That Was The Week That Was: 26th April to 2nd May 2023

The one in which my mom's health gave us a scare.

Delhi, India

Last week was not very kind. On 26th April, my mother started feeling some discomfort and realised that her blood pressure was quite high. It was late at night and the only option was to go to the emergency department of a nearby hospital. At the hospital, her blood pressure came out to be 170/90, which qualifies as Stage 2 hypertension and increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. She was given a few pills and we were asked to wait under observation for about half an hour. When the blood pressure did not reduce to a satisfactory degree, she was again given a pill and asked to wait for another hour. Thankfully, her blood pressure came down to reasonable levels after that and the doctors asked us to go home and rest. But they also recommended that we visit a neurologist, based on some of the other issues my mom told them.

This episode came out of the blue. My mother never had any blood pressure issues, nor has she ever had any heart trouble. In fact, she has been really active all her life, even in her early sixties. No one could guess her age by her actions. Even now, she is very well-connected and active in social groups in our locality (a leader of aunties in many ways). But age and life eventually find a way to catch up to you. Despite most of her blood tests and doctor analyses coming out fine (we try to get health tests done twice a year), she has been feeling off for the past three years or so—ever since my father passed away. She doesn't have as much energy or the will to do things, she has trouble using the stairs and complains about a tightness in the body that can't be medically explained. It's like she suddenly became old.

Hoping that a neurologist might be able to give us some answers, I started asking friends for a good recommendation (DO NOT visit a doctor without a strong recommendation from someone smart and trusted in your personal network, at least in Delhi). A friend recommended that we visit his neighbour, Dr. Rakesh Agarwal, who is a highly respected neurologist and sits in Apollo Hospital apart from his home clinic. With doctors, I try to find some kind of hook to get accountability along with their credentials, so this seemed perfect. At his clinic, Dr. Rakesh listened to us patiently and examined my mother's issues with care but in the end said that couldn't find much. He said that my mom has a mild case of cervical spondylitis but that doesn't explain all her symptoms. This was another dead-ish end. We're now trying to figure out where to go next, but the good thing is that her BP levels have been fine ever since that one high-BP episode (she told me that she was feeling very anxious about her BP levels that time and perhaps the anxiety increased the BP even more 🤷🏽‍♂️).

This ordeal reminded me yet again that I (and most of my friends) are now at an age where we can't just be carefree idiots doing whatever we please. We have to be better prepared to handle our parents' illnesses and even deaths (what Zakir Khan called the real definition of adulting in Tathastu). Despite valuing and often thinking about the concept of memento mori for many years, I was in shock when my father suddenly passed away in 2019. I don't think I've still come to terms with his absence completely and that affects everyday life and work in unexpected ways.

Along with our work and hobbies, we need to be more mindful of the health needs of our parents (yes, responsibilities only go up). Get health insurance (as basic as this sounds, most middle-class parents don't have it). Be more involved in their healthcare processes, more aware of their ailments, and more informed about their medications. Have basic health equipment like blood pressure monitors and pulse oximeters at home (but something like an Apple Watch that you wear 24x7 might be excessive). Develop easy access to some doctors so that they can come home or can be consulted on the phone if required. Also try to know about the symptoms of potentially fatal consequences of their ailments like heart attacks, strokes, etc. so that swift action can be taken when necessary. I can speak from personal experience that no matter how much you know or are proud of your ability to handle situations, there will be times when you're panicked out of your wits or your body freezes in shock. Try to have some heuristics in your mind (or even written down somewhere) that help you make decisions and act quickly. For example, I now don't hesitate in calling the ambulance when anything seems extreme, even if it doesn't seem remotely fatal.

Even more importantly, try to give them a good time. Spending a lot of time with parents can be annoying and a recipe for arguments, but it's good to have some fun with them from time to time. A few outings and trips here and there go a long way. At the same time, it's really important to take care of yourself. The decades pass quickly and we'll soon find ourselves in our fifties and sixties. My parents' health issues have shown me how important it is to stay healthy, eat properly, and exercise. And while I'm not fit in any way, I have this thought in my mind and try to constantly improve my lifestyle in small ways. I hope that it will make a difference someday. 🤞🏽

Sorry for all the unsolicited suggestions. I know that it could have sounded boring and a little patronising. It was more a reiteration to myself than a sermon to others. Onwards to somewhat more fun things now.

Other Notable Stuff

  • My mom and I visited the CR Park's Market no. 2 after visiting a doctor. We had amazing fuchkas (a slightly modified version of golgappas) and some sweets from Annapurna Sweet House. I also had a Mughlai Paratha (because it sounded interesting) from a place called Dadu Cutlet Shop right next to Annapurna. It was deep-fried chicken filled inside maida in God knows what kind of oil, but it was quite tasty. My mom really enjoyed the outing, which felt great. A special thanks to Riyanka Roy for recommending places and food items there.

  • My Twitter usage has gone up significantly ever since I started posting links to my weekly updates there. Like most people, my attention gets hijacked the moment I enter a social media site and I have been getting distracted a lot on Twitter (there is some really cool stuff there that doesn't add any real value to my life). I would like to keep at least one social media account alive after having deleted my Facebook and Instagram accounts last year but Twitter is not making it easy.

