Got first dose of COVID vaccine today.

End of a long wait? Light at the end of the tunnel finally or just the first hurdle crossed? Not sure how I feel. Not that I was waiting with baited breath to be vaccinated. I don’t have any plan of traveling in the near future and was kind of getting accustomed to the constraints of stay at home. Our HMO was falling woefully behind in vaccinating the different tiers ahead of us. Also the fact that my betterhalf won’t get vaccinated at the same time as me was another factor in my lack of enthusiasm to be vaccinated early with my age group.

However when we got an email from the CEO of our HMO that not even fifty percent of the age group ahead of us had been vaccinated and no dates could be estimated about our age groups and we may check other options to be vaccinated, my betterhalf started pushing me to register with the state and the county. Reluctantly I agreed but definitely did procrastinate as much as I could. The state site did not show any prospect but the county health services site did had an opening ten days after registration. All locations and dates prior to that were full.

Ultimately the date arrived today. The location was about ten miles from our house, a twenty minutes drive. As the place was unknown to me, I decided to be little early. The online registration asked to be there fifteen minutes before appointment time but I was forty five minutes before time. Boy, am I glad I did that. When I arrived at the facility and as I was entering the parking lot, I saw two long lines at ninety degrees to each other. From the car it was difficult to figure out which line was for what. After I parked my car, instinctively I moved towards the shorter line. It was also the line nearest to where I parked my car.

The sign near the end of the short line proclaimed “COVID vaccination by appointment only”. I felt good that I am in the right line. Then the elderly gentleman infront of me asked me when was my appointment. I said 11:45 AM. He said his was at 11:15 AM but he was in line for last fifteen minutes or so. Nothing that I could do. A volunteer came and told us to keep our IDs and appointment information ready for verification. A sign near by said Moderna vaccination only. However the volunteer informed us that the Pfizer vaccine was received the day before at the facility and therefore we would get the Pfizer vaccine. Till today, at that facility everyone had got Moderna vaccine. She also told that no fabric masks would be allowed inside the facility and to replace fabric masks with surgical masks that she provided if needed.

At the end of the line, ID and appointment information was verified and a clipboard and pen along with three pages of forms were provided to be filled up and on completion to go and stand in the long line to be ushered inside the facility. Here was the dilemma. There was no table and chair to sit down and fill the forms. People were sitting wherever they could and trying to fill up the forms. I decided to stand in the line and keep filling the form as the line moved. Thank God for the California sun. Though it was warm but better than be at the mercy of the weather gods like much of the US at present. The second line did maintain social distancing but to be honest, the first line fell woefully short in maintaining any semblance of social distancing. Once the forms were completed, staffs and volunteers checked them in the line itself and put a green sticker on top of the form. To the credit of the staffs and the volunteers, they were helpful and jovial and I must say, under the circumstances, they did and excellent job.

At one time only five people were allowed inside the facility. Once I entered through the main door, I thought the wait was over. Hah, it was not so. I think everyone had learnt well from Disney parks to hide the long lines inside from the people lining outside. One more station where the forms were checked and ascertained if people were there for the first or the second dose, those who were there for the first dose were made to stand in another line for registration. Those that were there for their second dose were sent in for vaccination directly from there.

There were six registration booths where the forms were taken, information entered into computers and a sticker with all necessary information was given to be pasted to the front of the shirt and then sent along to be vaccinated.

From that point onward, things moved fast. Health care professional who administered the vaccine to me was a really nice, young lady who answered all my questions thoroughly and before I knew it, it was over. She handed me a small card with the vaccination information and sent me to the appointment station for the second dose.

Following the well laid out yellow brick path, sorry the yellow arrowed path, I arrived at the appointment station, got my appointment date for the next dose, reminded to bring my card with me and I was done.

From the start of the process, that is standing in the first line till being done it took about fifty five minutes. Could the process be improved? Sure, everything can be improved. But without an iota of doubt, from the first encounter with the staff at the beginning of the line till the last person scheduling the second appointment, everyone did their job sincerely and in a jovial manner. My hats off to the health care professionals in the vaccination facility. Well done.

And thus completed my first dose of COVID vaccination. Five hours and still no signs of any discomfort. Soreness of the arm till now is non-existent. So far so good.

