EATING IN THE TIME OF CORONA VIRUS!

HOSPITAL DAYS ANEW: The Manipal Hospital atrium restaurant, good place to catch up with conversation with other patients or their relatives! Sodexo’s decent food on offer and all of it is calorie-charted so you may pick and choose at pleasure (nimbupani 40 calories but samosa 240 calories/100g!). Elsewhere, the Rs95 veg thali meal deal is filling (skip fried papad and salty pickle). I wish I could order Sodexo meals home!

By Tara Narayan

It was Sodexo meals again for me. Just as the novel corona virus curfews set it I found myself at the Panaji’s only five-star hospital – Manipal Hospital, wishing there were similar smaller hospitals like it offering comfort and medical care without too much complex billing up! While the hospital’s Sodexo meals for patients are welcome, most attendants had to order from a limited menu or go down to the hospital’s lovely wonderfully flooded with natural light atrium-styled courtyard restaurant to eat a vegetarian thali meal (Rs95) comprising one heavyweight triangular paratha, portions of dal, vegetable, generous slices of cucumber/tomato/carrot, rice, pickle, fried papad. The fish thali meal is also good. They also have other small meals like vegetable/egg/chicken sandwiches, dahivada, pakoda/samosa/noodles/etc…egg biryani, south Indian breakfast item numbers. Very good. The only thing which jars is these ghastly buff-colored plastic platters with varied size pockets to prevent portions of food from getting mixed up!
Plus, I was quite impressed by how the various snacks were on display with calorie count: So, fruit bowl – calories 100calories/100g; dhokla – calories 200/100g; nimbu pani – calaories 40/100g…aloo paratha is 290 calories/100g (no, no!). The 260 Kcals veg thali is Rs95 and there’re chicken/fish thali; and very good looking and presumably good tasting chicken/egg/fish/vegetable biryani. I really appreciate the calorie counting given alongside the menu because nobody else does it in Goa!
The in room patients of course got a superior more health conscious similar meal and they have a dietician who comes or does not come if she knows the patient is a difficult patient…will ask for all kinds of things and then not eat any of it! Seniors who have to manage their lives with dentures on have a hard time and complaints are valid: “Why such thickly sliced salad, you think I can eat it?”Or “Phulka is like thick chapatti!” True. A flask of bed tea arrives with eco-friendly sugar packets, but also two cracker biscuits protected in long plastic cover — at 6.30am, breakfast later…patients are well taken care of, while attendants may order separately and pay up cash pronto.
As usual I was eating the patient’s meal and buying him sandwiches from the restaurant-canteen at the atrium restaurant, don’t ask me why! A patient is entitled to a bottle of water daily…ask for another one if you wish. The floor manager comes and assures us everything is complementary, nothing is really. But I’m not complaining. Patient forgot to pack his rubber slippers at home and I went looking for slippers at the only chemist’s at the hospital on the ground floor…no slippers but I could have a packet of sheer Italian stockings, if I pleased. No, thank-you, I do not please.
IN between doctors’ visits time passes slowly in a hospital (the GMC is more exciting people-wise and adventure-wise, also all the walking one may do down the corridors). The Manipal Hospital garden grounds are mostly taken up by parking lots for four and two-wheelers but there’re lots of trees to calm one down and this time around while walking around I discovered a gorgeous African tulip tree in full bloom outside the Casualty, elsewhere two beautiful palms and my favorite tree — a peepal in brand new pale leafy greens. Nothing like a peepal tree to look at when the wind blows and its heart-shaped leaves start twirling and fluttering wildly in evocation of so many musical messages wafting up to the blue sky or heaven (if there is a heaven where prayers are heard with diligence).
The thing about ending up at the Manipal Hospital is their ambulance service responds pretty promptly and so in an emergency one is tempted to call for it. But on the whole I wonder why so many of our ambulances come in such large sizes? Are they no small ambulances attached to big and small hospitals…a lot of attention is caused locally when a ambulance turns up at a locality like Dempobhat and neighbors want to know what is wrong with patient – I tell my curious or anxious neighbors relax, the patient has got an infected leg, that’s all (Dr Deep Bhandare at Manipal Hospital educated me by telling me it’s cellulitis, a common and painful bacterial infection, “Good thing you’ll didn’t neglect it any further…we can take care of it with antibiotics.”
I understand that cellulitis often affects the skin of the lower legs although the infection can take over person’s body or face…neglect it and it can become life-threatening too. Thin-skinned patients are moe vulnerable if they’re spending too much time in bathroom in watery conditions.
IT IS coronavirus which is on all minds these days though and not cellulitis! Especially with the current daily corona virus curfew beginning March 21 in Panaji and the rest of Goa too with everything coming to a grinding closure….where is this coronavirus? Is it flying hither and thither in the air… “If I step out will it catch me!” Most think the closedown is too little too late but then most everybody came out at 5pm on Sunday (Mar22) evening to ring bells and go ting tonging on all kinds of bartan in the superstitious hope that the din will chase away the coronavirus away.
We Indians are so innocent but maybe not so, look at all the pictures of coffins in Italy, and Spain, Iran, France, Germany making the rounds over social media, the Chinese virus (Chinese!) is taking a macabre toll of life as fear takes over the conscience and there’s nothing left to do but hope for the best as the days turn to weeks. It’s hard to tell how long it’ll take for anyone to declare the coast is clear of the menace of coronavirus. Coronavirus is on every mind in Goa and Panaji from where I write this up…yes, take all the talk of how to protect yourself by eating right and boosting immunity seriously, it’s never too late to start.
In the meantime continue to observe the janta or citizens curfew voluntarily as much as you can so that we may say goodbye to the deadly coronavirus, nicknamed scientifically Covid-19. Don’t even joke with it, take it very, very seriously.

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