Author, Poet, Innovator, Surgeon


Random thoughts

The loneliness miles high

Carrie Fisher is dead. May her soul rest in peace. My condolences to the family. I was never a Star Wars fan. But this should never happen to anyone. Cardiac arrest during a transcontinental flight. A scary proposition indeed. It is rare. But it does happen.

Twenty years ago on a British Airways flight from Heathrow to Sydney there was a death. I cannot remember any calls for a doctor. I cannot remember CPR being performed. The only reason we came to know about that death on board was the unscheduled and prolonged stop in Bangkok until the judicial officials (perhaps the police too) came to remove the body. We were just told this information as the explanation for the delay. The dead man was in economy class. He was anonymous. I don’t think it made the news but I must confess I did not read the next day’s Bangkok papers.

Carrie had her cardiac arrest I presume in first class or business class. Sky is a great leveler. There is no class distinctions and certainly no religious discrimination. If you have a cardiac arrest you go. Period. And go a bit higher in the sky, and  you go clad only in righteousness, if any, according to Job(29:14), and with the only treasures you have stored safely in heaven, if you had bothered to heed Mathew (6:20), and notched up some Brownie points with St. Peter.

But the reason I write this today is to bring the attention on the medical facilities up in the sky. The few times I have volunteered to be “the doctor on board” I had my heart in my mouth and ventured out with a silent prayer. Luckily the only damages done were to the champagne and wine corks after the event.

Imagine you are a rich millionaire, but not rich enough to have your own private jet with your personal physician  shadowing you like your conscience. You will be paying an arm and a leg to travel first class. But what happens at the moment of truth? If you have a medical emergency you are worse off than some one in remote Africa who has to travel hours to get proper medical attention. You will have to travel several hours too albeit at supersonic speed. And you are no better off than the budget travelers packed like sardines in the cattle class (or should it be fish class?).

In fact I wrote about this in my latest novel, bRAINBOW only published days ago. And if you are a doctor think twice before you have that Gin and Tonic. You may be drunk at work.

Christmas Kindness in a New York Bus

It was only yesterday that I thought what would happen if I got down at the wrong halt and realise that before the bus leaves – will the driver allow me to ride again for free or will he insist on charging me another 2.75.

Perhaps it was premonition. Perhaps it was purely coincidental. It was less that 24 hours before I got the answer to my question. Yes today I fell asleep in the bus and missed my stop. Don’t ask me if I was drunk. If you have never fallen asleep in a New York bus as it slowly weaves its way through the concrete expanse you better see a sleep doctor. Maybe you have ADHD.

Any way the Q65 bus had reached its final stop. I was blissfully unaware, still in the land of fairies. “Last Stop!” shouted the driver, jolting me awake from my slumber. I told him I had missed my stop.

“You better get on that bus which is leaving right now,” said he. He could have left it at that. But he printed out a transfer, and ran to stop the bus that had already started moving. He explained the situation to the driver of the second bus and put me in that bus.

If you think the story ends there, hold on. I had dropped my hat in the first bus. The kind driver brought it with him and when passing my new bus, gave it to the driver of this bus. He was just driving back to the depot (one of those ‘not in service’ buses that annoy you from time to time).

This was a small gesture but the driver went out of the way, over and beyond the call of duty to help a totally unknown passenger. So the answer to my question is yes, New York bus drivers will go out of the way to look after their passengers.

May the MTA have a Merry Christmas.

Please share this if you are a regular commuter in NYC.

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