Monday, January 29, 2007

My eyes are a challenge for the medical experts

I went to my eye-doctor to try out the contact lenses she had ordered two months ago. I had this problem of vision for as long as I can remember. I went to this doctor here who did some extensive testing using 4-5 machines. After that, she put aside all machines, sat in front of me staring at my face and asked, "how did you survive so long? how did you manage it?" I shrugged my shoulders and said "I just got used to it". "I have driven a car for years" I further added; to which she got shocked and turned away saying she couldn't believe it. That made me believe she would call the police and get me arrested. But she didn't. Instead she told me that my eye-balls are of abnormal dimensions and lenses of this dimension are not made. This disease is called Astigmatism and I have an extreme case of it. They would have to put a special order for them and see if the manufacturer can make them at all.

So today, after two months, I went back and they put on the lenses on my eyes. It took long to get used to them and then continue with the tests. The Astigmatism problem was gone but the image was blurred. She put some lenses in front and I managed to get a perfect vision. Then I saw the world like never before. So clear and so beautiful: for the next ten minutes. I could read the smallest of numbers she projected on the front wall. Time froze, there and then. But there was pain in my eyes. She took off the lenses. She said that new lenses have to be manufacured with some adjustments. She said that normally people start with soft, round lenses; but for me they have to start with these oval and extremely powered lenses. One added feature was that my eyes didn't provide enough fluid cushion between them and the lenses. So they have to put a soft lens below the actual lens, again if that can be manufactured. This is getting very complex, but I am prepared to go through it, to relive the ten minutes of a new world I saw before. I can now feel how amazed are the people who get vision after almost completely losing it.

She did say one encouraging thing. She said that my vision itself is perfect and that is a miracle. She couldn't believe that I could get such a perfect vision with only the removal of astigmatism. Ideally people should have zero Astigmatism. Disorders cause it to grow to 0.5 or 1.0 or even 1.5. But I have an astounding 9.5 Astigmatism. She was an old lady but looked like she had never seen something even close to that. Anyways, that means I have perfect eyesight (6x6), but my eyeballs' shape distorts the image before it reaches my retina. I am thankful to God for that. I am also thankful to God that He has given me eyes with which I can see. I am very thankful that He has given me hands, arms, feet, legs, tongue, ears, nose, and all the other things and that He created me in a time when He gave knowledge to people to cure my little eye disorder.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Easy & pure charity in the developing world

Last time I went to Pakistan, I rediscovered the pure and easy charity method I had earlier formulated. The problem was to discourage begging while giving charity. We had also heard of stories that people kidnap children or women and make them disabled for begging. Even poor parents do that with their children. This is a very serious crime and citizens also need to discourage alongwith the government. So if you give charity to beggers, you are just encouraging this practice. This is kind of a paradox. Once I was sitting in my car in a market and a young guy came to me in a wheelchair asking for money. I asked him to sell something instead. He sighed and said: Sir I have been selling things like newspaper etc, but now i have to wed my sister and for that i need more money. So i have resorted to begging this season. Surprised, I asked him the difference of income, and he told me the figures. I don't remember the figures but his begging brought him more than his selling. That is a shame for us, the society.

So what I do is: i never pay to beggers. Instead i buy small things from people selling them near traffic signals etc. I pay them more than the thing costs, like ten rupees for a newspaper, and they become very happy. I let guys clean my windscreen and pay them, instead of screaming at them. I buy balloons even though there are no children in my house. We can even get useful things from here, like newspaper, pens, flowers, etc. You can't imagine the nice environment at home if you bring your wife flowers every now and then. So buy what you need, and buy what you don't need if possible. This way i do my part in reducing begging and increasing trading. So let us all encourage selling small items instead of begging. Let us stop more people from getting disappointed from selling and going to begging.

