A strange day yesterday.
Around 4pm I went to the National Heart Foundation Hospital in Mirpur to visit a relative who had checked in for a triple-bypass surgery. At the registration desk I asked for his cabin number, but they could not find him. Making a long story short, although he went in early that morning, they had made him wait all day because the cabin was not ready. I found him at the Uttara bank counter, paying in advance. The receipt was needed to get his cabin.
I hung around for a while. NHF is popular because they have good surgeons doing heart surgery at reasonable prices. For example, a bypass costs around Tk 1.5 lac (USD 2000). But because of the popularity they are completely overwhelmed and just cannot manage the crowds. I met one patient who had checked in three days ago (coming from Sylhet) but was yet to see the doctor. "I see in the newspaper that the doctor is making speeches but how come he won't see me?" he asked, exasperated.
Anyways... after a few words with my relative, I left. Downstairs I returned to the window to return the visitor's badge and collect my Tk 20 deposit which I had to pay for the badge. The desk guy was not there. He arrived soon, looking flush, fist shaking but clenched. Opening his fist he set down a piece of ice the size of a golfball on his desk.
What was this all about? Then I heard the first thunder, and turned to look out the front door over the crowd's head. It was raining - no, it was hailing. Crack, boom. Big pieces of hail. And lots and lots of rain.
My driver had parked the car a block away on the street. I did not want to expose my head to the hail, so I waited inside and watched with the waiting crowd. People would run out from the building, grab a hail, and run back. Some put it on their eyes to soothe them, but none put it in their mouth. A occasional blue/green lightning caused great excitement. At times, the wind changed direction, blowing into the door and bringing a dense sideways shower with it. At this, the crowd moved like a wave away from the door. In typical Bangladeshi fashion, one person tried to bring in their car into a restricted space and got into a big fight with the security guard.
This is nice, I thought, but I have to get going. I called my driver on the mobile to come and get me, since I had no umbrella and had no wish to be soaked. No answer. I called three more times. Still no answer.
So I waited till the hail subsided, fifteen more minutes, and ran to the car in the pouring rain. The driver was not in the car. I yelled his name, and he finally came out of one of the streetside shops. "Where have you been?" I yelled over the rain. "Bhaiya I have news - a hail cracked my head." Oh no. I stopped him and looked for blood flowing from his head. There was none. What gives? "How bad is it? Do you want to go to a doctor now? Or drive me home and then I can send you to the doctor?" Turned out it was a fairly minor injury requiring no stitches. The doctor shaved off that area, cleaned it out and put in several band aids.
What had happened was this. He was waiting inside the parked car when the hail started. The noise was deafening and at one point he could was so frightened that he decided to get out of the car and made a dash for the nearby shop. That's when it hit him.
I don't like hail. It is nasty for trees and crops. And if you think about it, falling from 500feet or more, it can reach a very high speed (v^2=2fs, remember?) - so one landing on your head is not pleasant. But the rain was welcome. I imagine this morning I will see a lot of dented vehicle roofs on the road. But the stinging dust on Dhaka's streets will be gone. I really hope the Boro crop was not affected too badly. In the meantime my relative is waiting in the queue for his surgery. I hope it goes well.