Jr., the son of President Ulysses S. Grant, who dedicated the hotel to his father. At that time, it was a 437 roomed luxury palace with private baths, swimming pools, sprawling dining halls, and lavish ballrooms. Actually the hotel dates back to 1870 when it was known as Horton House and was the only major hotel in San Diego. It was purchased by Fanny Chaffee Grant, the wife of Ulysses S. Grant Jr. The hotel boasts of hosting people like John F. Kennedy, Stephen Spielberg, and even Albert Einstein.

I wasn’t aware of any of the historic detail until then. It was only later after I was back that I read up to learn more about it.

When I met my colleagues in the lobby, I casually mentioned that the grand hotel is not so grand afterall and the rooms seem suffocating. They didn’t seem to agree. So I visited their rooms, which were better and lacked the eeriness of my room. I requested the reception if my room could be changed. They readily agreed and after dinner I was transported to another room. The new room felt so much better though a slight discomfort remained but that was negligible as compared to the previous room. I chose to ignore that and went to bed and slept peacefully.

I have traveled multiple times to several cities in the world, lived in hotels and guest houses all by myself. I have never felt this way in any other place.

It was only two days later when I was at a dinner table with my American colleagues that someone started talking about this hotel being haunted and others chimed in with all kinds of stories. I was flabbergasted and jumped in to narrate my own experience. I don’t know if ghosts exist as I haven’t seen one, neither do I wish to, but I thanked my instincts that led me to change the room the day I arrived.

That night I couldn’t sleep even though I was in this new room. When I told all of this to my Bangalore colleagues the next day, nobody was surprised. Apparently, they had read this in the Internet and knew about it. How are they so cool about it, I wondered! I usually never read up to know about the hotels when it’s arranged by office as they are mostly 5-star hotels, so why bother. I thanked myself once again. This time for not reading anything beforehand. Then, I would have come in with preconceived ideas and whatever I felt in that room I would have attributed to that.

The story goes that the hotel was Fanny Grant’s pet project and she had put in a lot of effort and personal time in designing the hotel to make it one of the best. Within a year of opening of the hotel, she passed away. Her husband, Grant, Jr. remarried and moved into the hotel along with his new wife. Since then Fannie’s apparition, clad in an old-fashioned white dress, has been seen walking through the hallways. Other strange phenomena such as flickering lights and things being moved and misplaced within the blink of an eye keep happening.

The Internet is abound with these and several other stories associated with the hotel. Apparently, it’s the 5th floor that is haunted. All of which I thankfully discovered only after getting back to Bangalore.

I have never experienced anything paranormal and even this was just a brush. Surely doesn’t qualify as a paranormal experience. However, I cannot say for sure that such things don’t exist. There are tonnes of strange things that are beyond any explanations. And I do not hesitate to say that I am afraid of the unknown. I do believe in the existence of souls and in the concept of rebirth. And, I definitely believe that all souls are not associated with negative energy.

But afraid I am! Especially when I am alone…

Stifle

When my Immune System Overreacted

An Unexpected Turn of Events from a Simple Allergic Reaction!

“She’s had an Anaphylactic Shock, we recommend moving her to the ICU immediately” says the doctor. That’s what my sister came and told me while I lay in the Emergency ward of the hospital.

Anaphylactic Shock – what on earth is that, I wondered as I looked up at my sister while she was already googling the term in her phone. 

Shivering as I was even under three blankets, I prodded a little nervously, “What does it mean?” My BP was down to 60/40 but I was fully aware about everything happening to me with not an ounce of disorientation hitting me. Anaphylactic Shock sounded something terribly dangerous though I was more intrigued than afraid. Before my sister could respond, a medical orderly promptly arrived and changed my clothes into the hospital uniform for patients, which was not only drab but highly oversized – guess they have just one size, which is the biggest possible on earth!

Within a short while I was whisked away to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and before I realized I had all kinds of wires and attachments all over my body with several complicated machines beeping all around me. I was more curious than concerned. My roving eyes did a quick survey of everything around me, including the other patients making a mental note of the level of seriousness of each patient based on my level of understanding of how they appeared, and how many instruments were attached to them. I didn’t stop at that, the next day I enquired about every patient from my attending nurse.

Needless to say this was my first experience of being hospitalized.

Earlier that evening, I was back from a trek – my first trek in the Western Ghats. It was a Sunday, the 4th of June, 2017. Accompanied by a friend, I had gone for a weekend trek to Kudremukha National Park. We were dropped off at Majestic Bus Station, the main bus station at Bangalore. Mesmerized by the gorgeous Kudremukha hill, I did not have the slightest idea that in the next 10 minutes I would be getting into a life threatening situation. We had been travelling since morning with a lot of ‘Antakshari’, Dumb Charades, and other games all the way. As we bid goodbye to our fellow trekkers with promises of meeting again, we realized just how hungry we were.

It was already 8.00 PM and so we decided to have dinner before heading home. While crossing the road as we headed towards a ‘Biryani’ restaurant located across the street, we encountered the road divider. It was an enclosed area with trees and shrubs cordoned off by iron grills that stretched for quite a long distance. Our stomach was growling as we walked besides the divider towards its end to be able to cross over to the other side. In one place, we found the grill broken and people were passing through it jumping onto the other side of the road. With impatience getting the better of us, we decided to do the same even though it wasn’t the right thing to do. Unfortunately an inebriated man followed us. There was a tall tree beside us with shrubs and bushes around it. In my attempt to avoid the man, I stepped into the bushes. Immediately a swarm of insects attacked my bare feet through the open sandals I was wearing. I had mistakenly stepped into their habitat unable to see well through the dimly lit street lights.

I felt a thousand needles pricks accompanied by a burning sensation on my feet. Within seconds my body was covered with rashes.

Hurriedly, we walked towards the restaurant.

It was nothing but grace that we had a first aid kit with us that had antihistamine tablets (Avil). I popped a pill and cleaned my feet with Dettol. In the incidents that followed, I lost consciousness, puked the Avil, my feet became black and swelled beyond recognition, rashes of all dimensions covered my entire body including my face. My friend managed to get me to a hospital and also informed my sisters even though he had freaked out completely.

Back in the ICU, I felt dazed even as my alert mind continued scanning the space around me. I thought to myself and sent out a quick prayer that I never ever should need to get back here again.

Before being transferred to the ICU, while in the Emergency ward, I was treated with Adrenalin administered intravenously. It was in a diluted form but my body violently reacted almost causing a heart attack and threatening to blow my head apart. Adrenalin is the only treatment and my body was rejecting it.

In the ICU, however I was treated all night long with the concentrated form of Adrenalin administered intramuscularly. By morning my BP was doing much better. With the care and attention provided by the nurses and doctors my recovery was quick and I was shifted to a common ward and finally released from the hospital.

It was not until I came home that I got to know my condition could have been fatal, had it not been for the prompt medical attention I received.

I was lucky that I was getting back from a trek and so had a medical kit with me. Though it was surprising that nothing happened while I was in the jungle but in the city I had a fatalistic insect bite. Life is full of ironies!

An Anaphylactic Attack or Anaphylaxis is caused by an overreaction of the immune system to an allergen, something that the body is allergic to. It is an extremely serious and life threatening condition.

It’s by Almighty’s grace that I am here today narrating  what happened to me. The point of this write up is to spread awareness about allergic reactions. More than often, we do not pay heed to allergies but be on your guard, it could be the onset of an Anaphylactic Attack.

Read up and educate yourself about the risk factors of this potentially life-threatening allergic reaction called Anaphylaxis.

KNOW ABOUT ANAPHYLACTIC SHOCK

Allergic