One last point is the practice we normally adopt concerning poor sellers. I often see people standing at roadside carts and fighting over the price. Those sellers are very people who can't even afford a shop. We are very happy to go to a very big shop or a restaurant and pay them whatever they demand, but we fight with a poor guy who saves just a couple of ruppees in every trade. It's disturbing when somebody in a big car comes and fights for five ruppees over a half kilo peanuts with a poor seller. True that most of the sellers ask more money than deserving, but in a society that has little justice, people are seldom paid according to the hardwork they do. And those who are, are not well paid because of their hardwork. So until the society becomes just, we should pay these sellers a little more than they deserve in trading.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dubai stay with Emirates

The Dubai airport is huge. We walked a long way to get to the transit gates where all my friends said good bye and went into their next plane. I again undertook a very long walk in the airport to get to the counter of Emirates and later outside where we were escorted to a van which dropped passengers at three different hotels. I arrived just in time to catch breakfast. My stay was for about 10 hours. The hotel was very high and outside the window of my room i could see Dubai city port with big ships and endless lines of cars being transported. They gave me a nice double-bed room. Although the airport had muslim showers installed in the toilets, the hotel lacked them, just like in Muscat. Then i went to the tour guide sitting next to the hotel entrance to get some info about the tour options she provided. She gave me a booklet with multiple options out of which i choose one and found out that it was not so expensive. It was a 4 hour personal cab tour of famous places for about 30 euros. I consented and met an Indian Muslim guide who took me in his cab to start the tour. He showed me the beach with the famous 7 star hotel "Burj-ul-Arab" build on a small artificial island near the beach. Entry was allowed only for people who had booked a meal or a room. Then he showed me the newly developing "Marina" area with skyscrapers all over the place. I must have seen about 50 skyscrapers (mostly under construction) at one place. Then we went to this big mall where they had built a skiing slope with snow. Now imagine this: seeing a snow slope in a dessert. How can someone be more luxurious?

Then he took me to the camel feeding grounds where we saw a herd of camels being returned after feeding. These were truly dessert areas. The person steering the animals became furious when my guide took the car near the camels saying that this disturbs the animals and the owner may kill us without getting into any problem. Then we went to the racing arena where a race was to take place that evening. The security guards didn't allow us to enter but the guide told them i was a German tourist here only for 10 minutes. And that's what we did...just took some quick snaps and came back. On my way back I saw a white boy playing with his dangerous looking hawk in the parking area. At the end he took me to a museum which looked very small on the surface but was very long underground. I saw Pakistanis as policemen, security guards, hotel hosts, tour guides, cooks, camel steerers, etc. I even saw some road side signals with Urdu among other languages. Although it was middle December, but the weather was warm. It was drizzling sometimes and the people said that it is a rare event that they have such a pleasant weather because of the clouds.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Trip to Dubai with Emirates Air

In middle December I got an intermediate stop in Dubai during a flight. The stay was to be of 15 hours. I asked my agent to arrange a transit visa and hotel stay from the airline. Five more Pakistanis were traveling with me but they didn't have such a long stay. When we reached Frankfurt airport on the flight day, we got the information that the flight was delayed for 3 hours. We got in the very long check-in line. The other Pakistanis had to catch the next plane in Dubai after just 3 hours. We asked the Emirates guide the reason for delay which she said was that the plane from Dubai was late. We told her about the situation and she went away. After about half an hour, when we finally reached close to the check-in counter, the guide came back; asked us to come out of the line and told us that they are sending us through Lufthansa Air to Munich where we can catch an Emirates plane to Dubai so that we don't miss our next plane.

We hurried to terminal one of the airport. There are two terminals of Frankfurt airport connected by both a skyline train and a bus. We took the bus and walked through the terminal to reach the Lufthansa Air counter. They didn't have a clue about this transfer of passengers. They phoned their supervisors and Emirates counter and finally figured out the situation. Then they started the check-in, only to find that the Emirates staff had written one less name on the paper they gave us. Lufthansa staff said they couldn't check-in that passenger. They tried to figure out some way to resolve this problem, but in the process they found out that the plane flew off. We took the train back to Emirates counter where they checked us in. There was some problem with one of us as two of his suitcases weighed more than 30 kg, the new limit put on every piece of luggage, the resolution being transfer of extra luggage to the boxes they provided us. They gave 15 euro dinner vouchers to all passengers because of flight delay, which we spent in Macdonald's while watching planes take-off and land. The airport had prayer rooms for all religions. The plane took off 3 hours later and we landed in Dubai.