MASK

MASK

We live in an era where the word mask has become ubiquitous.  However this poem was written in another time, not very long ago. It was written in December of twenty fourteen, just about six years back.  Then it got lost among lots of others amidst many that I wrote and did not complete or was discarded.  Few days back as I was rummaging through some of my old folders, I found this and found it to be surprisingly complete.  I think this still have relevance today, albeit not in a sense that we associate masks with now a days.

The moment we entered the world

We are marked.

Labels defined us at every step.

We are sons, daughters, brothers, sisters.

 

Every step we made, every progression,

Got labeled and defined for us.

We are smart, fool, lazy, successful.

Labeled nicely in boxes as per societies’ norms.

World as we know,

Won’t let us live as ourselves

Break those norms,

We are labeled as rebels, misfits,

To be put down with all their might.

 

Conform or perish,

Lead or follow,

Succeed or fail,

Be religious (whatever it means),

Or rot in hell (as if enough hell is not created in this world).

 

Every step we take,

Yardsticks are out to measure

Our fit to a new label.

We are not allowed to be ourselves.

Deified or demonized or in between.

 

We are all wearing a mask,

Masking us from ourselves

In this journey through life.

Blissfully unaware that

Anonymous we came and

and will leave to anonymity.

 

At journey’s end,

These masks of label,

Won’t be of any use to us.

 

What Matters to Me – Random Ramblings

I was walking with my dog .Skooby, today morning.  It was a beautiful morning, a cool breeze blowing, a clear sunny California day.  It was not a long walk, about two miles.  As I was walking, the idea of a poem was sprouting in my mind.  I could clearly see the words floating in front of my eyes.  I decided to write the poem down as soon as I reached home.  Alas, once I reached home and sat down to write, I realized my beautifully arranged words were no longer lining up as beautifully and now all jumbled up. I opened my smartphone and was disappointed as it turned out not to be smart but dumb.  The dumb phone failed to record my thoughts.  What good is its smartness for?  Now I was forced to rely on my old, failing memory instead of the smart memory of my phone.  Well, to make a long story short, the poem did not turn out to be as beautiful as I envisioned.  But rest assured, though it may sound to be a rambling one, I did not have a single iota of malice in my mind towards anyone.  Not even to the one whose statue would never be erected to adorn any significant public square anywhere in the world to be toppled by future protesters.  In fact I am indebted to him for being the inspiration of the poem.

 

When did it come to this,

The choice of

Six feet apart, or

Six feet under

Became valid?

We became afraid

To cough in public,

But OK to fart,

Louder the better,

No infection danger.

When did it become the norm

To wear mask in public,

But wearing hijab is

Still wrong?

And those in denial

Justifying their refusal

To wear mask,

Proclaiming their freedom of choice,

When it become OK

To knowingly infect others?

And that’s not a crime?

Are these the same

Who indignantly proclaim

Their rights to bear arms?

Reasoning guns don’t kill

People do,

Now will they say

People do not infect,

Corona does?

We are all so scared of 

The truth,

And embrace

All the fake news.

As long as the 

Chief protagonist

Butters our toasts

It’s OK.

Toasts may get

Burnt black,

Who cares,

As all life matters

But it is difficult to say

Black life matters, because

All does not include black.

Sometimes I wonder,

Who created white and black,

Blue and brown?

Blue blood,

Never seen one.

If ever I see the almighty

I do plan to ask.

But which one?

All the children of the books

Profess only to their one.

If even I dare to say

I do pray,

But not to the one 

You or you do,

I shall be 

Consigned to hell.

Spokesperson who hijacked

The words of the

All merciful,

May say

Off with my head,

If I dare to doubt.

I prefer my neck

On my head.

Neither do I prefer

To go to hell,

Not that what they are making

This earth is

Any better.

Peace be on you all

If I dare say,

But whose peace? 

Oh, how I digress

For whatever it counts

To me,

Black lives matter,

Lives of the repressed matter,

Lives of the discriminated matter,

Lives of the oppressed matter,

Lives of the persecuted matter,

And yes, All lives matter.

Guns do kill,

As Covid kills,

As people kill,

As lies kill.

And I want my freedom

To cough in public,

Even hidden behind 

The mask.

No, not to infect.

I don’t relish the thought

To fake

And fart

To hide my cough.