  • Speaking of Twitter, I got a notification on 27th April that I had completed 14 years on the platform. W00t! Don't tell anyone, but I've been on Twitter longer than Elon Musk. 🤫

  • I bought some football gear from Decathlon. I think Decathlon has single-handedly changed Indians' expectations about the variety and quality of sports goods that should be available in the market. Sure, some of its stuff is meh but just going there encourages me to be more active in life. 🏃‍♂️

  • I lost my swimming goggles in the sea a couple of weeks back in an attempt to learn to surf. I had taken them into the sea knowing fully well that there is a risk of losing them but that I'll easily buy a new pair from Decathlon if that happens. Turns out I was wrong. Due to supply issues in China, Decathlon is no longer selling the custom frame and powered lenses sets that allow people to have a different power lens for each eye. FML. 🤦🏽‍♂️

  • I tried setting up a dummy Shopify site after a long time for a potential work engagement and it was surprisingly easy to get up and running, especially if I used a pre-built theme. Their method to edit theme files locally on my machine seemed unnecessarily complicated but at least it worked. Just too bad that they don't support something like child themes in WordPress. All changes made to theme files will get erased upon an update, so it's important to make changes strategically and keep everything under version control.

  • I met a couple of friends on Sunday, 30th April, in an experience that took me to two very different kinds of places on the same day. I met one of them right before he flew off to Australia at Mesa Kitchen And Bar in Aerocity (their Quatro Formaggi pizza was really good, the Italian Burrata one slightly less so). I then headed to Dwarka to meet the other friend, who had come to Delhi for a meditation retreat at Dhammarama, a center belonging to the Aranya Vihara Trust that was started by ex-Vipassana meditators.

  • We celebrated my flatmate, Samarth's, birthday on 2nd May. It was a nice small gathering. We chatted a lot, drank a bit, and played Pictionary. It was quite fun but in a slightly subtle and mellow kind of way. I think I like that kind of setting more now.

  • Samarth and I have recently started playing video games together. We play RPG titles like Spiderman and God of War in relay fashion but our mainstay is FIFA. I've been playing FIFA fairly regularly since 2002 so thought that I had most of the controls nailed down. To my surprise, I realised that I don't know half of the combinations used in the latest versions. Time to go back to the tutorials. 🎮

  • My recent attempts at playing video games re-ignited an old desire to play RTS games. In particular, I wanted to play newer versions of Age of Empires (I used to play Age of Kings and Conquerers during college). This was much easier said than done because I use Macs for daily work and I could not find a way to get even AoE II to work on my (supposedly fast) M1 Mac Mini smoothly, let alone any newer versions. In the end, I had to lower my expectations. I went through my old stuff, unearthed my old HP laptop from college, and installed AoE II on it. It does not have enough specs to run anything more recent, but it is something.

  • I modified my WhatsApp settings such that people are not able to see if I'm online. I feel obligated to stay online and write back to someone immediately if I know that they can see me online, even if that interrupts work and I pay the price for losing my focus (otherwise I would reply later at a better time). I used to love this about Signal and yearned for it on WhatsApp, where most of my communications took place. Thankfully, WhatsApp allows this now. FWIW, I'm not asocial but I like to have periods of deep focus for work. It's not unreasonable. 😶

Random Thoughts

  • There are many times when I feel all alone and on my own—that there is no one who would come to my aid when I need help. Being an only child sometimes conditions you to think like this. But the truth is that I've found help every time I have looked for it. So many people took the time to ask around and send me recommendations when I tried to find good doctors for my mom last week. It was touching and I feel really grateful. I now have good neurologist recommendations to even go for a fifteenth-opinion. In case you, too, find yourself thinking that there's no one who would help you, just try and ask (asking is important—no one can read your mind). What happens next might change your perception.

  • I had grown up understanding that the Hindi word for 2 days later is tarson (तरसों) and 3 days later is narson (नरसों). But my friends "corrected" me over time, saying that I’d gotten the order wrong (narson comes before tarson). Last week, I decided to settle this debate once and for all but found out that both these terms are used colloquially in different parts of the country to refer to the same thing—two days later. Neither of these words means 3 days later. So remember, tarson bolo ya narson, they're both next after parson. 🤪

  • I'm thinking if I should buy a Windows laptop instead of a MacBook next. My main work machine is a Mac Mini ♥️, which covers 90% of my requirements. The remaining 10% where I need something portable is currently fulfilled by an ageing MacBook Air (early 2015), but maybe I can buy a decent Windows laptop and kill two birds with one stone. I can work using WSL and actually play some games when I feel like it. The Mac-snob in me is shouting violently right now but this might make sense. 🤔

  • I was egosurfing a couple of days back (actually, I was checking how my website shows up in search results) when I realised that I was accidentally partially rickrolling the internet because I did not have an image meta tag set up. I will fix it soon. Update: I’ve fixed it now.

Screenshot of Google search for the terms 'archit chandra'

Content Consumed

Stumbled Upon

  • English-dubbed songs from the film Maine Pyar Kiya. The film and its songs were such big hits that English dubbed versions were released after the initial Hindi release. The full English-dubbed soundtrack is on YouTube if you'd like to indulge. It was a strangely funny experience listening to these songs that I had been familiar with (but in Hindi) from a very young age. Credits to Avani Shukla, a good friend, for forwarding this to a common WhatsApp group.

  • A couple of crazy-hilarious Twitter accounts: non aesthetic things and Out of Context Human Race. I'll especially point to this tweet to ruin your day. Kidding. Or not.

Last week in numbers

  • 5 deep work hours last week. Really bad, but I don't care. Dealing with health issues was more important.

  • 8+ hours spent in hospitals and doctors' clinics. 😔

  • 0: The number of times I went to play football after buying new studs. 🤦🏽‍♂️

  • 9 matches without a win for Chelsea now. 🤦🏽‍♂️ 🤦🏽‍♂️ 🤦🏽‍♂️ 🤦🏽‍♂️ 🤦🏽‍♂️ 🤦🏽‍♂️ 🤦🏽‍♂️ 🤦🏽‍♂️ 🤦🏽‍♂️

That was the week that was. Hoping to write a more cheerful update this week. 🤞🏽